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Time Travel Romance

What is the Time Travel Romance Genre?

The Time Travel genre is a fun one since the stories can start anywhere in the present time and travel back to anywhere in the past. The possibilities are literally endless. Sometimes the hero moves forward into the present, but usually it features a heroine who moves back into the past. There are very few novels that travel into the future.

The genre features some kind of magic or of belief in the supernatural/intervention of fate, and requires a leap of faith by the reader.

What to Expect in the Time Travel Romance Genre

  • Obviously, time travel

  • Well developed plot, setting, theme and characters

  • Historical settings (most of them are set somewhere in the United Kingdom)

  • They don’t always have a “happily ever after” ending

Time Travel Romance Characteristics

  • Level of Angst

    The level of angst in this genre is relatively high. Most of the stories feature regret, and the reason for the time travel is to right a terrible wrong in the past, or to make a different decision in the past and fix/change the present.

  • Character Development

    This genre features some of the most fully developed characters found in all romance novels. There are a lot of moving points in these novels, so there is a lot of care and thought put into character development, setting, scene, etc.

  • Plot Strength

    The plot strength is exceptionally high in this genre. It requires a lot of planning to make it work, and a lot of the writers actually say they start with how they want the book to end, and then work backwards to tell the story. The effect is a very well developed story.

  • Romantic Tension

    The level of romantic tension is pretty high in this genre. We are never quite sure what will happen to the characters in the present – or the past. The stories are usually developed from the perspectives of both characters – the time traveler and the person who dwells either in the present or the past.

  • Level of Eros

    Pretty low. Honestly, these novels are mostly about the romance and not as much about the physical sex. To be sure, the novels do HAVE sex, but they are definitely not the focus of these novels.

  • Prose Quality

    The prose quality in this genre is incredibly strong. It requires an exceptional amount of background research to present accurate depictions of the past, and to think about the responses that present characters would have in the past (no plumbing, no underwear, no running water), and what characters from the past would experience in the present (cars/buses, electricity, the microwave oven).

Related Romance Subgenres



  • The main subgenres for this genre are historical romance and paranormal romance.

Time Travel Romance isn't for you if

You must have a happy ending, like “real life” scenarios, and you like a straightforward storyline.

Time Travel Romance is totally for you if

You enjoy the supernatural/paranormal. You don’t need to have a traditional happy ending. You enjoy relationship development.

Popular Time Travel Romance Books
  • 1 The Summerhouse (2012)

    By Jude Deveraux. Is my absolute favorite time travel romance novel. This is the story of three friends celebrating their 40th birthdays who get the chance to relive any three weeks from their past. Will they take the road not traveled the second time around? Deveraux has written a lot of these books, and I could easily include all of them on this list (but I will limit myself to three of them).

  • 2 Return to Summerhouse (2008)

    By Jude Deveraux. Features the same magical house as Summerhouse but has different main characters. In this novel, three women who have pasts they would like to rewrite are given the chance to do so…with amazing results.

  • 3 Remembrance (2004)

    By Jude Deveraux. Is the fascinating story of a romance writer who becomes obsessed with one of her own historical heroines. In trying to connect with her she accidentally ends up transported to the past where she discovers more than she ever could have hoped about her heroine, and herself.

  • 4 A Knight in Shining Armor (2012)

    By Jude Deveraux. I’m sorry – I had to do a fourth book by her. This is the story of a woman experiencing great distress who accidentally summons a knight into the present. Hilarity ensues. Then he goes back into the past, and she decides to go back and pursue him. More hilarity. This is the classic time travel story without the classic happy ending. I actually LOVED the ending of this book, but not everyone does.

  • 5 Outlander (2004)

    By Diana Gabaldon. Is the first book of a hugely popular series of books – which went on to become a popular television series. Starting in 1945, the heroine is reunited with her husband for a second honeymoon following her combat duty as a nurse when she is thrown back in time to1743. While there she meets a man who turns out to be her savior, but who might also cost her everyone that she cares about in her own time.

  • 6 Once a Pirate (2013)

    By Susan Grant. Tells the story of a Navy pilot who is forced to bail out of her plane, only to be rescued by pirates from 200 years earlier.

  • 7 Dark Viking (2010)

    By Sandra Hill. Is about a Navy Seal whose accident ends up sending her time traveling and finding herself in a Viking prison, while still in her wetsuit. Her battle of wits – and wills – with their warlord becomes so hot it threatens to tear them both apart.

  • 8 Binding Vows (2014)

    By Catherine Bybee. Tells the story of a hero who time travels forward, and the woman he encounters there who is intrigued and beguiled by him. She agrees to travel to his home in Scotland. He neglects to mention that he lives in Scotland during the 16th century.

  • 9 It Happened One Night (1997)

    By Leslie LaFoy. Is the story of a heroine who has an incredibly mundane life as an accountant. Her desire to fulfill an aunt’s last wish brings her to Ireland and somehow catapulted back to 1803. A mix-up leads her to be captured by a sea captain/pirate, and her encounters with him lead her to protect both her life and her soul, all while holding on to her independent 20th century spirit.

  • 10 The Queen’s Man (2002/2012)

    By Terri Brisbin. Is a classic time travel tale of intrigue, royalty and romance. Desperate to be king, but believing himself to be illegitimate, the hero ends up serving his half-sister. A museum curator on vacation discovers what she thinks might be the “truth” about him in the present day, and then finds herself sent back in time to right the wrong.  It could cost him his life if she is wrong, and could cost them their love if she is right.