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Best Historical Romance Novels

Updated on May 19, 2014

10 Top Historical Romance Novels Voted By Readers

I have put here together a list of some of the 10 best historical romance novels of all times that I considered reading. Set in different centuries and countries ranging from ancient times to the Regency era, these books have all in common a strong love story between the two main characters with heart-warming plots, drama and events of the days gone by.

For the most part these stories are set in the times before World War II, where the heroine is usually much more contemporary in her thinking that her own time period allowed. They usually include sub-genres such as Regency romances, Highlander, Medieval ages, Victorian, Pirate, Civil war, and even historical paranormal romance being the most popular of all.

You will find here listed some of the best historical romance authors that have written novels catching the world by storm and brought to flames the hears of many romance readers.

Enjoy your reading!

memoirs of a geisha
memoirs of a geisha

#10 - Memoirs of a Geisha

by Arthur Golden

I think Memoirs of a Geisha is one of the most popular and best historical romance novels of all times. Since it has been first published in 1997 it has been republished several times and it has been made into a motion picture that took the world by storm.

In this book, Arthur Golden depicts an accurate and beautiful picture of those times and places in an unforgettable story that describes the life of a geisha in Japan. The plot is engaging and the setting is truly fascinating, taking you instantly in a place and time that you can only dream of but never really reach.

Sayuri, a peasant girl is sold to a Geisha house as an apprentice. She then becomes a real geisha, an artist-entertainer who survives all the intrigues of her times and class.

One thing to bear in mid with this novel is that it has been written by an American author, so there will be plenty of inconsistencies to actual lifestyle in Japan.

#9 - A Knight in Shining Armor - by Jude Deveraux

A Knight in Shining Armor
A Knight in Shining Armor

A Knight in Shining Armor is a very popular historical romance by the famous contemporary author Jude Deveraux. The story takes place in takes place in England around the years 1560-1988, and the two main heroes are Nicholas Stafford and Dougless Montgomery.

I really liked this novel and I've read it twice in fact. If you like tales of knights in shining armor, Nicholas is a true one who is sent to sent to comfort Dougless in her times of distress. I think one of the reasons why I was so attracted to this romance in the first place was the theme of time travel. Jude Deveraux is famous for her time travel novels, and this one didn't disappoint.

As in all historical romances, the heroine is the one who finds herself, who is wise and modern at the same time. I don't want to give the plot away, but if you haven't read this book, I strongly urge you to pick it up. And while you're at that, read some other books by this author, they rarely disappoint.

The Thorn Birds
The Thorn Birds

#8 - The Thorn Birds

by Colleen McCullough

This is a true classic in every sense of the word. Taking place in Australia, it is an epic saga of a family chronicle of three generations that is brought to life, made real and believable by the crafty pen of the author.

Meggie Cleary, the heroine of this story is in love with a man whom she'll never have. The man, Father Ralph de Bricassart, is a priest, and thus it's impossible for him to have a relationship with a woman.

I remember having read this book as a teen. My mom gave it to me to read, telling me that it will change my life. It actually did, because since then I've really become interesting in historical novels of romantic times gone by.

A true classic, one that will be modern at the same time for years to come.

The Other Boleyn Girl
The Other Boleyn Girl

#6 - The Other Boleyn Girl

by Philippa Gregory

When I first picked up this book, I didn't know what to expect. But I knew I was hooked on the gorgeous book cover. In the meantime I've learned that pretty much all her books have such awesome covers that you can't take your eyes off from.

When it comes to the story, this novel is a sure winner. It is a historical romance about two sisters who are set to conquer the love of their king. While Anne Boleyn is quite famous in history, Mary is not so much.

Of course this book is a fictional story (thus it is NOT a biography of Mary), it is still a very interesting glimpse into the life of the 'other system', the one that gets overshadowed by the light cast from the popular one. - what a modern story, one that Hollywood actors are surrounded with in their lives all the time.

Beware however, the story is quite long in over 650 pages, so if you like your novels to be short and light, this detail might put you off. But if you are a Tudor junkie, you will simply find this book hard to put down.

#5 - Outlander - by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander, 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition
Outlander, 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition

This is a monster of a book. Literally. My copy has over 800 pages and it's heavy! But what joy to read this romantic novel set in Scotland in 1743. The book was first published in 1991, however I have a newer edition. It's the first in the Outlander series, one that has captivated in the meantime the hearts of millions of people all over the world.

The heroine is Claire Randall, a combat nurser who returns home from war to be reunited with her husband. And this is where things get 'weird'. Let me just say that if you like time travel romances, you'll have a blast with this one!

One thing I found while reading the book is that it's not a typical romance. Apparently the author placed it in this genre because she was not quite sure where else to place it. Sure, it has plenty of romance, but the book is so much more! It even borders with science fiction, although not in a strong or overpowering manner. it truly is an awesome book that transcends lots of genres, going way beyond the historical romance one.


