All About Romance Top 100 Books Poll, 2013 Edition

I’m alive. I swear.

I’m trying to finish writing the second book in my contemporary series for Carina, not to mention completing my dissertation. I just finished two rounds of edits on the first book for them (the one formerly known as The Easy Part; new title forthcoming). I’m also beginning to think about NaNoWriMo, when I hope to finish Brave in Heart’s sequel. Plus I’ve been teaching and grading. So much grading. Grading like it’s going out of style (which I hope it is).

With all of that in mind, while I was filling out my ballot for the All About Romance Top 100 poll, I decided to share it here.

A few caveats: it’s probably obvious I’m not a long-time romance reader; there’s not much old school stuff here. I did not like the first two books I read by Nora Roberts, so I gave up on her. In general, I don’t like romantic suspense, erotica, and paranormal romance. I’ve read nothing by Susan Elizabeth Phelps, JR Ward, Diana Gabaldon, or Nalini Singh, among others. With all that in mind, I decided to stop at 50 rather than 100.

So, tell me where I’m wrong. Tell me what I need to read.

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
3. Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
4. Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase
5. The Winter Sea, Susanna Kearsley
6. A Lady Awakened, Cecilia Grant
7. Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas
8. Private Arrangements, Sherry Thomas
9. Flowers from the Storm, Laura Kinsale
10. The Forbidden Rose, Joanna Bourne
11. Persuasion, Jane Austen
12. Unveiled, Courtney Milan
13. The Raven Prince, Elizabeth Hoyt
14. Anne of the Island, Lucy Maud Montgomery
15. Easy, Tammara Webber
16. The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simmons
17. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Orczy
18. A Lady by Midnight, Tessa Dare
19. Her Best Worst Mistake, Sarah Mayberry
20. What I Did for a Duke, Julia Anne Long
21. All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
22. Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase
23. Suddenly You, Sarah Mayberry
24. Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Cruise
25. The Shadowy Horses, Susanna Kearsley
26. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
27. Thief of Shadows, Elizabeth Hoyt
28. Written on Your Skin, Meredith Duran
29. By Arrangement, Madeline Hunter
30. The Siren, Tiffany Reisz
31. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Laura Willig
32. A Woman Entangled, Cecilia Grant
32. On Dublin Street, Samantha Young
34. Breath on Embers, Anne Calhoun
35. I Kissed an Earl, Julie Anne Long
36. Mr. Impossible, Loretta Chase
37. The Black Hawk, Joanna Bourne
38. Goddess of the Hunt, Tessa Dare
39. The Viscount Who Loved Me, Julia Quinn
40. The Chocolate Kiss, Laura Florand
41. Bet Me, Jennifer Cruise
42. Last Night’s Scandal, Loretta Chase
43. Bound by Your Touch, Meredith Duran
44. The Firebird, Susanna Keasley
45. Anyone But You, Jennifer Cruise
46. Unraveled, Courtney Milan
47. A Duke of Her Own, Eloisa James
48. The Chocolate Rose, Laura Florand
49. Indigo, Beverly Jenkins
50. Rilla of Ingleside, Lucy Maud Montgomery

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5 thoughts on “All About Romance Top 100 Books Poll, 2013 Edition

  1. On my honorable mention list were titles by Julie James, Ruthie Knox, Kristin Ashley, and Jill Shalvis. I also really should have put something by E.M. Forster on there; so imagine A Room with a View somewhere in the top 10.

    ETA: Oh crap, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell should be on here too. I’ll have to redo this at some point. ; )

  2. I’m very impressed and amazed you could make a list like this and rank them–I could maybe make a list of fifty I loved, but I could never rank them.
    Old School-wise, you might at least want to try some Deveraux. Knight in Shining Armor is the big one (and was my re-introduction into romance), but you might like the Duchess. The characters are odd and interesting. Or the Princess, which is a WWII set one.
    And you picked exactly the Willig and Thomas books I wouldn’t–I’d go for Crimson Rose, Blood Lily, and Not Quite a Husband.
    And I know you’re not a big fan of category, but I think you’d really like Susan Napier. In Bed With the Boss is the one usually recommended, but really all of her stuff is good. And I wonder what you would think of Betty Neels. I love her, even though she always wrote to her own formula. And the Presents that I love the most: Innocent Secretary, Accidentally Pregnant. The title is terrible, but it takes all the horrible Presents tropes and just makes them wonderful.
    And what about Anne Bronte? I always want to increase the Anne-love–The Tenant of Wildfell Hall might not be a great romance, but I still think it’s a great book.
    And one I would have to add that isn’t technically a romance is These Happy Golden Years. Almanzo Wilder was probably my very first literary crush.
    (And I think you would hate JR Ward. I could only make it through one of hers.)
    (And this was really long, I apologize.)

    • So I read Knight in Shining Armor and what I mostly remember was that the clothes Douglass buys with Nicholas’ money sounded like the definitive 1987 secretary outfits. I think there was paisley involved. Anyhow, my point is that I didn’t love it. (I also read Whitney, My Love and I’m not sure I’ll ever recover. McNaught put me off the old school authors, and that’s probably unfair.) But maybe I’ll give Deveraux another try!

      Not Quite a Husband should probably be on the list. My love of Private Arrangements is irrational. Gigi and Camden are just so complicated– unlikeable, really–that I adored it. It just seems to be engaging so directly with Edith Wharton’s novels but revising the politics. It made me so happy. (Though–and this is irrational–there’s a reference to Moby Dick in it that doesn’t make any sense. No on the 1880s and 1890s read Melville. No one. The book had been out of print since the 1860s and had sold almost no copies. Unless you knew Melville personally, there’s no way someone from England the age of the characters would have read him. None. That reference almost made me stop reading.) I haven’t read any other Willig, but my love of Pink Carnation is proportional to my love of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I’ll get around to the rest at some point.

      Thank you for the category recommendations! I need to try more of them, I know, but I had a few bad experiences and gave up.

      • Yes, if I were to read Knight in Shining Armor for the first time now, I would likely not enjoy it. It’s definitely a nostalgia pick at this point.
        Strangely enough, Gigi was an unlikeable heroine I actually found unlikeable! I should probably re-read it and see if it might grow on me. But Bryony–she hits all my buttons.
        (And it’s OK to have irrational triggers. You and Melville? That’s me and scientist characters. :) )

  3. Oh, and the rankings are relative. It’s more like tiers of 15 books with some imprecise rankings within the tiers. The top 15 or so I think are amazing. Then the next 15 or so are amazing with a flaw or two. Then there are another 15 or 20 that are much better than even pretty good romances but not as good as the ones above. ; )

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