The best books about nobility

Who picked these books? Meet our 94 experts.

94 authors created a book list connected to nobility, and here are their favorite nobility books.
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What type of nobility book?


Friends and Foes

By Sarah M. Eden,

Book cover of Friends and Foes

Donna Hatch Author Of The Stranger She Married

From the list on swoony historical romance without bedrooms scenes.

Who am I?

Historical novels, movies, and TV shows have captured my interest even as a child since the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My love of history has sent me into historic schoolhouses, churches, castles, pirate ships, ancient Roman spas and aqueducts, and other historical sites at home and in England, Spain, and Portugal, as well as pouring over journals, biographies, and non-fiction research books. My first love is Regency England, but I have a fascination for history of all eras and countries. My passion and fascination for detail have been the driving force behind my twenty-four published Regency romances and hundreds of articles and blog posts.

Donna's book list on swoony historical romance without bedrooms scenes

Discover why each book is one of Donna's favorite books.

Why did Donna love this book?

This book has fun, quirky characters and witty dialogue that made me laugh out loud. The heroine has a disability—unusual in historical romance—which makes her even more endearing. The hero has a secret identity which made for some fun scenes. I love the enemies-to-friends trope and this book deals with it masterfully with plenty of heartwarming moments. The characters taught me to look deeper into people and not make snap judgments about who they appear to be on the outside. Best of all, this is a swoony book that made my heart flutter, all without going into bedroom scenes.

By Sarah M. Eden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After five years of tracking and capturing spies on English soil, Philip Jonquil, Earl of Lampton, is in pursuit of his last quarry. But at a traveler’s inn, he encounters an unexpected and far more maddening foe: Sorrel Kendrick, a young lady who is strikingly pretty, shockingly outspoken, and entirely unimpressed with him. Indeed, Sorrel cannot believe the nerve of this gentleman, who rudely accuses her of theft and insults her feminine dignity. Doubly annoyed when they both end up at a party hosted by mutual friends, Philip and Sorrel privately declare war on one another. But Philip’s tactics, which…


By Laurie Lucking,

Book cover of Common

Katy Huth Jones Author Of Mercy's Prince

From the list on YA fantasy about hope in dark places.

Who am I?

“Hope in dark places” has been the theme of my life, beginning at age 17 when my parents disowned me for my faith. I’ve walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” twice, battling cancer, and endured many other struggles, which everyone faces at some time in their lives. Reading Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey as a teen gave me the courage to face the darkness, and so the characters in the stories I write and prefer to read do likewise.

Katy's book list on YA fantasy about hope in dark places

Discover why each book is one of Katy's favorite books.

Why did Katy love this book?

When I first started reading this fantasy book club selection, I thought it would be a simple sort-of-like Cinderella tale and didn’t expect to be sucked into Leah’s story. My heart went out to her for all the ways she was unfairly treated and misunderstood, for I have known that pain. She was trying to save the royal family, and the queen exiled her!

The best part about this story is how brave and loyal Leah is, and how she doesn’t complain, even when she has good reason. I remember how difficult it was not to complain when I was a teen, so I especially appreciate the encouragement Leah gives without realizing it.

By Laurie Lucking,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when…

The Light in the Ruins

By Chris Bohjalian,

Book cover of The Light in the Ruins

Karla M. Jay Author Of When We Were Brave

From the list on WWII with stories we haven’t heard before.

Who am I?

I love to write stories of historical injustice, so this is mainly the genre I read. In recent years, many new novels merely rehashed the same theme, such as the horror show known as Auschwitz or the other camps. Although those are worthy of the people who died there, I’m always on the hunt for a fresh story that has never been told about those tragic years. 

Karla's book list on WWII with stories we haven’t heard before

Discover why each book is one of Karla's favorite books.

Why did Karla love this book?

I loved learning about what happened in Italy when the Germans occupied it. In this story, a wealthy Italian family becomes too close to the Germans by inviting them to search the secret ruins behind their villa for antiquities. This relationship has deadly consequences years later as members of the family are killed. The book goes back and forth between 1943 and 1955 until we learn why someone is seeking revenge.  

