Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Top 100 Romances by Dear Author

All About Romance did a top 100 list a while back and in the early days of blogging, Jayne and I did a chart of how we felt about those books.   It was a way for readers to see what our tastes are like and how divergent we are as readers.   We decided, at the end of the decade, to do our own top 100 list.

This list, like any group endeavor, is the result of compromise and sacrifice.   We all contributed a list of 30 books we thought were the “best”.   The lists were then combined into one giant list of 154 books (there were some overlaps).   We then voted on the books’ placement on the list but there were many, many, many ties.   Is there a better way for us to have done this? Possibly but being bad at math, this is the best that I could come up with. The result is as follows. You can read each reviewers’ assessment of the books here.

1.   To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney
2.   For My Lady’s Heart by Laura Kinsale
3.   Black Silk by Judith Ivory
4.   Naked in Death by J.D Robb
5. My Reckless Heart by Jo Goodman
5. The Dream Hunter by Laura Kinsale
5. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
8. The Windflower by Laura London/Tom and Sharon Curtis
8. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
10. Delicious by Sherry Thomas
10. Forbidden by Susan Johnson
10. The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale
10. Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney
14. Beast by Judith Ivory
14. False Colors by Alex Beecroft
14. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
14. The Changeling Bride by Lisa Cach
14. Dance by Judy Cuevas
19. Heart Of The West by Penelope Williamson
19. Practice to Deceive by Patricia Veryan
19. Reforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla Kelly
19. Tatiana And Alexander by Paulina Simons
19. The Bride Fair by Cheryl Reavis
19. The Outsider by Penelope Williamson
19. Uneven by Anah Crow
19. Bad Girl by Michelle Jaffe
19. Archangel by Sharon Shinn
19. The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe
29. As You Desire by Connie Brockway
29. Night in Eden by Candice Proctor
29. Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone
29. Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale
29. Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie
29. Crooked Hearts by Patricia Gaffney
35. Bound by Your Touch by Meredith Duran
35. Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
35. The Duke’s Wager by Edith Layton
35. Dream Man by Linda Howard
35. Ember by Bettie Sharpe
35. Mirrors and Mistakes by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
35. The Dream Thief by Shana Abe
35. It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
35. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
35. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
35. Spring Fancy by LaVyrle Spencer
35. A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh
35. Again by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
35. Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught
35. Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
35. His Lordship’s Mistress by Joan Wolf
35. One Good Turn by Carla Kelly
35. Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney
35. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
35. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
55. Lady’s Choice by Jayne Ann Krentz
55. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
55. Natural Law by Joey Hill
55. Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas
55. Out of the Blue by Sally Mandel
55. The Passions of Emma by Penelope Williamson
55. Written on Your Skin by Meredith Duran
55. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
55. A Man to Slay Dragons by Meagan McKinney
55. Beloved Lord by Mallory Burgess
55. Butterfly Tattoo by Deidre Knight
55. Dearly Beloved by Mary Jo Putney
55. Devonshire by Lynne Connolly
55. Don’t Forget to Smile by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
55. Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
55. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
55. Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
55. Fireflower by Edith Layton
55. George and the Virgin by Lisa Cach
55. Jovah’s Angel by Sharon Shinn
55. Lady Gallant by Suzanne Robinson
55. Lily by Patricia Gaffney
55. Lion’s Bride by Iris Johanson
55. Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase
55. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
55. Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
55. Pure Sin by Susan Johnson
55. Scandal by Amanda Quick
55. Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
55. The Dominant Blonde by Alisa Kwitney
55. The Slightest Provocation by Pam Rosenthal
55. To Love a Dark Lord by Anne Stuart
55. Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory
55. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
55. Wild Sweet Ecstasy by Jo Goodman
55. Wildest Hearts by Jayne Ann Krentz
55. The Reluctant Heiress/Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson
55. “A House East of Regent Street” by Pam Rosenthal (novella in the anthology Strangers in the Night)
55. A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith
55. Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens
55. Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann
55. If Wishes Were Horses by Curtiss Ann Matlock
55. Lady Elizabeth’s Comet by Sheila Simonson
55. Rejar by Dara Joy
55. Weaver Takes a Wife by Sheri Cobb South
100. Beyond Breathless by Kathleen O’Reilly

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ros
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 05:47:56

    Wow – that spreadsheet is fascinating!

    I read Kathleen Seidel’s Again just a couple of weeks ago when a friend lent it to me saying, ‘You’ll enjoy this’ and she was quite right. The Regency soap opera setting is total genius and the romance is very sweet too. So I’m glad to see it on your list and will be looking out for other books of hers. Disappointed not to see any Heyers though.

  2. Babs
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 05:55:24

    Oh, lovely. Looking at the list I realize I have some gaps…and am currently the proud owner of a couple Amazon gift certificates that I’ve gotten for Christmas.

    *rubs hands in glee*

  3. Molly O'Keefe
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 06:38:50

    Seriously – there are so many books on that list I haven’t read — clearly, I have some work to do. Fabulous list – thanks ladies for your work!

  4. MJ
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 06:49:09

    I’ve only read 13! Well, maybe more because I’ve read SOME Putney but don’t remember the titles.

  5. joanne
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 06:53:56

    This list is a whole bunch of WTF for me and that’s exactly the way it should be.
    I love looking at other people’s top 10 or 100 or whatever and shaking my head — because I know better and best — of course! (huge joke there)

    It’s another way to see that we aren’t all the same average reader and shows a great diversity in tastes in our authors and in their styles and in the attitudes regarding what makes a good/great book for individual readers.

    (It also shows a lot of work, thank you!)

