The Books That Hooked Readers on Romance

Posted by Hayley on April 26, 2018
"I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight," Lisa Kleypas wrote in Blue-Eyed Devil. "But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you."

If you're a romance reader, you're used to meeting the right (fictional) person for you—again and again and again. It's easy to become insatiable when presented with a smörgåsbord of sexy singles. Bad boys with hearts of gold, Navy SEALs with some time off, a vampire, a duke, a neighbor with a dog… They're an irresistible bunch.

But like every love affair, it begins with a spark. We asked romance fans on Facebook and Twitter: What love story hooked you on the genre? We've rounded up some of the top answers below. Add what catches your eye to your Want to Read shelves.


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Are you a romance reader? Tell us the books that made you fall for the genre in the comments!

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 123 (123 new)


message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica B. Yay for The Wedding Date!!


message 2: by CdnBookLover (new)

CdnBookLover Barbara Cartland, yes, and Sandrda Brown, Janet Dailey (sp?) and so many others when labels such as Harlequin, Silhouette and Candlelight were becoming known.


message 3: by Miki (new)

Miki Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, and later on The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale.


message 4: by Eliza (new)

Eliza Colleen Hoover isn't romantic it's abuse so please stop putting it in these kinds of lists


message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Miki wrote: "Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, and later on The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale."

Nine Coaches Waiting was my "gateway" Mary Stewart, and I fell HARD :) I also loved "Seven Tears for Apollo" by Phyllis Whitney, and I proceeded to read all of her books as well.


message 6: by Bibliyohan (new)

Bibliyohan Blackthorn ➰ Ugly Love!!!! And Kristin Hannah's Angel Falls (not in the list) is my fave romance read!


message 7: by Candy (new)

Candy Rachel wrote: "Miki wrote: "Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, and later on The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale."

Nine Coaches Waiting was my "gateway" Mary Stewart, and I fell HARD :) I also loved "Seve..."


Me, too, Rachel!


message 8: by Teri-K (new)

Teri-K Pride and Prejudice came first. Then Mary Stewart - Moonspinners, Airs Above Ground, etc. For a long time I resisted all other straight romance novels, though, preferring romantic suspense. Then I read Heyer's The Grand Sophy and fell in love. :)


message 9: by Sandy (new)

Sandy The author that got me into romance was Sherrilyn Kenyon and her Dark Hunter series. I was not interested or more like not ready for romance until I came across this series. I don't even remember how I found them I definitely know I cam across the site for the series before I came across a book. And I think it was the second or third book in the series. I don't follow the series anymore but it will always hold a soft spot in my heart :D.


message 10: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Eliza and her books wrote: "Colleen Hoover isn't romantic it's abuse so please stop putting it in these kinds of lists"
I don't get it either - there's nothing romantic about abuse.
I've only read one of her books and I wondered if the others were as bad. Sounds like they are.


message 11: by siriusedward (last edited Apr 26, 2018 03:47PM) (new)

siriusedward P&P then Persuasion....Jane Austen,then Jane Eyre then The tenant of the Wildfell Hall onto Mary Balogh and finally Jayne Anne Krentz. ...


message 12: by Tara (new)

Tara Eliza and her books wrote: "Colleen Hoover isn't romantic it's abuse so please stop putting it in these kinds of lists"

And again for the people in the back!


message 13: by Anna (new)

Anna I was also snared by Mary Stewart, but for me it was Airs Above The Ground.


message 14: by Jen (new)

Jen Hmm... If I go back to my teenage years: Blood & Chocolate.
If I answer for my first adult romance, it has to be The Duchess by Jude Deveraux. I found an old beat up paperback copy in my grandma's garage one summer in the 90s.
It once belonged to my Aunt.
Been reading the genre since.


message 15: by Eliza (new)

Eliza Jen wrote: "Hmm... If I go back to my teenage years: Blood & Chocolate.
If I answer for my first adult romance, it has to be The Duchess by Jude Deveraux. I found an old beat up paperback copy in my grandma's ..."


OMG Blood and chocolate i love that book so good


message 16: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Hastings For me, it was Sean Kennedy's Tigers and Devils. This book opened up the world of M/M romance to me. As a lesbian living in an outback Australian mining town, this was striking gold!