By Chris Bohjalian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Light in the Ruins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge—set in war-ravaged Tuscany.

1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa…

A Lady for a Duke

By Alexis Hall,

Book cover of A Lady for a Duke

Seth Haddon Author Of Reborn

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

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Seth's favorite books.

Why did Seth love this book?

I found this book through TikTok after a surge of booktokers started to recommend it.

I was instantly intrigued by the premise: presumed dead at Waterloo, a soldier decides to live as herself—trans woman Viola loses her wealth, her title, and her childhood friend Gracewood. But years later, fate draws them together again, and they must contend with their desires and their past together.

This book! I cried, I laughed, I had so many emotions reading this tale. Against all odds, they find each other, they communicate through the unique challenge of attraction after years and Viola’s new womanhood.

There are some incredibly hot scenes which feel all the more tantalizing for the novel’s historical setting. I’ve lent this book to several friends just hoping they experience the same joy I did. 

By Alexis Hall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Lady for a Duke as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lush, sweeping queer historical romance from the USA Today bestselling author of Husband Material—perfect for fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton, Evie Dunmore, and Lisa Kleypas!
When Viola Carroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.

Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so…

The Jewel in the Skull

By Michael Moorcock,

Book cover of The Jewel in the Skull

Matt Barron Author Of Prentice Ash

From the list on fantastic heroes at war.

Who am I?

Like so many boys, I grew up playing soldiers with my friends. Now I’m a trained historian and running around waving a stick as a pretend rifle yelling rat-a-tat, or sword fighting with fallen branches, just isn’t a good look for me. But I can still appreciate the heroism of soldiers that drew me to play those games in the first place. These books scratch that itch, as well as meeting the standard of truthfulness that the historian in me needs. Believable settings with heroes you can root for and stakes that feel real. That’s what I like to read and that’s what I write.

Matt's book list on fantastic heroes at war

Discover why each book is one of Matt's favorite books.

Why did Matt love this book?

This is a masterpiece of the New Wave fantasy novels of the 1960s and 1970s. The hero, Dorian Hawkmoon, is a nobleman in the far future where science has become so advanced it is indistinguishable from magic. Hawkmoon is forced to work for his enemies by a magical jewel they embed in his forehead. Hawkmoon’s world is Europe, but hardly recognisable, and a vast empire with impossible super-technology is conquering the whole continent. It’s a story of heroism vs magic in a war where the technological wonders feel alien and familiar all at once. The evil empire of Granbretan, where everyone is continuously masked, is one of the most original of the trope that has ever been written.

By Michael Moorcock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Jewel in the Skull as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Those who dare swear by the Runestaff must then benefit or suffer from the consequences of the fixed pattern of destiny that they set in motion. Several such oaths have been sworn in the history of the Runestaff’s existence...”—The High History of the Runestaff Dorian Hawkmoon, late the Duke of Koln, fell under the power of the Runestaff, a mysterious artifact more ancient than time itself. His destiny, shaped by a vengeful oath sworn by the maddened Baron Meliadus of the Dark Empire, pitted Hawkmoon in battle against his own allies and forced him, by the Black Jewel embedded in…

Must Love Breeches

By Angela Quarles,

Book cover of Must Love Breeches: A Time Travel Romance

Jessi Gage Author Of Wishing for a Highlander

From the list on time travel romances that leave you feeling light.

Who am I?

“We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” Wayne and Garth said it best. This is how I felt when I read my first time-travel romance almost twenty years ago. It was a masterpiece, and it’s since gone on to sell in record numbers and become a Starz network TV series. You know the one. I enjoyed this immense tome full of gritty history and realistic romance, but for my next read, I found myself gravitating toward lighter fare. If, like me, you prefer the literary equivalent of fluffy, buttery popcorn to the steak dinner of heavier stories, you’ll love my bestselling time-travel romance series, starting with Wishing for a Highlander.

Jessi's book list on time travel romances that leave you feeling light

Discover why each book is one of Jessi's favorite books.

Why did Jessi love this book?

