12 Historical Romance Novels To Tide You Over Until Bridgerton Premieres
Our favorite steamy, cheeky, glamorous, scandalous, Shonda Rhimes-concocted historical fantasy show is back! We all fell in love with the Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn when they came out, and when it debuted on Netflix, the Bridgerton craze reached new heights as it instantly became the hot topic of conversation with friends and co-workers for weeks. Remember episode 5? Yup! We can only imagine what Season 2 has in store for us so in the meantime, we thought we’d create a list of our favorite new and upcoming historical romance novels and fiction books to keep our thirst for Bridgerton satiated.
Hotel Portofino by J.P. O’Connell
If you also love Downton Abbey and The Crown, Hotel Portofino will give you everything you love: a ravishing Roaring Twenties historical drama about a British family who face political scandal, marriage troubles, and complicated romance all while running an upper-class hotel on the Italian Riviera. Now adapted into a series on PBS, Hotel Portofino is a story of personal awakening at a time of global upheaval.
All of You Every Single One by Beatrice Hitchman
This liberating novel about queer chosen family is beautifully detailed and filled with heart. Set in Vienna from 1910 to 1946, we follow Julia and Eve, two women who are madly in love and have just found solace in a more bohemian and liberal part of the city. When Julia longs for a child, she and Eve will redefine what it means to have a loving family and liberate themselves from the limits of society.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Another historical fiction series that inspired a hit TV show, Outlander tells the story of Claire, a World War II combat nurse who somehow finds herself in 1700s Scotland as the result of accidental time travel. When she meets Jamie Fraser, a young Scot from the Highlands, they form an alliance that eventually leads to a century-spanning, world-traveling romance. Through the course of the series, their journeys take them from the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, to the palaces of 18th century Paris, to colonial America.
The Blue Butterfly by Leslie Johansen Nack
Leslie Johansen Nack goes where no author has gone before with this vibrant period novel that brilliantly reimagines the life of legendary film star, Marion Davies. When 18-year-old Marion meets William Randolph Hearst in 1915, she’s instantly drawn in by the possibilities of fame, success, wealth, and passion. While he’s still married, they carry on their courtship in secret and even cover up the fact that Hearst is the father of Marion’s baby girl that she gave birth to in 1919. As her star rose and she began living a lavish Hollywood lifestyle, she began a secret love affair with Charlie Chaplin. But at the height of the depression, Hearst falls on hard times with his finances and health waning. When Marion lends him $1M, she’s then thrust into confronting the film that threatens to invalidate all that she’s worked for: Citizen Kane.
Bloombsury Girls by Natalie Jenner
Bloomsbury Girls is an absolute book lover’s dream. Written by the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, this compelling and heartwarming read is set in post-war London at the iconic Bloomsbury Books shop. Enter in: three women employees who are about to bring the male-run bookshop (and the world around them) into the future. Each of them have their own dreams and aspirations, and as they interact with important women literary figures of the time — including Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell) — and more, they begin to envision (and build) a better future than society can even imagine.
Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
This gorgeous epic novel follows three generations of a Chinese family as they experience war, Japanese invasion, migration, and dislocation. Beginning with young wife Meilin in 1938 China, she’s forced to flee her home with her four-year-old son, Renshu. Years later, we see the effects of migrations through the eyes of Renshu who’s settled into America as Henry Dao. His daughter yearns to understand her heritage but Renshu struggles between keeping his family safe in a new land and protecting the legacy of where they came from.
The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Connecting the early days of the Vanderbilt dynasty in 1914 to a panicked family in present day American south, The Wedding Veil is an awe-inspiring novel about four generations of women who are tied together by a sacred wedding veil. In the 1900s, socialite Edith Vanderbilt struggles to prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to run the Biltmore Estate, and in the present, Julia Baxter faces a heartbreaking revelation that causes her to call off her wedding just moments before its set to begin. As each timeline unfolds, we see four women change the course of their lives forever, determined to freely create the life they truly want for themselves.
On Gin Lane by Brooke Lea Foster
This glamorous sun-soaked read takes us to the Hamptons in June of 1957, with a cast of colorful socialite characters that will entrance you into this decadent world. And just when you think you’re settled into the ultimate summer fantasy, a shocking event changes everything. As we watch New York socialite Everleigh “Lee” Farrows navigate touch terrain among high society, she soon finds that everything she thought she wanted might not be worth it after all.
The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock
Fans of Emma Donoghue, MJ Rose, and Hannah Kent will love this compelling historical suspense novel set in the 1860s. When sixteen-year-old Annie Moore is pregnant out of wedlock, she’s sent to live in a convent for fallen women. After she gives birth, she discovers the nuns have taken her baby. Determined to escape and reunite with her daughter, Annie turns to sex work and becomes the most in-demand escort, Bessie. Inspired by a true story, readers are transported to a time where opportunities for women are scarce, and our heroine does what any woman would do to get her daughter back. Including revenge.
Antionette's Sister by Diana Giovinazzo
What’s a young woman to do when your favorite sister is none other than Queen Marie Antoinette? And then when you realize you’re the queen your sister wanted to be all along? In this luxurious and powerful coming-of-age tale, we meet Charlotte, tenth daughter and one of sixteen children of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. As she navigates arranged marriage, political upheaval, and a threat to the monarchy, she must find a way to hold on to herself, and everyone she loves.
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske
This delightfully queer historical fantasy series is sure to bring some magic to your reading nook. As the second installment in Freya Marske's beloved The Last Binding trilogy, we shift from Robin’s story to his sister Maud’s, who’s ready to take on a new adventure. What she actually finds is a dead body, a rude parrot, and an enchanting stranger named Violet who she ultimately teams up with to solve a murder and uncover a conspiracy that began years before them.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Atonement tells the story of 13-year-old Briony, who in 1935 witnesses a flirtatious exchange between her older sister and a family friend. Her naïveté on matters of the heart leads to a ripple effect that changes the family's lives forever. In the aftermath of the event, Briony navigates the 20th century, including the horrors of World War II, and she works to come to terms with her mistake. This bestselling novel, which was adapted to the big screen and became an award-winning film, tells her story.
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