Guilty Pleasures: Let’s Spread the Joy

whitneyOne of the best things about the holidays is that we all give in to indulgence of our Guilty Pleasures for weeks at time.   Much chocolate and champagne consumption ensues – at least for this holiday-er.

As romance readers, though, we’re familiar with a different type of Guilty Pleasure:  Books we love that we don’t necessarily want to admit to loving to our smart women friends who read romance, too. Your GP may involve an un-politically correct plotline or an over the top Alpha hero you would hate in real life – whatever your particular brand of GP happens be, it’s your bidness, right?

So, without further ado, let me take the cover off a few of my personal brand of Guilty Pleasures:

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught:  Yes, there’s a rape.  Yes, Whitney defines the term feisty. (Shiver.) And, yes, the book features the Biggest Mis of all Big Misunderstandings, but I don’t freakin’ care.  When I first read the book, I remember I could quite literally not put it down for the few days it took me to read it.  I kept saying to myself over and over, “It’s a long Regency – with sex!” And it was, oh, yes, it was.  I’ve heard that Judith McNaught claims she invented the Regency Historical and, based on my anecdotal evidence, I believe she did.  I haven’t reread the book in years and I did buy the newer, non-rape version for just that purpose since the rape never did it for me, anyway, but it remains the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures.

Splendor by Brenda Joyce:  Yes, I know.  Brenda Joyce of the Fabio covers.  This one features a romance between an all-powerful Russian prince and a poor, but beautiful bookseller who is also (bet you didn’t see this one coming) an anonymous writer who chronicles the foibles of the ton – including that all-powerful Russian prince – and whose reports are devoured by the society ladies with their morning chocolate.  And she does all that clandestine reporting while dressed as a boy, and, of course, that all-powerful Russian prince sees through her disguise. The book is totally over the top, but, nevertheless, filled with real moments that have kept it a top-ranked GP since it was first published in 1997.  When I pulled it off the shelf just now to refresh my memory before writing this blog, I discovered the book’s dedication to Jennifer Enderlin. Now that I’m more clued into the ins and outs of the publishing side of the business than I was in those days, I know her as the editor of Jennifer Crusie and Lisa Kleypas since she moved to St. Martin’s, and more of the best of the best.  Enderlin can also put to her credit that she worked with Brenda Joyce on the best book the author has yet produced.  Well done, Brenda and Jennifer.

Lucky’s Lady by Tami Hoag: A few years ago I was going to DIK this long time favorite book and couldn’t because it features a plot device I normally hate:  An older family member puts unreasonable demands upon the younger generation and the kids eventually cave – proving that they were “wrong” all the time.  (I hate it when that happens.) This book is memorable for one reason and one reason only: Cajun artist and all around Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold, Lucky Doucet.  If you’ve ever read this book, you know all about the Lucky, cher.  He’s rough.  He grumbles.  Oh, hell, let’s just cut to the bottom line: He is one Major League cliché.  (Oh, yes, cher, it’s true.) But who the heck cares, anyway, when he uses ‘dem Cajun love words?  Still, here’s why Lucky’s Lady is a GP for me:  A fantasy-inducing hero in a not so great book adds up to exactly the kind of pleasures we’re talking about.

So, on this day before Christmas 2010, I’ve got an idea for a gift that just might keep on giving.  Why not give the possibility of the discovery of new Guilty Pleasures for your fellow AAR readers?  Share your GPs and the reasons why a book has earned a place in the deepest, darkest bowels of your romance-loving closet.  Let’s hope everybody who reads this finds at least one new one to take us through the cold winter months to come.

And for those of you who celebrate: Merry Christmas from everyone at AAR!

– Sandy Coleman

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25 Responses to “Guilty Pleasures: Let’s Spread the Joy”

  1. LinnieGayl says:

    Well, Whitney My Love would also be a GP for me, but probably my #1 GP is Sarah’s Child by Linda Howard (do I hear some of you cringing?). It has so many things I normally don’t like, including a hero who just treats the heroine horribly, but for some reason, this one works for me…in fact, It’s probably time for a re-read. Although I think I’ll see if there’s a Kindle version, so I can read it in public unafraid :)

    • Tee says:

      LinnieGayl: …but probably my #1 GP is Sarah’s Child by Linda Howard (do I hear some of you cringing?).