Do you like smart writing with lots of humor? How about historical accuracy with a nod to science fiction? Characters that speak to your soul? Must Love Breeches has all this and more. This romance pairs a modern woman with brains and an indomitable spirit with a rakishly handsome, revenge-seeking nobleman. The backdrop is an 1834 London so realistic you’ll be checking your pockets to make sure they weren’t picked.

By Angela Quarles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A USAToday bestseller. She's finally met the man of her dreams--too bad he lives in a different century!

A devoted history buff finds the re-enactment of a pre-Victorian ball in London a bit boring...until a mysterious artifact sweeps her back in time to the real event, and into the arms of a compelling British lord.

Isabelle Rochon can't believe it when she finds herself in the reality of 1830's London high society. She's thrilled to witness events and people she's studied. But she may also have to survive without modern tools or career--unless she can find a way to return…

Any Rogue Will Do

By Bethany Bennett,

Book cover of Any Rogue Will Do

Sophie Barnes Author Of Mr. Dale and the Divorcée

From the list on historical romance by contemporary authors.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing historical romance novels and novellas for over ten years now and have read extensively from this genre during that time. I’m currently working on my 42nd book where a governess in her mid-thirties finds love with her wealthy boss. Writing romance may seem easy, but it actually requires a lot of research and poses the challenge of being dependent on the gradual emotional development of two protagonists whose journeys intertwine. As a former editor of mine once put it, there are a lot of gears in motion, all of which have to work smoothly together. The stories I’ve chosen to mention are excellent examples of this. I hope you’ll enjoy each one.

Sophie's book list on historical romance by contemporary authors

Discover why each book is one of Sophie's favorite books.

Why did Sophie love this book?

It isn’t easy breaking through as an author these days, especially not in a genre that’s as competitive as the historical romance genre has become. Bethany Bennett entered the scene last year with a novel that’s not only memorable, but which contains a plot and characterization that easily match those of more seasoned authors. Her sequel, West End Earl, is even better and proves she’ll excel, so this is a new to me author whose career I look forward to following in the coming years.

By Bethany Bennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Any Rogue Will Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He ruined her reputation-now he's the only one who can save it

For exactly one season, Lady Charlotte Wentworth played the biddable female the ton expected-and all it got her was society's mockery and derision. Now she's determined to be in charge of her own future. So when an unwanted suitor tries to manipulate her into an engagement, she has a plan. He can't claim to be her fiance if she's engaged to someone else. Even if it means asking for help from the last man she would ever marry.

Ethan, Viscount Amesbury, made a lot of mistakes, but the…

Book cover of The Viscount Who Loved Me

Carolyn Jewel Author Of Scandal: A Regency Historical Romance

From the list on historical romances to warm your heart.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading historical romance since I was a teen and writing it since I published my first historical romance in 1987. Since then I’ve written over forty romance novels, short stories, and novellas, many of which are historical romances. I adore history and research is never a chore for me. Graduate school and a project on Eleanore Sleath, an English author of Horrid Novels from the early 19th century, honed the research skills that I bring to my historical novels. There are times when readers need the certainty of the happy ending that Romance promises, and I love delivering on that promise in all my books. I hope everyone finds a new author to love from this list!

Carolyn's book list on historical romances to warm your heart

Discover why each book is one of Carolyn's favorite books.

Why did Carolyn love this book?

Bridgerton. Need I say more? Well, yes. This is my favorite of Quinn’s Bridgerton series, and every time I re-read this book, I laugh at the scene in the Viscount’s study. I am laughing right now. Quinn’s historicals are full of fun and joy, perhaps epitomized in a Bridgerton sibling game of Pall Mall that is both merciless and screamingly funny. There’s nobody better at joyful stories than Quinn. If you want to spend a few hours being delighted, read this book. Then go watch Ava Duvernay bring that joy to the screen.

By Julia Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Viscount Who Loved Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

# 1 New York Times Bestseller

The inspiration for season two of BRIDGERTON, a series created by Shondaland for Netflix, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn: the story of Anthony Bridgerton in the second of her beloved Regency-set novels featuring the charming, powerful Bridgerton family.


