Barbara Monajem here. First, the giveaway: Comment below for a chance to win Rakes and Rogues (a boxed set by six authors, including me; see more info below). If you already have it, I’ll offer an alternative.
So, on to comfort reads. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about about what makes a book a comfort read. Obviously this varies from person to person, just like food—canned ravioli might be the ultimate comfort food for one person and absolute ick for someone else. Same goes for comfort reads.
Last month, I blogged about binge-reading sci-fi by Lois McMaster Bujold, and how her books were comfort reads to me. More recently, I’ve been rereading historical adventure romances by Joanna Bourne—again, comfort reads. I’ve also been rereading mysteries written in the mid-20th century by Ngaio Marsh, and modern-day mysteries by Anne Cleeland. And of course there’s the old standby comfort read when all else fails—almost anything by Georgette Heyer.
So, what makes a comfort read for me? Hmm.
- A happy ending. Doesn’t have to be a romantic happily ever after, just a positive resolution to the story.
- Love scenes are fine, but I’m perfectly happy without them. If a story is too intensely erotic, it may be titillating, but it’s not a comfort read.
- Characters I admire… Hmm, that may not be quite accurate. I don’t have to like the characters. They don’t necessarily have to be good people in a conventional kind of way. I rarely wish I could meet them or be friends with them. What matters is that I relate positively to their values and their struggles… It’s really hard to pin this down!
- There shouldn’t be much in the way of graphic violence, cruelty, vengeance, addiction, etc. I may read this kind of book, but not for comfort.
- Usually, my comfort reads do not take place in today’s world. I hardly ever read contemporary mystery or romance. I live in the real, present-day world, and reading about it isn’t comforting to me. I prefer escaping into the past, and occasionally the future or an imaginary world.
- The only author I mentioned above who writes present-day mysteries is Anne Cleeland—but her characters are highly unusual and don’t do things by the rules. I guess that’s what comforting to me there.
- Great writing, of course!
So, what makes a comfort read for you? Mention specific authors, if you like. One commenter will win Rakes and Rogues, as mentioned above.
Here’s the blurb for Rakes and Rogues. Five of the stories in this boxed set have been published before, so if the winner prefers a different prize, no problem!
Rakes and Rogues abound in this six-book collection of secrets, spies, vengeance, and lust. From London’s glittering ballrooms to the intimate mischief of a pre-season country house party, be captivated by these sexy first in series Regency romances.
A duchess and her son’s heir join forces to solve a family mystery in ENGAGING THE ENEMY by Heather Boyd.
Barbara Monajem’s lady spy is a rogue in distress in THE RELUCTANT SEDUCTRESS.
An earl’s sensible plans go awry as he becomes embattled with a sworn enemy, and his best friend’s sister, in TO LOVE A HELLION by Nicola Davidson.
In Wendy Vella’s LORD GALLANT, newlyweds hide secrets and confront dangers of the heart as well as a deadly foe.
When a sizzling encounter with a handsome stranger at a masquerade ball leads to love, Fanny’s dreams have nearly come true in RAKE’S HONOUR by Beverley Oakley.
In LORD WASTREL by Donna Cummings, a former rake needs a scandal-free wife to help him raise his child, but he’s falling for London’s most notorious woman instead.
Publisher’s Note: With the exception of The Reluctant Seductress, these stories are all previously published works.