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Readers Choose their Favorite Romance Stories

From the Washington Post, the Short Stack blog recently posted their favorite love stories as listed below;

Classics and Old Chestnuts

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. A married woman looks for love in forbidding St. Petersburg.

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. Charles plans to divorce his wife so that he can marry Julia.

The Charioteer, by Mary Renault. A gay classic, published in the white-hot umbrage of the ’50s.

Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. As one reader said, “Those Russians know how to steam it up.”

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, by Giorgio Bassani. Hopeless infatuation in an era of gathering doom.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He parties, hoping to lure back an old love.

Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Love and lovelessness among the upper classes.

The Painted Veil, by Somerset Maugham. He cares for her so much that he will accept all humiliation.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Realism meets irony in this novel of love and manners.

Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. Inspired by Jane Eyre, a story about a beleaguered bride.

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte. A teacher finds love at an all girls’ school.

Contemporary Novels

The Chesapeake Series, by Nora Roberts. Three men, three women and a difficult, sea-swept past.

Girls Night, by Stef Ann Holm. A single mother, a failing coffee shop and Vince.

Heaven, Texas, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Mousy girl meets incorrigible playboy.

Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, by Marian Keyes. Unlucky in love, she’s told she’s heading for the altar.

The Monk Downstairs, by Tim Farrington. A disillusioned divorcee meets an ex-monk who flips burgers at McDonald’s.

Paradise, by Judith McNaught. A department store heiress gets pregnant far too soon.

Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Two scholars discover an ancient love affair.

Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. Three intertwined lives in the ecological muddle of Appalachia.

Welcome to Temptation, by Jennifer Crusie. A modern feminist romp turns into serious drama.

Historical Novels

Ashes in the Wind, by Kathleen Woodiwiss. A Southern belle fleeing the Civil War falls for a Yankee surgeon.

The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery. A romance by the author of Anne of Green Gables.

Desiree, by Annemarie Selinko. A merchant’s daughter becomes Napoleon’s first love.

Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas. A rakish viscount, an arranged marriage, a surprising love.

Faro’s Daughter, by Georgette Heyer. A rich mother does what she can to stop her son from marrying a cardsharp.

Flowers From the Storm, by Laura Kinsale. The quiet daughter of a mathematician meets a brilliant, dangerous duke.

The Foxes of Harrow, by Frank Yerby. An orphan triumphs in early New Orleans.

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers. As one reader said, “It changes all standards for the ideal man.”

If His Kiss Is Wicked, by Jo Goodman. A sleuth falls for the woman he is supposed to protect.

Katherine, by Anya Seton. It’s the 14th century, and the king’s son is in love with a married woman.

Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase. The ultimate in reformed bad boys.

No Angel, by Penny Vincenzi. Lady Celia knows what she wants and will stoop to conquer.

The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory. Anne’s sister Mary loves Henry VIII, too.

The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldon. She has a husband in one century and a lover in another.

Random Harvest, by James Hilton. According to one reader, “the most romantic literary book ever.”

Reforming Lord Ragsdale, by Carla Kelly. A brash Irish servant transforms her boss’s life.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton, by Julia Quinn. She’s in love with her best friend’s brother.

The Roselynde Chronicles, by Roberta Gellis. When the queen makes her a royal ward, the suitors line up.

The Spymaster’s Lady, by Joanna Bourne. Love during the Napoleonic wars.

Sweet Everlasting, by Patricia Gaffney. A high-born doctor and a lovely, but lowly mute.

Through a Glass Darkly, by Karleen Koen. A young wife, an older husband, in 18th-century Paris and London.

A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute. She survives a Japanese death march to fall in love with an Australian.

The Wedding Officer, by Anthony Capella. His job is to stop English army officers from marrying Italian women.

The Windflower, by Laura London. An innocent girl is kidnapped by pirates.

Yours Until Dawn, by Teresa Medeiros. A young nurse; a wounded, tortured hero.

