[Note from Frolic: This post is brought to you by our friends at Kensington. Looking for your next great historical romance read? Look no further than A Duke, The Lady, and A Baby by Vanessa Riley, out now!]
I have been a huge fan of historical romance ever since I picked up my first Georgette Heyer as a teen. Over the years, I have read every traditional Regency I could lay my hands on. I have also always searched for those historicals which feature a wide variety of locations, time periods, people, religions, cultures, and so on.
To commemorate the publication of A Duke, The Lady, and A Baby by Vanessa Riley (which I loved), I thought I would put together a piece with some of my recommendations of #OwnVoices historical romances, stories by marginalized authors, and historicals with diverse characters that I have read and loved.
Before I dive into my list, I want to mention some of the types of historicals I am on the lookout for, so if you know of any, please send them my way: ancient Zoroastrian historicals set in Iran, Silk Road stories involving Muslim Arabs, tales set in the Indus Valley civilization of India and Pakistan, stories of the African continent before the advent of Europeans, and so many, many more.
On to my list…
A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley
[Rogues and Remarkable Women series #1]
When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband’s mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune—and her freedom. Falsely imprisoned, she risks her life to be near her child—until The Widow’s Grace gets her hired as her own son’s nanny. But working for his unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, has perils of its own. Especially when Patience discovers his military strictness belies an ex-rake of unswerving honor—and unexpected passion . . .
A wounded military hero, Busick is determined to resolve his dead cousin’s dangerous financial dealings for Lionel’s sake. But his investigation is a minor skirmish compared to dealing with the forthright, courageous, and alluring Patience. Somehow, she’s breaking his rules, and sweeping past his defenses. Soon, between formidable enemies and obstacles, they form a fragile trust—but will it be enough to save the future they long to dare together?
An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole
[The Loyal League series #3]
Daniel Cumberland, born free in Massachusetts, studied law with dreams of helping his people — dreams that died the night he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Daniel is rescued, but he’s a changed man now. When he’s offered entry into the Loyal League, the covert organization of Black spies who helped free him, he seizes the opportunity for vengeance against the Confederacy and those who support it.
When the Union Army occupies the Florida home of Cuban Janeta Sanchez, daughter of an enslaved woman and the plantation owner who married her, her family’s wealth does not protect her father from being imprisoned. Under duress and blaming herself for the arrest, Janeta agrees to infiltrate a group called the Loyal League as a double agent — and finds a cause truly worthy of sacrifice.
Daniel is aggravated by the headstrong and much too observant new detective he’s paired with, and Janeta is intrigued by the broken but honorable man she is tasked with betraying. As they embark on a mission to intercept Jefferson Davis and thwart European meddling, their dual hidden agendas are threatened by the ghosts of their pasts and a growing affection that could strengthen both the Union and their souls — or lead to their downfall.
Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
[Old West series #3]
What kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael — an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.
Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life — and in his arms — begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.
Men of Valor: “His Treasure” by Kiru Taye
Set in South-Eastern Nigeria before the colonization by the British, this is an excellent story of yearning and what marriage means to a proud man and woman. In a time when men ruled their households with firm hands, can a quiet man tame his rebellious wife with persevering love? The fate of their marriage is in her hands.
Semira The Scorned Queen by S.W. Frank
Set in the early 20th century, the free-spirited Princess Semira, daughter of Ras Afizwusi, is caught between the trappings of duty and tradition. Bound to honor an arranged marriage to a foreign monarch, she must leave her beloved Africa and girlish wishes. Fraught with uncertainty of her husband’s devotion, her suspicions are confirmed when the impotent king bows to the authority of the Papacy. However, a proud queen shall never bow despite being cast aside for political appeasement. Refusing to return to her father’s house in disgrace, Queen Semira forges a new life in Sicily among the contadini. But she carries the king’s heir and she will need protection from an assassin. Perhaps, the anti-Fascist Lupe might be of aid in the formation of an elite Circle of Protectors.
