If you can’t get enough of the Bridgerton series, you’ll love the historical romance fiction writers on our list of authors like Julia Quinn.
Born Julia Pottinger, Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame inductee Julia Quinn is best known for her Bridgerton books, adapted to the hit Netflix series Bridgerton. Quinn started the Bridgerton series with 2000’s The Duke and I and wrapped up the nine-volume series with The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After in 2013. Readers love Quinn’s character-centered stories, as well as her razor-sharp wit.
The author often gives her female characters feminist qualities that weren’t common during the period in which her books are set, creating a juxtaposition that can make it easier for readers to imagine themselves in her characters’ shoes. If you’ve worked through Quinn’s works, from her Splendid trilogy to her Lady Whistledown series, you’ll want to add these writers and these romance author best sellers to your must-read list.
- 1. Lisa Kleypas, 1964-
- 2. Tessa Dare
- 3. Sarah MacLean, 1978-
- 4. Eloisa James, 1962-
- 5. Mary Balogh, 1944-
- 6. Evie Dunmore
- 7. Jane Austen, 1775-1817
- 8. Joanna Lindsey, 1952-2019
- 9. Julie Anne Long
- 10. Loretta Chase, 1949-
- 11. Courtney Milan, 1976-
- 12. Sophie Jordan, 1975-
- 13. Lorraine Heath, 1954-
- 14. Julie Garwood, 1944-2023
- 15. Suzanne Enoch, 1964-
1. Lisa Kleypas, 1964-
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas writes both historical and modern fiction. Kleypas began writing full-time in 1985, the same year she was crowned Miss Massachusetts and competed in the 1986 Miss America pageant. For a time, the author wasn’t sure whether she’d stick to writing romance novels. Following a storm that caused both her and her mother’s homes to flood, Kleypas noticed that she and her mother picked up romance novels on a trip for “essential” items and realized that her works could help others escape stress. Kleypas’ works include the Berkley-Falkner series, the Stokehurst Family series, and the Wallflower series. Her latest bestseller, Devil in Disguise, was released in 2021.
“How could it be late, when you’re the sunrise? There’s no morning sky or lark-song before you appear. No butterfly would dare unfold its wings. The day waits on you, my heart, just as the harvest waits the reaper.”Lisa Kleypas, Devil in Disguise
2. Tessa Dare
Tessa Dare grew up using books as an escape and set out to create historical romance stories that could provide the same break from real life for her readers. The USA Today and New York Times bestselling author melds humor and emotion in her novels and uses fun and silly moments with her husband to inspire her writing. Dare won the Romance Writers of America RITA award in 2021 for A Night to Surrender. One of her most popular series, Castles Ever After, includes When a Scot Ties the Knot: Castles Ever After, heralded by Library Journal as a “hilarious escapade.”
“The love of books was an instant connection, and a true boon for a girl who tended toward shyness, because it was a source of endless conversation. A hundred questions sprang up in her mind, jostling with each other to reach the front of the queue. Did he prefer essays, dramas, novels, poems? How many books had he read, and in which languages? Which ones had he read again and again?”Tessa Dare, When a Scot Ties the Knot: Castles Ever After
3. Sarah MacLean, 1978-
Young adult and romance novelist Sarah McLean first hit the New York Times bestseller list with her 2010 book Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, part of her Love by Numbers series. Her latest work, Heartbreaker (2022), is the second installment in the Hell’s Belles series. Readers who love MacLean’s ability to meld feminism and historical fiction will also love her podcast, Fated Mates, with weekly episodes that break down the romance genre.
“You are the most remarkable person I have ever known. Strong and brilliant and with more courage than I’ve ever seen in another. And more beautiful than any one person has cause to be. I’ve no interest in being freed from your clutches.”Sarah MacLean, Heartbreaker
4. Eloisa James, 1962-
Best known under her pen name, Eloisa James, Mary Bly is a bestselling romance author and a professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University. James’ novels have sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. The author draws inspiration from her academic research, often inspired by facts and stories she uncovers while studying historical English literature. Her latest release, 2023’s Not That Duke is celebrated for its humor, historical accuracy, and charm.
