30+ Bridgerton Readalikes to Steam Up All Your Nights

By Anne Rouyer, Supervising Young Adult Librarian
January 4, 2021
Mulberry Street Library

If you’ve watched the Bridgerton series on Netflix and then gone to the NYPL catalog to look for all the other books in the series by Julia Quinn, you may have noticed something—HOLDS. Like, a lot of them. Do not be discouraged! Fellow romance reader Kate Fais (and YA Librarian) and I have got you covered. Go ahead and put your name on the lists for all the Bridgerton books you want but, in the meantime, Kate and I have put together a list of books you can enjoy and indulge in while you wait.

Our list includes books set in Regency- and Victorian-era England plus, for good measure, Gilded Age New York. We have more sexy, brooding dukes then you will know what to do with (or will you...?), plus a lot of rakes and rogues too—all of whom will ultimately fulfill your every need first, listen to you and validate you (while shirtless!).

If you are just dipping back into the historical romance genre or are exploring the genre for the first time, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. The romance genre is officially defined as having a romantic relationship at the center of the plot and a happy/optimistic HEA (happily ever after) at the end. And, while they are set in a historical time period they're not exactly “historical fiction” and the endings are rarely—if ever—in question. The journey is the who, what, where and why of the story.

  2. The genre reflects the society of the time it is written. So remember this when reading a romance novel written in the '90s, the early '00s and the mid-20th century (there are two!). The romance, tropes and character archetypes are timeless. Some of the plot lines and dialogue—not so much. But we still love them!

  3. Romance is personal. What brings joy to one reader or escape for another is not always the same. Kate and I have gathered our favorites, full of our favorite romantic tropes and archetypes but that doesn’t mean they will be to everyone’s taste nor will the love scene descriptions and heat levels be.... (ahem). If a romance isn’t fun for you (because reading romance should be fun!)—move on - there are plenty to choose from on this list.

  4. Just because a book is part of a series does not mean it has to be read in order. Unless it's suggested, you can mix and match and read out of order to your heart's content. In romance there's very little fear of spoilers because we know how they end!

This list is full of old and new favorite romance books and series and iconic romance authors whose every book Kate and I love. And, because I am indecisive, there are a lot of them. Most are available as e-books (through SimplyE and/or OverDrive), but you’ll also find e-audio books and of course, hard copies that you can check-out from our grab-and-go library locations.

Jo Beverley (author)

There was a time in my life when I stopped reading historical romance (what was I thinking??) but it is Jo Beverley that brought back my love of the genre. Her Company of Rogues Regency-set series, about a group of friends who bonded while fighting off bullies in boarding school, is full of complicated romances, dastardly villains, strong-willed heroines that can rescue themselves and rakes with hearts of gold. Best of all, they always have to Scooby Gang it to solve a mystery, win the girl and to vanquish both villains and posh society snobs. In An Unwilling Bride, a son of a duke (or so he thinks!) discovers that he is the illegitimate product of an affair by his mother and he must find and marry the heretofore unknown daughter of his father's affair to save the family line—it will take all of the Rogues to help these opposites fall in love and get hitched. I love this series so much I wrote a previous blog post about it. The author also has the Georgian-set Malloren series about a sprawling, complicated aristocratic family and their many adjacent branches (that includes pirates and other untrustworthy rogues)—all ruled over by the Marquess of Rothgar. Favorite Rogue titles include An Arranged MarriageForbidden and The Devil’s Heiress. (an all time favorite). Favorite Malloren titles are DevilishWinter Fire and The Secret Wedding.

Sarah MacLean (author)

Sarah MacLean burst onto the scene about ten years ago with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love by  Numbers #1) with a voluptuous wallflower who’s ready to grab life by the horns and asks the most notorious rake she knows to be her teacher and partner and much to the surprise of both of them, he accepts. Since then she’s gone on to write many wonderful, award winning books and series including Rules of Scoundrels (starts with A Rogue by Any Other Name) about a group of rebel aristocrats who are princes of the London underworld and the Scandal & Scoundrel  series ( starts with A Rogue not Taken) gives a TMZ spin to historical romance. In the just wrapped Bareknuckle Bastardsseries, a duke’s abandoned bastards find success and riches on the streets of London. In the last book of the series, Daring and the Duke, the Duke’s chosen, bastard heir Ewan goes in search of the woman he betrayed long ago but can’t forget. Maclean is a new queen of the genre and any one of her books will bring joy. She also has a can’t miss romancelandia podcast, Fated Mates.