This time the gossip columnists have it wrong. London's most elusive bachelor Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry-he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield-the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with…

A Passion for Government

By Frances Harris,

Book cover of A Passion for Government: The Life of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough

Judith Lissauer Cromwell Author Of Florence Nightingale, Feminist

From the list on biographies of women who made a difference.

Who am I?

I’ve always been captivated by stories about powerful women. After a corporate career as one of the first female executives in the international world of Wall Street, while raising two children as a single working parent, I returned to academia. I am a magna cum laude graduate of Smith College, hold a doctorate in modern European history, with academic distinction, from New York University. I wanted to ascertain whether the mostly male writers of history were correct in attributing the success of exceptional women to the bedroom. Meticulous research yielded a different narrative, one I delight in sharing.

Judith's book list on biographies of women who made a difference

Discover why each book is one of Judith's favorite books.

Why did Judith love this book?

Beautiful, intelligent, ambitious, and self-confident, headstrong Sarah sought to parlay her friendship with Princess Anne into political power when Anne became queen.  But Anne disagreed with Sarah’s strident Whiggism, and resented her attempts at manipulation.  Sarah’s persistence in pestering Anne about politics, her arrogance, and her inability to admit either another opinion than her own, or take responsibility for her mistakes, combined with her uncontrollable temper to kill the friendship and with it, Sarah’s political ambitions. 

By Frances Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, was a woman with a `passion for government': a compulsion to wield power not only in her own family but in public affairs as well. She was the favourite of Queen Anne, the devoted wife and political associate of the Queen's most powerful subject, the passionate ally or bitter enemy of most of the leading public figures of her day, and in her widowhood the effective head of one of England's great families. Despite her stormy relationship
with the architect Vanbrugh, she played a major role in the building of Blenheim Palace, one of England's most…

Titus Groan

By Mervyn Peake,

Book cover of Titus Groan

Richard Sparks Author Of New Rock, New Role

From the list on fantasy that aren’t afraid to be funny.

Who am I?

I’ve now completed four books in my New Rock fantasy series; and, while the stories are full-on adventures in a strange (but strangely familiar) new world, they contain lots of comedic characters and situations. I come from a background of comedy writing. Comedy isn’t nice people telling jokes. That’s a dinner party. Comedy is all about pain, fear, misery, confusion, suffering, mistakes, betrayals, accidents, dangers, and things going horribly wrong—and what good adventure doesn't have those? And why wouldn’t any strange new world be full of them? New Rock New Role, the first book in the series, is published on December 12th 2023 by CAEZIK SF & Fantasy.

Richard's book list on fantasy that aren’t afraid to be funny

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

Mervyn Peake was a writer, artist, and poet. His masterpiece is the Gormenghast trilogy (Titus Groan; Gormenghast; Titus Alone). Talk about world-building! Good lord, it’s wonderful. 

A friend of mine read them over a summer holiday in blazing hot Greece, and all he could remember about it was the rain and cold and floods and clouds of Gormenghast. Peake was very ill when writing the third book, which is less satisfactory than the earlier volumes. He was too weak to give it the work that he knew it needed. Perhaps not laugh-out-loud humour, but plenty of sly, dark, often grotesque comedy.

By Mervyn Peake,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Titus Groan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first volume of the GORMENGHAST trilogy of fantasy novels. Titus Groan is born the heir to Gormenghast castle, and finds himself in a world predetermined by complex rituals that have been made obscure by the passage of time. Along the corridors of the castle, the child encounters some of the dark characters who will shape his life.

The Mountbattens

By Andrew Lownie,

Book cover of The Mountbattens: The Lives and Loves of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten

Merryn Corcoran Author Of The Silent Village

From the list on for lovers of French and Italian history, romance, and mystery.

Who am I?

I was born in New Zealand and now live half the year in London and the other half on the border of The French and Italian Riviera. I am fascinated by the history of the buildings and the color of the European lifestyle. I love to write novels about the past and how that past relates to scenarios of present day. I am keen to tell the untold stories of WW2 that are based on fact. Then weave them with embellishment from my own imagination.     