“His Grace had astonishingly beautiful eyes: as grey as a winter day to go along with that…that autumnal odor of his. Stella blinked up at him before she snatched her spectacles and put them back on her nose, threading the sides around her ears.”Eloisa James, Not That Duke
5. Mary Balogh, 1944-
35-time New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh is a teacher-turned-principal-turned-author. Her works are typically set in the Regency and Gregorian periods. Unlike many historical romance authors, Balogh doesn’t focus on royal or aristocratic heroines–instead, many of her main characters are ladies who have “fallen from grace.” Readers love her Bedwyn Family Connected series and her Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trilogy, including 1998’s well-received novel Irresistible.
“He could allow himself some time for personal enjoyment–for rides like this in the park with his friends, for visits to White’s Club and Tattersall’s and the races. For women. His need had been held at bay while he was at Bowood. Now it was not to be denied.”Mary Balogh, Irresistible
6. Evie Dunmore
A Rogue of One’s Own author Evie Dunmore is a USA Today bestselling author. Her novels are described as “charming, sexy, and thoroughly transportive” by Publishers Weekly – and readers agree. A part of the A League of Extraordinary Women series, Rogue follows Lady Lucie as she works with other suffragettes to stage a coup and create a revolution in Parliament. She finds that one man stands in her way–her nemesis, Lord Ballentine. Dunmore’s rich subplots and strong female characters make her novels perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in history while rooting for tough heroines.
“I’m afraid the idea that a woman is a person, whether married or not, is so inherently radical no matter which way I present it I shall be considered a nuisance.”Evie Dunmore, A Rogue of One’s Own
7. Jane Austen, 1775-1817
Known as one of the most prominent romance fiction writers of all time, Jane Austen sadly did not get to enjoy the praise she now receives for her writing. From Pride and Prejudice to Sense and Sensibility, Austen’s novels have been read by romance fans worldwide. Born in England in 1775, Austen enjoyed a close family, often drawing on experiences from her upbringing to inspire her writing. Women authors were rarely appreciated in the 18th and 19th centuries, leading Austen to publish her works anonymously.
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
8. Joanna Lindsey, 1952-2019
Renowned historical romance author Johanna Lindsey wrote her first book, Captive Bride, “on a whim” in 1977. Unlike many historical romance authors, Lindsey did not stick to a particular period; she wrote books set in the American Old West, the Middle Ages, and the Regency period. Her wildly popular Malory-Anderson Family series included the critically acclaimed Stormy Persuasion, which follows protagonist Judith Malory as she follows a deckhand named Nathan onto the high seas.
“But the man wasn’t simply conversing with him or distracted enough to reflexively reply to a quick question. He was cordial for a reason; Nathan just couldn’t imagine what it was. But he was beginning to think he was being toyed with. A nabob’s perverse pleasure, for whatever reason, and he wanted no more of it.”Johanna Lindsey, Stormy Persuasion
9. Julie Anne Long
Author Julie Anne Long is a number one New York Times bestselling author who started in 2003 with her hit novel The Runaway Duke. Long typically sets her stories in the Regency period, a nod to her appreciation of Jane Austin novels. The author is known for several series, including Pennyroyal Green, Hellcat Canyon, and Palace of Rogues, which includes her 2019 novel Angel in a Devil’s Arms. Fans of Long’s work appreciate her ability to weave the complexity of human emotion into her highly detailed, historically accurate fiction.
“Mr. Cassidy, any woman’s definition of handsome, was also courtly and well-spoken and had so far behaved faultlessly, but every now and then he deployed a sort of slow, crooked smile that lit up his blue-gray eyes and made the maids alternately act like idiots or bicker among themselves over who brought things up or started his morning fires.”Julie Anne Long, Angel in a Devil’s Arms
10. Loretta Chase, 1949-
After working a series of odd jobs, Loretta Chase published her first romance novel in 1987–and never looked back. The author typically writes in a series format, allowing readers to follow their favorite characters over time. Popular series from Chase include Scoundrels, The Dressmakers, and Carsington Brothers, which includes Last Night’s Scandal. In 2021, Chase won the Vivian Award from Romance Writers of America for Long Historical Romance for her novel Ten Things I Hate About the Duke.
