Best Historical Romance Novels To Take A Sneak Peak In The Past

As the name suggests, historical romances take place in the past. The dialects, vocabulary, customs, and traditions can transport us back to 1800s London or World War Two America. Some novels may be loosely based on celebrities. Others are complete works of fiction.

The genre first seems to have emerged through Walter Scott’s writing. Many authors were inspired to adopt its style and storyline. English author Eleanor Hibbert, for instance, published numerous historical novels. In the 1980s, historical romance dominated the love-focused genre.

Historical romances, or “bodice rippers,” feature a helpless heroine rescued by a strong hero. However, this dynamic has changed. The women in these stories are strong-willed, and the men are compassionate.

Stack of historical books next to a lit candle on a wooden table, all covered with rose petals

Now that we’ve learned all about the history of historical romances, let’s take a look at some of the best ones of all time.

1. The Secret by Julie Garwood (1992)

This sassy Julia Garwood book is the first of the Highlands’ Lairds series. Breaking the reputation of alpha male heroes, Iain is bossy but still very sweet and considerate. And the heroine? Amusing, sassy, and outspoken.

Judith makes her way to the Highlands when she is called upon by her Scottish friend Frances. While there, she hopes to find her estranged father, whom she’s never known. The powerful Iain escorts her on this journey. Despite their clash of customs and cultures, the two cannot ignore their affections.

Fans have raved on Goodreads about the wit and chemistry between the characters. Don’t miss out!

2. Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt (2010)

A bad-boy historical romance? Sign us up! Lazarus and Temperance come from different backgrounds. Where Lazarus is the Lord and mingles with the elite, Temperance runs an orphanage with her brother. But now it’s at risk of shutting down.

Lazarus is searching for a killer in a London slum. In exchange for information, he offers to introduce Temperance to the city’s high society and garner funding for the home. What they don’t expect is the attraction they feel for each other.

This book is unexpected, and you won’t be ready for the erotic turn it takes. It’s steamy and addicting. Wicked Intentions is perfect if you want some historical romantic action.

3. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (2006)

Devil in Winter pairs a shy wallflower with a beloved charismatic man. Evangeline proposes a marriage of convenience to the town’s skirt-chaser Sebastian to escape her scheming relatives.

The character growth in this book is fantastic. It’s great in the whole series. If you like the arranged marriage trope, be sure to check this out. Evie and Sebastian’s love for each other expands. It’s a treat to read.

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (1991)

Outlander is a historical romance mixed with science fiction. What more could you want? In 1945, against the backdrop of Scotland, Claire Randall’s life changes as she gets whisked away into 1743.

Happily married in 1945, she is faced with the handsome Scotsman Jamie Fraser in this new life. Lovable, kind, and compassionate, Jamie becomes fiercely protective of Claire. But Claire is conflicted between her fidelity and her growing desire. What will she do?

Outlander is a nine-part series, the latest having been released in 2021. This series has also been made into an ongoing blockbuster Netflix series.

5. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught (1989)

This Judith McNaught novel is perfect for historical romance lovers. After being abducted, Jennifer refuses to surrender to the rogue Duke of Westmoreland. Just his name is enough to instill terror in the heart of his enemies.

She’s bold against his arrogance and unrelenting towards his advances. This changes one night when he takes her into his embrace. Be warned, however. There are triggering instances of abuse. Still, the story transforms just as its characters do. What follows is a steamy, heated, and passionate love story.

A Kingdom of Dreams is an emotional rollercoaster through and through. You won’t want to miss the first in the Westmoreland Saga.

History might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but historical romance novels are addicting for all readers. We hope you enjoyed this list!