Merryn's book list on for lovers of French and Italian history, romance, and mystery

Discover why each book is one of Merryn's favorite books.

Why did Merryn love this book?

My focus often wanes when I am reading a lot of historic facts, but this biography of the British titled Mountbatten couple is a riveting read. Whilst their public lives and public duties brought them accolades and respect, their private lives were totally outrageous, given the time and their close connections to the Queen of England. The book offers a wonderful descriptive prose and informative insight into life around the Royal family. Andrew Lownie is a thorough, brilliant researcher and this book definitely deserves its best-selling status. 

By Andrew Lownie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Richly entertaining... impressively well-researched' Daily Mail, Biography of the Year

The Sunday Times bestselling biography of the glamorous couple behind the modern royal family, the aunt and uncle of Prince Philip.

DICKIE MOUNTBATTEN: A major figure behind his nephew Philip's marriage to Queen Elizabeth II and instrumental in the Royal Family taking the Mountbatten name, he was Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia during World War II and the last Viceroy of India.

EDWINA MOUNTBATTEN: Once the richest woman in Britain and a playgirl who enjoyed numerous affairs, she emerged from World War II as a magnetic and talented…

The Phantom Lover

By Elizabeth Mansfield,

Book cover of The Phantom Lover

Alexandria Blaelock Author Of The Ghost and Ms Cox

From the list on ghosty best friends.

Who am I?

I was five when we moved to Australia, and soon after I discovered two things: I am the seventh child of a seventh child, with magic powers including the ability to see ghosts. My mother’s brother Dennis drowned when he was six. Naturally I started talking to him. Mind you, Mum also told me if the wind changed my face would stay like that, so the ghost thing probably wasn’t true either. Technically she only brought two of us to term. Dennis and I still talk, but we don’t have much in common anymore. With that in mind, please enjoy my ghosty best friends book recommendations.

Alexandria's book list on ghosty best friends

Discover why each book is one of Alexandria's favorite books.

Why did Alexandria love this book?

Okay, so this one is a cheat, because the ghost isn’t actually dead, only wishes he was dead. When I was a teenager I borrowed this one from one of my mother's friends, not long after it was published, and “forgot” to give it back I liked it so much.

Regency romances can be a little overwrought, but I read it again recently, and it holds up to the passage of time. But, it tells us, that no matter how bad things seem, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Life is what you make it, even if it takes all your courage, you have to keep adjusting and moving forwards. 

By Elizabeth Mansfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fascinating stranger who visits a young lady in the dead of night is no ghostly spirit in this spellbinding Regency romance by award-winning author Elizabeth Mansfield

After scandalizing London with her improper behavior and jilting two suitors, Nell Belden is about to do it again. This time she rejects the very wealthy, utterly insufferable nobleman her financially strapped guardians have been pressuring her to marry. Banished to their isolated Cornwall estate, Nell is awakened one night by an unusual apparition.
But her midnight visitor is no phantom. He is Captain Henry Thorne, sixth Earl of Thornbury. The new Lord…

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris

By Adriana Herrera,

Book cover of A Caribbean Heiress in Paris

Katherine Grant Author Of The Viscount Without Virtue

From the list on historical romances for intersectional feminists.

Who am I?

As a historical romance reader, I’m a sucker for stories about the glamorous aristocracy falling in love. While Regency and Victorian romances have explored feminism for at least the last two decades, the genre often falls short of asking more of itself. Of course the debutante shouldn’t need a man – but while the story liberates her, it doesn’t take any notice of the non-aristocratic,  non-Anglican, non-White, less-abled, and/or non-cishet straight characters around her. I yearned for stories that required my favorite aristocrats to acknowledge, examine, and leverage their privilege. All five of these authors deliver – without forgetting our favorite tropes and genre conventions!

Katherine's book list on historical romances for intersectional feminists

Discover why each book is one of Katherine's favorite books.

Why did Katherine love this book?

In research for my own books, I have learned how present the British were in the Caribbean for centuries.

Yet it is not often that I find Caribbean characters when reading historical romances. That is one of the reasons I was so excited to pick up A Caribbean Heiress in Paris – and I was not disappointed!