Ned Litte

is Jane's long suffering husband who enjoys high fantasy novels and the occasional romance that Jane disguises as a fantasy book. He is also the photographer and artist of the multimedia reviews here at Dear Author.


  1. Jill Myles
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 10:33:29

    I find it interesting that SPYMASTER’S LADY is already among the ‘favorites’. And mmm, Jane Austen. I was a little surprised to see Mary Renault on the list…surprised and pleased.

  2. Laura Vivanco
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 12:21:51

    Jill, the reason Spymaster’s Lady is among the favourites is that it was mentioned so often by the Washington Post readers who commented on the Short Stack post. I get the impression this list was drawn mostly from their comments.

  3. Janine
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 13:18:41

    Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Two scholars discover an ancient love affair.

    Yes! Jayne might have been bored to tears but I loved this book to pieces.

  4. Ann Bruce
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 14:32:21

    I just finished If His Kiss Is Wicked and I’m now a Jo Goodman fangirl.

  5. Leah
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 14:33:36

    Where is Wuthering Heights? Of course it’s by Emily, but it is much more passionate than Villette. I’d put Mr. Emerson’s Wife on there, too, but that’s just me.

  6. (Jān)
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 14:44:44

    What an odd collection. It just goes to show that romance is in the eye of the beholder.

  7. Jayne
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 14:45:36

    Possession, by A.S. Byatt.


  8. Janine
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 17:18:52


    “I shall forget nothing of what has passed. I have not a forgetting nature. (Forgiving is no longer the question, between us, is it?) You may rest assured I shall retain every least word, written or spoken, and all other things too, in the hard wax of my stubborn memory. Every little thing, do you mark, everything. If you burn these, they shall have an afterlife in my memory, as long as I shall live, like the after-trace of a spent rocket on the gazing retina. I cannot believe that you will burn them. I cannot believe that you will not. I know you will not tell me what you have decided, and I must cease scribbling on, anticipating, despite myself, your never-to-be anticipated answer, always in the past, a shock, a change, most frequently a delight.”

    — A.S. Byat, Possession

    That book is so good and so romantic that it gives me shivers.

  9. Jackie L.
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 19:41:24

    Random Harvest was the first romance novel I ever read. Then the movie with Ronald Colman and Greer Garson. Big sigh. The start of a 34 year love affair with romance.

  10. Lizzy
    Feb 15, 2008 @ 13:19:31

    Yes! A Town Like Alice. You never see that one anymore! It’s a little old, so there are some un-PC notions (also, it’s wartime, so the Japanese get a real raking-over), but oh, it’s romantic.

  11. Angie
    Feb 15, 2008 @ 14:20:32

    I have to say that The Windflower rocks truckloads of socks. :) We probably had more discussions and chats and in-jokes about that one book back on RomEx than any other two or three put together. :D

    Angie, who’s still waiting for Cat’s book

  12. Rebecca
    Apr 24, 2008 @ 19:59:43

    What a very odd list.

    Brideshead Revisited a romance, as we think of a romance book now? No way.

    The book is about Love and how it manifests itself in people’s lives – those who look for it and those who seem to attract it effortlessly, those who deny it and are hurt by it.

    It’s an elegy to a kind of life that is largely gone now (even among that set now) written by a homesick man (Waugh) during the depths of WWII when the whole world seemed to be falling apart.

    The romance of Charles Ryder and Julia Flyte took place in only one book.

    Possession is fabulous.

    Sigh, lists like this are what happens when the sample is small.

  13. Diana Cardenas
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 00:44:53

    If you haven’t read La Vryle Spencer books, your missing out. My favorite 2 books of hers was “Years” and “Morning Glory.” She’s the kind of author that makes you want to reread her books. She’s that good. Another book that stays in my mind is “Whitney, My Love.” Judith McNaught’s debut book is awesome and fun to reread!

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