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wuthering heights
wuthering heights

#4 - Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

This is another classic in the true sense of the word. First published in 1847, it is an intriguing story of revenge in which the main characters are controlled by strong passions.

The first time I read this novel was part of a highschool class material. As such I didn't like it too much because it was a required reading (and you know how teenagers are with rebelling against the 'must'. However I've re-read it a few years later and this time the whole atmosphere of the Victorian setting of the time really got to me - in a good way.

One reason why some people gave it less than stellar reviews is because while the story is engaging, it is going at quite a slow pace. But again, the time period when it was written is reflected in the writing style. Today people are used to fast pacing stories, to short and 'get to the point' novels with strong and explicit language. If this is what you're also looking for in this book, you might not enjoy it.

But if you let yourself be transported to the time where the story takes place and hop in the shoes of Heathcliff and Catherine, you will have a wonderful ride back in a lush story that borders on gothic and dark romantic.

#3 - Sense And Sensibility - by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility
Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is a classic novel in the true sense of the word. It was first published in the 19th Century, in 1811.

It is a great love story, but so much more than just a romance. The main characters, Marianne Dashwood is in love with a guy who is quite unsuitable for her and her sister, Elinor, while is also deeply secretly in love, she is the exact opposite of Marianna. In fact the title of the book is showing the two different types that are the Dashwood sisters. Elinore is the quiet one, while Marianne is full of dangerous impulses that can (and do) cause her troubles.

A typical Victorian love story that is a joy to read. Some people criticized her writing style as being too 'clinical', without much passion. In a way it's true. There is not that much dialogue in the book, and the descriptions are quite dense. But people forget that the book is not written by a contemporary romance novelist, but by a writer who lived in other times where the world was moving at a slower pace.

Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice

#2 - Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Another great novel by Jane Austen, which I consider even better than Sense and Sensibility, reviewed above. It is truly one of the most popular romance novels of all times, one that has been made into a very popular movie as well. Published in 1813, it is a story of deep love and misunderstanding in late 18th century England.

Many people (including me) find the first part of the book rather annoying. I remember having put it down for quite a few times before picking it up again. But towards the middle, the magic happens. I couldn't put it down anymore. I became enchanted by it, along with many others who have read it.

Not only a historical romance, it is also a social comedy depicting the old times when women were wearing quite uncomfortable clothing and had to keep their wits to themselves to be accepted in the society. While written many years ago, I find the language easy to read, one which gave me a chuckle more than once.

If you find yourself wanting to put it down because it seems boring, don't stop reading it. It will be worthwhile your time and you'll find it just as enchanting as me and thousands of other people have as well.

Gone With the Wind
Gone With the Wind

#1 - Gone With the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell

Personally I found this book to make the top of the best historical romance novels list. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, the story follows Scarlett 'O' Hara and Rhett Butler who are in love and yet so tormented at the same time.

Scarlett is a spoiled and utterly selfish rich girl who falls in love Rhett, the typical alpha male, a tragic characters in the book. I find the characters rather stereotyped and generalized, but this does not deter from the charm of the love story and the writing of the prose. Why it is that almost all historical romance novels written in the 19th century are so much more than just love stories, while the modern ones are rather shallow, fast paced and brief? Gone With The Wind is a true saga of the South, an anti-war piece, a great drama of the civil war.

If you haven't read the book yet, do not delay as it is one piece that will be forever etched in your mind. It is a book that simply needs to be read.

Latest Steamy Historical Romances

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    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hi, Marika. I've never read "Gone with the Wind", "Memoirs of A Geisha","The Thorn Birds" and "The Other Boleyn Girl" - but I sure enjoyed their film adaptations!

      Thanks for featuring these novels.

    • profile image

      Cate Hogan 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for this fantastic review! " Pride and Prejudice" is a definite favourite of mine. Here is my list of top 15 historical romance novels of all time: Some classic and more current titles. I'd love your feedback!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great list, I have only read Knight in Shining Armor. It's amazing book

    • writergrey profile image


      5 years ago

      Some great choices! Thanks. I have to include Georgette Heyer in my top picks though.

    • CaztyBon profile image


      5 years ago

      Jude Deveraux is one of my favorite Historical author my favorite is Julie Garwood for historical romance and romance in general.

    • WhiteIsland profile image


      5 years ago

      I loved Gone with the Wind! Watching the movie after was so lame; it doesn't nearly do it justice. I also love Jane Austen, although I might put Northanger Abbey in place of Sense & Sensibility. :P I did not like Wuthering Heights at all, but I might have put Jane Eyre on here. I thought it was an amazing love story. :)

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      5 years ago

      I like many of the books you've shown here, Pride and Prejudice and Gone by the Wind among the favorites. Have featured this lens on my review of World Without End.

