For Women’s History Month, Read A Historical Romance Novel

Maya Rodale
4 min readMar 1, 2021

Every March, we bemoan the lack of representation of women in our textbooks, statues, science, and literary canon while celebrating a few token great ladies. Denied context, these women stand out like mad women in ballgowns in the wilderness — interesting more as an anomaly but hardly representative. The truth is our lady ancestors were living varied, fascinating lives and if we want a complicated, triumphant and real version of women’s history, then we ought to read a historical romance novel.

Historical romance novels — like the series by Julia Quinn that inspired Netflix’s biggest hit, Bridgerton — teach women’s history by osmosis. ­­They immerse a reader in the past in an accessible way that textbooks cannot (if they even tried). Armchair reviewers sometimes claim that “a young lady would never”, but the truth is that someone, somewhere most certainly did. Historical romance novelists are forensic archeologists who go through our accumulated history with a particular lens, looking for those stories and breathing life into them.

A romance novel is about love and seduction, yes, but they are also about women’s lives in a world that isn’t always interested in the internals and externals of a woman’s existence. The real adventures, friendships and accomplishments of extraordinary but forgotten women are remembered and written as inspiration in a thousand meticulously-researched romance novels.

We celebrate Stacey Abrams and the Black women who delivered us a Blue Georgia. Daughters of a Nation: a Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology by Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Piper Hugely and Kianna Alexander sets stories of love and triumph in the long tradition of Black women organizing for change. Their happy ever after encourages readers to carry on the tradition.

We celebrate the female scientists whose work led to the Covid-19 vaccine and highlight Marie Curie in women’s history month. Courtney Milan’s The Countess Conspiracy or Tessa Dare’s A Week To Be Wicked portray pioneering female scientists, what compromises they had to make to do their work, and what made it possible for future generations to benefit.

Today our stereotypical computer programmer is a dude in a hoodie, but it was a woman in a corset — Ada Lovelace —…

Maya Rodale

Bestselling author of funny, feminist historical romance. As seen in Bustle, Glamour, Shondaland, Buzzfeed, HuffPo,PBS. She/Her.

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