Bridgerton on Netflix has given many reluctant Romance readers a taste of what modern Historical Romance novels can be. Beyond helpless damsels and questionable dukes, you can find love stories with People of Color, LGBTQ+ protagonists, and working-class folks that show us history in a different light.
The Duke and I, book one in the Bridgerton series, is over 20 years old. And that is ancient in Romance novel years! Romance is an ever-evolving genre, and 5-year-old, let alone 20-year-old books, might have problematic content that the author wouldn’t write again like that.
The understanding of consent and representation has changed very much over the last 20 years, and many authors of Historical Romance novels handle these topics differently now!
The Victorian and Regency eras were not very kind to most people, but a good Historical Romance manages to show beauty and love and how people might have found or created spaces to be themselves – the hopeful element that I love so much about the Romance genre.
And while these types of books, of course, have an element of fantasy and.. well… are quite literally romanticizing the past, many authors do meticulous research and know much more about the actual lived reality of different groups of people than we usually do.
Since we are on Lovely Audiobooks here and, as you might have guessed, I love audiobooks, I will include links to Audible with every book, because we all use it, and I promised you books on Audible in the title. But I will add alternatives as well!
One is Libro.fm, because if you buy an audiobook there, you actually own the MP3 and can listen to it in any app. Plus, you support indie bookstores with your purchase!
And whenever possible, I will also add a link to Scribd because they are a very budget-friendly option for listeners. If you have a subscription there, you can listen to several of the audiobooks below for a flat monthly fee!
**The marked links and book covers on this page are affiliate links. If you use them to purchase something, I earn a fee at no additional cost for you. Disclosure**
Amalie Howard’s Young Adult Historical Romance Queen Bee is such a wonderful and captivating!
Lady Ela Delvi goes on a revenge spree after having been ruined by the words of a jealous friend.
After three years in a girls’ boarding school, Ela gets the chance to return to the Ton with a new look and a new name to get back at her former best friend and the boy who turned his back on her.
I particularly adored the author’s note at the end, in which Amalie Howard discusses the prevalence of queer people and People of Color in Regency-era England, as well as her research into many of the details of the story, e.g., early hair coloring. That was so fascinating!
The narration of the audio version is done by Nikki Patel, whose voice fits Ela perfectly. This book is a true pleasure to listen to!
Related article: The Best Audiobook Apps
A Lady for a Duke
Alexis Hall is one of my favorite authors, and it’s no surprise that A Lady for a Duke has been getting a lot of attention. This is a beautiful love story!
In the past, Viola was a soldier who everyone believed fell in Waterloo. She used this situation to transition and start to live openly as a woman.
Her sister-in-law takes her on as a companion. But when her best friend, who Viola believed would be better off assuming her dead, continues to struggle badly, even two years later, she gives in and visits him.
A Lady for a Duke is a sprawling, enthralling Historical Romance book with a wonderful cast of characters and a very lovable hero and heroine. Kay Eluvian is an amazing narrator who truly understands how to bring the characters to life!
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes
I cannot put in adequate words how much fun I had with Cat Sebastian’s The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes! Marian and Rob are such a perfect match and are both so wildly lovable.
Even though Marian talks a lot about how she’s perceived as distant and cold, I had nothing but empathy and love for her and found her very admirable.
In the audio version, Joel Leslie did a fantastic narration for these two people who seem so different on paper yet are so alike. And I adored the beginning of the book in epistolary form! Who says blackmail can’t turn into more, right?!
Heartbreaker by popular Historical Romance author Sarah MacLean is a super fun, fast-paced book with a cross-country carriage chase that also makes room for a really sweet (and steamy) love story.
Adelaide might seem like a lady, but she’s also a gifted and well-trained pickpocket. She excels at becoming invisible by artfully wielding wallflower-dom.
So, when the Duke of Clayborn surprises her during a heist, he really screws up her perfectly laid plans of staying entirely undetected.
The audiobook is narrated by Mary Jane Wells, who is such a gifted voice actor!
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower is such an entertaining, exciting Historical Romance with a beautiful love story. The Wynchesters in Erica Ridley’s book series are a wild family and completely lovable!
Bluestocking Philippa loves books and doesn’t want anything else really, but her rich parents are set on marrying her to a titled man.
Tommy has been crushing on Philippa since she first saw her and is always in Philippa’s orbit in some disguise or other. And she’s thrilled at the chance to work with Philippa on an investigation…
Moira Quirk is a wonderful narrator and turned this great story into a wonderful audiobook.
The Siren of Sussex
The Historical Romance novel The Siren of Sussex calls you in and won’t let you go! This is such a tender, epic love story.
Evelyn comes to London for her first season and puts a lot of pressure on herself to quickly find a good match, so her younger sisters will be in a better position.
So, it comes as a blessing and a curse that Evelyn gets along really, really well with her dressmaker, Ahmad. But she can’t let her attraction to him derail her carefully laid plans.
Vidish Athavale and Lydia Hanman bring this very emotional book to life wonderfully!
