The 30 Best Historical Romance Novelists – Top Authors

Romance readers, who wants to time travel? Maybe you’ve never looked at a historical romance, but you just binged Bridgerton and need more of the same ASAP. Maybe you have a bookcase full of the classics and want something to spice up your TBR. Either way, we have you covered.  For new and old readers alike, our ultimate guide to the thirty best historical romance novelists is certain to introduce you to your new favorite ship.

Best Historical Romance Novelists

The Best Historical Romance Authors

Judith McNaught

Whitney, My Love (The Westmoreland Dynasty Saga Book 1)

Before she began writing fiction, Judith McNaught blazed trails in radio, finance, and the movie industry. When she turned to historical romance and suspense, McNaught brought a trademark fire to her work that burns in every series. From the Westmoreland series to the Paradise series, there is always an element of rule-breaking in McNaught’s stories that is sure to intrigue. 

Begin McNaught’s with Whitney, My Love, a smart and sensual look at the Regency era.

Find the novel here

Johanna Lindsey

Love Only Once (Malory-Anderson Family Book 1)

While Johanna Lindsey’s most popular series takes place in Regency England, Lindsey crafted passionate affairs across centuries and continents. The Caribbean, medieval England, Viking-ruled Northway, the American frontier, and even outer space in a sci-fi bodice-ripper—no destination was too far for Lindsey. With characteristic charm and seductive pairs, Lindsey’s dozens of novels stun.

To begin her most popular series, check out Love Only Once here

Cecilia Grant

A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family series Book 1)

Cecilia Grant delivers seductive tales of schemes and debauchery, and nowhere is this better exemplified in A Lady Awakened. 

To secure her inheritance and protect her estate, newly widowed and always-practical Martha Russell needs an heir that could plausibly belong to her late husband. She approaches her neighbor, Theophilus Mirkwood, and a business deal commences. Yet Theo is appalled when Martha refuses to take enjoyment in pleasure. Can she resist him forever?

Deeply passionate and full of emotions, A Lady Awakened is a Regency must-read.

You can find it here.

Mary Balogh

One Night for Love: A Novel (Bedwyn Saga)

Passion and sensuality feature in Mary Balogh’s Regency and Georgian romances. While many authors center on pure ladies in this subgenre, Balogh often portrays courtesans, illegitimate, or “ruined” women as they own their sexuality. With dozens of novels and a host of novellas, Balogh’s brand is as strong as her heroines’ iron wills. 

It’s difficult to choose where to begin with Balogh’s novels. To read chronologically, begin with One Night For Love, or for a popular choice, turn to the Westcott series. 

Dive into One Night for Love here

Begin the Westcott series with Someone to Love, found here

Lily Maxton

Enchanting the Earl (The Townsends Book 1)

Lily Maxton’s character-driven romances will charm you and have you dreaming of a passionate Regency-era affair of your own. 

We adore Maxton’s The Townsends series, which begins with Enchanting the Earl. Set amongst the moors of Llynmore Castle, the story follows defiant Annabel as she feuds with an infuriating earl, Theo Townsend, who’s determined to remove her from her beloved castle. But will sparks fly between the pair instead? 

Begin the series here

Rose Lerner

Sailor's Delight

Indulge in strong-willed heroines and adorable heroes in Rose Lerner’s historical romances. 

Lerner thrives in Regency times, best exemplified in her fiercely funny yet heartwarming Sailor’s Delight. The story follows overworked bookkeeper Elie Benezet, a man who has little time for love. Unfortunately, love works on its own time, and Elie is head over heels for sailing master Augustus Brine. Worse than that, Augustus is engaged. But as Augustus delays marriage, Elie wonders: could Augustus have his sights set elsewhere?

Set sail into this thrilling romance here

Malinda Lo

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

For a quiet yet bold queer historical romance, Malinda has you covered. Lo’s love stories are set against tumultuous backgrounds: for example, her young adult historical romance, Last Night at the Telegraph Club is set at a lesbian bar in 1950s San Francisco. Amongst challenges, Lo’s heroines create sanctuaries of possibility and tenderness, building powerful and nuanced stories about identity and love.

Be sure to check out Last Night at the Telegraph Club here, and to see what the heroines are up to years later, get the companion novel, A Scatter of Light, here.