One Night for Seduction by Erica Ridley
[Wicked Dukes Club series #1]
The Duke of Colehaven is a member of Wicked Duke, a notorious tavern. When his coterie of tavern goers dares him to find a suitor for an unmanageable ward, Cole immediately accepts. He’s on a winning streak, and besides, how unmarriageable can a pretty young lady be? He appoints himself bodyguard and duenna, only to discover his own desires may be the greatest danger of all.
Diana Middleton lives a double life bringing dishonest merchants to justice. Shaking off a meddling duke should be child’s play. Yet the more they lock horns, the more she wants to lock lips. Her scandalous secrets would derail his political career. But surely there’s no harm in one little seduction.
To Tame a Scandalous Lady by Liana De la Rosa
[Once Upon A Scandal #3]
In the wake of a fire that decimates his racing stock, Christian Andrews, the Marquess of Amstead, struggles to keep his family’s stud farm from slipping into ruin and painstakingly rebuilds the program. When one of his prime stallions is injured, he notices his new assistant trainer has a special way with the horses. As talented as the trainer is, once he realizes that he is a she — and a very beautiful, spirited she at that — he should sack her before scandal breaks. But it’s only weeks before the high stakes race he’s counting on to build back his fortune, and she should be by his side for the win.
Miserable under the weight of the ton’s expectations, headstrong Lady Flora Campbell laments her privileged life in London. Embracing her dream of working with racehorses, she disguises herself as a lad and slips away to learn as much as she can from England’s premier expert, Christian Andrews, never thinking of the scandal she courts but the glory to be had. Although she develops tender feelings for the dashing marquess, she can never let on that she’s not only a woman, but the daughter of a duke.
Honor and Desire by Rebel Carter
[Gold Sky series #3]
For as long as anyone can remember Seylah Wickes-Barnes has been at the side of August Leclaire, her best friend and the boy her fathers took under their wing. Now a grown woman and looking for love, Seylah’s deepest regret, and secret, is quickly coming to surface: She has been in love with August for as long as she can remember.
For years she has been content in her role as secretary to the Sheriff’s department in Gold Sky, Montana. Mostly for the opportunity to be around the men of her family, and the one who still owns her heart. But there is no denying that the woman behind the desk is far more suited to wielding a gun and keeping the peace. If only she could convince her fathers to see her in a new light, as a person worthy of a deputy’s badge.
Determined to put her past behind her, Seylah gives her attention to a handsome new arrival. One who sweeps Seylah off her feet-quite literally. Things are almost perfect until August suddenly declares his intent to court her. Can she trust that August’s affections are true and not inspired by jealousy?
Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
[The Tang Dynasty series #1]
During China’s infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding. Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior.
Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li’s innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her — which means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted.
True Pretenses by Rose Lerner
[Lively St. Lemeston series #2]
Through wit and sheer force of will, Ash Cohen has raised himself and his younger brother Rafe out of the London slums and made them (in his unbiased opinion) the best confidence men in England. Ash is heartbroken when Rafe decides he wants an honest life, but he vows to give his beloved brother what he wants.
When Ash hears of a small-town heiress scrambling to get her hands on the dowry held in trust for when she marries, he plans one last desperate scheme: con her and his brother into falling in love. After all, Rafe deserves the best, and Ash can see at once that captivating, lonely Lydia Reeve is the best.
Lydia doesn’t know why she instinctively trusts the humble stranger who talks his way through her front door and into her life. She just knows she’s disappointed when he tries to set her up with his brother.
When a terrible family secret comes to light and Rafe disappears, Lydia takes a big risk: she asks Ash to marry her instead. Did Ash choose the perfect wife for his brother…or for himself?
Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles
[Lilywhite Boys series #1]
Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes, the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, holds a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary — so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.
The Duke’s remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he’ll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec’s new best friend.
But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed — and in the palm of his hand.
Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretense, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what’s between them…all without getting caught.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
[Feminine Pursuits series #1]
As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.
Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.
While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?