As fascinated as the world is with love, historical romance books is one of the most popular genres on the market today. The only thing more stirring than a story of pure and true romance is a romance set in a different time and a different place. Historical romance proves that while times change, the human heart does not! These passionate stories transport us back in time and teach us that even though we’ve never lived through a Viking invasion or the French Revolution, the love story transcends time.
What Did These Historical Romance Books Do To Qualify For This List
Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the historical romance genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:
- quantity and quality of user reviews
- sales data
- public perception
- opinions of readers of this genres
- commercial success
- and of course personal opinion
Take a look at the best Historical Romance Books you can read right now:
• Best Historical Romance Books
• Best Historical Romance Movies
• Best Historical Romance Books in Audio
Best Historical Romance Books
Here are the best historical romance books by the experts:
1) Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Book Summary:Few have failed to be charmed by the witty and independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s beloved classic Pride and Prejudice. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows us the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life. One of the best historical romance books ever written.
2) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
Book Summary:Unrivaled storytelling. Unforgettable characters. Rich historical detail. These are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured the hearts of millions of fans. Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages.
3) Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas
Book Summary:Desperate to escape her scheming relatives, Evangeline Jenner has sought the help of the most infamous scoundrel in London.A marriage of convenience is the only solution.No one would have ever paired the shy, stammering wallflower with the sinfully handsome viscount. It quickly becomes clear, however, that Evie is a woman of hidden strength—and Sebastian desires her more than any woman he’s ever known.Determined to win her husband’s elusive heart, Evie dares to strike a bargain with the devil: If Sebastian can stay celibate for three months, she will allow him into her bed.When Evie is threatened by a vengeful enemy from the past, Sebastian vows to do whatever it takes to protect his wife . . . even at the expense of his own life.Together they will defy their perilous fate, for the sake of all-consuming love.
4) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Book Summary:Initially published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyreerupted onto the English literary scene, immediately winning the devotion of many of the world’s most renowned writers, including William Makepeace Thackeray, who declared it a work “of great genius.” Widely regarded as a revolutionary novel, Brontë’s masterpiece introduced the world to a radical new type of heroine, one whose defiant virtue and moral courage departed sharply from the more acquiescent and malleable female characters of the day. Passionate, dramatic, and surprisingly modern, Jane Eyre endures as one of the world’s most beloved novels.
5) Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Book Summary:Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.
6) The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn
Book Summary:From #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the first novel in her beloved Regency-set series featuring the charming, powerful Bridgerton family—soon to be a Netflix series.In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty:Love ignores every rule…
7) Persuasion, by Jane Austen
Book Summary:Jane Austen’s last completed novel, marrying witty social realism to a Cinderella love storyAt twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
8) Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
Book Summary: Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love – and its threatened loss – the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love. This edition also includes explanatory notes and textual variants between first and second edition.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
9)A Kingdom of Dreams, by Judith McNaught
Book Summary:Let New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught who “is in a class by herself” (USA TODAY) sweep you off your feet and into another time with her sensual, passionate, and spellbinding historical romance classics, featuring her “unique magic” (RT Book Reviews)—now available for the first time on ebook.Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as “The Wolf,” his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, no matter what he threatens. Boldly she challenges his will—until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. Suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering and seductive web of pride, passion, and overwhelming love. This beloved tale about two defiant hearts clashing in a furious battle of wills in the glorious age of chivalry “will stay in your heart forever and be a classic on your shelves” (RT Book Reviews, Top Pick). Undoubtedly one of the best historical romance books.
10)It Happened One Autumn, by Lisa Kleypas
Book Summary:Headstrong American heiress Lillian Bowman has come to England to find an aristocratic husband. Unfortunately, no man is strong enough to tame the stubborn beauty’s fierce will. Except, perhaps, the powerful and arrogant Earl of Westcliff—a man Lillian despises more than anyone she’s ever met.Marcus, Lord Westcliff, is famous for his icy English reserve and his supreme self-control. But something about the audacious Lillian drives him mad. Whenever they’re in the same room, they can’t stop themselves from battling furiously to gain the upper hand.Then one afternoon, a stunningly sensuous encounter changes everything . . . and Lillian discovers that beneath the earl’s reserved façade, he is the passionate and tender lover of her dreams. What neither Westcliff nor Lillian suspect, however, is that a sinister conspiracy threatens to destroy any chance of happiness. After a shocking betrayal endangers Lillian’s safety—and possibly her life—will Marcus be able to save her before it’s too late?
