The very first romance novel I read was a historical romance I stole off my older sister’s shelf when I was a teenager. I fell in love with the characters of that book and the somewhat madcap, sort of heartbreaking, but totally enchanting story that was told. I was always an avid reader and dreamer but that book was quite possibly the first time I was left with a HEA that simply melted my heart. When I first read that book I was on the verge of first love, I had a basic understanding of relationships and what they entailed (I was a teen after all, and it was the ‘90’s), but romance wasn’t really something I’d spent a lot of time thinking about in detail.
Throughout my remaining teenage years, I found myself searching the shelfs for books which would leave me feeling a similar warm-heartedness upon finishing the last page. It wasn’t until my early 20’s (and after having my first child) that I put forth a concerted effort to find the kind of books that provided that feeling and gave me a brief mental escape from my daily life. That moment, or period in my life is really when my obsession, for lack of a better word, with the romance genre came in to being. I went back to that very first book and read it again, then I haunted the library and bookstores exploring the shelves. I used the internet to the best of my ability to discover other authors and books that would be similar to what had hooked my interest in the first place. In those early days of my romance reading, historical romance was my go-to and my collection of books (these days in the Corner Table House referred to as “Mom’s Love Library”) has grown and grown and grown.
It’s no longer just historical romance on my shelves, but the books and stories from those early days are still some of my favorites to turn to when I need a break from my normal chaotic life, or when I want a romantic story that offers a glimpse into a way of life entirely different from today, or when…. Well, you get the point. Even today I still love historical romance.
So, when I started working with Kelly for this month’s FAOM posts I decided to ask her if she’d help me out with a new kind of post for the blog. A kind of recommended reading, top 5 in a genre, my favorite stories kind of list post. And that’s what we have for you today. Each of us scoured our minds, our bookshelves and our hearts, and have come up with 5 historical romance novels that we recommend to you…
5 Books Recommended By Author Kelly Lyman
1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. If you've read this book already (or seen the Starz show) need I say more? This book has everything. And I really do mean everything. I have read it roughly five times. I would have listed each book, but Voyager, on the list, but didn't think that would be fair. This is, hands down, my favorite series of all time...excluding Harry Potter which goes on a totally other list. #jamiefrazerforever
2. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. While not many people would put this into the historical romance category but rather historical fiction, I have to add this one. I read this book in one week – which given the size and the fact I have four kids and tend to be a slow reader, says a lot. I could not put this book down. And, I think it is fine to have it in my top 5 because there is a huge romance storyline in the book. I also enjoyed this mini series.
3. The Turncoat by Donna Thorland. This book is all about the Revolutionary War. And it has spies. And it has lovers on opposite sides of the war. Also, I'm in love with the cover.
4. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig. This is the first book in a series. I loved each book, but this first one is what got me hooked. The humor is great and the author does a fantastic job with each character in the series (and there are a ton of them!). I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit during this series.
5. The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden. This is simply a sweet, sweet romance. The characters are well developed and I was engaged with the story from page one. It is well written and I couldn't put it down.
5 Books Recommended by LD Ferris
1. Say You Love Me by Johanna Lindsey. This is that first romance novel that ensnared my mind, my imagination and my heart with the genre. This book is the 5th in Lindsay’s The Malory’s series – I did go back to read the ones that came before it and all that have come after it in the series and loved every single one – but this one still (and will forever) holds a very special place in my heart.
2. Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens. Reading The Malory’s also introduced me to something else that, to this day, I truly love. Long, involved, interweaving series whose books main characters are all family, or in some way related. Searching for something similar to The Malory’s brought me to Laurens’ The Cynster’s series. This title is the first book in the series and throughout the many, many books that have followed, I’m still fascinated by the stories, the characters and everything.
3. To Wed a Scandalous Spy by Celeste Bradley. Because who doesn’t love a good spy romance? The intrigue, the adventure. Add in the romance and you’ve got a winner in your hands. This story has all that and is chock full of humour too. This is a first book in a series as well and launches Bradley’s Royal Four series.
4. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. This one is the 4th book in Quinn’s Bridgerton series - another family series featuring the 8 Bridgerton siblings. I truly adore each of the siblings’ story but I am in love with this one because it also features the character who (in many of Quinn’s books) is also known as Lady Whistledown and who throughout the first 1/2 of this series constantly offers commentary on life in English/London high society and the Bridgerton Family quite often. Truly, this book and the whole series cracks me up, makes me happy and touches my heart with the sweet, warm-hearted stories.
5. Slightly Sinful by Mary Balogh. The 5th book in The Bedwyn Saga, I was captivated by each of the books in the series but this one… this is one of those stories that knowing all that’s come before the first page only makes every emotion stronger, every situation more important, more meaningful and simply more. I struggled to pick a favorite book from this particular series, they really are all wonderful, but for so many reasons this one had to be it.
Which books from our lists have you read? Which ones will be added to your own TBR lists? While we’re at it, why not share your own #1 historical romance read with us?
Any hey, speaking of historical romance… Have you entered to win a e-copy of Kelly’s The Petticoat Letters today? Click here to do it now!