The most recommended historical romance novels

Who picked these books? Meet our 828 experts.

828 authors created a book list connected to historical romance, and here are their favorite historical romance novels.

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Book cover of Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life

Don LePan Author Of Animals

From my list on to help us think of and want to help others.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like just about everyone, I was taught in childhood that we should think of others and help others. But then we start to hear different messages: “it’s naïve to think you can make the world a better place,” “you’re better off trying to help yourself—don’t waste your time with misguided attempts to help others,” "it’s sanctimonious to be a do-gooder,” and on and on it goes. The fact is, we can help to make the world a better place (without being sanctimonious). And we all should. We can volunteer, donate to good causes, eat less meat (or no meat at all), fly and drive less (or not at all!). And, as these authors have shown, the books we write can also make a real contribution.  

Don's book list on to help us think of and want to help others

Don LePan Why did Don love this book?

Gaskell wrote this novel at a time when workers and their families in Britain’s industrial cities labored under intolerable conditions, and it was all too common for their suffering “to pass unregarded by all but the sufferers,” as Gaskell puts it in her preface. Her aim in writing the novel was to bring their plight to the attention of those better off—and to engender sympathy for their plight in the hearts and minds of readers. In the first half of the novel, she succeeds completely; it would be impossible for any reader to remain unmoved while reading of the lives of the Wilson family and the Barton family. The second half of the novel succeeds less fully, but the first half remains as powerful a piece of writing as I have ever read.

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, Jennifer Foster (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mary Barton first appeared in 1848, and has since become one of the best known novels on the 'condition of England,' part of a nineteenth-century British trend to understand the enormous cultural, economic and social changes wrought by industrialization. Gaskell's work had great importance to the labour and reform movements, and it influenced writers such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle and Charlotte Bronte.

The plot of Mary Barton concerns the poverty and desperation of England's industrial workers. Fundamentally, however, it revolves around Mary's personal conflicts. She is already divided between an affection for an industrialist's son, Henry Carson, and for…


Book cover of The Mistletoe Countess

Karen Witemeyer Author Of Head in the Clouds

From my list on sweet historical romance to tickle your funny bone.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to laugh. Whether my oldest son and I are trading bad puns, my husband is teasing, my daughter and I are chuckling over a rom-com, or my youngest son is rolling his eyes and groaning at all of us, my family loves to laugh. Humor creates joy, relieves stress, and is just plain fun. That's what I look for in a good read. The world offers plenty of negativity and hardship. When I escape into a novel, I want fast-paced adventure and swoony romance, but I also want a reason to smile. That's the experience I love, and the one I endeavor to give my readers.

Karen's book list on sweet historical romance to tickle your funny bone

Karen Witemeyer Why did Karen love this book?

This is such a fun book! The book-loving heroine is so upbeat and full of sunshine. Grace loves whimsy yet manages to keep her feet on the ground. I loved how she uses her experience with fiction to solve mysteries and escape harrowing situations. Lord Astley is haunted by past mistakes but his brooding nature can't stand against Grace's guileless enthusiasm. A marriage of convenience, a villain on the prowl, and a house with secret passageways. What's not to love? Riddled with laugh-out-loud moments, this book should not be missed at Christmas or any other time of year.

By Pepper Basham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she…


Book cover of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

A.E. Walnofer Author Of A Girl Called Foote

From my list on servants fake and otherwise.

Why am I passionate about this?

None of us had any choice about where or when we were born, nor under what circumstances. Marie Antoinette could have just as easily been born the illegitimate daughter of a scullery maid as the archduchess of Austria that she was. That’s why the whole servant-employer dynamic has always intrigued me. Servants are, in fact, real people, always have been. Though they’re often treated as little more than sticks of furniture, servants have been overhearing, observing, revealing, and plotting a lot of fascinating things throughout all time.

A.E.'s book list on servants fake and otherwise

A.E. Walnofer Why did A.E. love this book?

Wellborn Margaret Macy is not used to hard work, so when she falls on hard times and disguises herself as a maid in a gentleman’s palatial home, she’s going to have difficulties. However, it’s not just a matter of getting the silver shiny as she also has to remain undetected by her employer…who tried to court her not so very long ago.

By Julie Klassen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Regency Romance and Mystery from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt--and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant…


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…


Book cover of The Child of Auschwitz

Valerie Green Author Of Providence

From Valerie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Passionate reader Author Historian Book reviewer Crazy about books

Valerie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Valerie Green Why did Valerie love this book?

This book left a deep emotional impact on me. Many times, it reduced me to tears so be sure to have a box of tissues handy as you read it. 

Lily Graham’s heart-breaking, descriptive passages of life in Auschwitz and the fact that anyone, let alone a child born into that horror, could survive, were beyond remarkable. 

Graham shows us strong characters like Eva, Sofie, and Helga, who by helping one another and coming together, managed to get through the worst things that could ever happen to a human being. This is a story that should be read by all generations to ensure that such horrendous things can never ever happen again.

