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AAR Loves… Modern Historicals

There’s a book you love set in 1960, but is it a modern historical? Modern historicals differ from classic contemporaries in that contemporaries were written when the setting was “now,” but to a modern historical author, the setting was “then.” If that 1960 book was written in the sixties, it’s a classic contemp. That same 1960 story written and published a decade later? That’s a modern historical! Whether it’s a visit to a strange new world or a trip down memory lane, take a journey to the recent, post-World War II past in a modern historical!

Fly Me to the Moon series by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner

1960s US

The Fly Me To the Moon series transports readers to the 1960s and the Space Race. Engineers, computer scientists, sailors, contractors, and, of course, astronauts populate the five delightful novels in this series. Plots include workplace romance (including a queer romance), marriage due to pregnancy, and a troubled-marriage story, so there’s really something for everyone. As our reviewers have said, “Barry and Turner’s research into 1960s space engineering proves to be excellent; they have a good grasp on the mores of the time and the sort of technical prowess necessary to go into space… If you see stars in your eyes at the thought of NASA or are a fan of the 1960s or you simply enjoy well-researched, well-written books,” give this series a try.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole

1961 US (Virginia)

Childhood friends to lovers. Interracial romance. Interfaith romance. Civil Rights-era legal and social obstacles to happiness, and physical danger. Alyssa Cole manages to get all of this into a novella (plus two rich epilogues) telling the story of Sofronia “Sofie” Wallis, a young woman blooming from restraint to activism, and Ivan Friedman, a boxer from a Jewish refugee family.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Fire and Rain by Kathleen Eagle

1970s and 1860s US Dakotas

This fantastic dual-timeline novel explores the unwavering power of love. We follow Cecily, a journalist living in the 1970s, who discovers a century-old diary written by a white woman who fell in love with a Native American man. Eagle’s prose is lush and evocative, bringing to life the sheer beauty of the plains in the 1860s. It’s worth pointing out that the historical portion of the story contains racial slurs, which are realistic for the mid-19th century but can jar the modern reader. There’s a great deal to love about this book and the powerful love story it contains.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble

NOTE: No e-book version available

More than Memory and other 1950s-set books by Dorothy Garlock

1950s US (Iowa)

Garlock fills her stories with a wonderful sense of time and place, and her 1950s-era books are among her best works. In More than Memory, Lute and Nelda were forced into a shotgun marriage, but the baby died and the couple divorced. Nelda returns to their small hometown eight years later, and Lute is still there – and maybe their love is, too. Our reviewer says, More Than Memory is one of those romances that’s so sweet and beautiful it makes you cry. The characters went through hell, but ended up stronger and more in love than ever.”

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Christmas Presents and Past by Janice Kay Johnson

1968-90s US

This story follows a couple through the ups, downs and crazy turn-arounds of a lifelong romance. Dinah and Will meet in 1968 when they are both in high school. Deeply in love, they are surprised when he is drafted for the Vietnam War. Their love must survive the separation as he is shipped overseas and the trauma Will brings home from the conflict. Johnson beautifully showcases this time in American history and how that conflict shaped the generation affected by it.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Ride the Tiger by Lindsay McKenna

1960s Vietnam

Dany Villard, a French-American heiress, runs a rubber plantation in Da Nang, Vietnam. When a mine detonates on her property, Major Gib Ramsey investigates. Our reviewer raved, “Ride the Tiger is a perfect example of why I love category romance and why it makes up most of what I read. In 250 pages, it packs a fantastic hero, a wonderful heroine, a gripping and intriguing plot and a love story that will alternately thrill you, make you cry and break your heart.”

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

1970s Europe and US (Texas)

In one of SEP’s earlier, more women’s fiction-style works, pampered European heiress Francesca Day starts over as a single mother in rural Texas, until her path crosses again with golf pro (and her son’s father) Dallie Beaudine.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons

1940s-1980s USSR (Leningrad) and America

The first two books in this trilogy, The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana & Alexander, tell the epic and often tragic love story of Tatiana and Alexander set against the backdrop of WWII and the Soviet Union. The Summer Garden, the final book, is very different in tone as the couple has found peace in America but must now cope with the aftermath of all they experienced. The story spans decades, showing how even a strong love can be tested by time. From a historical standpoint, the third book is interesting because it covers the Vietnam War from the perspective of a WWII vet and a woman who lived through the siege of Leningrad.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Then Came Heaven by Lavyrle Spencer

1950s US (Minnesota)

Sister Regina undergoes a vocational crisis, including, but not limited to, falling for Eddie Olczak, a widower whose children are students at her Catholic school. She applies to be released from her vows – but will a small town accept a former nun who marries? This is a slow-paced story that is especially notable for its evocative depictions of pre-Vatican II old-school Catholic traditions.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble

Sugar Pie Guy by Tabitha True

1976-7 US (Cleveland)

It’s disco! It’s Cleveland! It’s completely charming! In this sweet but sexy romance, developer Randy Manucci falls hard for Bobbie Bell, whose aunt is one of his tenants in the shopping plaza Randy’s company wants to redevelop as a mall. This gentle story includes an interracial main couple and a gay supporting couple, and while “cozy” may be an unexpected word for doing the hustle in silver Lurex, it’s the description that fits. The well-developed setting is also a star.

Buy it at: Amazon

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

2017 release Dear Aaron is a classic Zapata slow-burn romance set during the Iraq war in 2008 (we hate to break it to you, but 2008 is historical now!). Ruby Santos and Aaron Hall – paired up as correspondents by the Help a Soldier project – are by turns awkward, funny, and adorable as they get to know each other through email and IM. It’s a good read, and an interesting look at a time that feels like yesterday, but is missing conveniences like videochats and smartphones.

Buy it at: Amazon

The Decades books by various authors

The Decades series tells African-American stories in every decade of the 20th century. The 1960s book was delayed due to health issues for its author, so the modern, post-WWII historicals in this series are:

1950s: Pride and Passion by Carla Buchanan

A Korean War widow finds a second love with her late husband’s colleague.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble

1970s: Election Day by Keith Thomas Walker

A mayoral candidate falls for his campaign manager among racial and political tensions in an unequal Texas town.

Buy it at: Amazon

1980s: Made to Hold You by Elle Wright

A recovering drug addict begs his ex-wife for a second chance.

Buy it at: Amazon

1990s: Thug Love by Zuri Day

A journalist meets an undercover cop while reporting on the murder of Tupac Shakur.

Buy it at: Amazon

Interested in finding more books AAR Loves..?

Check out these posts:

Yes We Can! Our Favourite Activist Heroines

Romances featuring Refugee Heroines

Romancing it Royally – Some of our favourite royal romances

AAR Loves… Historical Romances featuring scientist heroines

AAR Loves… Romances featuring music and musicians

AAR Loves… Romances featuring realistic parent/child relationships

AAR Loves… Partners to Lovers romances – Part One (Military, law enforcement etc.)

AAR Loves… Partners to Lovers romances – Part Two

AAR Loves… Seasoned Romance

Five Baseball Romances Worth Your Time


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