Many thanks to all who responded to my last post on a blogging deep dive on some favorite romance series. I had so much fun with that post and the feedback, that my first thought was, “why stop there?” So, I won’t. My first and fiercest love in historical romance (or any fiction) is the standalone. One story, one book, that’s all she/he/they wrote. There’s something special about closing the cover on a book that doesn’t have companion volumes, and letting my own mind fill in the happily ever after, waving our lovers off into the sunset and on with the rest of their lives. Once upon a time, that was the norm. Right now, series drive the market. What will come next? Who knows? What doesn’t change, however, is the power of a great story, . If it’s full and complete in itself, well, for me, all the better, so I want to take you on a tour of some of my very favorites. Since standalone books are naturally shorter than entire series, I am sharing five examples instead of only three, for your consideration. Once again, in no particular order:
Nobody, but nobody swashes the buckle like Marsha Canham, and I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw this cover in person, and knew I had to have this book. I will always look at a pirate story, and if it’s a female pirate, that book Is on my shelf of its own free will. Add in a Barbary Coast (North Africa) setting, the US Navy (set in 1806) and the big, thick doorstopper size I prefer for books of this nature, this is an adventure for the ages. Canham has other seafaring stories (among others) both series and standalones, but for this particular project, this gets the nod.
Far and away my favorite Henley standalone (though there are a couple I still need to read, so favorite standalone presumptive?) Straddling the line between historical romance and historical fiction, the heroine, Bess, is based on the historical figure, Elizabeth Hardwick. No, she’s not the “Elizabeth” in the Elizabethan era, in which this is set (Elizabeth Tudor, AKA HRH Elizabeth I, is) but man oh man does she have a life. Or should that be men, oh men, because Bess doesn’t marry just once but four times. But is it still a romance? There have been discussions, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves…or read along with me and let’s talk it out.
Can’t get enough of Tudor-era romance? I know I can’t (remember when that used to be a thing? Who wants to help bring that back?) Love shipwreck stories? How about love on a deserted island? No, not Gilligan’s. This is the tale of Lily Christian, who grew up on such an island after a shipwreck stranded her small family, and Valentine Whitelaw (one of my favorite romance hero names ever) the courtier tasked with bringing her home. Lily is smart, strong, resilient and resourceful, Valentine is a man of his time, and there is intrigue aplenty, unmaskign the true reason behind the accident that changed Lily’s life forever. This also has one of my top three romance endings ever.
Those with small children may want to occupy the kiddos in another room for this one because hecking fluff, doe James ever go there. Where exactly is “there?” Oh sweet summer child. Let me tell you about this book. Gabriel St. Croix is the last person who would consider himself a hero. He has lived and worked (yep, doing exactly what you think, his clients not restricted to one gender) most of his life in a brothel. He’s thisclose to finally being free of that living hell, when a young boy arrives to become his replacement, and, well, Gabriel can’t let that happen. If he stays on, will the boy remain untouched? Yes. Okay, then. That’s not all, though. His reason for staying is about to be ripped away from him, as Sarah Munroe, the boy’s sister, has finally found him, and will be taking him home. Not only that, but Gabriel can come, too. Culture shock? To say the least. Sarah is unconventional herself, and when these two wounded souls meet, the click together to form an incredible romance. Yes, there is an HEA.
Laura cannot imagine ever not loving Alex, not from since she was a little girl, and certainly not after he returns home from the war so scarred that he shuts himself away and wears a leather mask to shield himself and his scars, both physical and mental/emotional, from the rest of the world. But Laura isn’t the rest of the world. She is a take charge heroine who is not going to let a little thing like that stop her from rescuing Alex from himself. If that means putting aside her identity as a daughter of the nobility to sign on as the new housekeeper so she can get close to him, well that’s what she’s going to do. Her job isn’t easy, either, and this is an extremely emotional read…which is one of the reasons it’s on this list. I am sorry to say that the author, Karen Ranney, passed away recently, so a reread of this feels both timely and bittersweet.
So there you have it, five standout standalone historical romance novels that I would love to deep dive into with all of you. Which one catches your fancy? Drop suggestions in the comments, or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come join the Lion and Thistle group on Facebook, and tell me your favorites.