It’s here: the promised next installment of Books to Binge Read; the Romance Novel Series Edition. Hell yes.
There’s nothing like romance for escapism. My favorites tend to be the historicals, because I love the drama of balls and chaperones and carriages and corsets – and I love that the problems those characters face so rarely remind me of my own life.
These books tell the same core story again and again and again in a thousand different ways: two people becoming their true selves while finding each other.
Books to binge read: romance novel series edition.
Let’s take a break from life and read some romance! I’ve personally read all 77 of these romance series and I recommend them all.
To be very clear: these books contain sex. If you aren’t okay with that, don’t read them.
- Love By Numbers By Sarah MacLean. The first book in this historical romance series encapsulates everything I love about this genre: a lady who has always followed the rules decides to make a list of the things she’d do if she dared…and she does them. It’s the beginning of a series I adore, which leads into to all of the other series in Sarah MacLean’s world.
- Rules of Scoundrels by Sarah MacLean. Old timey rogues, an elite gambling hell, secrets, desire, drama, and romance. Perfection.
- Scandal & Scoundrel by Sarah MacLean. This historical romance series follows a notorious newly noble family whose four sisters can’t stay out of the scandal sheets.
- The Bareknuckle Bastards by Sarah MacLean. MacLean’s darkest series yet, focusing on brothers who have become crime lords in Regency era London. Strong women who find the deeply hidden soft hearts of dangerous men.
- Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare. This is my favorite Tessa Dare historical romance series. Each books starts the same way: a woman unexpectedly inherits a castle. Adventure and romance follow. Sweet and meaningful and occasionally delightfully absurd. I…may have to reread these books later today now that I’ve thought about them.
- Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare. Perhaps Tessa Dare’s most legendary historical romance series, Spindle Cove follows the lives of a number of women who spend their summers in “Spinster Cove,” an isolated seaside town where misfit young ladies find friendship. Intersects with Castles Ever After in the later books.
- Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare. How to describe this historical romance series? It’s all marriages that begin in unexpected ways. One is a stranger arrangement, one is a governess + employer, etc. The Governess one is my favorite. The children are hilarious.
- The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy by Tessa Dare. One of Dare’s earlier historical romance series. I didn’t love these as much as her other books but I can’t remember why? Even a subpar Tessa Dare book is worth a read, though.
- Reluctant Royals by Alyssa Cole. I love this contemporary romance series. It starts with a shady “Nigerian Prince scam” style email that turns out to be from a real prince. Romance ensures.
- Runaway Royals by Alyssa Cole. A new contemporary romance series from Alyssa Cole!! I’m cheating including this here because I haven’t read it yet, but it IS on my Kindle waiting for me and I know it will be great.
- The Loyal League by Alyssa Cole. These books follow a series of brave Black women working for the Union’s interests during the American Civil War…and finding love along the way. Intrigue, espionage, and romance. Historical.
- Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James. Classic historical romance at its finest. This series follows a group of duchesses who are all friends with each other as one by one they undergo romantic epiphanies. By the end of the series you know each character intimately and will be very attached to all of them. AND THEN….
- Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers by Eloisa James. This series is about the romantic lives of the now adult children of the Dukes and Duchesses from the previous series. It sounds weird, I know, but you’ll be so invested in these people by this point that each book will hit you right in the heart. They’re smart and fierce and utterly absorbing. I love them so much!
- Fairy Tales by Eloisa James. Each book of this historical romance series takes its inspiration from a different fairy tale: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Ugly Duckling, etc. They’re clever and creative and wonderful.
- The Wildes of Lindow Castle by Eloisa James. James’ latest series follows the romantic travails of one particular noble family. A duke, a famous explorer….and whatever comes next (this historical series is unfinished).
- Women Who Dare by Beverly Jenkins. I’ve only read Wild Rain, book two of this series, about a Black woman Rancher in Wyoming in the late 1800’s. The Wild West isn’t really my cup of tea, but the writing was so fantastic that I couldn’t help enjoying the story. Beverly Jenkins is a romance legend and one of the best known Black romance writers of all time. She’s also an author I want to be more familiar with – my library hold list is full of her books.
- The Psy/Changeling Series Nalini Singh. These books are wild. They’re true Paranormal Romance: set in an alternate future universe inhabited by three races, the Changelings, The Psy, and Humans. They’re very much SciFi, which is a genre I don’t usually like, except that each book contains a sizzling romance, in addition to fast-paced, utterly absorbing plot. I’ve read this entire 15 book series twice and I know I’ll read it again.
- The Psy/Changeling Series Nalini Singh. This is a sequel series to Psy/Changeling, one that involves familiar characters from the first 15 books but has a different central conflict as overarching plot. Paranormal romance, like the first series. The bears are my favorite!
