GS vs STA: Gry is Looking for Fun, Lighthearted Happy Romance

In my inbox this week is an email from regular reader Gry, who lives in Oslo, Norway, where the news has been terrifying and heartbreaking:

Gry writes:

I live in Oslo. (‘nuff said, I think) I am also a very serious bookaholic.
Whenever I have a spare minute, you will vind I have my nose buried in a
book (or its electronic equivalent). So what kind of book should I choose
when the world has suddenly turned dark, violent and bloody?


My usual fare of action-packed SF and Fantasy books are just too bloody (pun
intended) relevant right now – some of my favorite authors tend to end up
with too hefty body counts for me to be entirely happy with them right now.

Or, occasionally, as in S. M. Stirling’s books (which I am usually very
happy to reread) the villains’ personalities are also too bloody (pun
intended, again) similar to what I imagine the local contribution to world
terrorism (sort of hanging onto my composure by my fingernails here) is
likely to be. So no go.

Another all-time favorite is Lois McMaster Bujold. The theme of her latest
book is mortality, and despite her genius as an author, it is not one I
would want to read (or reread) right now, but something like her A Civil
, is just about what I need. Because it is fun. And light-hearted.
And incredibly well-written. And has a happy ending. And did I mention fun?

I can do with a bit more fun in my life right now. So perhaps the Bitchery
can help out with their favorite happy, light-hearted and fun books?

I totally understand the desire for fun, lighthearted, and happy books right now. We’ve talked about comfort reads that provide respite from grief and unhappiness in the past, but we haven’t done a happy, funny, light-hearted recommendation list.

My immediate recommendations are for books that make me laugh out loud, and that are on the goofy-humor side of amusement, such as Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (my review), or Exclusively Yours and Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey, which cracked me up as well. 

What books made you laugh, and feel happy? Anyone got any suggestions?


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Leah says:

    I was in Sendai, Japan during the earthquake, and I can honestly say that reading got me through some of the worst parts. Which were all definitely during the aftermath. During the time when I had no electricity/gas/water, I read HP Mallory’s entire Jolie Wilkins series by candlelight on my Kindle, huddled up in blankets. Which was, thankfully, fully charged and has great wireless.

    That’s aside from my point though.

    Although she has no idea, her books kept me laughing, smiling, and feeling hopeful during an incredibly dark time. I’ll love those books forever for that.

  2. 2
    Mia says:

    Gry my heart goes out to you.  When I need a pick me up I ususally reach for one of Jennifer Crusie’s books, they’re all good. :)  Stef Ann Holm always puts a smile on my face, Harmony and Girls Night Out are faves. A new favorite is Kathleen Bacus’ Calamity Jane series,more mystery than romance but a fun series.  Also if you like memoirs David Sedaris and Jen Lancaster always make me laugh out loud.  Take care and know that you’re in our thoughts.

  3. 3

    When I feel a touch of the mean reds (why yes, I did indeed read Breakfast at Tiffany’s), I reach for some Dana Marie Bell, her Halle Pumas especially (beginning with The Wallflower). They’re funny as all hell, satisfyingly hot, and as novellas, short enough to gobble down the whole series in an evening.

  4. 4
    Emmylou says:

    When I’m sick and all I want is to be a little kid, with my parents taking care of me, I tend to turn to Anne of Green Gables, or the Little House books. But that may be due to my individual childhood memories of hearing them for the first time in a comforting, safe environment.
    As far as romance is concerned, my suggestion is that you read the Merridew Sisters quartet by Anne Gracie (it’s a Regency period series). The series is free from any immediate death and violence for the most part. The thing I found at all disturbing were the sisters’ flashback to their abusive childhood, and even THAT isn’t mentioned in very much detail. It was mainly used as the reasoning behind phobias or insecurities they have as adults, apart from book #1 The Perfect Rake, in which we do see through Prudence’s eyes a couple scenes of abuse. (one at the start of the book, one at the end. also, the stakes in this first book is more serious, regarding a ruse the girls are maintaining to escape their abusive grandfather)
    I found all four romances in the series had equally compelling romances, were funny in many places, and – most importantly – were well written. Gracie’s characters are some of the best I’ve read lately.
    If nothing else, I can always loose myself in the Merridew Sisters’ stories and their sincere search for love (even after several readings). If Little House in the Big Woods is my homesick reading, the Merridew books are my safe, happy place to go in my lowest moments as an adult.
    The series titles in order are:
    The Perfect Rake
    The Perfect Waltz
    The Perfect Stranger
    The Perfect Kiss

