The best historical romances for intersectional feminists

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historical romance reader, I’m a sucker for stories about the glamorous aristocracy falling in love. While Regency and Victorian romances have explored feminism for at least the last two decades, the genre often falls short of asking more of itself. Of course the debutante shouldn’t need a man – but while the story liberates her, it doesn’t take any notice of the non-aristocratic,  non-Anglican, non-White, less-abled, and/or non-cishet straight characters around her. I yearned for stories that required my favorite aristocrats to acknowledge, examine, and leverage their privilege. All five of these authors deliver – without forgetting our favorite tropes and genre conventions!


I wrote...

The Viscount Without Virtue

By Katherine Grant,

Book cover of The Viscount Without Virtue

What is my book about?

At Northfield Hall, not everything is as it seems. Max Hainsworth is there undercover as a carpenter to write an expose on the estate, which is famous for its radical choice to welcome anyone and share all profits with its laborers. Ellen Preston, lady of the manor, can tell that Max isn’t a carpenter, but she would never guess he is a viscount – and one of Northfield Hall’s political enemies. 

When Ellen discovers Max’s true identity, she has to decide: does she throw him out, or show him why Northfield Hall is exactly what it claims to be? And whichever she chooses, can she do it without falling in love with him?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Duke Who Didn't

Katherine Grant Why did I love this book?

When I pick up a Courtney Milan historical romance, I know I will be hit in the heart with a story that is as insightful as it is moving.

The only question was which of her books to include in this list!

I chose The Duke Who Didn’t because it explores class, race, and gender roles in the delightful setting of a small town in the English countryside hosting an annual sports festival.

The plot reckons with the aristocrat’s responsibility to his people, the challenges and joys of a working-class community, and the exploitation of non-British identities for profit.

And because it is a Courtney Milan novel, it does so with plenty of clever tropes and swoon-worthy romance!

Book cover of True Pretenses

Katherine Grant Why did I love this book?

True Pretenses is a novel that took me by surprise.

The hero, Ash, is a Jewish man hiding his identity because of personal experience with violent antisemitism. Lydia is a well-meaning aristocrat who is more than a little out of touch with the rest of society.

Since Ash is a con man, there are some fun capers and misunderstandings – even more so once Lydia embraces him for who he is. For anyone looking for a tender historical romance that opens your eyes to a fresh slice of history – namely, Judaism in 19th century England – this is a book you can’t miss. 

By Rose Lerner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked True Pretenses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Something borrowed...Through wit and sheer force of will, Ash Cohen raised himself and his younger brother Rafe out of the London slums and made them (in his unbiased opinion) the best confidence men in England. Ash is heartbroken when Rafe decides he wants an honest life, but he vows to give his beloved brother what he wants. When Ash hears of a small-town heiress scrambling to get her hands on the dowry held in trust for when she marries, he plans one last desperate scheme: con her and his brother into falling in love. After all, Rafe deserves the best,…


Book cover of The Perks of Loving a Wallflower

Katherine Grant Why did I love this book?

When I want a historical romance that knows exactly what it is and how to hit the right notes with each of its tropes, I turn to Erica Ridley.

Take the opening conceit of The Perks of Loving a Wallflower: It felt so familiar to read about a shy heroine who has a secret group of bluestocking friends and who is trying to avoid her parents’ matchmaking schemes.

From there, however, Ridley uses the conceit of a missing cipher to match Philippa with Tommy, a master of disguises and rejecter of labels.

Through a very fun, comforting historical romance plot, we get to explore gender roles, identity, and class snobbery.  

By Erica Ridley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady-or a bawdy old man. She'll do whatever it takes to solve the cases her family takes on. But when Tommy's beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she's secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake . . .

Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn't believe in love. Her heart didn't pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to decode a centuries-old manuscript to keep a modern-day villain from…


Book cover of A Caribbean Heiress in Paris

Katherine Grant Why did I love this book?

In research for my own books, I have learned how present the British were in the Caribbean for centuries.

Yet it is not often that I find Caribbean characters when reading historical romances. That is one of the reasons I was so excited to pick up A Caribbean Heiress in Paris – and I was not disappointed!

In this novel, you get a heroine who is trying to defend her identity on three fronts: as a businesswoman, as a mixed-race woman, and as a woman who does not want marriage to be the solution to her problems.

Much of the hero’s growth is discovering how to witness and learn about Luz Alana’s challenges without barging in and “solving” them.

This is a great read with a delightful plot, new insight into Caribbean-European history, and an endearing romance. 

By Adriana Herrera,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Caribbean Heiress in Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is a triumph!' Sarah MacLean

'Historical romance at its very best - fresh, lush and full of steam!' Sophie Jordan

Paris, 1889.

Luz Alana Heith-Benzan, heiress to the Cana Brava rum empire, has sailed all the way from Santo Domingo with one purpose: expanding her family's business.

Enter James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick. From their first tempestuous meeting, Luz Alana is conflicted - why is this titled, and infuriatingly charming, Scottish man so willing to help her?

Evan might have his own reasons for supporting Luz Alana but every day they spend together makes…


Book cover of The Soldier's Scoundrel

Katherine Grant Why did I love this book?

Whenever I read a Cat Sebastian, I sigh in envy at how well she writes nuanced characters with nuanced emotions.

In Soldier’s Scoundrel, two heroes from very different backgrounds unite around a single goal.

From Jack’s perspective, we see the challenges of poverty and classism. From Oliver, we see a veteran trying to adjust to everyday life.

Together, they try to protect and defend women from physical, emotional, and economic abuse. Their love story is beautiful, requires them to pierce layers of their psyches to find vulnerability, and makes you feel all of the feels.

Even better, by the end of the novel, I had a new perspective on how the patriarchy works in societal systems. This is a read that made my empathy grow like the Grinch’s heart! 

By Cat Sebastian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A scoundrel who lives in the shadows

 

Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be. 

 

A soldier untarnished by vice

 

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


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