Romance Recommendations Needed: All That’s Best of Warm and Bright

Elizabeth wrote to me and asked for a comfort reading list, which is something we've talked off and on about here for years:

I think I speak for a lot of people (and given your “silly stuff” post yesterday, you as well) when I say that we need something, ANYTHING, to take our minds off of this horrifying tragedy, and the actions and reactions (for better and worse) of the media and those around us.

I admit, I'm reading a lot this week, and have even started to buffet my books, reading three at the same time in case one turns dark or scary. It's definitely a comfort to me to be reading. And so many of us have books we re-read and enjoy each time, though the reasons those books are so comforting can very by person. 

With apologies to Lord Byron, I think what Elizabeth is looking for is the best of warm and bright comfort reading — as she put it, “funny, heartwarming romances” — books that aren't just comforting because they are familiar, but because they inspire the warmth and contentment that comes with good writing, good stories, and, well, some good for an hour or so of reading.

What do you recommend that's warm and happy, the best of the cozy and comforting in romance? 

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  1. 1
    Rhonda Helms says:

    Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I laughed my butt off and swooned/sighed the whole time. Love that book.

  2. 2
    Amanda_Carlson says:

    For me, the best in comfort romance is Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series. I like the Fever series too, for different reasons. But only those braw highlander stories have the warmth, humour, and happiness to make the rainiest day cozy.

  3. 3

    Anything Nora Roberts is always comforting to me. I turn to her when I want a decent romance and more importantly some time with a group of women who are great friends. That’s what makes her series so special for me – the female friendships. Her books are like chocolate chip cookies, macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes. All comfort.

    I’d also recommend Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun. It is a bit emotional. And I def. cried a bit at the end. But I found it to be a really warm and honest holiday read.

  4. 4

    Julia Quinn is my go-to comfort author. She really excels in warm characters and witty dialogue.

  5. 5
    Saby says:

    This is what some of my library school profs called a “warm milk read.” (i.e. a book that is comforting and soothing)  It’s a term that I find very useful :) 

    Right now I’m re-reading Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet.

  6. 6
    Julieinduvall says:

    I have to agree with Julia Quinn. My favorite is An Offer From A Gentleman, but I also love What Happens in London.

    I’d also like to mention two of Jennifer Crusie’s books: Anyone But You (there’s a puppy! How can anyone resist Fred?) and Bet Me.

  7. 7
    ReadinginAK says:

    Lisa Kleypas historicals- especially the Wallflowers. It helps to read them in order, but I’ve read Scandal in Springtime so many times. Of course, there’s always a peak of drama at the end, but always an HEA! I also luuuuurve Celia Rivenbark- not romance, but always funny.

  8. 8
    Tabs says:

    Any of Julie Garwood’s medievals.  Fun banter.  Spirited lasses.  Sexy highlander men.  Lots of refering to french kissing as “erotic love play.”  They’re effortlessly comforting, really.  FWIW, “The Secret” and “Ransom” are my favorites.  I love the amazing female friendship in “The Secret.”

  9. 9
    Kim says:

    I re-read A Thunder Canyon Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne over the weekend.

  10. 10
    Erpedraja says:

    Jennifer cruise!

  11. 11
    Sjcottrell says:

    My go-to author for cozy cuddles reading is Lynn Kurland.  Specifically, A Garden in the Rain, and When I Think of You.  Good-natured craziness, match-making ghosts, time travel, intelligent and resourceful heroines, alpha heroes that aren’t jerks.  Love them.  No sex scenes, though, so they’re not sizzlers.

  12. 12
    katherinelynn_04 says:

    Anything by Sarah Addison Allen. She writes beautiful, magical stories. My favorite is the Sugar Queen.

  13. 13
    samantha says:

     

    Jane Graves’ Hot Wheels and High Heels.. fun and sexy.. great fluff for a dark day.

    Rachel Gibson writes fun, light reads.

    SuperRomance books by Janice Kay Johnson. Snowbound is still one of my favorites.

     

  14. 14
    Jane Smith says:

    Nora Roberts – particularly the trilogies with female friendships. Although I think that, right now, I’d probably go for Loretta Chase’s House Of Noirot series – fashion porn, incredibly hot sex, sisters, wonderful writing – the whole hog! I’m really really hoping we get a story about Leonie (mathematics and romance!) and, of course, a HEA for Lady Clara!

  15. 15
    Kelly says:

    Janet chapman comes to mind for me, probably since I am reading one of her series right now. Sexy highlander and rural small-town men who are in need of loving, understanding and spunky wives. Occasional plot moppets (without being too overbearing) and as a bonus, a lot of them are placed around christmas time without beating you over the head about it. Standard plot devices, decent writing and loveable characters equal some happy reads.

