Lisa Kleypas is a bestselling, award-winning author of over thirty romance novels. While she’s written a handful of amazing contemporaries, she’s mostly known as a historical romance powerhouse focusing on the traditional Regency period. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-one and hasn’t stopped since. Her stories have pushed the boundaries of what to include in a historical romance novel, including one of the first Regency romances with a working-class hero and honest, sensitive depictions of mental illness. I dare you to pick up one of her books and read it without quickly working your way through her backlist. Actually, I take that dare back. Her backlist is amazing! Please read on! But if you are wondering where to start or which Kleypas romance to read next, here are a few suggestions:
If you’re intrigued by a Regency romance with a working-class hero try Dreaming of You.
This is a historical romance cult classic and with good reason! Second in the Gamblers of Craven’s series, Dreaming of You is often called the first historical romance to feature a working-class hero. In a sea of dukes and earls, Derek Craven grew up in the slums of London to become a wealthy head of the most fashionable gambling house. Meanwhile Sara Fielding is living a prim and proper country life, while secretly writing scandalous romantic novels. She wanders into Derek Craven’s world in pursuit of “research”. Their bond is instant, but he believes himself too far below her in status to act on his love. This book is a little bonkers. Also it was written in the early 90s and has some problematic elements, such as the jealous other woman trope. But it was ground breaking for historical romance at the time. And it’s both capital R Romantic and capital S Sexy.
If you’re a stickler for starting at the beginning of a series read Secrets of a Summer Night.
This is the first in Kleypas’s popular Wallflowers series. The series follows four friends Annabelle, Lillian, Daisy, and Evie who are navigating the London ton in Regency times and all flailing in their own ways. The self-proclaimed wallflowers agree to work together to find each of them husbands. Annabelle is first. She’s both confident and beautiful, but doesn’t have a dowry. With her family going over the waterfall of financial ruin, Annabelle’s only hope is find a rich husband. She’s got her eye set on one Earl, in particular. She has great chemistry with another man, the wealthy entrepreneur Simon Hunt. But unfortunately, she’s snobby enough to look down on him for not being a peer and he only wants her as his mistress, not his wife. This starts to change as fate, with some help from the other wallflowers, keep throwing them together. Come for the funny friendship scenes, stay for Annabelle and Simon’s witty banter and swoonworthy smooches. And get ready for the rest of this sweet series!
If you like romance novels with animals and/or broody war heroes pick up Love in the Afternoon.
Love in the Afternoon is book 5 in the Hathaways series that follows different siblings from an eccentric English family. They are all delightful, but this is my favorite (of the series and of all of Lisa Kleypas’s novels). Beatrix Hathaway is the baby of the family and perhaps the most unconventional. She’s a “classic beauty” but loves the outdoors and animals more than balls or sewing in sitting rooms. She’s long given up on the idea of falling in love. But then Captain Christopher Phelan comes home from battle. He was engaged to her best friend, Pru, but Beatrix has been the one writing letters under Pru’s name to him throughout the war. He’s a changed man, determined to find the woman he’s fallen in love with through letters. This story is a bit darker than some of Kleypas’s other novels, but it handles Christopher’s trauma with so much sensitivity. And Beatrix’s animal companions add some much-needed moments of levity and humor.
If you love when heroines have super specific interests and a desire to be independent read Devil in Spring.
Other than the Hathaways, Lisa Kleypas has one other big family series – the Ravenels. Unlike other proper young ladies, Pandora Ravenel has no interest in finding a husband. Instead, she wasn’t to create a new board game business. However, after she’s accidentally compromised she finds herself with two options: marriage or scandal. Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent has avoided marriage for years. But he becomes determined to win Pandora over and suggests a marriage of convenience where she can continue with her business pursuits. She agrees not knowing he plans to use the convenience of living together to turn their marriage into one with intimacy and passion. And both become surprised by the depth of their feelings that grow, especially when Pandora’s business adversaries put the pair in danger.
If you enjoy reading about shy heroines and roguish heroes find Devil in Winter.
Despite having a similar title to the Ravenel novel, this is the third book in the previously mentioned Wallflower series. When I texted two friends who also love Lisa Kleypas they both enthusiastically called Devil in Winter their favorite. I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t read it yet, but quickly downloaded it on my Kindle. And I see why it is so beloved. Evangeline is the quietest, shyest friend in the Wallflowers. And she’s about to become very wealthy when her inheritance arrives. To gain independence and keep the money away from her shady relatives, she must marry. So, she approaches Sebastian, a viscount with a scandalous reputation with a proposal. But one of her conditions is no lovemaking after their wedding night. This is a romance novel – and a Lisa Kleypas one at that — so I’ll let you all imagine how long this arrangement lasts.