- Guild Hunter by Nalini Singh. Another paranormal romance from Nalini Singh. This one is more Fantasy than SciFi, taking place in an alternate version of our world inhabited by powerful Angels and Vampires. I just read this for the first time last month and it was utterly enthralling, although I didn’t love it quite as much as I love Psy/Changeling. I need to give a warning with this one: this series involves a number of very powerful beings who are evil and express their evil through sexual violence. These characters are never the protagonists and their acts are definitively characterized as evil, but I was occasionally uncomfortable with the amount of description of said acts. I skimmed those chapters and still enjoyed the series as a whole, but these books are decidedly not fluffy.
- The Worth Saga by Courtney Milan. Once, the Worth family was one of the most respected in England. Then the head of that family, the Earl of Chatford, was discovered to be the ringleader of a treasonous plot. Historical.
- The Brothers Sinister by Courtney Milan. The author’s website says: ‘You may be asking yourself, “Do we really need another historical series involving rakish men who form clubs with dangerous-sounding names?” Yes, yes we do.
- The Wicked Quills of London by Eva Leigh. This saucy historical series focus on lady writers in Regency London. A newspaper reporter, a playwright, a write of erotic novels…all clever, status-quo defying ladies discovering the love they deserve. Highly recommend.
- The Union of the Rakes by Eva Leigh. This historical romance series has a Breakfast Club-style origin story: a group of men becomes forever friends after serving a detention-like punishment as a group while at school as children. The series follows them as adults as they each find love. My Fake Rake is the first in the series and the best new romance I read in 2020.
- The London Underground by Eva Leigh. This historical series features characters who are connected to the darker side of London: a smuggler, a gambling house owner, etc.
- The Kiss Quotient series by Helen Hoang. A vivid, vibrant contemporary romance series that I thoroughly enjoyed. This series is notable both because it’s excellent and because it features protagonists who are on the Autism Spectrum. The author herself is on the Spectrum, so this from an #ownvoices perspective.
- Feminine Pursuits Series by Olivia Waite. This series only has two books so far, but it has generated major buzz. These lesbian historical romances are known for being clever, sharp, and gorgeously written. I’ve only read the second book, but the story of two middle-aged widows finding later-in-life love with each other while tending beehives was absolutely wonderful.
- The Wedding Date Series by Jasmine Guillory. Truly excellent contemporary romance series that follows a series of interconnected people as they all find love. This series notably includes a sexy romance for one of the early characters’ middle-aged mothers, which is very unusual and a real treat.
- The Fitzhugh Trilogy by Sherry Thomas. Mysteries and secrets and illicit arrangements gone wrong as the Fitzhugh family finds love! Historical.
- The London Trilogy by Sherry Thomas. Marriages of convivence that become something more and an estranged marriage that is rekindled! Historical.
- Playbook by Alexa Martin. I don’t follow professional football in real life, but I did very much enjoy this contemporary romance series that focuses on women who fall in love with professional football players.
- The Bedwyn Saga by Mary Balogh. The Bedwyns are a classic and the first historical romance series I ever read that takes the iconic trope of following all of the members of a family as they find love. I read this series during my honeymoon, at a beach on Turks and Caicos.
- A Summer to Remember & One Night for Love by Mary Balogh. Prequels to the Bedwyns! I actually recommend reading these first, if you can.
- The Survivor’s Club by Mary Balogh. This series intersects with the Bedwyns and focuses on a group of war veterans who find love as the world to heal their minds and bodies from the trauma of battle. This series is notable among historical romance for starring many heroes and one heroine with physical disabilities.
- Huxtable Quintet by Mary Balogh. Another Balogh series that follows a family in Regency England.
- The School for Dukes by Lenora Bell. These men are Dukes, but they all require a little bit of guidance. Thankfully, each will encounter a woman who has the wisdom he needs. Historical
- Disgraceful Dukes by Lenora Bell. Yesss. The first book in this historical romance series has a Duke who is holding a The Bachelor type house party to try to choose a bride. Intrigue ensues, including disguises!
- The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn. The Bridgertons are another utterly iconic, classic historical romance series. It follows a family as each member finds love. Expect to be VERY attached to them by the end.
- The Rokesbys by Julia Quinn. A Bridgerton prequel series! This series is new and is still in progress. You might as well read the OG Bridgertons first.
- The Smythe-Smith Quartet. Described on the author’s website as “The world’s worst amateur musicians finally take center stage.” Another well-known historical series. After you read these, you won’t be able to think of a musicale without putting “Smythe-Smith” before it.