  16. 16
    Rebecca says:

    I second Julieinduvall’s recommendations of Jennifer Crusie – I’d add Agnes and the Hitman, which never fails to make me laugh. Also, Shelly Laurenston’s books are a hoot if you like PNR.

  17. 17

    LaVyrle Spencer, esp. Morning Glory. It’s a story of good people doing the right thing, and loving each other. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

  18. 18
    Liztalley says:

    Ah, this is my favorite niche (and what I write). Mary Kay Andrews is a particular favorite, Hope Ramsay, Laurie Kellogg (some of hers are free), any Superromance (blatant plug but it’s true), um….Sophia Kinsella, SEP and I like Lisa Klepas’ contemporaries. I’ll second (or third) the Julia Quinn, but I like The Viscount Who Loved Me the best.

    Happy reading :)

  19. 19
    claritygolden says:

    What a great question. I know we can all use some comfort reading about now. When I need a “warm milk read” (love that expression!) I look for books with the super sweet and kind heroes, the ones who will protect and respect and love and are never, ever alpholes! (Who doesn’t want to be taken care of by a sexy, sweet lover!) Off the top of my mind, Ride with Me and Riveted come to mind. Lots of Jill Shalvis fits that bill for me, too, especially the Wilder series.

  20. 20
    Fran S. says:

    My go-tos: 1. Love is Blind by Lyndsay Sands (I’m pretty certain this is very inaccurate on many levels, but I let it go because it’s so sugary sweet) 2. Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn 3. The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas 4. The Prefect Rake by Anne Gracie, 5. The Rake and the Wallflower by Allison Lane, and 6. Hot Head by Damon Suede.  Also, Perfect Timing and Millie’s Fling by Jill Mansell if chicklit is acceptable. 

  21. 21
    Karen Wapinski says:

    Eloisa James, especially ‘when beauty tamed the beast’; and Meg cabot’s ‘the boy next door/boy meets girl’ books

  22. 22

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series is my go-to for feel good, happy romance. Also check out the Brides Quartet by Nora Roberts, or her new Inn Boonsboro trilogy. Happiness and sunshine all around!

  23. 23

    Aaything by Tamara Allen, especially Whistling in the Dark. Her characters feel liked have a long, deep hug.

  24. 24

    Anything by Susanna Kearsley, especially Mariana. Other books that I keep in my “Favorites” folder on my Kindle for warm-milk reading include the entire Un-series by Courtney Milan (Unveiled, etc.), several of Caroline Linden’s spy books, Castaway Dreams by Darlene Marshall, and sundry Georgette Heyer books.

    Outside of romance, I recommend Oscar Wilde’s plays for witty hilarity, and of course Jane Austen. Also, if you can handle a bit of overwrought prose and some seriously tear-jerky moments, the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery has been my go-to comfort read for fifteen years.

  25. 25
    Becca says:

    I second Nora Roberts, but what I find myself listening to these days is Lois McMaster Bujold – Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls (for us women of a Certain Age) are always good, and I find myself giggling anew at Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance.

  26. 26

    Almost any book from Jayne Ann Krentz, Emma Goldrick’s stories (I noticed a handful have been released digitally … I scrabbled for every battered paperback copy I own!), Trisha Ashley’s “The Urge to Jump” and Patricia Briggs’ books.

  27. 27
    Kathy says:

    The Slightly Series by Mary Balogh if you’re into Regency. Darlene Marshall suggested LaVyrle Spencer further up thread. I haven’t read her in years, but agree she was always a good go-to. Also more romantic than romance, but lovely are Susanna Kearsley’s books, especially Marianna, Winter Sea, Rose Garden.

  28. 28
    Tam B. says:

    If you like sci-fi/PNR my favourite go to is Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews.  It’s a short and incredibly well written.  The book that always cracks me up (also PNR) is Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston.  It is in the middle of the series but I don’t think you need to have read prior books to enjoy it.

  29. 29
    Nicole1000 says:

    My comfort reads come in two types: the fun reads (Julia Quinn (as others have said); Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase; Trust Me by JAK) and the darker but not of this world reads (anything by Patricia Briggs but especially Dragon Bones/Blood and the Raven books as well as Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  The first group makes me smile and sigh happily; the second group allows me to escape into another world. 

  30. 30
    Kate K. F. says:

    The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer, its silly, frothy and pokes fun at overly romantic couples. It was also just reviewed on Tor’s Heyer read through.

    My comfort reads aren’t romances but cozy mysteries; Agatha Christie especially Tommy and Tuppence, Ngaio Marsh with Troy and Alleyn and Sayers. Diana Wynne Jones is another comfort read of mine, mainly the Chrestomanci books and the Magid ones, she has a few dark ones that I approach with care. Sometimes the Vorkosigan books because my life isn’t that bad makes them comfortable, also if I need to cry, I reread starting from Memory to a Civil Campaign.

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