Historical Romance Guide- Part 1

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!!

The Standards

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.

Honorable Mentions

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!


When the Scoundrel Sins- Anna Harrington

when the scoundrel

This is my first Anna Harrington! (steadily making my way around to all the Regency Historical authors) I enjoyed Harrington’s different voice and really sympathized with the heroine. Let’s get into it!

The Story-
Annabelle comes from humble beginnings, but has been raised by and lived with an upper-class family since she was a child. Her one chance at a good marriage is ruined by Quinton, a friend who decided to kiss her at exactly the wrong moment. Now it’s years later, and she finds out that she will actually inherit the only home she’s ever known if she can only marry by her next birthday. When Quinton is called in to help weed out would-be gold diggers, the issue is complicated.

My Thoughts-
This is one of those books that, even though I knew who had to end up together by the end, I had no idea how they would actually get there. The obstacles seemed pretty insurmountable. I felt so bad for Annabelle, and the hero, Quinton, took way too long to realize what needed to happen. That being said, the hot moments were seriously hot. Quinton is the perfect callous rogue that is hiding the good guy under a playboy exterior. The characters were well-developed, and that includes some secondary characters as well. They really brought the heart to the story.

The Bottom Line-
I think any historical romance fan would enjoy this, even though the story did take a little while to wrap up. Harrington’s voice and characters bring a different spin to the typical Regency, and I will definitely be reading more books by her very soon. 4 stars!


Releasing Henry- Sarah Hegger


Sarah Hegger has crafted a beautifully-written medieval world and family in the Sir Arthur’s Legacy series, so I was really looking forward to returning to this world. When I started the book, I was completely thrown by how different it was, but once I got into it, I found the characters even more touching than before.

The Story-
Henry went off to the crusades several years ago and, somehow, has ended up a slave in North Africa. An old friend buys his freedom at the same time that a local merchant, originally from Genoa, is sending his daughter back to Europe to protect her. She happens to be a gal that Henry has watched, admiringly, from a distance. He will have to get much closer to her when he gets tasked with bringing her to family in Genoa before he heads home to Anglesea.

My Thoughts-
I feel like Sarah did an amazing job of getting across her message without being preachy. She handled issues of race, discrimination, and differences with grace and dignity. I felt so strongly for both Alya and Henry as they tried to make a new life for themselves. This is truly an emotional book that examines human connections and love. It does get a bit dark, so if you are looking for a light-hearted historical romance, this isn’t it. This is more serious and thought-provoking.

The Bottom Line-
What a beautiful end to a lovely series. I did cry a little (twice). I hope Ms. Hegger isn’t done with historical (although I LOVE her new contemporary series and highly suggest you check it out) because she really has a knack for historical world-building and making me feel like I’ve stepped back into the past, if only for a few hours. 4 1/2 stars

The Laird Takes a Bride- Lisa Berne


The Laird Takes a Bride is my first book by Lisa Berne, but I was pleasantly surprised. A true Scottish historical (not a Regency disguising itself as Scottish), this marriage of convenience story definitely provides a different spin on the trope.

The Story-
Fiona has had her heart broken, and she has given up on love. Alasdair was enjoying the bachelor life, but when an old edict is uncovered, he’s going to have to make a big change.

My Thoughts-
I really enjoyed the “Bachelor” set-up, but was disappointed at how quickly everything was settled. The characters are well developed, but they are both too stubborn to almost be believed. That being said, I couldn’t quit turning pages because I absolutely had to know how it was that these two would end up falling for each other. The Scottish setting and daily life circumstances provide depth and a nice historical framework that isn’t always achieved in books like this.

The Bottom Line-
I would read another book by Berne, especially if it is set in Scotland. An enjoyable historical read. 4 stars

Traitor in Her Arms- Shana Galen


Previously having read and enjoyed a Regency historical by Galen, I was looking forward to this one, especially when I noticed that it was set during the French Revolution. I was not disappointed, but this was not the light-hearted romp that I am accustomed to in historical romance.

The Story-
After her husband’s death, Gabrielle is left with all of his gambling debt and no way to pay it back. She has taken to stealing expensive artifacts from the rich in order to keep her head above water, but when she is offered the chance to repay everything and help the Scarlet Pimpernel free innocents in Paris, she must act. Ramsey has always been intrigued by Gabrielle, but no more so than now, catching her in the act of theft. A secret and blackmail keep him from realizing his full potential, and now he will follow Gabrielle into danger to hopefully free himself.

My Thoughts-
It was so refreshing to read of a different time period than Regency or Victorian England, but man, Revolutionary Paris is pretty depressing. Exciting, yes. But still depressing. The danger in this story was as palpable as a world-ending paranormal, which I adjusted to, but was perhaps not expecting from the normally light historical genre. The development of the characters was thorough and complete; their actions are entirely driven by their motivations. The heat between the two was constantly simmering beneath the surface. Mostly though, the depictions of Paris during the Revolution perfectly set the scene. I could almost smell the blood and feel the tension, waiting for the zing of the guillotine. Honestly, this felt more like a historical novel with romantic elements than a true romance because of the weight of the plot. I think that is what kept it from a 5 star rating for me; I wasn’t prepared, and the suspense stressed me a bit.

