Swoonworthy Reads

To celebrate Valentine’s Day here on the blog I searched my bookshelves and Goodreads reading list for stories that struck me as delightfully romantic. I’m leaving out category romance and trying only to include books that feature a pairing or a moment that really stayed with me–books that were unexpectedly or hauntingly romantic, where I melted into a puddle of yearning, blushed, or gasped “oh my!”

Young Adult Romance

Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Leavitt. One of my favorite reads of 2017, this gorgeous fairy tale inspired LOTS of yearning as I read.
Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. This fantasy starts slow with a chunk of world-building, but your patience will be rewarded. The romance was unexpected and very swoonworthy.
Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins. I do love a good boarding school story, and this may be the most delightful YA contemporary romance I’ve read!

Yearning Romance

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers. It’s really not fair to include this one because you must have at least read the two prior Peter/Harriet books to fully appreciate it, or ideally have read all the Peter Wimsey books. I had to include it, though, because the romantic bits are so incredibly SWOONY.
Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Two romances–one between Victorian poets and the other between the modern scholars studying them. I’m getting myself worked up just writing this summary. So. much. yearning.
Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier. This often harrowing story of a Civil War soldier on a journey back to the girl he left behind beautifully epitomizes romantic yearning.

Sizzling Romance

Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. This Dickensian tale of a young swindler who meets her match totally took me by surprise with its SPICY romance, and ever since reading it I’ve been a diehard fan of Sarah Waters.
Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen. I’ve enjoyed all of Allen’s books, but this was my first and remains the most memorable. The emotional and physical intensity of the romance definitely inspired a few “Oh MY!” moments as I read.
The Haunting of Maddy Clare, by Simone St. James. For some reason, I didn’t see the romance coming in this ghostly mystery. I fell for the misdirection, and I’m glad I did because the first sexy scene was a STEAMY surprise.

Just for fun, I’ll add my husband’s offerings to the list: The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger; Atonement, by Ian McEwan; and The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks (although he really means the movie for the last option, and he says in particular he’s thinking of Rachel McAdams, but I know he’s really thinking of James Garner and Gena Rowlands.

So what novels have made you yearn, swoon, or blush? I’d LOVE to know!

4 thoughts on “Swoonworthy Reads

  1. Michelle Lunsford

    Great post. I like the way you offered multiple categories. (And it made me smile that S. had his own suggestions to offer.)

    You know how much I love a good romance. Although I lean toward the inspirational/faith-based corner of the genre, I’ve learned there is plenty good writing and some spice to be found there. Sharing some of my favorites below.

    Recent reads:
    The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon – long time friends falling in love is a theme I enjoy, but I also appreciated this narrative that portrays leads from differing cultures and faiths learning to build a relationship together.

    The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner – I am a sucker for a romance where the lead is a minister (no doubt due to my own sweetheart being one). This one offers a realistic perspective of what love can look like from that perspective, but there’s also some great themes of redemption and forgiveness. Oh yeah, and plenty of spice too.

    Old Favorites (and in my feel-good-re-read list):
    Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer – there’s that preacher connection again. 😉 This one showed me how much fun a historical/western setting could be (and how I’ve come to love it way more than I ever imagined I would). The entire Archer Brother series are great reads, but this remains my favorite. The first kiss in this one? So swoon-worthy!

    The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham – another great series, but this one grabbed me and would not let go from page 1. The romance, between David, a quiet intellectual, and Catherine, a feisty, passionate new Christian, allows for many “Oh my!” moments. I also love Catherine’s overall arc, as she learns that when one turns to God, he doesn’t change the personality he originally created in you; rather, he helps you learn to how channel it in ways that lead to goodness and his glory.

    Authors that I find always deliver a good romance:
    I’ll include the above mentioned Karen Witemeyer and Pepper D. Basham, and add to the list Susan May Warren, Nicole Deese, Kristi Ann Hunter, Deeanne Gist, Denise Hunter, Kara Isaac, Becky Wade, and Melissa Tagg.

    1. SoniaG Post author

      I always appreciate your suggestions! I need to print out your comment and post it near my computer. You may be surprised to learn that one of the romantic heroes in a recent story of mine is a minister! (Or maybe I already told you that? Yeah, I think I told you on a drive from Dallas to OKC. Sheesh, my brain!)

    1. SoniaG Post author

      Clearly I need to re-read Wuthering Heights bc I remember Heathcliff and Cathy being kinda creepy. Oh these dark and twisted Byronic heroes!


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