We love historical romances because they don’t just give us happily ever afters—they transport us back decades, even centuries, and to places we can never go. And when you combine a swoon-worthy love story with a lush historical setting, you've got a recipe for an irresistible literary escape.
From the Wild Wild West to Regency England, these 24 historical romance novels are the best of the best.
In this New York Times bestseller, recent finishing school graduate Garnet Cameron is drawn to frontier trader Oliver Hale. After accepting Oliver’s marriage proposal, this New York girl finds out just how ill-prepared she is for life on the Jubilee Trail.
This novel is a classic tale of a couple from different walks of life, whose road to love is never easy. Garnet proves to be a rebellious and strong female lead, and the Wild West backdrop provides plenty of adventure.
Heather Graham’s Triumph, the final book in the Old Florida series, follows the star-crossed affair between a Union soldier and Southern belle. War, hostile families, and an unfortunate marriage stand between the two lovers, threatening to destroy their relationship.
The End of the Affair
As the Blitz ravages London, Maurice Bendrix is ravaged by forbidden desires: He's fallen in love with Sarah, the neglected wife of his friend, Henry Miles. But once the pair embarks on a lusty game of deception, Sarah blindsides Maurice by abruptly ending their relationship. As he wrangles with what he believes are unrequited passions, he slowly realizes that Sarah's marital status wasn't the only thing that tore them apart. Graham Greene's 1951 novel evokes all the drama and romance of the World War II era—a perfect read for anyone who likes their love stories with a dash of tragedy.
The American Heiress
In the spring of 1915, Clemency Jervis heads to England via the Lusitania to marry the handsome Lord Hugo Hazzard of Loburn. After her ship is attacked, Clemency’s maid, Hetty Brown—who is practically her doppelgänger—marries Lord Hugo, disguised as Clemency. From there, American Heiress becomes a story full of passion, war, and deceit.
The Dangerous Series
Amanda Scott's Dangerous series shows how hazardous love can be. Rich with historical detail, it's a collection of four standalone, Regency romances: Dangerous Illusions, Dangerous Games, Dangerous Angles, and Dangerous Lady.
In Dangerous Illusions, the independent Lady Dainty Tarrant must marry a war hero who’s not who he claims to be. In Dangerous Games, Melissa Seacourt finds herself auctioned off by her father to pay his gambling debts. In an attempt to escape her fate as a bought bride, she decides to run off with a stranger. In Dangerous Angels, Charlotte Tarrant’s life is saved by a man who not only asks for her hand in marriage, but is England’s most notorious spy. In Dangerous Lady, the finale to the tetralogy, Lady Letitia Deverill meets her enemies in court, including the irresistible Viscount Justin Raventhorpe.
This Gothic romance by Tom Huff (writing here under Jennifer Wilde, one of his many pseudonyms) centers around Lauren Moore, who is thrown into poverty after her mother’s death. Lauren accepts an invitation to live with distant relatives in the Falconridge mansion in Cornwall, England, and is unwittingly thrown into a world of secrets, lies, and murder. Lauren suspects that the secrets of the mansion pose a great threat, but little does she know that the greatest threat of all is Norman Wade, her cousin by marriage.
This novel centers around Eric Murray, who sets out to get his rightful inheritance after years of fighting with his family in the 15th-century Scottish Highlands. On his journey, he meets Bethia Drummond, who is allied with those he wants to fight. Eric and Bethia can’t deny the passion they feel for each other, but can their bond survive their families’ feuding?
The Drop of the Dice
This book centers around Clarissa Field, a woman who falls in love with a Jacobite rebel in Georgian England. When her beau is caught and exiled, Clarissa is married off to another man and finds herself in a terrible love triangle. This sweeping story spans decades of Clarissa’s life and provides some twists along the way.
