Jan 24 2014 9:30am

Resolve to Read Beyond England: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for January 2014

January means a new year, new resolutions, and recovering from our collective post-holiday hangover. It’s that magical month of the year where we vow to change our ways, cut back on our chocolate and caffeine intake, drop ten (okay twenty….) pounds, and just be an all-around better, more positive person.

But if you’re also a romance reader? It’s that time of year when you’re looking forward to the new year in books and maybe making a few reading resolutions. Why not make a resolution to stretch your wings, step outside the box, and try an unusual historical? Here are a few hitting the shelves in January!


Portrait of Scandal by Annie Burrows

Her heart and hope long since shattered, Amethyst Dalby is content with her life as an independent woman. With wealth of her own, and no one to answer to, she is free to live as she pleases.

Until a trip to Paris throws her into contact with the one man who still has a hold over her—the bitter but still devastatingly sensual Nathan Harcourt! Living as an artist, this highborn gentleman has been brought low by scandal—and he is determined to show Amethyst that life is much more fun if you walk on the dark side….


To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham

Warrior Viking Ragnar Olafsson stood by as his best friend claimed the woman he desired the most. There was only one way to quench the deep darkness within him—become merciless in battle.

When Elena is taken captive, fearless Ragnar risks everything to save her. Now they are stranded with only each other for company. Suddenly every longing, every look, every touch is forbidden. Elena could tempt a saint—and sinner Ragnar knows he won't be able to hold out for long!


The Lone Warrior by Lori Austin

Rose Varner needs a man…

But not just any man. The one known as “White Ghost with Hair of Fire.” He may be the only way to rescue her daughter, Lily, from the Cheyenne. Legend has it he was once the Cheyenne’s captive, but his courage impressed them so much that they accepted him as one of their own. Yet the man Rose finds seems far from legendary…

Luke Phelan’s tortured past has driven him to live as a recluse in the Smoky Hills of western Kansas. Having vowed to keep his distance from the Cheyenne, Luke refuses to accompany Rose on her rescue mission. But her bravery in the face of dangerous odds changes his mind. Now as they ride toward their destination, they’ll battle outlaws, bounty hunters, and their own rising desires before finding Lily. But the cost to Rose will be high, and her budding love for Luke will be put to the test…

Montana Bride by Joan Johnston

When Karl Norwood’s mail-order bride meets an untimely demise on the way to the Montana Territory, Hetty Wentworth steps in to take her place. Hetty has no idea how she’s going to pretend to be all the things she isn’t—including the mother of two kids. She only knows her deception is necessary if she’s going to save two orphans from the awful fate she suffered as a child.

Karl smells a rat when a much younger woman than he was expecting arrives with two children who look nothing like her. But his mail-order bride is so beautiful, he doesn’t object—until he realizes that his charming new wife has been lying . . . about everything. Can a woman forced to keep secrets and a man hindered by distrust ever hope to find happily ever after in each other’s arms?

The Major’s Wife by Lauri Robinson

Major Seth Parker knows his wife, and the woman standing before him isn't her. The manipulative vixen who tricked his hand in marriage could never possess such innocence—nor get his heart racing like this!

Millie St. Clair has traveled halfway across the country to pull off one of the greatest deceptions ever. But with everything at stake it soon becomes clear that the hardest part might be walking away from the Major when it's all over….

Boots Under Her Bed by Jodi Thomas, Jo Goodman, Kaki Warner & Alison Kent

From four acclaimed authors come four all-new novellas featuring the rugged men of the West and the women who want them…

From Jodi Thomas...Callie has done a lot of crazy things, but it’ll take one more to prove she isn’t nuts: find a husband, fast! Her only requirement: he has to be taller than she is and swear not to have her committed during their ruse of a marriage.

From Jo Goodman...Felicity Ravenwood was raised to be independent-minded, but when this runaway bride opposes her father’s choices, it is up to Nat Church to bring her around. But he doesn’t count on springing her from jail, holding her hostage, or falling head over boot-heels in love.

From Kaki Warner...Two strangers on a train have more in common than they know—both have hidden purposes and ties to a Nebraska bank robbery. But when their schemes unravel, they find a bigger surprise awaiting them than either could have imagined.

From Alison Kent...When runaway New York socialite Maeve Daugherty joins her father’s bodyguard Zeb Crow on his personal mission of revenge, what was a slightly scandalous new life as a bookkeeper for an infamous San Antonio brothel becomes downright dangerous. But that’s not stopping Maeve from having the time of her life.

What unusual historical is on your resolution list?