Best Historical Romance Movies
If you enjoyed the best historical romance books, why stop there? Take a look at our list of best historical romance movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.
1)The Age Of Innocence
Starring: Joanne Woodward, Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer star in a ravishing romance about three wealthy New Yorkers caught in a tragic love triangle.
Absolutely exquisite, from spectacular cast to the very minute details to the not annoying at all voice over. The hand of the master all over it. I wish Scorsese would direct more love movies – the poignancy, the emotion, the restrain, the desperation…. so beautifully played. This one is a movie to savor over and over, finding the missed great details not noticed originally… Love it!
One of the best Scorsese films ever made, IMHO, which happens to be his own opinion. I’ve read the quote where he says this in one of his favorite of his own films. It’s also wonderfully close to the book (worth a read, btw!).
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Ailidh Mackay, Brenda Blethyn
Directed by: Joe Wright
Movie Summary:Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this stunning epic love story stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy and is hailed by critics as “a ravishing romance.”
Beautifully filmed and directed. A great story told with style. I don’t think I’ve ever seen better acting.
Starring: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, and Paul Schneider
Directed by: Jane Campion
Movie Summary:Academy Award® winner Jane Campion (The Piano) directs this touching, timeless tale of the passionate romance between English poet John Keats and his beloved muse.
Jane Campion is one of my favorite film directors. Not since Sweetie have I so relieved in her work as I have in Bright Star. The acting is fabulous, as is the writing, setting, cinematography, customs etc., because of this Bright Star is one of my all time favorite movies.
4) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun Fat, and Zhang Ziyi
Directed by: Ang Lee
Movie Summary:An epic set against the breathtaking landscapes of ancient China, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon combines the exhilarating martial arts choreography by Yuen Wo-Ping (The Matrix) with the sensitivity and classical storytelling of an Ang Lee film. The result is something truly unexpected: romantic, emotionally powerful entertainment.
This movie is truly a masterpiece. Watch it in the original Chinese with subtitles to get the full effect. The music, acting, visuals… one of my top favorites for sure.
Best Historical Romance Books in Audio
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best historical romance books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best historical romance books in audio!
1) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
Book Summary:This stunning blend of historical romance and time traveling adventure has captured the hearts of millions of readers around the world and catapulted author Diana Gabaldon to the top of the New York Times best seller list. Outlander introduces an exhilarating world of heroism and breathtaking thrills as one woman is torn between past and present, passion and love.
In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon. Their blissful reunion is shattered when she touches a boulder in an ancient stone ruin and is instantly transported to 1743 Scotland, a place torn by war and raiding border clans. Will Claire find her way back to her own time, or is her destiny forever linked with Clan MacKenzie and the gallant James Fraser?
2) The Game of Kings: Book One in the Legendary Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett
Book Summary:In this first book in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Francis Crawford of Lymond, traitor, murderer, nobleman, returns to Scotland to redeem his reputation and save his home.
It is 1547, and Scotland has been humiliated by an English invasion and is threatened by machinations elsewhere beyond its borders, but it is still free. Paradoxically, her freedom may depend on a man who stands accused of treason. He is Francis Crawford of Lymond, a scapegrace nobleman of crooked felicities and murderous talents, possessed of a scholar’s erudition and a tongue as wicked as a rapier. In The Game of Kings, this extraordinary antihero returns to the country that has outlawed him to redeem his reputations even at the risk of his life.
I have waited a long time for a book to blow me away like The Game of Kings (set in 1500s Scotland) has. The glamorous and dangerous protagonist, the Master of Lymond, is completely fascinating in his own right as an ambiguous and provocative character.
All the characters are well drawn and each quite distinct in personality. Sufficiently real, that there are deaths as likely to grieve the reader, as the characters in the novel. There are a plethora of people to keep up with, and the plot has multiple threads, so it’s to read when one can focus fairly intensely on reading. One of the few books to send me to the dictionary – and as some words are 16th century & before, sometimes beyond the standard dictionary. Beautiful writing with many memorable descriptions, and poetic turns of phrase.
