The Best New Historical Novels for Spring 2023

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

After a bleak and snowy winter season at Blue Willow Cottage, I am all anticipation of warmer weather and the fabulous new historical fiction books releasing in March, April, and May.  

I pawed through many new releases to narrow my list down, so if you are in the mood for engaging, intriguing, and swoon worthy novels, then read on.

Here is my list of 5 STAR recommendations for Spring 2023.

Enjoy!

Laurel Ann


HISTORICAL FICTION

TWO WARS AND A WEDDING, by Lauren Willig (March 21)

“Lauren Willig delivers a winning epic of war and friendship. Readers will devour this riveting tale.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig: a dramatic coming-of-age story with a dual timeline and a single heroine—a bold and adventuring young woman who finds herself caught up in two very different wars on both sides of the Atlantic. An unforgettable saga of friendship, love, and fighting for what is right. 

As a long-time Lauren Willig fan, I always appreciate her thorough historical research, humor, and romance. This new release does not disappoint.  

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Intrepid, strong female characters
  • Enduring friendship during adversity
  • Immersive, beautifully written stories

READ OUR REVIEW | ADD TO GOODREADS


HER LOST WORDS: A NOVEL OF MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT AND MARY SHELLEY, by Stephanie Marie Thornton (March 28)

“Thornton brings a sense of urgency to the women’s inner lives, as well as a fair amount of insight into their work. Much has been written about the authors, but Thornton does justice to their singular lives.” —Publishers Weekly

From A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to Frankenstein, a tale of two literary legends—groundbreaking feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, horror writer Mary Shelley—discovering each other and finding themselves along the way, from USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Marie Thornton.

The two writers, both trailblazing authors in the late 18th and early 19th-centuries, were the big hook for me. Their lasting impact on women’s rights and literature is well documented, but their personal story, lesser so. Thornton weaves a beautiful tale of their lives, and times. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Mother – daughter stories
  • Inspiring, trailblazing, women
  • Stories based on famous historical figures

ADDITIONAL INFO | ADD TO GOODREADS


THE CASTLE KEEPERS: A NOVEL, by Aimie K. Runyan, J’nell Ciesielski, and Rachel McMillan (May 2)

A fascinating story of love’s ability to overcome family curses, scandals, and even war. Told in three parts, this multi-generational tale is wonderfully heartwarming!” —Madeline Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Bookshop in London

Three beloved inspirational fiction authors share stories of the Alnwick family, the custodians of an ancient Northumberland castle. Through multiple generations they reveal how love and war can change a place—but only its people can unshackle it from the misdeeds of the past.

I was immediately intrigued by this concept novel and the selection of authors. Collaborative fiction needs more respect, and this novel certainly brings it. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Multi-generational stories
  • Character-driven plots
  • Intriguing story concepts

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HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHICAL FICTION

AN AMERICAN BEAUTY: A NOVEL OF THE GILDED AGE, by Shana Abe (April 25)

“This story of one woman’s ascent offers a fascinating look at the choices she made to become a Gilded Age titan.” Kirkus Reviews

A true “rags to riches” story of Arabella Huntington, whose great beauty scandalously caught the eye, and the heart, of a married Gilded Age industrialist, and later becoming the second Mrs. Huntington. While her husband’s immense fortune made her a wealthy woman, her own exceptional business acumen helped her become the wealthiest self-made woman in America.  

When I first read Arabella Huntington’s name in the title of this novel I got chills. I have visited the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, CA many times. She and her third husband, Gilded Age railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington, created the estate, library, and gardens. This new biographical fiction was inspired by her amazing life.   

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Inspiring, trailblazing, women
  • Stories based on historical figures
  • The Gilded Age TV series on HBO

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HISTORICAL ROMANCE

RETURN TO SATTERTHWAITE COURT, by Mimi Matthews (April 11)

“Another fantastic romance from Mimi Matthews. You’ll want to devour it in one sitting.” —Samantha Hastings, author of Secret of the Sonnets

Lady Kate Beresford, a “self-determined” Victorian-era heiress, sets her sights on Charles Heywood, a battle-weary former Royal Navy officer whose only desire is a peaceful life at a country estate. Satterthwaite Court in Somersetshire fits the bill, yet his pursuit is encumbered by a family mystery, and the bothersome Lady Beresford.    

Everything I have read by Mimi Matthews has charmed me to the bone. Her characters, plots, humor, romance, and historical details are dazzling. This new novel just wowed me. You must read it.     

