Just in time for Valentine's Day, bestselling romance author Bella Andre picks her 10 favorite romance books.
I have been a huge romance fan my entire life, reading a book a day when I can squeeze it into my busy writing schedule. There's nothing I enjoy more than reading about two people falling in love and the best romances are the ones that make me laugh, cry and stop to tell my husband, “This book is so good!” at least half a dozen times while I'm reading. While I love the romance genre so much that I could have easily written a Top 100 list, what follows are ten of my all-time favorite emotional, fun and supersexy romance novels.
1. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie - Bet Me is, hands down, my favorite romance, one I've read and reread countless times. Like all Crusie books, Bet Me makes me laugh out loud. My chest clenches during the "falling in love" scenes, and boy, oh, boy, do Minerva Dobbs and Calvin Morrisey do a good job of tangling up the sheets. As a bonus, Minerva is a perfectly written full-figured heroine. Any of Crusie's books could have made this list, but Bet Me turns the dial up to eleven.
2. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - I'm a huge fan of Phillips and have loved everything she's written, but there is something extra special about this story. Between the way each chapter starts with a scene from the "Daphne the Bunny" children's books penned by Molly Somerville and her unrequited love for cocky quarterback Kevin Tucker, who has never noticed she's alive (until he suddenly can't stop noticing after an accidental roll in the hay!), this book is pure magic from start to finish.
3. Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts - If this had been a Top 100 list, I still could have filled it with Nora Roberts titles. She's that good. Which is why I'm going to cheat a little and pick a Roberts trilogy instead of just one book. Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea are three extremely emotional, beautifully written stories set in Ireland that have stayed with me for years.
4. A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux - I can't recall when I read Deveraux's iconic time-travel romance for the first time, but I do remember buying it again about ten years ago while on vacation in Vancouver and falling in love with the fantastic love story all over again. It's sweet and sexy and funny and brilliant, and I now reread it every year without fail. A Knight in Shining Armor is the blueprint for time-travel romance.
5. Nine Rules To Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean - Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, is the perfect hero. So perfect, in fact, that I must confess to dreaming about him the night after I read MacLean's book. Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is a full-figured spinster, and as far as I'm concerned, few things in life are more fun than reading about a rake falling head over heels for a wallflower.
6. The Duchess by Jude Deveraux - I had planned to stick to one spot per favorite author on my Top 10 list, but there's no way I could possibly choose between A Knight in Shining Armor and The Duchess. Funny, moody and sexy, The Duchess is unlike any romance I've read before or since. There are secret passageways in a historic castle, an extremely intelligent heroine, a rather strange but incredibly alluring hero and a little sister nicknamed "Brat" who likes to play dress-up in jewels and priceless gowns. It's a book that defies description, which might just be one of the reasons it's so fantastic. Trust me, you should read it.
7. Whitehorn Woods by Maeve Binchy - I know that Binchy's books may not technically be romances as they usually feature a wide cast of characters, only some of whom get a happily-ever-after by the end of the book, but I have loved every single word she's ever written, so she must be on my Top 10 list. Although it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite book of hers, I chose Whitehorn Woods, with Tara Road a very close second. I was very sad to hear that she passed away last summer and am rereading each of her stories slowly to really savor them.
8. Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory - In order to save her brother from the gallows, a desperate Marietta Winters must promise Gabriel Noble three sexy, sinful favors. Mallory's writing is always beautiful, and the romance, the mystery and the sensuality of this story absolutely blew my mind.
9. Caressa's Knees by Annabel Joseph - Joseph does an incredible job of writing about Caressa Gallo, a talented but emotionally damaged cellist, and Kyle Winchell, the personal assistant/bodyguard who can't help but want to heal her. Plus, the end of this book has one of the most beautiful wedding scenes I've ever read in which fireflies play the starring role. Anyone who enjoyed the Fifty Shades books should dive into Annabel Joseph's books, which feature amazingly emotional, heartfelt and sizzling-hot BSDM scenes in addition to the fantastic romance. Be sure to have tissues ready.
10. Wild Card by Lora Leigh - Bella Malone thought her Navy SEAL husband died three years ago, but when a sexy stranger appears suddenly in her life, one with so many similarities to her husband, even though he looks nothing like him, she can't help but start asking herself crazy questions about who he really might be. Bella and Nathan Malone's love story is Leigh at her ultra-angsty, über-alpha-hero, shockingly erotic best.
With over a million ebooks sold to date, Harlequin MIRA welcomes digital phenomenon Bella Andre. For the first time in print, and with expanded editorial, her beloved series, The Sullivans, will be available to readers around the globe. Book One, The Look of Love, will be available on May 28, 2013.