I enjoy reading a wide range of fiction in a variety of different genres and my favourite authors range from Iain Banks to Sarah Waters; Chuck Palanhiuk to George R.R. Martin; and Kate Atkinson to Stieg Larsson. But I write Women’s Fiction and mainly Romance so I’ve come up with a list of ten favourites.While not all are classed as ‘Romances’ these books contain love stories that inspire me. I am drawn to those with an unusual quirk to them, a sinister edge or a tragic undercurrent – traits that I try to bring to my own work. To narrow down the selection I’ve excluded fave classics such as Pride and Prejudice, and focused on those published within my lifetime. (The list is arranged alphabetically, because that was easier than trying to order them by preference).
Archer Hale, the tortured male lead in this story, is both original and beautifully compelling and the main reason this book made such an impression on me. Bree Prescott is a girl with her own problems, but has the right combination of skill and determination, to draw Archer out of his shell.
A masterfully written book, by one of my favourite authors, which starts in 1935 and takes us on through the Second World War. The potential relationship between Cecilia and Robbie, is witnessed second-hand through the eyes of Cecilia’s younger sister Briony, and yet it is as romantic, powerful and moving as any I’ve ever read.
Control by Charlotte Stein
I’m a huge fan of this author’s work – she has a distinctive, almost neurotic style of writing, which quickly becomes addictive. This is the story of a woman torn between two, very different, potential lovers and the book is both erotically charged and laugh-out-loud funny in places. I can’t recommend it enough.
For those who like a bit of taboo, this explores the relationship between a university professor and his student, and has a deliciously Gothic feel; woven out of literary themes of sin, hell and spiritual love. I must admit I didn’t enjoy the second book in this series as much, but I highly recommend this first one.
This book also features an enigmatic male lead, in the form of reclusive writer Matt Sky, who is as bold and darkly intriguing as he is secretive. This book is the first in a trilogy, and although I’ve yet to read the third, I definitely recommend the first two.
One Day by David Nicholls
The quirk of this book is how it cleverly follows the relationship between two people over twenty years, but only on the same day of each year. The characters of Emma and Dexter are brilliantly written and believable and the story moved me to tears.
The enduring appeal of this gem of a book for me, aside from the main characters being stranded together on a desert island, is the unusual dynamic between the two – Anna is thirteen years older than TJ and was due to be his tutor before they found themselves marooned. But as they struggle to survive, with only each other to rely on, the years pass and their relationship strengthens and deepens.
A gripping time-slip novel set in rugged Scotland. Claire, the heroine, is feisty and determined, and Jamie Fraser – a true hero in every sense of the word – is perhaps my favourite leading male character of all time. I don’t usually choose to read historical novels, generally preferring a contemporary atmosphere, but I am in awe of this author’s epic work and am currently reading the eighth book in this phenomenal series.
I first devoured this book, in one sitting, when I was just a teenager and I have never forgotten it. The poignant story of two people who meet and have a brief tender affair in middle age, is as memorable for its quietly beautiful setting, as it is for the fact it made me cry.
An enduring favourite and one of those books that really made me want to write. Henry is a sporadic time traveller but with no control over his ability, which often leads him to some dark places. The journey of Clare and Henry’s unusual relationship (she has known him since she was a child) is deeply emotional and told from both points of view.
What are your ten favourite book romances?