I have been reading romance since I was in high school, but didn’t really commit myself to heavy reading until a year ago when I started this blog. One of my favorite genres is historical, and after a year of in-depth historical romance reading, I have come to some conclusions and have some thoughts on a variety of authors and books. Over the next week, I will explore a few different categories: Standards, Comedians, and Edgy. As always, I’d love your thoughts. Let’s dig in!!
When I think of the standards in historical romance, I think of a beautifully-written story with wonderful characters. Maybe there is angst, but it usually isn’t driven by really dark things. I feel satisfied and happy at the end of these books. Maybe they make me cry; they always make me sigh and smile. In no particular order, here are some of my faves.
Suzanne Enoch and Karen Hawkins- The Scottish Ladies
Okay, I’m putting these ladies together because they complement each other so well. They both write wonderful historical romances either set in Scotland or with Scottish characters. Not all of their books have that Scottish flair, but I feel like these two are doing the Scottish thing better than anyone else writing currently. I’ve been loving books set in Scotland since I first read Julie Garwood back in college. These women pick up right where she left off, and create the perfect kilted men that I love to read about.
My Recommendations: Caught by the Scot by Karen Hawkins AND
My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch
“Caught by the Scot” will be out on Sept 26th, and there will be a full review coming. A playful Scottish rogue has to marry to inherit, so he decides to go marry his best friend’s sister and longtime confident. Little does he know, she just ran off to elope…
“My One True Highlander” by Suzanne Enoch is a delightful kidnapping plan gone wrong with a heroine that comes from a common upbringing, but just rose in position. She is so not what he expected, and it is wonderfully entertaining.
Eloisa James and Loretta Chase- The Grand Dames
They have been doing this for years, but they are still SOOOO good at it. You practically float when reading one of their books. They are the Grand Dames of historical romance, and here are my two favorites: Eloisa James and Loretta Chase. Eloisa James writes with music in her words. It is beautiful and heart-wrenching, fully-developed and lovely. Her intelligence is evident in her writing, but she combines that with such lyrical prose that you are sure to be swept away. Loretta Chase has written the book that is potentially my very favorite historical romance ever (yeah, I’m jumping on the bandwagon; it;s that good!) “Lord of Scoundrels”.
My Recommendations: “When Beauty Tamed the Beast” by Eloisa James AND
“Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase
I have a confession. If I did not run this blog and, therefore, need to read new books consistently in order to write reviews, I would take a couple of months to read everything by Eloisa James. This book is a beautiful retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” with a Dr. House-type hero and so much goodness I can’t even tell you.
If you enjoy historical romance and have not read this book, just stop whatever you are doing right now and go get it and read it. Seriously. A brooding hero who thinks no one could love him, a spunky heroine that redefines the word, an amazing tale of why and how they come to fall in love. I know I need to read more Loretta Chase, but this was the best introduction to her EVER.
Lisa Kleypas and Sarah MacLean- The Current Trend-Setters
If you read romance at all, you have likely seen these two all over the place: Lisa Kleypas and Sarah MacLean. Both write captivating series with wonderfully rogue heroes and women with a twist. You will hear a lot about Kleypas’ Wallflower series, and with good reason. “Devil in Winter” is the definition of a standard of historical romance with one of my (and everyone else’s) fave heroes ever. Sarah MacLean’s “Rules of Scoundrels” and “Scandals and Scoundrels” series are witty and compelling.
My Recommendations: “Suddenly You” by Lisa Kleypas AND
“One Good Earl Deserves a Lover” by Sarah MacLean
A curvy heroine that is nearing middle-age decides that her birthday gift to herself will be to lose her virginity. Little does she know, the man who arrives at her door is not who she is expecting… I LOVED this amazing standalone book. It is mature, sexy, and tugs at the heartstrings. If you have read the Wallflower series and want another Kleypas, let this be it.
I adore a smart, “nerdy” heroine, and the combination of this one with the rogue hero is totally great. I admit I need to read more of MacLean’s work because there are a couple I have heard fabulous things about (“Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover”, I’m looking at you!), but of the handful I got around to this year, this was the best.
Janna MacGregor and Elizabeth Michels- The Rising Stars
Don’t you just love when you read a relatively new author and the book is soooo good? I seriously live for that because I know that it is the beginning of something wonderful. This year, to my delight, I discovered Janna MacGregor and Elizabeth Michels. Janna’s debut novel “The Bad Luck Bride” kicked off her Cavensham Heiresses series with a bang. Lyrical writing and well-developed characters are the name of the game here, and I cannot wait to read the next one in the series, “The Bride Who Got Lucky”. (It’s in my queue and a full review will be coming in the next month!) Elizabeth Michels has been around for a few years, but her Spare Heirs series about the second sons of nobility is particularly inspired. Michels brings relatable characters along with intriguing plots and witty dialogue. Both of these rising stars bring a freshness to the genre and I highly recommend you check them out.
My Recommendations: “The Bad Luck Bride” by Janna MacGregor AND
“The Wicked Heir” by Elizabeth Michels
Claire is convinced that there is a curse on her and that she will never be successfully married. Alex has a debt to settle, and marrying Claire is part of his plan. This gem is currently a steal at $1.99!
Isabelle is like the heroine from “Northanger Abbey”, a complete dreamer who wants that fairy-tale ending. Fallon St. James is a bit of a Rochester-type hero who is won over by her optimism. This friends-to-lovers story has great characters and a suspenseful plot.
The problem with a list like this is that you will undoubtedly leave some wonderful authors out. I also read some excellent “standards” this year by Madeline Hunter, Theresa Romain, Amalie Howard and Angie Morgan, Anna Harrington, Sarah Hegger, Christy Carlyle, and Anna Bennett. I’d love to hear your thoughts on historical standards as well as your recommendations from some of the above authors!