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Top 10 Greatest Romance Novels of all Time

Updated on June 19, 2016

The World's Best Love Stories

Romance novels take us into a world of love and passion, where the characters play out our dreams and fantasies for our delight and satisfaction, which in turn provides us with a longing for more.

If you adore love stories, you will really enjoy this Top 10 list of the Greatest Romance Novels of all Time.

Listed here you will discover some great novels from these really talented authors. Browse through the Top 10 Greatest Romance Novels and select the books that you have not read, but would like to.

Then you can curl up in a comfortable chair and do your own personal review of some wonderful romance literature.

Enjoy your reading.

Introduction To The List

If you are anything like me you will enjoy reading great romance novels, in that case you are in for a real treat.

Listed below you will discover the very best love stories, all with personal reviews which will give you an insight of what each novel has to offer you.

Each of these novels have been carefully reviewed and chosen because of their capacity to hold the attention of the reader until the story comes to its final end.

When you have finished browsing, please leave a comment and tell me what you think of these ten greatest romance novels of all time.

#10 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

Morning Glory - By LaVyrle Spencer

Morning Glory
Morning Glory

Tall, dark and handsome Will Parker has served time for the killing of a Texas prostitute, but keeps losing jobs as his reputation becomes known. In the small town of Whitney, Ga., at the beginning of WW II, he answers the advertisement of a pregnant widow and mother of two, the abused and reclusive Eleanor Dinsmore, who is looking for a husband. Soon in love with ostensibly plain, bedraggled Ellie, Parker dotes on her two boys, and works to support the family. Fittingly for this sort of bucolic idyll, Will and Ellie, despite their rudimentary educations, love books and develop a special friendship with wise old Miss Beasley, the local librarian. Alas, brazen and rapacious Lula Peak, the town floozie, sets her sights on Will, waylaying him in the library; meantimes, Lula is blackmailing her lover, the cowardly Harley Overmire, who is no friend of Will.

 

#9 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

Nobody's Baby But Mine - By Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Nobody's Baby But Mine
Nobody's Baby But Mine

Physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington spends her 34th birthday in tears. She wants a baby, but not a husband. Where can she find an average or, preferably, stupid man? She decides that Cal Bonner, legendary quarterback for the Chicago Stars is perfect. Jane sets her plan into action and after some trail and error she succeeds. But the results are more than she bargained for when Cal discovers her duplicity. How can a football player with an interfering family and a nerdy professor who has never known family love ever fall in love? With lots of honesty, understanding and a whole lot of humor. Don't miss this one! It's filled with engaging characters, laughs galore and a feel-good ending.

 

#8 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

Lord of Scoundrels - By Loretta Chase

Lord of Scoundrels
Lord of Scoundrels

Tough minded Jessica Trent's sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Diain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when his reciprocal passion places them in a scandously compromising, and public position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction... Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him...and then for forcing him to salvage reputation! Lord Diain can't wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place -- and in some amorous position. And if this means marriage, so be it -- though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof...and steel his heart to the sensuous, head strong lady's considerable charms.

 

What Makes A Romance Novel Really Great?

What Separates The Great From The Good

The one thing that women really enjoy, is to curl up with a great romance novel. But what makes a romance novel great?

The romance reader is looking for great characters that are larger than life.

A hero that they can believe in, who will do anything to be at the heroine's side.

A heroine that can fight for herself and is also likeable.

A great romance novel is full of emotions,

And there must be a plot that is plausible, with motivation and conflict.

#7 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

A Knight in Shining Armor - By Jude Devereaux

A Knight in Shining Armor
A Knight in Shining Armor

Vacationing in England with her lover, Robert, and his spoiled teenage daughter, heroine Dougless Montgomery is abandoned by them in a remote country churchyard near the tomb of Nicholas Stafford, an earl who died in 1564. Almost immediately, an armor-clad swashbuckler materializes--Nicholas himself, reincarnated in the 20th century to clear his reputation, having been unjustly convicted of treason. Intrigued by his plight, Dougless agrees to help Nicholas learn his accuser's identity and restore his good name. They become lovers, and their adventures briefly lead Dougless back to the 1560s

 

#6 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

Flowers from the Storm - By Laura Kinsale

Flowers from the Storm
Flowers from the Storm

Christian Langland, Duke of Jerveaux is the ultimate hero. A brilliant mathematician and a complete rake, Christian is a man of contradictions. When a stroke leaves him permanently unable to speak, his family believes him to be mad and relegates him to a sanitarium. Fortunately, Maddy, a righteous Quaker and do-gooder, recognizes that Christian is not insane--he just can't talk! Maddy may not be the most likable heroine you'll encounter, but she has depth and character, and is probably one of the few people you could imagine who would have the patience and understanding to accept and live with Christian's intense anger and frustration. But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely -- and bind them together in need, desire ... and love.

