Report Card: January's Most Anticipated Historical Romance Books

How Many January Historical Romance Books Did We Read?

Well, (our attempts at) Dry January gave us some time and focus to get through as many January new historical romance releases as we could! Every month, we love to preview the brand-new and most-anticipated new books. Love to find some unique plots and themes, along with some tried-and-true favorite tropes and themes. And we love to read as many of them as we can. Will we ever read 100%? Undoubtedly, no. Will we try? Heck yeah. 

So let’s see our report card for the January Most Anticipated Historical Romance List. You can also check out our report card for the 2024 January Most Anticipated Contemporary Romance Releases

We’re pretty generous with the grading scale and we get half-credit for a DNF if we really try; otherwise A’s and B’s would be downright impossible. We’re still not sure we can ever get an A, but we’ll see how it shakes out.

85-100% of books finished = A
65-84% = B
50-64% = C
40-49% = D
>40% = F. 

Here’s the bullet list, and please see below for actual reviews of historical romance new releases (and reasons for DNFs–it doesn’t mean the book was bad, just that it wasn’t for us. 

  1. Jilted in January by Cara Maxwell. Read, 3.5 stars.
  2. Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend by Emma R. Alban. Read, 3.5 stars.
  3. A Masquerade With a Marquess by Tammy Andreson. Did not read. 
  4. Any Duke in a Storm by Amalie Howard. Read, 4.5 stars. 
  5. The Bride Bet by Tessa Dare (change in publication date, not available)
  6. The Lily of Ludgate Hill by Mimi Matthews. Read, 2.5 stars. 
  7. When the Viscount Wanted Me by Lydia Lloyd. Did not read. 
  8. Nature of the Crime by Cara Devlin. Read, 4 stars.
  9. It Takes a Rake by Anna Bennett. Did not read. 
  10. Accidentally His by Sabrina Jeffries. Read, 4.4 stars. 
  11. Her Adventures in Temptation by Megan Frampton. Read, 2.9 stars
  12. The King and Vi by Shana Galen. Did not read. 
  13. Forever Her Marquess by Scarlett Scott. Read, 4 stars.

So we read 8/12 of the historical romance books that were available and scraped a B. We’ll take it for now! 

Publisher’s Blurb:

No. Absolutely not. Persephone Cuthbert would rather walk over hot coals than say one word to the man who broke her heart—let alone help him. The author of The Rake Review may have declared him the most marriageable man in London, but Persephone knows the truth. Edward Johns is the cold-hearted bastard who broke her heart. She will not allow him to play her or the unsuspecting ladies of London false.

Except Persephone has made helping people her life’s work. How can she refuse him when a man’s life is in danger? Ten years ago, Edward Johns jilted the love of his life for the sake of familial duty. He’s hardened his heart to steel, and he has no desire to marry—he intends to leave all of that to his younger brother, Alfred. Until said wastrel disappears without a trace. Naturally, the one woman in London who can help him is the very angel who has haunted his dreams for a decade. But family always comes first.

To save his brother, Edward will keep his hands to himself—mostly, and his heart under lock and key—no matter how bewitching his angel has become.

Our Take:

Jilted in January was fine–we liked this historical romance but got too annoyed at parts to go above 3.5 stars, especially when it does not seem insurmountable for the characters to just be together but Edward makes it seem that way. Still, it was fast-paced, there was some mystery, and lots of chemistry. 

Rating: 3 stars
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Second Chance, Racism, Mystery, Class Difference, Only One Bed
Pair With: Bordeaux

Publisher’s Blurb:

Gwen has a brilliant beyond brilliant idea. It’s 1857, and anxious debutante Beth has just one season to snag a wealthy husband, or she and her mother will be out on the street. But playing the blushing ingenue makes Beth’s skin crawl and she’d rather be anywhere but here.

“Let’s get them together,” she says. It doesn’t take long for Gwen to hatch her latest scheme: rather than surrender Beth to courtship, they should set up Gwen’s father and Beth’s newly widowed mother. Let them get married instead.

“It’ll be easy” she says. There’s just…one, teeny, tiny problem. Their parents kind of seem to hate each other. But no worries. Beth and Gwen are more than up to the challenge of a little twenty-year-old heartbreak. How hard can parent-trapping widowed ex-lovers be? Of course, just as their plan begins to unfold, a handsome, wealthy viscount starts calling on Beth, offering up the perfect, secure marriage.

Beth’s not mature enough for this… Now Gwen must face the prospect of sharing Beth with someone else, forever. And Beth must reckon with the fact that she’s caught feelings, hard, and they’re definitely not for her potential fiancé.

