Preparing for Downton Abbey Withdrawal? We Have Books for You!

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By Amy Wilkins, Harlequin Digital

Are you obsessed with Downton Abbey like I am – and most of my coworkers? It comes as no surprise that a bunch of people who love sweeping historical sagas with a hefty dose of romance are so into the series.

Recently the New York Times carried an article about books for fans of the series (read it here). But what about romance novels???? Don’t worry Downton fans, I got your back and found some Harlequin books to whet your appetite for upstairs/downstairs and early 20th Century historical romances….

Please note I wrote this post after seeing the second episode of Downton season 2 (that’s how far Masterpiece Theatre is into the series here in North America) so some of my comments may be outdated if you’ve seen more of season 2 or leave out later developments.

The Last Rake in London by Nicola Cornick (Harlequin Historical)

Setting: England, 1908

Back of the Book:

“All my winnings tonight against one night with you.”

Under a blaze of chandeliers, in London’s most fashionable club, Jack Kestrel is waiting. He hasn’t come to enjoy the rich at play, he’s there to uphold his family name. But first he has to get past the ice-cool owner: the beautiful Sally Bowes. And Jack wants her to warm his bed–at any price!

Edwardian society flocks to Sally’s club, but dangerous Jack Kestrel is the most sinfully sensual rogue she’s ever met. Inexperienced with men, the wicked glint in Jack’s eyes promises he’ll take care of satisfying her every need….

Similarties to Downton: Scandal, blackmail, romance — all set amongst the Edwardian high society. The country estate, Dauntsey Park, even sounds like a bit like “Downton” (In fact, this book has been reissued in the UK as Dauntsey Park: The Last Rake in London with “for fans of Downton Abbey” right on the cover J ).

Jack Compton’s Luck by Paula Marshall (Harlequin Historical)

Setting: post-WWI England

Back of the Book:

Four years of war and even more years of trying to save the family estate have knocked the daredevil out of Jack Compton. He’s hanging on to his place in society by the skin of his teeth.

Seeing Lacey Chancellor joyously dancing the Charleston brings his passion for life back full force! As luck would have it, this wealthy heiress is drawn to him. But pride is a powerful thing. Unwilling to be branded a fortune hunter, will Jack choose honor over love?

Similarities to Downton: I’m not sure who the hero and heroine are more like – Matthew and Mary, the WWI veteran and heiress? Except Lacey is actually an American heiress and the hero’s estate needs funds, so maybe that makes them more like Cora and the Earl of Grantham…?

Rescuing the Heiress by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Historical)

Setting: San Francisco, 1906

Back of the Book:

As a San Francisco firefighter, Michael Mahoney has never seen anything burn more brightly than the determination in socialite Tess Clark’s eyes. Her fiery green gaze and the persuasive curve of her smile convince him to support her involvement in the women’s suffrage movement. His unspoken, forbidden love for the privileged young woman drives him to be her only protector as the earth begins to quake and the city catches fire. Now, in the midst of panic, corruption and disaster, Michael’s survival is uncertain, yet his faith in God and love for Tess are stronger than ever. Will he have the chance to show Tess that love can’t be contained by social binds?

Similarities to Downton: The American setting and inspirational theme are different, but who can resist a class-defying love romance, like the hunky chauffeur Branson’s crush on Lady Sybil and Edith’s fling with the local farmer? (Though I have to add, per the note above, I have no idea where these plots are going but I have my fingers crossed it’s towards an HEA!) The heroine is also a suffragette, like Downton’s forward-thinking Sybil.

It Happened at Christmas (anthology) by Penny Jordan, Helen Brooks and Carol Wood (Harlequin Special Releases)

Setting: 1900s England

Back of the Book:

Experience the love, warmth and magic Christmas brings, with this heartwarming collection from three favorite Harlequin authors.

So much stands between Lancashire mill owner Haywood Denshaw and his new housekeeper Marianne Brown. But even disparate social standing and rumors of disreputable pasts can’t get in the way of their love. Only Marianne’s refusal to compromise her principles can, in a captivating story by Penny Jordan.

Wealthy farmer Luke Hudson gets more than he bargained for when he plucks a destitute young woman from the workhouse. He may have rescued Connie Summers from a life of penury and hard labor, but her spirit and warmth give him a new outlook—and a second chance at love, in an enthralling story by Helen Brooks.

Modern-thinking doctor Harry Fleet and compassionate but old-school nurse Tilly Dainty clash at the Tap House surgery in 1920s East London. But working together to care for the sick and needy turns out to be a healing balm on both their hearts, in an emotional story by Carol Wood.

Similarities to Downton: If you like the “downstairs” side of Downton Abbey more than the “upstairs”, this anthology about working-class characters finding love should be up your alley. The three stories are also set in slightly different time periods, from 1899 to the 1920s.

Plus, here are a few more early 20th century-set books to check out:

Do you know any books to recommend to Downton Abbey fans? Please share them in the comments!

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