By Lily Graham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For readers of Lilac Girls and The Tattooist of Auschwitz, a heartbreaking story of survival, where life or death relies on the smallest chance and happiness can be found in the darkest times.

​It is 1942 and Eva Adami has boarded a train to Auschwitz. Barely able to breathe due to the press of bodies and exhausted from standing up for two days, she can think only of her longed-for reunion with her husband Michal, who was sent there six months earlier.

But when Eva arrives at Auschwitz, there is no sign of Michal and the stark reality of the…


Book cover of A Lady Awakened: Blackshear Family

Katherine Grant Author Of The Viscount Without Virtue

From Katherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist History nerd Amateur dancer Reader New Yorker

Katherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Katherine Grant Why did Katherine love this book?

I love nothing more than a character with solid principles who spends the book testing those ideals against reality.

In A Lady Awakened, Martha Russell has a very rigid view of the world. In particular, she considers sexual intercourse a biological act rather than one of pleasure. This attitude is tested when she realizes she needs to conceive a baby fast to protect the village from her late husband’s lecherous brother.

Martha invites the neighborhood rogue to help her pull off the scheme. Yet because Martha is so rigid in her thinking, it takes most of the book for her to change her view. Meanwhile, her partner Theo grows as a character, too. Together, they bring out the best in each other, which is the best kind of romance, in my opinion.

By Cecilia Grant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fans of Eloisa James, Sherry Thomas, Courtney Milan and Grace Burrowes will adore Cecilia Grant's emotionally rich and deeply passionate Regency romance.

Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. If she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes...for a fee. Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. But how can he…


Book cover of Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray: River of Dreams

Alison Booth Author Of The Philosopher's Daughters

From my list on historical women at the Australian frontier.

Why am I passionate about this?

What makes me passionate about this topic is the racism I’ve witnessed, the books I’ve read, and my deep love of landscape. Australia is a nation built on immigration but it’s also a land with an ancient Indigenous culture, and this is reflected in the books on my list. Born in Melbourne, I grew up in Sydney, and then lived for some years in the UK. I hold a PhD from the London School of Economics and I’m a professor at the Australian National University. I do hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have.

Alison's book list on historical women at the Australian frontier

Alison Booth Why did Alison love this book?

Anita Heiss is an Australian academic and author of a number of insightful books on what it’s like being Indigenous in Australia. Her novel Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray begins in 1852 with a catastrophic flood that is a metaphor for the disastrous effects of European colonisation. Told mainly through the eyes of a young Wiradjuri woman, the novel is a powerful exploration of the clash of cultures that followed European settlement and appropriation of the land. It is a vivid and moving depiction of the unbalanced power relations between the races as well as between men and women.

By Anita Heiss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

‘There are books you encounter as an adult that you wish you could press into the hands of your younger self. Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray is one of those books – a novel that turns Australia’s long-mythologised settler history into a raw and resilient heartsong.' – Guardian

*** WINNER 2022 NSW PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARD INDIGENOUS WRITER'S PRIZE***
***2022 ABIA SHORTLIST***
***2021 ARA HISTORICAL NOVEL PRIZE SHORTLIST*** 
*** 2022 STELLA PRIZE LONGLIST***
***2022 INDIE BOOK AWARDS LONGLIST*** 
***2022 VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS HIGHLY COMMENDED*** 
_______________________________________________
Gundagai, 1852

The powerful Murrumbidgee River surges through town leaving death and destruction in its wake. It is…


Book cover of Enemy Women

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a child sexual abuse survivor who struggled for years with the help of therapy to become the person I am today. My sister, my mother, and I suffered years of emotional abuse by my father. When I was a child, my best friend (who also suffered abuse by her brother) and I made up stories that helped us navigate the situations in our families. I read, hiked, backpacked, and traveled alone for years in order to take risks and develop strength before attempting to write at age sixty-one. I love books that put me solidly in time and place and deeply empathize with characters who struggle and grow to become their genuine selves.

Karen's book list on strong emotion, excellent plotting, and vivid descriptions that put me securely in time and place

Karen Lynne Klink Why did Karen love this book?

I love this book mainly because the main character is an ordinary young woman with grit who defies all hostility in Missouri during the Civil War, including neighbors who turn against her.

I went through lots of emotions with this character during her journey to finding love, from anger and trepidation to wonder and exhilaration. The setting, historical context, and unsentimental yet tender and poetic writing make this book a triumph. 