  6. katiebabs
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 07:18:57

    Very surprised to see To Have and To Hold as number 1. It’s because of the puppy Sebastian gives Rachel? (LOL)

    A lot of these books listed would also be in my top 100. Such great books!

  7. Jennifer Estep
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 07:23:41

    Nice to see LaVyrle Spencer on the list. Hers were some of the first romances I remember reading. Thumbs up to Warprize too. I really enjoyed that one. Although … where’s Blue-Eyed Devil by Kleypas?

  8. Lynette
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 07:29:27

    I’ve read romance sine I was eleven years old and I’ve only read 11 books on this list. LOL. Amazing how readers tastes differ. What fun.

  9. Jane
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 07:37:41

    I think of this list as a reference point and maybe a recommendation list. I know that we have left a lot of authors off. When I was doing up the post I noticed that there wasn’t one paranormal author there which seemed like a glaring omission and I thought that there were authors who were overrepresented on the list.

    There is no Heyer or Austen because I set an arbitrary date of 1970. I wanted the list to reflect more modern romances. Maybe we should have done a list by decade. That would have been fun.

    I thought Jayne’s list was the most interesting and the most diverse.

    Also, the great thing about Cheryl Reavis The Bride Fair is that it is part of Wendy’s blogger pack that will be for sale some time next year.

  10. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 07:45:37

    I knew there was a reason that I love Wendy. Well, several reasons actually. Go Wendy!

  11. Kati
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 08:34:03

    Fascinating list! I have never even heard of a few of these authors. But I’ve resolved that this is the year I finally track down To Have and to Hold and something by Kathleen Gilles Seidel.

  12. BethanyA
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 08:38:47

    Well done including Penelope Williamson. The woman is a genius.

  13. Mandi
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 08:43:47

    Fun list!

    As Jane said, I definitely would have liked to see some paranormal books on it :)

  14. Sandy James
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 08:44:26

    Nice list, but I’m dismayed there isn’t a single Julie Garwood book. I think Honor’s Splendour belongs on every Best Romance list. JMHO

  15. Kathleen O'Reilly
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 08:44:50

    I’ve read a ton of these, and I agree with most. Although I think Manhunting is Crusie’s best romance. There’s a vulnerability in that book that she doesn’t have in her single titles. To Have and To Hold is my most fav Gaffney (although I love almost all of her romances). And I wish someone had put one of Nora’s romances in the list as well as the JD Robb. Maybe a Born in Fire? or one of the Dream series? I need to track down A Place to Call Home and re-read. I loved that book.

    And thank you for the nod. That’s some great company I’m amongst.

  16. Sarah Frantz
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 08:50:55

    @BethanyA: I adore Williamson’s The Outsider. Love love love both the hero and the heroine. So perfect together.

  17. Keishon
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 08:51:50

    Wow, Paullina Simons made the list? As well as Diana Gabaldon? Not sure who that reader is (love ya) and anyway, I loved, loved, loved Heart of the West by Penelope Williamson so I’m glad someone listed this one. Anyway, great list to get a new reader started. Not very many contemporaries on it I see. You all should have (since you asked) broke it down by sub-genre best contemporary, paranormal, historical, etc like maybe 5 or 10 each to give a good representation of romance.

  18. Sarah Frantz
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:05:30

    @Keishon: Hmm, that would have been an interesting way to do it. Although historicals would obviously have gotten short shrift if we’d done that.

  19. BethanyA
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:05:43

    Hi Sarah! Let’s talk soon!

    I read The Passions of Emma and Heart of the West–never knew there was a sequel to HotW. I’m going to the library to find it immediately. Both those books touched me in such different ways.

    Is Twice Loved by Laveryle Spencer up there? That book is unbelievable. I really love 19th and early 20th century American romance. (Late 18th, too.)

  20. Natasha R
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:32:04

    Thanks for compiling the list! I love it when people post their top book picks. Helps me decide on my next book :)

  21. Lynne Connolly
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:34:43

    Thanks for the mention, I’m honored, especially in such exalted company.

    Interesting that it’s the angsty, darker books that seem to win out. Not that I disagree, because I love a good, angsty romance. Do they stay with us more, or does it take someone with the gifts of SEP to make a lighter story memorable? I dunno, I don’t have the answers.

    When I did my top 100 historicals for AAR a few years back I did notice a couple of things. First, that the heat level made no difference to me. If it was good, if it worked, then that’s it. Your list seems similar. Secondly, that this list is nicely balanced between ebooks and traditionally printed books. It’s truly good to see that.

    And Judith Ivory’s “Black Silk.” I’m really not sure why I found this book such a struggle, since I’m a big fan of Ivory and two of her books are on my keeper shelf, the all-time one, not the I-might-read-it-again-someday one.

  22. may
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:35:36

    I think I’ve only read about 10 on this list – and like other readers I scratch my head at the big gaps (not one Nora? 3 Crusie and without Manhunting?). Still – interesting to see what did make your list.

  23. Chloe Harris (Noelle)
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:36:28

    Sad Sad Sad. I have only read three maybe four.

    Clearly I’m missing out on a lot.

    But no Teresa Medeiros or Madeline Hunter? They each have at least two if not three in my top 25.

    I guess that’s why these lists are so much fun, to see how we all differ and to find new books to explore.

  24. Janet W
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:49:02

    With a title of 100 Top Romances, shouldn’t you say in the blog or even the title, that is it 1970 on? To me it rather confusalates the whole notion of “top” because no top list of romances can exclude Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. There, got that off my chest!

    I own 40 on the list and have read at least 60 of the titles. I guess that means your list and my keepers have something in common. I’m going to make note of titles that are new to me.