 

Taking A Short Break

A Few Words From Your Host

You are halfway through the top 10 list of the greatest romance novels of all time.

So far you have discovered some really great romance novels, but the top 10 list now continues with the romance novels that are even greater love stories.

Please take the time to leave a comment with your thoughts about the top 10 list of the greatest romance novels of all time.

And also visit some of the other places that are featured, where you will find more great books to read.

Enjoy your reading.

#5 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

The Bride - By Julie Garwood

The Bride
The Bride

By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison...a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her...forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned against, an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And though Kincaid's scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him...until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses...

 

#4 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

McKenzie's Mountain - By Linda Howard

Mackenzie's Legacy: Mackenzie's Mountain\Mackenzie's Mission (NYT Bestselling Author)
Mackenzie's Legacy: Mackenzie's Mountain\Mackenzie's Mission (NYT Bestselling Author)

A great romance novel about Mary, a schoolteacher who just can't let Joe Mackenzie quit high school, so she sets off up the mountain that he lives on with his father, Wolf, to see what she can do to get him back in school. What she finds up on that mountain is a passion she's never imagined existed before with a tall, tough and rugged warrior with a past. Wolf, for his part, has been to jail for a rape he didn't commit and isn't willing to ruin Mary's reputation in their small town, so he refuses to begin a relationship with the sweet lady. Then, a real rapist is on the loose in this quaint, little town and targeting people who are close to Joe and Wolf Mackenzie. And Mary is one of the top targets on his list...

 

#3 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

It Had to Be You - By Susan Elizabeth Phillips

It Had To Be You (Chicago Stars)
It Had To Be You (Chicago Stars)

The Windy City isn't quite ready for Phoebe Somerville-the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not ready for the Stars' head coach, former grid iron legend Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises-a meddling bimbo who doesn't know a pigskin from a pitcher's mound. So why is Dan drawn to the shameless sexpot like a heat-seeking missile? And why does the coach's good ol' boy charm leave cosmopolitan Phoebe feeling awkward, tongue-tied...and ready to fight?

 

Ok, so now we are down to the last two books in the top 10 greatest romance novels of all time list.

Any guesses as to which books they are?

Enjoy your reading.

#2 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

Dream Man - By Linda Howard

Dream Man
Dream Man

Detective Dane Hollister has a tough life. A serial killer with a predilection for slashing women to death is on the prowl and now a psychic who claims to witness the murders through the killer's eyes has come forward to share her visions. As far as he's concerned, the psychic is as twisted as the slasher. For her part, from the moment she walks into the Orlando police station, Marlie Keen is sorry she offered to help. Hollister treats her gift of "knowing" with suspicion, but the detective's investigation into Marlie's past convinces him that her gift is genuine. Hollister moves into Marlie's home, nursing her through terrifying and exhausting bouts of clairvoyance. At the same time the two ease the sexual tension threatening to overtake them---which if it doesn't quite make for good police work, does make for steamy romance.

 

#1 Greatest Romance Novel of all Time

Outlander - By Diana Gabaldon

Outlander
Outlander

English nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall and husband Frank take a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands in 1945. When Claire walks through a cleft stone in an ancient henge, she's somehow transported to 1743. She encounters Frank's evil ancestor, British captain Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, and is adopted by another clan. Claire nurses young soldier James Fraser, a gallant, merry redhead, and the two begin a romance, seeing each other through many perilous, swashbuckling adventures involving Black Jack. Scenes of the Highlanders' daily life blend poignant emotions with Scottish wit and humor. Eventually Sassenach (outlander) Claire finds a chance to return to 1945, and must choose between distant memories of Frank and her happy, uncomplicated existence with Jamie.

