15 Old School Historical Romances That Revolutionized the Genre
These 15 Historical Romances published before 2000 either caused radical changes in the romance novel industry or they are so pivotal and unforgettable, they are must-reads. Please note, we at
may not have read all books ourselves, but recognize their importance to the genre. Our aim is to review all books on this list if we haven’t already. Sweet Savage Flame The List
changed the romance novel industry with this book. It included “explicit” sex scenes between the protagonists. Although in Kathleen E. Woodiwiss the hero forces himself upon the heroine, some readers would now refer to it as “forced seduction.” In other words, this was a plot device for an unmarried virgin heroine to be sexually active yet still be considered a “moral” girl. The closed-door love scenes were now a relic of the past. The historical romance changed forever, and the bodice ripper was born. The romance genre, overall, would never be the same. The Flame and the Flower, Capitalizing on the success of The Flame and the Flower, ‘ first book ratcheted things up to another level. Rape, forced seduction, multiple partners, cheating, and violence were prevalent. Rosemary Rogers novel sold millions, spawning several sequels. It seemed that these ultra sexual romps would mark historical romances for the foreseeable future. This book showed that the heroine could enjoy sex with men besides the hero. Sweet Savage Love This book was ‘s second outing. It was the one that made her an Laurie McBain “Queen of Romance.” The swashbuckling romance was a huge hit and the first in a popular trilogy about the Dominic Family. The plot differed from Woodiwiss’ and Rogers’ works in that lovemaking was consensual. There was no bed-hopping, and the violence was not gratuitous. Avon was a kinder, gentler offering with no bodice-ripping in sight. Fans flocked to the more tender romantic style. It ultimately produced long-term success. Moonstruck Madness Duke Domenico is possibly the most extreme anti-hero ever written in a historical romance. ‘ first-person-POV romance about an Italian beauty purchased by a powerful Duke is still one of the highly-talked-about bodice rippers today. The prose is magnificent. The scenes of violence and brutality are intense. The hero is…a complicated man, to say the least. Teresa Denys ends HEA. But it’s hard to see a happy ending lasting beyond the pages of this book. The Silver Devil s third novel, Johanna Lindsey‘ was a Viking romance about a captive Welsh slave and her Nordic owner. This bodice ripper is all about the battle between the sexes. However, there is no cheating, which makes a lot of difference to many readers. Lindsey cemented her status as one of romance’s best-selling authors with this book. The Fires of Winter, artwork is legendary for featuring the first naked man on a romance cover. Robert McGinnis is “The Queen of Erotic Romance” Skye O’Malley ‘s Bertrice Small piece de resistance, her magnum opus. In this Tudor-era set romance, the beauteous Irish lass Skye O’Malley amasses husbands, lovers, and enemies. She experiences the most rollicking adventures any heroine in Romancelandia could only dream of! wasn’t the first Zebra historical romance. It wasn’t even the first successful book out of Kensington’s flagship imprint. However, this Western historical put the largest US independent publisher on the map. Savage Ecstasy was now a force to be reckoned with in the romance field. Zebra ‘s Janelle Taylor Savage Ecstasy sold over a million copies. So did its sequel, Defiant Ecstasy. Savage Ecstasy spawned a sub-genre of Native American romances, which romance readers consumed in droves. Christine Monson’s is perhaps one of the genre’s last true bodice-rippers. Stormfire Stormfire made some other books of the 1970s appear tame in contrast. This tale of vengeance is extreme in its brutality. From the moment the heroine is kidnapped and violated by the hero, we can see this is not a romance for the faint-hearted. Like The Silver Devil, Stormfire transcended its seemingly sordid content through thoughtful, superb writing and intense characterization. is the story of a gawky, coltish girl in love with a charming young man who barely notices her, goes off to finish school, and returns a beauty. Young Whitney Stone finds herself forced into marriage with the dark Duke of Westmoreland. After a tumultuous beginning, they slowly learn to love one another. Whitney, My Love is a beloved classic to this day. Whitney, My Love Jude Deveraux’s is a tear-jerker of a travel romance where the heroine is transported back to Tudor-era England and falls in love with an Elizabethan knight. However, things take a twist when she returns to the future, and so does he. But now he doesn’t recognize her. The pair find love in the past and the present. Will they ever find their forever somewhere in time? A Knight in Shining Armor Yes, Johanna Lindsey appears twice on this list, and for a good reason. Lindsey’s might not be historically accurate, but it’s so whimsical, romantic, witty, and the best of her Malory series. James Malory is an absolute cad. The tables are turned on him when he falls in love with a beauty disguised–quite poorly–as a cabin boy. Georgina abandons him at a port. He’ll have to deal with the wrath of her five older brothers to get things straightened out. Gentle Rogue Although Diana Gabaldon has repeatedly said that this is not a romance novel, it most assuredly is. It has the two elements required: it’s a love story and ends HEA. Although the subsequent books in the series would separate the lovers through time and space, the first entry is pure romance. , or Outlander Cross-Stitch as it’s known elsewhere, is at its core a historical romance that features time travel. The married-in-the-future heroine, Claire, comes off as improbably perfect. Jamie Frasier, on the other hand, is a favorite hero of many romance readers. is an absolutely unusual romance where a rogue of a man succumbs to a stroke. The Earl of Jervaulx is mainly paralyzed and incapable of speech. A Quaker mathematician takes on the job of rehabilitating him. There’s a secret baby from his married mistress. This emotional, exquisitely written romance deserves a look. Flowers from the Storm Although I prefer Then Came You, its sequel, is a monumental book, and readers Dreaming of You, adore Derek Craven. The sexy, snaggle-toothed London rough pulled himself up by his boot-straps. He now runs a gaming hell and brothel. Craven falls for a curious, bespectacled young woman named Sara. She turns his entire world asunder with her wondering innocence. The Marquess of Dain grew up thinking himself worthless. So he now engages in a life of debauched chaos. Dain meets his match in Jessica Trent, who initially seeks vengeance, but then finds love with him. However, after he dishonors her, Jessica shoots Dain, Making a very controversial romance in some eyes and a must-read in others. Lord of Scoundrels Your Opinion
We want to hear from you. What historical romances do you think we left off this list? Do you agree or disagree with our choices? If you were creating a must-read list of contemporary romances, which books would you chose? As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!