  25. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 09:49:44

    One thing to keep in mind, and which might account for gaps in the list, is that we all submitted only our top 30 books to make the overall list. So there are a lot of authors/books, which we no doubt would have listed if we had each done a top 100 list, who didn’t end up here.

    In my case, I submitted only one book per author in order to get a wider selection of authors. Several of the authors on my list have many books I could have listed on any particular day. With this in mind, I tried to choose a representative book to stand for all my favorites.

    Jane was also ruthless in limiting us to 30 books each – so for each of us, we ended up having to make cuts which hurt.

  26. eva_baby
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:02:48

    Good job on this list. It does exactly what any Top list is supposed to do. It makes the reader both satisfied that you have the Good Sense and Superior Taste to agree with their own personal choices (Morning Glory, Devonshire, Don’t Forget to Smile) and outraged with the idea that you have Obvious Biases and Really Don’t Know What You’re Talking About (really is Patricia Gaffney that good? and where the hell is Nalini Singh?).

    I have to agree there are so many that I haven’t read that I am now making a TBR list for 2010.

    Again, Good Job!

  27. Jane
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:13:47

    Like Jayne said, we each contributed 30 books. If a book didn’t get 2 votes, it didn’t make the list so Garwood and Lindsey and Singh which were on mine didn’t make it. Sometimes there would be different books by the same author (which is what I think happened to Singh) and the vote would be split.

    You take out any one reviewer and the list becomes immediately different. It’s completely subjective.

    And I think that there is a difference between “best” and “groundbreaking”. Like Woodiwiss is groundbreaking and so is Devereaux, Bertrice Small, Christine Feehan, etc.

    Also, like Jayne, I limited my list to one book per author.

  28. Janine
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:44:59

    I can’t stick around to reply to comments because I have a guest this week, but I wanted to say how hard it was to limit my list to 30 books. I second guessed myself a million times, and re-made my list a few, and if Jane hadn’t urged us to include a fair number of newer books my list would probably have been different. I did have Heyer’s Frederica on my original list but it got eliminated because it was pre-1970. Unlike Jane and Jayne I had more than one book by the same author on my list, because I could never limit myself to just one Kinsale, Gaffney, etc. But like Jane says, someone else had to vote for them for them to make the list.

    I urge readers to take a look at the spreadsheet Jane linked to above because it will give you a sense of our individual tastes as reviewers and may therefore let you see how our tastes match up with your own.

  29. Christina
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:47:43

    This is an older Top 100 list. They hold the poll every few years (or so it looks). The last time was in 2007 and what tipped me off was the fact that I remembered that “Lord of Scoundrels” was #1.

    AAR’s Top 100 (2007)

    Edit: I see my error. My bad. Just ingore me. ;-)

  30. Dani
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:50:48

    great list. it will definitely help me get in to authors i haven’t read as of yet.

  31. MaryK
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:52:23

    These lists are always fun. It’s really interesting to see how your opinions differ. You can tell who didn’t list particular books; quite a few have DNF or hate notes. I printed the spreadsheet to read at my leisure.

    BTW, I needed a 4-for-3 book to finish out an Amazon order yesterday, and had the worst trouble finding one. Until I had the idea to look over DA’s “top romances of 2009” posts. Found one right away. Thanks!

  32. MaryK
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:57:51

    @Christina: This isn’t an AAR list. It’s a 2009 list by the DearAuthor reviewers.

  33. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 11:58:59

    I want to echo Jayne’s comment about how different it would have been if each of us had made a top 100 list. But at the same time, despite the omissions of both subgenres and authors I love on this one, I found this exercise extremely valuable as a reader. So many books I now have on my TBR or TBB list or that I’ve pushed closer to the top of my TBR list. Because it’s more a conglomeration of each of our top 30s as opposed to a consolidation of individual top 100 lists (I cannot even imagine doing the work to pull that off), I think the ties are reasonable. And I still think there’s a lot of diversity, especially for such a relatively short list (less than a quarter of the books published each month in Romance!).

    I don’t know if anyone else is going to post their top 30 list, but here’s mine (and keep in mind that as someone relatively new to the genre, there are just so many books I haven’t read yet, which has skewed my results accordingly):

    1. Black Silk by Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas
    2. The Windflower by Laura London/Tom and Sharon Curtis
    3. For My Lady's Heart by Laura Kinsale
    4. To Have and To Hold by Patricia Gaffney
    5. Seize The Fire by Laura Kinsale
    6. My Reckless Heart by Jo Goodman
    7. Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory
    8. Archangel by Sharon Shinn
    9. Wild Sweet Ecstasy by Jo Goodman
    10. Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase
    11. Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie
    12. Mirrors and Mistakes by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
    13. Spring Fancy by LaVyrle Spencer
    14. The Lonely Season by Susan Napier
    15. Love's A Stage by Laura London/Tom and Sharon Curtis
    16. Sunshine and Shadow by Tom and Sharon Curtis
    17. The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe
    18. Pure Sin by Susan Johnson
    19. Naked in Death by JD Robb
    20. Rejar by Dara Joy
    21. George and the Virgin by Lisa Cach
    22. Forever My Love by Lisa Kleypas
    23. Crooked Hearts by Patricia Gaffney
    24. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
    25. Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
    26. Night in Eden by Candice Proctor
    27. Fireflower by Edith Layton
    28. Rangoon by Catherine Monson
    29. Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    30. Catching Midnight by Emma Holly

    I had originally promised myself that I would not exceed two mentions of one author, but I obviously violated that with the Curtises. Maybe because there are two of them? Who knows. But were my list longer, I’d be adding books by many other authors, including Liz Carlyle, Kresley Cole, etc. And had I been better read (haven’t read enough Nalini Singh or Patricia Briggs, for example), I don’t know what my list would have looked like.