In this novel, you get a heroine who is trying to defend her identity on three fronts: as a businesswoman, as a mixed-race woman, and as a woman who does not want marriage to be the solution to her problems.

Much of the hero’s growth is discovering how to witness and learn about Luz Alana’s challenges without barging in and “solving” them.

This is a great read with a delightful plot, new insight into Caribbean-European history, and an endearing romance. 

By Adriana Herrera,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Caribbean Heiress in Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is a triumph!' Sarah MacLean

'Historical romance at its very best - fresh, lush and full of steam!' Sophie Jordan

Paris, 1889.

Luz Alana Heith-Benzan, heiress to the Cana Brava rum empire, has sailed all the way from Santo Domingo with one purpose: expanding her family's business.

Enter James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick. From their first tempestuous meeting, Luz Alana is conflicted - why is this titled, and infuriatingly charming, Scottish man so willing to help her?

Evan might have his own reasons for supporting Luz Alana but every day they spend together makes…


By Laura Lam,

Book cover of Pantomime

Lori Powell Author Of The Hunter's Companion

From the list on British YA fantasy with characters to love.

Who am I?

I love fantasy books and I love the wonderful array of British authors out there, so I wanted to showcase some of them in my small selection of books. Some are well known, some less so but all have their own unique and fascinating way of creating fantasy worlds. There are so many good books to choose from but these five are real must-reads as far as I’m concerned.

Lori's book list on British YA fantasy with characters to love

Discover why each book is one of Lori's favorite books.

Why did Lori love this book?

This book is amazing. Micah Grey, the new runaway boy to join the circus, has secrets to hide. Some of them start to be uncovered in this book, some will follow. I love that the author explores identity and belonging in a way that feels so authentic. I love that this book is the I in LGBTQIA+ fiction. I love the worlds created. I love everything about this book. Laura Lam is an amazing storyteller who brings to life fascinating characters in a real page-turner. I’ve included this in my best of British selection as the author lives in Scotland even though she’s American.

By Laura Lam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Seven Devils

'A fantastical, richly drawn, poignant take on a classic coming-of-age story' - Leigh Bardugo

In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more . . .

Gene's life resembles a debutante's dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities - last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond…

Cloud of Sparrows

By Takashi Matsuoka,

Book cover of Cloud of Sparrows

William Havelock Author Of The Last Dying Light

From the list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle.

Who am I?

I am fascinated by how societies conduct war. Who is expected to fight, and how are they organized? How is technology developed, implemented, and improvised in the heat of battle? And, most importantly, how do its participants make sense of the carnage around them? History is replete with tales of savagery and courage, of honor and depravity. Perilously few of these have been formed into novels, leaving an incomplete and disjointed understanding of thousands of years of struggle. Many authors, including those listed here, paved the path for holistic depictions of historical battle fiction – my hope is to contribute tales from oft-neglected societies, beginning with Belisarius and the 6th-Century Roman Empire.

William's book list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

Some might buck at describing Cloud of Sparrows as ‘premodern battle’ – after all, it describes events of the mid-19th Century! However, Takashi Matsuoka’s novel is a soulful retelling of the Bakumatsu, or the twilight of the Tokugawa shogunate as Japan was violently pushed into the age of gunpowder.

Cloud of Sparrows is richly detailed in combat amongst a fading samurai culture. Descriptions abound of the all-important Battle of Sekigahara, which had established the Tokugawa shogunate over two centuries prior. More immediate attention is paid to countless duels amongst the retainers of Genji, the Great Lord of Akaoka, who struggle to uphold antiquated notions of honor as Japan’s warrior class confronts gunpowder and cannon. Even the most experienced historical fiction writer will learn from Matsuoka’s descriptions of blades and bows.

By Takashi Matsuoka,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Warrior clans nursing ancient grudges. Western missionaries brandishing pistols. Beautiful geishas who are deadly ninjas.

