From Victorian corsets to eighties vibes, historical romance blends the best of two genres. Hello lush historical settings, and hello romances to die for. Even if time travel isn’t real, these stories let you live out your Regency dreams.
If you’re looking for your fix of rakish heroes, bold heroines, and heart-pulsing romances throughout the eras, look no further than this list of our twenty best historical romance authors.
The 20 Best Historical Romance Authors
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid blends a fresh voice with old Hollywood glamor. Set from the 1940s to the 1990s, Jenkins Reid brings fictional famous women to life in stunning detail. From big-screen bombshell Evelyn Hugo to troubled rockstar Daisy Jones, and from model Nina Riva to tennis icon Carrie Soto, Jenkins Reid’s characters are unforgettable.
If you haven’t checked out Jenkins Reid’s work before, begin with the BookTok phenomenon The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, found here.
Malinda Lo brings a queer perspective to historical fiction in Last Night at the Telegraph Club and A Scatter of Light.
Telegraph Club tells the story of two queer girls, Lily and Kath, as they explore their identities at a lesbian bar under the threat of the 1954 Red Scare. A Scatter of Light returns to San Francisco nearly sixty years later with a new set of protagonists but offers insight into Lily and Kath’s future. Full of possibility and nuance, both novels offer a sense of understanding to queer readers.
Find Last Night at the Telegraph Club here, and once you finish, pick up A Scatter of Light here.
Before Outlander graced the silver screen, it began as a genre-blending series from American author Diana Gabaldon.
Gabaldon draws upon historical fiction, romance, and science fiction to tell the story of Claire Randall, a nurse who travels to eighteenth-century Scotland and falls in love with James Fraser. With nine books in the main series, Gabaldon creates a sweeping adventure sure to appeal to historical romance and sci-fi fans alike.
Begin the Outlander series here.
With over 40 million copies of her books in print, Julie Garwood takes readers on adventures full of laughter, tears, and heartwarming moments. From medieval Scotland to wild Montana, Garwood doesn’t shy away from seemingly difficult settings.
When picking from Garwood’s books, there’s no shortage of choice. We love The Secret, which follows an English lady as she romances a Scottish highlander, and The Bride, a story about an arranged marriage between a Scottish laird and a proper yet spunky English lady.
Grab your copy of The Secret here, and after that, pick up The Bride here.
Enter a world of love and adventure in Genevieve Graham’s stories.
Graham maintains that historical romance blends historical details, people with changing attitudes and perspectives, and the emotions that link us across the years. Always with a core focus on how the past and present connect, there’s a lot to fall in love with in Graham’s work.
Begin with Graham’s latest release, Bluebird, a World War I story about a nurse, a soldier, and the secret that binds them.
Find it here.
For a thrilling voyage into historical fiction, look no further than NAACP Image Award nominee Beverly Jenkins. With a focus on rarely-explored historical moments and stories often set in the nineteenth century, Jenkins brings Black history and romance to life. And by including bibliographies in her work, Jenkins opens doors for further education.
With over 71 novels, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Jenkins’ work. However, we adore Breathless, a sizzling installation in Jenkins’ Old West series that follows a hotel manager and good-looking drifter.
Find Breathless here.
Carriages and corsets reign supreme in Courtney Milan’s novels. With charming characters, plots that will keep you glued to the page, and plenty of tropes (hello, childhood friends-to-lovers), Milan’s stories are perfect to read in one go.
We recommend beginning with The Duke Who Didn’t, in which sparks fly when Chloe Fong’s childhood sweetheart returns to their small village with the intent of wooing Chloe again.
Pick up The Duke Who Didn’t here.
Sherry Thomas is a master of all trades, with romance, fantasy, and mystery novels. Always with a hint of adventure, Thomas brings characters to life with thrilling detail and crafts plotlines you’ll follow anywhere.
We adore Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series, which follows Charlotte Holmes under her assumed name, Sherlock Holmes, as she unravels mystery after mystery in Victorian London. Elegant and fresh, the series excites at every turn.
You can pick up the first in the series, A Study In Scarlet Women, here.
No story is too sweeping for author Jeannie Lin. You’re set for adventure when you pick up one of Lin’s books. Whether it’s Butterfly Swords, the tale of a fleeing bride, or The Lotus Palace, the story of Chinese courtesans and imperial scholars, you’re in for a treat.
Find Butterfly Swords here, and pick up The Lotus Palace here.
Erica Ridley has plenty of books to love, but you’ll adore The Perks of Loving a Wallflower, a delightfully sapphic Regency romance.
Follow the adventures of Thomasina—Tommy for short—Wynchester as she works with the beautiful Philippa York to unravel the secrets behind a centuries-old manuscript. As more interested parties arise, their hearts aren’t the only things at stake.
Swoon into The Perks of Loving a Wallflower here.
