10 Must-Read Historical Romance Novels

Historical Romance NovelsBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

Check out the 10 Must-Read Historical Romance Novels

Pride & PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

At the turn of eighteenth-century England, Elizabeth Bennet copes with the suit of the snobbish Mr. Darcy while trying to sort out the romantic entanglements of two of her sisters,  Jane and Lydia. This is considered one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Read more about Pride and Prejudice.


OutlanderOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall has a husband in one century … and a lover in another!
In 1945 a former combat nurse named Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord, 1743.
Read more about Outlander.


Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Following the tragic events at her school, Jane Eyre seeks work as a governess, and falls in love with her employer, Edward Rochester. Their romance is doomed by a mysterious, savage woman, whose presence forces Jane to make a decision that threatens to leave her alone, cold, and faint with starvation…
Read more about Jane Eyre.


Gone with the WindGone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

A monumental classic considered by many to be not only the greatest love story ever written, but also the greatest Civil War saga. Mitchell’s epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time.
Read more about Gone With the Wind.


Sense and SensibilitySense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

Austen’s first published novel portrays the life and loves of sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When they move into their new home on a distant relative’s property they experience love, romance and heartbreak.

Read more about Sense and Sensibility.


Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord, Where he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. Read more about Wuthering Heights.


A Knight in Shining ArmourA Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Abandoned by her lover, Dougless Montgomery finds herself alone and brokenhearted in an old English church. She never dreamed that a love more powerful than time awaited her there…until Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck, a sixteenth-century knight, appeared.

Read more about A Knight in Shining Armor.


Memoirs ofMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

A literary tour-de-force about a geisha who rose to fame in the city of Gion in the late 1930s, and her struggle to win her great love.  Sayuri has been described as a romantic heroine in the same vein as  Jane Eyre and Scarlett O’Hara.

Read more about Memoirs of a Geisha.


Anna KareninaAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy charts the course of the doomed love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer who pursues Anna after becoming infatuated with her at a ball. Although she initially resists his charms Anna eventually succumbs, falling passionately in love and setting in motion a chain of events that lead to her downfall. Read more about Anna Karenina.


Lady Chatterley’s LoverLady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

The husband of a young married woman named Constance has been paralysed from the waist down due to a war injury, and his physical and emotional neglect forces a distance between the couple.
Constance’s sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors.
Read more about Lady Chatterley’s Lover.


Add these Must-Read Historical Romance Novels to your bookshelf

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Detective Lexie Rogers is back!

Lexie Rogers

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

Karen. M Davis is a former NSW police officer. During her 20-year career, she worked as a uniform officer, a detective and an undercover cop, and she’s got the scars to prove it. Karen’s debut novel, Sinister Intent, introduced Lexie Rogers, and was lavished with praise by TheReadingRoom community:

“Entertaining and engrossing.”
- Gypsy girl

“A gripping and suspenseful read… a great thriller.”
- brenda56

“Pulled me in immediately …  the suspense is well maintained with a good blend of several plot lines (and a twist that I didn’t see coming!)”
- BookMusterDownUnder

“Far from predictable!”
- JMcA

Read more about Sinister Intent.

On August 1 2014 (in Australia) the second novel in the Lexie Rogers series, Deadly Obsession, will be released:

Deadly Obsession largeA young nurse’s body is found at Clovelly Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Apart from a puncture wound in her neck, she is in perfect condition. But she’s also clutching a rose in her hands – and there’s an empty packet of prescription drugs in her pocket. Investigating the scene, Detective Lexie Rogers and her partner Brad Sommers know something is not right. It appears to be a staged suicide. And as they begin to dig deeper, Lexie discovers the case is too close to home. The dead girl was a work colleague of Lexie’s ex-husband, who is now a paramedic – and she was also a friend of the woman who broke up Lexie’s marriage…

Read more about Deadly Obsession.

Read our EXCLUSIVE interview
with Karen M. Davis.

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The Greatest Evildoers in Literature

TitleBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

Miserty - Annie WilkesAnnie Wilkes from Misery
by Stephen King

When Paul Sheldon wakes up from an accident with two broken leg, he finds himself in the home of the mentally unstable Annie Wilkes. Paul is the writer of Annie’s favorite novels, and she quickly reveals a psychotic obsession for him and his books. As her hostage, Paul is subjected to psychological and physical torture, and is forced to write his latest novel exactly how she wants it.
Read more about Misery.


