Best Historical Romance Novels
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!
#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 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.
#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.
#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
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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#4 - Wuthering Heights
by Emily BrontÃ«
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 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.
#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.
#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.
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