Georgette Heyer is basically the creator of the Regency romance genre, which is a pretty big claim to fame, really. She published dozens and dozens of novels between 1921 and 1975. Every once in a while I'll pick one up and enjoy that she was also a writer skilled at using humor and tension to construct engaging novels. I just finished listening to The Quiet Gentleman, and am reminded that I should make more of an effort to track down her entire catalog. One of my libraries has a pretty good selection, actually, so I'll get on that. The wry, isolated 7th Earl of St. Erth and the perceptive, competent Miss Morville are, socially, an unlikely pair, but they are hand-in-glove as they figure out who is out to kill the Earl and what to do about it. Great fun.
For more fun during the Napoleonic Wars, I listened to Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady. Being a post-Millennium novel, it has a lot of skin and passion on the cover instead of manor house politeness. Still, it has a lot to make it a worthy successor to Heyer - excellent pacing, a deep immersion in the political and social life of the times, characters who are immediately sympathetic. I read a lot of romance, and get jaded about plots where Guy and Girl can't get together because of some trivial misunderstanding that even a basic amount of communication or common sense would clear up. So having a French spy and an English spy navigating the path to true love - and some sort of accord that would keep their nations safe and honors intact - was a refreshing take on the relationship tension. I'll be adding more Bourne to my library hold list, too.
And because I can't read only fiction with people in period costumes, I checked out Haley Tanner's debut novel, Vaclav & Lena. The title characters are a couple of Russian immigrant kids who become each other's life rafts as they navigate elementary school in Brooklyn, until events - and Vaclav's mother - conspire to put on hold their plans to grow up to be "famous magician and his beautiful assistant." Their holds on each other's hearts are sustainable despite the confusing circumstances that separate them. Tanner lays bare their souls - especially Vaclav's - making it easy to believe in magic even as the characters learn how to deconstruct then reconstruct the tricks behind the illusions. Tanner's portrayal of their relationships with Vaclav's mom, and hers with them, is profoundly real, touching, and memorable.