Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Guilty pleasure books?

Over on the Risky Regencies blog, there's a post about favorite "comfort reads" people go back to over and over again. I posted about some very old favorites of mine, and I started thinking maybe they count as "guilty pleasures" of a sort. I started reading them in about the 6th or 7th grade, a line of YA historical romances called "Sunfire Romances". They were my first intro to romance, along with Cartland and Heyer, but these were different from those. They dealt with young women in historical periods (they even had some vague historical detail sometimes), but these girls were very modern in their attitudes and ambitions.

Some of my favorites were ELIZABETH (Puritan girl), NICOLE (girl on the Titanic), EMILY (Gilded Age New York girl), and VICTORIA (girl at the Alamo). All of these women, despite their widely varied settings, faced some of the same problems--she was restless, smart (purportedly), and stuck in some kind of restrictive situation. She was always faced with 2 suitors, one who wanted her to stay with the traditional roles her background offers, the other who encourages her to break free. Guess which she chooses (BTW, if you look at the cover, the "right" suitor is always on the righthand side). Anyway, I really loved these books and collected them obsessively, but I lost them in a move. In recent years, I've been trying to rebuild my collection via Ebay and library booksales. (I still need a copy of the HTF KATHLEEN, btw, if you happen to see one around!). I guess I liked the idea that you could stand up for yourself, follow your own dreams and talents, and be more succeseful and happy than you could imagine. You could also find your very own hunky cowboy/doctor/American patriot militiaman/Creole pirate.

I've felt very much in need of some comfort in the last few days, and pulled a couple of these books off the shelf. It was fun to pretend to be 12 again for a little while, even if the books were not, er, quite as erudite and well-written as I remembered. I might even tackle a Cartland book next. Or maybe not. :)


Kelli McBride said...

Mandy, Amazon.com lists several used copies: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/offer-listing/0590332406/ref=dp_olp_2//102-6035164-9327330?condition=all.

My guilty pleasures: I love the short regencies that were published in the late 70s and early 80s. Some of my favs:

Caroline Courntey out of Warner books. Lots of great titles: Wager for Love, Forbidden Love, Libertine in Love, Guardian of the Heart. She wrote like 18 of these, and I used to have them all. Man, I have read and reread these so many times! My favs were: Love's Masquerade, Duchess in Disguise, A Wager for Love, Love Triumphant, and the Masquerading Heart.

I also love Joan Smith (her older books like Escapade, Valerie, and Imprudent Lady, and La Comtesse) Claudette Williams (Naughty Lady Ness, Hotspur and Taffeta) Sylvia Thorpe (The Scandalous Lady Robin, The Devil's Bondsman), and Zabrina Faire (The Wicked Cousin, Bold Pursuit, Lady Blue).

These books were so much fun - dashing heroes, dastardly villains, and unusual situations, but the heroines had backbone (spunk).

Even today, I can pick up a selection of my favorites and enjoy reading the "good parts" on a rainy Saturday.

Cicero_speaks said...


I loved your reminiscing. It reminded me of my favorite series of books as a child. The Madeline L'Engle series of
A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I think I was "too old and too cool" by the time the fourth book came along. Although not romance per se (except for the Meg/Calvin friendship that grew into love), it definitely has those powerfully fond memories. I have not re-read them for fearing of "not being able to go home again." My loss perhaps.

Also, how can I forget the "Choose Your Own Adeventure" and "Encyclopedia Brown" series of books? Although Tolkien and William Gibson grabbed my attention in later years, those others will always be tops.