Historical Romance Recommendations

It’s hard to make historical romance recommendations, as the sheer number of marvelous books and authors is daunting. So here are some authors that I love, along with a few representative titles for each. I hope you find some of these recommendations enjoyable as well.

Mary Balogh

Indiscreet by Mary Balogh

Balogh is a master of romance. Her books focus so strongly on emotions, on the depth of feeling and the gradual pull of love. You almost never find insta-love in a Balogh romance. Instead, there’s a journey to mutual understanding and reward. For Balogh, being “in love” is a shallow thing, a flash-in-the-pan feeling. But loving someone? Those are deep, lasting waters, creating relationships that will endure for a long time. Balogh also was willing to take risks: A Precious Jewel, published as a traditional Regency (books that often had closed-door sex), featured a prostitute heroine. My all-time favorite romance is one of hers: The Temporary Wife.

A Matter of Class

The Bedwyn series

A Precious Jewel

The Temporary Wife

The Survivors’ Club series

The Dark Angel series

Lisa Kleypas

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

You’d be hard-pressed to identify a historical romance writer more beloved by readers than Kleypas. Her Wallflowers series is adored, especially Devil in Winter, and her series about the Hathaway family includes books that are many readers’ favorites. She also loves a good anti-hero, and Dreaming of You‘s Derek Craven is a classic example. For many readers, her books are ones they return to again and again. She also has an excellent contemporary series with a touch of magic in her Friday Harbor books.

The Wallflowers series

The Hathaway series

The Ravenels series

Dreaming of You

Georgette Heyer

Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Heyer is the root of historical romance. Her books form the basis of the Regency romance, arguably the most popular era for historical romance. Her books have been in print since publication. Her prototypes for heroes, Mark I and Mark II, are found everywhere in romance. Her plots reflect many of today’s beloved tropes. Heyer was also known for her historical research. Her descriptions of the Battle of Waterloo in An Infamous Army were used to teach the battle for years in British military schools. You really can’t go wrong trying anything by Heyer, but be aware that, as older books, they are different in feel from today’s romance writing.




Black Sheep


Tessa Dare

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

Dare is the queen of the humorous historical romance. Her books are full of gently absurd circumstances, exasperated heroes, and heroines who lead their men on a merry dance. How can you resist a book where the heroine is studying the sex lives of lobsters? Yes, that’s a Tessa Dare romance. But underneath the humor, her heroines are strong and striving to build different lives than the norm for women of their time. Dare gives readers figures to emulate in her strong-willed, powerful characters.

When a Scot Ties the Knot

Spindle Cove series

Girl Meets Duke series

Loretta Chase

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

If Chase wrote nothing other than Lord of Scoundrels, she’d still be on this list. A classic of the romance genre, it topped reader polls for best romance for almost 20 years. Dain is the anti-hero of anti-heroes, but Chase’s masterstroke is to give readers a preface that explains why he is the way he is. And he’s perfectly matched in Jessica, one of readers’ favorite romance heroines. Chase took a significant break from writing, but has come back strong in recent years. And her historical blog posts are wonderful to explore.

Lord of Scoundrels

Carsington Family series

The Viscount’s Vagabond

Laura Kinsale

Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale

A bit of an older-school choice, Kinsale wrote some of the most influential historical romances of the 1990s along with Chase. Flowers From the Storm is an absolute classic, and it’s one of the first romances used as the basic for college courses on romance novels (a growing trend since about 2010). Kinsale’s characters go through High Drama, and it’s riveting to read. For My Lady’s Heart is written in a medieval language style, and when I was done with that book, it took me a while to be able to adjust to read something else!

Flowers From the Storm

Prince of Midnight

For My Lady’s Heart

My Sweet Folly

Joanna Shupe

A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe

Shupe writes wonderful Victorian-era romances. Her heroes are almost always self-made men, and romances set in the Knickerbocker era of New York City are a refreshing change from the usual nobles of England. Her heroines are varied, often pursuing the new opportunities that women had in the late 19th century. Shupe makes you keenly aware of a world that’s shifting towards our modern environment in her protagonists’ jobs and hobbies.