  5. 5
    Miranda says:

    Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy

    Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation, particularly Book 1 or Mischief of the Mistletoe.

  6. 6
    Pallavi says:

    I feel for you, Gry. Being from Mumbai (the bomb blast capital of the world, it seems sometimes…) I completely understand what you’re going through.

    My go-to author for feeling instantly better is Shelley Laurenston. Her books are insane, laugh out loud goofy and sexy. She writes shifter books so yes there is violence but in a way that is so over the top you can’t possibly take it seriously. Else, the Bridgerton series from Julia Quinn. Feel-good books all.

  7. 7
    Anne says:

    Hei fra Stavanger.

    I would second the recommendation for Jennifer Crusie, and then go for Bet Me, which hasn’t got any shooting. (Some of hers do, despite being light-heart and romance).

    Also Anne Gracie’s series recommended above.

    Also books with humour, which makes the world go away for a bit: Julia Quinn’s books, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

    Susan Mallery also have a lot of light, fluffy, happy ending stories.

    Pity you’re not on my side of Norway, or you could come and browse ;)

    Mange klemmer,

  8. 8
    Milena says:

    Loretta Chase is an always dependable comfort read for me, with a lot of humour and just plain fun; she got me through a number of difficult situations of my own.

    If you like fantasy, I would also recommend Cold Magic by Kate Elliott. It’s not romance as such, but it’s a great, great fantasy book, and a lot of fun.

  9. 9

    Gry—know that we’re thinking of you and sending waves of good karma!!

    My automatic go-to when I’m feeling blue or even just out of sorts are Jill Shalvis’ single title contemps (the Blazes usually feature military heros, so probly not so much).  They’re LOL funny and the heroes are always yummy to the nth degree!

  10. 10
    Nicky C says:

    I wholeheartedly second the Georgette Heyer recommendation, esp Heyer’s light comedic romances (or are they romantic comedies?) such as Frederica; Arabella; The Inconvenient Marriage; in addition to The Grand Sophy.
    Also second the suggestion for Julia Quinn, although some of the Bridgertons are slightly angsty (or perhaps it’s just me, I suspect that my angst tolerance is lower than average). I adore her newest release, Just Like Heaven, which is probably my favourite angst-free romance novel ever.
    Julie James writes some fun and sizzling contemporary romances: Practice Makes Perfect; Just The Sexiest Man Alive; Something About You; and A Lot Like Love. The latter two are suspenseful though, while the former two are relatively light-hearted and have wonderful banter and teasing between the hero and heroine.

  11. 11
    Annamal says:

    Ouch, I think I felt a little the same way after the Christchurch earthquake
    in Feb (the tv was on constantly in our office tuned to the worst of the
    end of 2 days I just couldn’t stand it).

    Jumping on the pile regarding Jennifer Crusie and would also add Connie Willis’
    Bellweather (and possibly “to say nothing of the dog, although that
    has some WW2 incendiaries).

  12. 12
    JaniceG says:

    Firstly, my sympathy to you, and to everyone in Norway who is having to deal with the terrible tragedy there.

    Here are some lighter SF&F books off the top of my head:

    * I assume you’ve already read through all of Terry Pratchett but if not, my favorites are Mort and its sequels, and the City Watch books (starting with Guards! Guards!)

