Mar 28 2014 12:45pm

He’s All That: Historical Romance Heroes with Unusual Professions

Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuistonToday we're joined by author Jennifer McQuiston, whose Moonlight on My Mind is out this week. Moonlight On My Mind's hero is an Earl who's accused of murder—by the heroine, who might just marry him to save him from the hangman's rope! Jennifer writes unusual heroes—and heroines—and is here to talk about historical heroes with unusual professions. Thanks, Jennifer!

I love writing about unusual heroes, from burly, bearded (and Scottish!) solicitors, to Victorian veterinarians who are dirty, messy, and smelly—everything a romance hero is not supposed to be! But even before I penned my own unusual heroes, I had always adored reading about heroes who are a bit…well… more.

More than a rakish peer.

More than an anchorless second son.

More than the usual ship’s captain, pirate, spy, or soldier.

So today I share my Top Ten List of “Unusually Employed” Historical Romance Heroes, based on books I have read and loved, and that I highly recommend.

1) No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean (Rule of Scoundrels series): I highly recommend this read if you want to fall in love with Temple…sure, he’s a Duke. But he’s a murderous duke who knows how to use his fists, and as a co-owner of London’s most notorious gaming hell, he fights for the crowd in the ring every night.

2) A Lady Entangled by Cecilia Grant: Ms. Grant’s delightful third book features Nick Blackshear, a lower-level barrister who falls in love with an ambitious young lady. But alas…the lady is determined to marry up and restore her family’s reputation, and wants nothing to do with a man who can offer her little more than love.

3) A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long (Pennyroyal Green series) A vicar as a romance hero? Oh my heavens, surely not! But if anyone can pull it off, it’s the fabulous Julie Anne Long, and she does it Pennyroyal Green Style, pairing this unsuspecting man of God with a former courtesan looking for a simpler (and less notorious) life. This story will make you cry as you fall in love with dreamy Vicar Adam Sylvaine…

4) Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane Series): Winter Makepeace lives in grimy St. Giles and is the headmaster of a school for foundlings by day… but at night, he roams the streets as the Ghost of St. Giles, a mysterious sort of Robin Hood in the…er…flesh.

5) Unclaimed by Courtney Milan: Sir Mark Turner has gained what amounts to rock-star fame in Victorian-era London by authoring a book on being a virtuous (and virginal) man… but he’s just met his match in a courtesan hired to besmirch his sterling reputation.

6) Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty: Arie de Voss is widely known as a brilliant composer, but he hides a scandalous secret: he claimed his late mentor’s final work as his own, and now hides behind the shame of what he’s done. Delicious and dark, Carrie Lofty writes brilliant characters that are always a shade different.

7) That Scandalous Summer by Meredith Duran: Dr. Michael De Grey might be the younger brother of a duke, but as a bona fide physician he refuses to pay the part…and he is determined to do whatever he must to save the charity hospital his manipulative brother is threatening to destroy.

8) The Governess Affair novella by Courtney Milan: I think novellas give amazing authors a bit more breathing room, and let them step outside the bounds of genre expectations. Courtney gets two nods on my list by delivering a gem of a short story with a pugilist/bodyguard hero named Hugo Marshall, who falls for the dishonored governess of his employer.

9) Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare (Spindle Cove series): If you think a proper lady can’t fall in love with a small-town blacksmith with a smoking hot forge, think again! Mr. Aaron Dawes can pump my bellows anytime.

And of course I saved the best for last! Without further ado, I give you…

10) The Proposition by Judith Ivory:  A Pygmalian story turned on its ear, this story features linguist Lady Edwina Bollash, who tries to turn ratcatcher (that’s right, I said RATCATCHER) Mick Tremore into a proper gentleman. Mick is an absolute delight, staying true to himself even as Edwina tries to shape his rough edges... and shaves off his Tom Selleck-esque mustache to boot.

What unusual professions have YOU read and loved in a historical? And don’t hold back now…

After all, I just confessed my crush on a Recency-era ratcatcher.

Learn more or order a copy of Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuiston, out now:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



The queen of unusual professions herself, Jennifer McQuiston is a veterinarian who tracks disease outbreaks for the Centers for Disease Control by day, and in her not-so-copious spare time writes Different. Historical. Romance. She loves to hear from readers, follow her at, Twitter @jenmcqwrites, and her website at

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kareni
Sebastian Grey, the hero of Julia Quinn's Ten Things I Love About You is an author of popular romances.
2. Kareni
I thought of one more. Jo Goodman's A Season To Be Sinful features an assassin.
Wendy the Super Librarian
3. SuperWendy
I adore Carrie Lofty's historicals and Song of Seduction is a great one!

Adding to the list: To Dream Again by Laura Lee Guhrke. The hero is a toymaker. A great early book by Guhrke.
5. carmenlire
Kareni, the first books I thought of were JQ's Sebastian and Harry! In Harry's book, What Happens In London, he's a Russian translator for the government and the heroine spends most of the book being thought of as a spy.
6. Kareni
carmenlire, I enjoyed What Happens In London, too. Julia Quinn can write some very funny (also very touching) books!
Varsha R
7. Cani
I liked What Happens in London a lot, but I think I have an even bigger soft spot for Ten Things I Love About You; at least partially because of Sebastian's occupation. Laid-back Gothic Novelist Hero? Yes please.
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