My name is Rachel Hollis and I’m addicted to historical romance novels. You know what, laugh all you want to, I don’t care. I’ll be over here reading about a troubled duke falling in love with a kind an zany wallflower and I’ll be totally happy about my life choices!
My love of historical romance novels is kind of a newish thing too. I’m not one of those women who secretly spirited away her Aunt Linda’s Harlequin books as a pre-teen (though in retrospect, I totally should have because Aunt Linda had one heck of a collection!). It’s actually something I’ve learned to love in the last couple of years. It’s no secret that I adore all kinds of romance books and I think I gravitate toward historical romance novels, because there’s really nothing for them to do but fall in love. Oh sure, Regency Era ladies go on walks and wear bonnets and dress for balls, and Medieval Era ladies help take care of the keep or ride horses or test their skill with falconry. But truly, the past is a world unencumbered by things like mortgages or work life balance or traffic jams. Since I am encumbered by all of those things on the regular, I don’t want to read about them in my free time. I want to read about viscounts and highlanders. I want to read about the bluestocking who falls for the rake. I want to know about the how farmers survived during the Gold Rush or how the first steel magistrates made their fortune. Throw in pirates, cowboys and an American heiress or two while you’re at it! And while I’m reading about how all of those people went about their lives, I most especially want to know about how they fell in love!
Since this is something I’m pretty passionate about, I recently asked readers on my author facebook page what some of their favorite historical romance novels are. What I learned first, is that there are a bunch of great new authors that I need to read. What I learned second, is that I have a ton of favorites that no one has even heard of! That’s a travesty guys, because some of this stuff is EPIC (yes, even when the covers seem a little cheesy). So here are my all time favorite historical romance novels (in no particular order) let me know if I’ve forgotten any of your favorites along the way.
1. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught – This is the story about a Medieval romance in which the Duke of Claymore kidnaps his enemy’s grown daughter from a convent. Of course, he’s a total jerk and she’s totally strong-willed and awesome and doesn’t take his crap. There’s a scene with a horse that I still cry about years later if I think about it for too long and the love story is SO good. It’s only available in paperback (which is a pain) but it’s fantastic and number one on every list for best Medieval romance!
2. Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught – Since we’re going to talk about Judith McNaught, I have to mention this one as well. This story is set in the Regency Era, but it’s a new Duke of Claymore… just several generations later. I love this one because just like with A Kingdom of Dreams he’s super mean to her and then she’s super mean to him and they have to fight so hard for their love, but it all turns out beautifully.
3. The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale – I was at a dinner party last year and several authors were proclaiming this book as the greatest historical love story of all time. So, I came home and looked up the synopsis and I was like “He’s a ninja??” and “They go to Hawaii? In the Regency era?!” I was so confused, but I also had it on good authority that it was the best so I grabbed a copy. Guys. Guys! You have to read this book! It’s like no other historical you’ll read– like no other romance for that matter. It’s wonderful.
4. Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell – A couple of months back I got into historical westerns (yes, I am an equal opportunity reader, I love any kind of romance) and I happened upon this title. It’s actually self-published and the cover is a little odd, but it’s truly one of the best books I’ve read in the last year. His father was a settler and his mother was an Indian and so he’s an outcast. She’s from a conservative family, but her father is horrible and she runs away from home… right into his arms. Such an incredible love story!
5. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – For those of you who want a romance without any steam at all, this book is just wonderful. It’s actually based on the story of Hosea from the Bible, except it’s set in California during the Gold Rush. It’s a beautiful story and it’ll break your heart more than once before it gets to the happily ever after. Have some tissue handy!
6. Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas – Or basically, ANYTHING Sherry Thomas has ever written! I honestly debated for several long minutes about which of Sherry’s books to add here, because they’re all incredible. I chose this one, because it’s set in India during the late 1800’s, which is not something you usually get to read about in historical. Also, the story is full of angst and heartbreak, but it has such a great happily ever after you won’t even mind what she puts you through to get there!
7. The Hathaway Series by Lisa Kleypas – Yes. Yes, I did just throw an entire series on you! You see, one of the things that historical authors do really well is a series where each book is about a different member of the family. In this series you get a book about each one of the Hathaway siblings and I adored it because they’re unlike any other characters you typically read about in the Regency Era. Some of them are different, or weird, or scandalous or on the edge of sanity (no, seriously), but by the end of the series they’ve all found love. I think I’ve read each of book of the series three times!
8. Soulless by Gail Carriger – I sort of have to give you guys at least one paranormal historical romance novel. Oh yes, that’s totally a thing in case you didn’t know. In this series the heroine was born without a soul, and then she gets attacked by a vampire and ends up falling in love with a Lord, who’s also a werewolf. It’s fabulous!
9. Born in Sin by Kinley Macgregor – Another Medieval romance only this one is different in that the hero is this super abused/tortured soul who’s also supposed to be the epitome of evil. But, of course, when she gets to know him he’s got a heart of gold and treats her like an angel.
10. Basically anything Sarah MacLean has ever written, or thought about writing or doodled on a napkin. I tried guys, I really tried to pick one of hers that I loved the most, but it’s an impossibility. Just start with Nine Rules to Break and work your way through from there.
Ok, that’s ten (which was really difficult to stop here, because I’ve literally read hundreds of these), though I think it’s worth pointing out that a couple of my all time favorites like The Winter Sea or Outlander have already been mentioned in other book posts, so I tried to give some other authors a chance.