Five Musts in My Genre by Anne Cleeland

I write Regency adventure—stories about heroines who are swept up in dire events and who have to be courageous because so much is at stake. These stories are all set in 1814, when there was a pause in the Napoleonic wars, but the villains are working hard behind the scenes to gather funding for Napoleon’s next attempt to conquer the world. Therefore, each story has the following five necessary elements:

(1) A Treasure Hunt. Remember Romancing the Stone? Same idea, only with petticoats and flintlock pistols. Europe is flat broke as a result of the last war, so the villains are getting creative, trying to steal diamonds, or gold, or ancient Egyptian artifacts to support Napoleon’s next war. The good guys, naturally, are trying to thwart these efforts and the heroine is somehow caught in the middle. In Daughter of the God-King, the warring factions mistakenly believe she knows where a fabulous treasure is secreted in Egypt.

(2) A Plucky Heroine. This almost goes without saying; the heroine has to be brave—even if she is normally a timid soul. Circumstances conspire to give her a moment of truth so that she has to pluck up her courage and try to save the world, no matter what the cost.

(3) A Mysterious Hero. The hero is mysterious because he can’t be completely honest with the heroine, and so she’s not sure whether she can trust him—even though he’s handsome and clearly smitten. There may be a dark moment when she believes he has betrayed her, but in the end, it will be shown he’s been devoted to her all along.

(4) A Staunch Supporter. Every plucky heroine needs a staunch supporter, who also serves the dual purpose of providing comic relief and allowing the heroine to speak her thoughts aloud. This person’s support never falters, no matter how bleak the outlook. In Tainted Angel it was Maisie, the heroine’s maidservant; in Daughter of the God-King it is Bing, the heroine’s companion. In my next book it is the heroine’s younger brother.

(5) Derring-Do. No adventure story is complete without feats of derring-do; swordplay, fist-fights, narrow escapes—and the obligatory climactic scene that might involve hand-to-hand combat on the battlements or the heroine on horseback, racing down the road with the villains in hot pursuit. How else can the heroine prove how plucky she is?

I’m sure your readers can come up with other must-have elements: a Scheming Rival? A More-Suitable Suitor (who is much more dull than the Mysterious Hero); or perhaps a Bleak Moment when all appears lost? What is your favorite plot device?

11_20 ann cleeland book coverMiss Hattie Blackhouse has never been close to her parents…and no wonder, since the Blackhouses are renowned scholars who spend most of their time excavating ancient tombs in Egypt. But news of their disappearance forces Hattie to leave England and embark on a voyage that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her past. An encrypted senet board and a gold medallion lead Hattie on a perilous quest to track down her missing parents—and discover why people associated with the Blackhouses continue to turn up dead. What she uncovers is a secret that could alter the course of history…

Filled with intrigue, romance, and ancient secrets, Anne Cleeland’s thrilling novel takes you on an unforgettable Egyptian adventure.

Buy the book at Amazon.


  1. I like that a family member was involved/included in Tainted Angel. Blessings, Janet

  2. Thanks Janet!

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