My 5 favourite historical romances

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This is a retelling of the Illiad set in Ancient Greece and exploring the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Interwoven with gods, goddesses and magic, at its core this is a romance of truly epic proportions. If you know the mythology, you know to brace yourself for tears and heartbreak.



The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan

This Young Adult novel takes place in a medieval village, and tells the story of Raven, a deaf orphan who the villagers think is mad, and Marnie, a widowed young girl, befriends him. She realises that his ‘madness’ actually comes from a lack of understanding of speech, and together they create a form of sign language. Their blossoming love – and peace in each other’s company even when the world is against them – caught my heart immediately. I used to get this book from the library over and over when I was a teenager. I’ve read it more times than I can count.

Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli

Another book that I used to check out of the library over and over. This is set in Venice in 1592, where Donata is a noble girl stifled by convention, who dresses as a boy to explore the city. She finds her way to the Jewish district, and meets a boy called Noe, who works in publishing. This book was a huge inspiration for the 1854 storyline in The Next Together, where my character Katy dresses up as a boy so she can go adventuring too!

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho 

This was only very recently published, and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know ever since. Set in a magical Regency England, this is the perfect mix of the magical regency London of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and Georgette Heyer’s shamelessly trope-filled romances. The whole book make me squirm with delight – it has everything from UNICORNS to GIANT FURIOUS MERMAIDS to CLOUD FLYING. Just – I want to tell you about every scene, because every scene is a wonder.
If you’re looking for more diverse fantasy, then this is the place to look. Both Zacharias and Prunella are POC, and the plot revolves around a Caribbean island, with another central WOC character.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

This is set in Victorian England, and tells the story of Sue, a thief, and Maud, the noble lady she is trying to rob. Their lives are tied together in unexpected ways, made even more complicated when they fall in love. Full of twists, romance and betrayal, I promise you that once you start this story you won’t be able to put it down.

Originally posted at Nicole has read…

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide and been translated into six languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2022. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands.

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