3) Tender Is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Book Summary:Published in 1934, Tender Is the Night was one of the most talked-about books of the year. “It’s amazing how excellent much of it is,” Ernest Hemingway said to Maxwell Perkins. “I will say now,” John O’Hara wrote Fitzgerald, “Tender Is the Night is in the early stages of being my favorite book, even more than This Side of Paradise.” And Archibald MacLeish exclaimed: “Great God, Scott…You are a fine writer. Believe it – not me.” Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick’s harrowing demise. A profound study of the romantic concept of character – lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative – Tender Is the Night, Mabel Dodge Luhan remarked, raised F. Scott Fitzgerald to the heights of a “modern Orpheus”.
As rare and astounding as the art of Rembrandt, Renoir and Rodin, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short novel casts a spell on me in his painting Love, Truth, Mythology and Tragedy in words so poignant, eloquent and gorgeous that I, a mere mortal, cannot do them justice, so I must quote (though I typically prefer not to):
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
Turning over the most memorable characters, Nicole and Dick Diver form a glamorous colourful but tainted love, set between Switzerland and the Riviera.
Elegant prose, lined with glittering dialog and streams of consciousness that observe the most occluded emotions and subtleties of character, Fitzgerald defines a style that is at once modern and of his time. Recalling the glory days of a fading empire, Dick Diver’s ascent, peak and melancholic unravelling lights up the world and then fades sadly into obscurity with no real trigger or turning point. Perhaps that undefined, loss of hope and confidence that real life observed and unchallenged leaves ever waiting for resolution. A masterpiece of introspection, carving out the shadowed corners and shining sunny moments of life’s incalculable arc.
4) Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase
Book Summary:They call him many names, but angelic isn’t one of them.
Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain, is big, bad, and dangerous to know. No respectable woman would have anything to do with the “Bane and Blight of the Ballisters”, and he wants nothing to do with respectable women. He’s determined to continue doing what he does best – sin and sin again – and all’s going swimmingly…until the day a shop door opens and she walks in.
She’s too intelligent to fall for the worst man in the world.
Jessica Trent is a determined young woman, and she’s going to drag her imbecile brother off the road to ruin, no matter what it takes. If saving him – and with him her family and future – means taking on the devil himself, she won’t back down. The trouble is, the devil in question is so shockingly irresistible that the person who needs saving most is Jessica herself.
If I could give Lord of Scoundrels ten stars, I would. I’ve long heard this is a book considered canon for historical romance readers, and I absolutely agree. Lord of Scoundrels is a delicious, complex, wickedly fun and outrageous story.
Lord of Scoundrels is always mentioned as a classic and much loved historical romance. This was the first book I’ve read by this author and I agree. It is wonderful. I couldn’t put it down. It feels a little bit dated, with such an alpha male hero, but on the other hand, it is made very clear how unfairly women were treated by society at the time, which feels very up-to-date. The writing is excellent. Both the hero and heroine are very well-defined and fascinating individuals. Following in the long tradition of historical romances, the hero is rough and gruff on the outside, but turns out to have a heart of gold. The plot is well thought out and very engaging. I highly recommend it to romance readers. One of the best historical romance books available in audio.
5) Any Duchess Will Do, by Tessa Dare
Book Summary:What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?
Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season – or any season – but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.
Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: Submit to his mother’s “duchess training”…and fail miserably.
But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure – a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess – can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?
I’ve read a few historical romances since last year. This one tops them all. I mean I’ve seriously have finished about 50 of them and this one has had me on the edge of my seat. I’ve been laughing and crying and cheering and giggling and wished with all my heart I could enter the world of this book and become friends with the characters.
Each Character has such depth and love and heart and their own feelings and thoughts. I do NOT feel like I’m reading all in the same voice.
I have loved all the other full-length stories in Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series so I had pretty high expectations for Any Duchess Will Do. Thankfully, almost every one of them was met and I discovered that this series is one of the rare ones that gained 5 stars for every installment (excluding the novellas). I found this book to be full of everything I love about historical romance: well-developed characters, super hot chemistry between the two protagonists, and emotions of all types.
What do you think about our list of best historical romance books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best historical romance books you can find other genres here.