Confessions of a self-aware addict – The story of 29 books

I’ve heard that the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem, so here goes.  Oh Internet, I have a deep and shameful secret to confess.  I am hopelessly addicted to Stephanie Laurens books.  It started with this one, believe it or not.

I bought it on a whim, and it drew me in with its interesting vocabulary (honestly, susurrate, cynosurelimned?) and fabulous old lady characters.  Then I bought and read all of these books, because I am, clearly, an idiot.

Oh. My. God.  It’s horrifying to see all those covers laid out like that…

And do you know what?  They are all pretty much the same book, just with different physical descriptions (and, in the fine strokes, different character descriptions, but the broad strokes are all the same) and, for the most part, a different type of intrigue or danger that the characters face together while deciding whether or not to boink and whether or not to marry (spoiler alert: the answer is always yes.).  In fact, perhaps the only one truly worth reading is the first one: Devil’s Bride, because it (alone) doesn’t rely on poor communication as a plot and conflict device.

These books contain (1) an alpha male who is handsome, rich, compelling, good in the sack (and so experienced–and it’s uncomfortable that the dude’s experience gets mentioned so often–that you have to wonder how all these alpha males manged to avoid social diseases), and feeling a bit jaded and restless with his life–a.k.a. primed for matrimony; (2) a strong female who has some past experience or quirky character trait that creates a desire (a) never to marry without a solid belief that she is entering a love match, (b) the idea that this solid belief can be obtained only by the gentleman saying, “I love you,” and (c) the disinclination ever to express this desire in words that the poor hero could ever understand; (3) some sort of life-threatening intrigue or danger that both throws the hero and heroine together often enough for them to boink occasionally and, towards the end of the story, places the heroine’s life in danger so that the intelligence-challenged hero can realize, finally, that he loves her–and can tell her so in those words–so that she can finally agree to marry him.  These books also contain multiple episodes of the same bizarre sex scene, in which the characters’ boinking creates (what I hope is) a metaphorical aurora borealis of afterglow.

I know, right?!  Why did I read 28 versions of the same story?  Clearly, I have an illness.

And, actually, I read 29.

I know! It’s painful.  Anyway, The Lady Risks All was released last fall, and I really tried to hold out, but I failed.  I held out all of two weeks before I bought the book, read it, and then felt all the awful feels.  Was it the same plot all over again?  Yep.  Was it pretty much the same characters all over again?  Yep, for the most part.  Did the sex scenes involve sunbursts and starbeams and being both wracked and wrecked while tossed on the far shore the island people go to, if Laurens is to be believed, after they’ve had an orgasm and are floating in the sea of sated bliss?  Yes, yes it did.

Anyway, there’s a new Laurens book out now, and I need your help, friends, in resisting its insidious call.  Do any of you have this illness, too (towards different authors, perhaps)?  Do you find yourself buying and reading these books and then wondering, why did I do that?! I knew it would be bad!  Is there a cure?

29 thoughts on “Confessions of a self-aware addict – The story of 29 books

  1. Perhaps thankfully, I have never found an author that I have done that with. Yet. Maybe it’s because my book allowance is small enough that I have to be careful not to buy something I probably am not going to love.

    I got all excited when I saw the new author because I have loved everything you’ve recommended. Now I’ll just look for the one, and hope that I don’t catch the fever. After I finish the Tessa Dare book I’m reading, the Courtney Milan book that I just got from the library for my Kindle, and the books I won from your contest……

    • I am absolutely horrified by how many of those books I have purchased… part of it is because I mostly use my e-reader, these days. When I had to go to a bookstore and hand my purchases over to another human being (feeling judged the entire time, I should mention), I was much more circumspect about my buying. It felt real. $7 here, $8 there, I was able to add it up because I held it in my hand.

      The other day I spent $13 on an e-book that I was fairly certain I was going to hate (actually, it turned out not to be terrible, and I’m almost not disappointed in my purchase), mainly because I didn’t have to take $13 out of my pocket and hand it over. I mean, I did, but it sure doesn’t feel like it when I’m completing the automatic transaction on my Nook. I have no self-control when it comes to books.