Since them I have been an avid M/M romance fan. I actually joined Good Reads for the sole purpose of keeping track of the books I have and haven't read yet. I also now count Sean Kennedy as a good friend and regularly have coffee with him.


message 17: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Reading Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer in 1968 turned me on to romances. I spent years afterwards hunting down every one of her books to read.


Sarah⭐ The Ultimate Book Hoarder The Hating Game should be on here :)


message 19: by Princess (new)

Princess Maeve I can't say I really remember the first time I fell in love with the romance genre because I've read it for what feels like my whole life, but the book that made me fall hard for it all over again was A Court of Thorns and Roses.


message 20: by Kathryn (new)


message 21: by Dena (new)

Dena I was reading only mystery books then I got a free Harlequin Intrigue book in the mail along with my local newspaper. I guess it was a campaign they were doing at the time. After reading it I switched from mysteries to romantic suspense/ paranormal romance.


message 22: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Teri-K wrote: "Pride and Prejudice came first. Then Mary Stewart - Moonspinners, Airs Above Ground, etc. For a long time I resisted all other straight romance novels, though, preferring romantic suspense. Then I ..."

The Grand Sophy! Georgette Heyer is AMAZING. My favorite is "These Old Shades" - I was flipping pages like mad with that one :)


message 23: by AGMaynard (new)

AGMaynard Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, Phyllis E. Whitney, Victoria Holt. A bit later, Norah Lofts... But before I found any of them, the Bruce Lancasters that I checked out of the public library. His historical fiction usually had a romance...


message 24: by Carla (new)

Carla wynn Shana by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
I was really too young to be reading this, but the story and the characters grabbed me.


message 25: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Kanouse Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier. I re-read it every once in a while.


message 26: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey My cousin gave me this book to read. I loved this book so much. I read this book to this day at least every 2 years. Plus I fell in love with Johanna Lindsey and have all her books.


message 27: by Suzanne (last edited May 15, 2018 09:08AM) (new)

Suzanne Dabbs How is it possible that Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is NOT on this list???

I fell in love with books by Jude Deveraux many many years ago, A Knight in Shining Armor is one of my all time favorites! ♥


message 28: by Sally (new)

Sally Crosiar Rachel wrote: "Miki wrote: "Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, and later on The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale."

Nine Coaches Waiting was my "gateway" Mary Stewart, and I fell HARD :) I also loved "Seve..."


This Rough Magic made me fall just as hard! As did Madame Will You Walk?


message 29: by Dana (last edited May 15, 2018 09:04AM) (new)

Dana Bennett I have a master's in humanities with a focus on 20th century literature. Starting with James Joyce, Virginia Woolf. You know, the usual suspects. Nothing about romance there. Then, I got real sick and would read
anything and everything, and ran across Romance with HEA. Wow. The wake-up call to happy days while reading. My first author and book? Kristen Ashley and "Rock Chick" then the whole series, multiple on some of the books. When I started writing a romance story in my journal one morning - not terribly surprised, and MOST fun I've ever had. I read a lot of different ones. Hated 50 Shades - because of that torture, shame & blame stuff. Love Cindy Dees, and so many others. Oh, big fave - Chanel Cleeton and her Wild Aces series (3). I'm hooked on good guys and smartmouth women. And HEA, of course.


message 30: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Night Song by Beverly Jenkins


message 31: by Tracy (new)

Tracy I will definitely age myself but my reading level which was low, soared when I read my first romance, The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. My mom encouraged me to keep reading my romance novels!


message 32: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Wysinger Nancy wrote: "Reading Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer in 1968 turned me on to romances. I spent years afterwards hunting down every one of her books to read."

