You Had Me at Historical: 19 Titles for Romance Fans

Those of us of a certain age might remember a series of commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Here’s how they go: two people, one carrying an unwrapped bar of chocolate and the other person an open jar of peanut butter, bump into each other. The first person says, “You’ve got peanut butter in my chocolate” while the second one replies, “No, you’ve got chocolate in my peanut butter!” After the two sample the result, they both reply happily, “And it tastes great!”

Historical romances are a lot like peanut butter cups. The best written historical romances blend a well-realized historical setting with an engaging love story, and the result is a book that meets the approval of both a fan of historical fiction as well as a historical romance reader. As an added bonus, genre-blurring books like historical romances can serve as a gateway from one genre to another by introducing historical fiction fans to the delights of a well-crafted love story while at the same time opening the door to the rich world of historical novels to romance readers. Hitting the perfect ratio of history to passion isn’t easy, but fortunately for readers, there are a number of authors who have perfected this literary balancing act including those listed below, whose books are sure to please readers of both stripes.

A Dance with Danger

A Dance with Danger, by Jeannie Lin

Assassin Bao Yang has a price on his head, but when he attempts to hide out with an old benefactor, Bao accidently compromises his friend’s daughter, Jin-mei, whom he now must wed in order to protect her reputation.


Doing No Harm

Doing No Harm, by Carla Kelly

War-weary Captain Douglas Bowden is happy to put the horrors of fighting the French behind him as he sets up his new medical practice in the Scottish village of Edgar, where it turns out tearoom owner Olive Grant may be just the woman to mend his wounded heart.


The Far Pavilions

The Far Pavilions, by M. M. Kaye

Ashton “Ash” Pehlam-Martyn once worked as a servant for the Raj, but when he returns to India years later as a British officer, his first assignment is to escort two royal brides to their weddings, one of whom happens to be his true love, Princess Anjuli.



Forbidden, by Beverly Jenkins

African American saloon owner Rhine Fontaine has a secret: everyone in Virginia City believes he is white. But after Rhine rescues Eddy Carmichael from near death in the desert, he realizes that he desperately wants to be the man he really is and not the one he is playing for everyone else.


Hope at Dawn

Hope at Dawn, by Stacy Henrie

While her brothers fight in Europe against the Germans, Livy Campbell takes a teaching job at home in a small German American town in order to help her family financially, but as the Great War drags on the animosity against German Americans turns neighbor against neighbor leaving Livy to wonder if the sacrifices her family has made are really worth it.


Lady Maybe

Lady Maybe, by Julie Klassen

After surviving a carriage accident that kills her employer, companion Hannah Rogers awakens to find that everyone believes she is Lady Mariana Mayfield herself, but when Lord John Mayfield recovers from his injuries, will he disclose her real identity?


Lost Among the Living

Lost Among the Living, by Simone St. James

Still mourning the reported death of her husband in World War I, Jo Manders takes a job working for his aunt Dottie Forsyth, but when the pair arrives at the family estate, Jo discovers some secrets about her late husband that could change her life forever.


Miss Wonderful

Miss Wonderful, by Loretta Chase

Everyone in Derbyshire is more than happy to help Alistair Carsington build a canal through their land with the exception of straight-laced Mirabel Oldridge, who will do everything in her power to keep Alistair from succeeding.


Nowhere Near Respectable

Nowhere Near Respectable, by Mary Jo Putney

After being rescued from smugglers by Damien Mackenzie, Lady Kiri Laford finds herself falling for him, but Damien has secrets in his life that keep him from letting himself get close to any woman.


The Other Daughter

The Other Daughter, by Lauren Willig

After her mother dies, governess Rachel Woodley discovers she is the illegitimate daughter of an Earl, but now with some assistance from society columnist Simon Montfort, Rachel is determined to find a way to meet her father.



Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

While in Scotland on a second honeymoon, war nurse Claire Randall walks into an ancient circle of stones and finds herself transported from 1945 back to 1743, where she meets and falls in love with Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser.


The Outsider

The Outsider, by Penelope Williamson

Amish widow Rachel Yoder is still grieving over her husband’s murder when a wounded stranger turns up one cold winter night at her sheep ranch.


Pieces of Sky

Pieces of Sky, by Kaki Warner

British author and milliner Jessica Thornton has come to America in search of her brother, but nothing she has read prepares her for the hardships of living in the West or the attention of rough rancher Brady Wilkins.


A Race to Splendor

A Race to Splendor, by Ciji Ware

Hoping to establish herself as an architect, Amelia Bradshaw comes home to San Francisco after the earthquake that devastated the city in 1906 to take control of her family’s hotel, but she soon finds herself clashing professionally and personally with the hotel’s new owner J. D. Thayer.


Rogue Spy

Rogue Spy, by Joanna Bourne

In order to avoid being executed as a French spy by the British government, Thomas Paxton agrees to renew his friendship with suspected French spy Camille Leyland, but when Thomas finds himself falling for Camille, he is put in the impossible position of having to choose between his country and the woman he loves.


Somewhere in France

Somewhere in France, by Jennifer Robson

In order to do her part during World War I, Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford moves to London to become an ambulance driver, but when her duties take her close to the Western Front, she finds herself falling for Scottish surgeon Robbie Fraser.


The Stolen Mackenzie Bride

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride, by Jennifer Ashley

Even though she is engaged to an English nobleman and her Scottish father fully supports British King George II, Malcolm Mackenzie will stop at nothing to steal away Lady Mary Lennox as his new bride.


Teatime for the Firefly

Teatime for the Firefly, by Shona Patel

Layla Roy joins her new husband Manik Deb on the tea plantation he manages in Assam, but all their plans for the future are thrown up in the air as World War II begins and British begin losing control of India.


Tiffany Girl

Tiffany Girl, by Deeanne Gist

Artist Flossie Jayne is thrilled when she is picked by Louis Comfort Tiffany to help complete his chapel at the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago, but she finds herself distracted from her stained glass work by fellow boarder Reeve Wilder.





About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

1 Comment on "You Had Me at Historical: 19 Titles for Romance Fans"

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  1.' LilMissMolly says:

    Love the post! I’ve ready many in your list, and you’ve given me a few leads on some others. Thanks!!

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