Cute boys in suspenders, beautiful dresses of the times—and not a cell phone in sight! If you can’t get enough of slow-burn historical romances or have binge-watched both seasons of Bridgerton, like I did, you’ll want to put these books at the top of your TBR!
11 Historical Fiction Romances You Need to Read ASAP
1. Your Heart, My Sky by Margarita Engle
This book in verse is set in Cuba during the historical time period referred to by the Cuban government as el period especial en tiempos de paz – the special period in times of peace. What happened in “the special period in times of peace?” Mass starvation of Cubans. Your Heart, My Sky follows two teens, Liana and Amado, in their struggle to scavenge for food and the love story that unfolds.
2. Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron
In the Jim Crow South, Evalene Deschamps has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move. On top of that, Evvie’s magical abilities are growing stronger every day. Her family calls it jubilation, a gift passed down from generations of Black women since the time of slavery. But as Evvie’s powers awaken, something dark comes loose and threatens to surface.
3. For All Time by Shanna Miles
Set in many historical time periods, this book follows Tamar and Fayard, who have lived a thousand lives. They have seen the world build itself from nothing and tear it apart again in civil war. They’ve even witnessed mankind take to the stars. But the one thing that remains a constant in every life is their love and their fight to be together. One love story after another, through history and beyond. When they discover what it takes to break the cycle, will they be able to make the sacrifice?
4. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
This Romeo and Juliet retelling is set in Shanghai during the Roaring 20s. Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet Gang, and her ex-boyfriend is Roma Montagov, heir to the rivaling White Flowers gang. Juliette returns from her American school just as a deadly plague hits Shanghai. As this plague attacks gangsters on both sides, and with rumors of a monster roaming the streets, Juliette and Roma are forced to come together once again to save their people.
5. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Time travel back to 1902 (literally!) with talented time-traveling, magical-artifact-thieving Esta. Esta is a very talented thief, and all her training has led up to one monumental job: travel to 1902 and steal the ancient book containing the secrets and the order before the Magician can destroy it. In this perilous mission, Esta falls for a boy in the past. Cute boys in suspenders? Sign me up!
6. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Set in Victorian London, Tessa Gray is thrown into the Shadowhunter world when she is kidnapped by two evil warlock sisters and her brother is held for ransom. Held captive, she discovers her shape-shifting abilities, but before the sisters can use her powers for evil, Will Herondale saves her. With his and his parabatai Jem’s help, Tessa seeks to save her brother and the world from evils that threaten to destroy the Shadowhunters.
7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
It isn’t easy to be different in the 1980s, something Aristotle and Dante understand in this coming of age novel. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison, Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. As the loners spend more and more time together, they discover they share a special friendship, the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.
8. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Who doesn’t love a good historical Shadowhunter book? Chain of Gold takes place in 1903, 25 years after the events in the last book of the Infernal Devices series left off. We meet Cordelia Carstairs as she and her brother travel to London after her father is accused of a terrible crime. She meets her childhood friends and must hide her secret love for James Herondale, who is sworn to marry someone else. Worse yet, Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London.
9. The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
Travel to the 1930s and meet Theodora, who has always dreamed of treasure hunting with her father. However, her father is completely against Theodora coming along, opting instead for her once-upon-a-time love, Huck Gallagher. That is, until Huck returns from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him.
10. The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith
The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.
11. Rima’s Rebellion by Margarita Engle
An inspiring coming-of-age story from award-winning author Margarita Engle about a girl falling in love for the first time while finding the courage to protest for women’s right to vote in 1920s Cuba.