  34. katiebabs
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 12:02:16

    I admit that Joy’s Rejar and Knight of Trillion Stars would be in my top 100. They are my most re-reads. Good to see I am not alone :D

  35. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 12:04:44

    @katiebabs: That Dara Joy series is for me what JR Ward is for so many readers today: pure Romance crack.

  36. katiebabs
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 12:08:36

    @Robin: Are you aching for Traed’s story that will never be written? :(

  37. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 12:56:33

    @katiebabs: After “Death by Ploot Ploot,” I’m downright scared, actually.

  38. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 13:25:47

    Wow, out of my top five autobuy-worship-reread-keepershelf authors (all historical), only one made the list (Pam Rosenthal). *shrug* It certainly is always interesting to see what other people think are “the best” (kind of like looking at AAR’s list of Desert Island Keepers; I seem more inclined to DIK their D- books, LOL!).

    There's a bunch of stuff here I haven't read though (I'm a jill-come-lately to romance). Clearly I'm going to have to hunt some of these down.

  39. Kirsten
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 13:28:29


    Hey Robin:

    So glad that you liked The Lonely Season! And it made your top 30! Wow!

  40. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 13:34:37

    @Kalen Hughes: My grades are very often the reverse of what AAR reviewers give the same books there. Except for the B range, where I am often in line with an AAR reviewer’s grade. And I think that makes sense — that books closer to the top or bottom of the range are those books that most often provoke stronger reactions in readers.

  41. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 13:35:31

    @Kirsten: A good number of those books there are your recommendations, as well you know.

  42. Jill Sorenson
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 13:58:00

    I’ve read 20 of these, and about 10 would make my list. I had to look up the Deborah Smith book because it sounded familiar. Claire and Roanie! Loved that one. Interesting to see the different viewpoints on the spreadsheet.

  43. Kirsten
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 13:59:45


    yeah, but you don’t have to like’em!

  44. Sarah Frantz
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:02:41

    Okay, here’s my Top 30 list that I sent to Jane (ha! Janet/Robin broke the ice). You’ll see my pre-1970 romances on there (Heyer, Austen, Montgomery), one male author (Madeline Brent) and you’ll see mine is heavily ebook as well. :)

    The top few are in order of best, but toward #7 or so, I was just moving around randomly, so they’re not necessarily in order:

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    False Colors by Alex Beecroft
    For My Lady’s Heart by Laura Kinsale
    Venetia by Georgette Heyer
    Persuasion by Jane Austen
    The Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer
    To Have and To Hold by Patricia Gaffney
    The Outsider by Penelope Williamson
    Uneven by Anah Crow
    Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann
    Off the Record by Matthew Haldeman-Time
    The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
    Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
    Rough Canvas by Joey Hill
    It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    Spring Fancy by LaVyrle Spenser
    Lady’s Choice by Jayne Ann Krentz
    “Statute of Limitations” by Jaime Samms (free on website)
    The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
    Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
    Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
    Natural Law by Joey Hill
    Merlin’s Keep by Madeleine Brent
    Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale
    Honest Illusions by Nora Roberts
    Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spenser
    Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell
    Birthright by Nora Roberts
    Hard Fall by James Buchanan
    “Blind Date” by Matthew Haldeman-Time (free on website)

    I’ve got two Nora Roberts on there. I think we probably all had a Roberts on our list, but because there’s so many of them, no one book received two votes, so none of them made it except the first JD Robb.

  45. Sarah Frantz
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:03:15

    Personally, I want to know what’s the other book that Jan burned. :)

  46. GrowlyCub
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:08:51

    Really fascinating. I own about 1/2 of these and very, very few of them would go on my top 100 list.

    Some of the books by my favorite authors you picked I enjoyed but they were not my favorites and a couple I outright loathed and/or couldn’t finish (Fireflower, hated, hated, HATED that book to the point where I get physically ill just thinking about it).

    I’m intrigued by some of the titles, I’m going to make a list to see if I can find them.

  47. Caligi
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:12:12

    Funny how I can agree with a site’s recommendations and reviews 99% of the time, but crinkle my nose and protest at its Top 100 list.

    I don’t get how that works.

  48. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:16:40

    @Sarah Frantz: Heh, me, too.

  49. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:33:41

    @ Robin

    My grades are very often the reverse of what AAR reviewers give the same books there. Except for the B range, where I am often in line with an AAR reviewer's grade. And I think that makes sense -‘ that books closer to the top or bottom of the range are those books that most often provoke stronger reactions in readers.

    That does make sense. Guess AAR and I are just on very different pages when it comes to “keepers” and “wallbangers”, LOL! I’m a little surprised to see that Julia Ross and Jo Beverley didn’t make the list at all though . . .