Dangerous to Love
Ivan Thornton was recently named Earl of Westcott. But this new title can't heal the shame and anger Ivan has from decades spent being known only as a bastard. Striking out at the affluent community which caused him so much pain for so long, Ivan has been bedding, and breaking the hearts of, women across London. Although technically part of society now, Ivan terrifies the men who are meant to be his peers.
Spinster Lucy Drysdale accepted long ago that she'll never meet a man who would marry an outspoken woman like her. When she arrives in London to chaperone the young cousin of the new Earl of Westcott, Lucy is shocked to find herself deeply attracted to the handsome, haughty earl. Lucy knows there's no chance of a true romance between her and the earl. But perhaps she can at least teach him how to make his way through a season in society?
My American Duchess
It’s no surprise that romance novelist Eloisa James—who also wears the hat of Fordham University Shakespeare professor—is a master of her craft. My American Duchess, is a tale of a thrice-betrothed American heiress who is determined to make her latest marriage work. But there’s one catch: An English duke has his eyes set on the already-attached heiress, and he will stop at nothing to win her heart.
In this Regency romance, Lady Jocelyn Kendal must marry before she’s 25-years-old in order to receive her inheritance. As the deadline approaches—and the man she wants to marry remains unattainable—Jocelyn hatches the perfect plan: marry a soldier who is on his deathbed. But when Major David Lancaster amazingly recovers and is deeply in love with his now-wife, the marriage of convenience becomes more complicated than Lady Jocelyn bargained for.
Never Seduce a Scot
As a Scotswoman who never speaks, Eveline Armstrong has always been seen as strange and other-worldly. Unbeknownst to her own people, she isn't dumb at all—she's simply deaf. But when Eveline must marry Graeme, a gruff Scottish warrior from a rival clan, she decides she won’t hide her intelligence any longer. She could've never imagined how her new husband would react to her secret—just as Graeme could've never foreseen how much he'd care for his arranged bride. Maya Banks' novel is a unique and steamy Scottish tale set in the 1200s that no historical romance reader should miss.
The One True Love of Alice-Ann
In 1941, 16-year-old Alice-Ann has fallen head over heels for her brother’s friend Mack, who’s five years her senior. When Mack enlists in the army, Alice-Ann makes her feelings known immediately.
Mack starts corresponding with Alice-Ann through letters over the next three years, but then all communication suddenly stops. With no word from Mack, Alice-Ann must decide whether she should forget about Mack, her true love, and start a future with another man.
An Offer from a Gentleman
In this Regency era take on Cinderella, An Offer from a Gentleman follows Sophie Beckett as she sneaks into a masquerade ball and finds her own Prince Charming. When Sophie takes off after the clock strikes midnight, her new suitor will do whatever it takes to find her. This story reminds us of everything we loved about the classic Cinderella tale—storybook ending and all—but it allows us to see beyond Prince Charming’s “perfect” exterior to the flawed hero underneath.
In Victorian London, the savagely ambitious Rhys Winterborne always get what he wants—and he wants the timid Lady Helen Ravenel more than anything. Lisa Kleypas' novel chronicles all of Rhys' ploys to win her over. But though Helen has had a humble upbringing and little contact with London society, she has a very big secret...
The Duchess War
Miss Minerva Lane could be a hothouse bloom if she wanted, but she's intentionally made herself a wallflower. Minerva knows from experience that, for a woman, being the center of attention can be risky. So to distance herself from a scandalous past, Minerva has donned glassed and adopted an attitude guaranteed not to get her noticed.
In another life, Duke of Clermont Robert Blaisdell is the kind of man Minerva wouldn't have minded getting attention from. But now she has too much to lose to concern herself with romance. And when he begins to pursue her, Minerva suspects that the handsome, haughty new duke in town has an ulterior motive. Unfortunately for him, Minerva isn't about to reveal her deepest secrets just because of a pretty face. A funny, thoughtful battle-of-the-wits romance, The Duchess War is the first full-length book in The Brothers Sinister series, which features four novels and three novellas. It is preceded by the excellent novella The Governess Affair.