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Witty, sparkling banter
  • Atmospheric scenes with historical detail
  • Swoon-worthy sweet romance

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TO SWOON AND TO SPAR: REGENCY VOWS (BOOK 4), by Martha Waters (April 11)

Bridgerton fans will like this one.” —Julia Quinn, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The popular Regency Vows series returns with this story about a viscount and his irascible new wife who hopes to chase her husband from their shared home so that she can finally get some peace and quiet—only to find that his company is not as onerous as she thought.

It is hard too find authors who have a sense of dry humor. That is why I adore Martha Waters.  I dearly love to laugh and she always delivers the subtle punch line.   

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Arch & witty sense of humor
  • Regency rom coms
  • Second chance love stories

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THE SECRET SERVICE OF TEA AND TREASON: DANGEROUS DAMSELS (BOOK 3), by India Holton (April 18)

Holton’s signature tongue-in-cheek style shines, pairing dry wit with ludicrous situations to excellent effect. Alice and Daniel’s banter is a particular highlight, and their tender connection helps to ground all the action. This may be Holton’s best yet.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

♥ One of Buzzfeed’s Romance Books To Look Out For In 2023!

Victorian England is reimagined with the most dangerous of damsels—female pirates and witches—in this high-octane, hilarious series. In book 3, two rival spies working for the Agency of Undercover Note Takers, a secret government intelligence group, must brave pirates, witches, and fake matrimony to save Queen Victoria.

India Holton’s style and tone are like no other. Just think of a quirky high-concept comedy skit, and then stir in espionage and romance. It is sure to make you laugh out loud. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • LOL witty banter, high comedy, and imaginative plots
  • Victorian rom coms
  • Fake marriage plots

READ OUR REVIEW | ADD TO GOODREADS


A HEART WORTH STEALING, by Joanna Barker (May 2)

Unique characters and a fast-paced mystery add flavor to this sweet romance.Publishers Weekly

When an independent heiress and a handsome and flirtatious thief join forces to find a stolen pocket watch, they uncover a larger and more dangerous plot against her. Unraveling the mystery together, her heart may be in just as much danger as her life.

Joanna Barker is incredibly skilled at spinning a romance within an engaging story. This new novel will delight her growing legion of fans. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Strong, independent heroines
  • Sparkling dialogue
  • Slow burn romance

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HISTORICAL MYSTERY

A TEMPEST AT SEA: THE LADY SHERLOCK SERIES (Book 7), by Sherry Thomas (March 14)

Reminiscent of forced-proximity stories like Christie’s Death on the Nile or the game and miniseries Clue, the novel is an entertaining read for its wheels-within-wheels structure and the drips of knowledge we are given. Fans of the Victorian lady detective will enjoy her resurrection.” —Kirkus Reviews

Charlotte Holmes’s life is in peril when her brilliant deductive skills are put to the test in her most dangerous investigation yet, locked aboard a ship at sea.

Firstly, I just adore the covers for this series. Secondly, the stories match my cover adulation. Those who love country manor house murder mysteries will find this new novel set aboard a ship captivating.  

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Sherlockian world
  • Puzzling plots, suspense, and intrigue
  • Formidable, clever female sleuths

ADDITIONAL INFO | ADD TO GOODREADS


HOMECOMING: A NOVEL, by Kate Morton (April 11)

“…an eerie epic involving a wealthy family’s mysterious deaths in Adelaide Hills, South Australia… This is Morton’s best yet.Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

A generational story involving a shocking crime in 1959 South Australia and a modern-day journalist living in London who is summoned back home to the deathbed of her beloved grandmother. While at the family estate she discovers long lost family secrets, unraveling the decades-long mystery.

Kate Morton is an auto-read for me. Her latest novel will give you all the famous Morton feels. She can spin a silky tale like no other – keeping you mesmerized and guessing until the last. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Multi-generational stories
  • Atmospheric locations and intriguing characters
  • Page turning plots

ADDITIONAL INFO | ADD TO GOODREADS


WHO CRIES FOR THE LOST: SEBASTIAN ST. CYR MYSTERIES (BOOK 18), by C. S. Harris (April 18)

Harris does her usual superior job of combining a page-turning fair-play plot with plausible period detail. Both series fans and newcomers will be captivated.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

Sebastian St. Cyr must confront a savage killer and save his closest friend from the hangman’s noose in this heart-pounding new historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of When Blood Lies.