  50. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:48:45

    Okay, since others have listed their Top 30 list, I’ll post mine. It’s not in any order at this point.

    reason to believe – kathleen eagle
    the changeling bride – lisa cach
    reforming lord ragsdale – carla kelly
    practice to deceive – patricia veryan
    mistress of the art of death – ariana franklin
    shattered rose – jo beverley
    the bride fair – cheryl reavis
    promise of jenny jones – maggie osborne
    sweeter than wine – michaela august
    lion’s bride – iris johanson
    for my lady’s heart – laura kinsale
    his grace endures – emma jensen
    celia’s grand passion – lynn kerstan
    nine coaches waiting – mary stewart
    weaver takes a wife – sheri cobb south
    lady elizabeth’s comet – sheila simonson
    lord john and the brotherhood of the blade – diana gabaldon
    the rules of gentility – janet mullany
    out of the blue – sally mandel
    if wishes were horses – curtiss ann matlock
    masqueraders – georgette heyer
    morning glory – lavyrle spencer
    the bartered bride – anne avery
    bloodsucking fiends – christopher moore
    mr impossible – loretta chase
    anyone but you – jennifer crusie
    silver pigs – lindsey davis
    beyond breathless – kathleen o’reilly
    lady gallant – suzanne robinson
    lord of the storm – justine davis

  51. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:54:59

    @Kalen Hughes:

    Guess AAR and I are just on very different pages when it comes to “keepers” and “wallbangers”,

    I learned early on that I have very different opinions about what makes a DIK than some of the initial reviewers at AAR. I did get some wonderful starting ideas from their lists to gently guide me back into reading romances but also got burned badly as well.

  52. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 15:16:01

    I did get some wonderful starting ideas from their lists to gently guide me back into reading romances but also got burned badly as well.

    It’s the getting burned part that always makes me flinch when I see these lists and realize I haven’t read half the authors on them. Still, you gotta find new authors to glom on to somehow, LOL!

  53. Sherry
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 15:19:25

    @Kalen Hughes: You can’t make a comment like that without naming your other top 4 authors. Spill!

  54. It’s a tad depressing | Erastes
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 15:30:36

    […] OH AND CONGRATS ALEX BEECROFT!!!! she came 15th out of 100 of Dear Author's best Romances of 2009. […]

  55. Susan/DC
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 17:09:36

    Okay, so I’ve read 42 out of 100, which is a pretty good percentage. Perhaps it helps that the list doesn’t include paranormals, since I’ve read so few of those, and emphasizes historicals, which are the majority of my romance reading. Of the 58 I haven’t read, 5 were DNF and the rest are books I have either not heard of (Edith Layton wrote a book called Fireflower?) or just not yet got around to. The DNF are simply more examples of Robin’s comment that it is the books at the extremes that arouse the most passion either for or against. Looking at her list, for example, her top book, Black Silk, is one of my DNF (although I’ve vowed to try again), but we’re in complete agreement about For My Lady’s Heart and To Have and To Hold.

    @ Sarah: I too adore Williamson’s The Outsider. It is a masterpiece of “show, don’t tell”, where you understand that Rachel is beautiful and why so many men are in love with her without Williamson having to do anything other than show how Rachel responds to those around her. It’s makes all too many other authors’ descriptions appear overwrought and redundant. Johnny Cain is so believably tortured yet worthy of Rachel. I for one would have placed this much higher than #19.

  56. Marianne McA
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 17:09:37

    I liked the table showing the individual reviewers assessment of the books: interesting to see the variation in opinions. I do agree with whoever said that Dragonflight is not really a romance – I think I liked ‘The Kilternan legacy’ the best of McCaffrey’s romances.

  57. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 17:23:32

    @Kalen Hughes: You can't make a comment like that without naming your other top 4 authors. Spill!

    Pam Rosenthal
    Julia Ross
    Candice Hern
    Jo Beverley
    Georgette Heyer (didn’t realize they cut off put her out)

    I’d also say that Roberta Gellis would be in my top ten, as would Tracy Grant, Loretta Chase (who did make the list), and Robin Schone.

  58. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 17:27:08

    I do agree with whoever said that Dragonflight is not really a romance

    It was to me when I was ten! Totaly heart pangs. Loved that book (of course I was the only kid I knew that was clear that the male dragon riders were having sex with each other, LOL!).

  59. RRRJessica
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 18:55:13

    I confess the biggest shock was the Dara Joy. I have never read Dara Joy, but I saw the name, and had 3 immediate thoughts: “Death by Ploot Ploot”, “authors behaving badly”, and “those covers. *shudder*”. Now I have a 4th: “Must read Rejar.”

  60. katiebabs
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 18:57:14

    @RRRJessica: Read Knight of a Trillion Stars first then Rejar. Those two books are my most read out of my book shelf. Before Joy went fruit loopy, she was a great writer.

    Part of me wants to read Ploot just to see if the magic is still there, but just boggled down by a WTF title.

  61. msaggie
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 19:13:51

    I have read at least 59 of the 100 books (some I read so long ago, I can’t remember the plot). Most are DIKs for me – especially Patricia Gaffney’s to Have and To Hold, Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart and The Shadow and the Star, Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider and Heart of the West, LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory. I was also pleased to see Sharon Shinn’s Archangel and Shana Abe’s Smoke Thief and Dream Thief in the top 100 Dear Author list. Looking at this list, I think it reflects the books I like more than the top 100 AAR reads. What I don’t understand is why did you all exclude Georgette Heyer? Why have an arbitrary “post-1970” time-frame? Surely if such books which were published over 30 years ago (gasp- almost 40 years ago – just a few more days to go to 2010!!) are still as beloved, then that’s a true top romance novel (which has stood the test of time)

  62. Edie
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 19:18:55

    @katiebabs – I think it is fairly safe to say the magic gone. She really should have gone for some external editing/critique

    Interesting list! Love reading other peoples list, though I was hoping to get some reccs, but I don’t read historicals..
    *whine* I think I have read four of them.

    Hope you guys enjoyed squabbling over the list, don’t tell me there was no squabbling!

  63. jmc
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 19:27:04

    Hmm, I’ve read 55 of the books on the list. But of those, probably only 10-15 would appear on a Top 100 list for me.

