historical fiction books | historical romance books

Top Hist Fic Picks for May

By Linda Ulleseit
May 6, 2022

We didn’t have very many April showers where I live, but I still hope for lots of May flowers! On a personal level, this month brings my first Mother’s Day as a grandmother (and my daughter-in-law’s first Mother’s Day). It’s a month to celebrate spring and mothers! New historical fiction this month includes the sequel to the bestseller The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and a new one from Guy Gavriel Kay.


The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken (May 16)

“A powerfully moving debut . . . Ukraine’s tragic history painfully echoes its current crisis, and on every page the Ukrainian spirit shines out, unbowed, unbent and unbroken. This is a compelling, timely read.” ~ Kate Quinn, author of The Rose Code

This is a dual timeline novel, featuring the story of sixteen-year-old Katya in 1929, and a young widow seventy years later who discovers her grandmother’s journal. Discovering an old family journal excites me enough to pick this one up. The setting, in a place unknown to me until the recent war, also appeals. The story is a chilling, timely tale of Stalin’s activists pressuring villagers to join a farming collective, resulting in Katya’s neighbors disappearing if they resist. Lots of elements here for a good story.


The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C. McPhail (May 31)

“An undercurrent of New Orleans’s dark side propels the story, heightening the tension and supplying McPhail with a wealth of evocative details.” ~ Publishers Weekly 

 I love sewing and needlework, so the beautiful gown on the cover of this book got my attention right away. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I’m intrigued by its history and culture. This story takes place in 1900, when Alice Butterworth, whose husband has disappeared, begins to teach sewing lessons at an orphanage. Constance Halstead comes to commission a gown and meets Alice. The women become friends, but their lives are complicated by the baby Alice carries and secrets in Constance’s past that strengthen their bond but threaten their business.


The Storm Girl by Kathleen McGurl (May 11)

“The gripping new historical novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Bletchley Park and The Forgotten Secret. A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.” ~ from the book description

Another dual timeline novel, the early period of this book is set in 1784. Esther’s family hides contraband in the cellar of their pub for smugglers. Conflicts with the law lead to Esther having to choose between her love and her family. In the present day, Millie Galton renovates the pub and discovers a clue behind the fireplace that might solve a mysterious disappearance from the 1700s. I love dual timeline novels, and one with smugglers and secrets discovered behind fireplaces intrigues me.


Hidden in Time by Sarah Woodbury (May 17)

“When Meg time traveled to 1268 Wales and landed in the arms of Prince Llywelyn, she changed the course of history forever. For most citizens of Earth Two, those changes were for the better, but one family in particular was torn apart.” ~ from the book description

This is the 19th book in the After Cilmeri series. I am currently on book three of the series and love the characters very much. I can’t predict when I will get to this one. There may be several more by then! The main character in this one, Lizzie, is an orphan. She and her sisters work hard at the convent and have no prospects. Lizzie prays for rescue, but it comes in a different way than she expected. This causes her to seek out Queen Marged (Meg), who caused her difficulties to begin with.


Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner (May 17)

“In a London still reeling from the ravages of World War II and the changes war has brought to English society, three young women take their futures into their own hands. With Bloomsbury Girls, Natalie Jenner has penned a timely and beautiful ode to ambition, friendship, bookshops, and the written word.” ~ Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library

I love novels set in bookstores or libraries. In fact, I just finished reading Janet Skeslien Charles’s The Paris Library. Three women work in a century-old bookstore in 1950. They interact with literary people of the time and each other, building a complex web of relationships, goals, and dreams. On my list for May. It’s an old bookstore.


When She Dreams by Amanda Quick (May 3)

The Lady Loves Danger by Annabelle Bryant (May 31)

Written on the Wind by Elizabeth Camden (May 3)


Framed in Fire by Iona Whishaw (May 10)

That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan (May 12)

Forever Past by Marty Ambrose (May 1)

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra (May 3)


The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson (May 3)

Paradise Close by Lisa Russ Spaar (May 31)

The Surgeon’s Daughter by Audrey Blake (May 10)

Historical Fantasy

Trust by Hernan Diaz (May 3)

All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay (May 17)


The Blue Butterfly by Leslie Johansen Nack (May 3)

Edith by Martina Devlin (May 31)

The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (May 10)


The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (May 3)

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton (May 24)

Dual Timeline

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong (May 31)

The Witch’s Tree by Elena Collins (May 17)

The Belladonna Maze by Sinéad Crowley (May 5)

When the Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer (May 3)


The Rise of the Gray Ghost by Michael Aye (May 1)

Ancient History

Shadow of the Eagle by Damion Hunter (May 26)

The Lion by Conn Iggulden (May 26)

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Linda Ulleseit
Written by Linda Ulleseit

Linda Ulleseit writes award-winning heritage fiction set in the United States. She is a member of Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Women Writing the West as well as a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Get in touch with her on Instagram (lulleseit) and Facebook (Linda Ulleseit or SHINE with Paper Lantern Writers).

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