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6 of my favourite romantic novels

This month our authors’ Round Robin question is one of the most difficult so far…

helena fairfax, freelance editor, fiction editor
What are your favourite books of all time, in your favourite genres?
helena fairfax, romantic hero
Vintage romance. Image courtesy of Pixabay

What a question to have to answer! I have SO many favourite books, whittling down a list is like having to kill off old friends.

I thought I’d choose some of my favourite romantic novels. Romance is such an underrated genre, and for some reason people often turn their nose up as soon as you say the word ‘romance’, but there is SUCH variety in love stories.

There are too many beautiful, funny, moving and page-turning romances to mention all the ones I love, but anyway, here goes…

My favourite classic romantic novels

One of the best presents I ever received was this complete Penguin set of Jane Austen, which my mum gave to me on my fifteenth birthday. 

My well-read Austen collection

I remember sitting on the kerb in the playground at school reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time (lucky me!), totally gripped by Darcy’s proposal to Lizzie. I’d thought Jane Austen was going to be staid and dull. How wrong I was!  I just had to find out what happened next.  So I hid behind some coats in the cloakroom and became so absorbed in the whole drama, I missed the bell for registration and ended up in detention.  Detention for reading Jane Austen!  The irony.  It was worth it, though.

My favourite romantic suspense novels

I’ve cheated and chosen two very different novels, because I couldn’t decide which to pick.

Mary Stewart has been a favourite author of mine ever since my teenage years. Her suspense novels were published in the fifties and sixties, so there is a dated feel to them now, but on the other hand she was ahead of her time in having independent, brave heroines, who were ordinary women called on to do extraordinary things. One of my favourite of her heroines is Charity in Madam, Will You Talk? Charity’s husband, a pilot, died in the war. He’d taught Charity to drive, and, unusually for the time, she’s a woman who can drive like a demon and give as good as she gets in a car chase.

Another thing I love about Mary Stewart is the beautiful settings in Greece and the south of France –exotic travel for the time. (My romantic suspense In the Mouth of the Wolf is an homage to her and is also set in the south of France.)

The other favourite romantic suspense I’ve chosen is One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich. A massive contrast to Mary Stewart! I was late to discover the Stephanie Plum series, but I’m so glad I have. She’s a brilliant heroine – feisty and funny, and I laughed out loud a lot. I also love her crazy family and of course the two heroes, Joseph Morelli and Ranger. I still haven’t read all the series yet, so lots more fun reading to be had!

My favourite historical romance

Anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will probably guess who my favourite author is in the historical romance category. Georgette Heyer is the Queen of Regency romance, and I’ve read her novels over and over again. I wrote a post a few years ago on why I love her so much, and since I’ve started editing novels my admiration for her has grown. Her dialogue sparkles, her novels are meticulously researched and her characters are well-drawn and varied, and her stories are just brilliant uplifting fun.

My favourite of hers changes all the time, but at the moment it might be The Unknown Ajax. Or maybe Cotillion. Or Frederica. Or Faro’s Daughter. Well, I love pretty much all of them!

My favourite chick-lit novel

I used to really object to the term ‘chick-lit’, as it seems to say everything that’s derogatory about novels written by women and enjoyed by women. But now I think why not embrace it? There are some brilliant chick-lit novels covering some deep themes in a well-written, relatable, moving and often witty way.

One of the best – and one of my many favourites – is Rachel’s Holiday, by Marian Keyes. Here’s part of the blurb:

‘Rachel Walsh has been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her hot boyfriend Luke.

But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn’t quite part of her plan…’

Basically it’s a novel about addiction and recovery, but also much more than this. This review in the Guardian calls the novel ‘brilliant’, ‘utterly hilarious, deeply romantic (Luke Costello, ah my fluttering heart) and desperately moving.’

My favourite sci fi romance

Stanislaw Lem’s Return from the Stars is a classic sci fi novel. I expect some fans of Lem would be aghast at me lumping it in the lowly romance genre, but Hal Bregg is one of my favourite romantic heroes.

Hal is an astronaut who returns from a ten year trip to the stars to find 100 years have passed on earth.  He’s the ultimate hero: brave, strong, adventurous, chivalrous, but there’s no place for his type of heroism in the drugged-up, placid world of the future.  When he learns his former colleagues are planning a trip to Sagittarius, he has a choice to make – remain with the woman he’s fallen in love with in this pleasant, dull utopia, or return to a life of adventure.

My only caveat is that the women’s roles are weak in the novel, but the rest of it is brilliant.

*

These are just a few of my favourite romantic novels. You might notice I haven’t added any paranormal/fantasy romance. I’m not a big fan of this genre, but if anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

And now I’m really looking forward to finding out which books the other authors in the Round Robin have chosen as their favourites. If you’d like to check them out, please click on the links below!


Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-26c
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

18 thoughts on “6 of my favourite romantic novels

  1. Hi Helena, Great post and we have a certain amount of cross-over interest. I do remember the time when reading a book was so much more interesting than going into classes. Currently my fav Georgette Heyer is The Nonesuch. Just edging out Frederica. anne

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    1. Hi Anne, I always much preferred reading to anything else at school, and my homework was often hastily done on the bus in the morning because I’d been engrossed in a book the night before. I haven’t read The Nonesuch for a while. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve enjoyed this topic and getting to know everyone else’s favourites!