- Modern Love by Alisha Rai. I probably shouldn’t include this contemporary romance series because I only just started the first book, but I can tell it’s going to be great. These stories all have a technological spin – the first book is a romance between rival dating app developers. This author is known for her millionaire romances, but I haven’t read any of those yet.
- The Four Hundred Series by Joanna Shupe. Unlike most of these historical romance series, this Joanna Shupe series focuses on high society in New York City in the late 1800’s. Very glamorous, but a little different than the usual London setting.
- Uptown Girls by Joanna Shupe. As the name of this series suggests, these Joanna Shupe heroines find themselves drawn to men who are from outside their own social circles. Also in historical NYC.
- Wicked Deceptions by Joanna Shupe. Historical and set mostly in Europe, these romances all start with some kind of deception.
- Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. A classic, iconic, epic historical romance series from one of the greats. This is on the more gothic side: lots of tortured longings, political espionage, and dark deeds. The beginning of this series isn’t my favorite, but The Last Hellion has one of my favorite heroines of any romance.
- Carsington family by Loretta Chase. This is Chase’s classic historical romance family series: it follows the Carsington family as each uniquely difficult sibling finds love. You get very attached to the family by the last book, which features the next generation and is my favorite of all of them.
- The Dressmakers Series by Loretta Chase. Oh how I love these books! The Dressmakers are a trio of sisters trying to become the most desirable dressmakers in London. Expect lots of scheming, clever women defying convention, and utterly delicious descriptions of 1830’s fashion. These are connected to the Carsington family books, but exist separately.
- The Fallen Women Series by Loretta Chase. This series has only two books, but the first one is one of my favorite rereads. Mystery, romance, strong women making their own paths, Venice, and tiny cherubs.
- Difficult Dukes by Loretta Chase. Loretta Chase’s latest and currently ongoing series is extremely clever and enjoyable. The books are inspired by 90’s rom coms – the first one is a runaway bride, second is called 10 Things I Hate about the Duke and it comes out next month, I believe. Delightful.
- The Mad Morelands by Candace Camp. There’s a little bit of magic in here, so I’d call this series Historical Romance with Fantasy overtones. There’s a bit of ghosts/telepathy mixed in among the elegant soirees of Regency London. Bold, convention-defying women meddling in things they’re not welcome to meddle in. I think I’ve just talked myself into rereading these books.
- The Matchmaker by Candace Camp. A Lady who has given up on romance for herself focuses on trying to help others find love. Straightforward, enjoyable historical romance.
- The Governess Series by Julia Kelly. As one might expect, this series follows a string of governesses who end up becoming more to their employers. I find the employer/employee relationship dynamic somewhat problematic at its core, but its a popular trope done well here and these are still a very fun read.
- The Secret Life of Scoundrels by Anna Harrington. The Scarlet Scoundrels of Wellington’s Dragoons…a new duke, a rake of the first order, and a spy set on hiding his past have forged a brotherhood while under fire of Napoleon’s finest that they never thought would be called upon after they laid down their sabers. However, these three scoundrels of the ton will need each other in order to navigate the perils of returning home and finding love in the most unexpected places.
- 12 Dukes of Christmas by Erica Ridley. This series is sweet, quick, and delicious; like a seasonal treat. It follows the romantic adventures of a tiny, charming village known as “Christmas.” These books are one of my favorite of the niche genre of Christmas season romances. I’ve been reading them on and off for years and they’re always fun to return to.
- Sins for all Seasons by Lorraine Heath. This historical series is a little bit on the darker side. It starts with the bastard son of a Duke who, after being raised in the London underworld, seeks revenge on his legitimate brother. The series continues with a series of couples who have one foot in the underworld and another in high society.
- The Scoundrels of St. James by Lorraine Heath. This series has a similar vibe to Heath’s series above: it’s all about the intersection of the nobility with London’s dark underworld and the unusual people who have one foot in each world. Historical.
- The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James by Lorraine Heath. The children of the Scoundrels of St. James! It’s always interesting to see a two-generation series. It sounds like it should be creepy, but it’s fun to get so attached to the families.
- Hellions of Havisham by Lorraine Heath. Raised by a madman, these noble boys became London’s darlings, forgiven for any transgressions because of their tragic pasts. I particularly enjoy book 2, which involves a pair of twins who love the same woman. It sounds like it will be creepy but it’s excellent. This series is also connected to the St. James books! Lorraine Heath’s website has a handy guide to these three series.
- The Hathaways by Lisa Kleypas. A historical romance series that follows the members of a previously impoverished family as their social status changes and they begin to find love.