      So glad you’re enjoying my recommendations! I feel like I’m leading you down a dark path, but just don’t do what I did. Don’t buy 29 different copies of the same book!

    • I know, that’s totally what it feels like… but… those starbursts and sunbeams really piss me off. And don’t even get me started on all the sentence fragments during the sexy sexy times… You know the kind I mean… the sentences that start with the word, “That.”
      “That he would be so gentle.
      [new paragraph for no reason] That she would feel so many of the feels.
      [new paragraph] That together they would journey to a land beyond all corporeal laws, beyond physics, beyond time. That they would end up stripped and striped and strapped, laid bare by their passion [for chocolate].”

      As a reader, I’m like, what in the hell are you even talking about? What does that mean, and why in the hell did I pay money for the dubious pleasure of reading it?

      And, yet, I feel very tempted to do it all over again. Also, I totally have a Britney Spears song stuck in my head. Gah.

  2. THANK YOU for this! I really needed this talking to. You’re right – the critical mass of all those covers is really shocking. I hate to say it, but I have also read every one of ’em. I have a soft spot for Stephanie Laurens. I think I was just soft in the head when I read the first one, and then it just felt comforting to read the same thing over and over. I think the Cynsters with all their silly nicknames just won me over in spite of myself and then I just Couldn’t Stop, even though the Bastions were just impossible to tell apart one from another. And you are So Right about the sex. At least I have been able to buy all of them at my favorite used paperback shop, even The Lady Risks All.

    • Oh, man, I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I really am trying to avoid buying it, but it’s a little difficult when I see advertisements for it on Goodreads every time I log on. I feel like an alcoholic at a hotel bar in a foreign country… temptation on every side, and no one to know if I succumb. I’m counting on the Internet to hold me accountable.

      You’re right, you know… it’s the familiarity that draws us in… I’m still soooo bitter about the Black Cobra books.

      Have you read And Then She Fell (yet)?

      • No – in fact I had managed to be unaware of its existence until stumbling on your wonderful post… I imagine I will be unable to resist… but maybe if it has a ludicrous arch-villain like the Cobra storyline that will be enough of a deterrent! I remain grateful to the Cynsters for being there when I needed them (when my kids were terrible toddlers), but the Black Cobra quartet nearly broke me.

      • Exactly. The Black Cobra books just made me sad, and it was suddenly so obvious to me what a sucker I was for buying all those damn books. Well, if you end up succumbing, let me know how it is. If I end up succumbing, I’ll do the same for you. 🙂 Laurens addicts have to stick together, right?

      • Yes, I would love to compare notes — that will ease the remorse when I too succumb…!

        I understand about Christine Feehan too… I think her books are similar in theme to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s prolific shapeshifter paranormals. Around the same time I was wallowing in Cynsters and Bastions, I also read every Kenyon book even though they were all the same, too, except for people shapeshifting into different sexy beasts. I think in addition to the familiarity, there is actually something appealing about the QUANTITY itself. Now that I think about it, there are times when I look for my next book to be part of a big series, or for an author with a massive backlist, because it’ll also be comforting to know it’s a really BIG Whitman’s sampler you can enjoy for a good long while.

  3. My mom has fifty Glenna Finleys on her bookshelf, and THEY ARE ALL THE SAME STORY! Woman meets man, gets into an accident that makes her pass out, man undresses her (re: passed out) without boinking her, the woman falls in love with him because of this, and they capture the person who attacked her and live HEA. I read about five before I gave up.

    I did go through a period where I read Christine Feehan novels even though I knew they were HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. But at least they were predictably horrible and predictably enjoyable, you know what I mean? Like you knew exactly what you were getting when you read one. But then I kind of phased out of the whole PNR thing and lost interest.

    • Ha! I hope I can kick this addiction before I have fifty books on the shelf (I’m not judging though… obviously I’m in no place to judge…).

      I would totes read at least one of those books, though. I think Pamela might be right. If we’re soft in the head when we read the first one, we might buy them forevermore for the comfort of familiarity. If my recent reading is any indicator of future reading habits, that might mean that I’ll buy and read every Maya Banks novel there is, a truly horrifying thought.

      I’ve never heard of Christine Feehan… what kind of books are those?