 

Heartbroken

The Romance Novel That Just Missed The List

Pride & Prejudice - By Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice (Collector's Library)
Pride and Prejudice (Collector's Library)

Pride and Prejudice is a comedy of manners played out in early 19th Century English society, a world in which men held virtually all the power and women were required to negotiate mine-fields of social status, respectability, wealth, love, and sex in order to marry both to their own liking and to the advantage of their family. Such is the case of the Bennetts, a family of daughters whose father's estate is in jeopardy and upon his death they will lose home, land, income, everything. But are the Bennett daughters up to playing a winning hand in this high-stakes matrimonial game without forfeiting their own personal integrity?

 

A Few Words From Your Reviewer

You have just had the opportunity to explore my reviews and recommendations of these 10 Greatest Romance Novels of all Time. I do hope that they have provided you with the details that you were seeking so that you can make your choice of the next novel that you will be reading. My Personal Favorite is Dream Man By Linda Howard

What Is Your Favorite Romance Novel? - Take A Few Moments And Give Me Your Thoughts

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    • profile image

      Bukola 2 years ago

      Paulina Simmons' The Bronze Horseman is a classic. It did not end with a happily ever after but that in no way reduced its appeal. Its simply breathtaking.

    • TLStahling profile image

      TL Stahling 3 years ago from US

      There are so many layers of story in Gone With The Wind, but the main theme is the relationship between Scarlet and Rhett. To me, that's not only the greatest story and movie ever; but it's also the greatest love story that has lasted through time.

    • brilliantsprout profile image

      brilliantsprout 3 years ago

      This is really an awesome list of romance novels. Added some to my reading list.

    • profile image

      coffeeholicpencil 3 years ago

      The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      The only ones I've heard of are Gone With The Wind and Pride and Prejudice.

      The latter is one of my all time favourite books.

    • LotusLandry profile image

      LotusLandry 3 years ago from Southern California

      Bad Boy by Olivia Goldsmith

    • Lozola profile image

      Lozola 3 years ago

      Great list, definitely some interesting ones to add to my list here. My favorite would be Tinker, more of a sci-fi romance.

    • LSJ-88 profile image

      LSJ-88 3 years ago

      Wow, I have some reading to do! The only ones I've read are Gone With the Wind and Outlander.

    • profile image

      sethandressen 3 years ago

      I love Gone With The Wind. It's my all time favorite.

    • profile image

      HemaGangadharan 3 years ago

      My favorite is Pride and Prejudice followed by Love Story

    • profile image

      penny-richens 3 years ago

      I was worried for a bit because I hadn't seen any Diana Gabaldon, but then there it was at #1. Outlander and the Outlander Series are far and away the best romance novels ever. You have good taste.

    • Annabeau profile image

      Annabeau 3 years ago

      My all-time favorite is "The Thorn Birds"... So much love went down the drain... And, for what?

    • tnphoenixrising profile image

      tnphoenixrising 3 years ago

      Shanna is my favorite!

    • profile image

      after_titanic 4 years ago

      i think morning glory is the best of all...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Where's the notebook by nicolas sparks in this list..although i read dream man also which is awesome too.

    • irongateantique profile image

      irongateantique 4 years ago

      Romance novels are not my #1 favorite but I have added a few of your recommendations to my reading list. My favorite book of all time is Gone With The Wind, more for the historical aspect but it is romantic too!

    • Meganhere profile image

      Meganhere 4 years ago

      Wuthering Heights. Rebecca would be next. I love Jane Eyre up until she married that dastardly cad.

    • profile image

      DtKnight 4 years ago

      Wow, what an excellent list of romance novels for anyone who wants to get started reading in the genre. As someone who has not read many romance novels, this is definitely a wonderful place for me to start for what I should be reading to get a good romance novel experience!

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      One of my favourite books of all time is "Pride and Prejudice" I keep re-reading it.

