Classic romance author Jane Austen holds a special place in our hearts. A pioneer of her time, her wit and comic outlook on romance still resonate today. And though she only completed seven novels in her lifetime, they’ve all remained with us years after we’ve turned the final page.
Though men, and marriage, play integral roles in Austen’s books, her heroines can hold their own—often times portrayed as independent and headstrong like Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, or against the idea of marrying altogether as Emma Woodhouse is in Emma. Austen had a no-frills attitude about love that shines through in her writing—just one reason why we’re still obsessed with it 200 years later.
If you’re a fan of Austen, but you’ve already read through her works more times than you wish to admit, here are nine romance novels you’re sure to love. So go ahead give these books a try. Ah, love!
The Bawdy Bride
In this novel, Lady Anne Davies marries merely out of convenience—she barely exchanges a word with her future husband. She doesn’t expect her marriage to Lord Michael St. Ledgers to become a passionate one. The more time she spends with her new husband, the more she finds herself entangled in adventures and disturbing secrets that put Anne in danger. Michael and his estate seem to be covering more than meets the eye. With the mysterious death of Michael's brother, a mute sister that wasn't always silent, and a missing servant, Anne doesn't know what to make out of the man she married. Despite her initial reserve against her husband, Anne realizes Michael is the gentleman she always aspired to marry. But she slowly realizes that her husband is much darker and dangerous and yet she is more tempted than she ever envision.
Wives and Daughters
Gaskell’s novel reads like an enchanting fairy tale, drawing you in with every word. It’s a classic coming of age story with wicked stepmothers, scandals, and reputations at risk. Set in English society in the 1830s, the story follows a youthful Molly Gibson being brought up by her widowed father. Soon Molly's father—Dr. Gibson—remarries and a new step-sister enters Molly's life. Where Molly is naive and awkward, Cynthia is lovable but rebellious and troubling. The story progresses as the girls develop into women together within the society of Hollingford. The girls explore the relationships between family and friends and discover the ways people hurt and help one another. The relationships are enticing as we find Anne in a love triangle; she is in love with the man who is engaged to Cynthia. Will the protagonist risk her own reputation and that of the man she’s secretly in love with to set things right?
Lady Audley's Secret
Part of the “sensation novel” craze that captivated England in the nineteenth century, which was characterized by an interest in books that blurred the lines between romance and realism or had a mystery component, Lady Audley’s Secret is a story of love and crime. The story centers around the secret of Lady Audley and the ultimate revelation of this secret. When barrister Robert Audley’s friend mysteriously vanishes during a fishing trip at an English manor, Robert becomes suspicious of his uncle’s new wife and begins a desperate search into her past. Robert must put his own life at risk as he gathers clues and evidence against Lady Audley. Robert represents the detective, the judge, and the jury while Lady Audley is the culprit, a wicked and dangerous woman. Lady Audley the dangerous villain that uses her beauty to indulge in her greedy intentions. This is a great novel for fans of Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, or Anne Brontë!
Midsummer Moon provides the perfect combination of comedic conflict and characters that you’ll become attached to. Set in a whimsical Regency-era tale, Lord Ransom Falconer is in desperate search of an inventor who can create a way to stop the advances of Napoleon's deadly army. To his surprise he finds an adequate person for the challenge: the beautiful and intelligent Merlin Lambourne. While protecting Merlin from English enemies, Ransom begins to fall for the eccentric female inventor—someone completely his opposite. It's only a matter of time before Merlin and Ransom are under the spell of love and the undeniable attraction between them. But as Napoleon's army draws closer, they must first find an invention to protect themselves from danger.
The Frost Fair
This sweet Regency romance has Austen-like wit. The clock is ticking for Lady Margaret Underwood—a 25-year-old noblewoman—as she has only five months months to either find herself a husband or lose her considerable fortune. In order to enjoy her immense wealth, Lady Meg must follow the terms of the late Earl of Barringham's will. So she decides to accept the proposal of Viscount Charles Isham but quickly realizes how boring he is and decides to take action: she flees. She runs away from her betrothed in the middle of a snowstorm which causes a carriage mishap that leads her to a seductive stranger. Lady Meg is taken to the Yorkshire estate of Sir Geoffrey Carrier—a soldier with a painful secret—who challenges her with his devotion to bachelorhood. Soon Sir Geoffrey and Lady Meg find themselves falling in love despite their fixation with staying single.