The Bottom Line-
If, after reading this review, you are thinking that this sounds like a book you will really enjoy, you will likely LOVE this one. If you are in the mood for a light historical, this probably won’t be your jam today. Well-written and a wonderfully different setting! 4 1/2 stars

How to Marry a Marquess- Stacy Reid


This is the third book in Reid’s “Wedded By Scandal” series which focuses on a variety of couples caught in some sort of scandalous behavior. I really enjoyed the second book in this series, and this one was also entertaining.

The Story-
Evie and Richard have been friends for a long time. He’s helped her keep unwanted suitors away since she was 16. But, now that it is time for her to actually marry, Richard is torn between helping her with lessons in seduction and finding a wife for himself and his illegitimate daughter.

My Thoughts-
I enjoy Reid’s style which focuses more on character development and really hashing out why the two belong together. Although the plot is strong, it is the characters here who really shine. Evie is perfectly easy to imagine from the moment we meet her vomiting all over Richard’s shoes and burping to warn off would-be suitors, but still beautiful and innocent. (Not joking. She is a lot of fun.) Richard is an equally well-drawn character, and it is great to see how Reid winds a path around their journey to each other.

The Bottom Line-
These books always have a different, refreshing feel to me that is welcome in a normally predictable genre. The only thing that kept this from 5 stars for me was that the conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart didn’t seem to need as much time to resolve as it took. But, I will definitely be around for the next one in the series and recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romance. 4 stars

Vessel Trilogy- Juliette Cross (Forged in Fire)

The Vessel Trilogy Banner 851 x 315

Forged in Fire Review:

“Forged in Fire” is the first book in one of my favorite romance series. The premise is unique, well-constructed, and captivating.

The Story-
On Genevieve’s twentieth birthday, she begins to encounter some strange things. There is more to meet the eye than she knows, and sexy Jude will be the one to introduce her to a world she never knew existed.

My Thoughts-
The world-building in this book is top-notch, and I was immediately drawn into the story. Jude is one of my favorite heroes ever. I do not say that lightly. Genevieve starts a bit young, but grows throughout, as she is meant to. Secondary characters are well-developed and flesh out the world and story. This is an extremely smartly written book, and you should pay attention to everything. The story builds throughout the trilogy with amazing payoffs.

The Bottom Line-
This book and series are not typical. They build and connect like an excellent tv show. This is not a fluffy romance that is solved in one book, then we move on to another couple. Although I love those, I am so glad books and series like this exist where I can immerse myself in a world and mystery and see a romance grow. This entire series is totally a must, and this book is a great intro to this wild ride!

Sealed in Sin Review-

Sealed in Sin is the second book in the Vessel Trilogy, and I suggest strongly that you read these in order. The first book is a great introduction to the world and the characters. This one is where things get twisty, the characters get more complex, and the pace starts flying. I seriously read this one as fast as I possibly could, and I happened to be on vacation in France at the time. Yep, I took time away from my gorgeous vacation in France to race through this book. I actually finished this under an old windmill by a stream, but I digress… The point is, this book brings the series to epic territory.

My Thoughts-
I’m skipping the story part of this review because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. If you are stumbling upon this review without having read the first book, you need to know: there are angels, there are demons: think Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, but not quite as dark and hopeless.
The best part of this book is the surprises and secrets which are uncovered as well as the growth of the characters. The heat factor is also raised in this book, and it has one of my fave sexual tension scenes in any book which made me feel like it was written specifically for me because I am such a musical theater geek. Yes, The Phantom of the Opera is hot. Ok, see? I can’t continue without giving away major plot points, but I will say that if you have no desire to immediately read book 3 upon completion of book 2, I worry for your soul.

Bottom Line-
Step 1: Buy all 3 for .99 each right now!
Step 2: Read book 1
Step 3: You will figure out the rest, but don’t forget to eat and sleep.

Amazon US –
Forged in Fire – http://a.co/ewWoI5R
Sealed in Sin – http://a.co/8ZbQiLG
Bound in Black – http://a.co/6KPAYGo (less)

Bound in Black- Review

Bound in Black is the third book in Cross’s Vessel Trilogy and is an extremely fitting end to this amazing series. I recommend reading this series in order as there are many references and plot twists that payoff throughout this book. I liken it to the same feeling you get when you read the final Harry Potter book.

The Story-
I’m not going to give away too much, but Genevieve has been through quite a journey since book 1, and this book is where the entire battle between good and evil comes to a head. And it is thrilling!

