I'm not really a reader of 'romantic fiction' as a genre, but I do love to read stories that explore the high levels of emotion and passion in relationships - even better if they also have a paranormal angle too! Here's my top 5 choices of (what I see as) romantic fiction:
1. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
The moment when Cathy's ghostly hand reaches through the broken window during the night is a delicious piece of paranormal writing. In my opinion, Wuthering Heights is the greatest love story ever written. I first read it as a teenager and have read it again and again. Who hasn't heard of Heathcliff and Cathy, the couple who meet as children, when Cathy's father brings ragamuffin street child Heathcliff home to join the family. As they grow up together on the Yorkshire moors they both love so much, their friendship turns into a love that is marred by expectations, people and events around them, so that they cannot be together. Heathcliff runs away and returns a wealthy man, with a plan for revenge that's emotionally charged right to the end. Emily Bronte wrote only one novel in her lifetime. Considering her isolated life spent on the same Yorkshire moors, she knew how to write about emotions and put every ounce of emotional tension and conflict into this ghostly love story.
2. The End of the Affair (Graham Greene)
I'd never read a Graham Greene book and was advised to try The End of the Affair. Unexpectedly, I was totally drawn into the story of Henry, Sarah and Bendrix, told in flashback after the affair has ended. I discovered that Greene is a master storyteller and knew his craft. The story is set in London during WW2, and it was only at the end that I fully grasped how all the pieces fit together to understand the deal Sarah had made, at the moment when she thought a German bomb had torn her world apart.
3. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
This is another classic tale of doomed love, set in the world of the Long Island rich between the two world wars. The mysterious, wealthy Jay Gatsby arrives and quickly establishes himself and his home on the 'party scene', but what he really wants to do is rekindle his relationship with old flame Daisy Buchanan and persuade her to leave her husband, Tom. This beautiful love triangle is told through the eyes of Daisy's cousin Nick, who can only watch as the situation falls apart.
4. Noughts and Crosses (Malorie Blackman)
In Noughts and Crosses, Blackman takes two different barriers to love - skin colour and social class - and puts them together to tell the love story between Callum and Sephy. In a reversal of the norm, Callum is white and from a lower social class (the Noughts), while Sephy is black and is also a member of the powerful ruling class (the Crosses). Social convention and family pressures conspire to keep the couple apart, but their determination triumphs in the end, even though they cannot completely fight against the people in power who surround them, with tragic consequences.
5. The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton)
This massive 800-page saga meanders through a family search, opium addiction and a mysterious death, all set against the backdrop of New Zealand's nineteenth-century gold rush. Emery Staines and Anna Wetherell are somehow connected to all these events, but by the end of the story, they realise they also have a connection with each other, a spiritual bond that is written in the stars.