I’m not a great lover of modern romantic novels, they cross over into erotica far too often for my liking and I prefer my fiction to be saucy rather than dirty. This is why, when I fancy a little bit of romance in my literature I turn to Historical Fiction where I can get my fix of literary love without too much of the lust thrown in. They may not be the books you would choose but these are my top 5 historical romance novels.
1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
I know, I know, how predictable but this is a really important book to me; it was probably my introduction to Historical Romance and it set the bar for everything that followed. The tension between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is delicious and the triumph of true love over the constraints of proper behaviour and family honour is just heavenly. I loved this book the first time I read it and I love it still.
2. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
Confession time, I watched the film first. Now I’ve got that out of the way I love this book so much, the writing is so evocative of the time period and swear there are times you can smell the smoke and hear gunfire. Scarlett is such a complete brat at the start of the book and Rhett may be devilishly handsome, dashing and daring but by the end I am always hoping for happiness for Scarlett. Maybe one day she will find it.
3. The Earl Takes All – Lorraine Heath
This one was given to me by a friend with the demand that I read it straight away; I did and it surprised me just how much I enjoyed it. Julia is married to Albert the Earl of Greyling, and after his horrendous death at the hands of a gorilla his twin brother Edward is bound by a promise to hide what has occurred from Julia and pretend to be Albert. Julia sense something is wrong but cannot quite put her finger on what it is and as Edward’s feelings toward her deepen and you fall a little in love with him, you end up hoping she doesn’t find out. This one was raunchy but I enjoyed so much I didn’t really mind.
4. Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
Take a truly depressing Dickensian tale of two orphans, one growing up among petty thieves and pickpockets, the other in a grey and depressing manor house. Add some rather colourful bursts of strong language and an absolutely amazing romance between two young orphan girls and you get a glimpse into what to expect when you delve into the pages of this completely surprising historical romance by Tipping the Velvet author Sarah Waters.
5. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Perhaps not what you were expecting? Yes this is a truly harrowing tale of the life of 9 year old Chiyo as she is sold to a Geisha house where she is abused by the resident geisha Hatsumomo but it is also a story of love. After a chance encounter with The Chairman Chiyo has something to fight for, something to hope for and the story revolves around her attempts to meet him again. As she grows and learns to become a true Geisha, she changes her name and becomes the geisha Sayuri and is more determined to become worthy of her dream; will she succeed in finding love with The Chairman? You’ll have it read it to find out.
It is so hard to choose just five from the many that are available but these are the five that had that little ‘something’ that kept them in my mind and they are the ones I would read again.