21 Steamy Historical Romance Novels That Will Get Your Petticoats in a Twist

Rakes, dukes, Scotsmen—oh my!

a cover from one of the best historical romance novels

Historical romance novels offer more than just dashing dukes and heaving bosoms: They’re an escape from our modern serial-dating, “Netflix and Chill” world. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying romance is totally dead—and the past certainly wasn’t all hearts and roses, either—but our love lives do hinge on a left or right swipe these days.

If you ask us, there’s something extra delicious about historical romance. Between the layers of clothes and the strict code of conduct, the required restraint makes the inevitable kilt-dropping, lace-ripping moment even hotter for all you romance readers. 

To prove it, we’ve rounded up 21 of the best erotic historical romance novels, all of which would make anyone swoon. Whether you love Regency romance, Scottish hunks or dashing dukes, we've got you covered. 


Knight Secrets

By C.C. Wiley

With her father accused of treason, Lady Clarice Margrave lives sequestered in a tower for “her own protection.” A surprise attack on her family’s estate finally takes Clarice outside the walls of her prison—and into the path of the dashing Sir Ranulph. 

Not only is Ranulph sworn to protect the king, he’s also the mastermind behind the ambush against the Margraves. Clarice’s possible association with a suspected traitor makes her more suited to a cell than his bed, but what are royal oaths in the face of love, really?

The Maiden Bride

The Maiden Bride

By Rexanne Becnel

As the younger de Valcourt twin, Linnea is the scorned and “evil” daughter of Maidenstone Castle. Likewise, Axton de La Manse is an outcast himself—a Norman exile hell-bent on righting the injustice his family suffered at de Valcourt hands. 

When he storms Linnea’s home and demands her sister’s hand in marriage, Linnea offers to serve in her “good” sister’s place. But what begins as a marriage of convenience and a risky deception soon blossoms into lusty, between-the-sheets passion. Emotional walls will crumble, bodices will rip—and you might just ask yourself, “Is it too hot in here?”

The Gladiator's Master

The Gladiator's Master

By Fae Sutherland, Maguerite Labbe

Gaidres, forced into slavery by the Romans, lives for one thing: revenge. He wants nothing more than to end the lineage of the Roman family that enslaved him in the first place. So when Roman politician Caelius inherits a stable of gladiators, Gaidres included, Gaidres knows exactly who to target to finally get justice. But Gaidres has captured Caelius’ attention too…for different reasons. 

Gaidres discovers that behind closed doors, Caelius doesn’t want to dominate his slave, but instead wants to be dominated. Gaidres’ hate quickly turns into a tenuous relationship with Caelius, and continues to be steamy and sincere even when Caelius finds out about Gaidres’ plans for revenge. Will they risk it all for an explosive, passionate connection?  

Sun God

Sun God

By Nan Ryan

This erotic historical romance novel from bestselling author Nan Ryan has a slightly different setting. Ryan brings us the tale of teenage lovers Luiz “Tonatiuh” Quintano and Amy Sullivan, who were perfect matches in 1856. Both the children of powerful Texans—Tonatiuh, the descendant of Aztec royalty; Amy, the daughter of a wealthy rancher—their families were closely intertwined. 

But an act of violent betrayal destroys any trace of love Tonatiuh has for Amy, leading to a decade-long grudge. Now, he’s a formidable military commander—and he’s determined to apprehend his former lover. But as soon as he’s captured Amy, she recaptures his heart. And let’s just say…she has no qualms about being tied up.

A Scoundrel's Surrender

A Scoundrel's Surrender

By Jenna Petersen

When Caleb Talbot fled from London two years ago following a brief, yet intense, love affair with Marah Farnworth, she wrote him off. After all, he left without an explanation, and the only way to heal was for her to move on with someone else. So she decides to marry someone steadier, someone she doesn’t have to fear will abandon her. But when Caleb’s sister-in-law, a dear friend of Marah’s, begs her to come back to London because her husband’s father is very sick, she runs into Caleb, and the feelings come flooding back. 

Unbeknownst to either of them, Caleb returned to London for the same reason Marah did: he discovered the man who raised him was dying, and he returned to see him. While neither of them wished to face the other, neither of them can deny the stubborn feelings that have returned. 

Caleb believed he did the honorable thing by disappearing from Marah’s life when he found out about his family’s scandal, but now he realizes that he can’t bear to watch her end up with someone else. But Marah is determined to marry someone stable, making winning her love back seem impossible. Can the handsome scoundrel steal her heart before she gives it away to someone else? 

Love's Tender Fury

Love's Tender Fury

By Jennifer Wilde

The racy first installment in a bestselling trilogy, Love’s Tender Fury introduces Marietta Denver: A bastard, a dreamer, and an accused thief. After being wrongfully convicted, she’s shipped away to a life of indentured servitude—and tempting suitors—in the American colonies. 