Our Take:

We were really up and down with this historical romance. Loved the two main characters–both kind and loving souls down to their core. But the story was flimsy at times–the resolution is obvious and it takes way too long to get there. Still, a fun book with a super cute ending. 

Rating: 3.5 stars
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Parent Trap/Matchmaking, LGBTQ+, Friendship, Women’s Rights
Pair With: Champagne

Publisher’s Blurb:

She might be blind, but even she can SEE that he’s trouble. The moment Mia’s fingers accidentally brush down Lord Kingsley’s rippling chest during a chance encounter at a masquerade ball, she knows that her life will never be the same. Because the passion that flares between them is hot enough to melt all her hesitation away.

He’s hell bent on revenge. Until the broken little bird, Mia, lands in his path. But enemies take advantage of distraction and Mia is as stunning as she is passionate making her the worst kind. And thanks to that one ill-fated evening, she is also now his wife. And perhaps an agent of his enemy…Is she part of the plot against him or in grave peril at his side? How far is he willing to go to protect the woman he never wanted but might just be the one person he can’t live without? It’s time to find out…

Our Take:

We didn’t get to this historical romance. Between our long TBR list and lack of availability at the library (we’ll pay for some books, but can’t do all of them), it just didn’t make our cut for the month. Still want to read it soon though!

Publisher’s Blurb:

Historical romance takes to the high seas. Famed spy Lady Lisbeth Medford is on a ship bound for the West Indies, but the only thing more dangerous than her mission is the elusive Duke she’s trying to capture.

Lady Lisbeth Medford, Countess of Waterstone and famed international spy, is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. She’s determined to infiltrate a notorious smuggling ring in the West Indies while on a covert mission as a ship’s captain. But even when her identity is compromised and she’s forced to flee, the men chasing her are still hot on her heels. The trouble in front of her, however, might be even worse.

Raphael Saint, the Duc de Viel, is her ship’s new aggravating and dangerously charming sailing master, who might very well be part of the smuggling ring Lisbeth must bring to justice. But when a new deadly threat on the high seas looms, the only way out of danger might be to face it… together.

Our Take:

LOVED it! Any Duke in a Storm is probably our favorite historical romance of the month. Lisbeth’s bravery and toughness hide her deep heart, which Raphael uncovers. Raphael is so damn sexy, and the two of them together are fire! It’s more than romance though–the spy and high seas storylines are captivating and dramatic. 

Rating: 4.5
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Secret Identity, Spy, Adventure, Proximity, Other Secrets
Pair With: La Sirena Pirate TreasuRed 

Publisher’s Blurb:

Once upon a time, two sworn enemies – the bookish daughter of a scholar and the devilish heir to a duke – made a pact: If they were both still single in ten years, they would marry each other.

It was a joke, Nicola thought. A duchess? Her?

But when the Duke of Westleigh returns a decade later, he’s serious. He needs an heir, so he’s holding her to their marriage bargain—diamond ring, lavish gown, engagement ball, and more. Nothing Nicola says can dissuade him. When she calls him arrogant, he praises her honesty. When she makes social stumbles, he catches her fall. And when she gets exasperated, the duke can’t seem to get enough. For reasons she can’t fathom, he claims that no other woman will do.

He’s betting he can change her mind, with logic and passion. She’s betting she can change his mind, just by being herself. And as the clock ticks down to a wedding day, neither is counting on losing their heart.

Our Take:

The publication date changed and this historical romance is not available yet.

Publisher’s Blurb:

Lady Anne Deveril doesn’t spook easily. A woman of lofty social standing known for her glacial beauty and starchy opinions, she’s the unofficial leader of her small group of equestriennes. Since her mother’s devastating plunge into mourning six years ago, Anne voluntarily renounced any fanciful notions of love and marriage. And yet, when fate puts Anne back into the entirely too enticing path of Mr. Felix Hartford, she’s tempted to run…right into his arms.

No one understands why Lady Anne withdrew into the shadows of society, Hart least of all. The youthful torch he once held for her has long since cooled. Or so he keeps telling himself. But now Anne needs a favor to help a friend. Hart will play along with her little ruse—on the condition that Anne attend a holiday house party at his grandfather’s country estate. No more mourning clothes. No more barriers. Only the two of them, unrequited feelings at last laid bare.

Finally free to gallop out on her own, Anne makes the tantalizing discovery that beneath the roguish exterior of her not-so-white knight is a man with hidden depths, scorching passions—and a tender heart.

Our Take:

A decent but disappointing read. We loved Book One in this historical romance series, but The Lily of Ludgate Hill fell short. The main characters are seriously annoying and constantly make obviously terrible decisions.  Anne goes along with her ridiculous mother instead of standing up for herself, and Hart bleeds money because he refuses to tell his family of a scandal (that wasn’t even his fault). 

