Somebody asked could I tell you my favorite romance novels.
I’ve read an embarrassing number of them, nearly all of them profoundly forgettable or worse. But handful have stuck with me for various reasons. Here’s 10:
Gone with the Wind. Scarlett O’Hara is the greatest heroine in American fiction. Not an unproblematic book by any means, but damn. Among my very favorite books of all time.
Pride and Prejudice. One of the greatest books in the English language, and Elizabeth Bennett is one of the greatest heroines in the English language. Clever, funny, charming, a perfectly constructed story, beautifully told. Another of my all-time favorite books.
Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, Busman’s Honeymoon: the Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane novels. There are some short stories too. Read them all, read them in order. I find Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane each to be terribly compelling characters – I’ve written about them before. If you disagree about them, you’ll probably hate all of these books. They’re mystery novels, too; don’t be surprised when there’s, like, all this whodunnit plotting in addition to the love story.
Flowers from the Storm. Mid-C19th math genius (and, incidentally, duke) hero has stroke and is nursed to health by Quaker heroine. Fairly minimal plot, but the nascent clinical neuropsychologist in me enjoyed mapping the location and extent of the brain damage, as indicated by the functionality of the hero. Least beta hero of all my faves (apart from Rhett Butler, of course).
To Love and to Cherish. Soooooper sweet Victorian era hero, totally nice guy. Minimal plot, wish the atheist heroine held stronger to her atheism, but I couldn’t guarantee that, confronted with this particular hero, even I wouldn’t start questioning. First in a series of three, and the only one worth reading.
Morning Glory. Nice guy hero, nice gal heroine, nice heartwarming story. Nice. Sweet. Interwar, post-war (WWII of course).
Lord Carew’s Bride. Regency-set, dopey and almost plotless, but the hero is SUCH a nice guy and the connection between the hero and heroine is SO sweet I can’t help liking it. One of VERY few heroes who isn’t physically compelling – in fact he’s a standard hero turned inside out: most of them are physically perfect and emotionally wounded, while he’s emotionally totally GREAT and physically wounded. It’s the second in a series of stories; the version I’ve linked to includes its predecessor, which is dumb.
And now having written that I feel like I’ve revealed all kinds of things about myself that I didn’t intend, but what the hell. It’s a blog, so isn’t that at least partly the point?