AudioGals Guide to Romance Audio – Historical

Full sz JPEG AudioGals Historical Infograph


In October 2013, we featured our first AudioGals Guide to Romance Audio infographic. It highlighted the best in romance audio in nine romance sub-genres in a rather colorful way visually. Called The Classics, we consider it a core curriculum for romance listening. By listening to each of the audios in that graphic, one can fully grasp the diversity romance offers and understand the high level of entertainment high quality audiobooks can provide.

As we planned the graphic with Tantor Audio, we knew it would only be the first in a series. In June 2014, we published the second in the series, AudioGals Guide to Romance Audio: Paranormal Romance. Now it’s time to turn our attention to Historical Romance. As with our The Classics and Paranormal Romance graphics, we searched out listeners’ historical romance favorites through past comments, discussions, ratings, and polls at AudioGals, the Speaking of Audiobooks column, and our Romance Audiobooks Goodreads group. We also took into consideration the numerous listeners’ emails and messages we have received over the past six years. All audios chosen for the Historical Romance graphic are well written, expertly performed, and contain quality production.

You will see multiple referrals to All About Romance’s Top 100 Romances Poll. AAR has held this poll since 1998 and we find it to be an excellent indicator of romance books that not only draw readers in but have staying power year after year. When we discover a Top 100 book in audio format with an above average narrator, we think that is something to talk about.

We want to thank Tantor Audio for supporting this event and for their unfailing commitment to quality romance audio. Tantor pays attention to listeners’ requests and releases a large selection of romance audiobooks each month. Weekly, I check their upcoming romance titles and find myself continuously delighted with what I find there. During the month of December, all of Tantor’s titles in today’s Historical Romance infographic will be on sale at Tantor’s site. Also, there’s a significant change at Tantor – all their titles going forward will be available from their site as both MP3 CDs and downloads.

You will find each audio title on the Historic Romance graphic detailed below. Titles and images link the hard copies (CDs and MP3 CDs), if available. Listed separately are links to Audible and Tantor’s titles.

We encourage those who work with groups of listeners to download either our jpeg or pdf files. Our pdf file will print out as a good size poster if desired.

PDF 36″ x 38″

JPEG 13.3″ x 14″

JPEG 8.4″ x 8.9″


Hall of Fame


Outlander sqOutlander – Diana Gabaldon

Narrated by Davina Porter


AudioGals review

Outlander always seems to be leading the pack in historical romance audio even though its categorization as romance is up for debate. Davina Porter brings another whole dimension to this vastly popular series and, as audio enthusiasts, we know we are the luckiest of all Gabaldon fans. See our Week of Outlander from this past July as we celebrated Outlander in audio format and looked forward to the STARZ series.



Lord of Scoundrels lgLord of Scoundrels – Loretta Chase

Narrated by Kate Reading


AudioGals review

For years, Lord of Scoundrels was at the top of our audio wish list, with Loretta Chase taking first place in the Romance Author’s Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio at Speaking of Audiobooks Favorite Romance Audiobook Poll in 2011 and 2012. With Kate Reading’s telling, it was an overwhelming hit, of such quality that it became an immediate audio genre classic. LOS has held first place in AAR’s Top 100 since 2000 and we predict it will hold first place in the hearts of historical romance audio listeners for that long as well.


The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie sqThe Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie – Jennifer Ashley

Narrated by Angela Dawe



AudioGals review

A favorite in print format since its release (and sitting in fourth place on AAR’s Top 100), The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie features one of the most complex and unusual romance heroes to date. When we heard the news that Tantor was releasing TMOLIM, we had to wonder about the challenge ahead – could  any narrator capture the complexity of Ian, a sexy yet autistic hero in audio format?  And Angela Dawe did! She got Ian’s character – ever so perfectly.


Devil in WinterDevil in Winter – Lisa Kleypas

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor


AudioGals review

Another perennial favorite of print readers, Devil in Winter took second place in AAR’s Top 100. Sebastian, the extreme bad boy hero who played a villain in It Happened One Autumn, wins with audio listeners as well. Rosalyn Landor places a slightly different spin on Sebastian than that in my mind’s eye but that doesn’t matter when it comes to the purposes of the graph as audio listeners love it.



The Spymaster's Lady sqThe Spymaster’s Lady – Joanna Bourne

Narrated by Kirsten Potter


AudioGals review

The Spymaster’s Lady (#11 in AAR’s Top 100) grabbed romance readers in 2008, proving a far excellent book than its cheesy cover and misleading title (the heroine is a spy of the highest order as well) would indicate. There was all sorts of excitement when it was released in audio format in 2010 and it carries a strong following to this day.



