As a self-proclaimed Outlander junkie, I’m always on the lookout for different books that are just as romantic and compelling as my favorite series. Claire and Jamie are a force to be reckoned with, and it’s not easy to live up to that kind of love. Not to mention the historical details that Diana Gabaldon brings to the narrative, or her unique touches of fantasy and mystery. But over the years, I have found a few books that come close.
Here they are, along with this guarantee: if you like Outlander, you’ll love these 10 books. Promise.
Outlander Book Recommendations
Into the Wilderness, Sara Donati (Delta, 2008)
This is the first book in a series that Gabaldon herself recommends to readers — and Donati even includes mentions of Claire and Jamie in the narrative. Set in America in 1792, Into the Wilderness tells the story of Elizabeth Middleton, an English girl who travels to New York to live with her family in a small mountain village. While there, she meets Nathaniel Bonner, a rugged white man with connections to the local Indians, who call him “Between-Two-Lives.” Though he’s nothing like the man she’s supposed to marry, they fall in love anyway, setting Elizabeth’s life on a path she never thought possible.
The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2009)
I might love this World War II story of romance and adventure even more than Outlander. Sacrilegious, I know, but it’s just that good. Alexander is a Russian soldier who falls in love with Tatiana as soon as he sees her. Only, he’s already dating her sister and war has just broken out, bringing with it the siege of Leningrad. Alexander and Tatiana have one of the most epic love stories of all time, giving Claire and Jamie a real run for their money.
America’s First Daughter, Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie (William Morrow Paperbacks, March 1, 2016)
Outlander weaves real historical figures into the narrative, like Thomas Jefferson, who’s daughter Patsy is at the heart of this romantic, richly told story. After she falls in love with a political rival, Patsy is torn between love and duty to her family as her life takes her from Paris to Monticello to the White House.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner, 2014)
There’s just something so romantic about a love that transcends time and space. While time travel mostly functions as a way for our couple to meet in Outlander, it’s the entire premise of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which tells the story of how Clare and Henry meet and fall in love at different points in their lives. It’s sooo romantic, perfectly tragic and exactly the kind of book that an Outlander fan would eat up.
The Secret Language of Stones: The Daughters of La Lune; Book 2, M.J. Rose (Atria Books, July 19, 2016)
Like Gabaldon, Rose combines history and the paranormal in this lush follow up to last year’s The Witch of Painted Sorrows. During WWI, young and gifted Opaline Duplessi works as a jewelry maker, weaving her own unique magic into each piece she makes. When the ghost of a soldier contacts her as she’s working, it sends her on a journey that will change her life forever.
Lord John and the Private Matter, Diana Gabaldon (Dell, 2008)
Any fan of Gabaldon has to read the Lord John series, which takes a supporting character from her Outlander books and turns him into the star. Lord John Grey is always a witty delight, and in his own series we get to learn more about his past, and watch him solve mysteries as he navigates what it means to be a gay man in the mid-1700s.
The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet (Penguin Books, 2010)
I fell hard for Follet’s insanely detailed medieval-set novel about all the different players who come together to build a cathedral. It doesn’t sound like a sexy topic, but it is, trust me. Particularly the tortured-but-epic love between master builder Jack and the strong, independent Aliena.
Kushiel’s Dart: Kushiel’s Legacy; Book 1, Jacqueline Carey (Tor Books, 2015)
This series is definitely more fantasy-driven than Outlander, but it’s still romantic and filled with minute details about a specific time and place. That place just happens to be Terre d’Ange, an angelic kingdom whose motto is “Love as Thou Wilt,” because all forms of love (physical and beyond) are socially accepted. As such, courtesans are highly valued members of society, and our heroine, Phèdre, happens to have been born pricked by “Kushiel’s Dart,” a red mote in her eye that indicates an affinity for sadomasochism. Trained from childhood as a medieval super-spy and courtesan, the story follows Phèdre’s journey as she works to thwart a complicated plot that threatens to unravel her entire society.
The Rivals of Versailles: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy; Book 2, Sally Christie (Atria Books, April 5, 2016)
The Marquise de Pompadour might be one of the most interesting women in history. As the mistress of King Louis XV, she ruled the halls of Versailles, taking down rivals and making herself indispensable to one of the most powerful men in the world. But on the cusp of the French Revolution, everything could change in an instant. Christie captures the life and loves of the famous middle-class girl who clawed her way to the top of the social world.
Ransom, Julie Garwood (Pocket Books, 1999)
Garwood’s historical romances are definitely her strongest, and Ransom is the best of the best. Like many of her others, it’s set in Scotland around the year 1200 and involves a feisty English girl and the Scottish Laird she can’t help but falling for. This story also has kidnappings, evil English Barons and loads of Claire and Jamie style chemistry.
Main image via STARZ