Rating: 2.5
Steam: None
Themes and Tropes: Second Chance, Secrets, Meddling Family
Pair With: Red Blends

Publisher’s Blurb:

Her reputation is at risk. He vows to help…but soon finds resisting her the greatest challenge of all. When Lord Hugh Aldershot, the Viscount of Tremberley, overhears the drunken Earl of Hartley claiming to have bedded Lady Henrietta Breminster, his best friend’s little sister, he is livid.

He drags the passed-out earl to Breminster House to face punishment for his blathering, only to find himself face-to-face with Lady Henrietta in a sexy night dress and little else. When Lady Henrietta Breminster sees the Viscount of Tremberley dragging the unconscious Earl of Hartley to her doorstep, she panics. Not only was she indiscreet with the earl, but she has long nursed a flaming tendre for her brother’s best friend. Now she must ask Tremberley to help her keep her biggest mistake from the gossips of the ton.

Drawn closer by their efforts to subdue the jealous earl, Trem and Henrietta soon discover their own forbidden attraction. But even as Henrietta discovers true passion with Trem, she knows she could never marry for anything less than love.

Our Take:

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to this historical romance, but it’s still on our TBR.

Publisher’s Blurb:

The Bow Street Duchess Mystery series continues in January 2024 with the sixth Audrey Sinclair and Hugh Marsden investigation…

When a fellow passenger is found dead on Audrey’s packet ship from France, a mysterious note on the body points to her as the killer. Detained in Dover for an inquest that is being led by a prejudiced magistrate, she is joined by trusted friends and family—and the newly minted viscount, Hugh Marsden—to prove her innocence.

But when it’s discovered the murdered man was a private inquiry agent, hired to follow the duchess while she traveled the Continent, they enter a race to find out who hired him and why—and what secrets the true killer intends to expose before sending Audrey to an early grave.

Our Take:

Loved it, especially Audrey and Hugh’s relationship. Here’s a rare romance book where both main characters act like adults, are honest with each other and unwavering in their love and commitment. The drama is saved for the mystery and danger in the plot. 

Rating: 4
Steam: None/Closed Door
Themes and Tropes: Mystery/Thriller, Widow, Collaboration, Loving Relationship
Pair With: Try a mystery pack of wine, such as Prisoner Wine Company Unshackled Mystery 6

Publisher’s Blurb:

She’s about to face her biggest challenge yet… Since she was a girl, Miss Kitty Beckett has been adept at finding trouble: sneaking brandy, running away, and getting under the skin of the boy who, like her, was an apprentice to an architect. Now Kitty’s a talented heiress who can take a dry building plan and breathe life into it with her pencils and paints. Also? She can spot a rake at a hundred yards—and she won’t be tricked or charmed into marriage. Certainly not by a man who might interfere with her dreams. When Bellehaven Bay announces its first ever architectural design contest, she vows to win—with a little help from her childhood rival.

Turning her buttoned-up nemesis into a certified rake. Leo Lockland, a hardworking architect with a gift for numbers, has returned home after a few years in London, and he has secrets. The biggest? He’s been in love with Kitty since they were both apprentices. She refuses to give her heart to any man, but Leo’s determined to beat the odds—even if it means learning how to be a rake. Fortunately, Kitty’s willing to tutor him in the nuances of fashion, flirtation, and seduction in exchange for his help with the contest. But the whole plan would fall apart if she knew how he felt, so he’ll have to be very convincing.

Let the lessons begin… Leo proves to be a surprisingly quick study in the ballroom, on the beach, and in the bedchamber. Before long, he’s softening Kitty’s hard edges with his wicked words and kissing his way past all her defenses. Perhaps she’s a bit too skilled at teaching, because her lessons are threatening to backfire, putting her closely guarded heart in grave danger…

Our Take:

An historical romance we can’t wait to read. The budget is a little light and we’re waiting one more week to get it at the library. 

Publisher’s Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries returns to the Dazzling Debutantes series featuring a trio of ladies who defy social constraints by starting a business as party planners to the ton. The creative force behind London’s most dazzling events, these young women know plenty about fashion, food, and the perfect setting—but there is always more to learn about love…

As a viscount’s heir, Rafe Wolfford is obligated to take a wife someday. But she must be the right sort of wife—not too independent, and not inclined to delve into his escapades as a spy. The forthright, perceptive Lady Verity is altogether the wrong choice. But Rafe’s courtship is merely a ruse to discover whether Verity or anyone else associated with Elegant Occasions is leaking crucial information to the French. That mission is all that
matters—until fate, and desire, intervene.