Kinsale-FlowersfromtheStorm-shadowFlowers from the Storm – Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton


AudioGals review

Literally one of the best romance audios ever. Laura Kinsale was exacting when choosing the narrator for her backlist and Nick Boulton won the hearts of all who listened to even one of his Kinsale performances. Add to that the extreme popularity of Flowers from the Storm (#6 on AAR’s Top 100) since its original 1992 print publication, and this one is romance audio gold.



Surrender sqSurrender – Pamela Clare

Narrated by Kaleo Griffith



AudioGals review

Not only does Surrender deliver on the romance and action, but it provides a rich lesson in history during the time of the French and Indian War. Think Daniel Day Lewis running through the woods in The Last of the Mohicans and you have a taste of Surrender. Kaleo Griffith expertly brings its characters to life staying faithful to the author’s words.


Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Narrated by Josephine Bailey



There are audio productions of Pride and Prejudice from as early as 1983 (and possibly earlier). Is there a more popular classic romance than that of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy? Movies, TV series (1995 A & E – my fave), audiobooks, and then the old-fashioned printed page – this story still holds the hearts of romance fans everywhere!



The Raven Prince sqThe Raven Prince – Elizabeth Hoyt

Narrated by Moira Quirk


AudioGals review

Moira Quirk’s sensational performance of the Princes Trilogy was such a delightful surprise to romance audio fans as she was a new name and we feared the narration wouldn’t equal the book content. Ms. Quirk takes The Raven Prince (#22 in AAR’s Top 100) to an even higher level of enjoyment in audio format.



Not Your Usual Romance


Time Honored Classics


Tantor Media, Inc Audiobook Retail TemplatePersuasion – Jane Austen

Narrated by Anne Flosnik



Another Austen perennial favorite performed beautifully by Anne Flosnik, can anyone forget the story of Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth once they have listened to Persuasion or seen it in a movie or TV format? Not me…




Tantor Media, Inc Audiobook Retail TemplateJane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Narrated by Wanda McCaddon



I recall Jane Eyre from my earliest days as I sat with my sisters watching an old black and white version (Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine), horrified of that mad woman laughing/screaming from the roof as the house burned. I have watched every American movie adaption since and own most. I simply can never get enough of Jane and Rochester’s story. Listening to it brings out all that we miss in all those movie versions. Print format is off the table here – I need to hear or watch this one.



Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Narrated by Josephine Bailey



I found at least fourteen unabridged versions of Pride and Prejudice at Audible. Want another narrator? Here are just a few – Margarite Gavin, Kate Reading, Anne Flosnik, Flo Gibson, Carolyn Seymour, Alison Larkin, and on and on.




Georgette Heyer


Sylvester unaSylvesterUnabridged    Narrated by Nicholas Rowe

Abridged    Narrated by Richard Armitage


AudioGals review

Although the Heyer purists try to look away from the Naxos’ abridged versions of Heyer’s work and steer us all towards the unabridged versions, the abridged versions (usually around six hours) work very well for a number of us here at AudioGals if Richard Armitage is doing the narrating. But we will bow to the purists for selecting the three Heyer titles in this infographic (although it is hard for them to choose just three). However, I’m including the abridged versions, cause for us non-purists, they’re pretty darn good.


VenetiaVenetia – Unabridged   Narrated by Phyllida Nash

Abridged    Narrated by Richard Armitage


AudioGals review

Phyllida Nash is known for her Heyer narrations and Venetia has earned the reputation as one of Heyer’s best Regency Romances. With its Beauty and the Beast similarities, this audio is cherished in both unabridged and abridged (see Armitage-influenced thoughts above) versions.



The Quiet GentlemanThe Quiet Gentleman – Unabridged

Narrated by Cornelius Garrett


AudioGals review

Another well-known Heyer narrator, Cornelius Garrett knows how to give life to Heyer’s quirky characters and emphasize the dry humor. AudioGals reviewer Carrie says it best, “The wonderful and varied accents of the British Isles can be a challenge to read in print, but come alive in the hands, or should I say voice, of a talented narrator like Garrett.”



Continuing Storyline


Crocodiles on the Sandbank

Amelia Peabody series – Elizabeth Peters

Book 1 – Crocodile on the Sandbank

Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat/Susan O’Malley

– Susan O’Malley narration

For Barbara Rosenblat narration (our recommendation):

Simply Audiobooks Rental

One Click Digital (library access)

Crocodile on the Sandbank, the first in the popular Amelia Peabody series, is available in two unabridged editions – one narrated by Susan O’Malley and one narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. We far prefer the Rosenblat version although it is the harder of the two to find. Audible carries the O’Malley version. We have provided two sources for the Rosenblat version.

