The Best Historical Romance Novels to Read by Time Period

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When it comes to picking a historical romance book, you have a wide range of choices based on the time period you want to read about. Historical romance novels, in general, are books with a storyline that takes place before 1950 and include a happily-ever-after. Any time after that you start to blur the lines with contemporary romance.

The most prevalent and popular time periods in history that are often featured in historical romance novels include:

  • Medieval Period
  • Viking Age
  • 17th Century Scottish Highlands
  • Colonial America
  • Regency England
  • Victorian England
  • American Civil War
  • American Western Expansion
  • Early 20th Century

In this book list, I’m sharing the best historical romance novels to read by time period to help you make the perfect pick for your reading mood.

Looking for more historical romance books worth reading? Check out my list of the best historical romance books of all time!

*Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Medieval Historical Romance Novel
(5th-15th Century Europe)

Gwenllian of Ruardean is the Welsh daughter of a powerful Marcher lord who’s more comfortable training as a knight and leading her men than wearing a dress and acting as lady of the manor.

When she rescues and nurses Ranulf, King Edward I’s favorite enforcer, back to health, their lives become forever entwined.

This book had so much going for it. Characters with inner struggles, a slow burn passion, a marriage of convenience story as well as cunning, intrigue, and suspense.

I loved disappearing into Kingston’s medieval world and found Gwenellian and Ranulf to be two compelling characters.

Vikings Historical Romance Novel
(Middle Ages 793-1066)

Lady Brenna was abducted by Viking invaders but vowed that no barbarian would enslave her noble Celtic heart until Garrick Haardrad, the proud and powerful son of a ruthless Viking chieftan, claims her.

Scottish Highlands Historical Romance Novel

Judith leaves her English home to be by her childhood friend’s side in the Scottish Highlands when she gives birth. She didn’t anticipate falling for Ian, Lord of the clan, but it was her secret that could destroy their love.

Colonial America Historical Romance Novel
(1607 to 1776)

Elizabeth has left her home in England to join her family in a remote New York mountain village. Once there she falls for a white man who lives with the Mohawk people even though she is promised to another.

Regency Historical Romance Novel

In one of the most popular romance novels of all time, opinionated Elizabeth Bennet, one of five Bennett sisters, clashes with the proud, aristocratic Mr. Darcy. Read it then check out all the Pride and Prejudice retellings.

Victorian Historical Romance Novel

Annabelle’s family is dependent upon her marrying a wealthy man but her most persistent admirer is a wicked rogue. Try as she might to ignore Simon’s advances her attraction to him may be her family’s undoing.

Civil War Historical Romance Novel
(1607 to 1776)

Elle and Malcolm both find themselves as spies sent to infiltrate the Confederacy. Joining forces to fight a common enemy, will they be able to preserve the Union and their forbidden love?

American Westward Expansion Historical Romance Novel

Naomi and her family set out on the Oregon Trail for a better life in California where she meets and falls for a half-Pawnee man. But life on the Trail is filled with hardship and staying together may be the toughest thing of all.

Check out my book review of Where the Lost Wander.

Early 20th Century

Anne travels to Ireland to scatter her late grandfather’s ashes and finds herself transported to Ireland of 1921 with the country on the edge of war.

She’s drawn into the conflict alongside Thomas where she’s faced with the choice of letting go of the life she knew or the man she’s come to love.

Related: Romance Books Set in Ireland

World War II (1940s)

The Bronze Horseman historical romance book cover.

The Bronze Horseman
by Paullina Simons

The lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents, are turned upside down when Hitler’s armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.

Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him.

Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege and Tatiana and Alexander’s impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart.

Do you have a favorite historical romance novel time period and romance? Share in the comments below!

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Discover the best historical romance novels to read by time period in this epic book list from She Reads Romance Books.
Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

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Leslie is the founder, writer, and producer of She Reads Romance Books (and the She Reads Romance Books Podcast), an online book community focused on romance books and the readers who love them because life is better with a love story.

Leslie reads 150 romance books a year and has been called a "book expert" by CNN. Reading romance is her passion and she cultivates her book lists with the best books worth reading in the genre. Leslie graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College where she honed her writing skills and also holds two Master's degrees. Join her community in the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge.

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