My Top 16 Romance List: In Memory of Kathleen Windsor

Friday, October 16, 2009

I saw this on another blog and thought it was a wonderful idea. To quote: "On October 16, in honor of the birth date of Kathleen Winsor, author of Forever Amber, please consider posting your top 16 romance novels. Thanks to Maili for idea. If the thought of 'all time' faves daunts you, just post what strikes you as 16 of your faves on that day — no commitment to keep the list in perpetuity."

This list was hard to come up with, as I have read so many wonderful romances that have stuck with me over the years. But in honor of Kathleen Windsor, here is a list of 16 of my absolute favorites (with the reasons why), alphabetized by the author's last name:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Austen’s novels are a treasure trove, but I forced myself to limit myself to picking just one gem. To perhaps my own surprise, I picked Pride and Prejudice. Though I love this book, I tend to list Persuasion or Northanger Abbey as my favorites. So why did I pick this particular classic? Because the love story never fails to grab me. Darcy and Lizzie’s road to love is filled with obstacles, mostly of their own making, but how can you not fall in love with two bickering souls who are so imperfectly perfect for one another?

2. Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell: Though all of Campbell’s books are fantastic, her debut novel, Claiming the Courtesan, remains my favorite. Need proof? I own four copies of the book. Claiming the Courtesan is dark, no doubt about it. Justin is borderline villain for the first portion of the book, but not only does his behavior fit with the time period and his station, I was drawn to him even in his worst hour. His redemption and love for Verity comes through in the end, through no small amount of struggle on both their parts. This book is simply stunning and I loved it.

3. The Sherbrooke Bride by Catherine Coulter: The hero’s an ass, the heroine is stubborn, and the battle between them is nearly worthy of Kate and Petruchio. So why do I love this book? I haven’t the foggiest, but there’s something about it that always makes me grab it for another read. The insatiable need to re-read this book, despite the flaws of all characters involved, earns The Sherbrooke Bride a place on this list.

4. Aidan & Ethan by Cameron Dane: There is nothing better than a well-written reunion romance and Aidan & Ethan tops my list as the best. Its heroes are devastatingly sexy and their road to happily ever after not an easy one. Past wounds must be dealt with and overcome and I could not put this book down until I saw that happen. In the increasingly popular subgenre of male/male romance, this book is unquestioningly my favorite so far.

5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: It’s a fantastic romance with 19th century social commentary in the backdrop. Though there are elements of Darcy and Elizabeth in John Thornton and Margaret Hale, North and South is no Pride and Prejudice (although if you like one, you will likely like the other). I fell for Thornton and Margaret’s arguing their way into love in this timeless classic.

6. Saving Grace by Julie Garwood: Garwood has a way of making me laugh, sigh, and fall in love with her characters, so it’s hard to pick just one of her books for this list. This book did all of the above, and has whisked me away for countless hours of entertainment with every read.

7. Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon: For me, there is no picking one favorite with Kenyon; quite frankly it was hard enough to limit the number to two. Dance with the Devil is unforgettable to me, with its angry, distant hero who reluctantly falls in love with the one woman (or rather nymph) who is utterly perfect for him. I dare anyone to forget the bread scene (and most likely only those who have read the book will know what I am referring to).

8. Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon: She’s a sweet, average, voluptuous heroine who’s been dumped by her jerkoff ex. He’s a drop-dead gorgeous Were-Hunter who thinks she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Vane and Bride’s romance is one of the most tender, wonderful romances I’ve ever read and I never fail to think of it without smiling.

9. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas: And when he was bad, he was very, very bad. And when he was wicked he was better. Sebastian St. Vincent is one of the sexiest rakes in romance history. So who better for him to fall in love with than a quietly lovely, shy, intelligent heroine who stutters and that men don’t look twice at? This book, along with Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, is my go-to for comfort reads. It’s wonderfully written and has everything you could ask for in a perfect romance novel.

10. Born in Sin by Kinley MacGregor: Technically I’m picking three Kenyon books, as MacGregor and Kenyon are one in the same, but Born in Sin is one of my favorite historical romances and has to be on this list. Sin is a hero whose heart has been bruised and battered to the point he considers it dead. Good thing Caledonia convinces him otherwise. This book broke my heart and put it back together again, and there’s a scene in here every bit as unforgettable as the bread scene in Dance with the Devil.

11. The Flavor of Summer by Lyra Marlowe: This book grabbed my attention from the first and didn’t let go. Ariel and David are two of the sweetest characters I’ve ever come across and their story was a gorgeously written story of love and acceptance. I don’t know one person I’ve recommended this story to that hasn’t loved it.

12. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn: The handsome, kind hero and the intelligent, ordinary-looking wallflower *sigh* It’s so hard for me to name the reasons why I love this story, other than the talent of Quinn and the innate likeability of Penelope and Colin. The best way I can put it is that Romancing Mr. Bridgerton simply sparkles.

13. Sea Swept by Nora Roberts: I picked up my first Nora Roberts novel when I was 12 and I’ve been a fan ever since. Like Austen and Garwood, it’s darn near impossible to pick just one favorite, but I had to go with Sea Swept. It’s sexy, heartbreaking, and utterly unforgettable, simple as that.

14. Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh: I love, love, LOVE Singh’s Psy-Changeling series and Branded by Fire is one of my favorites. Mercy and Riley are both strong, dominant protagonists and they are perfectly matched with one another. They burn up the page, both in bed and out, and the book itself was fascinating from the first page to the last.

15. Cold as Ice by Anne Stuart: In the beginning of the story, Peter wouldn’t think twice about killing Genevieve; he’s that cold and, as an agent, it’s his duty to protect mankind, even if that means sacrificing one innocent. And yet they fall in love anyway. I love that Stuart’s heroes aren’t nice and her heroines are humanly strong (in other words, untrained civilians do not suddenly act like superheroes). Cold as Ice is fascinating, compelling, and, in my case, in need of a replacement after so many re-reads.

16. Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward: If ever a hero needed to find happiness, it’d be Zsadist. I fell in love with the scarred former blood slave in Ward’s first Black Dagger Brotherhood book, Dark Lover, and with his heroine in the second, Lover Eternal. Lover Awakened is a punch-you-in-the-gut kind of tale with the hardships both Zsadist and Bella face, but that makes the payoff with their love story is all the more worth it. I remember practically scaring a bookstore clerk with my enthusiasm when I bought the book and in the intervening 3+ years since I first read it, that enthusiasm has yet to wane.






1 comments:

Angela said...

What a fantastic list! You have many of my favorites listed as well, and you make me wish to pick up the few that I haven't read....

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