Whatever negative reputation the romance novel may have, with their lurid covers, formulaic plots, and shallow characters, as a genre they sell more than half of the fiction in North America. A need is clearly being filled! Generally speaking, a romance novel focuses on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and it ends in an uplifting and emotionally satisfying way. One of the first examples was Samuel Richardson's Pamela from 1740, which was the first to deal solely on the female protagonist's love affair. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice from the next century is considered the epitome of the romantic genre. While you're there check out Radcliffe's Sicilian Romance, and The Italian, or the Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte Yonge. Readers love The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter as well as her book Freckles.
Don't miss Chip, of the Flying U by B.M. Bower, Elinor Glyn's Three Weeks, or her book The Visits of ElizabethThe Lamp in the Desert by Ethel May Dell, and The Man in Grey by Baroness Emmuska Orczy are also favorites. Let's not forget the male romance writers, like Anthony Trollope, who wrote Way We Live Now, or Seventeen by Booth Tarkington. Or there's Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence, and Damsel in Distress, A by P.G. Wodehouse. Leroux's Phantom of the Opera is a favorite, as is H. Rider Haggard's classic, simply titled She.