August is National Read A Romance Month! I love reading romance, and often get asked for recommendations from romance newbies – so I thought I would offer up a few of my favorites. I will warn you that almost all of these books are historical romance, since that’s my jam.
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You can’t go wrong with Jane Austen. You are always guaranteed witty banter and a happy ending – what could be nicer? I’m recommending Northanger Abbey, because it has a fun gothic vibe – and because Mr. Tilney is the absolute BEST Austen hero. (Yup, even better than Darcy).
I’ll be honest, I was a little worried to read An Extraordinary Union. It’s set during the Civil War. How is this not going to be terribly depressing? Then, I read one of her stories in an anthology, and I was totally on board! Alyssa Cole has a way of perfectly tying the events of the past into current events…while delivering an uplifting, fun, and swoon-worthy romance at the same time. She’s magic. Her upcoming book A Princess in Theory: Reluctant Royals even has me excited to read contemporary romance for the first time in…ever.
Full disclosure: I am an total Elizabeth Hoyt fangirl. Her Georgian England set Maiden Lane series is my favorite. I would recommend reading the series in order from the beginning, since the characters are weaved in as you go. My absolute favorite in the series is Thief of Shadows; wherein a virginal vigilante meets his match in a more experienced woman.
I was late to the Rose Lerner party, but I made up for it with enthusiasm! Sweet Disorder is a wonder – and just happens to be the first book in her Lively St. Lemeston series. Lerner’s attention to detail and love of research really shine through, and I love that her couples include middle class and servant class people (a rarity in historical romance).
The Brothers Sinister series is my go-to recommendation for romance newbies. If you can read The Governess Affair and not be totally hooked – especially when the hero and heroine are fighting/flirting via tersely written notes – then maybe romance isn’t the genre for you.
I never thought I would like the Ice Planet Barbarians series. But, last year I was seeing it mentioned EVERYWHERE, and my curiosity got the best of me. Next thing you know, I’m four books into the series. Kidnapped earthlings are dropped on an ice planet inhabited by fuzzy blue aliens – and love and planet-repopulating ensue. Note: trigger warning for a sexual assault in the first book.
K.J. Charles’ Society of Gentlemen series is excellent – and features male/male couples. Only three books (and one novella), so it’s a quick series to get through. A Seditious Affair is my favorite book in the series, featuring a radical bookseller and his high born love. Her A Charm of Magpies series is also great if you prefer paranormal romance.
Since I have a fondness for old school romance, I thought I’d make a couple of recommendations – but please note that given the age of these books, be prepared for problematic themes and potential triggers:
Skye O’Malley is coo-coo bananas! It is a true SAGA where the heroine ranges all over the place, falling in love with a few different men along the way. It’s like a historical soap opera on steroids.
If you like Ice Planet Barbarians, try Lindsey’s Warrior’s Woman. It’s set in the future, and the heroine falls for a Tarzan-esque space barbarian. I love the view of the future from 1990 – complete with sassy talking computers.
If you have any romance recommendations, feel free to share them in the comments!