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Unusual Settings In Historical Romances

unusual settings in romance

Extraordinary or Unusual Settings in Romance

Let’s talk about unusual or extraordinary settings in romance! We use the term “extraordinary” rather than “exotic” to describe places simply because one person’s idea of “exotic” is another’s idea of home.

Whatever word you use, it’s fun to talk about unique settings in romance we don’t often encounter.

The genre is typically confined to areas in the Anglophonic realms of the world. Historical romance, in particular, is limited to that scope. This is baffling as it wasn’t always that way.

Today periods are restricted to specific eras. Most stories are set in the British Isles. Some readers have never encountered historical love stories outside of Georgian England, Regency England, and Victorian England.

Scotland, from the 15th century onward, is also a familiar backdrop. Just look today at the prevalence of Highland romances.

Some modern authors do create romances featuring unusual settings. But, for the most part, there isn’t as much variety as there used to be 40, 30, or 25 years ago.

unusual settings in romance
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List of Romances Unusual Settings

As we’re fans of diversity at Sweet Savage Flame, we think this is a lamentable state for the genre.

Bodice rippers and historical romances of old often involved continent-hopping. Many took place than in Great Britain or the United States.

The current length of single-edition novels typically runs around 350 pages. Contemporarily-written books don’t have the luxury that sprawling 500 to 700-page epics did. The tales are more confined, focusing less on the action and more on character building.

For that reason, we’ve compiled a running checklist of historical romance novels that were published from the 1970s to 2000 and take place all around the world. If you’re interested in more locales, we’ll cover contemporary romances set in countries other than the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia in a future article.

As we come upon new finds, we’ll add them to this list. So be sure to take another look around here in the upcoming months!

These books are from various periods in history, from Ancient Times to the turn of the 20th century. Sometimes (actually, often), the main characters within these unusual settings were still of Anglo-Briton-Gaelic heritage.

We’ve tried to include as many novels with protagonists who come from their respective countries as we can.

Continental Europe

First, we’re listing romances set in European countries besides those in the British Isles.

shallow focus photo of world globe
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Austria, Germany & Switzerland

  • A Bed of Spices – Barbara Samuel (Germany)
  • Daughter of Sand – Pamela South (England, Austria, Arabia, & US)
  • Promises to Keep – Nina Beaumont (Austria)
  • Sapphire Magic – Nina Beaumont (Austria)


  • Autumn Rose – Louisa Rawlings
  • Beast – Jud Cuevas
  • Bliss – Judy Cuevas
  • Cherished – Elizabeth Thornton
  • Count Vronsky Daughter – Carola Salisbury (France & Russia)
  • Dance – Judy Cuevas
  • Dark Fires – Rosemary Rogers (Mexico, USA, France & Russia)
  • Defy The Sun – Mallory Dorn Hart
  • Delphine – Ena Halliday (Canada & France)
  • Desire in Disguise – Rebecca Brandewyne (England & France)
  • Dreams So Fleeting – Louisa Rawlings
  • Fleur De Lis – Dorothy Taylor (France & USA)
  • Forever His – Shelly Thacker
  • Gypsy Lord – Kat Martin
  • Hearts Beguiled – Penelope Williamson
  • Lady Of Fire – Anita Mills (Medieval Normandy & England)
  • Lovefire – Deana James (Medieval Brittany & England)
  • Lysette – Ena Halliday
  • Marielle – Ena Halliday
  • Monique – Madelyn Cunningham
  • No Gentle Love – Rebecca Brandewyne (Ireland, England, France, Africa, India & China)
  • Oriana – Valerie Vayle (France & Caribbean Sea)
  • The Prince of Midnight – Laura Kinsale (England & France)
  • Promise of Summer – Louisa Rawlings
  • Purity’s Passion – Janette Seymour (France & England)
  • Scarlet Angel – Elizabeth Thornton
  • Scarlet Woman – Louisa Rawlings
  • So Speaks the Heart – Johanna Lindsey (Medieval Normandy & France)
  • Stolen Spring – Louisa Rawlings
  • Stranger In My Arms – Louisa Rawlings
  • So Wild a Rapture – Andrea Layton
  • Terms of Surrender – Mollie Ashton
  • A Venetian Moon – Clarissa Ross
  • Whispers of Passion – Sandra Dubay


  • Across Time -Nina Beaumont
  • Beloved – Bertrice Small (Ancient Rome & Palmyra)
  • Beloved Bondage – Katharine Kincaid (Ancient Rome)
  • The Masquers aka Splendid Toment – Natasha Peters
  • Rose Red – Flora Speer
  • Seduced – Catherine Lanigan
  • The Silver Devil – Teresa Denys
  • The Shadowed Heart – Nina Beaumont
  • Surrender the Night – Christine Monson (USA, Italy, England, Switzerland & Hungary)
  • Twice Upon Time – Nina Beaumont


