For readers of historical romance, there are authors that are always on the list. What list might that be, you ask? This is the list of the authors that you trust, that no matter what novel of theirs you pick up, since their name is on it, you are guaranteed to feel the tingles up your spine, the little sigh in your heart, and possibly a desire to hug the book to your chest upon reading that happily-ever-after. Of course, so many other elements make a historical romance really shine – an enlivening plot, endearing characters, a well-researched time period, and a realistic spiritual aspect. Along with some of the staff here at Straight Off the Page, let’s delve into some of the top authors in the historical romance genre.
For Melissa, The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton strikes the perfect balance of romance and suspense. The romance is a compliment to the plot as a whole. Melissa says, “The opening chapters of the story had as much suspense as a thriller novel, and I found the romance to be nicely integrated and not intrusive to the storyline.” Lori leaves readers breathless with both a passionate romance and real-life dangers that give the characters and their developing feelings depth and meaning.
Though a debut author, Kristy Cambron is already a popular contender in World War II fiction. Kristy’s The Butterfly and the Violin is “a fantastic example of a realistic, beautifully-researched story blended with lyrical writing,” says Marisa. I have read this title as well and have to agree; Kristy has written a story with depth and beauty, showing the resilience of the human spirit during a dark time.
Rachel loved The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden for delving deeper than the typical fun, fluffy romance. The characters, even secondary ones, had complex back stories, and the story held a strong element of suspense and mystery both. Nor does Elizabeth skimp on either the historical or romantic aspects of the story – “The historical details were fascinating, without being overbearing or feeling like you were reading a textbook,” but rather, epitomizes what readers love so much about historical romance.
With Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott, Sara was immediately hooked on the story. Sara says, “Rosslyn had such a remarkable way of introducing the characters, the setting, and the background that I fell into the story instantly.” The intricacy of the novel also impressed Sara: “The subplots in the book, especially the mentions of the Underground Railroad, made the whole novel historically rich and gave it substance.” The best part for her was discovering that the characters were real people in history, and though a fictional story, many elements were true and portrayed in a fascinating way.
Whenever I am looking for a romantic historical, an author I trusted since early on was Laura Frantz. Her novels have every element that I want in a historical romance. The historical details are exquisite, the main characters are always full of substance, and the relationships always progress in such a realistic, heartwarming way. Though it’s hard to pick a favorite, her most recent trilogy, The Ballantine Legacy, especially showcases the atmospheric beauty and transporting nature of her writing.
Jody’s stories pull me in and hold me captive until the very last page. She excels at writing tender love stories, but also keeps the setting, plot and individual characters intact. After reading nearly all of her books, I must say that Rebellious Heart has remained my favorite. It shows how Jody’s writing exemplifies historical romance – a tender love story, well-developed individual characters, an uplifting spiritual thread and realistic historical details.
Christel is drawn to Siri Mitchell’s A Heart Most Worthy and She Walks in Beauty due to the important balance between romance and plot. She describes A Heart Most Worthy as “so gripping and suspenseful I literally could not put it down.” Siri has been a long-time favorite of mine as well; in fact, I would credit her novels with beginning my love of Christian fiction in general, but especially with historical romance. The unconventional love story in Love’s Pursuit captured me completely, and her unique main characters and sweet romances keep me coming back to her books.
A Bride for Donnigan by Janette Oke was the book that first made Sara fall in love with historical romance. She says, “It was such a sweet story, and I really liked that the characters became Christian during the novel.” She also appreciated that the story was told from the perspective of both the male lead and main female lead instead of just presenting the heroine’s point of view. Janette also used Sara’s favorite setting for a historical romance – a farm on the prairie – which was so well-done that she was captivated by the story.
One of Melissa’s top picks reminds us of a very important reasons we read historical romance. Francine River’s Redeeming Love show “a beautiful picture of redemption and God’s pursuing never-ending love for us,” says Melissa. Likewise, Francine’s Mark of the Lion trilogy, set in the opulent yet sordid world of ancient Rome, presents a realistic depiction of Rome and a gorgeous portrayal of how faith can overcome fears, failure, and hopelessness.
Sarah Sundin is one of the primary writers of historical romance set during World War II. She earns the top spot as Marisa’s favorite writer of novels set during this time period. Marisa says, “Sarah just has a magical way of blending gripping war plots with beautiful romances and faith-filled morals.” Her handle on these element ensures that Sarah is a lasting fixture in Christian historical romance.
We read Christian historical romance to be swept away – by history, by story, by romance, but ultimately, of course, we read it to be swept away by the greatest love story of all – between God and His children. These authors tell beautiful stories, but more importantly, they tell profound truths about life and God’s love. So there you have it! What are your favorite Christian Historical Romance novels? What authors in that genre make the top of your list?