The best classic historical romance novels

Who am I?

I’ve always loved historical romance, ever since my mother gave me my first Georgette Heyer when I was eight, and my grandmother gave me my first Barbara Cartland shortly after. The fascination has never waned, which is a good thing because I grew up to become a historical romance author myself. Since publishing my first romance in 2006, I’ve written nearly 50 books, mainly set during the Regency period (first quarter of the 19th century). I’ve always adored how a good historical romance whisks me away to a larger-than-life world replete with dashing rakes, smart-mouthed ladies, and glittering high society, not to mention witty banter, glamour, and heart-stopping romance.


I wrote...

One Wicked Wish

By Anna Campbell,

Book cover of One Wicked Wish

What is my book about?

Her secret lover…Lord Halston and impoverished companion Stella Faulkner start a sizzling affair under the cover of a respectable house party. But once this interval of heady delight ends, what will become of the humble governess and the wicked earl? Must they return to being strangers as originally arranged, or will five days of intoxicating sin turn into forever?

“One of the most romantic books I’ve ever read.” 5 stars. Amazon reviewer.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Faro's Daughter

Anna Campbell Why did I love this book?

Georgette Heyer is the queen of Regency romance. My mother gave me my first Heyer when I was about eight and I’ve loved her work ever since. Witty, beautifully written, romantic, glamorous, her books were the perfect introduction to historical romance. I’m currently in the middle of my fifth re-read of all her books and this time 'round, I think my favorite is Faro’s Daughter. This pairs the very rude and unromantic (but irresistible!) Max Ravenscar with clever, independent Deborah Grantham, a well-bred lady brought low by financial trouble who now runs her aunt’s gambling house. When Max sets out to rescue his beef-witted cousin from Deb’s clutches, the stage is set for a clash of titanic proportions. This book sparkles like good champagne, and it always makes me laugh.  

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faro's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you love Bridgerton, you'll love Georgette Heyer!

'The greatest writer who ever lived' Antonia Fraser
'One of my perennial comfort authors' Joanne Harris
'I could mainline Heyer's Regency romances until the end of time and still not get bored' India Knight
____________

Max Ravenscar is a renowned gamester.

The first to admit he is entirely void of a romantic disposition, he regards all eligible females with indifference and unconcern.

But then he meets the woman his young cousin is bent on marrying - the beautiful Deborah Grantham who also happens to be the mistress of her aunt's gaming establishment.…


Book cover of Lord of Scoundrels

Anna Campbell Why did I love this book?

Lord of Scoundrels regularly tops polls for the best romance ever written. I can see why – it’s got everything you want in a historical romance. It’s witty, sexy, and romantic, and it also tugs on the emotions. It’s one of those books where you laugh often, but you may also surprise yourself by shedding the occasional tear. One of my favorite tropes in historical romance is the marriage of convenience – divorce was almost impossible before the modern era, so when people married, they tended to stay that way. The marriage in Lord of Scoundrels is cobbled together out of scandal, although it’s perfectly clear that the big, bad Marquess of Dain and feisty Jessica Trent are made for each other. The fun for the reader is watching as Dain and Jessica eventually reach the same conclusion! 

By Loretta Chase,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lord of Scoundrels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Loretta Chase is one of romance's most beloved authors, and now that she's returned to the Avon Family, we're repackaging one of her most popular books with an updated and fresh cover that will attract old and new readers alike. Determined Lady tough-minded Jessica Trent's sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquis of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad.And when Dain's reciprocal passion places them in a scandalously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction. "Lord of Scounderls"…


Book cover of The Proposition

Anna Campbell Why did I love this book?