So glad someone mentioned Georgette Heyer. Her "These Old Shades" and "The Grand Sophy" are the best. I have all of her books in papetback and on my kindle


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Wolf and the Dove, then The Thorn Birds, but Romance was not and is not my favorite books to read. Could I say My Antonia was a romance? Gone With the Wind is so much more than a romance. Mysteries, Thrillers, Science Fiction, Crime Procedurals, and even Horror (Dracula, anyone?) frequently have romance. Or add the Holy Bible which is the supreme love story. (see Song of Solomon for some blush worthy words.)


message 34: by Tracy (new)

Tracy I think It was Jane Eyre for me but Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss topped my list shortly after. I still have the book, worth reading again!


message 35: by Gail Barnett (new)

Gail Barnett I fell in love with anything by Lisa Kleypas. I especially loved the historical romance series. Lisa does her homework on this particular genre. It's like being transported back in time when women were courted and were naive about romance but, boy were those love scenes steamy. The stories may be a bit formulaic but I liked being carried away into another world. I was riveted!


message 36: by Janet (new)

Janet I began with Barbara Taylor Bradford, "A Woman of Substance," then went on to anything by Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz; Stephanie Laurens, The Cynsters series are incredibly wonderful to read; Diana Gabaldon & the Outlander series; Lisa Kleypas and all of her series (historical / contemporary) are great! Julie Garwood and the Clayborne Brides; & I guess to round out the group...Linda Lael Miller and those McKettricks.


message 37: by Brandan (new)

Brandan WH The Arrow by Monica McCarty. That book and the series brought me back to romance. It was the right book at the just right time!


message 38: by Patricia (new)

Patricia I began with The Wolf and the Dove - dating myself...lol ! I'm surprised The Bronze Horseman trilogy (Paulina Simmons) is not included in the list - a great read.


message 39: by Danielle (new)

Danielle The Secret by Julie Garwood and anything that Lavyrle Spencer wrote.


message 40: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Miki wrote: "Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, and later on The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale."
YES to both - especially Mary Stewart.


message 41: by S (new)

S Gooding Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss - probably before I should have but I was a reader like my mom and would pick up what was laying around and start reading it.


message 42: by Laura (new)

Laura Danielle wrote: "The Secret by Julie Garwood and anything that Lavyrle Spencer wrote."

I read all of Spencer's books many years ago. Recently I have reread some of her books. She is a great romance writer!


message 43: by Jonetta (new)

Jonetta Nora Roberts’ Montana Sky did it for me. I had blown through the In Death series and decided to check out her books under her name and this was the first. Loved it.


message 44: by Tracie (new)

Tracie Chadwick For The Roses by Julie Garwood and Touch not the Cat by Mary Stewart


message 45: by Laura (new)

Laura Jonetta wrote: "Nora Roberts’ Montana Sky did it for me. I had blown through the In Death series and decided to check out her books under her name and this was the first. Loved it."

Montana Sky was one of the first Nora Roberts books that I read. It was a fabulous story!


message 46: by Malphasia (new)

Malphasia Georgette Heyer (everything) Mary Stewart, Julia Quinn. I like Mary Balough. Love Regency Romance but since they stopped the Signet Impremator some real goodies are missing. Like Emma Lang and Emma Jensen "What Chloe Wants" is really funny. More modern I like Fiona walker "French Relations". I have a very large library so if anyone is interested in Signet let me know.


message 47: by Donna (new)

Donna Read a few romance here and there at first like:
Barbara Taylor Bradford-Woman of Substance
The Thorn Birds

Wasn't hooked until I read all of LaVryle Spencer! Favorites were the historical romances like Years, The Endearment and others.
I cried when she announced that she was retiring and not writing any more!! If you haven't read her books, you HAVE to! I promise you'll be hooked!


message 48: by Malphasia (new)

Malphasia Deborah wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Reading Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer in 1968 turned me on to romances. I spent years afterwards hunting down every one of her books to read."

So glad someone mentioned Georgett..."


Me too. And the lady who mentioned other genres like sci if and thrillers even Horro kudos! Nothing sexier than Interview with The Vampire.


message 49: by Patty (new)

Patty Campbell Carla wrote: "Shana by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
I was really too young to be reading this, but the story and the characters grabbed me."


Shanna hooked me too. It hit me at just the right time in my life.


message 50: by Jonetta (new)

Jonetta Laura wrote: "Montana Sky was one of the first Nora Roberts books that I read. It was a fabulous story!"..."

Yes it was! I’m really glad I started with this book.


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