The Memoirs of Sherlock HolmesMoriarty from The Final Problem
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The story The Final Problem, one of the short stories in this collection, introduces Holmes’s great nemesis: the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty, also known as the “Napolean of Crime” – the one man whose intelligence rivals Sherlock Holmes.

Read more about The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.


The Killing Joke - JokerThe Joker from The Killing Joke
by Allan Moore & Brian Bolland

According to The Joker, the line between sanity and insanity, heroism and villainy, comedy and tragedy is razor-thin; and he’s out to prove his deranged point by instigating a reign of terror on the Dark Knight’s closest allies. This is the defining Joker story that changed Batman’s world forever.

Read more about The Killing Joke.


Red DragonHannibal Lecter from Red Dragon
by Thomas Harris

The predecessor to The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, in Red Dragon Thomas Harris introduces Dr. Hannibal Lecter and the FBI agent who hunted him down, Will Graham, who is drawn into the warped mind of the psychopath, and an unforgettable world of demonic ritual and violence that is beyond the limits of human terror.
Read more about Red Dragon.

The Executioners - Cape FearMax Cady from The Executioners / Cape Fear
by John D. MacDonald

Considered one of Stephen King’s top 10 bad guys, Cady stalked the Bowden family in MacDonald’s novel (originally published as
The Executioners), and was played on film by Robert Mitchum
and Robert DeNiro.

Read more about The Executioners.


Violets are BlueKyle Craig from Violets are Blue
by James Patterson

During the early Alex Cross novels Kyle Craig was a Special Agent for the FBI, and was a close friend of Cross, playing a vital role in several investigations. But in Violets are Blue it is revealed Craig is the criminal ‘The Mastermind,’ who is responsible for a series of bank robberies and murders.

Read more about Violets are Blue.


Gone GirlAmy Dunne from Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

On the outside, Amy Dunne seems like the perfect daughter, wife and friend. That is until she disappears and makes it look like her husband killed her, revealing how calculating and manipulative
she truly is.
Read more about Gone Girl.


No Country for Old MenAnton Chigurh from
No Country For Old Men

by Cormac McCarthy

A ruthless, unstoppable hitman who kills almost everyone he meets. Chigurh will occasionally givehis victims a second chance by allowing a coin toss to decide their fate … not such great odds when you’re faced with a man as twisted and amoral as he.

Read more about No Country For Old Men.

The Killer Inside MeLou Ford from The Killer Inside Me
by Jim Thompson

Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou’s known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers—the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between—as the nicest guy around. But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks
a monster.
Read more The Killer Inside Me.


PsychoNorman Bates from Psycho
by Robert Bloch

Norman Bates loves his Mother. People think she’s been dead for the past twenty years, but Norman knows better. He’s lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates motel. One night Norman spies on a guest of the hotel as she undresses. But Mother is there, trying to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts … with a butcher’s knife.
Read more about Psycho.


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A Conversation with James Sallis

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

Revered by CNN as “the best crime writer you’ve never heard of,” James Sallis is one of the genre’s premier stylists, whose critically acclaimed masterpieces have always challenged the preconceived devices of crime fiction. On July 29, Mulholland Books is reprinting Sallis’s classic espionage novel Death Will Have Your Eyes, in which a retired member of an elite corps of spies trained during the Cold War is tasked with hunting down a rogue agent.

TheReadingRoom’s Simon McDonald recently caught up with James to talk about the re-release of his 1997 novel and his long, prolific career that shows no signs of abating.

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Death Will Have Your Eyes was first published in 1997 to vast critical acclaim – The Edge magazine labelled it “outstanding,” Jonathan Lethem was “enthralled,” and Michael Moorcock called it your “best novel yet.” How does it feel to have the novel back out in the public eye (with a striking new cover!) for a generation of readers who perhaps missed it the first time?

Well, considering that almost everyone seems to have missed it the first time, it feels great. Tremendous.        The book’s had a tiny group of ardent fans over the years, was even optioned for some time, but it more or less remained among the good dishes you don’t bring out often.

I’ve got to say, that title, Death Will Have Your Eyes, adapted from Cesare Pavese’s poem,is just fantastic, and reminiscent of Fleming’s James Bond novels. How did you discover the poem, and at what stage in the writing process did it become the novel’s title?

