The best feel-good historical romances for a pride-filled summer of LGBT reading

Who am I?

I grew up in a religion and family where being gay was most definitely more than frowned upon. Now as a queer author and parent (and former academic who studied queer lit and video games!), I’m thrilled to be bringing a “book baby” into the world during Pride Month that is pure historical romantic fantasy in which two women embrace who they are and one another. When I first started reading queer fiction, much of it was gritty and realistic, sure, but also extremely grim. I think we desperately need a balance of the grim and the gleeful and that is what I hope this little list gives you! Happy endings are possible in fiction and reality. Happy Pride Month, dear readers! 


I wrote...

The Bluestocking Beds Her Bride

By Fenna Edgewood,

Book cover of The Bluestocking Beds Her Bride

What is my book about?

Some call Fleur Warburton cold and hard-hearted. Even ruthless. Scarred by a traumatic past that destroyed her family, Fleur believes she has found the man ultimately responsible for her unhappy fate and is out for vengeance. But when the beautiful Lady Julia Pembroke gets in her way, Fleur is soon entangled in a scandal of a different sort. With Julia by her side, Fleur enters a world of tempestuous desires and rebellious hearts.

The books I picked & why

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Tipping the Velvet

By Sarah Waters,

Book cover of Tipping the Velvet

Why this book?

This book tops my list because it was the very first lesbian fiction I ever read and it is immensely memorable! I went on to binge-read all of the Sarah Waters I could get my hands on (and at that point I think she only had three books out). 

Tipping the Velvet is a coming-of-age-and-coming-out story of a working-class heroine in late Victorian London. Nan is a fantastic character and has a series of adventures ranging from the romantic to the titillating to the dark and tragic. Ultimately, however, there is a happy ending for Nan--and that's part of why I love the book so much. Queer folk need more happy endings and that's why this is a "feel good" book list! 


A Little Light Mischief: A Turner Novella

By Cat Sebastian,

Book cover of A Little Light Mischief: A Turner Novella

Why this book?

A fantastic, quick-read of a novella featuring a class-difference romance between a lady's maid/thief and a prim and proper lady's companion. When the two women find themselves forced to share a room – and a bed! – things quickly become steamy. But there is more to the story than spice. Revenge upon a villain must be enacted. And of course, Alice and Molly must work to achieve their happy ever after. 

I loved my first foray into Cat Sebastian because it is pure historical fantasy, yes, but it's tingly, heart-warming wish-fulfillment of the best kind. We don't need more dead Dumbledores. We need stories that show queer love is possible and can win the day. Amiright?!


Under His Lover's Wing

By Merry Farmer,

Book cover of Under His Lover's Wing

Why this book?

When I first entered the heady world of Regency romance in January 2021 (yes, Bridgerton was the spark but I read the books first!), Merry Farmer soon became an instant inspiration. She writes M/M, F/F, and F/M historical romances and is one of the very few people who manage to write all three and have a beloved following. So, of course, I wanted to become an ARC reviewer for her and managed to snag some of the books in her After the War series, which follows a group of gay men returning back to England for a house party reunion after, you guessed it, the Napoleonic Wars. 

This is not the first installment in the series, but it’s the sweetest. Merry Farmer has created a loveable, enchanting hero in Declan Shelton, the reticent, odd young gamekeeper who draws the attention of Lord Spencer Brightling, a gruff and stern man who is actually hiding a secret wound. Declan is a wood sprite in human form who reminded me of Dicken from The Secret Garden. The outdoors and animal kingdom are his domain and he loves all wild things. But like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Declan is doomed to be the object of persecution and misunderstanding and he requires a strong and passionate defender. Enter Spencer! And that’s all I’ll say…


The Perks of Loving a Wallflower

By Erica Ridley,

Book cover of The Perks of Loving a Wallflower

Why this book?

I just finished reading this book and if you love witty banter then run don’t walk to grab this. I think it may very well feature the very best banter I’ve yet to read in a historical romance. And the banter is not just between the two heroines! No, Erica Ridley has written in an entire Umbrella Academy-esque family of rogueish, rascally siblings who live double lives. On the one hand, they manage to be an accepted part of the Regency ton (good society) and on the other they’re more comfortable on the rough and tumble streets, doing daring feats of rescue and other good deeds.

Did I mention there are baby hedgehogs? And a mission to bring down the patriarchy?


Lord John and the Private Matter

By Diana Gabaldon,

Book cover of Lord John and the Private Matter

Why this book?

So, making this list has rather reminded me that there is a major dearth of queer books in historical romance. Especially of the happy variety—and it’s not a true romance if it doesn’t have an HEA.

I could easily have included The Song of Achilles or Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café or Patience and Sarah, but they wouldn’t have fit the Regency/Victorian time period I was aiming for and they also either have very hidden/obscured queerness (e.g. Fried Green Tomatoes) or no HEA (Song of Achilles, obvs).

I’m going with Lord John even though he’s Georgian era because 1) he has a happy and fulfilling life despite his One True Love ultimately being unrequited, 2) he has some great love affairs and adventures, and 3) best of all this is a series. And a series is almost as good as an HEA!

If you have enjoyed Outlander, I strongly urge you to give these a try. They’re part mystery, part war historical, but all of them feature Lord John’s trademark sophistication, charm, and dry wit.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in LGBTQ topics and characters, England, and nobility?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about LGBTQ topics and characters, England, and nobility.

LGBTQ Topics And Characters Explore 93 books about LGBTQ topics and characters
England Explore 647 books about England
Nobility Explore 53 books about nobility

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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