Although Audible does offer Susan O’Malley’s narrations of Books 1-6 of the series, it also carries Barbara Rosenblat’s narrations of Books 2 through 19. It’s Rosenblat’s narrative skill that landed the Amelia Peabody series on today’s infographic.


Outlander sqOutlander series – Diana Gabaldon

Book 1 – Outlander

Narrated by Davina Porter


AudioGals review

Recorded in 1994 (the early days of audiobooks), the quality of its narration is so exceptional that it is seen as a gold standard even today. Yes, it’s long – 33 hours and as the series continues, the books get even longer but it’s an experience not to be missed by the romance audio enthusiast. For those who have yet to try listening to Outlander, make sure it is the unabridged version and then just trust us!


Silent in the GraveLady Julia Grey series – Deanna Raybourn

Book 1 – Silent in the Grave

Narrated by Ellen Archer


The Goodreads description says it best, “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching on the floor.” Starting with her husband’s sudden death, Lady Julia Grey is swept into a world of mystery and deceit. It is also the world of the enigmatic and maddeningly attractive private investigator Nicholas Brisbane…




Early to Civil War



Untamed – Pamela Clare

Narrated by Kaleo Griffith



AudioGals review

Following the events in Surrender, the Mackinnon brothers story continues. Untamed, however, can be enjoyed as a stand-alone title. Kaleo Griffiths’ narration is superb and the historical detail impressive.



Tempting TormentTempting Torment – Jo Goodman

Narrated by Jill Tanner


Originally published in 2003 (1989 print) in audio cassette format, Tempting Torment is a stand-alone title in the true nature of the better-written late 1980s/early 1990s romances. This expansive tale with more than 17 hours of audio contains more than one crossing from Europe to America and back again. Expect a lot of adventure and romance and an excellent Jill Tanner delivery.




Just Imagine sqJust Imagine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Narrated by Cristine McMurdo-Wallis


Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ only non-contemporary book, Just Imagine in set shortly after the end of the Civil War. Although it isn’t quite up to the standard of a number of her later contemporary hits, it’s still good listening with a satisfying narration especially if you are a fan of American historicals.




Old West


sunset embraceSunset Embrace – Sandra Brown

Narrated by Ellen Archer


Originally published in print format in 1985, it shows it’s age but despite a pushy hero, it sits among many an Old West romance fans’ favorites. Ellen Archer excels.





The Touch of FireThe Touch of Fire – Linda Howard

Narrated by Natalie Ross


Released in audio format in 2009 (1992 print), The Touch of Fire is one of Howard’s few Old West tales. No one writes romance quite like Linda Howard, even with her varied approaches to the genre. Natalie Ross delivers this gritty western romance admirably.




Comanche MoonComanche Moon – Catherine Anderson

Narrated by Ruth Ann Phimister


With an original print release of 1992, Comanche Moon is exactly what it sounds like – an Indian romance featuring a fierce Comanche warrior and the honey-haired prisoner. I haven’t listened to a Ruth Ann Phimister narration but we’ve heard positive comments from other listeners.





Post Civil War to WWII


Prince Charming sqPrince Charming – Julie Garwood

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor


In Prince Charming, heroine Taylor’s tale is darker and more serious than many of Garwood’s lighter medievals while still being a wonderful and fun road-trip story. Add to that the talents of Rosalyn Landor and you have a highly enjoyable American West listen.




The Shadow and the Star 240The Shadow and the Star – Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton


AudioGals review

Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch to classify The Shadow and the Star as an American romance as it takes place in Hawaii (before statehood) and Europe. It features a highly skilled martial arts warrior (disguised as an ordinary hunk of a hero) and a prim and proper London shopgirl. However, nothing about this book is ordinary including Nick Boulton’s exceptional narration.



Morning Glory sqMorning Glory – LaVyrle Spencer (Unabridged)

Narrated by Kate Forbes


AudioGals review

The hard-to-find unabridged version is truly that – difficult to find – but you may be able to locate a copy at your library or as a used hard copy. Don’t think the abridged version will do – it simply won’t. Originally we had included Morning Glory in our Hall of Fame but after talking with Recorded Books last week, we realized the chances of a rerelease of the Kate Forbes’ narration is highly unlikely as the rights have been tangled in a difficult situation not of their (RB) making for many years. Truly a loss!




