Shelf Love's Modern Romance Canon Reading List

Jul 28, 2020

Let’s make a modern romance canon! Starting towards the end of 2019, I started asking my guests what romance novel they’d nominate for the modern romance canon.

My Definitions:

A romance novel = a fictional story with a romantic relationship that is central to the plot with an emotionally satisfying ending

Modern = something that would resonate with a new romance reader in the year it's nominated, i.e. someone who may not have any nostalgia or historical context for why this book matters.

This list is growing with every episode and is by no means a complete list (and you’ll also notice duplicates show up as multiple guests nominate the same book). It’s also completely subjective! That’s why I’m calling these “nominations,” and why I’m trying to get nominations from as many people as possible who each represent a unique viewpoint.

I’ve listed the nominated books below - take a listen to the originating episode to get the full story behind the nomination. Click here to learn how you can contribute to the canon. You can also listen to more about the “why” of this project in episode 052!

Modern Romance Canon Nominees

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Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan

Nominated by Talia Hibbert in Episode 27: Listen

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Nominated by Kennedy Ryan in Episode 28: Listen

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Nominated by Emma Barry in Episode 30: Listen

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A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Nominated by Charish Reid in Episode 31: Listen

Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley

Nominated by Megan Erickson in Episode 35: Listen

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Nominated by Hannah Hearts Romance in Episode 38: Listen

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Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Nominated by Adriana Herrera in Episode 42: Listen

A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles

Nominated by Adriana Herrera in Episode 42: Listen

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Nominated by Adriana Herrera in Episode 42: Listen

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Prosperity by Alexis Hall

Nominated by EE Ottoman in Episode 44: Listen

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Nominated by Bree (from Kit Rocha) in Episode 46: Listen

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Nominated by Jess in Episode 47: Listen

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Artistic License by Elle Pierson

Nominated by Jess in Episode 47: Listen/Read

Sanctuary by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Nominated by Katrina Jackson in Episode 52: Listen/Read

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Nominated by Katrina Jackson in Episode 52: Listen/Read

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I Think I Might Love You? by Christina C. Jones

Nominated by Tasha L. Harrison in Episode 53: Listen/Read