Georgette Heyer introduced the Regency era into romance as a category. (Jane Austen and others wrote Regency romance, but they were writing it as contemporary romance while they lived.) Heyer wrote Regency as historical romance and wrote 50 novels in her lifetime.
A Civil Contract was required reading for my romance classics class. And wow has romance changed since the 60's. Yeah. I did not love this book. It's an arranged marriage between Adam (a Viscount whose father died leaving him with no money and only a name) and Jenny (a rich girl with no title). Jenny gets a title. Adam gets money. Everyone is happy. Almost. Except Adam is in love with Julia. A middle class noble girl, if you will. Her family cannot afford for her to marry a broke guy, but she is not as broke as Adam. But Julia is willing to be broke for Adam. Or so she says. Julia is a drama queen. And Jenny is a sweetheart. Almost too sweet. It's like everything she does is for Adam to the point I felt like slapping her and saying get some pride. But whatever. It takes Adam the entire book to figure out that Jenny genuinely loves him and Julia is a dramaqueen. And when he does? The book ends. Ah. But that might be okay. No, no. This book has to end in the most throw-a-book-against-a-wall moment of all times. Jenny realizes that Adam is annoyed with Julia's behavior but his feelings for her will probably arise again, and while she is not the wife of his dreams, at least she's the wife he shares his life with.
WTF? That's my happy ending? Are you serious?
So what makes this book a classic then?
Well, it was published in 1961. It's been more than 50 years and it's still prompting *a strong emotional reaction*. Although, I'm not sure it's the reaction you want. I will never read this author again (unless I'm required to do so. Then again, I probably wouldn't have read this to begin with if I hadn't been required to).
*Note the words a strong emotional reaction are for me, not you! This is an aha moment for me!*