An Extraordinary Union
The first book in Alyssa Cole's The Loyal League series was named a Publishers Weekly best book of 2017 and a top 10 romance fiction book of 2017 by Booklist. Set during the Civil War, the heroine of An Extraordinary Union is Elle Burns, a former slave now living in Massachusetts. When the Civil War begins, Elle, who has a photographic memory, returns to the South to serve as a spy for the Union.
Detective Malcolm McCall has experience in espionage, but is struggling to maintain his cover with the enemy in Virginia. When a plan is discovered which could decisively turn the tide for the Confederates, Elle and Malcolm must combine their strengths to save the Union. As the two of them struggle to maintain the lies of their fake identities, they go deeper behind enemy lines—and begin to fall for each other.
Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel
This is the fourth book in Lorraine Heath’s beloved Scoundrels of St. James series, which is set in Victorian London. When Eleanor Watkins sets out to avenge her sister’s death, she allows nothing and no one to stand in her way—that is, except for the strong and charming inspector, James Swindler. Their relationship is a wonderful slow-burn, and a twist at the book's halfway mark makes Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel all the more delicious.
The second book in Johanna Lindsey's Haardrad Family series, Hearts Aflame is an enemies-turned-lovers romance that is still fun, 32 years after it was first published in 1987. The year is 873 A.D., and Saxon lord Royce of Wyndhurst has been raised to mistrust and despise the Viking people. Kristen, a Christian Viking woman of marriageable age, sneaks aboard her brother's ship in search of adventure. But Kristen is horrified when she learns that her brother's journey isn't a trading mission but instead a raiding party targeting a Saxon monastery.
In the ensuing chaos, half of her brother's crew is killed, and Kristen is captured and enslaved by Royce. Before long, captive and captor realize there is surprising mutual respect between them, though each may be too proud to admit their intense attraction to an enemy.
Only a Duke Will Do
Seven years ago, Duke Simon Tremaine wooed the king’s illegitimate daughter, Louisa North—but she exiled him after she discovered his political schemes. Now Simon’s back in England, and he's struck a deal with the king: If Simon marries Louisa and gets her to drop her work on prison reform, he'll be promoted to prime minister.
Featuring a brave heroine and a hot-headed hero with emotional baggage—plus, intriguing Regency politics—Only a Duke Will Do proves why Jeffries is a “grand mistress of storytelling” and a New York Times bestselling author.
Filled with intense 14th-century Scottish power struggles, The Chief centers around Tormod MacLeod, who’s forced into marrying Christina Fraser. But Tormod’s feelings for Christina conflict with his duties as a warrior. Which will Tor choose—his clan or his wife?
The second book in Beverly Jenkins' Old West series, Breathless is a delicious ride for fans of westerns and friends-turned-lovers romance. The owner of a respected hotel in Arizona territory, Portia has had to sacrifice to earn the security and comfort she has today. To gain her achievements, Portia has compartmentalized her past. So when her childhood friend Kent Randolph shows up in town, Portia is conflicted. When they were children, Kent made Portia laugh by calling her 'duchess.' But Kent isn't a little boy anymore, and this handsome surprise from her past makes Portia want things that could risk everything she's worked so hard for. Kent is ready to stop tumble-weeding around the Wild West and saddle up for a life with Portia. But can she give up the independence she sacrificed everything to gain?
She's a widowed saint, and he’s a devil (in the bedroom)—but somehow Temperance Dews and Lord Caire make a perfect pair. Although their relationship starts off innocently enough—she’s helps him navigate the 1737 London slums in exchange for an introduction to high society—they soon surrender to the passion they've tried to suppress.
A Rogue by Any Other Name
A Rogue by Any Other Name, the first installment in a Regency series, adds to Sarah MacLean’s already impressive catalog of romance novels. The story follows the dark and brooding Marquess of Bourne, who insists on marrying a seemingly innocence lady—though, deep down, she’s just as sinful as he is.
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