I was invited to be on NPR's All Things Considered (which you can read – and hear! woo! – at this link) as part of a feature wherein they link a current news story to a related or recommended read. They asked for my recommendation in response to the story about Francois Hollande, the president of France, whose longterm affair with Julie Gayet was revealed recently — sending first lady Valerie Trierweiler into the hospital in shock.
Well, that's not a happy ending, is it? Oof. Recommending a romance that parallels that story would be a nearly impossible thing for me to do. There aren't many stories I could think of that narratively redeem a similar situation.
But I did think of a book to recommend for the segment – the very delicious and devious The First Wives Club by the late Olivia Goldsmith. Really, for my reading, there's no more over the top holy crap what did I just read revenge story than that one – and the movie is much, much less sharp than the book. (Of course, did I realize that the book is mostly out of print and not available digitally? No. *headdesk* At least it is available at many, many libraries.)
I asked online, however, what your favorite revenge romances were, and given that (a) a few NPR listeners might be looking for more revenge romance (hi, listeners! Welcome!) and that (b) many on Twitter asked me to share the list, I collected all your suggestions along with my own ideas.
A few suggestions weren't about revenge on a ex so much as revenge in general, such as The Golden Chance by Jayne Ann Krentz, recommended by Laura Florand, which is family feud revenge story. Sweet Revenge by Zoe Archer which is about an organization strategically getting revenge on aristocrats who get away with their crimes against other people, and Sweet Revenge (a more different Sweet Revenge) by Nora Roberts is about careful revenge on an abusive family member.
I don't even know if there's enough bandwidth on the internet to list all the revenge stories that visit retribution on a hated business adversary through said adversary's offspring. That list might break the available room left online. Seriously.
But revenge against the ex, that's slightly different. Here is a partial list of Ex Revenge and Starting Over stories in romance. If you have additions, pleas share!
The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith
It's a classic, and yes, it may be hard to find, but the revenge is, like I said on ATC, “Costco-sized,” and there's a bit of romance for the women in the club once they start taking down their awful exes one by one.
Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie
If you're an angry wife with a dirtbag husband and some dirty dishes, Lucy, the heroine, has some suggestions as to what to use for a scrubber sponge. This book starts when Lucy's ex doesn't bother to show up for their divorce hearing, and gets better from there. I reviewed it awhile back and gave it a B.
I almost selected this as my recommendation for the ATC segment, but given how sad and awful the actual news story is, recommending a comedy/suspense seemed off-key.
Vanity Fare by Megan Caldwell
Vanity Fare isn't about revenge as much as it is about starting over after a bad divorce and an even-worse financial scandal in the aftermath. Plus the hero is a pastry chef, and what man doesn't acquire additional appeal when he possesses intimate working knowledge of chocolate and buttercream?
Plus-plus, this book is on sale right now for $2.99 digitally.
Mercy by HelenKay Dimon
This book isn't out until May, but Lillie, Bree, and Nix from Scorching Reviews all said this book was fantastic – and flush will all sorts of delicious revenge.
I totally want to read it.
What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long
Not quite an evil ex, but a big revenge plot as the hero tries to take revenge on the heroine's brother for interfering in his marriage by ruining her.
Only she's not having any of his crap, duke or no.