“He’d like to fix his hands on the throat of the friend who’d given her this face and body–as though she needed any more weapons. It must have been the devil. A trade of some kind, sometime in the five years since Lisle had last seen her. Naturally Satan, like anyone else, would have had the worst of any bargain with her.”Loretta Chase, Last Night’s Scandal
11. Courtney Milan, 1976-
Author Courtney Milan is both a New York Times and USA Today bestseller who has been praised for her “feminist parables.” Unveiled, for example, delves into a storyline that revolves around consent, while Unclaimed works to unpack the concept of slut-shaming. Readers love how Milan draws on her storied career background, as she earned her degree in theoretical physical chemistry, attended law school, and worked as a law professor to incorporate unusual, modern themes into her historical fiction. Fans recommend readers new to Milan’s work start with The Duchess War, the first book in her The Brothers Sinister series.
“There you are, his gaze seemed to say. Or something like that. Because a spark of recognition traveled through her. It wasn’t something as simple as seeing his face and finding it familiar. It was the sense that they knew one another, that their acquaintance ran deeper than a few moments spent together behind a davenport.”Courtney Milan, The Duchess War
12. Sophie Jordan, 1975-
Sophie Jordan writes both young adult and historical fiction novels. Like Courtney Milan, Jordan took a brief foray into the world of law before following her passion to becoming a writer. The author’s first novel, Once Upon a Wedding Night, earned a nomination for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Best First Historical Novel. She earned a spot on the USA Today bestsellers list with her second novel, Too Wicked to Tame. Her 2020 book, The Duke Effect, captivated fans as they followed heroine Nora–a smart, witty protagonist who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.
“He’d become the duke and take on all the duties that had been meant for the true heir, for the three before him, and continue on. Because that was what a proper soldier did. His life would never be his own again.”Sophie Jordan, The Duke Effect
13. Lorraine Heath, 1954-
Born in England and raised in Texas, Lorraine Heath’s upbringing gives her a unique perspective she enjoys weaving into her stories. Much of Heath’s work–including Beauty Tempts the Beast–utilizes tales of rebels and rogues to draw readers in. In addition to her historical romance novels, Heath also writes contemporary romance. The author uses pseudonyms for her work in other genres, including J.A. London for the young adult novels she writes with her son and Rachel Hawthorne and Jade Parker for her paranormal, historical, and contemporary teen romance books.
“His voice had been a deep rumble that had shimmied through the entire length of her, like the warm and comforting sensations she experienced when she came in from the bitter cold and approached a blazing fire. She’d been disappointed that he’d uttered only a single word.”Lorraine Heath, Beauty Tempts the Beast
14. Julie Garwood, 1944-2023
Named “the Rembrandt of romance novels” by The Kansas City Star, Julie Garwood credits her Irish heritage for her intense, detailed writing style. “The Irish relish getting all the details of every situation,” Garwood says of her upbringing, “Early in life, I learned that self-expression had to be forceful, imaginative, and quick.” Garwood’s novels, including 1992’s critically acclaimed The Secret, occur across various settings, including the American West, Scotland, the American South, and England.
“Patrick had been drawn first to her appearance, for he was a man with a lusty appetite and she was a fair prize for the taking, but it was her wonderful wit that had snared him. She continually enchanted him. She had such a dramatic way of looking at life, and there was such a burning passion inside her to experience each new adventure. She never gave anything half measure, including the way she loved and pampered him.”Julie Garwood, The Secret
15. Suzanne Enoch, 1964-
Author Suzanne Enoch started writing in the fantasy romance genre and then decided to try her hand at Regency-period romance. Her Lessons in Love series includes 2002’s The Rake, which follows Georgiana and Tristan as they work through a lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers storyline. Readers love Enoch’s ability to intertwine detailed historical facts and lighting-quick witty conversation, all while creating flawed, believable characters.
“She’d agreed to become a resident for an indefinite stay at Carroway House, where she’d see Tristan every day. And she’d put into motion a plan that she wasn’t entirely certain she would have the courage to see through to its end. A plan to put Dare in his place and to teach him the consequences of breaking hearts.”Suzanne Enoch, The Rake