Now, so this doesn’t sound redundant, I have created a page within my website where my favorite books of all time are listed, but I feel as though a post directed at my favorite historical reads would be useful.
I only just got back from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference and I always feel inspired to take to the computer and pour out pages upon pages of thoughts. To the point, one of the things we always talk about at conferences is “Comp Titles.” What it basically comes down to is “know your genre.” To write it, you must read it and understand how your book fits.
Several times, when discussing someone else’s work, I kept thinking up books they should read. Complementary titles, if you will. Or perhaps just reads that will inspire.
Either way, these are my absolute favorite reads within the historical fiction genre. Read at your leisure. Listed in no particular oder. I like them all. They’re well worth it.
1. DAUGHTERS OF FORTUNE SERIES by Judith Pella
I have to list this one first simply because I cannot help but reread these books at least once a year and I seem to recommend them to anyone who expresses an interest in WWII fiction. I’ve even created a Pinterest Board for crying out loud! Why? Because it follows three sisters across all three fronts of the war – the Philippines, Russia (and parts of Europe), and Manzanar. Unlike other series with three main characters, each sister’s POV and storyline carry throughout the series rather than a single book. Whether you favor Cameron, Blair or Jackie, she won’t fade into the background with the next book.
And the history! Oh my word. My only advice is that if you don’t get into the story right away, give it a few chapters. Because I promise, you do want to meet Cameron’s Russian doctor. Lt. Gary Hobart will show up again. And Sam Okuda is the sweetest man you’ll ever meet. You’ll be pulling for these sisters.
2. THE DIAMOND OF THE ROCKIES SERIES by Kristen Heitzmann
I also had to make a Pinterest board for this one. This series just gets me every time. I actually read the last book the first time I read it and then worked my way backwards. Once I read the first book, I was blown away at how far the characters had come.
Start with a feisty Italian lady who is an amazing cook and talks with her hands, then throw in a stubborn man who doesn’t like to use his last name because it was begrudgingly loaned to him by his adoptive parents. Next, have the stubborn man shove said Italian lady’s broken-down wagon down into a ravine because it was blocking the pass. It’s a recipe for wonderful. And maybe more than just a few literal sparks flying.
The best part – I haven’t read such a tense story since this one. The author primarily writes suspense. And when a suspense novelist writes historical romance, my word. It’s amazing.
3. TO WIN HER FAVOR by Tamera Alexander
I have this one as both an ebook and a hard copy. I take it with me wherever I go just in case I feel like rereading it. First of all, because I was definitely a little horse-crazy growing up and therefore, love the cover. Secondly, because it’s such a rich story. If you thought America’s immigrant history was simple, well, let’s just say that every few years, there’s a new group to single out. During the setting of To Win Her Favor, it’s the Irish, and our lovely southern belle is about to marry one and find out just where her prejudices lie.
4. A MOST INCONVENIENT MARRIAGE by Regina Jennings
This one made me smile. Also great for the horse lovers, btw.
Set in the wake of the Civil War, just imagine a girl who thought she married someone on his deathbed – with very noble reason – only to find that he gave her the wrong name… on purpose. To her great surprise, the man who actually goes by said name, is very much alive and would appreciate it if she set her noble mission aside and carried on her merry way. Only, it’s not that simple for her.
I laughed, I blushed, it moved me, Bob.
Please enjoy my Veggie Tales reference.
5. SMALL TOWN GIRL by Ann H. Gabhart
I Really liked this one. Gabhart took a slightly different angle to this one in two ways. First, it’s pre-WWII. Not during WWII. Second, this one and number six on my list deal with the interesting dilemma of falling for someone who doesn’t share your faith and then follows that crazy journey.
Start with a girl at a wedding where her crush is marrying her sister. Ouch, but then this cute guy comes onto the scene and your family loves him.
This one actually reminded me very much of A Passion Most Pure. The writing style. The content. The story. It’s set in a different era, but if you enjoy Julie Lessman’s writing, you might like this one.
6. A PASSION MOST PURE by Julie Lessman
Remember that girl who just didn’t feel very noteworthy? The one who nursed an undying crush on this cute boy for years? Yes, that one. This is her story.
Except the boy didn’t turn out the way she hoped he would and now that he’s paying her attention, it seems he noticed her sister first. Oh yeah, and he doesn’t share he faith. Oops.
Great story centered around trusting that God’s ways are higher than ours and his thoughts higher than our thoughts for very good reason. But, of course, in the world of fiction, these things always work out for the best. Just keep reading. It gets better with every page.
7. THE LADY AND THE LIONHEART by Joanne Bischof
I did a full length review on this one a little while ago. SO GOOD. I mean. I can think of very few books centered around a victorian circus. Only one or two come to mind. And this is the one that captured my attention. It’s the story behind the tattooed man and the sideshow industry with a beautiful, heartfelt romance woven through. You’ll adore it. I don’t have any other words.
There’s this scene where the heroine notices the father of her infant patient has a tattoo peeking out from under his sleeve. That right there! When you read that, know that it’s about to get good. And then the gypsy dance! It’s magical. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
8. WINGS OF THE NIGHTINGALE SERIES by Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin has many books out, all set during the second world war, and I’ve enjoyed all of them, but this series was probably my favorite. Between Mellie’s pen pal romance and Georgie’s sweet friendship with her pharmacist, I really enjoyed this books. On Distant Shores being my favorite, though, In Perfect Time kept me on the edge of my seat. But then, With Every Letter… I loved the bridge scene.
Anyways… they’re all good. You should read them.
9. HEART OF GLASS by Jill Marie Landis
This one is actually a part of a series… I just haven’t finished it yet because I love going back and rereading this one. Set in the south during the reconstruction era, This one has another arranged marriage. Seems to be a theme with girlhood crushes making for good stories, but why not? And who wouldn’t love to find themselves in an arranged marriage to their crush?
Although, confound it! Why do these things always have to be more complicated that it seems? This particular groom got a little cornered by his dying sister. The question is, can he make it work? Or will his bride give up on being in a one-sided relationship?
10. SO RARE A GIFT by Amber Lynn Perry
This one was so sweet. I stumbled across it as an ebook deal. Forgive me. Again. I read the third book first and forgot to read the first two. I have something for third books, it seems.
Anyways. I’ve read so few revolutionary era historicals, but this one stuck out. Marriage of Convenience. Assumed name. Long-lost brothers. Patriotism. Everything you could want in a historical romance. It’s fantastic and I think I read it in a day. I’ve gone back and reread a few parts however, because I went a little too fast the first time. Sign of a good book, right?
So there you have it. My top ten Christian Historical Romances. If you were looking for a few binge-worthy reads. I promise you these are worth your time. No disappointing endings. Good writing. Great tension. Historical detail. All that jazz.
But I’ll leave you to judge them for yourselves. Please comment below if you’ve read any of the titles on my list or if you have any suggestions for titles worthy of joining these in honorable mention. Maybe you know of one I have yet to come across? Or you’re in shock and awe that I would dare read a third book first and neglect the first two. I know. It’s pretty shameful.