Who among us doesn’t have a collection of favorite romance novels hidden away on their bookshelves for those days where you want to be swept away in a whirlwind of love and swoon over book boyfriends. I keep my romance novels on my bookshelf in the bedroom away from prying eyes and nosy visitors who may ask, “Oh, can I borrow this one?” I always say no because I dare not risk coffee stains, water drops, and smudges all over the books I love to read over and over again. Still, would you believe I didn’t start reading romance novels until after I’d graduated high school? It’s true.
My parents are both heavy readers and always encouraged me to read anything that interested me. I was definitely a daddy’s girl and I only wanted to read what my dad read. That meant I read a lot of biographies, memoirs, and history. I’m sure it may have looked odd to some people, seeing a 1o-year old girl reading a biography of Johnny Cash, but it gave my Dad and I something to talk about and bond over. It wasn’t until after I’d graduated high school and moved away that I started discovering romance novels and falling in love through the pages. It didn’t take long for me to have shelves and shelves of my favorite romance novels which I’d run to over and over again to help mend a broken heart or give me hope that true love exists.
Today, I am sharing some of my favorite romance novels that I continue to turn to time and time again. I think you’ll love them too although I do have to warn you that I’m a sucker for tragedies and the stories below (while some of my favorite romance novels) may be a bit heartbreaking in parts.
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If you like star-crossed lovers…
Read: Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen
London 1957. In a bid to erase her past and build the family she yearns for, Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from ambitious British diplomat, Lucien Grainger. When he is posted to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat high society, old wounds begin to break open as she is confronted with the memory of her first, forbidden love and its devastating consequences.
The suffocating conformity of diplomatic life soon closes in on her. This is not the India she fell in love with ten years before when her father was a maharaja’s physician, the India of tigers and scorpions and palaces afloat on shimmering lakes; the India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two, separating her from her one true love. The past haunts her still, the guilt of her actions, the destruction it wreaked upon her fragile parents, and the boy with the tourmaline eyes. Sophie had never meant to come back, yet the moment she stepped onto India’s burning soil as a newlywed wife, she realized her return was inevitable. And so begins the unraveling of an ill-fated marriage, setting in motion a devastating chain of events that will bring her face to face with a past she tried so desperately to forget, and a future she must fight for.
A story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no one knew how to avoid.
Read: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn’t stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.
Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.
The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals—steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.
Read: The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan
On the eve of WWI, two students fall in love in Harvard’s hallowed halls and must face a world at war from opposing sides
Helen Windship Brooks is struggling to find herself at the world-renowned Harvard-Radcliffe University when brooding German poet Wils bursts into her life. As they fall deeply in love on the brink of WWI, anti-German sentiments mount and Wils’ future at Harvard-and in America-is in increasing danger. When Wils is called to fight for the Kaiser, Helen must decide if she is ready to fight her own battle for what she loves most.
From Harvard’s hallowed halls to Belgium’s war-ravaged battlefields, The End of Innocence is a powerful new vision of finding love and hope in a violent, broken world.
If you like forbidden love…
Read: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army. Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .
Read: The Frost of Springtime by Rachel Demeter
To rescue her was to rescue his own soul.
On a cold Parisian night, Vicomte Aleksender de Lefèvre forges an everlasting bond with a broken girl during her darkest hour, rescuing her from a life of abuse and misery. Tormented by his own demons, he finds his first bit of solace in sheltering little Sofia Rose. But when Aleksender is drawn away by the Franco-Prussian war, the seasons pass. And in that long year, Sofia matures into a stunning young woman—a dancer with an understanding of devotion and redemption far surpassing her age.
Alongside his closest friend, Aleksender returns home to find that “home” is gone, replaced by revolution, bloodshed, betrayal—and a love always out of reach. Scarred inside and out, he’s thrust into a world of sensuality and violence—a world in which all his hours have now grown dark, and where only Sofia might bring an end to the winter in his heart.
Inspired by the 1871 Paris Commune, The Frost of Springtime is a poignant tale of revolution, redemption, and the healing power of love.
DISCLAIMER: This story contains dark themes and intense subject matter. Discretion is advised for sensitive readers.
Which one are you the most interested in reading? What are your favorite romance novels?