What are some of your favorite romance novels?

Many of my readers ask me about the books on my own keeper shelf, the romance novels I read again and again. Here’s a starter list (in no particular order). I’m still adding to it, so check back regularly.

An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn. I told the story on the Avon blog about how this novel inspired me to become a historical romance novelist.

The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin. Action, adventure, history, a heroine who expertly wields a sword, an unconventionally wonderful hero… It’s catnip designed especially for me! If you love the heroes in my novels, you will adore Han.

Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. I wrote about the reason I teach this American-set historical romance in my university course on the romance novel, and how it taught me how to appreciate the Cinderella trope.

Beginner’s Luck by Kate Claybourne. Claybourne’s debut contemporary romance is absolutely delightful, full of sweetness and smartness and all-around sexy goodness.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. A young adult dystopian novel, this one has a very strong romantic thread. The unique prose sucked me in, and the story… WOW. I immediately swallowed the trilogy whole.

The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale. This gorgeous historical romance features one of my favorite romance novel heroes of all time. Kinsale’s writing is absolutely gorgeous.

Truly Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson. My sister insisted for two years that I read this contemporary romance. Thank Heaven for excellent sisters! With a bad boy hero (who’s got a heart of gold) and a take-no-shit heroine, it’s a keeper. (It helped inspire My Lady, My Lord!)

Luck Be a Lady by Meredith Duran. Duran’s writing is beautiful, the history is fascinating and woven so closely into the story I barely noticed I was actually learning history, and the hero and heroine are equals — true equals — and the heroine didn’t have to teach the hero how to love; he already knew how to love in many ways. This novel made my heart sing. (This was the first book I chose for discussion in the Feminist Romance Lovers Bookclub!)

Hot Head by Damon Suede. This contemporary romance between two firefighter heroes of the 9/11 tragedy in New York City is intense, raw, and un-put-down-able. The love story is heartrending and glorious. The meta commentary about gender is done with such a light yet confident touch that it made me cheer.

The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White. Women’s fiction with a romance at its center, this novel is perfect in its beautifully drawn characters and its gracious, honest treatments of pain and joy. I also love this novel for how it presents the reality of living with a neurological disorder with compassion and clarity.

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell. This young adult fantasy novel is a new and fabulous take on the Peter Pan story, and I loved every page. It’s one of my favorite pirate novels.