    • JillY88 profile image


      5 years ago

      Pride and Prejudice is my favourite by far, haven't read many of these but will take a look at some of them. Great lens.

    • swapnal-sarang profile image


      5 years ago

      I have read most of these books .great list

    • GollyGearHope profile image


      5 years ago from Skokie, Illinois

      Great choices - although nothing from my favorite, Georgette Heyer! I love her wonderful sense of humor, especially in the dialogue in her books.

    • planetocean79 profile image


      6 years ago

      They all sound like some good reads.

    • Jogalog profile image


      6 years ago

      I wish I had more time for reading. These days I spend too much time online instead.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like your list of the Best Historical Romance Novels

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Gone With the Wind and The Thornbirds are my favorites on this list. Lots of excellent reads here. :)

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I liked Gone with the Wind but haven't read any of these other books. I really enjoy watching the movies from the Austen and other British books though!

    • montanatravel52 profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful ideas... I love Gone with the Wind, and love the fact that you update this page with more ideas, thanks!

    • TaraWojt profile image

      Tara Wojtaszek 

      6 years ago

      I'm a huge fan of the Outlander series.

    • Rachel214 profile image


      6 years ago from Haifa

      Thank you for this list. Wonderful

    • LittleMy LM profile image

      LittleMy LM 

      6 years ago

      good lense ... memoirs of a geisha is one of my favourite books and I love Phillipa Gregory ... will have to look at some of the others

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      wao i love reading novels especially romantic ones, your lens just provides ideas of new novels to read.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great list, nice selection.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What an extensive library of romance novels. Awesome collection!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You have a lot of my favorites here. Outlander for sure. Jude Deveraux has many fine books. I'm glad you mentioned how hard it is to get through the first part of Pride and Prejudice. I'll have to go back to it and push forward till I get to that magical place. Thanks for the suggestions.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I actually read three of the four best books on your list, but I especially liked Pride and Prejudice(:

    • Camden1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm amazed at how many of these I've read - great write-up!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      6 years ago from Keller, Texas

      Thanks for all the suggestions! Nice compilation.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I read most of the books you featured and enjoyed them all.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good selection!

    • Mistl profile image


      6 years ago

      What a fantastic list of Romance Novels you have put together here. I am very impressed! :) This is perfect reading material for the beach or when sun bathing in the back yard.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I see that you and I have some similar tastes in books! The Thorn Birds is my very FAVORITE novel, and I loved The Other Boleyn Girl! I'll have to try some of the others you have recommended. Great lens!

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 

      6 years ago

      Great list. I've only read a few of them, but I did enjoy them.

    • PippiDust profile image


      6 years ago

      Your list of historical romance novels is great. Blessed by Squid Angel.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image


      6 years ago

      Liked your list and reviews. Have watched several movies based on your chosen books. ~~Blessed~~

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens.

    • melissiaoliver profile image


      6 years ago

      Really good lens - thanks for sharing! I much prefer Jane Eyre over Wuthering heights though. Who could resist Mr Rochester?

    • agoofyidea profile image


      6 years ago

      A good list for someone who likes historical romance. I prefer modern romances with a good murder mystery in them and lots of life-threatening danger.

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      6 years ago

      I love your choices and have read many of them. I love the highland stories too. I do love one that you didn't include. Johanna Lindsay and the Malory Stories. check those out. You'll love them. blessed.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Fantastic lens and lovely selections!

    • writergrey profile image


      6 years ago

      Some wonderful books on your list! Glad to see The Thornbirds, which I remember really enjoying. I'd add Jane Eyre. Also glad to see several Jane Austens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I haven't read all the books from your list but I like your selection and agree with it. My personal favorites are Gone with the wind and literally all the books from Jane Austen. I also loved to watch both Sense and sensibility and Pride and Prejudice as British TV series, those were so good.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Fantastic lens. I love this genre. Thanks for bringing back memories of great books.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Very nice selection. Not much for reading romance novels, but do watch some of the movies. What a classic Gone with the Wind is.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      6 years ago from Iowa

      You've got many of my favorites listed here. :) And a few I need to pick up.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You have chosen some lovely Romance Novels. Splendid presentation, and reviews. I have read some of them, but some are favorites from the movies. Loved The Thorn Birds, and Wuthering Heights. Of course, the classic, Gone with the Wind.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These are lovely selections! Have heard a lot about Memoirs of a Geisha and I look forward to reading it sometime soon! Unfortunately, this is one genre I am 'lazy' reading about!

    • lilymom24 profile image


      6 years ago

      Very nice book collection. I do like Jane Austen but I prefer the movies to the books. They are a little easier to understand but I should push myself more so I will know what was left out and what changes were made in the films.


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