What are some of your favorite novels?

Many of my readers ask me about the books on my own keeper shelf, the novels I read again and again.  Here’s a starter list (in alphabetical order) of love stories I love.  I’m always adding to it, so check back regularly.

A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev. I could. Not. Put. This. Novel. Down. All the joy. All the achy feels. All the heart-tearing perfection. These characters go deep into your own heart. (If you loved Eleanor and Taliesin’s love story in I Loved a Rogue, you will adore this novel.)

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 true equals. This novel made my heart sing. (This was the first book I chose for discussion in the Feminist Romance Lovers Bookclub.)

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.)

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer. One of my favorites by the mother of “Regency” romance, featuring a sister and brother duo who disguise themselves as a brother and sister, and bubbling over with wit and spark. It’s gender-bending, incredibly satisfying romance–with two Happily Ever Afters in one package.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

The Lake House by Kate Morton.  My favorite of Morton’s absolutely wonderful books, this one includes more than one love story. Bonus: one of the protagonists is an author.

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 Prodigal Duke by Theresa Romain.  One of the things I love most about Theresa’s books–in addition to her beautiful writing and exquisite historical detail–is her heroines who are at once strong, intelligent, independent, loving, and gentle.  Her heroes are equally wonderful.  This one’s a novella, a quick and oh-so-satisfying read.

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.