Aug 10 2017 1:00pm

A Victorian Romance Starter Kit: 5 Victorian Era-Set Romances You Must Read

The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

The Victorian era has a special place in history. Spanning an impressive sixty-three years, it closes out the 19th century and gives us a world still far enough back in history to have that historical feel that transports readers to an earlier time, while also bringing in aspects of the modern world we take for granted. Poised between the grand sweep of history and the dawn of a new century, the Victorian era provides a canvas for a wide variety of stories. While some might associate this setting with modesty and propriety, it was also an age of exploration, invention, a time when arts, technology, commerce, and society as a whole would never be the same, all perfect backdrops for unforgettable historical romance. Where, one might ask, should an interested reader begin their own exploration of this setting? Consider the following.

The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne: (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) Nobody does raw Victorian passion like Kerrigan Byrne. These aren’t nice or easy reads. They rip the lace curtain off the past and face the hardships head-on, pairing imperfect people who are perfect for each other. In this, her fourth entry into her fabulous Victorian Rebels series, Imogen, a nurse and serving maid,  has no choice but to spend one passionate night with Cole, the Duke of the title. The two make a real connection before Cole disappears. Imogen’s entire life becomes collateral damage, but Byrne heroines are resourceful women, so, when Cole returns, he finds her an entirely different woman from the one he remembers.  This is one hard-earned happily ever after, proving that love does conquer all.

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas: (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) Kleypas fans rejoiced at their favorite author’s return to historical romance, after a contemporary sojourn, and it’s easy to see why. This start to her Ravenel series brings Devon Ravenel, who wants nothing to do with the country life he has inherited, especially not the widowed Kathleen and her hoyden sisters who have no breeding or education. Devon and Kathleen clash from the start, full on butting of heads, and yet still find they have more in common than they might expect. This story could not have taken place at any other time, as train travel, the rise of the department store, and women’s place in the working world have prominent roles to play throughout the series.

My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton

My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton: (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) This fifth installment in Frampton’s Duke Behaving Badly cranks up the volume on the time-honored Pygmalion tale. When sheltered Genevieve inherits a duchy in her own right (rare, yes, but there is a historical precedent) she’s going to need some help sorting out this whole duchess thing, and turns to her Aunt Sophia, who graciously sends Archie, her steward, to school the new duchess in all things duchess-y. Neither one of them even considers falling in love, despite a powerful attraction. Servants marrying duchesses is simply not done, after all, and Genevieve wants oh so badly to do her duchess-ing right. Archie, too, an ex-soldier and son of the aristocracy himself, certainly plans to stick strictly to business, but true love is far too powerful to be reined in by rules.

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran: (Amazon | B&N | Kobo)It’s all too true that Victorian heroines have long found themselves backed into corners. In Jane’s case, she comes out swinging. Raised to have a voice and mind of her own, there is no way Jane is going to take her money-hungry uncle’s plans to grab her inheritance for himself, laying down. Nope, nope, nope. If she has to make up a marriage to Crispin, a sleazy politician who is probably not going to survive a brutal beating, well, then that’s what she’s going to do. Only, he doesn’t die, and he’s terribly contrite that he doesn’t remember their romance or marriage, and vows to make it up to Jane, who is really hoping he doesn’t because she is going to be in a world of trouble if he does. Then there’s the little matter of a certain vote, that Jane could possibly swing if she can only help her fake husband find his true heart.

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan: (Amazon | B&N | Kobo)Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy...who is actually a girl. Life was not easy for a brilliant scientist in Victorian England if that brilliant scientist happened to be female, so Violet comes up with a workaround. She’ll continue doing her work, and her guy friend, Sebastian, can present it to the world. He’s got the flash, the looks, the charisma, but Violet is the literal brains of this operation. He also takes the brunt of negative reactions to her works, and even he gets to a point where he can’t take any more. This goes for both their ruse and his time in the friend zone, but for Violet, blending into the background, in all ways, has been her strongest desire, (with good reason) until love turns out to be the greatest experiment of them all. Readers who want a Victorian romance that steps outside of the drawing room and into a wider world will want to stick around for the whole Brothers Sinister series.

These choices are only skimming the surface, as more authors find new tales to tell, in an era that combines the best of tradition and progress, with timeless love stories that hit at the heart of the human experience. What are your favorite Victorian romances?

H&H Editor Picks:

5 Unusual Historical Best Bets for July 2017

Helpful Restrictions in the Victorian Era

August 2017 Romance Novels New Releases Shopping List






Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

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1. carmenlire
Amanda Quick is a go to for Vistorian Romance! Jennifer Ashley also comes to mind with her Mackenzie Series.
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
What are some indicator that something is a Victorian romance, beyond just the years it takes place? I actually think I read a lot more Victorian romances than I realize just because they get wrapped up in Regencies for me.

I do so love The Duke. I just finished that this week and it's one of the top books of the year so far!
3. Janga
I cheered as I reached each title on your list. Great choices! I would add Connie Brockway's My Dearest Enemy, Sherry Thomas's Private Arrangements, Jennifer Ashley's The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, Laura Lee Guhrke's And Then He Kissed Her, and Judith Ivory's The Proposition to up the list to ten. The great thing is that most of these authors also have other wonderful Victorian romances, so reading the first one leads to another and another and . . .
Anna Bowling
4. AnnaBowling
@carmenlire, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was wonderful, and definitely belongs on a Victorian keeper shelf. Very good call on Amanda Quick. She is incredibly versatile.

@JenniferProffitt, I suspect you may be right on reading more Victorians than one would assume at first glance. For me, apart from the date, there's a different tone to Victorians than to Regencies, which could be a whole post in itself. For me, the Victorian era picks up steam (literally, in the case of steampunk) as the rise of industry changes the landscape, literally and figuratively, forever. We see the rise of the self made man, Americans crossing the pond to marry their money into established but impoverished names, and the balance of power shifts.

@Janga, thank you! I very much agree with your choices. I don't think I have read And Then He Kissed Her, but any Ghurke is a good Ghurke, so I will need to get on that, post-haste. Judith Ivory :wistful sigh: is a treasure.

Jennifer Proffitt
5. JenniferProffitt
@AnnaBowling, that's so true! I just don't think I've ever noticed those particulars. Fascinating!
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