    * If you liked A Civil Campaign, you’ll probably love the Maijstral series by Walter Jon Williams about “the Number One-rated allowed burglar in the Human Constellation,” complete with Regency-type manners, a ruling cat alien race, and a lot of humor. First book is The Crown Jewels.

    * Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermeyer, Regency-era pastiche with magic, told in exchanged letters. Well written and lots of fun. (It also has two sequels: The Grand Tour and The Mislaid Magician)

    * Harry Harrison: Both Bill the Galactic Hero and The Stainless Steel Rat are clever and amusing.

    * Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordperson is a sendup of time-travel books by George Alec Effinger

    * The Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde—The first book,  The Eyre Affair, is an introduction to the Literary Division of the Special Operations Network, which is trying to catch a thief who is changing or killing characters out of books.

  13. 13

    Some great suggestions already. Heyer for sure.

    Definitely Terry Pratchett. And there isn’t just one. Just pick a title and go with it. My favourite Pratchett is usually the one I’m currently reading.

    And, of course, PG Wodehouse. Might not be romance, but it’s funny. And there is romance there, too. Bingo Little finds it with romance writer!

    How about George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman books? A Victorian soldier rampages his way through the nineteenth century.

  14. 14
    An Goris says:

    Some of Nora Roberts’ romances are pretty lighthearted, funny and warm; her recent Brides Quartet comes to mind, as do many of her older family series (the MacGregors are a general favourite).
    I’ve just started on my first Julia Quin (The Duke and I) yesterday and that’s been very fun so far.

  15. 15
    Laura (in PA) says:

    Love the suggestions. I’m going to add anything by Jill Mansell. She makes me laugh out loud every time.

    I’m so sorry for the dark time in Oslo. We’re hurting for your country here in the States. Hugs.

  16. 16
    Ros says:

    I would suggest Jill Mansell’s books.  The humour is great and there is never too much angst.

  17. 17
    JaniceG says:

    @Lynne: Although any Pratchett is still better than most other people’s best work, I am not as fond of the Rincewind and Wyrd Sisters books. For years, people kept telling me how great Pratchett was and giving me The Colour of Magic or Lords and Ladies, neither of which appealed to me. It was only after someone gave me Mort that I started appreciating him and reading most of the other series.

  18. 18
    L says:

    Something zippy, funny, and light-hearted? With a dash of romance? Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, without a doubt. Especially the early books in the series.

    (I’m in NJ and I first discovered these books a few months after the attack on the WTC, so I can definitely attest to its mood-lifting power. Hugs to you, and your fellow Norweigans, Gry.)

  19. 19
    JoanneF says:

    I just read “Body Check” by Dierdre Martin, which was light a fun sports-themed contemporary, and recently read “The Rules of Gentility” by Janet Mullaney, which is a light, fluffy historical that I really enjoyed.  Both were very funny.  I also love Erin McCarthy’s contemporaries when I’m in the mood for something fun.  My favorite of hers is “You Don’t Know Jack.”  Love the sweet characters, fun setup, and lack of evil baddies.

    My heart goes out to you and your countrymen, and I hope you can find some escape in a comforting read.

  20. 20
    Mireya says:

    I strongly recommend Julia Quinn (historical), Nina Bangs lighthearted paranormals and Lynsay Sands Argeneau vampires.  Christine Warren’s paranormal series The Others, is laced with humor as well.  I also recommend Thea Harrison’s “Dragon Bound”.

  21. 21
    Mireya says:

    I second the recommendation on Anne Gracie (she’s one of my top 5 autobuy authors).  You can add Robin D. Owens’ Heartmates series, I find that series emotionally engaging, and not in a bad way.  The authors I have recommended are all authors that helped me cope when my mother was diagnosed with cancer and shortly after passed away.

  22. 22
    Mireya says:

    I second the recommendation on Anne Gracie (she’s one of my top 5 autobuy authors).  You can add Robin D. Owens’ Heartmates series, I find that series emotionally engaging, and not in a bad way.  Several of the authors I have recommended are all authors whose work helped me cope when my mother was diagnosed with cancer and shortly after passed away.

