So, you’re not into romance novels, all those bodice rippers and dark brooding heroes only make you roll your eyes, but you still want a little mood reading? No worries, here I am with a romance list guaranteed to entertain non-romance readers.
All the books I list here have some romance, but there is a larger story outside of the romance and those are the best kind, right? I love a little context to the story be it historical, cultural, or social, they add so much more depth to a romance.
- Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
This is one of my favorites. Not many would consider this a romance, but Rhett Butler is one of my favorite fictional characters and even though Scarlett came off as a bit of a bitch sometimes, I loved how tough she was in some really dire situations. And I must be one of the few people who think unsuccessful love stories are some of the best kind. Oops, did I let out a spoiler there?
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Again a very interesting and slightly controversial male lead and a very (at first read) poor mouse of a female lead. At least, that’s what I thought when I first read it as a teen. I was very scornful of poor Jane Eyre, and hated Rochester. I guess as I got older I could appreciate Jane’s moral strength and understand Rochester’s weaknesses. And it’s quite probable that if I read Jane Eyre again, my opinion of the book and the characters would change again. It’s that sort of book.
- Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
This is not a traditional romance as such, but I loved the Japanese setting, and the main character does spend a lot of time in the book mooning over a man who she thought doesn’t care for her. A great book if you are looking for a romance in an unusual environment (that of a geisha community).
- Naked in Death – J.D. Robb
This is a great book series to read if you like some suspense and science fiction tied in to a romance. The author is Nora Roberts writing under the pseudonym of J.D. Robb. I don’t always enjoy her romances, but this series is quite novel and very different from her regular writing style. You would never guess it is the same author.
At the time I read this book, I was a bit meh about the book, but I went on to read a couple more books in the series and liked them quite a lot. So, yeah, this particular book didn’t quite work for me, but the series as a whole is nice. A review of another In Death book is here.
- Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
I loved Outlander. The romance is steamy but it’s nowhere as clichéd as some of the other historical romances out there. The setting of Scotland and the time travel elements add to the interest. Plus, if you find yourself liking this book and the characters, there are seven more books penned by Gabaldon in this vein. Win!
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
What can I say about this book? It’s a great classic and has one of my all-time favorite romantic leads.
- Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Here’s another Jane Austen recommendation. She wrote some great romances that always have a little extra. I think the literary quality of her books is just simply amazing and vaults her books from simple romance/chick-lit category into a classic.
- The Thornbirds – Colleen McCullough
This is an epic book. It’s one of those old-fashioned yarns telling the tale of three generations of a family, but at its heart it’s a love story, and a wonderful love story at that. Highly recommend!
- Any of Georgette Heyer’s romances.
All are good, and all are high-quality, and very well-written. Best of all, they avoid a lot of romance novel clichés, while still being very romantic. Some of them are also laugh out loud funny. I don’t have a review to point you to because I read these books before my pre-blogging days, but some really nice ones are Frederica, Venetia, and The Grand Sophy.
Do you like to read romances? What’s your definition of a romantic novel? And what are you planning to read this Valentine weekend?