Jun 17 2015 1:00pm

Claymores and Cowboys: Not-Your-Usual Historical Romance Best Bets for June 2015

Beauty’s Curse by Tamara Hughes

My monthly endeavor of looking for historical romances that skewer slightly off the beaten path is like a box of chocolates: I never know what I’m going to get.  Sometimes it’s a venerable Whitman’s Sampler of variety and sometimes you get conked over the head with one or two particular themes.  For medieval and western fans, in particular, this is your month.

The High Seas!

Beauty’s Curse by Tamara Hughes

Wherever she goes, catastrophe follows…

England, 1722

Amelia Archer will be the ruin of her family. Her extraordinary bad luck is burden enough, but her sweet, trusting nature often lands her in impossible scrapes. After the last straw, Amelia’s harried father ships his unfortunate daughter off to the Colonies to live with her aunt. But wherever Amelia goes, bad luck is sure to follow…

Pirate David Lamont is taken with the lovely young Englishwoman the moment she’s pulled aboard from her sinking vessel. But sailors are already a superstitious lot and Amelia is unwelcome. In a feat of chivalry, David defends and claims her for himself…

Now their fortunes-for good or ill-are invariably tied. But as much as she longs for him, Amelia cannot allow a romance. For a lady of misfortune can only bring ruin to those she loves…

Did someone say pirate?  If it’s one thing romance readers love it’s a swashbuckling, devil-may-care, wickedly naughty pirate.  Don’t believe me?  Just look at the history of the genre.  This is the second book in Hughes’ Love on the High Seas series.


Valentine by Heather Grothaus

Valentine by Heather Grothaus

He’s a man of passion and principle. But would he kill for his convictions? That’s the question that has Valentine Alesander fighting for his innocence. He’s been accused, along with three other Brothers, of orchestrating the horrific siege at the Christian fortification of Chastellet. Could this fatefully-named Crusader be a lover, a fighter, and a traitor? One woman from his past is about to find out.

Gorgeous, free-spirited Lady Mary Beckham has escaped her guardians in England to travel across the world—and find the notorious Valentine. Years ago, she was promised to him…and now she wants out of their marriage contract. Mary wants to wed another and requires Valentine’s blessing—until she discovers they share a tempestuous attraction. But with a vengeful band of sworn enemies at Valentine’s heels, is desire worth the risk of losing…everything?

This is the first book in the Brotherhood of Fallen Angels series which is centered four men who fought in the Crusades. Who is Valentine, exactly?  According to the author’s web site he’s “…tall, dark, handsome, Spanish… and perhaps the world’s greatest conman. Need a horse? He’ll steal you one. Have to sneak into a place? No problem–he has plenty of costumes to help you look the part. On the run in a foreign country? Relax. He speaks the language–any language.”  Which begs the question, do you think Valentine will marry me?

Warrior of Ice by Michelle Willingham

Locked in a deadly game! 

Physically and emotionally scarred, Lady Taryn of Ossoria knows no man would want her for a wife. Nonetheless, she's determined to free her father from his merciless overlord and enlists powerful warrior Killian MacDubh to help. 

He has his own motives for confronting the High King... Born a bastard, Killian longs to carve out a place for himself. Unaware of her true beauty, Taryn is an alluring distraction to his plan, but as traitors are revealed and loyalties tested, their forbidden love becomes the only thing worth fighting for!

After a detour through Regency-era Scotland, Willingham is back with a new medieval duology set in Ireland.  This new series is being described as Game of Thrones meets Beauty and the Beast, and with Willingham at the helm we know that her heroines will fare much, much better than George R.R. Martin’s.  Just sayin’.

Regency, With a Twist!

Charmed and Dangerous by Jane Ashford

Laura Devane has been handpicked to fulfill an important mission: seduce the man she once rejected to prevent him from falling into the arms of a dangerous Russian countess. But she has betrayed him before. Will she be able to keep her cool beneath his heated gaze?

Gavin Graham has never known a woman whose passion for intrigue matched his own, until Laura comes barreling back into his life, plunging herself headlong into a perilous investigation. Clearly Laura is a menace to international peace-and to Gavin's peace of mind. But her touch leaves him stunningly aroused, and Gavin is tempted to join her in a life of dangerous desires...

Yeah, yeah – Regency spies are a dime a dozen.  What helps set Ashford’s latest outside that jam-packed trope box is that this story is set against the backdrop of the Congress of Vienna.  Early reviews indicate mystery, espionage and suspense.


Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Miranda Hayes has lost everything-her family, her husband, her home. Orphaned and then widowed, desperate to find a safe haven, she sets out to cross a savage land alone...until chance brings her face-to-face with notorious gunslinger Jake Harkner.

Hunted by the law and haunted by a brutal past, Jake has spent a lifetime fighting for everything he has. He's never known a moment's kindness...until fate brings him to the one woman willing to reach past his harsh exterior to the man inside. He would die for her. He would kill for her. He will do whatever it takes to keep her his.

