Blast from the Past: Romance Recommendations Based On Your Favorite Historical TV Shows

Blast from the Past: Romance Recommendations Based On Your Favorite Historical TV Shows

historical TV shows

Now that the much anticipated Downton Abbey movie is here, we’re craving lush romances with the same juicy drama of our favorite historical TV shows. If you’re looking for romances with similar themes and couples, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites and paired them with small-screen period shows. While some of our recommendations are not perfect time period matches, all have similar vibes. Get swept away to another time and prepare to fall in love with one of these historical reads.

If you love Downton Abbey
A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe

Joanna Shupe’s A Daring Arrangement is quite different from Downton Abbey in that it is primarily set in New York roughly two decades prior to the sinking of the Titanic, which is the event that kicks off Downton Abbey. That said, both follow the struggles between “old” and “new” money and the cultural differences between England and the United States. A Daring Arrangement follows Lady Honora Parker, whose her family won’t approve of the artist she loves, so she fakes an engagement to Julius Hatcher, a wealthy American businessman who wants to improve his social standing by marrying into the English peerage. Julius becomes the perfect fiancé, and they end up falling in love. This plot reminded me so much of the early seasons of Downton Abbey, which focused a lot on strategic marriages as a way of saving the estate.

If you love Turn
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

We can’t write a historical romance recommendation list without mentioning Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series. Turn is based on real events and focuses on spies during the American Revolution, specifically Abe Wooodhull, a farmer and member of the Culper Spy Ring living in loyalist New York. Similarly, Cole’s series draws inspiration from men and women who fought to turn the tide of the Civil War. An Extraordinary Union follows Elle Burns, a former slave turned Union spy. Elle uses her eidetic memory while undercover in the South to feed information to the Union Army. Along the way she teams up with fellow spy Malcolm McCall on a dangerous mission.

If you love Harlots
Dare to Love a Duke by Eva Leigh

If you’re looking for a sexy, drama-filled historical romance, then do we have a recommendation for you! The show Harlots follows businesswomen Margaret Wells and Lydia Quigley who run rival London brothels. The story shows how the economics of sex work  impact the society and women of the time. Eva Leigh’s Dare To Love a Duke introduces readers to Lucia, a woman after Margaret’s heart who also runs a club to fulfill individuals’ desires and fantasies. Lucia’s financially savvy and her goal is to be able to provide a safe place for girls living on the street. In both, women form a makeshift family by bonding over their shared experiences. The hero of Dare to Love a Duke is Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, who loves Lucia, even though she isn’t suitable to be his duchess in the eyes of society. The drama is so juicy, and fans of Harlots will love it!

If you love Gentleman Jack
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

This pairing is absolute perfection and we want way more queer historical TV shows and romances. Gentleman Jack and The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics both start out with a character watching their ex-lover marry a man. Each then falls in love with a woman of a higher status. Olivia Waite’s Lucy Muchelney is hired by Catherine St. Day to translate a complex French astronomy text, and as she resides in her home, their relationship heats up. Catherine is a widow and explores her sexuality with Lucy. Both Lucy Muchelney and Gentleman Jack’s Anne Lister want to live full lives with their partners  instead of only enjoying life in the shadows. There are also interesting themes related to codes and translations that make these two narratives even more alike.

If you love Poldark
When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

Poldark and When a Scot Ties the Knot might be the furthest apart in terms of plot on this list, but they each focus on heroes rebuilding their lives and community after a war. Poldark starts off with Ross Poldark coming home from the American Revolution to find his father dead, his estate in ruin, and his fiancée engaged to his cousin. Ross starts to rebuild his life and his family’s mine, and he marries the scullery maid that he hired. All the while, he finds himself becoming the center of his community. When a Scot Ties the Knot follows Captain Logan MacKenzie, who returns from war with his men in tow and nothing to his name. The only hope he has are letters from a woman he hopes to marry: Madeline Gracechurch. . Captain Logan MacKenzie is very reminiscent of Captain Ross Poldark on a moral level, as both would do anything for the people they care about. Logan cares deeply for the soldiers who have lost everything while at war, so he essentially blackmails Madeline into helping them. Madeline is highborn and educated, making her very different from Demelza, Ross’s wife. But both have an innocence about them and a caring nature that complements their respective heroes.

If you love Black Sails
Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins

Arrr you looking for adventure and romance? We can’t resist a good pirate story and loved the gritty depiction of pirates in Black Sails. When we think of pirate stories, a quintessential historical romance is Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins. Honestly, you can never go wrong with the queen of romance Beverly Jenkins. Destiny’s Captive follows Noah Yates who is looking for a wild journey on the high seas and ends up on a more exciting adventure than he ever could have expected when his ship is stolen by Pilar Banderas. Pilar is a descendant of pirates, and viewers who enjoyed Black Sails’ depiction of Anne Bonny will love this fearless heroine. Pilar steals Noah’s ship to aid her family and the Cuban rebellion. She’s a heroine who takes charge, kicks butt, and puts arrogant Noah Yates in his place (and in her bed). While it contains a very different portrayal of piracy from Black Sails, Destiny’s Captive shows a diverse and empowered pirate adventure.

If you love Victoria
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

If you love the politics, discussions of gender roles, and power dynamics of Victoria then we have the perfect recommendation! Evie Dunmore’s Bringing Down the Duke, one of our fall must-reads, follows Annabelle, a vicar’s daughter studying in Oxford who is involved in the women’s suffrage movement and finds herself in an enemies-to-lovers relationship with a duke who seems to be against giving women the vote. Queen Victoria is actually a character in this book and readers will see Sebastian, the Duke of Montgomery, meet with her to discuss politics. While this novel takes place almost two decades after the most recent season of Victoria, Annabelle is very reminiscent of Albert and his revolutionary ideas, and Sebastian is similar to Victoria in wanting to maintain the status quo.


  1. If you like Harlots, I’d also recommend Jessica Cale’s books. They’re set in the same place and time, and Tyburn and Broken Things are also about sex workers. Her book The Long Way Home would also appeal to fans of Versailles – set in court of Louis XIV during the Affair of the Poisons. Erica Monroe is also excellent, very good working class historical romance.

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