I think the title came to me at the same time the basic shape of the book did. I was reading, as always, a lot of poetry and, especially just then, a lot of Pavese. I loved the double reading: that death will take your eyes, that death’s eyes will be those of a lover’s.

Death Will Have Your Eyes is categorized as a spy thriller, but it’s also much more than that, almost a deconstruction of the archetypical protagonists who populate the genre. Was this an intentional objective, or a theme that formed during the writing process?

I cook a lot. And generally I start out from a recipe, or did at some point in the past. But by the time I’m there by the stove it’s all changing, I’m flying by the seat of my pants, seeing what happens if I add this, if I turn the heat up just a bit. All my writing is organic; it’s about seeing what’s in there. Line to line and page to page, I’m discovering the story just as the reader will.

Read on.

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6 Shark Books More Extreme than Sharknado

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

The film Sharknado told the story of a freak waterspout that lifts sharks out of ocean and deposits them in Los Angeles, wreaking havoc for its citizens. Pretty extreme, right? But not as extreme as these…

Jaws6. Jaws by Peter Benchley

Okay, so this is the obvious choice, but c’mon; we couldn’t possibly leave off the classic suspense novel of shark versus man, which was made into the blockbuster Steven Spielberg movie.  Benchley’s novel tells the story of a great white shark that preys upon a small resort town, and the voyage of the three men to kill it.
Read more about Jaws.


Close to Shore5. Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo

Close to Shore re-creates the summer of 1916, when a rogue Great White shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history. Sure, Jaws is scary, but this is real.

Read more about Close to Shore.


No Time for Fear4. No Time For Fear by Michael Capuzzo

Now we’re getting extreme. Imagine you’re diving off a naval base in Sydney Harbour when you come eye to beady eye with a 3-metre-long bull shark. It mauls your right arm and leg beyond repair, leaving you fighting for your life. How do you deal with the unthinkable? Paul de Gelder takes ‘never say die’ to a whole new level.
Read more about No Time For Fear.


Don't Eat the Teacher3. Don’t Eat the Teacher
by Nick Ward & Monica Gesue

Now this is extreme! Sammy is a shark with a bad habit–when he gets excited, he bites things. And on the first day of school, he’s very excited. He (accidentally) bites the kitchen table, (almost) eats a friend while playing tag, and… (gulp!) swallows the teacher!
Read more about Don’t Eat the Teacher.


Meg2. Meg by Steve Alten

On a top-secret dive into the Pacific Ocean’s deepest canyon, Jonas Taylor found himself face-to-face with the largest and most ferocious predator in the history of the animal kingdom – Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark.

Read more about Meg.


We’ve reached the end of our journey, and left the best for last; the crème de la crème; the most extreme shark book we could find. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for…

Shark v Train1. Shark vs. Train
by Chris Barton & Tom Lichtenheld

In a battle like no other, Shark and Train egg each other on for one competition after another, including burping, bowling, Ping Pong, piano playing, pie eating, and many more. Who will win this most epic of skirmishes?

Read more about Shark vs. Train.


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Book of the Week: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies - WeeBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.
But who did what?

Continue reading

Big Little Lies Covers

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her.

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Read more about Big Little Lies.

What has the community been saying about Big Little Lies?

“Oh what a decadent and dangerously addictive book this is! It is your every guilty pleasure between two covers. I warn you, you will not be able to put it down. Thanks to Liane Moriarty I lost hours of much needed sleep and woke up cranky but still wanting more Big Little Lies.”
- tashlast

” Liane Moriarty is very good at creating sympathetic, realistic characters that drive along a fast-paced story. Moriarty is very adept at creating such wonderful characters; Celeste and Jane in particular had heartbreaking stories. I was turning the pages as fast as I could as I sought to find out who was killed–and why. This book is great for anyone who enjoys well-rounded characters, a compelling story, and a lot of interesting plot twists.”
- DGiusti

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What did you read this week?

What Did You Read This WeekBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

A slew of books were read and reviewed on TheReadingRoom this week. Here are some of the highlights.

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Thankless in DeathThankless in Death
by J.D. Robb

“JD Robb’s 37th ‘In Death’ novel, Thankless in Death, felt like a bit of a departure and while I initially struggled, it ended up being one of my favorites in the series.”
- deborah.cook.18

Read more about Thankless in Death.


