Historical fiction has the power to transport us to bygone eras we may only vaguely encounter in a dense history textbook and establish a more immersive understanding and connection with the past. That said, historical fiction– especially historical romances– trend toward a limited handful of stories and viewpoints, leaning significantly on stereotypes. Therefore, for this week’s Three to Read, we rounded up some new releases that dig a little deeper into history and surface new stories with a unique spin. These authors double as historical researchers, translating swaths of knowledge with impeccable creativity to create some truly innovative stories. Let’s jump right in!
by Barbara Sontheimer
Victor Gant has done well for himself in the charming, cosmopolitan town of Ste.Genevieve. The son of an Osage slave, his hard work as the town blacksmith combined with a knack for inventing helps him rise to new heights. Plus, he got to marry the girl of his dreams: Celena Riefler. As the Civil War looms, the fragility of life and the power of love shape the couple’s fate in this stirring family saga.
This debut author saw a lack of diversity and representation in the Civil War romance genre and decided to do something about it. Utilizing the North’s perspective, this tale of love, family, and forgiveness is a beautiful expansion of a genre that has too long lingered on harmful stereotypes. Sontheimer’s dedication to historical research and passion for storytelling through the lens of everyday people make for an informative yet approachable read.
Coffee Shop Read
The Call of the Wrens
by Jenni L. Walsh
Marion Hoxton has spent most of her life feeling lonely and adrift. Orphaned from a young age, the comforts of home and family were unknown to her. However, when she joins the Wrens (Women’s Royal Naval Service), she finds true belonging and sisterhood. Though, her new job as a motorcycle dispatch rider delivering messages over war-torn Europe comes with a myriad of dangers and is bound to change her life forever.
This new release shines a spotlight on the lesser-told story of the Wrens– a military group of courageous women who carried precious information to the frontlines during both WWI and WWII. Told through alternating viewpoints, this tale of love, resilience, and friendship is historical fiction at its most heartfelt. Walsh succeeds at breathing life into history with not one remarkable heroine, but two.
The Boxing Baroness
by Minerva Spencer
Marianne Simpson has the manner of a lady, but knows how to throw down. As a boxer at her uncle’s all-female circus, Marianne is enigmatic in the ring and rarely distracted in her fights. That is, until the wealthy Duke becomes a mysterious onlooker at her matches. Tasked with bringing Marianne to France, the appearance of the ton’s so-called “Lord Flawless” sets an enemies-to-lovers arc swiftly in motion.
Minerva Spencer gives us Regency romance with a witty, feminist kick in her new release. For fans of Bridgerton, who want a fresh, unpredictable, and somewhat wonky new take on historical romances, Marianne is a heroine you simply must meet. Though a sincere and swoon-worthy romance tale, The Boxing Baroness is pure fun from start to finish– perfect for spicing up your 2023 TBR.
Check out more Three to Read recommendations here.