February is here and with Valentine’s Day soon approaching, bookshops are decorating their windows with the latest romantic releases and filling their shelves with tear inducing classics. From Jane Austen to Jojo Moyes, here are some of the most loved romance novels ever written, each bringing something a little different to the table. To make it fair-ish, I have included my favourite five romance novels and five of the highest-rated by readers online.
By Jane Austen
Well, this was going to be a given really, wasn’t it? It one of my favourite books ever written and more importantly, one of the highest-rated and most fondly reviewed romance novels of all time. Austen wrote a beautiful novel about learning from our mistakes, growing as individuals and falling in love. A must-read for every book lover.
2. The Time Traveler’s Wife
By Audrey Niffenegger
This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.
This book was adored by readers so much that it was made into a successful film. I am yet to read The Time Traveler’s Wife, but with such a beautiful storyline, I know I am going to love it.
3. Outlander (previously known as Cross Stitch)
By Diana Gabaldon
What if your future was the past?
1946, and Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. It’s a second honeymoon, a chance to re-establish their loving marriage. But one afternoon, Claire walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743, where the first person she meets is a British army officer – her husband’s six-times great-grandfather.
Unfortunately, Black Jack Randall is not the man his descendant is, and while trying to escape him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Scottish outlaws, and finds herself a Sassenach – an outlander – in danger from both Jacobites and Redcoats.
Marooned amid danger, passion and violence, her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.
Outlander was originally published under the title of Cross Stitch in the UK. It is the first novel in the Outlander Series, which became so popular, it was made into a television series. The reviews for this book couldn’t be higher if they tried to be and it was the most mentioned of all books on “Best Romantic Novels” lists online.
4. Jane Eyre
By Charlotte Bronte
A long novel, but an absolute classic and another romantic favourite of mine and amongst readers. Jane Eyre is a stunning, gothic, romance novel published in 1847 and still has readers hooked over a century later.
5. Gone With the Wind
By Margaret Michelle
Tomorrow is another day…
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell’s magnificent historical epic is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett O’Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.
6. The Ballroom
By Anna Hope
The Ballroom by Anna Hope is another one of my favourites. Set in Yorkshire, England in 1911, it tells the story of men and women who are forced to live separate from each other, only to meet one evening a week to dance in The Ballroom. During one dance, two hearts meet for the first time and their lives are never the same again. One of the most beautiful and moving novels I have ever read, with many historical accuracies.
7. The Notebook
by Nicholas Sparks
How far can love endure?
Noah Calhoun has just returned from World War Two. Attempting to escape the ghosts of battle, he tries to concentrate on restoring an old plantation home to its former glory. And yet he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met there fourteen years before, a girl who captured his heart like no other.
But when these distant memories begin to slide into reality, the passion that had lain still is ignited once more. Though so much is in their way, the miraculous force of their love refuses to fade.
This novel has received high praise since it was published in 1996 and has since been made into an amazing film.
8. It Ends With Us
By Colleen Hoover
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up–she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan–her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
I had never heard of this novel before, but it kept cropping up on every single romance novel list I could find. It was a New York Times Bestseller and was also GoodReads Choice 2016 winner! It is almost impossible to find a bad review.
9. Me Before You
By Jojo Moyes
Will needed Lou as much as she needed him, but will her love be enough to save his life?
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun teashop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
I watched the film to this book and I cried for hours . . .
10. Something Borrowed
By Emily Giffin
Rachel White is the consummate good girl. A hard-working attorney at a large Manhattan law firm and a diligent maid of honor to her charmed best friend Darcy, Rachel has always played by all the rules. Since grade school, she has watched Darcy shine, quietly accepting the sidekick role in their lopsided friendship. But that suddenly changes the night of her thirtieth birthday when Rachel finally confesses her feelings to Darcy’s fiance, and is both horrified and thrilled to discover that he feels the same way. As the wedding date draws near, events spiral out of control, and Rachel knows she must make a choice between her heart and conscience. In so doing, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren’t always neat, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself.
I love love love this book. I could relate to the characters so much; everyone knows a Darcy. I would definitely recommend reading this book. Sometimes romance doesn’t appear in our lives the way that we would like it to and this novel is a beautifully told story of complicated love. Isn’t love always complicated?
What books would you add to the list or recommend to others?