  • Dangerous Obsession – Natasha Peters (Russia, France, Germany, & US)
  • Falling Stars – Anita Mills
  • The Frost and the Flame – Drusilla Campbell
  • Gypsy Jewel – Patricia McAllister
  • Natalya – Ann Brooke Currie
  • Satin Ice – Iris Johansen
  • Rapture’s Rebel – Iris Bancroft (Sweden, Finland, & Russia)
  • Secret Fire – Johanna Lindsey (England & Russia)
  • Seized By Love – Susan Johnson
  • Sweet Rush of Passion – Lois Lowery
  • You Belong to Me – Johanna Lindsey (Russia & Cardinia [Fake nation])


  • Come Faith, Come Fire – Vanessa Royal
  • The Eagle And the Rose – Jane Feather (Spain & Granada)
  • The Flesh and the Devil – Teresa Denys
  • Paradise and More – Shirle Henke (Santo Domingo & Spain)
  • Return to Paradise (Santo Domingo, Spain & France) – Shirle Henke
  • Wild Gypsy Love – Corinne Johnson (Spain & Guatemala)


globe in green leaves
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  • All the Sweet Tomorrows – Bertrice Small (Ireland, England, France, & Algeria)
  • Captive Angel – Deana James (USA, England, High Seas & Madagascar)
  • Desert Captive – Penelope Neri (Egypt)
  • Desert Heat – Evelyn Rogers (Libya)
  • Dawn of Desire – Joyce Verette (Ancient Egypt & Atlantis)
  • Heart of the Falcon – Suzanne Robinson (Ancient Egypt)
  • River of Passion – Hockett, Kathryn (Congo)
  • Skye O’Malley – Bertrice Small (Ireland, England & Algeria)
  • Surrender to the Night – Evelyn Rogers (South Africa)
  • Viking Ecstasy – Robin Gideon (Denmark & Egypt)


unusual settings in romance
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  • Captive Passions – Fern Michaels (Java & High Seas)
  • Green Eyes – Karen Robards (Ceylon)
  • The Kadin – Bertrice Small (Turkey)
  • The Magician’s Lover – Flora Speer (Baghdad & Constantinople)
  • No Gentle Love by Rebecca Brandewyne (Ireland, England, France, Africa, India & China)
  • Pirate of My Heart – Donna Valentino (East Indies; Indonesia)
  • Rangoon – Christine Monson (Burma)
  • Surrender to Love – (Ceylon & England)
  • This Fiery Splendor – Christine Monson (India)
  • Valentina – Fern Michaels (The Levant)
  • Wanton Slave – Evelyn Rogers (Constantinople)
  • White Fire – Iris Summers/ Fern Michaels (Russia/Mongolia)
  • Wild Jasmine – Bertrice Small (India & England)

Australia, Micronesia, & Polynesia

toy ships and flags on australia map
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  • Bold Land, Bold Love – Connie Mason
  • Brave Land, Brave Love – Connie Mason
  • Dark Torment – Karen Robards
  • Dream Fever – Katherine Sutcliffe (New Zealand)
  • The Jacaranda Tree – Rebecca Brandewyne
  • Night in Eden – Candice Proctor
  • September Moon – Candace Proctor
  • Touch the Wild Wind – Cassie Edwards
  • Wild Land,Wild Love – Connie Mason

Mexico, Central America, & Caribbean

travel letters and heart on map
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  • Blue Moon – Parris Afton Bonds (Mexico)
  • Dark Fires – Rosemary Rogers (Mexico, USA, France & Russia)
  • Desperado – Rebecca Brandewyne (Mexico)
  • A Lady Bought With Rifles – Jenne Williams (Mexico)
  • Lorelei – Lois Lowery (Mexico)
  • Mexican Caress – Linda Windsor (USA & Mexico)
  • Mexican Fire – Martha Hix (Mexico)
  • Oriana by Valerie Vayle (France & Caribbean Sea)
  • Paradise and More – Shirle Henke (Santo Domingo & Spain)
  • Passion’s Chains – Catherine Creel (England & Jamaica)
  • Return to Paradise (Santo Domingo, Spain & France) – Shirle Henke
  • Shanna – Kathleen Woodiwiss (England & Caribbean Sea)
  • Silken Rapture – Cassie Edwards (Honduras & USA)
  • Sweet Savage Love – Rosemary Rogers (USA & Mexico)
  • Wild Gypsy Love – Corinne Johnson (Spain & Guatemala)

South America

map illustration
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  • And Gold Was Ours – Rebecca Brandewyne (Spain & Peru)
  • Captive Innocence – Fern Michaels (USA & Brazil)
  • Emerald Nights – Virginia Brown (USA & Peru)
  • Jungle of Desire – Antoinette Beaudry (Brazil)
  • Midnight Captive – Penelope Neri (Argentina & Spain)

Your Opinion on Unusual Settings in Historical Romance

Hopefully, this index is a good starting point for you to search for romances with extraordinary or unusual settings.

What are your favorite backdrops for historicals? Do you prefer to stay within the comfort zone of Merry Old England and her colonies, or do you prefer unusual locations like the ones we’ve listed?

Please, drop us a comment, and let’s talk romance.