E.E. Ottoman

The Companion

With sharp prose and sharper relationships, E.E. Ottoman delivers blazing historical trans and queer historical romance novels. His “radical trans happily ever afters” are defiant and dazzling: must-reads. 

See the best of Ottoman’s style exemplified in The Companion, a sexy romance set in 1948 New York’s literary scene. When Madeline Slaughter meets the devastatingly handsome Victor Hallowell and his enthralling neighbor, Audrey Coffin, she’s suddenly drawn into a passionate affair she has only seen in fiction.

Find The Companion here.

Rebecca S. Buck

Hope in the Heart of Winter

Rebecca S. Buck delivers a stunning queer romance set in the wake of World War I. 

In 1927, Evadne reunites with two school friends, the passionate couple Clara and Courtney. Inspired by her friends’ romance, Evadne is determined to reignite the spark with a one-night stand, Edith. But when she shares a secret with Edith, will it draw them closer or drive them apart again?

You can find Hope in the Heart of Winter here

KJ Charles

Slippery Creatures (The Will Darling Adventures Book 1)

Dare to enter the dastardly world of KJ Charles’ Will Darling, a decorated World War I veteran who encounters a strange series of villains when he inherits a secondhand bookshop. 

We meet Will in the first of The Will Darling Adventures series, Slippery Creatures, against the backdrop of the roaring twenties. As he finds himself in mounting danger, the only person he can turn to is the charming yet unreliable Lord Arthur ‘Kim’ Secretan.

KJ Charles offers a perfectly paced romance full of action, adventure, and mystery. Part spy thriller, part comedy, and part romance, you won’t want to put this masterpiece down.

Find Slippery Creatures here

Olivia Waite

The Hellion's Waltz: Feminine Pursuits

You’ll adore author and romance columnist Olivia Waite’s seductive sapphic romances between women across eras. From petty criminals to beautiful widows, and from poultry competitions to bee colonies, there’s always something intriguing afoot in Waite’s work. 

The true star of the show, though, is the sizzling chemistry between heroines. Desire reigns supreme as hearts are surrendered, and you’ll adore the dazzling tales of love and strength.

To begin with Waite’s novels, pick up The Hellion’s Waltz, a daring romance between swindler Sophie Roseingrave and the one woman who stands in the way of her latest crime. 

You can find it here.

Cat Sebastian

The Soldier's Scoundrel

For more queer historical romance that ends with happily ever after, you’ll love Cat Sebastian’s work—and with sixteen works that have earned starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, there’s plenty to love.

If you’re looking for a good place to begin, we recommend The Soldier’s Scoundrel, an engaging romp between Jack, a criminal who distrusts nobility, and Oliver, the nobleman who falls in love with him. As Oliver’s yearning becomes something more, the men realize they might only be suited for each other. 

Pick up The Soldier’s Scoundrel here

Lisa Kleypas

Cold-Hearted Rake: The Ravenels, Book 1

Historical romance darling Lisa Kleypas may have taken a break, but her latest series, The Ravenels is well worth the wait. 

The swoon-worthy Cold-Hearted Rake follows London’s most eligible playboy, Devon, as he pursues the ultimate conquest: marriage to secure his earldom. As sparks fly between Devon and the beautiful widow Kathleen, can he change his rakish nature?

Discover the answer when you pick up Cold-Hearted Rake here.

Jennifer Ashley

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series Book 1)

Jennifer Ashley brings unusual heroines and heroes to life across her romance novels, never shying from the wholly unique. 

You’ll adore hero Ian Mackenzie in the first of the Mackenzies & McBrides series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Decidedly odd Ian Mackenzie has spent most of his life in an asylum, yet when he departs, he sets his sights on gorgeous widow Beth Ackerly. Beth never anticipated someone like Ian, especially after her late husband’s death, but soon, she’ll have to surrender to a growing attraction. 

Follow their eccentric romance when you pick up your copy here

Julie Garwood

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancees Book 1)

For fans of gorgeously realized settings, adventurous duos, and tender moments, look no further than Julie Garwood’s work. This prolific author doesn’t shy away from difficult eras: Garwood has taken readers everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to the Montana plains. 

To begin Garwood’s work, turn to The Bride, a perfect story for fans of the arranged marriage trope and spunky heroines who aren’t afraid to defy historical norms. You’ll fall in love with the pair’s sizzling chemistry and ultimate fate. 