      I’m not cringing, LinnieGayl. I loved that book by Howard. Never could figure out exactly why so many people were against it. But so be it. It worked for me as it did for you.

      • PatW says:

        Tee: I’m not cringing, LinnieGayl. I loved that book by Howard. Never could figure out exactly why so many people were against it. But so be it. It worked for me as it did for you.

        I’ll make this a “third” – I also have Sarah’s Child on my keeper shelf.

  2. Pat says:

    Anything by Robin Schone is my guilty pleasure. Erotica and Middle Eastern men are not usually my cup of tea, but once I read a Schone book, I was hooked. And I have NO reason why! Since then I’ve bought and read all her books, and enjoyed every one.

    Typically, if I like something, then I try more of the same by different authors. No, I still don’t like erotica or books with Middle Eastern men. Just the Schones. Go figure.

  3. This was a pleasant reminder of some of the first books that got me hooked on romance, Sandy! Some other favorites this calls to mind are SHANNA by Kathleen Woodiwiss and A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux.

    • Jen Tullis says:

      Beth Harbison: This was a pleasant reminder of some of the first books that got me hooked on romance, Sandy!Some other favorites this calls to mind are SHANNA by Kathleen Woodiwiss and A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux.

      I just read KNIGHT a couple of months ago. It was handed down to me from my Mom. Inside the front cover was the initials and dates of at least 20 women that read that particular book, most were friends of my Mom and Grandmother!! It was a good read!

  4. Carrie says:

    Lucky’s Lady is definitely a GP for me. Just recently re-read it and loved it again. It’s so not my usual type of book, but I’ve long since quit trying to figure out why I love it.

    Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts is another GP for me. Especially on audio…oh la la. (Ummm, I’ll whisper this one…. I love Tears of the Renegade by Linda Howard. Shhh!!! It’s so cliche! Don’t tell anyone I’ve read it three times!)

    Another book that I originally rated 3/5 but found myself returning to is Loving Jessie by Dallas Shulze. There is something compelling about the story for me. (I also love The Substitute Wife, by Shulze, although that is humorous while Loving Jessie isn’t.)

    If I’m going to go into confession mode, I have to admit to enjoying all of Suzanne Brockmann’s early, non-Troubleshooter books (like the Sunrise Key series), and the early, non-Plum books by Evanovich. Not exactly purple prose or shocking in any way, but definitely the light, predictable romance that some look down on.

    • bijoux says:

      Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts is another GP for me. Especially on audio…oh la la.

      I don’t think I’ve ever listened to this one but I love this book. It’s quite possibly my favorite Roberts. Tucker. Soch.

  5. Sandy C. says:

    “The Cutting Edge” by Linda Howard is still on my keeper shelf. I have two book shelves filled with older Harlequin Presents, too. Among them – almost all of Charlotte Lamb’s early books; the hero treats the heroine terribly amidst many cliches (older man, MUCH younger woman, etc.). Included in my HP collection – “Something Less Than Love” and “Dark Remembrance” from Daphne Clair (both books basically feature the H raping the h).

    The only problem in rereading these books, beyond the un-PCness, is that the couples usually fight like cats and dogs throughout the entire novel, and then at the very end, we get a glimpse of their supposed HEA!

  6. LinnieGayl says:

    Thanks, Tee and PatW. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

  7. Jocelyn says:

    My top GPs: Virginia Henley’s The Dragon and the Jewel and The Marriage Prize. I love these 2 connected books – and I’ve never been able to even finish any others by this author. Also, Gaelen Foley’s Lord of Fire (I mean really, a sex grotto to catch spies…?) but I love it. I will not, however, feel guilty for loving Lucky’s Lady or any of Linda Howard’s books.

  8. Michele says:

    My biggest GP is Passion by Lisa Valdez. I about fell over at the sex scene by pg 13. But of course I kept reading….. My Lady’s Tutor another GP. I’m still hooked on Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Read it over twenty years ago and still love it! I don’t care if its old news and not fashionable now or up to date. I think it’s still a great story. A perfect GP to reread sometimes.

