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.
The Best Historical Romance Authors
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.
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 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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Find Slippery Creatures here.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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’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
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.
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.
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, 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!
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.
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