Vanessa Riley

About Vanessa Riley

I love History, Romance, the Regency, Food, Family, Faith and Friends.

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Island Queen

A remarkable, sweeping historical novel based on the incredible true life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies.

Bookclubs and Booksellers' Picks and Starred Reviews:




New York Times Book Review - "Island Queen provides an incisive interior view of some of the thorniest aspects of West Indian colonial culture. Evocative and immersive, Riley's narrative bears that weight with grace; discovering Dorothy's story is a singular pleasure."


Click For More News on Island Queen 

Island Queen has been optioned for an adaptation to Television by Longboat Pictures with Julie Anne Robinson, Adjoa Andoh, and Victoria Fea as executive producers.


Sister Mother Warrior

Two women join together to defeat their oppressors and help a nation become free. Based on the true lives of Adbaraya Toya and Marie-Clair Bonheur. Riley was named the 2023 Georgia Author of the Year Awards Literary Fiction Winner for Sister Mother Warrior.

Sister Mother Warrior is a Summer Pick or Starred Review for the following:


Library Journal Starred Review  AudioFile Magazine Audible Award Essence List of Top Books  Atlanta Journal-Constitution  USA Today Bookbub Best Historical Fiction        Amazon Editor's Pick  for historical fiction, Black historical fiction, Black History, Caribbean History  Historical Novel Society


Learn More about Sister Mother Warrior

Library Journal Review - "Riley follows up Island Queen with another sweeping, powerful historical novel based on two remarkable real women."


Buy Queen of Exiles

Fans of Regency romances and stories of strong Black women will find Haiti's Queen Marie--Louise irresistible. Riley's engaging characters pull us into the world of privileged royals, their stately homes, breathtaking wealth, and, deliciously, their romances and illicit affairs. Acutely aware of the challenges facing a Black queen, Riley deftly builds a portrait of a proud woman who commits her life to showing the world "that it was possible to be royal, Black, and have a happily-ever-after life." -- Kirkus
"A gripping tale of triumph and tragedy. . . The immensely talented Vanessa Riley traces the little--known yet crucially important life of this real-life, nineteenth-century woman, immersing readers in Queen Louise's inspiring history. A tour de force!" --MARIE BENEDICT, New York Times bestselling author of The Mitford Affair
"From the very first page, I was drawn into the Kingdom of Hayti and into the life of Marie-Louise Christophe. This book is majestic from the characters that were so well written it seemed as if 1 could feel each one's heartbeat, to the travel between the decades where I felt the joy of her triumphs as the queen, to the pain of her exile. Queen of Exiles is one novel that you will never want to put down. It should be required reading. -- VICTORIA CHRISTOPHER MURRAY,
New York Times bestselling author of The Personal Librarian
The Queen of Black historical fiction is back, following Sister Mother Warrior (2022) with another novel exploring the life of a powerful but often overlooked Black woman, Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid of Haiti. Riley brings well-deserved vitality to the story of an incredible woman and a unique newborn nation. -- Booklist

Looking for a Good Book to Read?

Try Queen of Exiles
Queen Louise is a Passionate Traveler...

Indie Bookstore Campaign for Limited 8x10 Print


You need to know Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid Christophe. This forgotten queen is a woman of elegance and conflicted loyalties. She's a true survivor. The story of her Regency reign and exile is ripped from the headlines for this historical fiction novel. Meet the woman. See her heart. Feel her love. Queen of Exiles is available now.

It's a good book for women. It's great for book clubs. It's an amazing book to boost women's confidence.


Early Reviews

"You may not know Marie-Louise Christophe but once you have met her, you won't forget her. Vanessa Riley's historical novel feels timely and relevant, commemorating a time when Black women were queens." - Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"A sweeping look at the political, social, and romantic intrigue surrounding Haiti's first and only queen. Riley's depiction is richly imagined and wholly original." - Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace
"Queen of Exiles is the riveting account of Marie-Louise Christophe, Haiti's first and only Queen. Bold, ambitious, historically sound and beautifully told." - Sadeqa Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of The House of Eve

List and Reviews Featuring Queen of Exiles:

        Editor's Choice

Sisters AARP

Duchess of York's Historical Book Club