1861 - after two centuries of isolation Japan has been forced to open its doors. Now new influences are tearing apart the old order. Japan is as unprepared for outsiders as missionaries are for samurai assassins, executions and honour killings. Genji's life is at risk. He plans his escape to the Cloud of Sparrows but the road is long and there are many places along the way for brutal samurai to attack -The demons of the past, the treachery of the present, an uncertain future…


By Mervyn Peake,

Book cover of Gormenghast

Leigh Russell Author Of Fake Alibi

From the list on wanting to read about murder.

Who am I?

An avid reader when young, I made the transition from reading to writing relatively late in life. It happened unexpectedly, but once I started writing I found it impossible to stop and have had twenty-eight novels published so far. Fortunately I found a publisher within weeks of completing my first novel, which was shortlisted for several major awards. Currently I am writing the 20th novel in my Geraldine Steel detective series, which has sold over a million copies in the UK alone. As well as writing detective novels, I also support up and coming crime writers as chair of judges for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award.

Leigh's book list on wanting to read about murder

Discover why each book is one of Leigh's favorite books.

Why did Leigh love this book?

Mervyn Peake’s writing is unusual. In Gormenghast he creates a bizarre world of weird hierarchical rituals, peopled by eccentric characters, each one singular in a different way. What really brings this novel to life is Peake’s wonderfully rich prose, as he describes the destruction of an ancient social structure.

By Mervyn Peake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Enter the world of Gormenghast...the vast crumbling castle to which the seventy-seventh Earl, Titus Groan, is Lord and heir. Gothic labyrinth of roofs and turrets, cloisters and corridors, stairwells and dungeons, it is also the cobwebbed kingdom of Byzantine government and age-old rituals, a world primed to implode beneath the weight of centuries of intrigue, treachery, manipulation and murder.

Gormenghast is more than a sequel to Titus Groan - it is an enrichment and deepening of that book.The fertility of incident, character and rich atmosphere combine in a tour de force that ranks as one of the twentieth century's most…

The Ringed Castle

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Book cover of The Ringed Castle

C. P. Lesley Author Of The Golden Lynx

From the list on the 16th century that don’t involve Tudors.

Who am I?

I fell in love with Russian history as a college sophomore, when I realized the place was like a movie series, all drama and extremes. I completed a doctorate at Stanford in early modern Russia and later published The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible. Because so few people in the West know about the contemporaries of the Tudors and Borgias, I set out to write a set of novels, published under a pseudonym, aimed at a general audience, and set in sixteenth-century Russia. I interview authors for the New Books Network, where I favor well-written books set in unfamiliar times and places.

C. P.'s book list on the 16th century that don’t involve Tudors

Discover why each book is one of C. P.'s favorite books.

Why did C. P. love this book?

This book was my introduction to Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. I picked it up at a library sale and was immediately caught up in its portrayal of Francis Crawford, a Scottish adventurer who ends up at the court of Ivan the Terrible. Based loosely on the diary of Sir Jerome Horsey, it represents an older understanding of how Muscovite Russia operated, but it’s a great adventure told with vivid details and remarkable characters, still my favorite among the six books in this series.

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.

Fifth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, The Ringed Castle leaps from Mary Tudor's England to the barbaric Russia of Ivan the Terrible. Francis Crawford of Lymond moves to Muscovy, where he becomes advisor and general to the half-mad tsar. Yet even as Lymond tries to civilize a court that is still frozen in the attitudes of the Middle Ages, forces in England conspire to enlist this infinitely useful man in their own schemes.

Blood and Roses

By Helen Castor,

Book cover of Blood and Roses: One Family's Struggle and Triumph During the Tumultuous Wars of the Roses

Marion Turner Author Of Chaucer: A European Life

From the list on medieval life.

Who am I?

Marion Turner is a Professor of English Literature at Oxford University where she teaches medieval literature. Her critically-acclaimed biography of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer was picked as a Book of the Year by the Times, the Sunday Times, the New Statesman, and the TLS, and has been hailed as ‘an absolute triumph,’ and a ‘masterpiece.’ It won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize and the English Association Beatrice White Prize, and was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.

Marion's book list on medieval life

Discover why each book is one of Marion's favorite books.

Why did Marion love this book?