  23. 23
    Amanda says:

    I’m going to have to second Anne of Green Gables from above.  Anne of the Island is my go-to when I need something to put a goofy smile on my face.  I know that when I feel like things are out of control, I like to bury myself in books from childhood/young adulthood.  They make me feel safe.

  24. 24
    Sel says:

    I’m a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan myself! Mike Sheppard’s Kris Longknife has been my pervading addiction for the last couple of years, and I have this thing about epic AU fantasy a la Jacqueline Carey.

    However, for the pure lighthearted mindspace:

    Loretta Chase! I just discovered her and have been enjoying her – great writing, excellent characterisation, droll humor – her ‘Silk Is For Seduction’ kept me up until 2am and I spent most of the next day trying to work out how to send the author an email and gush without actually, you know, gushing!

    Julia Quinn is a little too fluffy for me, and I couldn’t quite get into her. Oh! Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn series for some crazy antics and delightful characterisations. Her other series aren’t bad, either.

    If you want something that’s a little serious but not usually too much (or has satisfying endings), perhaps Liz Carlysle?

    And for a series that I know is not very well-written or well-characterised, but which somehow managed to drag me in, try Lara Adrian’s “Midnight Breed” series. They’re not good, but they’re definitely plottily addictive – somehow I can’t stop reading the damn things!

  25. 25
    CupK8 says:

    I also recommend Julia Quinn for some uplifting humor. I found What Happened in London and Ten Things I Love About You particularly amusing – I’d start with The Diary of Miss Miranda Cheever though, which is also humorous. IIRC, WHiL does have some violence, but I remember it being pretty inconsequential.

    Victoria Dahl’s A Little Bit Wild is one of my recent favorites as well for humor. It has its serious side, but tons of laughs.

  26. 26
    Aziza says:

    Fannie Flagg, any book. She wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe, among others.

    They’re not romance novel, but there’s lots of love and laughter.

  27. 27
    Rose says:

    I’m going to add my vote to the recommendations of Crusie, SEP, Chase and Quinn. Another possibility would be Eva Ibbotson – A Countess Below Stairs is lovely.

    I live in a place that has had its share of senseless violence and my heart goes out to all of you in Norway who are now dealing with this tragedy. I hope that the families and friends of those who were killed will eventually be able to heal.

  28. 28
    Rachel says:

    WODEHOUSE WODEHOUSE WODEHOUSE!  Doesn’t matter which one.  They fix my blues every time, and the only violence that ever happens is someone gettting booted out of a castle or someone getting thrown in jail after trying to steal a policeman’s helmet on Boat Race Night.  Completely safe, and have been using them as medication for my own depression for years.

    Ditto with Georgette Heyer, but steer away from My Cousin Kate as someone dies.  Cotillion is also fabulous, I don’t think anyone’s mentioned that one yet.

    Take care.  xx

  29. 29
    TXravenNM says:

    Madame Millie by Max Evans

    Face of an Angel by Denise Chavez

    Tales of the Whiteman by Keith Basso- academic book on White Mountain Apache ethnic joking behaviour, quite funny for the references.

  30. 30
    StarOpal says:

    Loretta Chase’s books.

    Sexiest Man Alive, by Diana Holquist

    See Jane Score , by Rachel Gibson

    Outside of, but still flavored with romance and happy endings:
    Along with the Thursday Next books, I would recommend Jasper Ffordes’ Nursery Crimes series.

    Howl’s Moving Castle and Deep Secret, by Diana Wynne Jones.

    The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

    Not at all a romance, but still a book that made me laugh and timely with all the Old Spice posts, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, by Bruce Campbell.

    These are all happy, upbeat, and genuinely made me LOL.

    I know someone suggested Nora Roberts, whose work I love dearly, but for these recommendations I would say stay away from anything with a murder mystery. She tends to be pretty detailed when she gets into the killers’ head a lot. Avoid Blue Smoke for this reason especially.

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