Last update 16-September 2016.

Nonfiction:
I love reading academic studies of the romance genre. One of the most accessible is Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance.

A Natural History of the Romance Novel offers useful ways to look at the structure of romance novels.

Good-Bye Heathcliff: Changing Heroes, Heroines, Roles, and Values in Women’s Category Romances is a bit more focused.

The Woman’s Historical Novel: British Women Writers, 1900-2000 doesn’t go into genre Romance, but offers some useful historical background and critique.

Empowerment versus Oppression: Twenty First Century Views of Popular Romance Novels features essays on various Romance sub-genres.

Women Constructing Men: Female Novelists and Their Male Characters, 1750-2000 looks at what is says on the tin: male characters written by women.

Fiction:
Cecilia Grant is terrific.  A Lady Awakened and A Gentleman Undone are a good place to start.

One of my main influences in the genre is romance writer Laura Kinsale, who has some of the most cracktastic–and emotionally compelling–books I’ve ever read.

Flowers from the Storm

The Shadow and the Star

Midsummer Moon

Seize the Fire

Shadowheart

The Prince of Midnight

Carla Kelly fostered my love of the so-called “beta hero,” sometimes known as the “nice guy.”

The Surgeon’s Lady

Marrying The Captain

Another of my influences is Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas. My favorites of her novels are Dance and Untie My Heart.

Mary Balogh has written many genre-bending Regency-set historicals, such as A Precious Jewel and The Secret Pearl. Other favorites of mine include A Summer to Remember and First Comes Marriage.

Jo Beverley is another consistent favorite author: A Most Unsuitable Man features class issues along with the romance, Christmas Angel is a truly excellent Marriage of Convenience novel, and Forbidden includes that rarity, a virgin hero.

Pam Rosenthal writes complex and sexy historicals:

Almost A Gentleman (Brava Historical Romance)

The Bookseller’s Daughter

The Edge of Impropriety

Connie Brockway is just plain fun. I love her sense of humor.

As You Desire

The Bridal Season

Bridal Favors

Loretta Chase is an expert at witty banter.

Mr. Impossible

Miss Wonderful

Lord Perfect

This classic Chase novel mingles humor and deft twists on tropes of historical romance: Lord of Scoundrels

Meredith Duran is a newer favorite:

Bound by Your Touch

Written on Your Skin

Sherry Thomas is a great prose stylist who also writes wonderful mysteries:

Private Arrangements

Delicious

Elizabeth Hoyt has several series out now, but these were her first books:

The Raven Prince

The Leopard Prince

The Serpent Prince