Spies and the Like


Wicked Intentions HoytWicked Intentions – Elizabeth Hoyt

Narrated by Ashford McNab


With a romance scenario that is out of the ordinary and an overall story that is more meaty than most, Elizabeth Hoyt once again proved her ample talents writing historical romance with this first entry to the Maiden Lane series. Add Ashford MacNab’s rich narration and you have an all time Hoyt audio favorite.




The Black Hawk 240The Black Hawk – Joanna Bourne

Narrated by Kirsten Potter



AudioGals review

Coming in at #17 in AAR’s Top 100, 2011’s The Black Hawk showcases the reasons behind Joanna Bourne’s continued popularity. The 2009 audio release of The Spymaster’s Lady made listeners hunger for more Bourne audios. Tantor delivered this year, with the release of four titles – all narrated by the terrific Kirsten Potter.


The Many Sins of Lord CameronThe Many Sins of Lord Cameron – Jennifer Ashley

Narrated by Angela Dawe



AudioGals review

Third in Ashley’s beloved Mackenzie series, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron works as a stand-alone. A number of titles in this series were battling for a mention in today’s infographic. You saw The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie in Hall of Fame above but The Duke’s Perfect Wife, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, and The Untamed Mackenzie
 are all worthy of a mention as well. Angela Dawe is impressive and completely delivers the listener into this world.


The Intellectual


A Week to Be Wicked lgA Week to Be Wicked – Tessa Dare

Narrated by Carolyn Morris


Carolyn Morris came on the romance audio scene in late 2013 and what an impression she made. In her review of Dare’s A Night to Surrender, Megan had this to say, “Ms. Morris’ British accent and light modulated voice are a perfect match for this playful romance…Ms. Morris’ pacing and timing was just right to convey the humor of the battle, without taking us out of the Regency setting.” A Week to Be Wicked is one of, if not the, most popular Dare title and the narration only makes it better.




Not Quite a HusbandNot Quite a Husband – Sherry Thomas

Narrated by Anne Flosnik



There were several Sherry Thomas books in the running here – Private Arrangements, The Luckiest Lady in London, Ravishing the Heiress, and even the more recent His at Night. But when it came down to it, Not Quite a Husband is simply romantic, told with Thomas’ trademark flashbacks to the way it was contrasted against current happenings. Anne Flosnik beautifully portrays the leads while staying true to the written word.



When Beauty Tamed the Beast sqWhen Beauty Tamed the Beast – Eloisa James

Narrated by Susan Duerden


AudioGals review

I think of When Beauty Tames the Beast as “too-beautiful-and-I-know-it meeting intellectual-yet-droll-grump.” And then I think of the richness of the audio version. A 2012 Audies Finalist, it’s completely entertaining with Susan Duerden fully fleshing out every detail for an outstanding performance.



Crossing Class Lines


Unclaimed sqUnclaimed – Courtney Milan

Narrated by Polly Lee


It was difficult to choose just one Milan audiobook. There were so many that almost made this list – Unveiled, The Duchess War, The Countess Conspiracy… Polly Lee is listed as narrator at Audible but the recording credits Bianca Amato (who is also believed to be Rebecca De Leeuw). Regardless – the narration is outstanding.




silk is for seductionSilk Is for Seduction – Loretta Chase

Narrated by Kate Reading



AudioGals review

Romance listeners can’t get enough of Loretta Chase in audio format and we fervently hope we will see more of her backlist. In the meantime, Tantor released three of her newer releases (print release 2011 – 2014) this year and we loved hearing Kate Reading performing Loretta Chase – magic!


It Happened One AutumnIt Happened One Autumn – Lisa Kleypas

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor


Lisa Kleypas’ historicals continue to be highly popular in both print and audio format. It Happened One Autumn is the second in the Wallflower series and introduces us not only to Marcus and Lillian but also Sebastian from Devil In Winter (see Hall of Fame) who plays a villain in this piece. Rosalyn Landor has more titles on today’s infographic than any other narrator. Historical romance audio fans see her as a stamp of quality.




The Anti-Heroes


RuthlessRuthless – Anne Stuart

Narrated by Susan Ericksen



There’s nothing like an Anne Stuart title! Her bad boy heroes are just that and, of all books on today’s graphic, Ruthless most fits the anti-hero description with the dark, deceitful, bored King of Hell deciding he’d like to be involved with the much younger, innocent, no-nonsense (who is quite capable of defending herself) heroine. Susan Ericksen helps the listener understand the King of Hell and what leads to his redemption. A very fine and wicked listen.