My Thoughts-
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this series. The hero is one of my absolute favorite hero in any romance ever. I can’t exactly explain why, but he is perfectly written for my tastes: dark and brooding, but sarcastic, yet protective, hot as hell… yum. The twists and reveals of this book are so juicy that I found myself just smiling broadly or exclaiming “oh man! I can’t believe she brought THAT back in!” Yes, it’s that kind of book. So much fun to read, and you are sad when it’s over.

Bottom Line-
If you are, indeed, sad when it’s over, know that Ms. Cross just signed a contract for a spin-off series which follows other characters from the Vessel Trilogy. I am so excited that there is more to come in this world, and I cannot wait to read it! 5 stars

Sexy couple in jacket hugging each other

The Deepest Well- Juliette Cross


Re-releasing today for .99! This book is a prequel to the upcoming Dominion series from Juliette Cross which also takes place in the same world she introduced in the Vessel series (starts with Forged in Fire). You can read this as a stand-alone or read the Vessel series first. The benefit of starting with the Vessel series is that you know the outcome, so seeing how the characters get to the outcome you already know is lots of fun. That being said, you will be able to follow completely if you are new to this world of angels and demons.

The Story-
Lady Katherine is going through the motions of her life. When she meets a handsome stranger on the same night that she realizes what a sham her marriage is, her life changes forever.

My Thoughts-
Y’all, this goes dark. It is not fun and flirty. The characters go through hell before they can find their HEA, but that makes it even more satisfying when they do. This is such a beautiful journey, and Cross will rip your heart out along the way. I love everything about this book. I can almost guarantee that it won’t be what you expect: it is so much more. Cross’s prose is beautiful with wonderful imagery and lovingly-crafted characters that you immediately connect with.

The Bottom Line-
This book is paranormal historical, perfect for fans of Karen Marie Moning, Bec Mc Master or high-concept dark romance. An RT top pick, this is an excellent book that didn’t have the release it deserved because of Samhain Publishing’s collapse. This is such a great opportunity for new readers to discover an amazing author and two fabulous series. 5 stars

Buy it Now! Amazon

The Importance of Being Scandalous – Kimberly Bell

​I have previously read Kimberly Bell and was pleasantly surprised by her shockingly forward heroine in “A Dangerous Damsel”. Well, Bell has surpassed herself in this new historical in every way, and I am giddy with excitement to see this author burst onto the scene with such a strong offering. 

The Story-
Nicholas is home from sowing his wild oats, trying to forget about the “unsuitable” girl next door to whom he has written daily letters for most of his life. Sigh. And now she is engaged. Add to his troubles a declining father, his own “misplaced” ambition, and an unclear path for his life. Amelia’s life has mostly been dictated by her sister’s unfortunate birth defect due to society’s backward notions. When a legit suitor proposes marriage, it appears to be her best option until her best friend comes back into her life. And the “legit suitor” shows his true colors. Now she has to see exactly what kind of scandal it will take to be free of the engagement.

My Thoughts-
Just like my first Bell book, I LOVED the females. These sisters’ interactions remind me of me and my sister, and I loved their wit and sarcasm. Nicholas and Jasper are excellent foils for the girls (JASPER! Swoon). Somehow, Bell has created truly fresh characters in a familiar setting with these four. Even the secondary characters are wonderful: Jasper’s sister, Amelia’s father, the list goes on. The plot caught me from the beginning, and at a certain point, I was not putting the book down until I was done. Just couldn’t stop reading.   The “how to lose a guy” trope felt fresh as it was approached in a completely new way, and the sexy scenes are both hot as fire and sweet and sigh-worthy.

The Bottom Line-
This is an excellent historical that is going to win many fans for Ms. Bell. I can’t wait to read book two and wish that there were more in the series. 5 stars!

The Wicked Heir- Elizabeth Michels


The Spare Heirs… I just love this concept. This was my first book in the series, but now I want to go back and read them all. It’s such a great idea to focus on those second sons who won’t inherit, but have no jobs or “meaning” in life. Although, I can’t imagine a much better spare heir than Fallon St. James, and I fear the others will pale in comparison.

The Story-
Isabelle is a romantic. She keeps a diary, loves to read romance, and reminded me of the heroine from Northanger Abbey. Since she daydreams her fantasies, of course her ideal man is tall and blonde with worldly interests and charisma. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to realize she is alive, but when his best friend, Fallon St. James, notices her light stalking (like all teenage girls do), they become unlikely friends. There’s a mystery, friends-to-lovers, and other fun stuff that I don’t want to spoil.

My Thoughts-
I could see how someone could become annoyed with the heroine, but I felt such a kinship with her that I forgave her naivete. As for the hero, he was one of my absolute faves of recent reads. The plot is wonderfully captivating, and the characters are well-developed. My mystery feels more high stakes than most in Regency romances with a truly evil bad guy.

The Bottom Line-
If you read Regency, this series is a must, and I suspect that this is one of the best heroes in this series. A very fast read that will have you smiling and sighing. I can’t wait to read about another “Spare Heir” (hopefully Lord Brice). 5 stars