The best historical novels on love and slavery

Who am I?

I am a writer who loves to create stories across cultures and time periods. Writing a historical romance novel involves a lot of reading about the history and the times. After reading a few historical novels, I started toying with the idea of writing one. I loved a slave is my second historical romance novel and I have started work on two more. Being transported into the time period gives me a lot of excitement and I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have! I have a master’s in liberal arts and an MFA in Creative Writing.

I wrote...

I loved a slave

By Sinmisola Ogunyinka,

Book cover of I loved a slave

What is my book about?

Johnny Holt Jr. comes home to Kentucky for the summer to find his father, JJ has made alliances with a notorious slave owner, Spanish-born Edmond Maguerro to turn Holt Lands into a million-dollar plantation. Johnny doesn’t involve himself until he meets Elisa, one of his father’s slaves. Smitten, Johnny is convinced Elisa belongs with him in New York, where he is a law student at a prestigious college, or any other world where the society is color-blind. And he goes all out to remove her from slavery and into that world. Set in 1800s American slave era, I loved a slave follows the story of two lovers as they make their way through circumstances beyond their control to escape their reality and live in a world best imagined.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Yellow Wife

Sinmisola Ogunyinka Why did I love this book?

This book is a tearjerker that left me on the edge of my seat. The harrowing experiences of the protagonist, Pheby Delores Brown, are vivid and you don’t want to stop until you finish. Personally reliving Pheby’s life is one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much. The fear is real.

By Sadeqa Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Yellow Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year by NPR and Christian Science Monitor

Called “wholly engrossing” by New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Grissom, this “fully immersive” (Lisa Wingate, #1 bestselling author of Before We Were Yours) story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation,…

Book cover of Homegoing

Sinmisola Ogunyinka Why did I love this book?

Being originally from West Africa, this book is a journey back home for me in so many ways. A real homegoing. It is well-written and paced in a way that as I follow each character, I am reliving their story and relating to it on an emotional level I surprised myself with. 

By Yaa Gyasi,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Homegoing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A BBC Top 100 Novels that Shaped Our World

Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader's wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel - the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.…

Book cover of A Most Precious Gift

Sinmisola Ogunyinka Why did I love this book?

One of the reasons I recommend this book, besides being a book in a genre I enjoy, well-written, is the inspiration it gave from a place of peace and hope that even when everything seems contrary, love will make a way. If you are looking for a book that provides a balance between love and faith, then this is a book for you.

By Jacqueline Freeman Wheelock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Most Precious Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Previously published as A Most Precious Gift by Mantle Rock Publishing.

Dinah Devereaux, New Orleans-born slave and seamstress, suddenly finds herself relegated to a sweltering kitchen on the Natchez town estate of Riverwood. Having never cooked a day in her life, she is terrified of being found out and banished to the cotton fields as was her mother before her. But when she accidentally burns the freedom papers of

Jonathan Mayfield, a handsome free man of color to whom she’s attracted, her fear of the fields becomes secondary. A gifted cabinetmaker, Jonathan Mayfield’s heart is set on finally becoming a…

Book cover of Celia, a Slave

Sinmisola Ogunyinka Why did I love this book?

This book shares a most harrowing and detailed story of a young slave girl, who had been bought by a much older master. The ordeals she went through and her struggles with her status created in me a lot of empathy. However, questions of justice versus mercy are raised in such a way that I was left speechless by the time I was done reading.

By Melton A. McLaurin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Celia, a Slave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Illuminating the moral dilemmas that lie at the heart of a slaveholding society, this book tells the story of a young slave who was sexually exploited by her master and ultimately executed for his murder.

Celia was only fourteen years old when she was acquired by John Newsom, an aging widower and one of the most prosperous and respected citizens of Callaway County, Missouri. The pattern of sexual abuse that would mark their entire relationship began almost immediately. After purchasing Celia in a neighboring county, Newsom raped her on the journey back to his farm. He then established her in…

Book cover of The Sweetness of Water

Sinmisola Ogunyinka Why did I love this book?

I have a serious weakness for forbidden love, star-crossed lovers, and impossible relationships and this book gives it in all its ramifications. The story is gripping, the characters drew me in instantly and I could feel all the emotions they had so clearly, I could feel all the goosebumps. Writing about it brings on all the emotions all over again. A must-read!

By Nathan Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Instant New York Times bestseller / An Oprah’s Book Club Pick

In the spirit of The Known World and The Underground Railroad, an award-winning “miraculous debut” (Washington Post) about the unlikely bond between two freedmen who are brothers and the Georgia farmer whose alliance will alter their lives, and his, forever

In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry—freed by the Emancipation Proclamation—seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping…

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Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

Book cover of Radio Free Olympia

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Radio Free Olympia

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’ve always been a child of the woods. I preferred to leave my home and wade a creek or explore a hillside. Nothing compared to the sight of a black snake or the feel of a mud puppy. School was a torture until an English teacher introduced me to Richard Brautigan and then read my first serious story to the class. Since then, this dyslexic nature lover has become a dream fisher and history miner with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Retired from forty-one years of teaching, I now write and publish cultural fiction.

Jeffrey's book list on where imagination and nature run free

What is my book about?

Embark on a riveting journey into Washington State’s untamed Olympic Peninsula, where the threads of folklore legends and historical icons are woven into a complex ecological tapestry.

Follow the enigmatic Petr as he fearlessly employs his pirate radio transmitter to broadcast the forgotten and untamed voices that echo through the wilderness. Venture deeper and encounter Baie, the founder of Wildsisters, a cranberry-infused roadhouse that offers solace to lost and wayward women. When a newborn is kidnapped, Baie and her community must unite to recover what has been stolen. Yet, their quest for justice extends beyond the realm of human characters—it must also be served for the fragile flora, the diverse fauna, and the very essence of the natural world.

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

What is this book about?

Unleash the Power of the Wilderness in Radio Free Olympia

Discover the captivating allure of Washington's untamed Olympic Peninsula in Radio Free Olympia, an extraordinary literary masterpiece that immerses readers in a mesmerizing realm of visionaries, folklore legends, and historical icons. With an enchanting blend of magical realism and cultural fiction, the brilliant wordsmith Jeffrey Dunn artfully intertwines multiple narratives, crafting an intricate ecological tapestry that resonates deeply within the soul.

Embark on a riveting journey alongside the enigmatic Petr, a foundling whose path leads him deep into the heart of the majestic mountain rainforest. Armed with nothing but a…

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