Judith Ivory has one of the most distinctive voices in historical romance. I wish she was still releasing new work! The Proposition is a fun take on My Fair Lady, where Henry Higgins is a down-on-her-luck duke’s daughter and Eliza Dolittle is a charming rat catcher. Yes, you heard that right. We’re a long way from the usual historical romance fare of dukes and rakes. Not only that, Mick Tremore, the rat catcher in question, has the most wonderful dog Win who threatens to steal the show every time she’s on the page. Charming, clever, witty and full of delicious sexual tension, this is a compelling read – and it has a serious message about how often the greatest barriers to our dreams are those our minds place on us. 

By Judith Ivory,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Proposition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No man, gentleman or otherwise, has ever looked at Lady Edwina Bollash the way the brash, handsome man standing before her is doing now. Edwina has accepted the challenge to transform incorrigible Mick Tremore into a gentleman in just six weeks. And although the linguist is sure she can rise to the task, she isn't at all certain she won't swoon under his frankly sensuous gaze before her job is done.

Mick has lived outside of London society long enough to know that appearances can be deceiving. Edwina might look all buttoned up-the perfect English lady-but there is unleashed passion…


Book cover of A Countess Below Stairs

Anna Campbell Why did I love this book?

This is my favorite comfort read, the perfect book for days when life has too many sharp corners. I must have read this one at least twenty times. It has all the virtues of a classic fairytale: a pure-hearted, brave heroine; an honorable, steadfast hero; and a happy ending earned through suffering and effort and against all the odds. It tells the story of Countess Anna Grazinsky, a young refugee from the Russian Revolution, who finds work as a maid at a stately home in the English countryside, where she falls in love with the gallant war hero who owns the house. But the Earl of Westholme is promised to another woman. Heartwarming, triumphantly romantic, wise, and funny, A Countess Below Stairs is one of those rare books that makes the world seem a better place.  

By Eva Ibbotson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Countess Below Stairs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Eva Ibbotson's charming and warm-hearted tale, A Secret Countess was originally published as A Countess Below Stairs.

Anna, a young countess, has lived in the glittering city of St Petersburg all her life in an ice-blue palace overlooking the River Neva. But when revolution tears Russia apart, her now-penniless family is forced to flee to England. Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme's crumbling but magnificent mansion. The staff and the family are sure there is something not quite right about their new maid -…


Book cover of Flowers from the Storm

Anna Campbell Why did I love this book?

Laura Kinsale is another magnificently individual voice, and her unusual, complex, emotional stories are among the best in the genre. Flowers from the Storm is probably her masterpiece. I’m in awe of how she brings off this heartrending story of a humble Quaker girl and a duke. Maddy’s religious conviction is woven into her personality in a way that’s true to the time but rarely explored in romantic fiction. Even more unusual, while rakish dukes are a staple of the genre, rakish dukes who suffer a stroke and end up in a madhouse are less common! What lifts this Cinderella story above most entries in the category is how true to life it is, how the characters genuinely suffer to achieve their happy ending, and how Kinsale leaves her characters no easy choices. 

By Laura Kinsale,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Flowers from the Storm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the ′D of J′ in scandal sheets, where he and his various exploits featured with frequency. But sometimes the most womanising rake can be irresistible, and even his most casual attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms, quiet daughter of a simple mathematician.


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A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

Book cover of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

Janet Hulstrand Author Of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Editor Francophile Minnesotan Once and forever Brooklynite

Janet's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This memoir chronicles the lives of three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel. The story begins in 1992 in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn as the author reads a notebook written by her grandmother nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year search to find her grandmother’s journals and uncover the hidden interior lives of her mother and grandmother.

Her adventures take her to a variety of locations, from a small town in Iowa to New York, Washington, London, and Paris—and finally to a little village in France, where she is finally able to write the book that will tell her own story, intertwined with the stories of her mother and grandmother.

A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

What is this book about?

This story, about three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel, begins in 1992, in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn, as a young writer reads journals written by her grandmother as a schoolgirl nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year quest to uncover the hidden lives and unfulfilled dreams of her mother and grandmother. In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, the author comes to realize that the passion for travel and for literature that has fueled her life's journey is a gift that was passed down to her by the very role models she was…


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