Gay Historical Romance

by Lindsey A.

Historical romance is one of my favorite genres to read but let’s face it – it’s not very diverse. Fortunately, though traditional publishing still has a long way to go, it’s starting to acknowledge that many readers want to see more representation (of all kinds) in their romance.

One of the biggest booms in romance publishing is in the LGBTQ genre. I devour these books! While it’s harder to find lesbian historical romance, the gay historical romance sub-genre flourishes. Please note that sometimes these books are labeled as M/M (male/male) romance rather than gay romance.

Readers may find it difficult to reconcile the treatment of LGBTQ people in history with the “happily ever after” typically found in romance. Some authors keep it realistic by having their characters show discretion. Dreamspinner Press, a popular publisher of LGBTQ romance, has a line of historical romances called Timeless Dreams. These stories “celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.” To me, it’s no different than suspending my disbelief over the many inter-class relationships in traditional historical romance. It may be anachronistic but it makes for a cozier reading experience. As author KJ Charles said, “We don’t read historical romance for historical misery.”

There are many stand-alone historical romances to discover, but here are a couple of my favorite series!

Cat Sebastian’s Regency series

These books are a hoot! They’re not intended as pure romantic comedy, but Sebastian’s dialogue is quick, witty and laced with innuendo. All of the stories deal with class differences and other contrasts, and the characters make great foils to one another. In The Soldier’s Scoundrel, Oliver, a high-born veteran seeks the services of Jack, a scoundrel from the slums who works as a “fixer.” The Lawrence Browne Affair follows Jack’s charming con-man brother, Georgie, who takes a position as secretary to Lawrence, a reclusive “mad” aristocrat with an interest in science. In The Ruin of a Rake, stuffy gentleman Julian is tasked by his sister with dragging Lord Courtenay – known rake – around London in an effort to approve his reputation. Sebastian is currently working on a new novel about a bossy sea captain and a free-spirited vicar, which is right up my alley!

KJ Charles’ Sins of the Cities series

Welcome to the darker side of Victorian London. In the spirit of the penny dreadfuls of that era, these books are filled with intrigue, murder, scandal, and of course, romance. In An Unseen Attraction, socially awkward Clem runs a lodging house and finds his quiet life upturned when he falls for one of his taxidermist tenant, Rowley. In An Unnatural Vice, journalist Nathaniel leads a crusade against the spiritualist fad, targeting Justin, a handsome swindler who calls himself the Seer of London. An Unsuitable Heir won’t be out until Oct. 3 of this year, but it stars a private detective and a trapeze artist. If you simply can’t wait, why not try another KJ Charles book, maybe one from her Society of Gentlemen series or her Charm of Magpies series? I haven’t read it myself yet, but a colleague recommended Think of England, a stand-alone novel.

I couldn’t stop there, so I created a list of some of my favorite historical romances you can find at the library!

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9 responses to “Gay Historical Romance”

  1. Denise says:

    Thank you, Lindsey! What a fun post– hope we get a lesbian list sometime, too!

  2. Thank you for this post/list! I’m in the middle of a romance novel binge and I needed more suggestions. I hadn’t heard of most of these authors and based on the premise I’ve already requested The Actor and the Earl! And if you’re taking suggestions, I’d love to find more f/f historical romances!

  3. JenniferK says:

    K.J. Charles is my favorite. I love the Charm of Magpies series.

  4. KP says:

    I’m a huge fan of these titles! I reminds me of my all time favorite historical fantasy M/M romance, the Captive Prince series by C.S. Pacat. I couldn’t put it down and was looking for something more historical along those lines. Nice work. Can’t wait to find some F/F historical romance

  5. TR says:

    Thanks for this list. I thought I’d read everything that was out there and this gives me some new titles! I really enjoyed the Cat Sebastian books, but hadn’t heard of KJ Charles.

  6. Lindsey says:

    I’m so happy with all the positive response to this post! You’re all in for a treat with these books.

    KP, I loved Captive Prince! I haven’t read the three short stories she released after the trilogy but they’re sitting in my Amazon wishlist waiting for me to spend the measly $3 or whatever it costs. x)

    I’ll definitely consider a F/F historical romance list for the future. We just need to add more in our collection! I’ll get to work on that ASAP.

  7. Alez says:

    As a prolific reader of both mainstream historical romances and yaoi, I think I just found my new favorite sub-genre. Thank you so much for this list!

  8. Emily says:

    For w/w I’d also rec Pembroke Park by Michelle Martin (Regency!) and A Pirate’s Heart by Catherine Friend (Pirates!)

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