Read a Romance Book: Historical Romance

Posted May 4, 2020 by Zeee in Read a Romance Book6 Comments

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Read a Romance Book: Historical Romance

A Beginner’s Guide to Romance Novels

I started the Read a Romance Book series on this blog as an introduction to the world of romance books.

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

 

What is a Romance Novel

There are many genres and subgenres of a romance novel but essentially, it is defined as a fictional story with a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Romance writers and industry experts (based on what I have read in the past and heard romance writers talk in panels) say that if the romance is taken out of the plot, the book will not make sense.

Romance readers usually say that a romance novel has to have an HEA (happily ever after) or an HFN (happy for now). There has been some debate over this, but as a romance reader, I personally define romance novels as having an HEA or an HFN.

A lot of genre fiction novels may have romantic elements, but if romance is not a central plot and it does not end in an HEA or HFN, it is not considered a romance novel. There are also other genres with strong romantic themes, but it is still not considered a romance if it does not meet the romance novel definition.

The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss

The very first romance novel The Flame and the Flower written by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss was published by Avon Romance in 1972.

 

Old Skool Romance

If you are a romance reader, you will know that Old Skool Romance or Old School Romance are those romances of any genre written and published in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Some of these romances are very problematic if written today.

Some of my favorite romances are Old Skool Romances and I always keep in mind the time that these books were written. While I believe that these books are problematic, I try to keep an open mind when reading it and judge the book based on the time it was written.

 

Heat Levels

There are varying heat levels in romance novels – from closed-door, to fade to black, to all-out sexytimes, there is a book for everyone!

I personally prefer sexytimes on the page, so most of my personal recommendation will have a heat level ranging from 3-5.

 

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I have been reading romance novels since I was 11 years old. I was first attracted to it when I saw a book with a lady on the cover with a gorgeous gown. This was a Harlequin Historical romance, and I have been reading romance ever since.

This feature will go over each general genre of romance. I will try to include all possible genres and subgenres. While I have not read all the books, I have asked other romance readers to recommend their must-read romance per genre and I will include those.

 

Historical Romance Recommendations

Historical Romance (HR) are romance novels set before the 1950s. There are many HR subgenres including Regency, Victorian, Medieval, Scottish, Western, etc. Arguably, the most popular subgenre is Regency Historical Romance, and it is one of my favorite subgenres in historical romance.

Click on the links to be taken to each category

MEDIEVAL | REGENCY | VICTORIAN | PIRATE | WESTERN | GILDED AGE 

Books marked with * are those that I have read.

 

Medieval Historical Romance

Medieval Historical Romance Novels are set during the middle ages or the dark ages. The most popular novels in this genre are Viking, Arthurian-themed, and Highlander romances.

I haven’t read a lot of Medieval Romances but I distinctly remember reading a few books in this genre in high school. Medieval Romance has fallen out of style in the traditional romance publication sense, but it has gained popularity through indie publication or self-publication.

I recommend reading Medieval Historical Romance if you are a fan of movies like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Braveheart, and  Excalibur.

 

Old Skool Medieval Romance

Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught Blue Heaven Black Night by Shannon Drake The Bride by Julie Garwood

Medieval Romance*

Published December 1991

Amazon | Goodreads

Medieval Romance

Published 1989

Amazon | Goodreads

Medieval Romance*

Published 1986

Amazon | Goodreads

Medieval Romance

Published July 1989

Amazon | Goodreads

Fires of Winter by Johanna Lindsey

Golden Surrender by Heather Graham

Season of the Sun by Catherine Coulter

The Reluctant Viking by Sandra Hill

Viking Romance

Published September 1980

Amazon | Goodreads

Viking Romance

Published September 1993

Amazon | Goodreads

Viking Romance

Published 1991

Amazon | Goodreads

Viking Romance

Published December 1994

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Modern Medieval Romance

In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks Warwolfe by Kathryn Le Veque Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin Devil of the Highlands by Lynsay Sands

Highlander Romance

Published August 2011

Amazon | Goodreads

Viking Romance

Published June 2017

Amazon | Goodreads

Medieval Romance

Published October 2010

Amazon | Goodreads

Highlander Romance

Published January 2009

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Medieval Reads

Betrothed by Elizabeth Elliot

Betrothed has a plot very similar to Prisoner of My Desire where the heroine is kidnapped by the hero when he thought she conspired with her evil uncle and entrap him in marriage.