Cat Sebastian (author)

Lest you think Regency romance is just the straights, enter Cat Sebastian to make sure the LGBTQIA community is not forgotten. In It Takes Two to Tumble (Seducing the Sedgewicks #1) Ben, a country vicar living a quiet life free of temptation, agrees to be the guardian of three hellion children until their sea captain father returns home but when he does, Ben is tempted in more ways than one. In The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner series #3), unrepentant rake and libertine Lord Courtenay must rehabilitate his reputation and asks the most well behaved man of the ton to help do it. Romantic, fun and oh, so angsty, Sebastian manages to find new twists to all your favorite tried and true romantic tropes. Another series, Regency Imposters, features non-binary and trans characters; start with Unmasked by the Marquess.

Lisa Kleypas (author)

Beloved author Kleypas has many Victorian-era series including family sagas The Ravenels and The Hathaways but interestingly not many feature Dukes or Lords but men who’re self-made tycoons, gypsies, owners of gambling dens and bow street runners. My favorite series might be The Wallflowers, about a group of socially awkward friends (including two Americans) who make a pact to help each other find husbands. In my fave title, The Devil in Winter, to escape her unscrupulous relatives, shyest wallflower Evangeline proposes to society’s most notorious and dangerous rake, Sebastian St. Vincent and much to both their surprise—he accepts. Many of Kleypas’s stories all take place in the same universe and her characters often make cameos in other books and side characters get their own series. Stand out titles include Dreaming of YouIt Happened One AutumnMine Til Midnight and Love in the Afternoon.

Mary Balogh (author)

Another beloved, prolific author who has many series to her name including many family sagas: The WestcottsThe Huxtables and The Bedwyns and found family, The Survivors Club about five men and one woman who carry the physical and emotional scars of the Napoleonic Wars. There’s plenty of seduction, emotionally broken rogues, daring widows, shocking scandals and strong-willed ingenues. But it’s two of her stand alones that I really love. In A Matter of Class a forced arranged marriage between the rich but untitled Reginald and the scandal-prone Lady Annabelle brings with it dark secrets, deception and a thoroughly satisfying ending. A Christmas Promiseone of my all time favorites—starts with another class crossing arranged marriage between a resentful Lord and a daughter of a merchant but it's all the branches of the new family enjoying a snowy, country house holiday that brings all the joy you’d want all year round. Other stand out titles include, At Last Comes LoveThe Proposal and Only a Kiss. 

Tessa Dare (author)

Another favorite author to read is Tessa Dare. She has several series all set in the Regency period, and one series in particular is my favorite: Spindle CoveSpindle Cove is a place I would love to visit—full of women who are not afraid to speak their minds and follow their passions. Start with A Night to Surrender. If A Night to Surrender isn’t available, dive into any of Tessa’s other series Girls Meets DukeCastles Ever After.You will be utterly enchanted. Favorites include The Duchess Deal The Governess Game and Romancing the Duke. —Kate Fais

Joanna Shupe (author)

How about a trip to 1880s New York? Shupe has made a name for herself by setting many of her series  (Knickerbocker Club, The Four Hundred and Uptown Girls) during the Gilded Age and filling them with tycoons, self-made men and spunky women determined to make their own way in the world. In Magnate (Knickerbocker Club #1) Elizabeth Sloane goes to ruthless steel magnate Emmet Cavanaugh for help getting her investing business off the ground but it’s the super hot love scene set during the 1888 blizzard that's sure to melt your heart. In A Daring Arrangement, a British beauty must arrange a fake engagement with the most notorious man in Manhattan to ensure she gets sent home to England (we know how that ends!). In her latest, The Devil of Downtown, gentleman gangster Jack meets his match in uptown do-gooder Justine which is marked by its sizzling hot love scenes and electrifying chemistry. Perfect for fans of the show Peaky Blinders

Georgette Heyer (author)

No historical romance list would be complete without the author that started it all. In 1935, Heyer’s Regency Buck was released and a whole new sub-genre of romance was born. Inspired by Austen’s contemporary novels, Heyer wrote historical romance novels set between 1752-1825 that helped create the tropes and archetypes that so many of our favorite romance novels now take inspiration from. Romance readers and authors often say it is the discovery of Georgette Heyer that changed everything for them and created their obsession with the genre.

My favorite is The Grand Sophy. Sophy, a strong-minded, efficient diplomat’s daughter is dropped off at the chaotic, London home of her aunt and her troubled family. She soon takes the family and home under her organized wing much to the annoyance of her eldest, autocratic cousin Charles (who is out of town when she arrives) and his mean girl fiance. Slowly, to the consternation of both of them, Sophy and Charles soon start to fall in love. As I’m writing this, I’m just now remembering they are first cousins(!) which you should just ignore or pretend they’re more distant because it’s a great, funny romance. The book has the classic love/hate bickering I love so much and at times, a British, slamming door farce quality to it. Once read, Sophy will live on in your memory forever. Kate's favorite Heyer novel is Fredericaabout an older, spinster sister who brings her younger sister to London to a find husband, only to discover their top prospect, the Marquis of Alverstoke, is completely uninterested—at least in the younger sister... .

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