By Deena Adams
Although I say historical novels aren’t my go-to reads, it’s funny that many of my top reads of all time are historical. So much so, that I had to leave off several of my favorites to keep the list at five. Those highlighted in this post are beyond amazing and everyone should read them! Click each book cover for the Amazon link.
If you have any suggestions to add to the list, be sure to drop them in the comments. (I may just have to list a couple of my other favorites in the comments.)
Everyone who makes a comment on this post by Tuesday, July 6, will be entered into a giveaway for the book of your choice from my shared list!
Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof
Two worlds collide when the circus comes to Victorian-era Virginia.
Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.
As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.
Healing Ruby by Jennifer H. Westall
First in the Healing Ruby series
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…”
Ruby Graves, a young girl in Depression-era Alabama, faces the hardships of poverty and loss with as much faith as she can muster. At only thirteen she’s already lost a younger brother, and now faces losing both her father and the boy who’s stealing her heart as well. Armed with her beloved Scriptures, she prays daily for their healing, only to have her tender faith shattered.
Through her pain, she’s able to connect with her long-lost Uncle Asa, whose mere presence at his brother’s funeral brings murmurs of a scandalous past involving her parents and a prominent local pastor. When Ruby discovers that one of Asa’s many secrets is an ability to heal, and that she may be next in line for the “gift,” she vows to find the faith that has eluded her so far–a faith that could mean never losing loved ones again.
But according to her father, faith and doubt can’t reside in the same heart, and doubt is Ruby’s constant companion. As she struggles to find the true meaning of faith, she’s opposed at every turn by the pastor who would see her family destroyed and a community that can’t see deeper than the color of one’s skin. Through her search for a faith that could move mountains and a true understanding of her gift, can Ruby trust in a God that may require the ultimate sacrifice?
A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
First in the Mark of the Lion series (Graphic content dealing with first century gladiators)
“The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.” With this opening sentence, A Voice in the Wind transports readers back to Jerusalem during the first Jewish-Roman War, some seventy years after the death of Christ. Following the prides and passions of a group of Jews, Romans and Barbarians living at the time of the siege, the narrative is centered on an ill-fated romance between a steadfast slave girl, Hadassah, and Marcus, the brother of her owner and a handsome aristocrat.
After surviving the massacre of her family and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Hadassah is captured and sold to a well-to-do merchant’s family. Brought to Rome, she is pressed into service as a personal slave to hedonistic Julia Valerian. Hadassah struggles to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to treat her masters in a manner in keeping with His teachings, but she is forced to keep her religious identity a secret in order to survive.
Confused and alone, she has only her faith to cling to as she tries to subtly bring God into the lives of her captors. Reckless, impulsive, and villainous, Julia tries to undermine Hadassah at every turn. But Julia’s brother, Marcus, is a different sort altogether. Is it possible for a love between Hadassah and Marcus to flourish considering not only their differing stations in life, but also the gap between Hadassah’s unrelenting faith and Marcus’ lack of belief in anything?
Simultaneously, Atretes, a captured soldier from Germania, is forced to become a gladiator. This is the time of Rome’s decline and the decadence of a civilization on the verge of self-destruction serves as a powerful backdrop to the Barbarian’s struggle for survival in the arena.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.
Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.
But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.
A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.
An Accidental Spy by Stephenia McGee
Captured and mistaken as a spy, can she unravel a conspiracy before her secrets cost a man his life?
Some secrets change the world…
Once a privileged heiress, Annabelle Ross is now struggling to hold her home and her life together through the devastation of the War Between the States. But with a forced marriage and a desolate future on the horizon, her hopes are beginning to dwindle. When she discovers an encrypted note on a dying soldier, she seizes the opportunity to use it to deliver a message of her own. Instead, she’s mistaken for a spy and captured. Now her only chance to escape is the handsome soldier in charge of discovering her secrets.
After his brother is captured by enemy soldiers, Matthew Daniels vows to rescue him at any cost. When a secret society offers him a chance for retribution, Matthew must decide between his loyalties and his convictions. To prove himself, he’ll have to first unmask the spirited spy holding the key to their plans or risk losing his brother forever.
★ An Accidental Spy is a 2020 rewrite of the previously published title Leveraging Lincoln (The Liberator Series book one)
★ Book one of three. The Accidental Spy series is an adventurous romantic trilogy following Annabelle Ross and Matthew Daniels. Please note these books must be read in order and that while each book has a complete storyline, the overall plot is completed throughout the trilogy.
Join the conversation. Which of the books on my list have you read? Did you like them? What would you add to the list?
Comment by July 6 for a chance to win your choice of one of the five.
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If you missed last week’s interview with Carol Ashby, find it here.