*Trigger: Problematic themes

 

Medieval Romance

Published 1996

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

The Heiress by Jude Deveraux The Heiress was the very first mistaken identity book that I read in high school! The hero is tasked by the heroine’s father to take her to her betrothed. The hero, Jamie, an impoverished Knight, mistakes the beautiful companion as the heiress but falls for the woman he thinks is the “poor relation”, Axia, instead!

Medieval Romance

Published 1996

Amazon | Goodreads

Surrender is another throwback that I read high school, that I absolutely love! It took me a while to find the title of this book because I forgot. I had to do artful Google search using descriptions that I remember from the book.

I really love how strong the heroine is – going to battle to defend her home from the warrior claiming her home as is own.

*Trigger: Problematic themes

Medieval Romance

Published 1988

Amazon | Goodreads

Surrender by Emily Carmichael

Lady of Conquest is another book very similar to Surrender that I read in high school!

Again, we have a warrior heroine who was bested in a fight by the hero who is trying to take her home!

*Trigger: Problematic themes

 

 

 

Medieval Romance

Published 1998

Amazon | Goodreads

Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros

 

Romance Readers Recommend

The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss Silver Angel by Johanna Lindsey The Dragon and the Jewel by Virginia Henley The Secret by Julie Garwood The King's Man by Elizabeth Kingston

Recommended by @addictedtoromance

Recommended by @reads_romance*

Recommended by @fortheromantic

Recommended by @romanticallybookish 

Recommended by @f.and.f.mom

 

Click on the links to be taken to each category

MEDIEVAL | REGENCY | VICTORIAN | PIRATE | WESTERN | GILDED AGE 

Regency Historical Romance

Regency Historical Romance is arguable the most popular historical romance subgenre. In fact, I have more Regency Romance novels compared to other subgenres. It’s also one of my favorite sub-genres in romance! Regency Romance novels are usually set between 1811 and 1820, mostly set in London featuring the aristocracy.

There is also a fine line between Regency Romance and Victorian Romance since some of these books overlap genres.

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer is known as the author who established the Regency Romance subgenre. She started publishing romance books in the late 1920s and published the first romance set in the Regency period Regency Buck in 1935.

There are a few notable series set in the Regency period that I highly recommend. I really had a hard time narrowing down this subgenre because there are a lot of amazing romance novels written in this time period. I have tried my best to not repeat author books.

Lisa Kleypas is one of the popular romance authors in this category and is one of my favorite authors of all time. This is a special shout-out to her because she has written a lot of romance novels that I highly recommend if you haven’t read her already!

I recommend reading Regency Historical Romance if you are a fan of period movies/shows like Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Les Miserables.

 

Notable Regency Romance Series

The Wallflowers

Bridgertons

Hellions of Havisham Hall

Scoundrels of St. James

The Rules of Scoundrels

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas Cover The Duke and I by Julia Quinn How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

Regency Romance*

Published November 2006

Amazon | Goodreads

Regency Romance*

Published June 2006

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Regency Romance*

Published January 2011

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Regency Romance*

Published June 2008

Amazon | Goodreads

Regency Romance*

Published June 2017

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

 

Notable Regency Romance Novels

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas Slightly Married by Mary Balogh The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

Regency Romance

Published January 1995

Amazon | Goodreads

Regency Romance*

Published January 1994

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Regency Romance

Published 2003

Amazon | Goodreads

Regency Romance

Published September 2016

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Regency Reads

Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas

Again the Magic is one of my favorite romances of all time! This book and Dreaming of You are the books that I remember reading first by Lisa Kleypas.

This features a second-chance, childhood romance between an aristocrat and her stable boy. This is also a book the spun-off into one of her popular series The Wallflowers.

Regency Romance

Published 2004

Amazon | Goodreads

Secret Ways by Kat Martin

I’m not sure if this book was indeed pubbed in 2003 because I distinctly remember buying this book in 2001 when I was dress shopping for Nursing school!

This is another of my favorite romance novels of all time featuring a heroine who is preparing to step into her role as a demimonde and an aristocrat-spy investigating her or treason. He goes undercover and ultimately falls in love with her.