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Enemy Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gritty, memorable book ... it is a delight from start to finish, without a single misstep." Tracy Chevalier

Missouri, 1865. Adair Colley and her family have managed to hide from the bloody Armageddon of the American Civil War, but finally even their remote mountain farm cannot escape the plundering greed of the Union militia. Her house is burnt, her father beaten and dragged away. With fierce determination, Adair sets out after him on foot. So begins an extraordinary voyage which will see Adair herself denounced as a Confederate spy and thrown in jail. Here she falls passionately in love…


Book cover of April in Paris

Lisbeth Eng Author Of In the Arms of the Enemy

From my list on World War II with unexpected love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long been enthralled by tales, real and fictional, that transcend the obvious and clichéd. My interest in World War II was piqued years ago while studying in Italy, when our professor regaled us with accounts of the Italian Resistance. Depictions of the “enemy” in fiction are often brutalized, and he is portrayed as less than human, compared with those on the righteous side of the battle. As a romance writer, crafting characters as living, breathing human beings, amidst the abyss of war, became my passion. Conflict is essential to a captivating plot, and what could be more intriguing than pitting heroine against hero in mortal struggle.

Lisbeth's book list on World War II with unexpected love stories

Lisbeth Eng Why did Lisbeth love this book?

April in Paris presents a perspective not often seen in World War II fiction: the first-person account of a German soldier.

Fluent in French, Corporal Roth is assigned to interpret prisoner interrogations in Nazi-occupied Paris. Disturbed by the torture he witnesses, Roth escapes his repugnant duties by posing as a Frenchman when off-duty, attempting to shed his identity as “occupier” by blending in with the populace.

He encounters the beautiful Chantal and ardently pursues her, unaware that she is part of the Resistance. Love ripens between Roth and Chantal, but the outcome spins out of their control, as both are hurled toward the perilous consequences of their affair.

Wallner’s fast-paced novel is more thriller than romance, as human emotion collides with the brutality of war. 

By Michael Wallner, John Cullen (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When people on Paris's bustling streets look at Michael Roth, they see little more than a Parisian student, a quietly spoken young man with a book under his arm, handsome but guarded. What they do not realize is that he is carrying a painful secret, one that he cannot even reveal to the woman he loves.

For Michael is no ordinary Frenchman but a German. He has been sent to Paris to assist the Nazis in dealing with Resistance fighters. Desperate to escape his daily life, he steals into the world of the oppressed Parisians, and into the path of…


Book cover of The Scottish Boy

Seth Haddon Author Of Reborn

From my list on queer love stories that defy all odds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a queer writer whose latest novel explores destiny’s role in love, and what it means for love to triumph. I’m completely addicted to reading queer romances, and my favourite dynamics are always couples whose love beats the odds. I am a queer Australian writer of fantasy, as well as a video game designer. I live in Sydney with my partner and our two furry children. 

Seth's book list on queer love stories that defy all odds

Seth Haddon Why did Seth love this book?

This is a book I saw cropping up every so often, but I was worried it would be too history-heavy (which can be a massive plus, but I was looking for something more heavy on the romance side!)

But when an artist friend of mine painted a very beautiful man, I had to know where he was from—and this was that book! It’s set in 1333, England is at war with Scotland, and already we have a beautiful tension set up.

Harry is a young untested knight eager for glory who is roped into a mission in Scotland where a massacre occurs, all to retrieve a young man, wild and angry, who is then put into Harry’s care. There’s so much mystery around this young man and his and Harry’s relationship has to overcome first their heritages, then the expectations of their societies.

It’s beautiful, hot, and one I’ll remember…

By Alex de Campi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1333. Edward III is at war with Scotland. Nineteen-year-old Sir Harry de Lyon yearns to prove himself, and jumps at the chance when a powerful English baron, William Montagu, invites him on a secret mission with a dozen elite knights. They ride north, to a crumbling Scottish keep, capturing the feral, half-starved boy within and putting the other inhabitants to the sword.

But nobody knows why the flower of English knighthood snuck over the border to capture a savage, dirty teenage boy. Montagu gives the boy to Harry as his squire, with only two rules: don't let him escape, and…


Book cover of Alex & Eliza

Katherine Rothschild Author Of Wider Than the Sky

From my list on righting the wrongs of history.

Why am I passionate about this?

History is full of injustice—and my work is centered around how characters deal with the injustice in their world. As a Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University, I’m in a constant conversation about how language reflects social injustice—and social change. In my fiction, I like to struggle more creatively with how we revise history—and how we give some small measure of justice to our characters. In my first novel, Wider than the Sky, that injustice is how people who are bisexual have been treated historically, even within the gay community. In my second book, I’m looking at how teen girls are sexualized unfairly. 

Katherine's book list on righting the wrongs of history

Katherine Rothschild Why did Katherine love this book?

Everyone ships Alex and Eliza. Everyone. Okay, maybe not Angelica. But everyone else. And with the fabulous Hamilton musical, we move a little too quickly to Alex’s affair(s) and his life’s tragedy. Let us linger on the love story, will you? This book hones in on Alex and Eliza’s love story and lets us live through their courtship and loveship, and leaves out all those parts that are a bunch of big downers. While it doesn’t quite right a wrong of history—it does tell the part of the story we all want to linger in. 

By Melissa de la Cruz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alex & Eliza as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Witches of East End and the Descendants series comes the love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society's biggest events: the Schuylers' grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country's founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters-Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with…