    Looks like my reading taste and history are almost the same when comparing Robin’s & Jayne’s reading tastes and lists (11-12 books each) with slightly more in common with Joan/SarahF (20).

  64. Magdalen
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 19:41:12

    If I say “this is the best Top 100 list ever,” it’s entirely because of the hard work and thoughtfulness that’s gone into both making it and presenting it. The spreadsheet is pure genius. That so many of you have listed your 30 books here is also great.

    Of course I don’t agree with the list, but that’s another thing that makes the list great: Lots of stuff for me to hunt down and read!

    Thanks to Jane and everyone for all that work.

  65. Sherry Thomas
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 20:45:13

    Well, this is nuts. Everybody knows that BEAST is Judith Ivory’s most magnificent work.

    A bunch of ignorant sluts here.

    ::walks away in a huff::

    ::walks back::

    Well, at least BEAST is on this list, and placed pretty high. No ignorant sluts here. Nothing but highly educated, erudite women of exquisite tastes and even better looks.

  66. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 20:46:27

    @RRRJessica: IIRC, Tonight or Never, Joy’s only(?) historical, is one of SB Candy’s guilty pleasures.

    Also, if you’ve read Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, you might be interested in Joy’s Ritual of Proof, which is sort of like an inversion of Atwood’s book (and it’s the book she got in trouble with Dorchester for). High Energy and High Intensity are early screwball romantic suspense books.

    I probably would never describe Joy as a great prose stylist, but in her heyday she wrote some very, very popular, compulsively readable books.

  67. Robin
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 20:49:33

    @Sherry Thomas: I hated the scene in Beast where Charles takes Louise’s virginity even more than the scene in THATH when Sebastian rapes Rachel. And that scene from THATH creeped me out in a big way. But for some reason, I could never get back on track with Beast, especially with Charles’s relentless self-pitying.

  68. katiebabs
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 20:54:50

    And Charles never gave Louise a puppy, so there!:P

    Ah Beast brings back some good memories…

  69. Moriah Jovan
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 20:56:17

    Beast touched my soul.

  70. Joy
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 21:53:08

    I love that many of these are my favs/well-liked (Ember, Bet Me, Naked in Death, The Smoke Thief) and that many are on my purchased TBR (Outlander, Lord of Scoundrels, Natural Law, Bad Girl ).

  71. Jennie
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 22:57:11

    Wow, Paullina Simons made the list? As well as Diana Gabaldon? Not sure who that reader is (love ya) and anyway, I loved, loved, loved Heart of the West by Penelope Williamson so I'm glad someone listed this one.

    Heh, I think these are all mine. Or at least were all choices of mine originally.

    I’ll try to find my top 30 list to post.

  72. Janet W
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 23:00:11

    This list is from 2004 — for my first All About Romance Top 100 — if I had the restrictions you guys had (1970 on, only 30) I’m guessing it might be quite different. That being said, here it is and thanks for sharing yours! P.S. The numbers #to the right show where my faves ranked against the AAR Top 100.

    1. Friday's Child, Georgette Heyer
    2. Cotillion, Georgette Heyer
    3. Devil's Cub, Georgette Heyer #70
    4. More Than A Mistress, Mary Balogh #90
    5. Unwilling Bride, Jo Beverley
    6. His Lordship's Mistress, Joan Wolf
    7. Devil's Bride, Stephanie Laurens #24
    8. Naked in Death, J.D. Robb #34
    9. To Have and To Hold, Patricia Gaffney #25
    10. Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie #3
    11. Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand, Carla Kelly #18
    12. Tempting Harriet, Mary Balogh
    13. Regency Buck, Georgette Heyer
    14. Forbidden, Jo Beverley
    15. Precious Jewel, Mary Balogh
    16. Glory in Death, J.D. Robb
    17. Plumed Bonnet, Mary Balogh
    18. The Viscount Who Loves Me, Julia Quinn #29
    19. Flowers From The Storm, Laura Kinsale #2
    20. By Arrangement, Madeline Hunter #81
    21. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon #7
    22. Untie My Heart, Judith Ivory #51
    23. Forbidden Magic, Jo Beverley
    24. Seducing Mr. Heywood, Jo Manning
    25. April Lady, Georgette Heyer
    26. Scandalous Proposal, Julia Justiss
    27. Heartless, Mary Balogh #66
    28. To Wed A Stranger, Edith Layton
    29. An Arranged Marriage, Jo Beverley
    30. Bride of Emersham, Leslie Lance

  73. Moth
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 02:13:35

    Let’s see… I’ve read 18 of these books, and most of them weren’t my favorites by that author. (Faking It’s my favorite Crusie, although Bet Me runs a close second). I’m pleased Kathleen Gilles Seidel had so many books on here. I’m a recent convert but I really do love her a lot, and so do my mom and my sister [who I introduced to her! ;) ]

    My favorite Seidel is “Again” but I liked “Till the Stars Fall” better than “Mirrors and Mistakes.” Patrick was just too much of a douche at the end of the book for me to get over it.

    Happy to see Mr. Impossible on here. I love Rupert WAY more than Dain. To me Lord of Scoundrels fizzles as soon as they get married.

    I think the list should be revised to include Heyer and Austen. ;P

    I love, love, LOVE that “Dragonflight” is on here. The Dragonriders of Pern is such a fantastic series.

    But where’s the Lois McMaster Bujold books? No nod to The Sharing Knife series? Or the Vorkosiverse?

    Good list overall. Bit angsty for my tastes but still. :D

  74. Ann Bruce
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 10:59:46

    I’m a little disappointed to not see my favorite book of all time on the list: SEP’s Ain’t She Sweet. :( It takes an incredibly skilled author to make me love someone named Sugar Beth. And that book is so incredibly readable.

