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