Historical romance heroines are always fascinating. The poise, the pluck, the determination in the face of times that demanded they stay in their place or they’d end up decidedly on the shelf. Inquisitive women were often considered a scary proposition in the ton, good thing smart ladies get to write romance for us! I love a good mystery. I love to whip out my trusty notebook and pencil, and don my Nancy Drew hat to dig in and suss out the bad guys. Sleuthing historical heroines are a special breed of women, a breed that has a direct line to my romance reading heart. Check out this list of historical heroines trying to solve mysteries while falling in love.
Heiress For Hire by Madeline Hunter
This is the first book in Madeline Hunter’s Duke’s Heiress series. In this tale, Minerva Hepplewhite is nobody’s damsel in distress. When an intruder breaks into her home, she doesn’t need a fainting couch to catch her, she’s too busy taking matters into her own hands and walloping the rogue intruder over the head. Unfortunately, Minerva has a dastardly past with this troublemaking detective, Chase Radnor is the man who tried to get her convicted of the murder of her late husband. Being wrongly accused lit a fire inside Minerva, and she set up her own detective agency that rivals Chase’s own. To say he’s not high on her swoon list would be an understatement.
During this encounter with Chase, she learns she’s inherited a fortune from his uncle, a wealthy and recently murdered Duke. Imagine her dismay when romantic sparks begin to fly as they work together to uncover the truth of his uncle’s demise.
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
Name a more iconic sleuth than Sherlock Holmes, go ahead, I’ll wait. In Thomas’ version, Charlotte Holmes is the person behind the assumed name Sherlock Holmes. Charlotte has never been comfortable with the idea that women should take on a demure role in upper-class society. That belief has made her an outcast. As difficult as her journey has been, especially after a series of deaths that seem to implicate her family, she is more than ready to take on the task of detective. In fact, she’s desperate to find the real culprits to clear her family’s name. She has a little familiar help along the way – a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man with an unrequited crush.
Charlotte Holmes is a challenge to society’s expectations and match of wits against an unseen mastermind. Girl power baby, historical sleuthing heroines to the nth degree!
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
The first book in Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series begins in London, 1887, and tells the story of Veronica, a recently orphaned woman ready to explore the world. All is going well until someone tries to abduct her. With a little help from an enigmatic German baron, Veronica is able to thwart this attempt. Unfortunately, the German baron is murdered, so his friend, the reclusive historian Stoker steps in to partner with Veronica to help find the rogue assailant. This book sets the stage for more mystery and intrigue and slow-burn romance across the series.
While researching this list of sleuthing historical heroines, I learned something new. I tackle every article I write by donning my Nancy Drew hat and discovering new things, it’s my jam! I did not learn about Allan Pinkerton in high school or college, but he was a Scottish-American detective and spy that started The Pinkerton National Detective Agency is 1850. It was a US-based, private security and detective agency, and Kate Warne was the first female detective hired by Pinkerton in 1856. The idea of strong, smart, badass women is always a great jumping-off point for romance books; in fact, it’s a prerequisite of the genre, in my opinion. There are tons of books based on this concept, here’s a list to get you started…