Find The Bride here

Beverly Jenkins

Indigo

No guide on historical romance is complete without 2017 Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award winner Beverly Jenkins.

Jenkins focuses on Black history and romance. Through extensive research that’s included as a bibliography of her novels, Jenkins paints little-known historical moments in stunning detail. She has penned over 71 novels in her prolific career, all featuring delightful heroines and tender heroes. 

Begin your journey into Jenkins’ work with Indigo, found here.

Diana Gabaldon

Outlander: A Novel (Outlander, Book 1)

Venture to eighteenth-century Scotland with Diana Gabaldon’s hit series, Outlander, and see what inspired the sprawling TV series. 

Gabaldon creates a fierce but compassionate heroine in nurse Claire Randall, who is swept away from post-World War II England and into the past, where she meets Jamie Fraser. Tension and sparks fly between the two, and soon, these initial feelings turn into a love story for the ages. 

You can find the first book in the Outlander series here.

Elizabeth Hoyt

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane Book 1)

There’s plenty to love about Elizabeth Hoyt and the twelve installments of her best-known work, the Maiden Lane series. The first in the series, Wicked Intentions, follows Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire as he hunts a killer in the London streets. To find the murderer, he enlists the help of seemingly innocent Temperance Dews. But Temperance has secrets and desires, too—and they could rise to destroy them both.

Dive into Maiden Lane when you check out Wicked Intentions here.

Vanessa Riley

The Bittersweet Bride (Advertisements for Love Book 1)

With their sprawling focus on historical multicultural communities, Vanessa Riley’s novels bring often-overlooked Black and disabled characters to the forefront of romance. 

From Georgian to Victorian settings (all meticulously researched), Riley crafts reinvigorating tales across eras with hints of suspense and ships worth swooning for. You’ll love Riley’s The Bittersweet Bride, a sweeping romance about a long-believed-dead lover’s return.

Find your copy here

Piper Huguley

The Preacher's Promise (Home to Milford College Book 1)

Piper Huguley draws from real-life Black history to create triumphant historical romances that are recognized by readers and critics alike. 

Huguley’s two historical romance series take inspiration from two distinct periods: her Home to Milford College series explores the Reconstruction-era establishment of HBCUs, while her Migrations of the Heart series focuses on the Great Migration. 

Begin the former series here with The Preacher’s Promise. 

Begin the latter series here with A Virtuous Ruby.

Julia Quinn

Bridgerton: Daphne's Story, The Inspiration for Bridgerton Season One (Bridgertons Book 1)

The series was already a hit, but Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series skyrocketed to greater fame with the 2020 Netflix adaptation. 

Set between 1813 and 1827, each of the series’ eight novels follows one of the eight children of Viscount Bridgerton and his widow, Violet. From current Viscount Anthony to Daphne, each Bridgerton takes its turn in the spotlight to experience a high-society romance that will have you ready to devour the entire series.

Before you watch (or rewatch) the TV show, start the novel with The Duke and I, found here

Lindsay Evans

A Delicate Affair (Decades: A Journey of African-American Romance Book 1)

For a sensual and sexy romance, turn to Lindsay Evans. Evans kicks off a ten-book series of Black romances throughout the decades with A Delicate Affair, a story that showcases Evans’ deeply realized characters and brilliant prose. 

The novel follows musician Golden Worth and the beautiful society girl, Leonie Harper, who catches his eye immediately. As the two fall headlong into a passionate affair, Golden knows he must convince Leonie that their love can be forever.

Find A Delicate Affair here

Sheryl Lister

Love’s Serenade (Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Book 3)

Like Lindsay Evans, Sheryl Lister contributes to the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series, taking readers to Harlem’s vibrant 1920 jazz scene in Love’s Serenade

Fans of heroines fleeing arranged marriages should take note: Leigh Jones runs away from her southern hometown to pursue her dreams and right into the arms of smooth-talking musician Miles Cooper—who walked out on her three years out. Leigh refuses to surrender her heart again, but as passion ignites over their shared work, she might not be immune to Miles’ charm.

Find Love’s Serenade here.

Suzette D. Harrison

No products found.

Suzette D. Harrison enlivens the 1930s in The Art of Love, the story of young artist Ava Lydell as she moves to California. Even in the Great Depression, Ava is determined to make her dreams happen, even if it means trusting the singularly-focused Chase Jenkins. Chase has a murder to solve, but despite his best efforts, he becomes involved in Ava’s affairs. Can they survive the risky romance?

