The best historical misfits that should totally be your best friend if they were alive (or real)

Who am I?

I’m a writer of relatable misfits, and a misfit myself. My outsides and insides have never matched, and my accent has always been wrong. I’ve lived all over the United States, and no matter what, I’m always from somewhere else, no matter how long I’ve lived there. I usually end up good friends with other interesting folx who are the same as me: a little different, a little crafty, and a hell of a lot of fun. 

I wrote...

A Lady's Finder (When the Blood Is Up)

By Edie Cay,

Book cover of A Lady's Finder (When the Blood Is Up)

What is my book about?

Lady Agnes is a scandal thanks to her sister’s marriage to a prizefighter. Or rather, she should be. Suddenly, receiving attention from the unpredictable Mr. Townsend, Lady Agnes finds herself believing he might love her and not her dowry. Or is she a means to an end as her family insists?

Jack About Town is London’s best Finder of Lost Things. What few realize is that Jack transcends the spheres of men and women, existing as both—neither?—sex. Now he has found Lady Agnes who accepts him—a jewel so rare that even Jack is surprised he could find it. When Jack is commissioned to steal from Lady Agnes’s cousin, can Jack prove his love and earn the money he needs to protect himself?

The books I picked & why

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Confessions of the Fox

By Jordy Rosenberg,

Book cover of Confessions of the Fox

Why this book?

This book has several mind-benders in it, and I love it. There is a historical manuscript that an academic in the near-future has to verify for authenticity. The manuscript is from the 1700s about a transperson named Jack Sheppard, and his adventures in London. But the footnotes from the near-future academic and their advisors reveal a threat that ultimately cause them to flee. This novel bends and stretches and changes, all the while keeping one narrative in 1724 with the incredible slang of Jack Sheppard, and the other narrative and its meta-revelations stuck (almost always) in the footnotes. By then end, you want to go drinking with Jack and Bess. 

The Heiress Effect

By Courtney Milan,

Book cover of The Heiress Effect

Why this book?

This is the book that made me want to write a historical romance. The protagonist, Miss Jane Fairfield, is outlandishly rich. But she can’t get married and leave her younger sister, who has epilepsy, to the well-meaning but cruel treatments recommended by their uncle, who is also their guardian. Since her money makes her an appealing target for many an impoverished rake, Jane has to work extra to become unappealing while still seeming like she’s trying to attract a man. She wears obnoxiously bright clothing, insults people with the kindest tone, and—in one desperate attempt to make a man be mean to her—takes the food right off his plate. This is a book about people trying to put you in your place and keep you small. And let me give you a hint: it’s a romance, so there’s definitely a Happily Ever After, and that includes small-minded people getting their comeuppance. 

A Tip for the Hangman

By Allison Epstein,

Book cover of A Tip for the Hangman

Why this book?

A historical mystery about the spy efforts of one Christopher Marlowe—a man that modern audiences know as a contemporary of William Shakespeare. There is evidence that he was in the spy business for Queen Elizabeth, and while there are a number of historical “liberties” taken by the author, the solid facts are there. Christopher Marlowe, or “Kit” as we know him in the text, has a chip on his shoulder and snark in his mouth. He is quick-witted and always has a quip to put someone in his place. It’s hard not to root for Kit as he is continually underestimated and put into difficult situations, and it definitely makes you want to get a pint of ale with him. 


By Madeline Miller,

Book cover of Circe

Why this book?

So the woman has anger issues, but wouldn’t you after all she’s been through? Her transformation from god-wallflower to supreme island witch is stunning. In this riveting take on the Odyssey’s side character, Circe shows character growth that you wouldn’t believe. And to put your feet up in front of her magical fire in her magical hearth and have some wine with this woman? Yes, please. Can you imagine if you were witty enough to make her laugh? That would be an achievement for the ages. 

Island Queen

By Vanessa Riley,

Book cover of Island Queen

Why this book?

Dorothy Kirwan was a real woman, who did real feats of magic and strength. In Riley’s book, we get to peer into this woman who became a Caribbean real estate mogul, despite her disadvantage of being born into enslavement. This Dorothy doesn’t always make the best decisions because she follows her heart—a dalliance with a handsome prince on a boat? Why not? But the times I really want to be Dorothy’s friend is when she goes down to the parties with the not-rich folk. Where she dances and laughs, spins around flirting with whoever happens by. Not to say she isn’t complex, because she is. She’s loyal to a fault, but cross her and she’ll cut you as deep as she can. Just stay on her good side. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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