LGBTQ+ Historical Romances

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LGBTQ+ Historical Romances

There are so many amazing stories of queer love that take place in the past, so here are a few fantastic ones that will absolutely blow you away. 

A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall
Viola left her life, title and wealth behind when she “died” at Waterloo, taking the opportunity to become herself for the first time, and live as a woman. Viola lives with her strange but beloved family, and though they accept her, she has lost one of the most important people in her life: her best friend, the Duke of Gracewood. They were childhood friends, and while Gracewood survived the war, he isn’t thriving. When Viola’s sister-in-law hears worrying news about Gracewood, they set out to visit his estate to take stock. Viola longs for his friendship, but fears Gracewood’s rejection, or worse, his hatred for allowing him to think her dead. However, different feelings begin to crop up between them, feelings neither would have acknowledged before. These feelings are complicated by Gracewood’s deep grief, and his struggle with addiction following his injuries from the war.

Viola is a sweet heroine who is on her own journey towards self-love and claiming her womanhood. She knows what she has given up by living as her true self, but she fears she can never have marriage and family in the same way as her cisgender peers. Gracewood is a flawed and vulnerable man, who feels emotions very deeply. He also struggles with having a relationship with his sister, who needs him as her brother and guardian. Gracewood has a lot of internal conflicts he needs to work through, but he also knows that if Viola will take a chance on him, they could be happy. Viola is understandably cautious, and both need to lean on each other to undertake a future together. I love the complexities and nuance of this story, both main characters are flawed and hurt, but have reserves of strength and backbones of steel. The secondary characters are vibrant and interesting, and they bring a lot to a story that already is so compelling. I highly recommend it. 

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Lucy Muchelney is having a terrible time at the wedding of a former flame when she finds something to divert her attention- a challenging translation of a French astronomy text. The last thing she’s expecting is to find a woman who both fascinates and distracts her in equal measure. Catherine St Day is just trying to tie up the loose ends of her departed husband’s estate, but when the beguiling Lucy turns up, she finds her head turned.

This romance focuses a lot on building trust between the two leads, given the times they live in and their previous relationships. The characters are well-formed and strongly written, and the misunderstandings between them are genuine rather than tropey. The troubles faced by the women of the regency time period are not glossed over, but they cannot prevent the happiness of the characters and their destined ending. 

Band Sinister by KJ Charles

Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda live in the county, in fairly genteel poverty. They are reluctantly supported by their aristocratic aunt, a lady who only requires them to rusticate and not draw attention to themselves. Family scandals have doomed both Frisbys to a life of isolation, until the unthinkable happens: Amanda seriously injures herself while trespassing on the land of their neighbor, the notorious Sir Philip Rookwood. With Amanda’s life in jeopardy, Guy is forced to accept Sir Philip’s hospitality, despite the presence of Philip’s scandalous friends. 

This story is marvelous and heartwarming. Guy is so sweet and vulnerable, and ultimately his journey is about learning to stand up for himself, and not just to protect his sister. Guy has such a capacity for love, and that’s one of his true strengths as a character. I also love the found family elements in Philip’s group of friends. There is a lot of rumination on the nature of relationships, and not just the usual obstacles couples might face. There are certainly practical concerns, but both Guy and Philip have to interrogate how they can fit into each other's lives. There is reputation, and the constraints of society to consider, as well as the people they bear responsibility for. The secondary characters in this story are all amazing, and the secondary romance subplot is very sweet and fits well with the narrative.    

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley

Thomasina Wynchester can disguise herself with great aplomb, but she’s less adept with the ladies. When the perfect society miss she has a tendre for turns out to be her client, the adventure that follows could put Tommy’s heart at risk. Miss Philippa York, however, has determined that she doesn’t have a heart, so why does the company of her disguised companion make it flutter? The two protagonists go on a thrilling adventure to uncover a long-buried secret, while Tommy tries to clumsily flirt. Philippa’s family insists that she marry to increase their societal standing, but she definitely has no interest in men. Tommy longs to be loved for who she is, and not who she pretends to be, but when the disguises are removed and the chase is over, can our heroines find their happily ever after? 

This novel is smart, and brings a lot of humor to the table. The slow burn adds tension to the relationship between the leading ladies, which is strengthened by the friendship they develop early in the story. This one also has strong themes about social standing, being true to oneself, and the difficulties faced by young women in this time period.  

Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian

Robert Selby desperately needs to see his sister make a good match, despite their family’s lack of connections. Aside from that problem, Robert Selby is actually a disguised former housemaid, Charity Church. “Robert” needs to draw on any favors he might be able to beg to find a good husband for his sister, so he calls on Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke. Alistair has enough on his plate, but finds himself strangely drawn to the charming Robert. When the masquerade is ended, they must discover if their mutual attraction can become anything more. 

One of the best things about this story is that some mystery remains until the resolution and I think that really keeps the tension. The character work is amazing, all of the characters have really strong motivations and personalities. The story also has great pacing, it keeps moving but gives space for the moments to breathe. This book also tackles gender identity, a topic which is often neglected even in books with cross-dressing characters.