10 Historical Novels to Add to Your Summer Reading List Right Now!

reads to escape with

With summer fast-approaching, it’s time for avid readers to compile our summer TBRs! We all know that there’s nothing quite like cozying up with a book that transports you back in time and immerses you in a different world, especially with wonderful female leads. From extravagant summers in the Hamptons to the tumultuous Hollywood lifestyle of the early 1900s, these new and upcoming historical fiction novels are sure to deliver just that!

The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey

A beautiful wedding veil, gifted by a mysterious woman almost a century ago, has been passed down through Julia’s family for decades, acting as a symbol of happy and successful marriages. But Julia’s not convinced that this veil will protect her from a failed marriage and flees the morning of her wedding. Meanwhile, her grandmother is confronted by a long-lost flame from the past and must reconcile the grief in her heart with old emotions set alight once again. A lifetime before this, Edith Vanderbilt and her daughter Cornelia are desperately trying to maintain their family’s legacy after the untimely passing of Edith’s husband, but Cornelia is questioning if this is the life she wants. Told across generations, Kristy Woodson Harvey’s latest novel follows four women as they forge their own paths, despite the difficult decisions each must make.

The Blue Butterfly by Leslie Johansen Nack 

In 1915, Marion Davies is an aspiring actress performing on Broadway when she meets William Randolph Hearst; and thus begins both their love affair and business relationship. In the following years, Marion and William take on the trials of Hollywood and of their private affair. Inspired by the acclaimed actress, Marion Davies, Leslie Johansen Nack’s newest release chronicles the infamous life of this beloved Hollywood star.

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

From the bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner brings us a heartwarming story of three women determined to forge their own paths in the ever-changing world that surrounds them in post-war London. Vivien Lowry is a widow with a chip on her shoulder for the Head of Fiction, Alec McDonough. Grace Perkins has a family of her own and is desperately trying to support them all after her husband’s breakdown. Evie Stone is a disenfranchised graduate who was deceived out of an academic position in favor of her inferior male counterpart. All three women find themselves working at the new and rare bookstore Bloomsbury Book, and all three are resolved to achieve the life they’ve been dreaming of.

On Gin Lane by Brooke Lea Foster

Everleigh “Lee” Farrows is a Manhattan socialite who believes her life is finally headed down the perfect path, her handsome fiancé being just one of the testaments to that. But when a surprise engagement gift of a hotel on the beach brings her to the Hamptons for the summer, Lee is suddenly bombarded by memories of a less-than-pleasant childhood. Despite her attempts to keep them at bay with cocktail hours and lounges by the pool, a horrible incident on the hotel’s opening weekend leaves her reeling and questioning the future she had been so set upon. 

The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock

The era of the 1860s was not kind to women, and Annie “Bessie” Moore knows that more than anyone. After being sent away to a convent for getting pregnant out of wedlock, Annie is determined to reunite with the child that was taken from her by the nuns. With no jobs readily available to her, Annie, now Bessie, resorts to prostitution to earn the means needed to reconnect with her child. As her popularity soars, Bessie finds herself married to the son of a wealthy jeweler and finally believes she has made her triumphant return to society. However, a devastating betrayal leaves her blindsided and while most people might be irreparably crushed, Bessie is not one of those people.

Hotel Portofino by JP O’Connell

Fans of Downton Abbey will be enraptured by JP O’Connell’s newest historical fiction novel! Set in the Italian Riviera, the new Hotel Portofino and its owner, Bella Ainsworth, are under great pressure, from both the hotel’s high-class guests and the threatening, corrupt local politician breathing down Bella’s neck. Combined with a strained marriage and her children who are struggling to heal from the Great War, Bella’s family and livelihood are at stake and she must do what she can to protect them all.

summer beach reads

Tomboy by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

It’s 1939 and World War II is just around the corner as cub reporter Jane Benjamin struggles to raise her toddler sister and protect her from their mother. But Jane’s plan to become the first gossip columnist for the San Francisco Prospect fills her with hope and she is determined to get there so she can make enough money to support her sister. However, when she witnesses the suspicious death of tennis star Tommie O’Rourke’s coach and close companion, she must decide whether she will use this tragedy to her advantage as a columnist despite the hurt it may cause her new friend or step into the role as detective to uncover the truth behind the coach’s death. 

Midnight on the Marne by Sarah Adlakha

Sarah Adlakha’s newest release follows nurse and revered spy, Marcelle Fournier, and American soldier, George Mountcastle as they navigate the brutal landscape of World War I and the blossoming connection they share. When George interferes with what could have been a pivotal point in a battle against Germany, he and Marcelle, along with his best friend and her twin sister, flee from the now victorious Germany into occupied France. There they start a new life, struggling together against poverty, oppression, and loss, and creating a family of their own. But, when disaster strikes, George is left with the chance to alter history and if he does, his own future could very well hang in the balance.

Long Shadows by Abigail Cutter 

Tom Smiley joined the Confederate army at 18-years-old and quickly came to regret it — scarred so deeply even death hasn’t brought him freedom. A ghost in his deserted childhood home, trouble erupts when a young couple moves in during the early 21st century. Tom is forced to not only face his secrets but also come to grips with his family’s hidden history, all while the new owner’s discoveries create momentous consequences for them both. Long Shadows views history through the lens of today, showing how racism, the trauma of war, the power of wealth, and religious fanaticism that justifies violence affect everyday life. 

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

1973 Montgomery, Alabama finds Civil Townsend aspiring to become a medical professional to make a difference for the women in her community. Following this path, she meets 11- and 13-year-olds Erica and India, two young, black girls that need the help of someone like Civil. Shocked by the gravity of the role she must play, Civil comes to care deeply for these young girls and their family. When the unthinkable happens to them, she knows that nothing will ever be the same. Decades later, Civil Townsend is a mother and renowned doctor, having had a very successful career and is hoping to now retire and move on from the past. Deep down though, she knows that these stories, the ones she witnessed firsthand, cannot and should not ever be forgotten.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.