"The Regency era is the most popular historical setting; and for good reason. within this period exist two rather different kinds of romance: the traditional Regency, and the Regency historical. Technically the term "Regency" refers to England from 1811-1820, when George III's madness meant that his eldest son, later George IV, ruled in his name. More broadly, books set between about 1800 and 1830 are usually considered Regency period.
The traditional Regency traces its roots back to Jane Austen, and was brought to full flower by Georgette Heyer, whose wonderful, witty, beautifully written books are the foundation of the genre. In Georgette's world, there was no explicit sex, but there was wit, wisdom and a colorful picture of aristocratic society. Note that word "society," because it defines one of the key differences between the traditional Regency and the Regency historical. In many ways, the Regency is about society, while the historical is about passion. In a traditional Regency, one is always very aware of the limitations of society, and relationships must be resolved within those boundaries.
By contrast, historicals are much more about passion. That means not only sexual desire (though a good historical generally has lots of that!), but the broader sense of powerful, larger than life emotions and characters. The hero and heroine are far more likely to set themselves against society, to defy custom, in pursuit of their goals.
A strong historical romance generally focuses on the hero and heroine's story, which heightens the emotions of the romance. The traditional Regency can be more of an ensemble story, giving a broader slice of life. Another key difference in the two kinds of romance is the language. In traditional Regencies, words are loved for their own sake. Clever, playful phrasing and tongue-in-cheek humor are encouraged. The voice is ironic, amusing and more detached even when emotion is pulsing beneath the surface." 
Well-known Regency romance authors include Georgette Heyer, Marion Chesney, Mary Balogh, Barbara Cartland, Loretta Chase, Carla Kelly and Elizabeth Mansfield. Of these, Cartland, Heyer and Mansfield are deceased, Chesney now writes detective novels whilst Balogh and Chase write Regency historical (which are actually Regencies in disguise, according to some readers and reviewers). Kelly has no publisher for her Regency manuscripts. Here is an article about Georgette Heyer and the influence she's been on many other romance authors.
All books in this list which are owned by Lincoln City Libraries are hotlinked to their entries in our library catalog, so that you may check on their current availability. Some titles not owned by the libraries are included in this list due to their classic nature, or their position as part of a series. If you see a title on this list that is not hotlinked to our collection, please consider ordering it through our Interlibrary Loan department.
The introductory description here is taken in part from the following two online articles:  The Regency vs. The Regency Historical: A Regency Author Explains the Difference, by Mary Jo Putney reprinted from Romantic Times Book Club Magazine, on the Romantic Times web site; and Regency Romances, a blog post on Teach Me Tonight: Musings on Romance Fiction From an Academic Perspective, by Laura Vivanco (3/29/2007).