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Best Steamy Historical Romance Novels

Steamy historical romance fiction takes you back in time, to another time and place and serves a delicious love story!

Like, who doesn’t want to read a steamy love story? Set in another time, like the Regency era, or earlier.

Who doesn’t want to read about a romantic heroine dawning a Tudor-style dress or the tummy-gripping, breast firming Empire dresses of the 19th century?

Once you start reading a historical romance novel, it’s hard to put it down because along the way—before happily ever after—there are lots of steamy scenes, some politics, and exciting cultural details and tokens.

I have compiled the best ten steamy historical romance novels in this post, but before we get to that, let us define historical romance.

steamy historical romance novels

What Are Historical Romance Novels?

Historical romance (type or subgenre of historical fiction) is a literary genre where the love story is set in the past.

Historical romance authors do a lot of research to portray romantic relationships the exact way they might’ve developed in times and capture the social norms, customs, and traditional values.

Although it is historical fiction, the novels may include real historical figures or historical events.

Periods in Historical Romance Novels

There are many periods in which romance fiction takes place. Mostly I have read historical romance novels set in the Regency, Georgian, and Victorian eras because they are a bit more modern and a lot of information is available.

These are the most popular periods in historical romance novels:

  • Ancient world
  • Egypt
  • Greece
  • Rome
  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • Tudor England
  • Elizabethan England
  • Stuart England
  • Georgian England
  • Regency
  • French Revolution
  • Victorian England
  • Colonial Era
  • American Civil War
  • Russian Revolution
  • Early 20th Century

10 Best steamy historical romance novels

If you want to read about history, loyalty, heartache, flirtation, and jealousy, take a look at these picks:

1. The Duke and I (Bridgertons Book 1) by Julia Quinn

The Duke and I (Bridgertons Book 1)

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Two people, Simon Basset and Daphne Bridgerton are about to get married for reasons other than love.

Simon Basset only wants to propose to his best lovely friend’s sister (Daphne) so that he can be free from ‘marriage-minded society mothers.’ On the other hand, Daphne thinks that Simon’s proposal will make her seem more desirable (wanted) and this will attract some worthy suitors.

But, unbeknownst to the two, is that love has its own plans.

So, as they spend more time together—trying to convince everyone that their courtship is real—Daphne, somehow, begins to genuinely fall for the handsome duke.

And now Daphne is not as calculative as she thought (love does that to us, all the time) and has to convince this rake of a guy to change some of their scam’s T&Cs.


2. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Rules of Scoundrels, 2) by Sarah MacLean

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Rules of Scoundrels, 2)

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Lady Philippa Marbury, the odd but brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham.

Lady Philippa is engaged to be married, but she is not experienced in the art of bedroom affairs.

She only has two weeks to do her research and improve this part of her life. She turns to Mr. Cross, a man famed for his bedroom skills and co-owner of The Fallen Angel.

However, Cross is unwilling to help Pippa, not because he doesn’t like her but she is too tempting for him. But can’t allow anyone else to show her the art of love-making either.

And since Pippa is very persistent, he decides to do what he can, suggesting to her that he will show her without touching her.

“You have no idea what I could do to you, Philippa Marbury. The ways I could touch you. The wonders I could show you. I could ruin you without thought, sink with you into the depths of sin and not once regret it. I could lead you right into temptation and never ever look back.”

Read the book to find out what becomes of the two.


3. The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons Book 2) by Julia Quinn

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons Book 2)

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This Regency-set novel whose prequel is also the number 1 pick, is the inspiration for season two of BRIDGERTON, a Netflix series scheduled for release on 25 March 2022.

It’s a story about Anthony Bridgerton, who has chosen a wife, Kate Sheffield’s younger sister, Edwina.

But Kate, the spinster, loves her young sister and will do anything to protect her from rakes, like Anthony.

So, to protect Edwina, Kate tries her all to stop the betrothal, but there is something that she fails to protect:

Her own heart.