For more sapphic romance, turn to Olivia Waite’s The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics. There’s plenty to love about this slow-burn love story between two seemingly opposed women: translator Lucy Muchelney and widow Catherine St. Day. Days spent working turn to nights falling and love, but can they survive those looking to sabotage them?
Stars will shine when you grab The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics here.
You’ll revel in Sarah MacLean’s feminist historical romances. The winner of multiple awards and with books across genres, MacLean brings bold expertise to the genre.
Begin with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, a Regency romp about a lady determined to break every rule society has set for her. Callie is determined to dance, gamble, and steal a kiss, but to do so, she needs the help of the rule-breaking Marques of Ralston, Gabriel St. John.
Give in to your daring side and pick up Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake here.
For another Regency countdown, check out Loretta Chase’s latest novel, Ten Things I Hate About the Duke.
This story about misbehaving men puts a historical spin on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. When outspoken Cassandra gets herself in trouble with the Duke of Ashmontm, the pair is forced to marry to save their reputations. But will a forced marriage become something bolder?
Discover the answer here.
Atlanta-born author Penny Mickelbury tells stories about the two things she says sparks her imagination: history and mystery. Belle City has plenty of both and also features an intergenerational tale of star-crossed love and loss between Ruth Thatcher and Jonas Thatcher.
Mickelbury creates a compelling love story with a clever cast of secondary characters, and with the book spanning nearly a century, you’re sure to become attached.
You can purchase Belle City here.
Girl meets duke in Tessa Dare’s bestselling series. If you’re in the mood for the marriage of convenience trope, add The Duchess Deal to your TBR ASAP.
The story follows the Duke of Ashbury as he returns from war and decides his next step is an heir. Of course, to have an heir, he first needs a wife. Fate brings the Duke and Emma Gladstone together, but stubbornness brings their marriage to the brink. Even with a host of rules (no kissing and no questions about his scars for him, nightly dinner for her), can the pair fall in love?
Find the answer here.
You won’t want to miss Lindsay Evans’ A Delicate Affair, the story of Golden, an up-and-coming musician, and his dalliance with Leonie, a gorgeous yet emotionally closed-off member of high society. They don’t expect each other, but as they put their differences aside, Golden and Leonie find their attraction might be difficult to resist.
Dazzling and daring, A Delicate Affair showcases Evans’ vibrant prose and brilliant characters. You can find the book here.
Alyssa Cole stuns across genres, but you’re sure to love Cole’s Loyal League series. With a fully realized setting, pulse-pounding plot, and thrilling character relationships, the first in the series follows the exploits of a pair of spies. To alter history’s course, they must confront danger—and their feelings for each other.
Pick up An Extraordinary Union here.
Delight in Piper Huguely’s incredible stories featuring Black characters. You’ll want to begin with A Virtuous Ruby, a story of improbable love in an isolated southern town. Ruby fights against injustice, and it bothers her that Dr. Adam Morson doesn’t. But as the pair gets to know each other, they find they are more similar than they once believed.
Dive into A Virtuous Ruby here.
For a unique take on Regency romance, turn to acclaimed author Judith McNaught.
As she was unaware that Regency stories often had certain norms, McNaught broke several rules that resulted in a unique take on the genre. Whitney, My Love is a clever yet sensual glimpse into the era with fascinating characters. If you haven’t checked it out yet, take this as your sign to do so soon!
You can find Whitney, My Love here.
Over the years, Lisa Kleypas has garnered popular and critical success with her romantic tales. After a short break from historical romance, Kleypas returned with a seven-book series, each of which hit the New York Times bestseller list.
Her series, The Ravenels, follows Devon Ravenel as he goes from London’s most eligible playboy to an earl. Now, he has to contend with new responsibilities, including Kathleen, a beautiful widow still occupying the late earl’s house. Sparks fly between Devon and Kathleen, but will Kathleen want to put up with a rake like Devon?
To learn the answer, find Cold-Hearted Rake here.
A Romance to Remember
No matter where you journey in history, you’re in great hands with these twenty authors. And even when you have to return to reality, these era-defying tales of romance will linger in your daydreams.
What is considered historical romance?
Historical romances are books that occur in historical settings, with a budding romance being the story’s primary focus.
Where should I begin if I’ve never read historical romance?
Taylor Jenkins Reid has made it big on TikTok for a reason! Her books are accessible, romantic, and always a little bittersweet. Beverly Jenkins is also a staple within the historical romance community, so there’s no going wrong there.
What if I’m a more experienced historical romance reader?
Courtney Milan and Malinda Lo will add some variety to your TBR! Check out their works for a fresh outlook on the genre.
How long is the average historical romance novel?
If you’re a seasoned romance reader, you might find that historical romance is a bit longer than average! It takes more words to build a setting beyond contemporary times.
- The 29 Best Hockey Romance Books – Ultimate Guide - March 22, 2023
- The 20 Best Poetry Books for Young Adults – Ultimate Guide - March 20, 2023
- The 30 Best Historical Romance Novelists – Top Authors - March 20, 2023