A Scandalous Affair: Victorian Style

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Welcome to Under the Covers historical week! It’s a week where we catch the historical romance fever and try and show you why we love this genre. I know when I first contemplated reading some historical I was a little embarrassed, I mean it’s a genre only old ladies read right? Oh how wrong I was! Historical romance is a rich and diverse genre that can be light and fun or dark and thought provoking with every shade in between. Which, is why we like to take one week a year to really appreciate it.

This year, I got to thinking about all the time periods that the banner “Historical Romance” covers, from medieval times to the 20’s, it covers a vast amount of time, and each time period is almost a sub genre all by itself. So, this week I am going to take you through some of my favourite time periods and settings and give you a little bit of historical detail as well as my experiences and recommendations. I plan to cover: Westerns, Victorian & Steampunk, Scottish and Regency. To start us off, we are in the British Empire..so welcome to the Victorian Era.

Historical Background

The Victorian era, as you may have guessed from the name, is the years in which Queen Victoria ruled. Her reign was from 1837-1901, this time period coincides with the American Old West; however, the culture was very different. The Victorian era is characterised by its strict adherence to morality, not even the pianos were allowed to show their ankles. Alongside this there was an increasing interest in mysticism and the occult, a titillating night of Victorian entertainment could very well involve a seance.

Queen Victoria’s reign became known as Britain’s Golden Age, as the national income per person rose by half, all ushered in by industrialisation, the relative peace in Europe and the absence of any large health epidemics. The ranks of the middle class rapidly grew and began to define themselves having a massive effect on culture and society in general. Of course, although you could be a very rich and successful business man, you still wouldn’t be considered quite as good as a aristocrat, with important government positions being occupied by the estate owning gentry. But, Queen Victoria’s rule, for the most part, was marked by great prosperity for British Empire.

Of course, it has its dark sides, due to the massive population boom poverty was rife and child labour is notorious in this period, with children as young as 4 being put to work to help out their families.

There are so many things about the Victorian era that could be mentioned, both about British society itself and the introduction of industrialisation, the architecture, the railway and important people in history such as William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli and about the life and time of Queen Victoria and the royal family. Then there are the famous writers of the time: Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, the Bronte sisters and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name a few.


One of the literary conventions I love that was inspired by the Victorian era is Steampunk.We get asked quite frequently what exactly steampunk is so here is a handy definition from Dictionary.com:

a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.
The above definition mentions the 19th century and in general most steampunk is set in Victorian England, due in part I believe to the industrial revolution that was taking place. London was full of new technology, metal and lots and lots of steam and smog. The perfect back drop for steam and cog driven technology.
But, what does that have to do with romance I hear you ask. Well, there are some fantastic romance heavy steampunk books out there and this post has given me the perfect vehicle in which to recommend you some of my favourites! Steampunk is great when you fancy something a little bit different where the only limit is the authors imagination and there are some fantastic books out there.


London Steampunk series
by Bec McMaster

I’m going to start with one of my favourites, the London Steampunk series, it’s a steampunk romance with a pinch of paranormal. Bec McMaster is a fantastic writer and she has set up her steampunk world perfectly balancing out the historical and the paranormal with the steampunk technology perfectly, till you are left with a unique blend of genres that is 100% McMaster’s own. And then there is the romance, each book in the series tells the tale of another couple, characters that have been in the background of previous books, and McMaster writes her romance just as well as she does her world building. This is a great introduction in to the genre if it’s new to you, and just a fantastic series if it isn’t.

The Wallflowers series
by Lisa Kleypas

This is, hands down, my favourite historical series and Lisa Kleypas is my favourite historical writer. The Wallflowers give you a series about romance, about friendship and about love. All set in the Victorian period, which is made plain with some of the characters involvement in the building and involvement in the railway business. Although this series doesn’t drown you in historical details, it’s more like a gentle lapping on your toes, it does demonstrate some of the changes, especially in industrialisation that was taking place in Britain at the time. Of course, that isn’t why I love it, although it does show Kleypas’ eye for detail, it is the romance and the characters that have me picking up this series again and again.

Iron Seas series
by Meljean Brook

I thought I would leave this post with one last Steampunk recommendation. Iron Seas by Meljean Brook, a series that just gets better and better as you read it. Although each book in this series is an individual romance, this series is also crammed with lots of adventure and action as well. It’s also a little bit sexy and bound to get your pulse racing for more reason than one.

To check out our reviews of this series please click on this sentence!


What are your favourite Victorian era romances, do you have any Steampunk recommendations for us?

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My favorite historical romance/mystery is Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Rayburn. I don’t read a lot of steampunk


Great post!


Amanda quick, julia quinn and christina dodd….also cassandra clare’s infernal devices are the first to pop in my head


Thanks for sharing 🙂

Amy R

I’ve only read 1 steampunk book and my favorite historicals are Kate Pearce and Maya Banks.

Sue G.

Great description of steampunk. I’ve always wondered what it was.

Lenna Hendershott

I’m not really sure which of my favorite authors write within this era. It is a wonderful time though. I believe Victoria Alexander is starting a series in this era, Lady Travelers Society. Steampunk is a particular favorite and you listed two of the very best. I guess I’ve got to start paying more attentions to the era my book series are written in, lol.

Joanna M

I love the London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster. Others I can mention are the Victorian Rebels by Kerrigan Byrne and Duke Defying Daughters by Ashlyn Macnamara but to tell the truth I’m sure there are plenty more that I’ve assumed are Regency but most likely were Victorian. I also need to start paying more attention to the eras!