Who loves a good bodice ripper? There’s something steamy about people living in an era full of taboos flirting, stealing longing glances, and finally getting it on – at least, to me there is. I’m absolutely obsessed with historical romances.

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If you enjoyed Bridgerton on Netflix, or the hit series that inspired it, look no further for your next read…


One of my favorite time periods? Regency. The Regency era in England was actually a really short period of time, but romance writers love it. It’s less stuffy than the Victorian era, with flowing fashion and tons of flirtation using fans. Jane Austen wrote her classic romances during this time, and Georgette Heyer created the subgenre many years later. Since then, the genre has taken a steamier turn.

One of my favorite romance novel series from this era is the Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig. If you like romance with a plot, look no further. The series is about badass spies (and usually the ladies are doing the spying!) during the Napoleonic Wars. And while some of the novels are more tame with a couple of nice make-out scenes, many of them are completely bodice-ripping worthy.

On the side, there’s also a modern storyline about Eloise, a woman researching the Pink Carnation, a mysterious English spy whose identity remains a secret. While her story wraps the entire series together, to me, it’s the historical drama that takes the cake. While Eloise’s story requires reading all of the books to understand, her “research” – or the historical storyline which makes up a majority of each book – can be read individually.

As a bonus, what I really like is that there are books in this series about young people, middle-aged people, and even older people falling in love! One of the steamier scenes in the series takes place between the eldest couple. Willig also writes about her “comic relief” characters, and when I tell my friends who are just starting the series that some of the sexiest scenes are from funny and/or elderly characters, they’re always shocked! Willig does such a great job bringing all sorts of relationships to life.

And if you’re interested, here’s a ranking of the series/couples in the order from my favorite to least favorite – though my least favorite books are still enjoyable. (I just didn’t click with the characters so much.)

  1. Henrietta and Miles from The Masque of the Black Tulip – These two are ADORABLE (especially Miles) and their love scenes are steamy AF.
  2. Penelope and Alex from The Betrayal of the Blood Lily – I love their slow burn romance. I really relate to Penelope and Alex is a 100% my type.
  3. Amy and Richard from The Secret History of the Pink Carnation – The first book in the series is great, and the love scenes are steamy. Amy is a ton of fun and so is Richard.
  4. Arabella and “Turnip” from The Mischief of the Mistletoe – There’s no Eloise in this book, which I’m all for. Turnip is a comic relief character and readers challenged Willig to write a sexy book about him. It turned out AMAZING.
  5. Jane and Jack from The Lure of the Moonflower – The finale of the series features two rival spies which is a trope I can get behind.
  6. Emma and Augustus from The Garden Intrigue – I really liked the love scenes in this one, and I love widowed characters, like Emma.
  7. Sally and Lucien from The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla – My fancast for Sally is Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, which should speak for itself in how fun this book is.
  8. Gwen and William from The Passion of the Purple Plumeria – Miss Gwen is another comic relief character whose romance ended up being super hot. I also love that the characters in this book are older.
  9. Mary and Vaughn from The Seduction of the Crimson Rose – Mary is not the most likable character, and the rating on this one is a solid PG-13, but I still found the romance to be pretty hot, and I like Vaughn.
  10. Laura and Andre from The Orchid Affair – This one wasn’t particularly memorable to me, but it did have a fake marriage trope which I’m here for.
  11. Letty and Geoff from The Deception of the Emerald Ring – I find Letty to be boring and catty, but I like Geoff and the main love scene is super hot.
  12. Charlotte and Robert from The Temptation of the Night Jasmine – Charlotte is boring compared to her other friends, IMO. Robert has this interesting storyline with plenty of sexy intrigue so I’m not sure why he’s into her. But if you’re going to read the rest of the series, might as well read this one.

Have you read the series before? Who are your favorite couples?

Start your journey with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation for $3 on Kindle!