    • WhiteIsland profile image

      WhiteIsland 4 years ago

      I loved Gone with the Wind, although the love part of the story frustrated me no end. :P I also love Jane Eyre, Thorn in My Heart and Fire by Night (the latter two by Lynn Austin, I believe). As love stories go, I think I would choose Jane Eyre or Fire by Night, but it's so hard to decide! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Some of yours look wonderful and I've added a few to my TBR. I only started reading romance again last year when I picked up Merry Go Round by Donna Fasano. After that I read Runaway Bride and absolutely fell in love with romance books all over again. I would say Runaway Bride is my favorite of 2012 and I'm still reading romance.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i think knight in a shining armour, once and always, until you, kiss an angel are my fav i think i this ocean of novels i will definitely drown

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      I'm a Julie Garwood and Christine Feehan fan.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Dream a little dream

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Sense And Sensibility, Jane Austen. Two romances! with wonderful support characters who show loving devotion.

    • DvdMovieGirl profile image

      DvdMovieGirl 4 years ago

      My favourite is "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier. I can read it time and again!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I don't often read romance novels, but someone gave me a copy of "A Knight in Shining Armor" and it was wonderful. I'm also a fan of "Gone With the Wind" - the book was much better than the movie, IMHO.

    • LisaNowatzki profile image

      LisaNowatzki 4 years ago

      It may be an oldie, but it is still a goodie - Gone With The Wind.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The best is Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice. Nothing compares to it

    • swapnal-sarang profile image

      swapnal-sarang 5 years ago

      Pride and prejudice a novel i read in my teens and can still relate to it in my thirties .

    • profile image

      xtianfriborg13 5 years ago

      Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the best!

    • profile image

      carol18 5 years ago

      I LOVE Gone with the wind.

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 5 years ago

      Gone With The Wind!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How about Hummingbird by LaVeryle Spencer or Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Gone with the wind, the best novel i have ever read..all about true love..and love the main character Scarlett,for i find her just like me lol..!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Gabriel's Inferno and Gabriel's Rapture. These two books are both breath taking and refreshing at the same time. As well as Jane Eyre, of course.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      "Perfect" by Judith Mc Naught.

    • profile image

      VatsalMakhija 5 years ago

      I like Georgette Heyer's romantic novels. "These Old shades" is my favorite.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught. Dream Man did nothing for me but I look forward to reading other Linda Howard books. I've heard that her early ones are much better.

    • profile image

      mouse1996 lm 5 years ago

      I love romance novels, especially the kind that take your breath away. I will have to look into these novels.

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 5 years ago

      I think that we like the same type of books. I have read 4 out of the ten. That means that I have 6 new ones to check out. :)

    • ladystorm35 profile image

      ladystorm35 5 years ago

      Oh, I have to many to name..LOL. I think my favorite classic romances would be Jane Eyre, Persuasion, and Pride and Prejudice. Contemporary might be Wishes by Jude Deveraux (I liked it because it was abou a pleasantly plump young lady who gets the handsome man..lol) That is more realistic. :)

    • ShariSmith profile image

      ShariSmith 5 years ago

      I recommend "It Had to Be You" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips to every hopeless romantics

    • profile image

      turkeybaconlover 5 years ago

      Definitely Whitney, My love! I just love Judith McNaught!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      One of my fav is "Perfect" by judith mcnaught .Must read....

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Pride and Prejudice should be in the list.It is one of the best novels for today and of that times.i really really love it.....

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 5 years ago from Indiana

      I love Linda Howard.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      almost heaven by judith mcnaught

    • atlanticheart profile image

      atlanticheart 5 years ago

      Well, I definitely agree about Outlander. It's fantastic. But, I feel Pride & Prejudice, Rebecca, and Gone with the Wind should have been in the top ten, but that's just because they are some of my favourites.

    • peggygallyot profile image

      peggygallyot 5 years ago

      I love reading Pride And Prejudice. Have read it many times.

    • indigomoth profile image

      indigomoth 5 years ago from New Zealand

      I can't argue with Outlander as number one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Death Angel by Linda Howard..Dark but intense..excellent read..

    • sherridan profile image

      sherridan 5 years ago

      Gone with the Wind was my first thought, but this may be more down to the film.

    • peggygallyot profile image

      peggygallyot 5 years ago

      Pride and prejudice, I read it so many times.

    • kgracie profile image

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      It has to be Gone With The Wind - head and shoulders above the rest!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My favourite is "Gone with the wind", others I need to read.

    • LotusLandry profile image

      LotusLandry 5 years ago from Southern California

      Flatland is a romance of many dimensions....