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  2. Among my author and reading friends I rarely find fellow Georgette Heyer admirers so it astounds me that so many of us in the Round Robin group list her as one of their favorites. I have read and loved all her books more than once, but my favorites are The Foundling and A Civil Contract – both with out of the box heroes and heroines – but that’s the charm.

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    1. It’s great to see so many Heyer fans among us, Skye! The Foundling is a book of hers I need to revisit. It’s a while since I read it. I enjoyed getting to know everyone’s favourite authors!

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  3. My parents never censured what their voracious daughter devoured. I was in middle school, about 12, when “The Godfather” came out. It was over 1,000 pages long, but I started reading it one morning over breakfast, read all day, even read while eating dinner with the family, and didn’t finish it until about 3 or 4 in the morning! Wow! My first “real” adult novel. I had my first “date” with a boy when we took the train into downtown Chicago to see the movie–it was so disappointing after the book–as movies made from books usually are.

    Gah! Another Regency fan! Mom used to devour romance books by the bagful, but she got bored with the Regencies because there were never any real “naughty” scenes. She’d drop-kick books across the room, yelling at the author, “All of that build-up and no sex? I’m never reading YOU again!” So when I write, I’m careful to include enough naughtiness that my late mom would be happy. LOL.

    For paranormal romance, you might try my werewolf books (2) or my vampire book. I have a scientific mind, so I don’t believe it’s magical that they exist–I find a scientific reason for both sets of paranormal creatures–then of course, write a scorching romance with them as characters.

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    1. That sounds like a memorable first date, Fiona, even if the film was a disappointment after reading the book. I still really love the film and the second film even more.
      Your books do sound more sci fi than paranormal, and much more my cup of tea! It’s funny how I don’t mind reading about imagined creatures on other planets in the future, but somehow I can’t get behind fantasy creatures here and now.
      Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your great comment!

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  4. Helena, I like the systematic way you set out your choices. It is almost a (very readable) treatise on the genre.
    For my part, intimate relations between people are part of life, and so must be a part of writing about life, but my argument is the “romantic myth” that my happiness depends on finding the perfect person for me, and then we’ll live happily ever after. But, as you say, many of these books also have deep messages that do interest me. So, thank you for drawing my attention to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for your thoughtful comment. That’s an interesting point about happiness depending on finding the perfect person in romance novels. In many of the best romance novels, the main character’s happiness depends on them changing in some way in order to be with the person they love. The heroines in Jane Austen change over the course of the novel, for example. I hope to persuade you to become a romance fan :) I’ve really enjoyed this topic again. Thanks very much for dropping in!

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  5. Hi Helena, my favourite Mary Stewart books were the Arthurian novels but I still have her Airs Above the Ground in a very tatty paperback edition. As for Janet Evanovitch, I liked the first book the best, especially her vivid descriptions of winter and summer in her neck of the woods. And as for Morelli and Ranger? Oh yeah!

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    1. Hi Vicky, it’s great to find another Stephanie Plum fan. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other authors’ favourite books. Thanks very much for dropping in!

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  6. Hey, Helena. Love, love Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense. I felt like I’d actually been to the location in which she set her novels. Victoria Holt, also. I never remember names of books, but I have pictures in my head from these two authors’ books. Good post. Impressed you read such a variety of books even in the romance genre. :) I’ll share.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’d forgotten about Mary Stewart! I used to love reading her novels. It’s funny, the more posts I read, the more books I remember. I’m also being introduced to some titles to look for. Thanks!

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  8. Thank you for this diverse list of favorite romances. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels were what inspired me to write mysteries with humor. I’ve read 5 in the series and enjoyed them, but had enough. I love Nicholas Sparks stories that take place in North Carolina–(One of my favorite places). He always has such a twist that I never see coming. I looked up Georgette Heyer. She began her writing career in 1921. Interesting that her books are still read in the 21st century. Now that is a goal to go for in my writing, reading my books in 2120? Great topic for the blog hop!
    JQ Rose

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  9. Hi JQ, I didn’t know your writing was inspired by Janet Evanovich, but now I can see the link! Amazingly, Georgette Heyer has been chosen by three of us in this Round Robin. Her books and characters have enduring appeal, and a wide appeal, too. Even my dad and brothers love them :) I enjoyed this topic. Thanks for dropping in, and for your great comment!

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  10. Hi Helen

    Terminally ill computer, waiting to collect its replacement, this one’s decided to die step by step, won’t open your links, won’t do almost anything.
    I used to read all my mother’s books – loved The Gabriel Hounds, loved Airs Above the Ground better still – Having a close friend in Vienna came later. Georgette Heyer – I remember a brilliant line in my first ever Heyer, – These Old Shades, and being the last woman in the Duke’s life, not the first. Teaching number crunching history, I prefer, mostly, historical fiction with the writer’s own characters rather than imagined versions of major historical figures Key exception now – .. Lindsey Davis’s The Course of Honour – but then, I didn’t know much about Vespasian.
    Romance ? Essential… Life enhancing, maybe, right now, life saving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Esther,
      I hadn’t heard of Lindsey Davis’s The Course of Honour. Thanks so much for the mention! I just checked it out and it looks like a great read and something I’d enjoy. I’ve added it to my list. It would be great to have a few weeks doing nothing but reading!
      These Old Shades was my first ever Heyer, too! I love the line you remember.
      Sorry to hear about your dying computer. I hope you get the new one sorted and up and running soon. Thanks for dropping in and for the book recommendation!

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