These two won’t be enemies for long because a steamy, sassy, emotional love story is brewing.


4. Rebel (Women Who Dare) by Beverly Jenkins

Rebel (Women Who Dare)

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The first installment in Beverly Jenkins’s Women Who Dare exciting new series follows Valinda, a woman in New Orleans on a mission to help the newly emancipated community survive the aftermath of the Civil War.

When the school she set up to teach former slaves is destroyed and her life becomes threatened, she runs for her life.

She runs into the arms of Drake LeVeq, her protector and a swoon-worthy architect and builder.

In an era where racism and white supremacy are front and center, Valinda and Drake get more attracted to each other.

However, Valinda’s father pressures her to return to the city, to marry someone she doesn’t love.

She’s definitely going to rebel, but will her romance with Drake survive this test?


5. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love by Numbers Book 1) by Sarah MacLean

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love by Numbers Book 1)

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If you have never read any regency romance, this compelling romance by Sarah MacLean will make you want every one of them.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is a twenty-eight-year-old spinster who is tired of living like a ‘normal lady.’ So, she vows to break the rules and is determined not to miss out on life anymore.

Callie writes a list of all the rule-breaking she’d like to do, things like gambling and fencing. But… she needs a partner, someone who is well versed in the art of rule-breaking.

Like Gabriel St John? The Marquess of Ralston? Exactly!

He’s charming and handsome, but he also boasts of a wicked reputation. Is it going to be all pleasure between the two? Or is she going to fall for him, hard?


6. Midnight Marriage: A Georgian Historical Romance (Roxton Family Saga Book 1) by Lucinda Brant

Midnight Marriage: A Georgian Historical Romance

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The story was inspired by real events and is set in the luxurious aristocratic world of the 18th century.

It is set in Georgian-era England and France.

Deborah and Julian were married some eight years before, and the way their marriage was arranged is another funny bit (want to know? That’s not for me to reveal. Click click!).

Julian returns from France after years in exile to claim his bride, although they don’t know each other. But he wants to see if they can like each other and have a marriage built on love.

The thing is, Deb is content with her independent life, so he decides to win her heart and have her accept him on his merit, despite their arranged marriage.

And their first encounter after Julian’s exile makes it seem natural to Deborah: she stumbled across a handsome guy (Julian) who was gravely wounded in a swordfight and helped.

After that encounter, Julian realizes that the lady is the one he was married to but keeps their arranged marriage secret (along with other sexual reputations from France).

Will it work out? Will they fall in love? Will his secrets destroy it all?


7. The Duchess Deal: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

The Duchess Deal: Girl Meets Duke

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The Duke of Ashbury, a war-scarred hero, desperately needs an heir. Then an opportunity presents itself when Emma Gladstone, a seamstress, demands payment for his former fiancé’s wedding gown.

There she is, in his library. Wearing a wedding gown! She is the wife he’s looking for.

He asks her to be his wife, with on some conditions:

  • They will be husband and wife by night only.
  • No lights, no kissing.
  • No questions about his battle scars.
  • Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

Emma agrees but she also has a few conditions of her own:

  • They will have dinner together every evening.
  • With conversation.
  • And unlimited teasing.
  • Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

8. My Darling Duke (The Sinful Wallflowers Book 1) by Stacy Reid

My Darling Duke (The Sinful Wallflowers Book 1)

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If this book is your first Stacy Reid book, you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough.

You will be whipping the pages so hard, trying to get to the next book in her small but incredible catalog.

The story is about Miss Katherine Danvers, a desperate wallflower, trying to save her family from the brink of financial ruin.

To save her family, she hatches what she considers a perfect plan:

Announce that she is engaged to the reclusive and mysterious Duke of Thornton, Alexander Masters, to help her sisters get good suitors.

No one has seen this reclusive duke in ten years—and Kitty is sure he won’t find out before her plan comes to fruition.