Spanning the dazzling West with its blazing deserts and booming gold towns, Jake and Miranda must struggle to endure every hardship that threatens to tear them apart. But the love of an outlaw comes with a price...and even their passion may not burn bright enough to conquer the coming darkness.

Originally published in 1993 by Bantam, now reprinted by Sourcebooks in anticipation for a sequel in July, and finally available in a digital edition so I can save my eyes from reading the minuscule print featured in the first edition.  Bittner specializes in gritty western romances that harken back to an era when the lines between historical romance and historical saga were heavily blurred.  I enjoyed this book when I read it many moons ago, and am anticipating a reread. 

Running Wolf by Jenna Kernan

Rival tribes… 

Running Wolf is a valiant Sioux warrior. During his first raid as war chief, he captures a surprising Crow enemy—a woman! This spirited fighter is unlike any he's ever met. Her beauty and audacity are entrancing, but threaten his iron resolve… 

…rival passions 

Snow Raven must focus on freeing herself, not on the man who keeps her captive. But as she falls deeper under Running Wolf's spell, she realizes he is her warrior—and she'll risk everything for him!

Kernan has written some of my favorite westerns, and this is her first historical release since 2013.  Also writing for Harlequin’s Nocturne line, she’s continuing to branch out.  Her next project, a romantic suspense series for Harlequin Intrigue is slated to begin in December.

Wildfire in His Arms by Johanna Lindsey

With his work in Montana completed now that the Callahan-Warren feud has ended in marriage rather than bloodshed, Degan Grant sets out for California because it is far away from the home he wants to forget—until the US Marshal who saved his life calls in a favor. All Degan has to do is apprehend three outlaws on the marshal’s list and turn them over to the law. Easy enough, he figures, for a man no one wants to tangle with.

But then a bold young woman crosses his path. Maxine grew up so pretty and attracted so much unwanted attention in her Texas hometown that events spiraled out of control. She will try anything to escape the handsome, enigmatic gunfighter who intends to turn her over to a corrupt sheriff who will hang her instead of putting her on trial.

Saddled with a sassy, spirited young woman who insists she is innocent, Degan must hunt down a vicious killer and keep an old enemy at bay. But forced into intimate proximity with his beguiling prisoner, he finds his desire sparking into a wildfire of passion, and he can no longer deny that it is time for them to risk confronting their pasts so he can have a chance at a future with her in his arms forever.

First featured in Lindsey’s last western, 2013’s One Heart to Win, the gunslinger hero is being sold as “dangerous and mysterious,” as all self-respecting gunslinger heroes should be.  But is he man enough to resist the charms of an outlaw heroine with her claims of innocence?  My guess is, probably not.

Gambling on the Outlaw by Margaret Madigan

Gambling on the Outlaw by Margaret Madigan

Nevada is no easy place for a woman, especially for Beth Caldwell, a gambler’s widow with an independent streak. When she refuses to marry the local cattle baron—who wants to add her land to his empire—Beth ends up with a powerful enemy. But it’s not until she finds a handsome outlaw hiding in her barn that her trouble really begins.

Isaac Collins survived the Civil War only to find himself the scapegoat for stagecoach robbery and murder. With nothing left to lose, he gambles everything on revenge…and barely escapes with his life. He stumbles back to Beth’s place, and as she nurses him back to health something tender and heated grows between them.

But in Nevada, sometimes everything can ride on one high-stakes game of chance…and Beth’s rejected suitor will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

Having published a post-apocalyptic romance with cowriter Merissa McCain, Gambling on the Outlaw marks Madigan first book flying solo and the start of her Nevada Bounty series for Entangled Publishing.


Summer of the Viking by Michelle Styles

“We have the summer, Alwynn. It will have to be enough.” 

Washed up alone on the Northumbrian shore, Valdar Nerison is a stranger in a foreign land. He has unfinished business in Raumerike, but first, he owes his rescuer, the beautiful Lady Alwynn, a life debt. 

Alwynn is wary of Valdar's promise to protect her—after all, she has known only betrayal at the hands of men. But as summer's end approaches, Valdar must choose whether to return home and fight for his honor or to stay and fight for Alwynn's heart… 

Hard to believe that Styles’ first historical for Harlequin, The Gladiator’s Honor was published 10 years ago, in 2005.  Since then she’s written everything from Roman era to Regency England.  This is her second Viking romance to be published this year.

What usual historicals are you looking forward to this month?


Learn more about the books mentioned in this post:

Beauty’s Curse by Tamara Hughes  
Valentine by Heather Grothaus  
Warrior of Ice by Michelle Willingham  
Charmed and Dangerous by Jane Ashford  
Outlaw Hearts Rosanne Bittner  
Running Wolf by Jenna Kernan  
Wildfire in His Arms by Johanna Lindsey  
Gambling on the Outlaw by Margaret Madigan  
Summer of the Viking by Michelle Styles  











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1 comment
1. Kahintenn
I love historicals and when I can't find my next Regency I always turn to this column! Thanks so much for these recommendations!
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