- The Wallflowers by Lisa Kleypas. Four young ladies enter London society with one necessary goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So they band together, and a daring husband-hunting scheme is born. Maybe my favorite Kleypas? Historical.
- The Ravenels by Lisa Kleypas. The Ravenel family finds love! Highlights include the sister who marries the owner of a fabulous department store and the sister who dreams of inventing a board game. Historical.
- Season for Scandal by Kelly Bowen. Historical. You know you love a story with a scandal at its heart!
- The Duke’s Sons by Jane Ashford. This is another take on the classic historical romance family series, as we follow a noble family’s sons as each one finds love. Includes a fantastic house party scenario, anther device that I enjoy, and gently feisty heroines. Cheerful and heartwarming.
- Dear Lady Truelove by Laura Lee Guhrke. This historical romance follows the women behind a newspaper’s write-in advice column as the advice they give to strangers creeps into their own lives.
- An American Heiress in London by Laura Lee Guhrke. These American “Dollar Princesses” came to London and met some interesting men. Historical.
- The Worthingtons by Ella Quinn. A family historical romance that follow the Worthingtons and the large family they form after a woman with guardianship of her siblings marries an Earl in book one.
- The Cabot Sisters by Julia London. Passion and scandal collide in Julia London’s series about four sisters determined to rescue themselves from ruin! Historical.
- Lively St. Lemeston by Rose Lerner. This series centers around the small town of St. Lemeston. This is the only historical romance I’ve ever read with a Jewish hero. Bonus: Rose Lerner loves jewelry! She found DitL through Pinterest many years ago and we discussed our mutual appreciation of books and vintage jewels.
- Sinful Suitors by Sabrina Jeffries. This is what I think of as a “ring of Rakes” series. It follows a little group of noblemen who are all friends with each other and pledge to help keep each others’ sisters safe from Rakes…but it goes awry. Historical.
- The Duke’s Men by Sabrina Jeffries. This historical romance series follows an number of characters who fall in love while also involved in espionage of various kinds.
- Playful Brides by Valerie Bowman. This series is so much fun: very light and playful, with lots of clever dialogue and comic situations, including a reverse Cyrnao situation and a very strong plot allusion to The Importance of Being Earnest.
- The Lost Lords by Mary Jo Putney. This historical romance series follows a group of noblemen who are bonded for life after growing up together in a boarding school for boys of “good birth and bad behavior.” As adults, they maintain their friendships as each one finds love with a remarkable woman.
- The Bachelor Chronicles by Elizabeth Boyle. Delightful historical romance series with some moderate sprinklings of drama and deception.
- Rhymes with Love by Elizabeth Boyle. Every books in this series is based on the plot of a classic nursery rhymes – which sounds strange, but it’s actually a lot of fun.
- The Danvers Series by by Elizabeth Boyle. A family series centered around the Danvers brothers, with a little bit of espionage and intrigue. Elizabeth Boyle excels at classic, enjoyable Regency era historical romance.
- The Windham Series by Grace Burrows. The Windhams are the unifying point of many of Grace Burrows’ historical romances. Eight siblings going forth into the world and finding love.
- The Windham Brides by Grace Burrows. This series focuses on four of the Windham ladies as they find love. Connected to the series above.
- Lonely Lords by Grace Burrows. This historical romance series focuses on the romantic travails of side characters from the Windham universe. There are 13 Lonely Lords! Grace Burrows is magnificently prolific.
What romance novels are you reading? Tell me about your faves that I missed!
This list does have certain flaws. It’s whiter than I would like it to be. I am now actively working to seek out more books by diverse authors in my reading, but for many years that wasn’t something I was paying attention to and it shows.
To find more romance novels by BIPOC authors, I recommend you check out the entire Women of Color in Romance website and also the entire Diverse Romance archives at Book Riot and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.
This list is also very heterosexual. If you’re looking for more LGBTQA+ romance, I recommend The Best Classic LGBTQ+ Novels from The Advocate, 50 Must-Read Queer Romance Novellas from Book Riot, All About Romance’s LGBTQ+ Archive, and The Lesbrary’s entire archive.
I tried to use Indiebound for these links, because those purchases will support independent bookstore, but Indiebound kept crashing, so some of these are Amazon links. They are also all affiliate links, so if you click through this post I’ll get a few pennies to put towards my own book buying.
If you’re buying hard copies of romance novels to binge read, please consider ordering through an independent bookstore to help support small businesses in this difficult economic time! Legendary Romance bookstore The Ripped Bodice is even offering custom care packages. If you live in the DC area, here’s a list of local bookstores offering curbside pickup and other accommodations.
Book photos via Unsplash. This post contains affiliate links.