Let’s begin with Jane Austen. Especially Pride & Prejudice. Those of us who love Austen will never forget the first time we read it, and how we were captivated by the lively Elizabeth Bennet and arrogant Mr. Darcy. Oh, how foolish they both were! But it worked out in the end. And forgive me, please, any Janeites who cringe at the thought of Pride and Prejudice being called a romance.
Another classic: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve been less enamored of Ms. Bronte since I discovered her snarky comments about Jane Austen, but I can’t deny what a powerful hold Jane Eyre has always had on me. I read it the summer I was fourteen, and many times after that. Jane has spunk and spirit, and she’s not afraid of anything Mr. Rochester dishes out. Oh, until that one thing.
If tragic love stories appeal to you, then Atonement should be on your list. Celia and Robbie’s love, rocked first by betrayal and then by war, is only part of the story. Ultimately, it’s more about redemption than love.
And talk about heartbreaking–I have loved Me Before You more than any book I’ve read in years. Here’s my review .
Among teen novels, Graceling is a compelling romance. Katsa resists love, believes she can’t find love without losing herself, and then falls headlong into it.
More Jane Austen. Persuasion is on my list, because of Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne. It pierces my heart.
I love Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels, and my favorite of them all is The Viscount Who Loved Me. Kate, so fiercely protective of her sister, trying to prevent her from marrying Anthony Bridgerton, then falling for him herself. And who could ever forget The Mallet of Death?
The Rarest Blooms novels, by Madeline Hunter, are also favorites. Provocative in Pearls is my top pick, because of the letter Hawkeswell writes to Verity. I guess I have a thing about letters. He bares his soul to her, and what woman can resist that?
Let’s talk a little Georgette Heyer, to round out the list: I love The Nonesuch, because once Sir Waldo falls for Ancilla Trent, he is so charmingly devoted to her. He handles everybody and everything so masterfully–except for Miss Trent. After showing a great deal of interest in him, she backs away, and he doesn’t understand why. Silly man, it’s so obvious.
And then there’s Sylvester. He and Phoebe fight a la Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, “willfully misunderstanding” each other. They each have their own vulnerabilities, which is what makes them so appealing. There are many other Heyer novels I adore, but I’ll stick with these two for now.
What are your favorites? Which romances make you swoon?