I’ve always been a fan of romance novels, but it’s surprising how many of the ones I’ve picked up off the shelves have been disappointing. This is one genre where a beautiful cover really can mislead you into buying books which land completely flat! Sometimes though I stumble on ones that really hook me in and, most importantly, feel truly romantic (in the end of course). So to save you a few pennies buying also-rans, here’s a list of my top 9 recommended romance reads.
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A Hopeless Romantic – Harriet Evans
This was the first Harriet Evans book I read, and in my opinion it’s her best. Laura is a completely relatable heroine, whose obsession with romantic books and movies makes her constantly romanticise her own doomed relationships with awful guys. After her latest mistake she swears off all romance and flees to the countryside on holiday with her family, only to meet a very dashing man in the grounds of a stately home. She tries very hard not to romanticise the situation, but that’s hard to do when it’s like being in an actual Jane Austen novel! It’s very charming, relatable and extremely romantic.
Guilty Pleasures – Tasmina Perry
This was such an enjoyable read. Unlike some of the other books on this list, this book isn’t about being relatable at all. It’s set in the glossy world of luxury retail, fashion magazines and the music industry. It’s full of glamorous settings, beautiful privileged people and millionaire lifestyles, and is told from multiple perspectives. The key one though, is smart and hardworking Emma, who inherits a luxury heritage handbag brand and applies her business savvy to turn it around to become successful again. Of course there’s a handsome man involved, and of course it all begins with a misunderstanding between them. But that’s the fun of it!
The One Plus One – Jojo Moyes
It’s not Jojo Moyes’ most famous book, but I really loved this one. It’s a touching story of a struggling single mother who enlists the (unwilling) help of wealthy-yet-selfish Ed to drive her dysfunctional family across the country for an opportunity for her daughter. I love how every character is flawed and has a series of problems of their own, and it’s so nice when they start making connections with each other. It’s funny, romantic and emotional.
A Girl Like You – Gemma Burgess
This is your classic chick-lit romance, with very few surprises. Abigail is newly single after the end of a ten year relationship, and learns how to master the dating game with coaching from her attractive-but-of-course-she-hasn’t-noticed playboy housemate. Then she falls for the wrong guy (of course) and forgets all her dating rules. It’s extremely enjoyable!
Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen
It’s a bit of an obvious choice but I’m including this one anyway because it’s my favourite book ever! Elizabeth Bennett is the most delightful heroine and it’s the original tale of bad first impressions and misunderstandings. Every romance novel fan should give it a go at some point.
Arabella – Georgette Heyer
Jane Austen fans are sure to love Georgette Heyer’s regency romances. They’re a lot fluffier and more self-indulgent than Austen, but they’re great fun. Arabella has all Heyer’s classic elements of a pretty and charming (but poor) young heroine, a dashing and wealthy dandy, an argument or two, a few balls here and there, and various funny adventures.
The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary
This is such a cute contemporary story of two flat mates who have never met! Because Leon works the night shift as a palliative care nurse he resides in the one-bed flat during the day, whilst Tiffy has it on evenings and weekends. It’s an unusual arrangement, which makes much more sense when you discover both of their back stories. And the romance starts to unfold in the form of sticky notes that they leave around the flat for each other. It’s a very enjoyable read thanks to its very likeable characters and some serious chemistry!
Christmas in the Snow – Karen Swan
It’s my favourite festive read, filled with snow-topped mountains, swanky ski resorts, glitzy Christmas parties, and a hero and heroine who are business rivals. It’s the only festive romance I’ve read that is a) set entirely at Christmas time and b) is romantic enough for me to want to re-read it. There is a definite gap in the market here!
Persuasion – Jane Austen
This is such a lovely book that it almost competes with Pride & Prejudice for being my favourite Jane Austen novel. Instead of witty, confident Lizzy Bennett we have sensible, reserved Anne Elliott, who was persuaded to end her one love affair years ago and has never gotten over it. When handsome Captain Wentworth returns to her society she finds she has to hide her continuing feelings for him, as she knows he will never forgive her for breaking his heart… It’s such a touching story of deep and lingering love.