    I am, however, thrilled to see Meagan McKinney’s A Man to Slay Dragons. I know a book is memorable when I can remember–when I want to remember–details like the Chanel hair bow.

  75. GrowlyCub
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 11:45:36


    Your comment intrigued me so that I dove into the TBR mountain range and came away victorious with a copy which I’ve now devoured.

    I’d be really interested to hear more about why you hated that scene. I thought the bit with the fingers was odd and couldn’t quite see the why of it and also (again) anatomically incorrect natch. Was it the actually physical act, or the whole scene?

    Overall, I really enjoyed the book and did not feel a noticeable decline in the tension from 1st to 2nd half, nor did I feel that Charles was self-pitying nor that Louise was as aggravating as some people felt. I actually was totally in her head about wanting to do her duty and absolutely being unable to consider letting this guy touch her. I thought she was very believable as a young woman completely out of her depth. And I had no problem understanding why Charles couldn’t get himself to tell her. Certainly neither is a flawless human being, but once you have got yourself into that kind of situation, normal rational thought takes a holiday.

    I really, really liked this book. Not an A read, but a strong B+, which is a real surprise to me because the other Ivory I tried (the one with the courtesan) bored me silly so I abandoned it about 50 pages in.

  76. silvia
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 16:30:21

    This was really cool! I liked that everyone’s contrasting opinions were included on the spreadsheet. *saves happily*

    I tried to put together a list of my favorite romances, and man is it harder than I thought! I’m really rather picky. I seem to rarely like more than 1 or 2 books per author. Couldn’t even select 30 that I’d call keepers. And wow are these wildly divergent in subject matter and tone…

    1. The Host by Stephanie Meyer
    2. Sunshine by Robin McKinley *
    3. The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs
    4. Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
    5. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
    6. Federica by Georgette Heyer
    7. Not Quite a Lady by Loretta Chase
    8. Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes
    9. The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh
    10. Lady with a Black Umbrella by Mary Balogh
    11. Bride Enchanted by Edith Layton
    12. Angel with Attitude by Michelle Rowen
    13. The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards
    14. Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase
    15. Lord of the Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
    16. Persuasion by Jane Austen
    17. The Rebellious Ward by Joan Wolf
    18. Collition by Georgette Heyer
    19. Jemina J by Jane Green
    20. The Hollows Series aka Rachel Morgan by Kim Harrision

    *ends more UST than HEA, but I got really really attached to Sunshine&Con

    **Rachel&Ivy are one of my favorite couples but I am not sure about including this one because they may not get a HEA in the series

  77. Taylor
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 17:13:40

    Wow. Such a WHITE list. And nobody noticed the omission. Why am I not surprised? But I’m sure the 101st book had main characters of color.

  78. (Jān)
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 20:47:28

    Taylor, I had an AA romance on my list, Silver Love. It’s a great romance. But no one else had read it so it wasn’t on the top 100. That was a problem with a lot of the interesting books on people’s lists.

    For my list, I only allowed myself one book per author, and no non-genre books or there would have been a number of sfr’s on there. And, I re-read a number of them to see if I still thought they belonged. My list, not in any order except kind of alphabetical:

    Shana Abe – The Dream Thief
    Mary Balogh – Longing
    Connie Brockway – As you Desire
    Loretta Chase – Lord of Scoundrels
    Lynne Connolly – Devonshire
    Jennifer Crusie – Welcome to Temptation
    Judy Cuevas – Dance
    Meredith Duran – Duke of Shadows
    Pat Gaffney – Wild at Heart
    Layle Giusto – Silver Love
    Georgette Heyer – These Old Shades
    Linda Howard – Duncan’s Bride
    Carla Kelly – Libby’s London Merchant
    Lisa Kleypas – Dreaming of You
    Jayne Ann Krentz – Wildest Hearts
    Laura Kinsale – For My Lady’s Heart
    Edith Layton – The Duke’s Wager
    Laura Leone – Fallen from Grace
    Judith McNaught – A Kingdom of Dreams
    Mary Jo Putney – Dearly Beloved
    Nora Roberts/JD Robb – Naked in Death
    Sheri Cobb South – The Weaver takes a Wife
    Mary Stewart – Nine Coaches Waiting
    Anne Stuart – To Love a Dark Lord
    LaVyrle Spencer – The Hellion
    Dana Warren Smith – High Stakes
    Deborah Smith – A Place to Call Home
    Sherry Thomas – Private Arrangements
    Susan Wiggs – Lord of the Night
    Penelope Williamson – The Passions of Emma

    @the person who mentioned Jo Beverley, I wanted to include her but couldn’t pick one book as best, so I ended up not including her. A cop out, but that’s why she’s not on my list.

    Oh, Sarah and Robin, it was Whitney My Love. And that one got ripped up first, then burnt. I was seriously PMSing that day.

  79. Scorpio M.
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 01:48:53

    I am so tickled that WILD SWEET ECSTASY by Jo Goodman made your list! I have loved that book since in first came out in the 90s. (Mary) Michael & Ethan are one of my favorite couples.

    MY RECKLESS HEART is also my favorite of the Thorne Brothers trilogy :)

  80. The Good, The Bad and The Unread » Taking a chance
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 08:02:00

    […] perennially popular, and feature in best of lists. This week, “Devonshire” featured in the Dear Author 100 favorite list, and I'm thrilled and a bit taken aback to see it there among such luminaries as Kinsale and […]

  81. Daisy
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 11:49:14

    Judith McNaught’s Almost Heaven at 35 and A Kingdom of Dreams at 55 and not a single Elizabeth Lowell on the list???

