The best historical romance novels without sappy character introspection

Stephen W. Bartlett Author Of The Bridal Prospectus
By Stephen W. Bartlett

Who am I?

I like to write more than I like to read, but when I do read, I want to learn about other places and times besides my own. Since my own novels are contemporary fiction, it makes sense that historical fiction is my favorite category to read. Likewise, my interest in romance isn’t from unrequited love, but rather, a desire to explore the difficulties of choosing a life partner in our complicated world. (Even my detective novels contain romance!) But I don’t like sappy introspective thought processes, a variation of teen angst, and most readers of historical romance have this same aversion. So none of my recommendations will be that way. 


I wrote...

The Bridal Prospectus

By Stephen W. Bartlett,

Book cover of The Bridal Prospectus

What is my book about?

What would happen if a rich girl needs a husband to provide an heir for her fortune? Can she solve the problem with a business prospectus? This is a contemporary story about the consequences of using this approach when a lonely businesswoman tries to find the right man to father her children. In essence, she anonymously solicits a mail-order husband with specific qualities and in the process discovers that what is really important in a marriage isn’t in her prospectus.   

The books I picked & why

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The Secret Healer

By Ellin Carsta, Terry Laster (translator),

Book cover of The Secret Healer

Why this book?

Terry Laster, who translated this work from the German original, does a masterful job of expressing the situation in 14th-century Heidelberg when a female secretly heals patients and for her success, is accused of performing works of the devil. In their ignorance, the town council appoints her husband, a lawyer, to discover her identity. How this story resolves is a testament to the power of good works and encourages me when I face opposition from ignorant people. 

The Secret Healer

By Ellin Carsta, Terry Laster (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Healer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city's trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.

After Clara's tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman's child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts. Forced to flee her own town, she establishes a new identity in the home of her aunt. Yet even though it…


Scarlett

By Alexandra Ripley,

Book cover of Scarlett

Why this book?

It has been many years since I first read this book yet I still remember how successful the author was in recreating the atmosphere presented by the movie, Gone with the Wind. She was so successful that this book is advertised as a sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s original work. If you want to know how civilian life was in the South during the American Civil War, you won’t be disappointed with this work. And of course, there is the tumultous relationship between Scarlett and Rhett Butler. 

Scarlett

By Alexandra Ripley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover the phenomenal #1 bestselling sequel to Gone With the Wind: "true to Scarlett's spirit," this inventive novel beautifully continues Margaret Mitchell's timeless tale (Chicago Tribune).
The most popular and beloved American historical novel ever written, Gone With the Wind is unparalleled in its portrayal of men and women at once larger than life but as real as ourselves. Now Alexandra Ripley brings us back to Tara and reintroduces us to the characters we remember so well: Rhett, Ashley, Mammy, Suellen, Aunt Pittypat, and, of course, Scarlett.
As the classic story, first told over half a century ago, moves forward,…


Lucky Bet

By Anna Reader,

Book cover of Lucky Bet

Why this book?

Set at the end of the Georgian period in England (1790s), ‘Bet’ or Elizabeth is a reluctant rebel. Although she is fifty years before the suffragette movement, she resists the norms of her day, even disguising herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage. Although she is an anachronism, I found her character believable, a mixture of practicality and altruism. Her devoted friend, William, shows an understanding that many men of our day would do well to have. And it is no wonder they grow in affection for each other as she faces one hurdle after another in a “Man’s” world. This is a feel-good read. 

Lucky Bet

By Anna Reader,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lady Elizabeth Randolph had always been a rebellious young woman, but when her scheming guardian threatens to marry her off to a grotesque stranger, she finds her gumption truly tested. Escaping to London disguised as a young man, Elizabeth discovers a new world of gambling, duels, cruelty and love. Railing against the limitations of her gender and with her best friend, William, by her side, Elizabeth sets out to win her freedom.


Georgiana Darcy's Diary

By Anna Elliott, Laura Masselos (translator),

Book cover of Georgiana Darcy's Diary

Why this book?

Although I can’t say much about the book’s cover, this is a wonderful sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It answers the question many readers have about life at Pemberly after Elizabeth and Darcy marry. Set at the end of the Regency period in England in 1814, it follows the courtship of Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, and deals with the issues faced by women of that day. I must confess, I have an attraction for strong female characters who must battle the norms of their society in order to find true happiness. If you have the same attraction, you’ll like this book. 

Georgiana Darcy's Diary

By Anna Elliott, Laura Masselos (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Georgiana Darcy's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mr. Darcy's younger sister searches for her own happily-ever-after...

The year is 1814, and it is springtime at Pemberley. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have married. But now a new romance is in the air, along with high fashion, elegant manners, scandal, deception, and the wonderful hope of a true and lasting love.

Shy Georgiana Darcy has been content to remain unmarried, living with her brother and his new bride. But Elizabeth and Darcy's fairy-tale love reminds Georgiana daily that she has found no true love of her own. And perhaps never will, for she is convinced the one man she…


Wallflower

By Catherine Gayle,

Book cover of Wallflower

Why this book?

Oh yes. It’s another romance novel set in the Regency period. The Regency, only nine years in length, has spawned more romance novels than any other time in England’s history. So what’s so special about this one? Well, neither the girl nor the guy wants to get married but circumstances conspire to throw them together. I found their conversations to be spirited, meaning original and adversarial. It is delightful how they begin to genuinely like each other and lose their disdain for the institution of marriage. There are some lessons here for our modern days. 

Wallflower

By Catherine Gayle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The choice between adhering to a long-held pact and finally accepting love could prove Lady Tabitha Shelton’s unhinging. She is plump, plain, pleasant . . . and thoroughly unappealing to any of the men of the ton—apart from fortune hunters. A self-appointed wallflower, she has every intention of remaining one. Tabitha made a vow of spinsterhood with her cousins when they were girls, and she refuses to go back on her word. So far, she’s proven herself quite adept at warding off the blasted fortune hunters’ pursuits.

Noah deLancie, Marquess of Devonport, would prefer to marry for love and companionship—he’s…


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