Since her first novel, Splendid, hit the shelves in 1995, Julia Quinn has written 40 books — including New York Times bestseller The Duke and I, the first book in the Bridgerton series. Now, having been streamed in over 82 million households, its TV adaptation is the most-watched series in Netflix history. With Season 2 a ways away, we asked Quinn to recommend some historical romance reads to tide you over. Here are her personal favorites:


The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne


If you like a heavy dose of intrigue with your romance, this is the book for you. Annique Villiers, also known as the Fox Cub, is quite possibly Europe’s most elusive spy. The story opens in France, in a dungeon, and you honestly don’t know how our hero and heroine are going to escape, but of course they do, and the tale that ensues is brilliant. One interesting note: The Spymaster’s Lady is written in English, and thus we read all of Annique’s inner thoughts in English, and yet somehow she sounds utterly French. I found out many years later that Joanna Bourne speaks French herself, and I instantly thought, “Of course she does!”


The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare


How do I love this book? Let me count the ways… One: A scarred hero. Two: An independent heroine. Three: Fabulously witty dialogue. Four: Characters so real you’re sure you actually know them. Five: Sexual tension that makes you shiver. Six: Do I really need to keep going? Grab The Duchess Deal. I promise, if you like my books, you’ll love Tessa Dare.


When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James


No one writes quite like Eloisa James. There’s a joy to her words, something almost effervescent, and her characters are smart, witty, and always relatably flawed. When Beauty Tamed the Beast is one of Eloisa’s fairy tale retellings, with a cantankerous, snarky hero inspired by the character Dr. Gregory House from the TV show House. This “beast” meets his beauty in the form of Linnet Thrynne, who has been banished from (a very fickle) society after wearing a dress that gave the impression she was pregnant. My favorite romances sparkle with wit and banter, and When Beauty Tamed the Beast delivers on every page.


Rebel by Beverly Jenkins


Beverly Jenkins is an icon in the romance field. Her research is exhaustive, her settings are intricate, and when I read her books, I’m always instantly transported to another time in place. Rebel is set in post-Civil War New Orleans, starring Valinda Lacy, a proper New York lady who has come south with two goals: educate the newly emancipated community and escape her father’s suffocating need to control her. She has a fiancé back home, and is prepared to marry for convenience, but then she meets the wickedly handsome Drake LeVeq, a former captain in the Louisiana Native Guard.


Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas


Ask anyone to name the ten most beloved historical romances of all time, and I guarantee that Dreaming of You will be on the list. It was groundbreaking when it was released in 1994 — one of the first historical romances to feature a true working class hero. But what a hero! Derek Craven is a legend. Trust me. You need to read this.


The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long


I recommend Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series to everyone. These books are absolutely delicious — with intrigue, passion, and Julie Anne’s smart, witty writing. Each book stands alone, but why not start at the beginning with The Perils of Pleasure? It opens literally with the hero being saved from the gallows, and just gets better from there…


One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean


I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Sarah MacLean’s historical romances are FIERCE. I once asked her which of her books she thought would be my favorite, and she didn’t pause for even a second before naming One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. I’ll confess I’m not caught up on my MacLean reading, so I suppose it’s possible she’s written one I’ll like better, but as of now I’d have to say she’s right on the money — One Good Earl is my favorite. And considering how much I love Sarah’s writing — with its dry wit, clever characters, and sublime passion —that’s high praise indeed.


The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan

Independently Published

I’ve been delving into genealogy lately, learning about my great-grandparents who immigrated to the US at the end of the 19th century, and so when I heard that Courtney Milan had based aspects of The Duke Who Didn’t on her own ancestors’ immigration stories, I knew I had to pick this one up. (Note: Courtney tells me that, to the best of her knowledge, none of her ancestors were dukes. I’ll give her a pass. I only just learned that my own great-grandfather was arrested for selling fake husbands to spinsters.)


The Devil in Disguise by Stefanie Sloane

Stefani Sloane

If rogues are your thing — and they are most assuredly one of mine — try The Devil in Disguise, the first in Stefanie Sloane’s Regency Rogues series. An ingenuous mystery runs throughout the series. And, along with it, more than enough passion, unforgettable characters, and Regency-era grandeur to satisfy even the most demanding of readers — even, perhaps, Lady Whistledown herself!


Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce


I’m cheating a little with Wild Women and the Blues because 1) it’s technically historical fiction (as opposed to historical romance) and 2) it doesn’t come out until March 30. But I had to include it on this list because this book and I have history. I used to judge a lot of writing contests, and when I did, I always tried to make some helpful notes. Sometimes it was punctuation, sometimes advice on character motivation — I thought that if you were entering a contest, you should get something more out of it than a hard-to-interpret score. But then I got this one entry, and it was perfect. I tried to find something to edit, even a stray comma, but there was nothing. Finally I just wrote at the end, “This is ready to be published, and I’ll be the first in line to buy it.” By now I’m sure you’ve guessed that that book turned out to be Wild Women and the Blues. I am so thrilled that everyone is going to learn what I knew years ago — Denny S. Bryce is a superstar!


What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston


I wouldn’t have thought that “The Hangover, but in 1842 Scotland” would work as a historical romance, but darned if Jennifer McQuiston doesn’t take this unlikely concept and turn it into an utterly entertaining read. Unfortunately for book lovers, McQuiston isn’t writing right now, but fortunately for humanity she’s hard at work at her job at the Centers for Disease Control as the Deputy Director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. If you didn’t catch ebola in 2013, you can thank Jennifer by picking up one of her fabulous books.

Start the Bridgerton series with book one, The Duke and I.



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