Regency Romance

Published April 2003

Amazon | Goodreads

Lessons from a Courtesan is the very first book that I read where the sexytimes was very steamy! This was also the first book I won in an author giveaway in 2008!

This book features an arranged marriage, where the hero is trying to seduce his wife who is masquerading as a courtesan!

Regency Romance

Published June 2008

Amazon | Goodreads

Lessons from a Courtesan by Jenna Petersen

Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed is one of my favorite unrequited romance books where the hero is the one who was in love with the hero for a long time.

This is a marriage of convenience romance with an angsty alpha hero!

Regency Romance

Published August 2010

Amazon | Goodreads

Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed by Tracy Anne Warren 

 

Romance Readers Recommend

My Favorite Bride by Christina Dodd Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas Cover The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Recommended by @michlimjiayi

Recommended by everyone!*

Recommended by @abookishcatlady*

Recommended by @romancelibrary

Recommended by @wildandwonderfulreads & @onthesamepa9e*

 

Click on the links to be taken to each category

MEDIEVAL | REGENCY | VICTORIAN | PIRATE | WESTERN | GILDED AGE 

Victorian Historical Romance

Victorian Historical Romance has gained popularity in recent years and it generally features darker themes and anti-heroes. Victorian Romance is set during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837-1901.

Victorian Romance usually is mashed up with Science Fiction and Steampunk. This will be featured in another Read a Romance Book post!

 

I recommend reading Victorian Historical Romance if you are a fan of period movies/shows like Downton AbbeyWhitechapelAlice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, and Corpse Bride.

 

Notable Victorian Romance Novels

The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone Sleepless at Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Victorian Romance*

Published September 2015

Amazon | Goodreads

Victorian Romance

Published May 2009

Amazon | Goodreads

Victorian Romance

Published May 2010

Amazon | Goodreads

Victorian Romance*

Published June 2007

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Victorian Reads

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne The Hunter is my favorite in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series.

The prologue alone killed me! It was so emotional and heartbreaking to read!

The Hunter is about an assassin whose target is the heroine, who he ends up falling in love with.

Victorian Romance

Published February 2016

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

The Secrets of Mia Danvers by Robyn DeHart

The Secrets of Mia Danvers really surprised me in a good way!

The heroine is blind and witnesses a Jack the Ripper type of murder! Now, the murderer is after her to silence her!

The hero is a Lord helping her figure out who the murder is.

Victorian Romance

Published September 2015

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

 

Click on the links to be taken to each category

MEDIEVAL | REGENCY | VICTORIAN | PIRATE | WESTERN | GILDED AGE 

Pirate Historical Romance

Pirate Historical Romance does not necessarily belong to a specific time period in history per se, but it does feature romance in the high seas or if there is any smuggling as a main point in the plot! This was also a popular subgenre of romance back in the day!

I used to read a lot of Pirate Romance novels, but sadly I read them in high school and college and wasn’t really tracking the books I read back then. Some of these books, I can’t remember reading at all!

I recommend reading Pirate Romance if you are a fan of period movies/shows like Pirates of the CaribbeanBlack Sails.

 

Notable Pirate Romance Novels

Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey Deception by Amanda Quick Sea Fire by Karen Robards Captured by Beverly Jenkins

Regency Pirate Romance*

Published 1990

Amazon | Goodreads

Regency Pirate Romance

Published May 1994

Amazon | Goodreads

Victorian/Regency Pirate Romance

Published 1982

Amazon | Goodreads

Victorian Pirate Romance

Published September 2009

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Pirate Reads

Mistress of the Seas by Ruth Ryan Langan

Mistress of the Seas is one of the first books of Harlequin romance that I discovered in High School.

I recently reread this last year and I did find a few things I had issues with, but I still add it as one of my favorite reads.

This book features a female pirate, masquerading as a Lady In Waiting who fell in love with one of her prisoners.

Medieval Pirate Romance

Published September 1988

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

 

Click on the links to be taken to each category

MEDIEVAL | REGENCY | VICTORIAN | PIRATE | WESTERN | GILDED AGE 

Western Historical Romance

Western Historical Romance is usually the subgenre/category that refers to romance novels with a western setting, particularly the American Frontier. There are also some Western Romances that are set in Australia and Canada, around the time of the American Frontier. The contemporary version of Western Historical Romance is called Cowboy Romance.