    • profile image

      RobynBradleyWriter 5 years ago

      I loved The Thorn Birds (I realize it's an epic and probably doesn't qualify as pure "romance," but there you have it!). :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      From your list i have to go for "chasing fire". I love this book! I think it was one of her best yet. It kept me alert and waiting for the next thing and I didn't realize how much stuff the fire fighters had to deal with. This is a must read!

    • purpleclouds profile image

      purpleclouds 5 years ago

      I love Pride and prejudice, it's the best :))

    • MaryQuinlin profile image

      MaryQuinlin 5 years ago

      I haven't read a lot of romance, but came upon Debbie Macomber's A Turn in the Road recently and enjoyed it.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 6 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Wow, it looks like I have some reading to catch up on. I've been reading Jude Deveraux's Edilean series lately, and I love it. I've not been much on romance novels until recently. They are a wonderful escape.

    • daphnedangerlov1 profile image

      daphnedangerlov1 6 years ago

      Really spectacular choices! It is hard to pick a favorite novel. I adored all the Velvet novels by Jude Deveraux and all of the early Garwoods.

    • ChrissLJ profile image

      ChrissLJ 6 years ago

      I agree wholeheartedly with #4 and #5 (though I prefer "The Wedding" which is the sequel to "The Bride." I've yet to read "Dream Man" by Howard but love (almost) everything she's written... especially "Open Season" and "Mr. Perfect."

    • xoxotani profile image

      xoxotani 6 years ago

      Good ones. But I also enjoy Wuthering Heights :)

    • ellagis profile image

      ellagis 6 years ago

      What an interesting list of books!! I thought I was an "heavy" reader, but you suggested some titles and writers I didn´t know! I´ll try to set it right soon!

      My favourite romance novel? Isabel Allende´s "The house of the Spirits".

    • profile image

      chicklitnation 6 years ago

      I absolutely agrre with your chocie for #1! The Outlander series is hands-down one of the greatest historical romance sagas out there. I also rank Pride & Prejudice and sense and Sensibility on my list of top romances.

    • profile image

      jeremyh1 6 years ago

      I really like gone with the wind. I think this is the ultimate romantic novel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simmons...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      Amongst your list, I only read Gone with the Wind and Pride & Prejudice.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I thought that the list was awesome. You had many of my top, however i would have loved to have at least mentioned my number one favorite romance novel "The Windflower" by Laura London.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale, real characters, great dialogue, real conflict. Miss Kinsale

      knows how to keep you guessing while keeping you intimately involved with the hero and heroine. I am now reading Outlander based on your recommendation, but since it is told first person I don't expect it to touch anything Kinsale or Mcnaught has written in my opinion

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Awesome list. I'm glad Diana Gabaldon got the top spot- she's a great author. Glad to see Jude Devereaux made the list, as well!

      My personal favorite romance novel, Sinful Liaisons by JC Gardner, didn't make the list. It's a mix of action, suspense and romance- kind of like Jackie Collins books.

    • LakeMom profile image

      LakeMom 6 years ago

      Great list of romance novels! Would love to find a rainy weekend to dive into a couple of these!

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 6 years ago

      Rebecca is one of my favs

    • profile image

      tssfacts 7 years ago

      Nice selection. My all time favorite is still Gone with the Wind. I did see some book titles that I hadn't seen before so will have to check them out.

    • profile image

      bkray 7 years ago

      all novel's are favorite for me.but Flowers from the Storm and Lord of Scoundrels is the best. it seems to me.

    • profile image

      boutiqueshops 7 years ago

      Outstanding list! I see some of my own favorites here (Shanna, The Bride, Honor's Splendor, Pride and Prejudice and others). I'm actually reading Outlander now. My favorite is a toss-up between The Flame & The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Pride & Prejudice. Hmmm....

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I'll always love Mr. Darcy... so it is Pride and Prejudice!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I really love Judith Mcnaught's Whitney, my love, until you, & perfect.!! they are my top 3 books of the year.!! the humor in every story just takes my breath laughing away.! a tremendously must read book for all romance book lovers alike!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      The Velvet Promise by Jude Deveraux is my favorite! The novel is on top of my sisters and friends' list too!!! If you haven't read it, you should!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Glad to see Diana Gabaldon's work here. I LOVE her Outlander series. I've read the whole thing and might just have to read it all again.