Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links from Amazon and other networks which means I earn from qualifying purchases.
Alright it’s time to pull out your to read list and get ready. This book list features the best romance novels ever written, the 10 best love stories of all time. If you’ve ever worried about missing out on a good book, you need to read these – right now.
Hi, if you’re here you must love romance novels. That’s great, I love them too! Now that we have something in common, let’s be friends, follow me on Twitter or Pinterest to make sure you never miss a book recommendation.
Do you ever worry about missing out on an amazing book? I do, all the time. There’s so many books and so little time to read them all, I want to make sure I read the best ones first.
Like I said this is a list of the best romance novels of all time, instead of listing them in order of my most to least favorite, I decided it would be best to list them chronologically. Why? Well, every single book on this list is absolutely amazing and should not be passed up. Read them all not just the one I say is best.
You’re probably going to notice several decades not represented in this list. That is not because there wasn’t incredible books published during that time. But, what point is a book list if you can’t easily get a copy of the books? I don’t want to send anyone on a wild goose chase to used books stores around the country. Don’t get me wrong, used book stores are incredible but there’s no guarantee of them having the book you seek.
Without further ado
The Best Romance Novels of All Time
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
by Jane Austen
279 pages | Modern Library Classics | October 10, 2000
We’re going to start by taking a gander back to 1813. Can you believe it’s been over 200 years, man it feels like just yesterday? That was a joke, you should laugh now. Anyway, the year is 1813 and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is published. This romance novel introduces us to the outspoken Elizabeth Bennet and exposes us to the pressure young women in that time felt to get married. Has that changed? Perhaps, maybe not as much as we like to think.
The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England. Read More
Let’s jump ahead a few years to 1845 when Charlotte Bronte published her book Jane Eyre. Here we get to watch Jane as she grows up through a heart breaking childhood and into adulthood as she struggles to find her place in the world. We see the barriers and complications as she falls in love with Mr. Rochester.
Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.
But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again? Read More
With the classics out of the way, we’re going to skip ahead several decades and find ourselves in 1977 when Colleen McCullogh published her book The Thorn Birds. This book has perhaps the most beautiful opening paragraph I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Set in outback Australia it depicts the heartbreak of Maggie through her forbidden love of the local priest.
The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, the Clearys. It begins in the early part of this century, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister; and it ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, the brilliant actress Justine O’Neill, sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots. Read More
Moving right along to 1989 when Judith McNaught released her historical romance novel A Kingdom of Dreams. We’re introduced to Jennifer, a feisty young woman pushed into an arranged marriage of sorts and forced to choose between her family and her husband. Filled with romance and conflict, you won’t be able to put this book down.
Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as “The Wolf”; his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, this handsome rogue who taunts her with his blazing arrogance. Boldly she challenges his will… until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. And suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering web… a seductive, dangerous trap of pride, passion, loyalty, and overwhelming love. Read More
Flowers from the Storm, by Laura Kinsale published in 1992 gives us a historical romance that shows us the healing power of love. This story is beautiful in its depth and ability to stir emotions in the reader. It’s the heart warming and compelling story of a devout young lady and a Duke who is about as far from religion as he can be. We’re allowed a glimpse into a historical asylum that will leave you frustrated and angry at the way people were treated back then.
The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the “D of J” in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.
Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade. Read More
We’re going to jump ahead a few years again, to 1996 The year Nicholas Sparks wrote his masterpiece, The Notebook. There’s not much to say, anyone who hasn’t read this book has seen the movie. To be honest, I haven’t read this book either. I own it, it’s on the list, but the movie was so amazing and heart breaking I’m not sure how to knowingly put my self through that again.
Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned form the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Read More
2003 brings us another treat of a book that’s been made into a movie. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a highly unusual tale bound to incite deep philosophical thoughts regarding the nature of love and what it means be with someone. Watching the couple as they try to go about their life and act like a normal couple when Henry is bouncing from place to place in the timeline is harrowing and beautiful at the same time. This is a must-read for romance lovers.
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 More
No list of must read romance novels would be complete without mentioning E. L. James’ Fifty Shades. Likely the most talked about romance novel in recent years the jury is quite divided. Love it or hate it, who know but one thing is for sure it will be one or the other. If you’ve yet to experience the trials and tribulations of Anastasia and Christian’s relationship, you really should get to reading this one.
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. Read More
Another gem from 2011 is Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. This new-adult romance depicts the story of Abby and Travis. Good girl meets the campus bad boy. This has insta-love and fruitless efforts at fighting their attraction. With secrets a plenty and an attraction they can’t fight this romance is one you’re sure to remember.
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Read More
Last but not least, we have a contemporary book, something published only a few short months ago in June 2018. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang this book is loved by reviewers. It features a young lady with Aspergergs who hires an escort to help her learn everything she needs to learn about relationships. This one is at the top of my to read list and I can’t wait to see if it measures up to all the hype.
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Read More
What do you think of this book list? What’s your favorite romance novel of all time? Have your read any of these? Will you? Any books you thing should be added? Taken off?
If these books aren’t really your thing you can always check out my Book Review Section for amazing contemporary romance recommendations.