First, there’s her master, an irritable but handsome plantation owner. There’s also Jeff Rawlins, whose bad boy charms sweep her into the tangled web of the New Orleans underworld. As she adjusts to her new life, she has to decide if playing their games will truly set her free. And if she falls in love—and into a lover’s bed—could she lose herself along the way?

Related: 10 Bad Boy Romance Books That Are Oh So Good 

The Fatal Crown

The Fatal Crown

By Ellen Jones

Maud is a widowed princess vying for the British throne. Though recently betrothed to a 14-year-old Plantagenet (another royal house), Maude’s heart belongs to someone else—her most dangerous rival, Stephen of Blois. 

Their forbidden romance is one of naughty trysts and broken marriage vows, but if the flames of their passion can’t be contained to the royal bedchamber, they’ll burn throughout England and rewrite the country’s fate. Politics clash with love, and ambition confronts sex, as the couple chooses which power they crave most: That of the heart, or crown?

Related: 9 Sizzling Romantic Suspense Books 

Scandalous Love

Scandalous Love

By Brenda Joyce

Hadrian Braxton-Lowell, the Duke of Clayborough, is bound by duty and honor in every sense. After he and his mother suffered at the hands of an abusive father, Hadrian vowed to be nothing like him, and in turn rules his life with an iron fist. He is even stuck in an engagement to Elizabeth, a woman he’s known since birth and cares for very deeply, but does not love. But he swallows his disappointment and proceeds with the engagement because of duty. Until he meets Nicole Bragg Shelton. 

Nicole is a wildcard, 23 year old spinster who is no stranger to scandal. After being shunned to the country, she lives her days riding horses with her brothers and committing to being her vivacious self. But when her pride is wounded and she finds herself at a masquerade ball (in celebration of the Duke’s return) the two meet and the attraction is undeniable. But things don’t go as planned when Nicole finds out the man she fell in love with is engaged to be married. 

From there, twists and turns befall them, and the two must decide if duty or passion is more important to them. 


A Midnight Dance

By Lila DiPasqua

Once upon a time, Sabine Laurents was surrounded by luxury and schmoozed with France’s most revered well-to-do. But now that Moutiers have disgraced her family, she’s ready to exact revenge on their handsome son—and longtime crush—Jules. To steal his fortune, she’ll have to steal his heart…and hope her own isn’t crushed in the process. 

Lila DiPasqua’s historical scorcher (and boy, do we mean scorcher) reimagines the classic Perrault fairytale, Cinderella. Except, this leading lady prefers bedrooms to ballrooms when the clock strikes midnight. 

The Earl's Prize

The Earl's Prize

By Nicola Cornick

Miss Amy Bainbridge, a well-bred, honorable lady, once lived at the height of society, before being exiled to a life of genteel poverty. That is, until a stroke of luck named her the recipient of a surprise sum of money! Using her windfall as a springboard back into society, she also gained the affections of Joss, Earl of Tallant, a notorious rogue–and gambler.

Though Joss is everything Amy despises in a man, she finds herself inexplicably attracted to him. He seems to have interest not in her newfound fortune, but in her, though she doesn’t know why. And why does she feel enamored at the thought? 


Seven Years to Sin

By Sylvia Day

Lady Jessica Tarley, a respectable widow, should not find Alistair Caulfield attractive. Aside from his reputation as a free-loving gigolo, Jessica has a vivid memory of Alistair that stirs up some very unladylike compulsions. 

Unexpectedly reunited aboard a Jamaica-bound ship, their close quarters make avoiding each other difficult—and such sexual denial makes Alistair want Lady Jessica all the more. Remember the angst, twists, and white-hot sex from Sylvia Day’s hit, Bared to You? They were all inspired by this steamy cruise ship historical!


Suddenly You

By Lisa Kleypas

For her 30th birthday, the virginal Amanda Briars has promised herself the ultimate gift: A night of bed-creaking, deflowering passion. But this aspiring writer in 1836 London is in for a big surprise when she discovers that Jack, the late-night visitor she assumed to be the “hired help,” is actually a giant of the London publishing industry. 

Though Jack didn’t actually take Amanda’s virginity that night, he did leave with the desire to do so—and then some—in the near future. A sexy romance between a notorious rake and a free-spirited spinster, Suddenly You will have you suddenly needing a splash of cold water.



By Charlotte Featherstone

Anais Darnby and Lindsay Markham have been in love as long as they’ve known each other—since childhood. So when the two finally express their feelings, both assume their fate is sealed…metaphorically, and physically.

But a scheming socialite puts Lindsay in a compromising position, and Anais catches them in the act. Lindsay tries to win her back, but Anais seeks refuge in another man’s bed and Lindsay retreats to the exotic East. He is seduced yet again, but this time, by opium. As true lovers do, the two still think about each other; Anais while enjoying high society in London, Lindsay in his lucid moments. When Lindsay comes back to London determined to win Anais back once and for all, he must decide if it’s her or opium he truly cannot live without. 