The Governess Game
Tessa Dare and her tongue-in-cheek approach to Historical Romance novels are ridiculously entertaining, and Mary Jane Wells brings this perfectly to life in the audiobook version!
While I loved absolutely everything about The Governess Game, from the hilarious and heartbreaking little girls (that poor doll, omg), to the lovable working-class heroine, I got a particular kick out of the rake hero.
He made a very specific decision about his womanizing that made me squeal in delight because I have waited so long for a rake to do this!
This is book two in the Girl Meets Duke series, and while it is fun to read them in order (and the meet-cute between these two happens in book one, The Duchess Deal), it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone or as your start into the series.
An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler
This book is another second-in-the-series entry. I can wholeheartedly recommend A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby, book one of Rogues & Remarkable Women.
But I simply loved An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler even more!
A secret society for the protection of wronged women, an adorable toddler, a righteous barrister, and a reckless woman with a very mysterious and worrying past make for such an entertaining and captivating story.
This is a gripping novel with lots of secrets and mystery, and the ending was absolutely beautiful and made me tear up a little bit.
The audiobook is narrated by the amazing Bahni Turpin!
A Lady Awakened
A Lady Awakened is, without a doubt, one of the must-read Historical Romance novels!
This is such an outstanding story that manages a beautiful balance for the heroine. Martha is very inexperienced in some ways yet feels so worldly in others.
Despite her young age, she takes on full responsibility for her servants and tenants. And it makes perfect sense that she is willing to go all the way to ensure her estate remains in her possession.
To that end, she needs to present an heir. Very quickly. So she makes a deal with a rake who was sent to the country because of his questionable behavior in London. And yes, she pays him.
This audiobook, narrated by Susan Ericksen, is an absolute delight!
The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting
While every single KJ Charles book would be a perfect choice for this book list of the best Historical Romance novels, I picked The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting because it stayed with me for such a long time.
It’s about a brother and sister who enter the London season to find good matches and “marry up”. It was for me the first time I read about fortune-hunting, and the book discusses marrying a lord in much more realistic terms than we usually encounter in Historical Romance books.
This is also, as the title promises, a very gentle story. The siblings are not what you would expect, and neither is the love interest / enemy, Hart. The audiobook is narrated by Cornell Collins, who always manages to portray KJ Charles’ characters perfectly!
Related article: The Best Romance Audiobooks of all Time
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Not every Historical Romance novel has to be set in England. Rebel by Beverly Jenkins is a beautiful love story!
The setting is New Orleans after the Civil War. While that brings with it many serious issues, this book balances it out with wonderfully light, sweet scenes.
Drake and Valinda have such adorable, fun banter. I adored the way they talked with each other! And how could you possibly resist a hero with “pirate blood”?!
Drake’s mother was a wonderful side character as well. And the narration by Kim Staunton made me positively devour this audiobook!
The Duke Undone
I consider The Duke Undone somewhat of a “Historical College Romance”. Lucy studies art and tries to become a painter.
But being a woman in a man’s world and going to school with the goal to work for a living and not just to find a husband is not easy.
And it gets even more complicated when she uses a dead person as inspiration… and he turns out not to be dead at all! He also is not particularly thrilled when he finds out about the painting…
This is the audiobook that cemented my complete love and adoration for Mary Jane Wells. No one can gasp like her!
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows
Olivia Waite writes beautiful Historical Romance novels!
In The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, we have a beekeeper who *gasp* wears trousers! Like a man! And a very down-to-earth widow who is set on keeping her business going. There is also a wonderful side plot about the widow’s son and his girlfriend.
The audiobook is narrated by Morag Sims, who gave these two women wonderful, distinct voices.
The Duke Who Didn’t
Courtney Milan is one of my favorite Romance authors!
The Duke Who Didn’t is an adorable story about childhood friends, hidden identity, righteous revenge, and sauce!
It is also utterly intriguing, well written, and the characters – the straightforward Chloe and the funny Jeremy – are completely lovable, the perfect opposites-attract story!
The audio version is read by the wonderful Mary Jane Wells, who I can’t recommend enough to you.
To Love and to Loathe
Rakes are par for the course in Historical Romance novels. But a rake whose prowess was criticized? Now that’s something new!
In To Love and to Loathe, we have a widowed Lady and a Marquess who have known each other since her debut. And they have been bickering ever since.
Since the two are frenemies, she is the person he turns to after receiving devastating feedback about his skills in the bedroom.
This is such a sweet and fun Historical Romantic Comedy! And I enjoyed the dual narration by Anais Inara Chase and Joel Froomkin very much.
Save this list of Historical Romance Books for later:
Eline Blackman (pronouns: she/they) fell in love with books as a child – with being read to and reading herself. 10 years ago, she bought her first Audible book. It was love at first listen! An average of 250 audiobooks per year has become the new normal and you will rarely see Eline without a wireless earbud. Romance and Fantasy are the go-to genres for this audiobook fan.