But… Alexander comes to London after his ten-year absence, angry and intrigued, and agrees to continue with this sham of an engagement on the condition that Kitty spends time with him.

Just the two of them. In Scotland.

That is the start of a friendship that will turn into romance.


9. Rules for Heiresses (Daring Dukes Book 2) by Amalie Howard

Rules for Heiresses (Daring Dukes Book 2)

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Rules are made to be broken or tampered with. You can’t go against General MacArthur on this one, especially when there is a slight chance of romance being involved.

Lady Ravenna Huntley is wild and rebellious. On the other hand, Lord Courtland Chase is an uncommon man and a shunned duke.

The two were childhood friends but Courtland Chase was driven from England by his cruel stepmother. They meet again, one thing leads to another, and they are forced into a wedding of convenience.

Although Courtland swore never to return to England, he is forced to go back to take on the title of Duke.

Initially, the two deny the marriage, but the strong emotions (including lust) are incredible ingredients for love.


10. Sutton’s Sins (The Sinful Suttons Book 2) by Scarlett Scott

Sutton's Sins (The Sinful Suttons Book 2)

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Rafe Sutton is a sexy, witty, and unrepentant sinner.

When he wakes in his nieces’ surly governess’ bed, he has a headache and no recollection of the evening before.

What happened between him and the delectable surly governess?

He has to unravel the mystery, but as Rafe searches for answers, he becomes increasingly charmed by the lady and falls in love with her.

Soon, the emotions the two have for each other become strong and the scenes between them are pretty sizzling.

Will Persephone surrender to the danger awaiting her or put her faith in a rake that has—somehow—won her heart?


The Appeal of Historical Romance Novels

The thing about historical romance is that they don’t only tell a love story or capture steamy sex scenes, they also educate.

Not only do historical romance novels go into the history of the century or time in which they are set, but they also typically have rich character development and detailed writing that takes you back in time and makes you feel as if you are mingling with the princesses, dukes, pirates, knights, etc.

Humans are rebellious by nature, and historical romance often gives us this rebelliousness—heroes and heroines overcoming social taboos and barriers to be in romantic relationships. We love these things.

And then there are the mannerisms, the language, culture, and raw, compelling romance.

an old photograph of a couple kissing in bed
An old photograph of a couple kissing in bed.

Contemporary vs. Historical Romance

Historical or Contemporary Romance?

Both! Well… at least for me.

As a reader, I would say both are good. They are neither complements nor are they substitutes.

But as a writer (a lazy one at that), I prefer writing contemporary romance. Writing historical romance demands rigorous research and studying, there are mounds of records on epic historical events and eras that span decades and generations and are about three inches thick in paperback. And… historical fiction readers often desire stories that capture all layers of society within the designated time.

a novelist spends hours researching the victorian era for her novel

For example, one author used the word ‘lunch’ in a period where that word had not been added to the vocabulary. I reckon the author made countless other inappropriate references or words and this ticks off a lot of well-learned readers.

On the other hand, contemporary often doesn’t require extraordinary research of modern time society because the author is actually living in it. Heck, they might even write about someone they know.

That said, researching and/or writing contemporary romance novels isn’t always easier than researching and/or researching historical romance. If someone goes out of their social stratum, then they have to go deep into the world they have never been in.

For example, a rich writer writing about Poverty, a poor writer telling billionaire tales, or a straight person writing gay romance.

There are a lot of things that have to be considered and researched.

So, whatever you choose to read or write, just do it!

Summary

Historical romance is a broad genre because there is a wide range of periods and geographical regions of the world to explore in a historical romance novel.

And it couldn’t be romance without steamy scenes now, would it?

Well… Jane Austen did it, she wrote romance without the ‘moral-ruining’ explicit scenes. Yes, she was good, super good!

But readers like myself want those passionate encounters served to them raw. Something just short of erotica but sexy enough.

I hope you enjoyed the list and you’re going to read at least one book on this list.

Ciao! 

About Jessica Majewski

Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.

She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.