It’s so easy to pick out a book for me: if the cover features a girl in a vaguely Victorian/Regency/Edwardian dress, I’m in! She doesn’t really even have to be shown on the cover, just the dress will do. Does a quick glance at the back cover reveal that the girl in said dress is solving a mystery? Even better! Fortunately for me, this particular method of book selection has led to the discovery of some great series, so there’s always a new one to read. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite historical mystery series.
- The Pink Carnation series, by Lauren Willig
I remember stumbling across the first book in this series, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, in Borders (RIP, Borders) and thinking “Where has this been all my life??” It has everything I ever wanted in a book: spies, adventure, old-fashioned drama, and romance, all with a light-hearted touch. These books are fluffy and fun and are wonderful escapist reading.
- Her Royal Spyness series, by Rhys Bowen
I once tried to describe these books to my mom and ended up telling her they were “delightful murder mysteries.” There is almost nothing better than spending a rainy afternoon curled up with 34th-in-line-to-the-throne Lady Georgiana (Georgie) as she finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation.
- The Lady Emily series, by Tasha Alexander
Slightly more serious in tone than the previous series on this list, Lady Emily’s adventures take her all over the world and, of course, regularly land her smack in the middle of a murder investigation. Emily is progressive well beyond her time and her intelligence (which the reader is regularly reminded of) and curiosity keep her chasing down clues and following all the twists and turns along the way.
- The Lady Julia Grey series, by Deanna Raybourn
I was shocked by the twist ending in the first book in the series, Silent in the Grave, and from then I was hooked. Lady Julia’s adventures begin with her own husband’s murder investigation and continue with mysteries just as intriguing. These books are perfect winter reads!
- The Veronica Speedwell series, by Deanna Raybourn
There is only one book in this series so far, (the second installment will be out in January 2017) but it’s already one of my favorites! Feisty and adventurous, Veronica is the heroine 12 year old me would have wanted to grow up to be. A Curious Beginning was the sort of book that I didn’t want to put down because I was having such a good time reading it.
- The Luxe series, by Anna Godbersen
This is the one series on this list that doesn’t include any mysteries or espionage, but the dresses on the covers more than make up for it. The Luxe books are basically Gossip Girl set in 1899. They’re full of drama and scandal and, of course, pretty dresses and are so much fun. Great literature they are not, but that’s certainly not what we’re looking for here. My younger sister (and fellow Book Club Sunday Member, Molly) and I fell hard for these books when they first came out, even though I may have been *slightly* older than their target YA audience.
Wishing every day were Book Club Sunday,