After enduring one disastrous engagement, Verity won’t easily open her heart again, preferring to devote herself to Elegant Occasions. Rafe is charming, handsome, and kisses like the very devil, but she knows he’s harboring secrets. Still, when her ex-fiancé tries to ruin her reputation, Rafe offers his hand. For the sake of her family and business, Verity has little choice but to accept. Yet turning this arrangement into a true marriage will require daring and trust—which neither will embrace easily, making surrender all the sweeter . . .

Our Take:

Might be the best of the series–we love some spy drama mixed in with the romance, especially in historical romance. Plus, the characters complement each other and work together so well, care so much about their families, and have sizzling chemistry. And no ridiculous miscommunications, yay!

Rating: 4.4
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Spy/Military, Marriage of Convenience(ish), Mystery, Instant Attraction, Tight-Knit Family
Pair With: Regency Wines

Publisher’s Blurb:

Simeon Jones has a secret–he is soft-hearted. Despite his scandalous exterior, he will quietly give money to orphans (after all, he was one himself), animals, and damsels in distress. One such damsel is Lady Myrtle Allen — but it’s not her funds that are lacking, but rather she needs to get to London-fast. And so begins a wild adventure.

First, the pair tells all the ton that they are engaged to be wed–how else to prevent scandal once they are found together–alone! They plan to carry out this deception, fully knowing that once the season is over, they will quietly part ways. But then, they discover that they have most inconveniently fallen in love, which was definitely not part of their plan!

Our Take

Would’ve been a great novella; it just took too long and didn’t have enough plot to sustain a full-length novel. The characters take FOREVER to admit even the tiniest feelings and there’s a lot of repetition. Still, now that we’ve complained, it was fun and entertaining and worth a read. 

Rating: 2.9
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Fake Relationship, Forbidden Love, Miscommunication
Pair With: Red Blends

Publisher’s Blurb:

The bored and snobbish Marquess of Kingston—King to his friends—doesn’t believe in witches. Granted, he was cursed by a witch when he was thirteen, but King doesn’t believe in curses either. So surely it must be an aftereffect of too much drink and debauchery when, on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, the witch from his youth reappears to watch her curse on him take effect. And, whether King believes it or not, the next morning he’s gone from nobleman to nobody, a man without a title or farthing to his name. It seems curses, and witches, are real after all.

Violet Baker has had enough of entitled aristocrats slumming it in Seven Dials and causing trouble in her family’s tavern. She has two younger brothers to support, and she can’t when her establishment is destroyed by raucous young bucks. The morning after the Marquess of Kingston’s brawling leaves her tavern in ruins, Violet confronts him and demands payment for the damages. But, surprisingly, King is in more trouble than she at the moment. He convinces her he’ll pay if she gives him a place to hide from his creditors—only for a day or two—until he sorts out the muddle his life has become.

Violet needs the money King owes and figures she can put up with anything and anyone for a couple of days. She soon realizes her mistake. King is spoiled, lazy, and reckless. His thoughtless behavior puts Vi and her brothers in danger from the neighborhood gang and its leader, Ferryman. But to her surprise, King reacts by vowing to protect her. As together they fight the mounting forces against them, Vi struggles to resist her growing feelings for King. They say a leopard can’t change his spots, but can a spoiled marquess change his ways? And if he does, will it be too late to save the family and the plucky tavern owner he’s come to love?

Our Take:

We haven’t gotten to this historical romance. It’s been sitting on the Kindle but . . . .

Publisher’s Blurb:

Lady Clementine Hammond may be polite society’s most notorious matchmaker, but she’s perfectly happy remaining unattached herself. A series of unfortunate missteps at a country house party, however, leaves her with no choice but to feign an engagement to the last man in all England she’d ever want to marry—the annoyingly handsome Marquess of Dorset.

Dorset needs a wife with a sizeable dowry to save his estate, but thanks to Lady Clementine’s machinations, the woman he intended to wed became someone else’s wife. Much to his dismay, when fate inconveniently throws Lady Clementine into his arms, he’s forced to claim she’s his future bride.

The bitter enemies strike a reluctant understanding. One fortnight of false smiles and pretending to be head over heels for each other, followed by a return to London and the quiet ending of their betrothal. It should be quite simple.

Except, the more time Clementine and Dorset spend together, the more real their engagement feels. And when their mutual enmity heats into a surprising passion, Clementine is shocked to realize she wants far more from Dorset than two weeks. She wants his forever.

Our Take:

Yes! A fun, spicy historical romance that’s the perfect (short) length for the plot. Clementine and Dorset find themselves in a pickle at a house party, agree to fake an engagement, and you can take it from there. 

Rating: 4
Steam: High
Themes and Tropes: Fake Engagement, Enemies to Lovers, Close Proximity
Pair With: Champagne