I was offline Monday night so it wasn’t until I woke up yesterday morning that I saw the news that Jo Beverley had died. I just sat there for a minute in shock. She was only 68, and her cancer recurrence was swift and terminal.
JoBev was one of those authors with whom I only had a few direct exchanges, but whose books permeated my reading life and set the standard for what I looked for in other historical novels. She’s best known for her Georgian series (the Mallorens) and her Regency Rogues series, and the books I’ve read in those are very good to excellent, but my favorite series was her first, the Regency series featuring the Daffodil Dandy, Kevin Renfrew.
Beverley was known for her historically rich contexts and characterizations, whether she was writing closer to the Regency trad format or longer single-title novels. One of the things I loved about her books was that her aristocrats worked. They attended Parliament, they took care of their estates, and if they were spies they actually spied, with all the unsavory aspects espionage involves.
Apart from brief Twitter conversations and the rare comment on my reviews of her books, I only had one interaction with Beverley, but I’ve always remembered it. Miranda Neville observed on Twitter that one of the best known conventions in Regency romances, that a debutante had to have the permission of Almack’s Patronesses to waltz, was nowhere to be found in the historical record. She even offered a $100 bounty to anyone who found it. Someone suggested we ask JoBev about that, since she was one of the most likely people to know. So I emailed her (with a bit of trepidation). She responded promptly and said she had never found confirmation of that either, and went on to talk a bit about Almack’s and the waltz more generally.