Dangerous to Love
Becnel’s novel is a story that has all the right ingredients: dynamic lead characters, brilliant dialogue, and fiery chemistry between the hero and heroine. It revolves around an illegitimate nobleman who wants to punish society for turning its back on him; Ivan Thornton is bitter with the cruelties of society so he decides to leave the broken hearts of young society in his wake. Having recently been entitled Earl of Westcott, Ivan hasn't even unleashed his vengeance. Enter Lucy Drysdale—a spinster possessing neither title nor fortune—who is known for scaring off potential husbands because of her banter and intellect. Ivan believes Lucy is an easy prey for his game of deceit until it is too late—Lucy ignites a desire in him. Meanwhile, Lucy attempts to protect the young Valerie—a society girl she must chaperone—from the charismatic Ivan, leaving her heart very vulnerable.
For All Eternity
For All Eternity is a beguiling, emotional romance. Sophie Barrington—a Regency heiress—could have any man she desires. She has her heart set on the foppish Julian, Lord Oxley, and is ready to be wed. However, when she discovers that her guardian has misused her fortune and run off to America, leaving her penniless. Now she must decide between marrying the repulsive Lord Lyndhurst or face debtor's prison. Nicholas imagined that he would marry a woman who possessed sense and sensibility but is instead courting a spoiled heiress. When Sophie ruins her courtship to Nicholas by humiliating him, she accepts a position as a servant at an estate in the countryside. There, she finds herself working for the man she once despised—Lord Lyndhurst—a man who also finds himself irresistibly drawn to her although the two are from completely different worlds.
Dancing with a Rogue
Gabriel Manning swore to avenge his father's death and he holds three scoundrels responsible. He has created a devious plan to destroy them but must wheedle himself into the company of the men he loathes. Acquiring a new title, Gabriel sets sail for London ready to set his plan in motion. The beautiful actress Merry Anders wants to ruin the same men for ruining her mother's life. She has concocted a carefully planned scheme to seek vengeance; she was ready to execute her plan, nothing was going to get in her way—that is until she meets Gabriel. Little do they know, though, they’re both seeking revenge against the aristocrats that wronged them in the past. The attraction only strengthens until they fall in love but is it worth risking the vengeful plan just for one thing—love?
The Drop of the Dice
This book centers around Clarissa Field, a woman who never knew her mother, yet ends up following in her footsteps unknowingly. Her mother was a notorious femme fatale and unknowingly, Clarissa follows her mother's path when she falls in love with Jacobite rebel Dickon Frenshaw. Tensions run high in 1715 England—the Jacobite rising of 1715, anyone?—as Dickon is eventually caught and exiled to Virginia; Clarissa is forced to marry a soldier, Lance Clavering. When Clarissa’s heart is divided and stolen by the two men, she must navigate through scandal and treachery–facing an impossible choice. The decision only becomes harder with the threat of a revolution and an accusation of Clarissa being a spy. She must think carefully to protect the one person who means the most—her daughter Zipporah.
A Note in Music
Grace Fairfax has become prey to her monotonous life in a manufacturing town in the North of England. Grace, 34, lives with her dull, conventional husband Tom as they follow their same predictable routine with a lack of will and purpose. Her close friend Norah—once energetic and chaotic—has also equally settled in her marriage to a boring university professor, Gerald. Everything changes with the arrival of Hugh and Clare Miller. Both are young and beautiful with a passion and vitality that none of the four possess. That's how the Millers quickly cast an spell on the two couples. But after the siblings leave the quiet town, the couples must attempt to restore their life. They quickly realize that life will never be the same. The novel presents marriage in a natural light—filled with joys and fears and many topics left in the dark.
Fans of Kleypas’ novels will be thrilled to hear that she’s back to writing historical romance. This first book in the Ravenels Series follows the powerful Devon Ravenel as he meets the widowed Kathleen. Recently, Devon inherits an earldom and quickly finds out that his new rank comes with many unwanted responsibilities and quite a few surprises. Devon discovers that his estate is saddled with debt and being occupied by three sisters...along with Kathleen. There is an instant attraction as the beautiful young widow is witty and determined like Devon. Kathleen knows she shouldn't fall for someone like Devon but they can't deny the attraction. Can Kathleen stop herself from falling in love with a man that is too dangerous for her?
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Featured photo: Wikimedia Commons
This article was originally published on July 6th, 2017.