    Wow – your lists and mine would never match up!

    There are some really great titles on that list though.

  82. CurtissAnn
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 12:06:47

    I found your post through a Google alert for my name. I’m ticked pink to have my older title, ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ included in your list. Well, flabbergasted would be more accurate. Thanks! I’m also grateful for the list, making notes on ones I might want to read.

    Curtiss Ann Matlock

  83. DS
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 15:07:23

    I’ve read about 26 of them and as someone else said, the ones listed aren’t necessarily by favorite books by those particular authors.

    Then of course I do have some quirky little favorites which include The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys. Has anyone else heard of that one? Avon, early 80’s.

  84. Maili
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 17:53:07

    I’ve read 79 of those (well, according to husband who counted for me). I think about 5% of that list are in my Top 100 (which seems similar to Jayne’s the most).

    Although it’s not in my Top 100, Sally Mandel’s Out of the Blue is fantastic. It’s worth reading.

    It’s amusing to see Lisa Cach’s George and the Virgin listed. Who knew a wrestler would end up on a Top 100 some day? :D It’s a sweet and funny time travel romance if I remember right. And note to Robin, George is a blond.

    Never heard of those:
    Uneven by Anah Crow
    Ember by Bettie Sharpe
    Natural Law by Joey Hill
    Lady Elizabeth's Comet by Sheila Simonson

    Will have to give those a try.


    Then of course I do have some quirky little favorites which include The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys. Has anyone else heard of that one? Avon, early 80's.

    That’s like asking if anyone heard of Vlad the Impaler. :D The Silver Devil is notorious. For wrong reasons, I think. Although I didn’t like it, I found it an interesting read because the hero isn’t a generic ass. He’s a unique ass with a capability to make anyone, even Vlad the Impaler, cry. He’s pretty much a tribute to Machiavelli’s The Prince. I wouldn’t re-read it, though. My blood pressure wouldn’t handle it this time if I tried. I do understand he’s testing the heroine, pushing her to see how far he can go before she’d break, for the sake of – it seems to me – intellectual curiosity (at first, anyway), but I couldn’t stand it.

  85. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 07:24:56

    @CurtissAnn: When I first edged back into reading romances, I ordered about 10 from a now defunct romance catalogue. Most were by authors I’d never heard of and I was simply going on the blurbs. “If Wishes Were Horses” was one of the winners of the bunch and, along with a few other titles, was what kept me reading the genre. Thank you, Ms. Matlock!

  86. Tinabelle
    Dec 26, 2009 @ 10:26:05

    I always love seeing what someone’s “top…” looks like. I was THRILLED to see Sunshine and Shadow by Sharon & Tom Curtis on Robin’s list. This is one of my all-time favorite romances; it is an incredibly emotional and powerful story IMHO. AAR recently posted a review of this book which expressed many of my own views.

  87. RRRJessica
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 06:59:54


    IIRC, Tonight or Never, Joy's only(?) historical, is one of SB Candy's guilty pleasures.

    Also, if you've read Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, you might be interested in Joy's Ritual of Proof, which is sort of like an inversion of Atwood's book (and it's the book she got in trouble with Dorchester for). High Energy and High Intensity are early screwball romantic suspense books.

    Robin, thanks. I will check those out. I’m reading Megan Hart’s Pleasure and Purpose and it also reminds me of Handmaid’s Tale. Maybe I’ll do a post on the 3 books together.

  88. Pat L.
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 15:06:20

    I guess I must be in the minority. Not many of the books I have read on are there. I love contemps but not paranormal, vamp and the like.

  89. Indonesian Tyler
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 07:07:12

    “One of The most newsy internet site that impart about the truth of electric cigarettes reviews. Shape the shame of ignorance into a fiery desire for answers.” This is the motto of another portal related to smoking , tabacco , etc.. i guess its not a bad one. i found out lots of new things for me, and i looked a gift for my grandpa. my piece of advice .. try it. Hugs and kisses

  90. Interview & Giveaway: Patricia Gaffney, Putting Characters Through the Wringer for Your Reading Pleasure | Dear Author
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:59:44

    […] Top 100 Romances […]

  91. maibrv
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 14:42:03

    @BethanyA: I agree, BethanyA. It’s such a shame that Ms. Williamson is not writing anymore romance. I still hope, though, that in a few years she would give us another one of her genius work.

  92. maibrv
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 15:07:22

    @DS: Loved The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys. Domenico is certainly something beautiful and terrible to behold.

  93. Pick of the Week: May 2, 2012 - EA Recommends
    May 02, 2012 @ 04:50:24

    […] Archer Leave a Comment I came across Sheri Cobb South’s The Weaver Takes a Wife in the list of Top 100 Romances by and I am so glad I did!  Ethan Brundy, a very successful self-made businessman, falls in love with […]

  94. Daily Deals: Classic romances, suspense and a bit of non fiction
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 14:03:29

    […] My Heart by Judith Ivory. $ 1.99 Untie My Heart was part of DA’s top 100 list of all time romances and the author Judith Ivory is one of the favorite romance authors of reviewers like Janet aka […]

  95. she has to want it. :: the dirty normal
    Apr 28, 2013 @ 18:45:55

    […] and heroine is unambiguously rape. Just, unambiguously. And yet. Here are comments on the book from Dear Author reviewers, which rates it as the #1 Best […]

  96. Chrisamesther
    Nov 15, 2013 @ 09:15:44

    Wow! This is awesome :)

%d bloggers like this: