In a romance novel, a heroine's gotta do what a heroine's gotta do — no matter who's trying to stop her. And in romance, the love interest (be they hero or heroine) will always be her champion, defender and helpmeet. These three delectable new historical romance novels show that love is more than sex and sparks (though there is plenty of that), it's also about finding the one who will stand up beside you, no matter what troubles may buzz your way.
Who's That Earl by Susanna Craig is a second-chance-at-love story set in the Scottish highlands. Thomas Sutherland is a soldier stationed in the West Indies when he learns he's inherited an earldom. Back to the castle he goes, if only to deal with his tenant, whose lease will expire very soon. He's shocked to find a woman alone — Mrs. Higgenbotham, she calls herself. Or as he knew her once, Jane.
Since they parted, Jane has become a massively popular — and wealthy — gothic novelist. She is living her best life, writing novels while living in a castle with her two dogs for company (#Goals). There are a lot of secrets to reveal between Jane and Thomas (and fortunately they do so without resorting to any Big Misunderstandings) before they can get to the heart of the matter: Their young romance ended abruptly, and things between them aren't finished. Neither Jane or Thomas waste their second chance, especially when Jane starts receiving increasingly threatening letters. Thomas, as befitting heroes everywhere, is ready to protect her. He's also ready to use his position as earl to support her and her work. Now that's happy ever after — complete with castle.
A Rogue of One's Own by Evie Dunmore pairs Lady Lucie Tedbury, spinster suffragette, with a notorious rogue who seriously complicates her plans to enfranchise the women of England. With the backing of a consortium of Lady Investors, Lucie has embarked on an ambitious plan to acquire an ownership stake in a publishing house to spread messages of empowerment. The only problem: At the last moment, some rogue swept in and bought the other 51% of shares.
That rogue is Tristan, Lord Ballentine, heir to an earldom, recent recipient of the Victoria Cross medal for military bravery, secret poet, and longtime nemesis of Lady Lucie. She cannot allow him to jeopardize her work — and he yet must succeed in business rather than succumb to his father's hideous ultimatum (marry a woman of my choosing OR ELSE), so they must find a way to work together. Naturally, sparks fly, passion ensues and "just one night" turns into many. But how can a leader of the suffrage cause submit to matrimony? The novel itself is rich with subplot, historical detail and beautifully descriptive writing that keeps the pages turning until the delightfully unconventional happy ending.
In Olivia Waite's historical, The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, the widowed owner of a London print shop, Agatha Griffin, finds more than she bargained for in her warehouse in a small town outside of the city — a swarm of bees, and a very enticing beekeeper. Penelope Flood is more than happy to come to the rescue of both the hive and the widow.
First friendship, then attraction blossoms between the two women as they wear pants and tend to beehives, drink pints, listen to a scandalous lady balladeer at the local pub and slowly but surely discover each other's worlds — and each other.
There are, of course, plenty of complications: Penelope's husband, who returns from a journey at sea, an active local auxiliary branch of an anti-vice society that threatens their livelihoods and causes ripples of trouble throughout the town, plus Agatha and Penelope's own slow understanding that their passions are in sync and they do have a chance at happiness together. This is a gorgeously written novel with beautiful worldbuilding and vividly composed characters that leaves the reader with a feeling that a happy ever after is possible at any age, in any age.
Maya Rodale is a best-selling romance author. Her new book is Some Like It Scandalous.