Dec 12 2016 2:00pm

The Top 6 Unusual Historical Romances of 2016

The tail-end of a very long year and the mad-cap rush of holiday festivities can fill romance readers with jubilance, dread, or an unholy cocktail of both. Thank goodness for the steadfast devotion of our beloved genre. Let’s take a look back at some of the best Unusual Historical Best Bets we featured at Heroes & Heartbreakers in 2016:

What were the best Unusual Historicals of 2016?

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he's always dreamed of—one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the façade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything . . . and the price seems worth paying.

Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won't risk her heart for him. As soon as she's saved enough money from her cooking, she'll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden...

Jenkins is a rock star in romance and this first book in a new series made a splash earlier this year.  Starred reviews in Library Journal and Kirkus, who also named it one of the Best Books of 2016. The Washington Post declared, “This is historical romance at its very best.” What are you waiting for?

Gambled Away by Joanna Bourne, Isabel Cooper, Rose Lerner, Jeannie Lin, and Molly O’Keefe

Gambled Away by Joanna Bourne, Isabel Cooper, Rose Lerner, Jeannie Lin, and Molly O’Keefe

Spanning centuries and continents, five brand-new novellas from beloved historical romance authors tell the stories of men and women who find themselves wagered in a game of chance and are forced to play for the highest stakes of all: love.

Silk, Swords & Surrender by Jeannie Lin

Be swept away to a land of silk and swords, passion and surrender 

From USA TODAY bestselling author Jeannie Lin comes a tantalizing new five-story volume. Take a journey to Tang Dynasty China and join five unique heroines as they fight, seduce and steal their way into their heroes' hearts. 

Rediscover four reader-favorite stories and immerse yourself in The Touch of Moonlight, the brand-new sexy novella from this highly-acclaimed author!

Daughters of a Nation by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart and Piper Huguley

Daughters of a Nation by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart and Piper Huguley

The fight for suffrage was long, hard, and carried out on many fronts. In Daughters of A Nation, Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Piper Huguley bring you four novellas full of spirit, hope, and, most importantly: LOVE.

What a year for historical romance anthologiesGambled Away was lauded by numerous bloggers, Lin’s short novellas from the defunct Harlequin Undone line were repackaged with a new story for a sweet price and Daughters of a Nation was picked as one of the year’s best by The Washington Post.

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society.  But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

Thomas put her own spin on Sherlock Holmes and in the process received glowing praise with a starred review in Library Journal and being named one of the Best Books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews.  It’s also the start of a series, so hop on board the train before it gets too far down the tracks.

The Blacksmith’s Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes

The Blacksmith’s Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes

A passion forged from fire 

Rejected by her favored knight, Joanna Sollers knows she will never love again. Especially when the man she's now forced to marry is none other than her beloved's half brother! 

For blacksmith Hal Danby, marrying Joanna makes his lifelong dream of entering the Smiths' Guild possible, even if the secrets in his past mean he'll forever keep his distance. But everything changes with one stolen night, and in the arms of his new bride, Hal wonders if this loveless arrangement could transform into something real…

Hobbes’ third novel featured a heroine determined to marry well, a hero determined to better his lot in life, and to get the heroine to forget about his ne’er-do-well half-brother.  After finishing this book I wanted ALL the blacksmith heroes I could get my grubby hands on (More, I say! More!)

And don’t miss out on these Unusual Historical Best Bets bowing in December:


In The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page, Page takes readers back to 1925 Britain in what Publisher’s Weekly describes as a “vibrant sequel” to 2014’s An American Duchess.  Booklist reports the story features “plenty of sizzling sexual tension, the trappings of aristocratic luxury, and a whodunnit.”


This second book in the Susanna Craig's Runaway Desires series, To Tempt an Heiress, starts in Georgian England and sets sail to the Caribbean. Craig has received cover endorsements from Meredith Duran and Jennifer McQuiston.


Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman by Anna Schmidt

Already author to an impressive backlist of inspirational romances, Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman is the second book in Anna Schmidt’s secular Last Chance Cowboys series for Sourcebooks.  RT Book Reviews says “the realistic second-chance at love story – with its intelligent characters, sensuality and suspense elements – engages readers.”


The Lady Who Drew Me In, the third and final book in Thomasine Rappold’s Sole Survivor series, features a light paranormal touch with a heroine who sounds like she has the makings of a police sketch artist.  The book opens with the young widow realizing that her dead husband is still controlling her life from beyond the grave, outsmarting a Mean Girl, and receiving a business proposition from the hero.


Historical romance book nerds can attest: it’s a blue-ribbon day when a debut author joins the ranks. With Married to Her Enemy by Jenni Fletcher snagged her 2-book deal with Harlequin thanks with her second completed manuscript and joining the fray of their annual So You Think You Can Write contest.


Also a writer of historical westerns, Harper St. George tackles amnesia and enemies-to-lovers in In Bed with the Viking Warrior, this third book in her Viking Warriors series.


Learn more about or order a copy of the books mentioned in this post:

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
Gambled Away by Joanna Bourne, Isabel Cooper, Rose Lerner, Jeannie Lin, and Molly O’Keefe  
Silk, Swords & Surrender by Jeannie Lin
Daughters of a Nation by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart and Piper Huguley
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
The Blacksmith’s Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes
The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page (available December 27, 2016)
To Tempt an Heiress by Susanna Craig
Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman by Anna Schmidt
The Lady Who Drew Me In by Thomasine Rappold
Married to Her Enemy by Jenni Fletcher (available December 20, 2016)
In Bed with the Viking Warrior by Harper St. George (available January 1, 2017)

H&H Editor Picks:

Make Mine a Virgin

Bring the Pain: Angsty Historicals

December 2016 Romance New Releases






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. Kareni
Some of these I've read and enjoyed, others sound intriguing. Thanks for the list!
Jenni Fletcher
2. Jenni Fletcher
My eyes almost popped out when I read this! Thanks for the mention, Wendy. And yes, more blacksmiths from Elisabeth Hobbes, please! X
Jenni Fletcher
3. Virginia Heath
Well done Jenni Fletcher and Elisabeth Hobbes- two of my favourite Harlequin Historical authors ;)
Jenni Fletcher
4. Elisabeth Hobbes
Wow! I am so thrilled to be included on this list. Thank you. (-:
Post a comment