Wendy the Super Librarian also blogs at So dig that library card out of your pocket and head for the stacks.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Mo
A little disappointed that there are no historicals set in Japan, China, India, or anywhere on the Arabian Peninsula listed. Heck, I'd love to see some historicals set in South and Central America or the Caribbean too. (I remember reading one set in South America years ago. Of course, it was a Barbara Cartland, but still. I'm still trying to find this book again.) That is an untapped setting just waiting for stories because the history is so rich and interesting. To me, none of these listed are unusual in any way.
2. EC Spurlock
I reccommend Joan Kayse's Patrician series, which is set in Ancient Rome. This is a really underused historical period that has so much potential! Kayse does a wonderful job of capturing both the splendor and the brutality of the Empire.
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
@Mo, we hear you! That's one of the reasons we started this column. But there aren't so many unusual historicals to begin with, and this is a monthly column, so focuses only on books out this month. Check through past columns to see if anything strikes your fancy.
Wendy the Super Librarian
4. SuperWendy
December and January always seem to be pretty "thin" for publishing in general - and it's always extra telling with historicals. I was especially sad that I didn't really find much in the way of "different" historicals via the "bigger" digital-first publishers. Oh well! I'm hoping for more robust lists come spring.

I've already read the Michelle Willingham Viking book, which I enjoyed. I've got the Annie Burrows' Paris-set historical in my immediate TBR. I hope to get to that soon, as well as pick up a few of those westerns. I love me some westerns.
Jennifer Denning
5. redheadedjen
I have been on a colonial/revolutionary America kick lately and I wish there were more of these.
6. PhoebeChase
I'm spending January reading Not-Your-Average historicals myself. I read Stephanie Dray's "Lily of the Nile" and now her 1920's erotica "It Stings So Sweet." Next is something by Jeannie Lin (China) and then Jenn Bennet's "Bitter Spirits" -- a 1920's PNR.
Wendy the Super Librarian
7. SuperWendy
RedheadedJen: I had to go back and check at my older lists - yep, there was a new colonial a few months back, Laird of Ballanclaire by Jackie Ivie - but the way it was marketed (cover art and title) would make you think it's Scotland-set at first glance! Hero is son of a laird, and gets deported to America. There he hooks up with the heroine, a daughter of a well-known patriot family. I haven't read it - but my guess is the bulk of the story must take place in the US - at least the way the back cover copy reads.

Phoebe: I've really enjoyed Lin's Harlequin Historical books - I think I've read them all, except for her debut (go figure!). Jenn Bennet's PNR sounds great! I'm kinda burnt out on PNR, but it's gotten some nice reviews and I ordered copies for work. I love that era (from a social history standpoint) and may have to give it a go.
Heather Waters
8. HeatherWaters
I'm looking forward to reading the new Michelle Willingham--thanks for the reminder! I hadn't read a viking romance in a while before I checked out her last one, and it was a very good read.
Nikki Hilton
9. nikkiphilton
The anthology looks great to me. I appreciate the reminder.
10. Kahintenn
@redheadedjen (my little sister is a redhead named Jen, so your name makes me smile!): if you like Colonial-era stories, while it is not strictly a romance, Eliot Pattison's "Bone Rattler", a mystery of Colonial America, is superb.
11. Kareni
Carla Kelly's The Wedding Journey is set in Portugal during the Napoleonic War. It was published in 2001 or so and is well worth a read. Written in the early 90s, Veils of Silk by Mary Jo Putney is set in India.
Myretta Robens
12. Myretta
@Mo. If you're looking for Asian Historicals, I higly recommend Jeannie Lin ( Her books are set in Tang Dynasty China. And they're great.
13. Mo
EC, Myretta:

Those are on my radar. The Kayse books look very interesting and I have them so just need to read them. Jeannie Lin is a fantastic writer and I'm really into her new series atm.

Some other books on my radar (but not read yet) are Mary Ellen Boyd's Temper the Wind and His Brother's Wife, both of which are set in Israel.

I'll have to check out The Wedding Journey and Veils of Silk; they sound interesting. And I will definitely check out past columns to see if anything catches my eye.
Cindie meincke
14. Cindie
Read Montana Bride and LOVED the whole series. Joan Johston is just great, Jodi Thomas is on the list...but I am surprised you don't have Catherine Anderson's Walking On Air on this list. It is second chance historical western. It has a great build up with wonderful characters, a bit of a paranormal twist, and a super sensual love scene. I just finished it and LOVE LOVE LOVE it!
Wendy the Super Librarian
15. SuperWendy
D'oh! You're right - I totally missed the Catherine Anderson book. I think it's because she also writes contemporaries, and there's not a lot to distingush her contemporary and historical books based on the cover art. She tends to get landscapes/flowers/etc. for both and I think that's why I missed it!
16. Cindie
Catherine Anderson's cover are so subtle. The flowers are very sybolic of what happens in the story though. I like that in a book cover. Yes the hottie is always nice to look at, but I am a bit embarressed when I am reading a story in public. My imagination as I read about a character really is all I need. My kids are sure I am reading it just for the "sex" in a romance. I like that sure, but that is not what I am really looking for in my romance. I like the people and the interaction and a good story line. I want to get to know them and what they are going through and I want a happy ending because, as many of us know...that doesn't always happen in real life.
17. sue martin
I set a romace in 1843 California--with elves..called the Elf Lord's Revenge. Is that too niche-y? I'm asking because I've only gotten a few reviews and I sell a few (right now i did a booksends add--so Ive sold over fifty at 99 cents)...but whether it gets read or not. That's the heart of the matter.
Have I've written myself into a corner? Can you be too niche-y?
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