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Five Swoonworthy Historical Romances to Read When You’re in a Slump

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou are more lovely and more temperate.” We’ve heard it all before- the thee’s and thy’s that make our eyes cross, the fanciful language we spent hours on only to reread the same sentence over and over again. Let’s be honest: Books set in the past aren’t that easy to understand. They’re drawn out, boring, discouraging, and often put people into reading slumps. Steel thyselves mates for here is a list of historical romances that is guaranteed to make you declare that you “ne’er saw true beauty” until you read these swoon worthy novels. While these novels aren’t classics and were all written in the past decade, I believe it will reinstall faith in those who find books about the past to be intimidating and that, hopefully, they get lost in these historical books, written with modern twists.

Lovely war

Calling all Greek mythology enthusiasts! Here is a whimsical tale told by the goddess of love herself. Lovely War, narrated by Aphrodite, tells the story of two young couples, Hazel and James, and Aubrey and Collette, set against the background of World War I. Hazel and James meet at a dance in London shortly before he is shipped off to the trenches in France. They fall in love fast, as young people are wont to do, and write each other letters across the hundreds of miles expanse between them. Meanwhile, Aubrey, a solider a part of the African American 15th New York Infantry, finds himself being sent to Europe to fight in the Great War. While serving overseas, he meets Collette, a nurse working in the camp he’s at. The two are attracted to one another but are hesitant, given the societal expectations of the time and the harsh truths of being an interracial couple in 1917. Interspersed between the tales of these four young lovers are scenes involving Aphrodite and various Greek gods as they sit in a hotel room discussing the fates of these couples. If you look closely, you can see the undertones of a third romance that comes to fruition in the last pages of the novel. Will Hazel and James reunite? Will Aubrey and Collette admit their feelings for one another? What is this third romance being hinted at throughout the entirety of the book? Read Lovely War to find out!

The Queer Principles of kitt webb

Want to travel back further in time? Look no further than The Queer Principles of Kitt Webb! This novel tells the story of ex-highwayman, none other than Kitt Webb, who after retiring from his life of crime, runs a respectable coffee shop. He is pulled back into his past when Edward Percy shows up at his door, asking Kitt to assist him in a highway robbery against Percy’s own father. Kitt, rather than do the job for him, decides to teach Percy the ways of thievery so that he can be the one to hold up his father’s carriage. As the two begin their lessons, they grow closer, beginning a romance that, if found out, could send them to the Marshalsea. However, as the date of the crime grows nearer, Kitt and Percy are forced to think about their futures and what it means for the two of them. Not looking for too much angst? Never fear for acclaimed author Cat Sebastian promises happily ever afters in every read. Pick up The Queer Principles of Kitt Webb to begin a romp through 1750s England!

Patience and esther

For those who are hesitant to pick up a 500-page novel, here is an alternative form: a graphic novel! Patience and Esther is an Edwardian sapphic story of two women named, you guessed it, Patience and Esther. Patience, a girl from the country, begins a formal service job at a manor, where she is given the position of a parlor maid. There, she meets the lady’s maid, her roommate, an Indian woman named Esther. The two form a friendship as kind Esther helps teach Patience the dos and don’ts of working for an upper-class family. As time progresses, so do the girls’ feelings for each other and Patience and Esther begin a sweet but hidden romance at the dawn of the 20th century. This book follows the trend of telling the stories of historically oppressed groups, showing how these people have survived and thrived in any time period and that it isn’t impossible for them to have happy endings. Patience and Esther has POC, queer, and plus-sized rep. You don’t want to miss out on this delightful read!

The Invisible life of Addie LaRue

Hold onto your seats as we travel through time with next read! Written by the exceptional V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue tells the story of the girl of which the title is named after. It begins in 1714 France, where Addie, a 23-year-old girl longing for a life outside of her small village meets Luc, a devil-like character with whom she makes a bargain: She will live forever but no one will remember her existence. Addie spends the next 300 years witnessing important moments in history, learning how to leave traces of herself behind in the art and people she meets. Then, one day, in a New York City bookshop in 2014, she meets Henry, a boy with storms of his own. Addie’s world comes crumbling around her as he remembers her, an occurrence that hasn’t happened in centuries. She forms a relationship with Henry and the two learn more about the others’ conflicts as they begin to bond. However, Addie’s curse and Henry’s own struggles will prove to fight against their romance as the novel continues. Read the magical tale of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue to see how one woman makes an impact on a world that seems determined to forget her and the boy who changes hers.

The gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue

Zounds, this book is probably my favorite on the list! I’ve truly never read anything like it, and I doubt you will have either. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue tells the story of 18-year-old Henry “Monty” Montague as he and his best friend, Percy Newton, embark on their Grand Tour, a coming-of-age trip for English young men in the 18th century. Monty, who’s a bit of a rake, is planning to make the most of this year with loads of spirits, sex, and scandal, before he must return home to his abusive father and learn how to manage his family’s estate. It’s also his last year to spend time with Percy, who he’s hopelessly in love with, before he goes to law school in Holland. But after Monty decides to steal a precious possession of an important Frenchmen, their trip gets highjacked and the two, along with Monty’s 15-year-old sister, Felicity, are set on a quest across Europe to find answers to something previously only thought of in myths. Forced into close proximity with Percy, Monty has to reckon with his feelings and what that means for the two of them after this year is over, especially now that it seems his mooning over Percy may not be completely unrequited. To find out what happens to Monty and Percy, as well their quest, pick up a copy of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue today!

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Olivia Womack

Alabama '25

Olivia is a freshman at the University of Alabama double majoring in English and History. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, and traveling in her free time. She is new to Her Campus but is excited to be here!
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