You can see for yourself when you pick up The Art of Love here

Sarah MacLean

Bombshell: A Hell's Belles Novel

Nobody brings grace and elegance to feminine fury like bestselling author Sarah MacLean. 

MacLean’s signature fierce style is exemplified in her Hell’s Belles series, in which the best man for a job might just be a lady. Lady Sesily Talbot is London’s sexiest scandal, so when she lures men away from parties, nobody thinks those affairs may hold more intrigue. Nobody except her brother’s best friend, Caleb Calhoun, who is trying his best not to notice Sesily. But will his best be good enough?

Find the answer in the series’ first installment, Bombshell, located here

Loretta Chase

Miss Wonderful (Carsington Family Series Book 1)

Loretta Chase’s sharp and witty prose will dazzle you from start to finish. Every sentence lures you deeper into the novel, engaging you in a fierce battle of wits that often takes place between hero and heroine. From impossible noblemen to wild and wealthy women, there’s scandal and intrigue abound in Chase’s work. 

Chase has a lengthy list of books, but we recommend beginning with The Carsington Brothers series or The Difficult Dukes series.

To begin the former series, pick up Miss Wonderful here

To begin the latter series, find A Duke in Shining Armor here.

Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel

BookTok phenom Taylor Jenkins Reid has been in the limelight lately thanks to Amazon Prime’s adaptation of her hit novel Daisy Jones and the Six, which follows the meteoric rise of a rock band in the 1970s. 

While Jenkins Reid has delivered several historical romances, Daisy Jones shines, in part thanks to its unusual format. Told entirely through the band’s interviews long after they broke up, the story centers on frontman Billy Dunne and the female singer who rocks his world, Daisy Jones. 

Before you watch the TV show, read Daisy Jones and the Six here.

Alyssa Cole

An Extraordinary Union: An Epic Love Story of the Civil War (The Loyal League Book 1)

Romance, thriller, and sci-fi author Alyssa Cole shows cross-genre mastery and characteristic confidence in her Civil War-set historical romance, An Extraordinary Union.

Inspired by the life of Union spy Mary Bowser, who spied within Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s home, An Extraordinary Union spins an intriguing story about a spy who falls in love with her primary point of contact. Cole’s voice shines as she brings this oft-overlooked tale to life. 

Find An Extraordinary Union here.

Jeannie Lin

Butterfly Swords (The Tang Dynasty Book 1)

With six novels in her Tang Dynasty series, Jeannie Lin should be your go-to for a historical romance with intrigue, danger, and deadly chemistry between the heroine and hero. 

The series begins with Golden Heart Award winner Butterfly Sword. Set in China’s Tang Dynasty, Princess Ai Li flees her wedding with nothing but a delicate sword. To survive, she enlists a warrior’s protection. As Ai Li and the warrior, Ryam, grow closer, they struggle to draw the lines between safety and seduction. 

Begin the series here.

Stacy Reid

My Darling Duke (The Sinful Wallflowers Book 1)

Stacy Reid, an author of historical and paranormal romances, offers adventures, sins, and secrets like no other in her twenty-plus novels. 

Fall in love with the first of Reid’s Sinful Wallflower series, My Darling Duke. This lush and wildly romantic tale follows the quiet Katherine Danvers as she forces herself from her shell for the sake of her family’s finances. She announces that she’s to wed a reclusive duke who hasn’t been seen in years, and all goes according to plan—that is until the duke himself arrives in town. 

Find My Darling Duke here

Something to Swoon About

Indulge in these authors’ books and let your daydreams carry you away. Whether it’s a brooding hero or a rakish duke turned faithful, there’s always something to swoon about. Happy reading!

FAQs

What is historical romance?

This subgenre of romance features stories that take place in historical settings, always with a romance at the tale’s center.

How long is a historical romance novel?

These stories weigh in at a higher word count than your average romance novel since oftentimes, the author has to flesh out a fully realized historical setting.

Where should I begin with historical romance?

Beverly Jenkins is a staple within the historical romance world. For readers who love book-to-screen adaptations, turn to Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series.

What are the tropes in historical romance novels?

You’ll see some modern classics (friends or enemies-to-lovers, forbidden romances, etc.), but there are also marriages of convenience, lots of dukes and women ahead of their times, and damsels in varying levels of distress.

YouTube video
Morgan Spraker