This book tells the story of the wars of the Roses through the lens of one family – the Pastons. This family left an extraordinary archive of letters, and it included many fascinating characters, especially women. The Paston women fought off sieges on their houses, wrote Valentine letters to their husbands, ran off with servants, and managed complicated household finances. As a family, the Pastons were social climbers, who tried to get on at court and to improve their position. Through them, we hear about high politics, but also about the domestic life and loves of the gentry in the fifteenth century. In this book, Helen Castor writes a kind of family biography, expansive, gripping, and detailed. It is both first-class research and a great story.

By Helen Castor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A gripping family saga. . . . Page-turners are rarely written by scholars of the 15th century, but Castor wears her learning admirably lightly. Blood and Roses is nothing less than a ripping yarn.” —The Indepedent (London)

The Wars of the Roses tore England asunder. Over the course of thirty years, four kings lost their thrones, countless men lost their lives on the battlefield or their heads on the block, and others found themselves suddenly flush with gold. Yet until now, little has been written about the ordinary people who lived through this extraordinary time.

Blood and Roses is a…

Book cover of Lord John and the Private Matter

Fenna Edgewood Author Of The Bluestocking Beds Her Bride

From the list on a pride-filled summer of LGBT reading.

Who am I?

I grew up in a religion and family where being gay was most definitely more than frowned upon. Now as a queer author and parent (and former academic who studied queer lit and video games!), I’m thrilled to be bringing a “book baby” into the world during Pride Month that is pure historical romantic fantasy in which two women embrace who they are and one another. When I first started reading queer fiction, much of it was gritty and realistic, sure, but also extremely grim. I think we desperately need a balance of the grim and the gleeful and that is what I hope this little list gives you! Happy endings are possible in fiction and reality. Happy Pride Month, dear readers! 

Fenna's book list on a pride-filled summer of LGBT reading

Discover why each book is one of Fenna's favorite books.

Why did Fenna love this book?

So, making this list has rather reminded me that there is a major dearth of queer books in historical romance. Especially of the happy variety—and it’s not a true romance if it doesn’t have an HEA.

I could easily have included The Song of Achilles or Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café or Patience and Sarah, but they wouldn’t have fit the Regency/Victorian time period I was aiming for and they also either have very hidden/obscured queerness (e.g. Fried Green Tomatoes) or no HEA (Song of Achilles, obvs).

I’m going with Lord John even though he’s Georgian era because 1) he has a happy and fulfilling life despite his One True Love ultimately being unrequited, 2) he has some great love affairs and adventures, and 3) best of all this is a series. And a series is almost as good as an HEA!


By Diana Gabaldon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lord John and the Private Matter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Diana Gabaldon weaves a dazzling tale of history, intrigue, and suspense in this first novel featuring one of her most popular characters from the Outlander saga: Lord John Grey.
The year is 1757. On a clear morning in mid-June, Lord John Grey emerges from London’s Beefsteak Club, his mind in turmoil. A nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty’s army, Grey has just witnessed something shocking. But his efforts to avoid a scandal that might destroy his family are interrupted by something still more urgent: The Crown appoints him to investigate the brutal murder…

Trade of a Lifetime

By Rebecca Aubrey,

Book cover of Trade of a Lifetime

Emily E K Murdoch Author Of A Governess of Great Talents

From the list on unexpected love stories in historical romance.

Who am I?

I’ve written almost one hundred historical romances, so when it comes to making a marriage in a book swoonworthy, I know the hard work that an author has to put in. Whether it’s enemies to lovers, instalove, grumpy/sunshine, whatever it is: I have a huge amount of respect for authors who spend the time crafting a love story that makes me absolutely desperate for the wedding. 

Emily's book list on unexpected love stories in historical romance

Discover why each book is one of Emily's favorite books.

Why did Emily love this book?

There are plenty of dukes in historical romance (and I love them!), but I adore this book with a titled lady and a common-born man.

The ‘trade’ elements in this steamy and highly emotional romance from Rebecca Aubrey got me gasping every chapter, and I couldn't walk away until this unusual marriage came together.

By Rebecca Aubrey,

Why should I read it?

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