The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

By Jennifer Ashley

Whispers of Ian Mackenzie’s past follow him everywhere, and involve insane asylums, suspected murder, and madness. To be seen with him is to commit social suicide—and yet, the widowed Beth Ackerly hardly cares. She knows the truth of Ian’s heart, the more painful truth of Ian’s past, and she’s ready to risk public disgrace if it means having him—body and soul. 

Jennifer Ashley’s Ian Mackenzie is far from your standard romantic hero, but he deserves his own warning label. You’ll swoon. You might spontaneously combust. Whatever happens, we aren’t liable.


Scandal's Bride

By Stephanie Laurens

The year is 1819, and Catriona Hennessy, a fiercely independent Scotswoman, isn’t exactly excited about the idea of marriage. But Catriona’s superiors have different ideas about her future—and they namely involve Richard “Scandal” Cynster, who comes from a rich English family. 

Richard himself has never wanted a wife, but his stepfather’s deathbed ultimatum—that the unlikely duo must marry for the sake of Richard’s family—compels them to take the plunge. Cue secret bedroom schemes, family betrayals, and a 17-page sex scene, and suddenly their marriage is much, much more exciting. You can thank us later.

The Day of the Duchess Sarah MacLean

The Day of the Duchess

By Sarah MacLean

Due to a mistake he can never reverse, and a love he can never get back, Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude. But life goes on, and Haven requires an heir. But in order to have an heir, he must get married, and he must do so by the end of the summer. The only problem with this plan is that he already has a wife. 

Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London after years in exile. The goal? Reclaim her life and happiness, despite her heartbreak. Haven will allow her this, but only if she can find her replacement. Unfortunately, that means spending her summer in close quarters with the last person on earth she wants to be in close quarters with…or so she thought.

The Duke has one summer to convince Seraphina that they can overcome their broken past and make every day the day of the duchess.  

One Golden Ring

One Golden Ring

By Cheryl Bolen

The Christmas season is approaching, but Lady Fiona Hollingsworth isn’t feeling joyous—her brother has been kidnapped by Spanish bandits, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to rescue him—including offering herself in marriage to the richest man in England so she can afford his ransom. 

And while Nicholas Birmingham knows he shouldn’t accept her proposal, he can’t help giving in to Fiona, a woman he’s fantasized about for so long. Hailed as “an irresistible pleasure” (Eloisa James, New York Times–bestselling author of Wilde in Love), this spirited and sexy Regency romance is a gift to readers everywhere.

the spinster and the rake, a historical romance novel

The Spinster and the Rake

By Eva Devon

Edward Stanhope, the icy Duke of Thornfield, only needs three things to be content: a strong drink, a good book, and his dog. So when he enters his library to find a woman sitting in his chair and petting his dog, his first thought is to force her to leave. But his request quickly turns into a fiery battle of wits, only ceasing with a steamy kiss that could ruin them both if anyone found out. 

So naturally, that’s when Edward’s aunt walks in and thus announces Miss Georgiana Bly the future Duchess of Thornfield. Now Georgiana, whose aspirations were to remain a spinster and read when not working to get her family out of a financial burden, has to spend her days with the growly duke. Though he was never meant for her, their attraction to each other grows hotter by the day—but will it be enough to melt his ice cold heart? 

then came you lisa kleypas, a historical romance novel

Then Came You

By Lisa Kleypas

In a Bridgerton book two type of way, Then Came You depicts the story of Lily Lawson and Alex, Lord Wolverton. Lily delights in shocking London society, and her new scandalous escapade is ensuring that her younger sister will keep from marrying Alex, who is handsome yet arrogant as well as determined not to fall in love. 

Alex is furious at her efforts to dissuade his marriage, and vows to make Lily pay—with her body, her soul, and her stubborn, well-guarded heart. The two challenge each other at every turn, but the more caught up they get in each other, the more their white-hot desire burns. 

The Duchess Deal

The Duchess Deal

By Tessa Dare

Another great read for Bridgerton fans, Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal tells the story of a Duke who needs an heir, but wants nothing to do with his wife. Since returning from the war, the menacing, glowering Duke of Ashbury requires a wife to produce an heir. So when Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, happens to appear in his library wearing a wedding dress of all things, he decides instantly that she’ll just have to do. 

He lays out his terms from the start: they are to be husband and wife by night only, no kissing, no lights, no questions about his battle scars, and most importantly: as soon as she delivers his heir they need not share a bed ever again. But Emma, not the pushover he thought she was, demands shared nightly dinners with conversation, and unlimited teasing, and she quickly falls in love with the man beneath the scars…

Her Night with the Duke

Her Night with the Duke

By Diana Quincy

Lady Delilah Chambers finds herself stranded for the night at a country inn after being forced to fend off a group of thugs–with the help of a handsome gentleman, of course. Inexplicably drawn to each other, the two spend the night together, and then go their separate ways. But the very next day, both are surprised to meet again when Leela meets her stepdaughter’s betrothed, and finds out it’s him! 

The two do their best to keep each other at arm’s length, as they both have reputations to uphold. But a passion like this is not meant to be ignored. 

Featured photo: Cover of Too Wicked to Wed, by Cara Elliot