  9. chris booklover says:

    How do you define a Guilty Pleasure? Whitney My Love was rated at #38 in last month’s readers’ Top 100 poll. It was #71 in 2007, #35 in 2004 and #35 again in 2000. In short, it seems to be pretty firmly established as a fan favorite – a classic, even, since apart from books by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Georgette Heyer it is the oldest novel in the current Top 100.

    So for me Whitney My Love is a Pleasure (it’s in my top 10) but not a Guilty one. Yes, it’s controversial, but so are many other novels in the Top 100, including Lord of Scandals, Outlander, Flowers From The Storm, etc.

  10. kathy says:

    “Awaken My Love” by Robin Schone

  11. RobinB says:

    My guilty pleasure is the “romantica” by Emma Holly (I’m not really into paranormal romance, so I haven’t read any of her books in that category.) I really liked “Cooking Up a Storm”–talk about something for everyone!:)

    I read “Sarah’s Child”, but I can’t really say that it’s a guilty pleasure for me. With all due respect to those for whom it is a GP, (that’s what makes life interesting is our differences, right?) it’s my least favorite Linda Howard novel. Sorry!

    • Tee says:

      RobinB: I read “Sarah’s Child”, but I can’t really say that it’s a guilty pleasure for me. With all due respect to those for whom it is a GP, (that’s what makes life interesting is our differences, right?) it’s my least favorite Linda Howard novel. Sorry!

      No need to be sorry about it, Robin. And, for me, the book is not a guilty pleasure by any means. I thoroughly enjoyed it–right out in the open about it, I liked it and there’s no guilt whatsoever hiding in the background for me. But for sure, it’s the differences in reading enjoyments that can make life interesting.

  12. Judy says:

    Any book by Judith McNaught is a guilty pleasure. I agree with Michele on her comment of Lisa Valdez’s Passion, that was pure pleasure.
    Lora Leigh is a guilty pleasure with her books, I have not shied away from any of her series.

  13. Xina says:

    Well…….Outlaw, by Susan Johnson. Also, Wicked, Pure Sin and Brazen. Completely GP.

  14. JMM says:

    “Shanna” by Kathleen Woodwiss.

  15. Lee says:

    Stormfire, by Christine Monson.

  16. Terry says:

    I scoff at Vampire stories, roll my eyes when it comes to those about fairies, and have no use for mermaids, wee folk, or anything else smacking of paranormal. (Okay, let’s be clear, time travel à la the Outlander series is not paranormal in my book, because well, it could happen, right?)

    But my guilty pleasure, one I don’t divulge indiscriminately even to friends is – werewolf novels. The best of these, the one that started my obsession, and the one that I’ve read again and again is NORTH WOLF by MA Everaux.

    From the first moment when we meet the young heroine zoned out in a mental hospital drawing pictures of imaginary werewolves right through to the tall, dark brooding hero’s inevitable declaration, “All mine. I’ll never let you leave me, do you understand?” I am right there with the author and her characters, enjoying every Alpha evoking cliché moment. Sigh…

    But this is just our little secret, okay?

  17. Rosario says:

    JR Ward’s books. They make me cringe as I’m reading them, and I think they’re horribly manipulative, but I still enjoy them.

  18. Carrie says:

    Re: Carnal Innocence on audio

    This is difficult to find, but some libraries have it. The narrator is amazing. His name is Tom Stechschulte. He makes Tucker Longstreet sound like a…well, I’ll let you use your imagination. I keep hoping they’ll re-release it someplace like audible.com.

  19. Maryfranc says:

    Susan Johnson equals guilty pleasure for me. I always liked Until You by Judith McNaught better than whitney, My Love, probably because it was my first romance in audio format, although it was in the dreaded abridged format, grrr.

    I purchased Carnal Innocence in CD format from Recordedbooks.com. Wish Nora Roberts would do a sequel. I would love to see Tucker Longstreet as the father of a young daughter in peril.

    I noticed that audible.com has Killjoy by Julie Garwood, but not the older books in the series.

  20. sheila says:

    The guiltiest pleasure of all, for me, is Magic Embrace by Jennifer Horsman. I have never found anything that came close, and never finished any other book by Ms. Horsman. I am checking out some of the other “recommendations” or rather, anti-recommendations, and appreciate everyone’s comments so much!