Historical romances are my catnip, so I was tremendously excited when these authors agreed to talk about what their favorite historical romance novels were of 2016 and of years past. (Naturally A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux makes an appearance on this list – a book that galvanized many casual readers to become romance devotees.)
From Regency-era London to the Scottish Highlands, and from the high seas to the Civil Rights era, these historical romances will earn a place on your keeper shelf, too.
How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell - Lenora Bell's How the Duke Was Won is a debut historical that I adored! In the first scene, the hero is trying to choose a bride by throwing knives at their pictures (alcohol is involved). It reminded me of Georgette Heyer with a sexy twist.
A Scot in the Dark by Sarah Macean - I love rogues in kilts! Sarah MacLean’s A Scot in the Dark's burly, wild-man hero is an instant classic. He rips off doors and doesn’t allow anything to get in the way of fiercely protecting his ward, Lily (lucky woman!).
Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - Julia Quinn’s heroines are the kind of women who I’d love to be friends with, and Billie Bridgerton is no exception. She’s supposed to marry one of the Rokesby brothers—and she doesn’t mind which one, as long as it’s not George. Because she loathes George! So naturally . . .
Eloisa James's next historical romance novel is Seven Minutes to Heaven, available January 31, 2017.
The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes - This is just a lovely Regency with a near-sighted, spectacle-wearing heroine and a kilted Scottish hero who was in the Napoleonic wars. Burrowes employs her usual elegant writing style to bring together a shy but strong heroine and a very protective hero. A very satisfying romance!
Ruthless by Anne Stuart - Few romance authors have the sheer guts to go as far with her heroes Stuart does. Her heroes are edgy, so dark they’re bottomless black at times, and damned near irredeemable…and I love them. Ruthless is an extraordinary tour-de-force of a historical romance with a sex-on-a-stick rake hero and an outspoken, plain heroine who goes toe-to-toe with him.
The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne - Joanna Bourne has a wonderfully elegant style of writing that reminds me a bit of Laura Kinsale. With an adventurous plot, a crafty heroine, a sexy, domineering hero, and sexual tension that crackles, The Spymaster’s Lady is simply gorgeous.
Elizabeth Hoyt's most recent novel is Duke of Pleasure, the latest book in her Maiden Lane series.
I picked my two favorite historical romances from 2016, books that left me breathless, agonized (in a good way), and entranced.
A Gentleman’s Position by K. J. Charles - I am a fool for cross-class romance, and A Gentleman’s Position is the romance between a privileged lord and his valet. There are misunderstandings, miscommunication, and throughout a strong, powerful love that conquers all.
Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt - The hero of the Duke of Sin is a very, VERY bad man. And not just pretend bad, like stealing from the rich, etc. He is BAD. Another cross-class romance, the duke is intrigued by his mysterious housekeeper, who is the only person able to break through the core of ice surrounding his heart.
The next novel in Megan Frampton's Dukes Behaving Badly series is My Fair Duchess, available at the end of February 2017.
Many of my favorite historical romances are nostalgic holdovers from when I first discovered the genre, but Julie Garwood’s Scottish books hold up so well that I often recommend them to new readers of the genre. When my daughter was old enough to read a romance, I handed her Ransom. It’s one of the few books that I re-read every year or two. Big, strapping, alpha Highland chieftain brought down by cheeky, courageous, endearing English woman is my reader kibble, but Julie does it with such heart and humor it never fails to give me that big, happy sigh at the end.
Another author who never fails to give me that big, happy sigh at the end is Tessa Dare. I think Tessa is one of the best voices in Historical Romance today—she is funny, smart, and her books are flat out romantic. One of my favorites is When a Scot Ties the Knot—and not just for the Scottish hero (although of course I love that). Maddie, a painfully shy Englishwoman, invents a fictitious fiancé, Captain Logan MacKenzie, to avoid the demands of society and pours out her heart in soul in years of letters to him. Her plan works wonderfully, until her allegedly dead fiancé returns from war and turns up on her
Monica McCarty's latest novel in her 12-book-long Highland Guard series is The Ghost (May 2016).
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase - Jessica is probably my favorite heroine of all time, for her wit and vivacity. She challenges the hero, Sebastian, at every turn—she actually shoots him after he tries to ruin her publicly! I love that she’s true to herself.
Silk and Shadows by Mary Jo Putney - The tortured hero, Mikahl, captivates me with his courage in coping, and his heroine, Sara, is so sensitive, managing to see beneath all his defenses to the wounded child beneath. Their romance takes my breath away.
Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey - I fell in love with James Malory when he first appeared in Love Only Once as the heroine’s ex-pirate uncle, and his book is, so far, my favorite of the series. It’s funny (the hero tries to seduce the cross-dressing heroine by strutting around half-naked, then realizes that she doesn’t know he knows she’s a woman), and it’s full of heart (she has a bunch of brothers who will do anything for her). Plus, what’s sexier than a pirate turned English lord?
The third book in Sabrina Jeffries's Sinful Suitors is The Danger of Desire, which hit shelves at the end of November 2016.
Defiant by Kris Kennedy - This medieval story is a brilliant mix of intrigue and action, and the chemistry between the hero and heroine will make your toes curl. But it is the heroine who made this novel so fabulous - a strong, clever, and resourceful woman who requires help and not rescue.
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley - Ms. Kearsley has intertwined dual story lines into this romance - and does it with a beautiful, seamless dexterity. The vivid characters are infused with real, rich emotion and make Ms. Kearsley's incredible historical research come alive.
A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux - This was the first romance I ever read and it made me a romance fan for life. It possesses all the elements that I adored then as I do now; adventure, time-travel, humor, and intrigue. But most importantly, it is a story of a hero who loves a woman for exactly who she is and whose love for her endures the test of time.
Kelly Bowen's newest Season for Scandal book, Between the Devil and the Duke, will be available on January 31, 2017.
The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian - Jack grew up in the London slums and isn't afraid of doing others' dirty work—for a price. When Oliver, an upper-class soldier, becomes embroiled in Jack's latest escapade, the sparks are immediate. Their relationship breaks all the rules, but love won't be denied. I adored this book and can't wait for whatever Cat Sebastian writes next.
Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole - Cole is a recent addition to the romance genre, but she's on her way to becoming a star. In this powerful, romantic story set in the 1960s, college student Sofie and boxer Ivan become Freedom Riders, traveling south to protest segregation. The voices of hate want to force them apart, but their convictions and growing love stand strong.
Tessa Dare's latest Castles Ever After book is Do You Want to Start a Scandal (September 2016).
You might also like:
- The Best Romances of 2016: The Top 20 Books
- Reading Under the Mistletoe: Holiday Romances (Part 2)
- Romantic Suspense: Romance Writers Pick Their Favorite Books of 2016
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