The best historical romance books by contemporary authors

Who am I?

I’ve been writing historical romance novels and novellas for over ten years now and have read extensively from this genre during that time. I’m currently working on my 42nd book where a governess in her mid-thirties finds love with her wealthy boss. Writing romance may seem easy, but it actually requires a lot of research and poses the challenge of being dependent on the gradual emotional development of two protagonists whose journeys intertwine. As a former editor of mine once put it, there are a lot of gears in motion, all of which have to work smoothly together. The stories I’ve chosen to mention are excellent examples of this. I hope you’ll enjoy each one.

I wrote...

Mr. Dale and The Divorcée (The Brazen Beauties)

By Sophie Barnes,

Book cover of Mr. Dale and The Divorcée (The Brazen Beauties)

What is my book about?

Recently divorced and with her reputation in tatters, Wilhelmina Hewitt appears the harlot. But is there more to her story than meets the eye?

James Dale, a barrister whose world consists of absolutes, doesn’t think so. Until his son elopes with Wilhelmina’s daughter. Now, forced into a partnership for the purpose of finding their troublesome children – and into close proximity during their journey - James gets to know Wilhelmina better. And as he does so he must come to terms with two jarring facts: that he may have completely misjudged her and that his attraction toward her is rapidly turning to love. The only problem, of course, is her reputation. For how can a proper gentleman possibly build a future with England's most scandalous woman?

The books I picked & why

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Romancing Mister Bridgerton: Bridgerton

By Julia Quinn,

Book cover of Romancing Mister Bridgerton: Bridgerton

Why this book?

This is the book that kick-started my career! Before walking into a small bookstore in Ghana and picking up this particular novel, I had no idea Regency romance was even a genre. Not only did I find this story engaging, but it was also filled with humor and written in a style that made me crave more. Until that point, I had attempted to write a historical fiction novel (which remains unfinished until this day). As soon as I was done with Romancing Mister Bridgerton I thought, this is the kind of story I want to write. Low and behold, I’m now working on my 42nd Regency romance book!

When Beauty Tamed the Beast

By Eloisa James,

Book cover of When Beauty Tamed the Beast

Why this book?

I think this was the first historical romance I read where the hero had a disability, which added great depth of character. It was also the first historical romance I read where the hero had a medical profession. This subject matter – medicine during the early to mid 19th Century – piqued my interest so greatly I’ve since written several novels in which the hero or heroine is medically trained. I’m especially keen on challenging various misconceptions relating to medicinal practices during this period, like the fact that hand washing is still being credited to Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) even though William Buchan (1729-1805) wrote about the importance of it nearly 100 years earlier in his book titled, Domestic Medicine. Just one of those things that gets my goat…

In The Viscount's Arms (Staunton Sisters Book 1)

By Allyson Jeleyne,

Book cover of In The Viscount's Arms (Staunton Sisters Book 1)

Why this book?

This book immediately stood out to me for a couple of reasons: the setting was vividly described, the characters engaged in simple everyday tasks that not only added depth but helped paint a picture of the era, and the author managed to make this story extremely sexy without explicit lovemaking scenes. I stopped writing explicit scenes years ago and have since aimed for a more sensual tone, which actually poses a much bigger challenge. So I’m always interested to see how other authors (of which I’ve encountered only a few), tackle such scenes in a more suggestive manner while still conveying the passion between the hero and heroine successfully. This book is an excellent example of how less truly can be more.

Scandalous Desires

By Elizabeth Hoyt,

Book cover of Scandalous Desires

Why this book?

This was the first historical romance I read where the hero’s an anti-hero bad boy on the wrong side of the law. It’s one of those books where it almost seems impossible for him to end up with the heroine at the end. But Elizabeth Hoyt excels at writing gritty love stories where the reader and heroine alike fall in love with the biggest scoundrel. Having read this story and seeing how Mickey O’Connor’s character was tackled helped me create Carlton Guthrie, a notorious crime lord, years later when I began writing The Forgotten Duke.

Any Rogue Will Do

By Bethany Bennett,

Book cover of Any Rogue Will Do

Why this book?

It isn’t easy breaking through as an author these days, especially not in a genre that’s as competitive as the historical romance genre has become. Bethany Bennett entered the scene last year with a novel that’s not only memorable, but which contains a plot and characterization that easily match those of more seasoned authors. Her sequel, West End Earl, is even better and proves she’ll excel, so this is a new to me author whose career I look forward to following in the coming years.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, nobility, and Pirates?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, nobility, and Pirates.

Romantic Love Explore 360 books about romantic love
Nobility Explore 52 books about nobility
Pirates Explore 53 books about Pirates

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like To Sir Phillip, with Love: Bridgerton, The Viscount Who Loved Me: Bridgerton, and Slightly Dangerous if you like this list.