I know there are a lot of supernatural/paranormal romances out there these days, but honestly, I haven't really been reading new romance for some time.
In another thread asking for fantasy book recommendations, I pimped a series of trilogies by Jacqueline Carey that starts with the novel Kushiel's Dart
. It's not a romance, per se
, but there is romance in it, and no matter what genre you're seeking, it's a DAMN GOOD SERIES.
Check out this post
for more information. Then read the books, because they're truly, truly excellent and if at least the first novel can't keep your interest, then your interest simply cannot be held by anything. Seriously. I loved these books so much my son was almost named Joscelin after one of the characters.
If you want something that is actually found in the romance aisle among the bodice-rippers, check out the Outlander
series by Diana Gabaldon. It's got time travel, and it's pretty epic. I personally have found my attention wandering with the last couple books in the series, but other people I know can't put them down, so that could just be my ADD at work.
Now, to dig into some older stuff, check out the following novels by Jude Devereux: Wishes
, A Knight in Shining Armor
, and Remembrance
. The first two are very light, fluffy reading, just about the perfect size for a cozy evening in, nothing too hefty. The last one is a bit weightier and actually packs a little bit of an emotional punch toward the end.
I also recommend Sweet Liar
by Jude Devereux as well, but I can't truthfully claim it has any sort of supernatural stuff going on. It's just a good read. Devereux has some other stuff with a supernatural flavor, but I'm not as familiar with her more recent work. Her non-supernatural novels are fun as well. If you enjoy Wishes
(and if you have any sense of humor whatsoever, you really can't help but enjoy it) also check out Mountain Laurel
for more of the same brand of light-hearted hilarity.
For straight-up well-written romance without any supernatural stuff, read some Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, particularly Ashes in the Wind
. The book is 30 years old, but it still holds up. There's a reason Woodiwiss (R.I.P.) was hailed as the "queen of historical romance." Some of her more recent stuff doesn't live up to the epic quality of her earlier works, but up through So Worthy My Love
, which was published in 1989, they're all worth reading. The list, then, would be: The Flame and the Flower
The Wolf and the Dove
Ashes in the Wind
A Rose In Winter
Come Love a Stranger
So Worthy My Love
Petals on the River
(not as good as the rest of the list, but still enjoyable.)
Her VERY early works (up through Ashes in the Wind
, I believe) employ the "heroine is raped/seduced but ends up falling in love anyway" device that was common in most historical romances written in the 70s and early 80s, before someone in the publishing industry decided it would be all right for a woman to have sex without having to be raped the first time. See, there's a reason they're called "bodice rippers," yo. Read at your own risk.
And now to take you out of the realm of romance, I know you've said you've exhausted other genres, but have you yet read the Honor Harrington
series by David Weber? If not, you may want to consider checking it out. Usually military sci-fi isn't my cup of tea, because it tends to be mostly boyfic and frequently misogynistic, but Honor Harrington is different. It features a strong female protagonist and is written by a man who actually does respect women and isn't afraid to explore the softer side of his characters once in a while, in between the epic space battles.
Good luck and enjoy!