Harlequin Historicals had books specifically in this category. I remember reading a lot of Western Historicals when I was in high school but I sadly can’t remember all of them.

I recommend reading Western Historical Romance if you are a fan of period movies/shows like Last of the Mohicans, Legends of the Fall, and True Grit.

 

Notable Western Romance Novels

Indigo by Beverly Jenkins Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer A Heart So Wild by Johanna Lindsey Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Western Romance

Published November 1996

Amazon | Goodreads

Western Romance

Published 1989

Amazon | Goodreads

Western Romance

Published 1986

Amazon | Goodreads

Western Romance

Published June 1997

Amazon | Goodreads

Western Romance

Published March 2017

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Western Reads

Fair is the Rose by Meagan McKinney Fair is the Rose is one of my favorite Western Historical Romances!

This book features a heroine on the run, masquerading as a widow, and gets kidnapped by an outlaw.

*This is book 2 in the series, I suggest reading book 1 Lions and Lace, first.

Western/Gilded Age Romance

Published November 1993

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Nobody's Darling by Teresa Medeiros Nobody’s Darling is another book that I read when I was in college.

This is a road trip romance where the heroine hires the hero to look for her missing brother.

 

 

Western Romance

Published April 1998

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Romance Readers Recommend

The Gunslinger's Vow by Amy Sandas Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner Tempest by Beverly Jenkins The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday Always in My Heart by Catherine Anderson

Recommended by @theliteraryaffair

Recommended by @theliteraryaffair

Recommended by @now_booking

Recommended by @reads_romance

Recommended by @romancelibrary

 

Click on the links to be taken to each category

MEDIEVAL | REGENCY | VICTORIAN | PIRATE | WESTERN | GILDED AGE 

Gilded Age Historical Romance

Gilded Age Historical Romance is a historical romance set during the Gilded Age in the United States – 1866 – 1919. This genre usually overlaps with romances set in during Post-Civil War Era, Reconstruction Era, and WWI.

I recommend reading Gilded Age Historical Romance if you are a fan of period movies/shows like Gangs of New York,

 

Notable Gilded Age Romance Novels

Deceived by Desire by Marie Force A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe Love Come to Me by Lisa Kleypas Annie's Song by Catherine Anderson

Gilded Age Romance

Published August 2019

Amazon | Goodreads

Gilded Age Romance

Published October 2017

Amazon | Goodreads

Gilded Age Romance

Published June 1988

Amazon | Goodreads

Gilded Age Romance

Published January 1996

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Gilded Age Reads

Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney I read Lions and Lace in college and this was my very first Gilded Age romance! Prior to this, I had mostly been reading Regency romances!

I absolutely love this book! This is one of my favorite romance books of all time!

Gilded Age Romance

Published 1992

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Baron by Joanna Shupe Baron surprised me in the most wonderful way possible!

This romance features a heroine who is posing as a medium! The hero, a railroad magnate, thinks that she is a fraud.

 

Gilded Age Romance

Published October 2016

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

 

Let's Discuss Historical Romance

What are your must-read historical romances?

Have you read any of the books recommended here?

 

 

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6 responses to “Read a Romance Book: Historical Romance

  1. Sharlene Wegner

    I have read and loved The Wallflowers, The Bridgertons, The Hellions of Hallstead Hall, Lord of Scoundrels, Dreaming of You, Again the Magic and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. The best books ever! I am currently reading The Highwayman & that one is really breaking my heart. I had better get the HEA for that one. Whew! I would also like to add Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaways series, the entire Mackenzies & McBrides series by Jennifer Ashley, Loretta Chase’s Carsington Brothers series, the very angsty Mad Passions series by Maire Claremont ( she now writes lighter but still great series under the name of Eva Devon).

    • Yes! I had to pick only a few and tried not to pick an author multiple times! I will be updating this post periodically!

  2. Omg Zee this post is incredible! In high school, I exclusively read historical romances. I read everything by Jude Devereaux until she started writing more contemporary romances (they weren’t my jam).

    Surprisingly, I haven’t been able to get into histroms as an adult for some reason. I need to take a look at Sarah Mclean’s catalog!

    • Same! I have been reading a lot of contemporaries as well! I love histrom but right now, it’s not calling to me!

      Glad you love this post, Amber!