I must confess, up front, that I am in love with Sebastian St. Cyr, and therefore no longer objective as a reviewer. You must read this series to find out why he is my book boyfriend. I dare you not to fall in love with him. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Impeccably researched Regency history
  • Immersive mysteries
  • Dashing, heart throbbing aristocratic sleuths

READ OUR REVIEW | ADD TO GOODREADS


THE LATE MRS WILLOUGHBY: A NOVEL, by Claudia Gray (May 16)

Gray makes her endearing leads’ sleuthing both plausible and entertaining while evoking the wit and feel of Austen’s classic novels. Admirers of P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley will be delighted.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

The suspenseful sequel to The Murder of Mr. Wickham, which sees Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney reunited, and with another mystery to solve: the dreadful poisoning of the scoundrel Willoughby’s new wife.

Gray’s first novel in this new series blew my bonnet off. This one is also clever, reverent to Austen, and addictive. It will also make you laugh, a lot.

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Austenesque continuations
  • Quirky characters
  • Clever whodunnits

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HISTORICAL SUSPENSE

THE LAST HEIR TO BLACKWOOD LIBRARY: A NOVEL, by Hester Fox (April 4)

Immersive historical detail and a gripping, intricate plot combine to plunge readers headlong into a rags-to-riches tale laced with betrayal and intrigue. This is a treat for bibliophiles.” —Publishers Weekly

In a nod to Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Fox offers an atmospheric historical fantasy set in post–World War I England. When twenty-three-year-old Ivy Radcliffe inherits Blackwood Abbey, a spooky Yorkshire manor, she discovers that its mysterious library is full of dark secrets.

Fox has been on my reading radar for years. This was my first foray into to her chilling prose. I am easily scared, so I read it during the daylight hours. In retrospect, I also wished I had not been home alone. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Unreliable narrators
  • Atmospheric Gothic fiction
  • Chilling thrillers

READ OUR REVIEW | ADD TO GOODREADS


THE VANISHING AT CASTLE MOREAU, by Jaime Jo Wright (April 4)

The twisting, fast-moving plot is loaded with secrets, and the characters remain morally ambiguous until the end. Readers won’t want to put this down.” —Publishers Weekly

A haunting legend. An ominous curse. A search for a secret buried deep within the castle walls.

While most of the Gothic novels that I have read have been set in England or Europe, this one was situated in a castle in Wisconsin. As an American, I found this both disarming and intriguing, placing it closer to home and somehow more real. Wright delivered all the chills and then some. 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Spooky, Gothic vibes
  • Unputdownable reading
  • Atmospheric romance

ADDITIONAL INFO | ADD TO GOODREADS


HISTORICAL YOUNG ADULT

AN IMPROBALE SEASON: UNEXPECTED SEASONS (BOOK 1), by Rosalyn Eves (April 25)

Regency fans will enjoy this comfortingly familiar feeling story of endearing young women chasing happy endings through a maze of societal rules…A delightful romp.”—Kirkus Reviews

During the Regency-era, three young ladies do their first London Season searching for husbands, or their own agency, by stretching the boundaries of society, and their own expectations.

This was a first-time author for me. She is now on my auto-read list. An Improbable Season was light, bright, and sparkling. A true diamond of the first water.  

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY

  • Spikey dialogue and engaging characters
  • Enemies to lovers, & friends to lovers stories
  • Immersive Regency London

READ OUR REVIEW | ADD TO GOODREADS


We received review copies from the publishers in exchange for an honest review, or we purchased the books for our own enjoyment. Cover images compliments of the respective publishers who hold the © 2023; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2023, austenprose.com.


Hello Dear Readers,

I had a wonderful time researching the books on this list. Several are already favorites. Which books are “must reads” for you?

Drop us a line below and share your thoughts on this book list and what you are currently reading! We would love to hear from you!

Laurel Ann Nattress, editor

9 thoughts on “The Best New Historical Novels for Spring 2023

Add yours

  1. 3 are already sitting on my shelves and will have their turn, but I could not wait for the latest Mimi Matthews’, I already have read.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. TO SWOON AND TO SPAR, THE LATE MRS WILLOUGHBY and A HEART WORTH STEALING.
        Your list has so many intriguing titles and many new to me authors.
        But I ‘m so partial to any Mimi Matthews’, I could not wait to read it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous list. I’m only on book 12 of C. S. Harris’s series…oh yes! Sebastian St. Cyr, sigh… I sound like a broken record when I say this in my Harris reviews, that when I finish one of the books in that series, I’m so relieved that there are more yet to read. It’s a real angst. Mimi Matthews is a must read, but I need to refresh myself with the previous book again for the connections. I just recently put The Murder of Wickham in my library so I know I will eventually read the next one already out. I’m way behind on my Sherry Thomas books, but it’s so nice to know she keeps writing more.

    There are a lot of new-to-me authors on this list and based on your comments I’m eager to try them. The covers are all incredibly enticing. All!
    Thank you for this list and your comments. Oh for more time to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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