A Daring Arrangement

The Knickerbocker Club series

A Notorious Vow

Dinah Dean

The River of Time by Dinah Dean

I’m going quite old-school on this one, and her books are hard to find. But I wanted to mention Dinah Dean because there’s a chance you could discover one of her books, and they’re worth exploring if you do. What makes Dean’s Regency-set historicals so interesting is that they take place on the other side of the Napoleonic Wars, in a setting you see rarely in romance: Russia. Dean had clearly studied this era, and her books take place as people flee the battles and the brutal confrontations that happened on this front, as well as in the glitter and glamor that was St. Petersburg. Dean also wrote more traditional Regencies as well as some set on the French side of the wars. But her Russian-set regencies are fascinating.

Flight from the Eagle

The Ice King

The Eagle’s Fate

That Sweet Enemy (as Marjorie May)

Tatya’s Story

Julie Garwood

The Bride by Julie Garwood

Julie Garwood’s historical romances are comfort food in book form. Her heroines are endearing, her heroes forceful yet befuddled, and her stories are often laugh out loud. Frankly, her heroes don’t stand a chance when they meet their heroines. Garwood later moved into contemporaries, but for many readers, her older historical are what they return to for that comforting feeling they evoke.

The Secret

Rebellious Desire

Saving Grace

Honor’s Spendor

Lorraine Heath

Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath

Heath is beloved for her long string of Regency-set historical romances, and they’re very good and definitely worth seeking out. But I’m a huge fan of her earlier Texas trilogy, which is lesser known today. Texas Destiny was hugely admired when it was published. And Parting Gifts is one of the rare romances that also made me cry.

Texas Glory

Texas Spendor

Texas Destiny

Parting Gifts

Mary Jo Putney

Uncommon Vows by Mary Jo Putney

Putney has been writing for a long time–since the mid-1980s. Starting in traditional Regency, she moved swiftly and successfully into single titles. Some of her books are dated now–the “exotic” East unfortunately appears–but at the time of publication, her books were set in places you just didn’t see in romance that often. She also wrote straightforwardly about subjects like alcoholism at a time when you didn’t find that in romance. Putney also wrote contemporaries and fantasy romance, but her lasting power remains in historical romance.

The Fallen Angels series

The Bargain

The Rake

The Silk Trilogy

Carousel of Hearts

Edith Layton

Bride Enchanted by Edith Layton

Layton is lesser known today after her death in 2009. But she wrote some marvelous traditional Regencies and historicals. Not all of her stories worked for me. But when they did, they were great. To Wed a Stranger, which takes the villainess of earlier books and turns her into the heroine of her own story, is a personal fave. And The Duke’s Wager is the rare romance when I wasn’t sure who the hero was at the beginning of the book!

To Wed a Stranger

The Duke’s Wager

The Abandoned Bride

Alice Coldbreath

A Bride for the Prizefighter by Alice Coldbreath

A newer writer who I’ve really enjoyed is Alice Coldbreath. She writes medievals (which is such a welcome thing to see) set in a fantasy kingdom as well as Victoria-era romances. And everything I’ve read so far has been great. I love the practicality of her heroines. I’m looking forward to continuing to explore her backlist.

The Unlovely Bride

A Bride for the Prizefighter

An Ill-Made Match

Cecilia Grant

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

Grant doesn’t have a huge backlist and she isn’t writing right now, but she does have one perma-freebie that I highly recommend: A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong. Grant delves deep into feelings and emotions, and she truly confronts the limitations women faced in the Regency era.

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong

A Lady Awakened

Nicola Davidson

Davidson is another relatively new author who writes highly sensual romances. If you want MM or menage historical romance, Davidson has written some excellent examples. I’ve just begun to explore her books, but good writing is always a treat! I particularly liked her Wickedly Wed series.

Surrender to Sin

Duke in Darkness

Duke in Darkness by Nicola Cornick