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Love Amidst the Flames: Romance in the Time of Unrest

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The post you’re reading is part of Book Riot’s observance of #BlackOutDay. We are turning our attention fully to issues facing black authors and readers with help from the folks at #BlackoutDay and #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Book Riot is grateful to have a platform to celebrate diversity and critically examine the book world every day, but today we have turned the reins over to our black contributors and guest contributors all working towards social justice and good books. Enjoy!


In times of turmoil, love burns the brightest. So it should be no surprise that there are a plethora of stories that take place during wartime and other revolutions. These revolutions and varied uprisings are not always central to the story, but usually factor into it in some capacity. Sometimes the uprising might be peripheral; others, our protagonists are trapped in the middle of it. But at the heart of them all, these troubles can cause serious change, in the characters and in their surroundings.

Cover of Midnight by Beverly JenkinsMidnight by Beverly JenkinsAmerican Revolutionary War

Beverly Jenkins brings her signature style to a standalone tale of the earliest days of the American Revolution. Lady Midnight, a revolutionary informant and spy, turns out to be the daughter of a Tory. But someone starts to dig deeper into her identity in order to not only discover her secrets, but also discover information that affected and will further affect his family. Passion ensues, and not always the rebellious kind.




Cover of A Dream DefiantA Dream Defiant by Susanna Fraser by Susanna FraserPeninsular War

Elijah is a black soldier in the British Army in 1813 England. After one of his men is killed, Elijah honors a promise to deliver a gift to the man’s wife–and then more action than you might expect of 81 pages leaves the pair embarking upon their own special adventure.




Cover of Revolutionary HeartsRevolutionary Hearts by Pema Donyo – Indian Independence Movement

In the 1920s, a young Indian woman poses as a maid in a general’s household to spy for her brother, who is the member of a revolutionary group. Turns out said general is also a spy. An American spy.




Old cover of Lady of the Glen.Lady of the Glen by Jennifer RobersonMassacre of Glencoe

Young lovers from rival clans encounter and endure horrors in 17th-century Scotland and the time of William and Mary. This is probably the least fluffy of the set, but the effort is worth it.





Cover of A Fashionable IndulgenceA Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. CharlesPeterloo Massacre

When Harry Vane discovers that he could become the heir to a large fortune, he is working in the illegal print shop of a radical friend of his radical parents, who taught them their radical ways when he was very young. But to inherit, he must be a proper gentleman. And proper gentlemen don’t speak out against monarchy and magistrate, even if they do march on a peaceful gathering. To the shame of his dapper Pygmalion, this Galatea just might not have the blue blood his grandfather so hopes him to have.


My favorite aspect of these romances that take place during actual historical events is that I can learn (or at least touch upon the basics) about events while still experiencing the kind of fiction that I prefer. I can still empathize with the characters, and discover history from a first hand point of view, if the author has researched and written it in the right way.

There are so many novels–particularly in romance–that take place in times of turmoil, whether they are wartime, or some less organized form of unrest. These novels might have heroes and heroines directly involved with the action. Or they might find themselves encountering it as innocent bystanders. Or they might wish to be involved, but instead they can only speak on it. In any of those situations, the figurative and literal fires that burn are not simply political; they often find their way to the hearts (and beds) of the ones we follow.

What are your favorite romances that take place in times of unrest? Do you have other time periods that are your catnip? I, personally, would love to fill gaps in places like the African-American Civil Rights Movement, or the Boxer Rebellion.

Or the Haitian Revolution, for that matter.