The Long HalloweenBatman: The Long Halloween
by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Hailed as one of the finest Batman stories of all times – high praise indeed, but deserved. Loeb and Sale strip the character down to his fundamental elements – a superhero detective – and weave a fascinating mystery with a satisfying ending.”  - Simon McDonald

Read more about Batman: The Long Halloween


Luna TangoLuna Tango
by Alli Sinclair

“I inhaled Luna Tango within a few hours and basically ignored everybody else in the house. It was a precious few peaceful hours well spent in the company of tango.”
- Tienh

Read more about Luna Tango.


Life or DeathLife or Death
by Michael Robotham

“What an absolutely brilliant thriller! This would have to be one of the best books I have read in a long while. The incredible twists and turns were breathtaking – at one stage I gasped and said ‘Oh no, no!’”
- Brenda56

Read more about Life or Death.


Coal CreekCoal Creek
by Alex Miller

“It gives a graphic description of the Australian landscape and the at times ambiguous relationship with indigenous people. It is a story of love but also of betrayal and prejudice. ”
- sydneygirl

Read more about Coal Creek.


Big Little LiesBig Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty

“Oh what a decadent and dangerously addictive book this is! It is your every guilty pleasure between two covers. I warn you, you will not be able to put it down. Thanks to Liane Moriarty I lost hours of much needed sleep and woke up cranky but still wanting more.” - tashlast

Read more about Big Little Lies.


A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

“This is a gem of a feel-good debut novel by Swedish author and blogger Fredrik Backman. It will make you laugh and make you cry and you will remember Ove for a long time.”
- Suncoast

Read more about A Man Called Ove.


Frog MusicFrog Music
by Emma Donoghue

“An atmospheric, perfect novel to read if you live or have visited San Francisco for its fascinating history and vividness – and magnificently written and intriguing novel.”
- MishF

Read more about Frog Music.


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Anna George in Conversation with TheReadingRoom

A Conversation with Anna GeorgeBy Sophie Hamley, Australian Editorial Content Producer

“My name is David James Forrester. I’m a solicitor.
Tonight, at 6.10, I killed my wife.
This is my statement.”

What Came BeforeDavid sits in his car, sick to his stomach and barely able to order his thoughts, but determined to record his statement of events. His wife, Elle, hovers over her lifeless body as it lies on the laundry floor of the house they shared. David thinks back on their relationship – intimate, passionate, intense – and what led to this violent endpoint. Elle traces their shared past as well and her version of events gradually reveals how wrong she was about the man she’d loved. Dark, atmospheric and gripping, What Came Before by Anna George is a stunning literary thriller about the risks you take when you fall in love, and Sophie Hamley had the opportunity to speak with the author about her debut.

Read the interview.

Here’s what TheReadingRoom community has had to say about Anna George’s powerful debut.

“What Came Before is a finely crafted, provocative novel told with a powerful intensity.”
- Shelleyrae

“Intense and gripping.”
- kathrynsinbox

“Are you allowed to write reviews that just say ‘WOW’?
- kcfromaustcrime

“A stunning cast, a wonderfully complex plot with a few twists and turns,
and a surprise ending.”

- Reading Writing and Riesling

Read the reviews.

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The 2014 Man Booker Prize Longlist

The Man Booker Prize longlist

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

The 2014 Man Booker Prize is the first in the prize’s history to admit novels from across the globe. The six judges, chaired by philosopher Anthony Grayling, have selected 13 books by four Americans, six Britons, two Irish writers, and one Australian.

This year’s list features one former Man Booker winner, Howard Jacobson, and two previously shortlisted authors, Ali Smith and David Mitchell.

View the 2014 Man Booker Prize Longlist

Which of the long-listed books will you be adding to your reading list?

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11 Must-Read Debuts of Female Leads in Crime Fiction

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager | simon@thereadingroom.com

Stay at home Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher and John Rebus; the girls have got this! Here we present to you the novels that debuted 11 of the great female leads in crime fiction, including Dr. Temperance Brennan, Stephanie Plum, Carol Jordan, Chicago private eye V.I. Warshwski, Kay Scarpetta, Phryne Fisher, Alex Morrow, Sara Linton, Jane Rizzoli, Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelly and Kinsey Millhone.

Check out the list of 11 books!

Who are we missing? Let us know and we’ll add to the list!

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