The best historical romances with adventurous women

Who am I?

I am the bestselling author of more than 46 romance novels. I love history, enjoy research, and am always looking for little-known facts to make my stories more authentic. Some of those facts have revealed that women in the 19th century often took on occupations, hobbies, or causes that challenged them and sometimes placed them in danger. Although seldom acknowledged as such, women in the 19th century were a force to be reckoned with, although their contributions were often overlooked. But through reading personal accounts, letters of the time, biographies, and nonfiction accounts about various women’s roles, I have gained a greater appreciation for how daring women have been throughout history.


I wrote...

The Return of the Duke: Once Upon a Dukedom

By Lorraine Heath,

Book cover of The Return of the Duke: Once Upon a Dukedom

What is my book about?

When his father, the Duke of Wolfford, is hanged for an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, Marcus Stanwick is stripped of everything. Vowing to return honor to his family, he seeks to expose the others involved in the treasonous plot. His search forces him to turn to a woman he despises for her unforgivable betrayal.

Harboring secrets, Esme Lancaster has her own reasons for wanting to discover who’s behind the conspiracy that’s still afoot. As their hunt for the truth leads them into danger, they’re unable to deny their growing desire for each other. But giving in to temptation comes at a cost, and they must decide if love is worth the risk of losing their one chance for redemption.

The books I picked & why

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After Dark with the Duke: The Palace of Rogues

By Julie Anne Long,

Book cover of After Dark with the Duke: The Palace of Rogues

Why this book?

I love how words can be woven together to create images and emotions and to bring characters to life. Julie Anne Long has a lyrical way of writing that always carries me deeply into the story. I find once I start reading one of her books, I can’t stop until I’ve finished it, even if it means staying up all night. In After Dark With the Duke, the heroine has left the safety of home to become an opera singer, facing the challenges of a society that enjoys the art but finds the artist scandalous. I came away with a richer understanding of the era. I admired the heroine’s ability to find the strength needed to make difficult choices that would lead her to adventure and, hopefully, a better life.


My Kind of Earl

By Vivienne Lorret,

Book cover of My Kind of Earl

Why this book?

I find such fun in an innocent miss wanting to explore a brothel. Curiosity and inquisitiveness are attitudes that I believe drive adventurous women. But they don’t always start a brawl in a brothel nor do they have the scientific mind to develop a small bomb that will allow them to escape. I always enjoy a heroine with a sharp mind who isn’t afraid to use it. Vivienne Lorret brings humor to her stories, making her characters incredibly relatable. I smiled throughout the story and loved the heroine’s little quirks.


Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

By Sarah MacLean,

Book cover of Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

Why this book?

Little is more adventurous than a woman who owns a gambling hell, who has forged a path to success, and dares Society to judge her. I love Sarah’s depth of characterization and how she infuses her characters with a background and motivations that make their actions, even the questionable ones, understandable and believable. I find she always takes an insurmountable conflict and uses it to drive the characters toward change. I so admire Sarah’s ability to carry me on a journey that always ends with a sigh of satisfaction, and often a few tears.


Between the Devil and the Duke

By Kelly Bowen,

Book cover of Between the Devil and the Duke

Why this book?

An adventurous lady gambler. I enjoy stories where the heroine is taking on the role usually belonging to the hero. Kelly Bowen is so skilled at giving us characters to care about and root for. This story was a delicious read with a heroine equal to the task of taming the hero. I love Kelly’s writing style and how smoothly her stories flow.


Wild at Heart

By Patricia Gaffney,

Book cover of Wild at Heart

Why this book?

Wild at Heart is my #1 favorite historical romance. Unfortunately, it is out of print. The writing is beautiful, the story heart-wrenching, and the heroine adventurous in a subtle way as she challenges those who are studying a man raised by wolves to view him not as an object but as a person. I found this story to be perfection. If you can find a copy, you won’t be disappointed.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, aristocracy, and storytelling?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, aristocracy, and storytelling.

Romantic Love Explore 414 books about romantic love
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Storytelling Explore 50 books about storytelling

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Ashes in the Wind, The Masqueraders, and Gentle Rogue if you like this list.