From Mary Anning to Lise Meitner, from Caroline Herschel to Katherine Johnson, history is full of brilliant women in STEM. Historical romances should be, too! If you’re seeking geologists, biologists, mathematicians, botanists, and more, AAR Loves these great romance reads.


Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner (computer scientist): Dr. Charlie Eason is working with the US space program in the 1960’s with the goal of getting an American into orbit before the Soviets. She’s got beauty and brains, and her co-worker, engineer Eugene Parsons, is attracted to both. They engage in a secret affair amidst the life and death drama of their mission. It’s an exciting look at the race for space and a great acknowledgement of the part women have played in scientific success.

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Evernight by Kristen Callihan (inventor): AAR’s review likened Holly Evernight to the Q character from the Bond franchise – an apt descriptor.  Brilliantly inventive, shy and a bit socially awkward (due to her agoraphoria), she meets her match in Will Thornton.  He draws out her slightly naughty, feisty and playful side and it’s a treat to witness.

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A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare (geologist): Bookish Minerva Highwood is more interested in rocks than in men, but her determination to save her lovely sister from the clutches of a seasoned rake drives her to do something rather foolish and ask said rake to run off with HER instead.  This is one of the best road-trip romances and the author has yet to top it.  Colin is one of Tessa Dare’s finest creations,  hiding a vulnerability behind the good-looks and charm that is sometimes heartbreaking.

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A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant (mathematician): Genius Lydia Slaughter has endured a difficult life and is trying to gain her independence by using her math talents to gamble. She wins money from a hero who needs it as much as she does. They realize that they can win more effectively as a team – and that the gaming floor may not be the only place where they match up perfectly.

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The Widow and the Sheikh by Marguerite Kaye (botanist): Julia Trevelyan is the widow of an eminent botanist whose promise to complete his final work – a study of lands her in trouble when her desert camp is attacked and all her books and samples are stolen.  Help comes in the form of the handsome Azhar, ruler of the kingdom of Al Qaryma – who is returning there for the first time in ten years. Attraction burns bright and Julia blossoms in the presence of a man who treats her as a person and values her opinions.  But for two people from such different worlds, an HEA must be impossible.  Mustn’t it?

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Midsummer Moon by Laura Kinsale (inventor): Merlin Lambourne is a scientist/inventor who, many years before the historical invention of the telegraph, is believed to be on the verge of inventing something akin to it. The British government is keen to get its hands on this technology, seeing multiple uses for it at a time of war. Lord Ransom Falconer is sent to bring her and her invention to London, but when an… experiment with the table salt has unintended consequences, he finds his world turned upside-down in more ways than one!

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50 Ways to Ruin a Rake by Jade Lee (chemist): Mellie Smithson’s chemical research has helped make her into a textile heiress, but her father and uncle want her to marry her cousin. Trevor Anaedsley, ducal heir and hobbyist scientist, offers her a fake engagement so she can come to London with him and meet other eligible men, then break their relationship off. Both will realize, however, that they only want each other. The finale sequence, involving a four-way duel and a turkey, is laugh-out-loud funny.

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The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (biologist working with plants): Years ago, researcher and Countess Violet Waterford enlisted Sebastian Malheur to pretend to have developed her theories, since as a woman, she could not get published or taken seriously on matters involving reproduction. When he tells her he’s done, will she stop her work – or stand up for it?

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Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan (mathematician): Brilliant and shy, Rose Sweetly is a mathematician who is also black. Although Rose is aware of the prejudices against her (this is Victorian London), she quietly perseveres despite the obstacles in her path.  She’s sweet and lovely and sharp and bright and a favorite Milan heroine.

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The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham (botanist): Poplar – Poppy – Cavendish is an ambitious, self-taught botanist, determined to prove herself as a businesswoman.  But she longs to be loved too.  Despite the marriage convenience plot that finds her allied with an aloof and secretive husband, she thrives once he helps her establish her business.  Bright, devoted and resourceful, this one isn’t a quitter.

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The Veronica Speedwell Mysteries by Deanna Raybourn (lepidopterist): Smart, resourceful and independent, Veronica lives life on her own terms.  She’s a feminist ahead of her time, and her prickly relationship with Stoker is delicious. Through three books we’ve watched them solve intricate mysteries and strike sparks off each other as they’ve built a relationship built on equality and trust.  They’re made for each other – readers are just waiting for them to admit it out loud!

Sweet Enemy by Heather Snow (chemist): Liliana Claremont is particularly interested in the science of chemistry and how it can be applied to healing. When her home is ransacked, and she discovers a previously unknown hidden compartment in her late father’s study, she finds evidence that his death may not have been an accident and plunges headlong into the search for the killer. Our DIK review calls it a is a sensual romantic suspense with characters that have brains and passion, and are not afraid to put both to good use. Sweet Madness, book three in the Veiled Seduction series, was also awarded DIK status; its heroine, Penelope, is a kind of proto-psychotherapist.

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A Stranger’s Kiss by Shelly Thacker (chemist): Marie Nicole LeBon is a chemist working on a fertilizer that may either revolutionize French agriculture or become a powerful explosive weapon in France’s arsenal. After a laboratory accident, Marie awakes in an asylum with no memory and a handsome British spy posing as her husband beside her hoping to discover the scientific secrets in Marie’s mind. Marie is strong and clever, and the story glows with adventure, romance, and science.

(Note: this title is currently available only as as used paperback, although we believe it will be reissued digitally later this year).

Buy it at: Amazon


Readers – what can you add to our list? Can you think of settings (the Renaissance?), fields of study (engineering?), or places (the US?) to fill out our list? We deliberately kept doctors and healers off this list because there are so many of them in Romancelandia. Would you like to see a list featuring them? What other AAR Loves lists would you like to see in the future?

~ Caroline Russomanno