More Than a Mistress sqMore than a Mistress – Mary Balogh

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor


A personal favorite in print format, More Than a Mistress features a Duke hero-on-the-edge and an actual mistress. No playing at words in the title here. But despite its rather serious nature at times, I recall this as a laugh-out-loud book especially as performed by Rosalyn Landor. Her tendency to perform gruff heroes works perfectly here as I see the Duke as a rather gruff “I’m a Duke!” type of character anyway.




Between the Devil and Desire sqBetween the Devil and Desire – Lorraine Heath

Narrated by Susan Ericksen


Although second in the Scoundrels of St. James Street series, Between the Devil and Desire works as a stand-alone. A former street urchin who now owns a gentleman’s gambling club paired with a Duchess – it’s delicious and so beyond the same ol’ same ol’ we so often encounter when listening to books with such outrageous titles. Susan Ericksen once again shows her talent at performing anti-heroes.



The Other Categories




For My Lady's HeartFor My Lady’s Heart – Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton


AudioGals review

Another magnificent audiobook from the Kinsale/Boulton team, For My Lady’s Heart was a 2014 Audie finest. Caz has this to say, “Once again, Nicholas Boulton delivers a stellar performance on all counts. His command of the language is obvious and he not only reads the quotes from Chaucer most convincingly, but the archaic English words and expressions roll off his tongue effortlessly…”



The Bride GarwoodThe Bride– Julie Garwood

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor


A beloved medieval romance, The Bride is considered Garwood’s best by most, earning #29 in AAR’s Top 100. A strong English heroine forced to marry a stern Scottish laird = fireworks ensue. Rosalyn Landor delivers each aspect of this funny, endearing romance delightfully, seamlessly switching between English and Scottish accents.




Never Seduce a ScotNever Seduce a Scot – Maya Banks

Narrated by Kirsten Potter



AudioGals review

Book 1 in the Montgomerys and Armstrongs series, Never Seduce a Scot was a 2013 Audies Finalist. Melinda tells us “I was surprised to learn that a book by Maya Banks, an author known to me for erotic romance, was nominated for an Audie. What I learned is that it is a medieval romantic suspense (really, it read just like a romantic suspense but was set in 1215), not erotic romance, and in spite of the title, tackles a serious subject and handles it with emotion and sensitivity.”


Time Travel


The Rose GardenThe Rose Garden – Susanna Kearsley

Narrated by Nicola Barber


Susanna Kearsley combines history and romance in an almost haunting manner. This time travel is set in present day and 1715 in Cornwall. Nicola Barber brings it all to life with her beautiful delivery.





A Knight in Shining ArmorA Knight in Shining Armor – Jude Deveraux

Narrated by Steve West


Although the print version of A Knight in Shining Armor was originally released in 1989, it remains popular today ranking #37 on AAR’s Top 100. Simon & Schuster released the unabridged audio version in 2012 and romance listeners were introduced to Steve West. He’s simply a spectacular narrator reminding more than one of us of Nicholas Boulton (narrator of Laura Kinsale’s audios).




Kiss of the HighlanderKiss of the Highlander – Karen Marie Moning

Narrated by Phil Gigante


Book 4 in the Highlander series, this is the place to start if you are new to the series. Books 1 – 3 are charming enough but won’t convince you to stay with the series as strongly as Kiss of the Highlander will. This is a laugh-out-loud funny, fun audiobook performed perfectly by Phil Gigante.






The Perfect PoisonThe Perfect Poison – Amanda Quick

Narrated by Anne Flosnik


Sixth in the Amanda Quick’s related Arcane Society series, The Perfect Poison easily stands on its own. Featuring a private detective agency investigating paranormal crimes, hero Caleb is more surly than other Quick heroes and Anne Flosnik captures him perfectly, skillfully delivering the sexy witty repartee between our couple, elevating the listen above the written word.




FirelightFirelight – Kristen Callihan

Narrated by Moira Quirk


Firelight includes a well done twist that keeps you guessing until the end. Moira Quirk’s flawless narration provides vivid personalities, wonderful accents, and distinctive voices for each character – male or female, boy or girl. A listening experience that draws you in from the opening scene, keeping your ears attuned throughout.




Soulless sqSoulless – Gail Carriger

Narrated by Emily Gray


Narrator Emily Gray is without equal in her delivery of Ms Carriger’s prose in Soulless. Set in an alternative Victorian England, Alexia Tarabotti is one of a kind amidst the accepted werewolves, vampires, and ghosts of this world. As this mystery with an HEA unfolds, you will have a superb (and laugh-out-loud) listening experience.



Now to dig in and discover some of these historical romance titles for yourself

Happy Historical Listening!


Lea Hensley






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