The Matchmakers recently got a Match Me Up! request from a customer who was wanting to get back into reading for pleasure after finishing a PhD program. They were looking for historical romances where women had equal rights. While I may not have been able to find much that met that niche, I was able to recommend some books with strong female leads who were living lives outside of the norms during their time periods. I thought this would be a great topic to blog about, so here we are! If you’d like some suggestions for what to read, please fill out our Match Me Up! request form.
Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. The cold and calculating Sebastian, Duke of Montgomery is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle Archer.
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him.
Valinda Lacey’s mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq. As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.
As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away. Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South-to spy for the Union Army. Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet-risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause-and an undeniable attraction-Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor.