Emma by Jane Austen - More failed romance than romance really, although everyone ends up with something romantic at the end, this is really the story of one girl's vision of what love should be and her realisation that she is earth-shatteringly wrong.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Lust, love, marriage, and lust again in the small town existence of the Bennets. Oh, Mr Darcy!
Lorna Doone by Richard Blackmore - Our hero meets a beautiful girl in the gloomy countryside of Devon and has to save her from a band of criminals and the ravages of nature.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë - The doomed love of Catherine and Heathcliff is surely one of the most famous in all of literature. Passion and illicit love are the stock in trade of this gripping tale of emotion, revenge and death.
Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer - If you can handle the antiquated Middle English language, this is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking love stories in all of poetry, set in the besieged Troy. Troilus falls in love with Criseyde at a distance and wins her love only to have her taken from him by a Greek soldier. Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida tells the same story.
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot - A tragic tale of one girl's love for an imperfect and unpopular boy that is degraded by her affair with another young man, all in a bleak rural setting.
All of Thomas Hardy's novels, particularly Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge, have romance as their central driving force. Inevitably, though, given Hardy's unhappy outlook on life, these loves tend to lead to disaster, death or poverty. Their power is undiminished by this, however.
Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo - Admittedly, the love here is somewhat one sided, but there is no doubting or denying the strength and passion of Quasimodo's love for Esmerelda.
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence - A notorious book that was banned in England until 1960, this is the story of the eponymous lady's affair with Mellors, the gamekeeper, and is as much lustful as romantic. It was groundbreaking in its open and graphic depiction of the sexual act, however.
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence - An extremely sensual love between a young man and woman is the focus of this book, but the love between mother and child shows itself to be just as important in the end. See also Women in Love which concerns the contrasting love between four friends.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare - One of the best loved romances, this play needs no introduction whatsoever. The greatest story of tragic love ever told? There is also a condensed prose version by Charles and Mary Lamb. See also Antony and Cleopatra, and the courtly romance-centric Twelfth Night.
Dracula by Bram Stoker - It is easy to forget that there is more to this novel than horror. Sensual ravagings and lustful desire are its anti-hero's stock in trade, and the protagonists' love remains undefeated in all the madness.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - An illicit love affair between fashionable but married Anna and a Count leads a great tragedy of passion and excessive love.
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - In truth, this is a story of failed romance and the impotence of desire against social constraints. Wharton asks what true love is and how far removed it is from the love born of convenience.
And for do- it-yourself romance, it would be a shame not to take a peek at Nefzaoui's The Perfumed Garden and Vatsyayana's The Kama Sutra.

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