30 of the best romance books, as recommended by w&h’s Books Editor

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  • We all grew up on love stories.

    Even now, if you ask the person sitting next to you to name the first famous novel that comes to their mind, a huge majority of them are likely to choose one of the great romance books.

    Tales about all-conquering emotion get under our skin because they make us feel something. They leave a mark that stays with us long after we have closed the final page, and the characters remain in our heads, their actions becoming the fixed points on which we measure our own romantic triumphs and failures.

    The best love stories never grow old – just ask Shakespeare, Emily Brontë and Jane Austen – and nor do they feel any less relevant now than they would have centuries ago.

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    Human beings may have evolved from playing piano in the drawing room to swiping right on a dating app, but we are all still driven by the same urge: to love and be loved. A triumphant romance story doesn’t just have to be about two strangers meeting and falling in love, it can also be about family, about self, or even about a pet – as long as the emotion is there, the reader’s feelings will follow.

    This list mixes the great and the good with the new and the noteworthy, and examines love in all its irresistible guises, from boy meets girl to woman meets dog. A few travel in time while others put pen to paper, and while some soulmates slip past one another, others must find a way to carry on alone when tragedy falls.

    Whether you want to laugh your way through from cover to cover or lie on the floor and weep, there’s a heartfelt title here that will suit your love story needs – but don’t just stop at one…

    Our pick of the best romance books…

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