Ever since I was in my mid-teens and I discovered romance books, I have been an avid reader of the genre. Essie Summers, who wrote romances set in rural New Zealand, became a fast and enduring favourite.
Since then I’ve lost count of the number of books that I’ve read but I do have some standout favourites that I go back and read regularly. Looking at the list below, I can see that vulnerable and sexy men, and strong women who know what they want, are the heroes and heroines of these stories.
My favourites are not in any order.
I fell in love with Harry and enjoyed watching the relationship between Pippa and Harry turn to love. It is such an Aussie book I could relate to many of the things in it. Many of the scenes made me smile and laugh out loud at times. Yet at the same time, in the context of the growing romance, Pippa does it tough as a single mum, and shows us what a strong woman she is. She is quite capable of taking care of her own needs—all of them—but her realisation that she needs Harry is a sweet moment.
This is a story about two truly good people. Even though the hero is a man of the cloth, it is not an inspirational romance. A small village setting, a cast of interesting and quirky secondary characters, and a secret in Elspeth’s past made this one of the most memorable of the Essie Summers romances I have read over the years. I love the New Zealand setting so much, when I travelled there I visited the places that Essie Summers wrote about in her books. This one is a keeper on my romance shelf.
Like almost every other woman on the planet I fell I love with Jamie Fraser when I read the first book in this series, a long time before it went to a television series. What was the drawcard of this romance? Jamie Fraser! He is the perfect hero; he is sweet, vulnerable, strong, fiercely loyal and has a cutting wit and a wonderful sense of humour. On top of that he is honourable and kind, and fights for what he believes in. This story oozes romance even in the darker scenes between Claire and Jamie.
by Anya Seton
Katherine is an old, old story that tells us of the romance between John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, in the fourteenth century. I credit this story for growing my love of romance in my teens and developing my love of history as both an academic subject that I followed to university level study, and as a genre I love to read. It was beautifully researched and teaches us that even sometimes true love cannot have a happy ending. It is anther book that is a regular re read for me. (I have three copies of Katherine in case I lose one!)
by Annie Seaton
This is one of my favourites of my own books and even though I wrote it and know what is going to happen, I cry every time I read it!
Italian Affair is the story of two very different people who have very set ideas…or so they believe…of what they expect out of life. Each of them is a little flawed by their past experiences. I had great fun setting them up, so they had no choice but to fall in love. And then that becomes the dilemma for both Tomas and Brianna. Amy Andrew’s cover quote says it all…I hope readers will ‘laugh, cry and sigh!’ along with the story like I did when I wrote it. Italian Affair is a marriage of convenience trope, which I love reading.
by Nora Roberts
These four books are the most ‘bewitching’ romances I have read. The heroes are strong, but have a hard time keeping up with the women they fall in love with in each of the stories. The cousins share a secret that has been handed down through the generations. The development of the relationships between the Donovans and their true loves in each of the four books is captivating, and the writing of the emotion is lyrical. These four stories are on my keeper shelf and I go back and reread them each year.