      • Oh, my. I think I’ll pass on that (paranormal’s not really my thing… neither is possession…). That said, I’m currently enjoying Jeaniene Frost’s Once Burned… never thought I’d get a kick out of that kind of story, but how could I resist a Venn diagram including carnies (circus folk) and vampires?

  4. LOL~! This is so me! And Stephanie Laurens too! I do agree that Devil’s Bride was my favorite and a must read but the rest was just as the same. I haven’t read or bought the Bastion books but in a way I do wan to just to know how the heroes in there found their match but then again no too. I just can’t resist wanting to know what happen to some of the great secondary characters I meet along the way! *sigh* At least now I know that I’m not the only one ;P
    Sadly or gratefully? I have her latest book on my TBR pile for over a week now. Haven’t manage to read it because of other great books calling out for my attention. I don’t know, iI just don’t want to be disappointed like when I read The Lady Risks All. It took me a long while for me to finish and I had to fight struggle through it to the very last page. And sadly I know I’m going to read her next upcoming books in the coming future. 😦
    Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series has the same effect on me too. Argh….I’m a Bibliophilia! Maybe even a Bibliomania. And a Abibliophobia!

    • From one bibliomaniac to another: resist the temptation of the Bastion Club books! Even more than the Cynster books, they really are the exact same book x 8 (maybe 9, but I never bothered to read the ‘prequel’). I’ve only read a couple Julie Anne Long books, but my impression was that they were well written and interesting–I’m not sure why I haven’t started collecting the entire series (as is apparently my habit). At least Long’s sexy sexy times don’t involve cosmic disturbances and a heavy use of alliteration…

  5. LOL I LOVE YOU. You already know I have this same sickness as you. Sometimes an author really drags you into a story and you can’t help but continue to read their books because they got you that one time. It’s like you keep hoping lighting will strike again, but it doesn’t, but you can tolerate the writing enough to keep looking for that lightning. Make sense?

  6. I laughed out loud reading this! You have given me the strength to take the little bag with 10 (unread) Cynster books out of my closet and give them away. After I read the first 5 in the series I couldn’t really make myself pick up another, but I kept thinking well, maybe later, you never know. Despite that unread pile I bought the first in the Black Cobra series – and couldn’t get past the first few chapters. Learned my lesson right? No. Went on the buy the first of the Cynster Brides – skimmed enough to realize my mistake. But the bag remained. Until now! Thanks, you have liberated me from my Laurens addiction at last.

    • That is a fine idea, and it’s one I should copy. I have so many books I’ll probably never read again… It’s too bad that e-books aren’t really set up to allow one to give them away after reading…

      Did you like the first few books in the Cynster series? I’m not sure that my impressions of those books can really be trusted (I have the illness, after all), but my recollection is that there are fairly significant differences in the characters of the first 3 books (in the first 6, perhaps, if one is in a forgiving mood), but all the characters in the subsequent books are so similar as to be virtually indistinguishable, especially the male characters. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but I could probably forgive the identical plots, but the lack of originality in the characters just infuriates me.

      • The first one I read was On A Wicked Dawn ( I know, shudder, I started Out Of Order!), and that one still feels different from the others to me (Amelia proposes to Luc in the beginning, there is a subplot involving just who has restored the family fortune, etc). I may have these fond memories simply because it was my first one, but it inspired me to find Devil’s Bride and begin to work my way through the family tree (I am a total sucker for those things 🙂 ). I think you’re right, the first 4 had enough variety in plot and character to keep me going, but by book 5 the only thing unique about the hero was his name.

      • Ah, I’d forgotten about Amelia’s story… Yes, that one was lovely, and it might have been my favorite if I’d read it before Devil’s Bride. I started out of order, too (with #4). I also have a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings towards #3, Scandal’s Bride. The characters seemed particularly well developed in that book, and the intrigue/danger plot was actually pretty believable, considering. Also, I’m a sucker for magic and lovesick heroes… 🙂

      • I think that’s true. My first was Scandal’s Bride which is maybe the most different from the normal pattern and has some slightly paranormal woowoo in it. And I can just about distinguish Gabriel and Alethea’s book because of the sneaky hot sex with her in disguise. But I stopped after maybe seven or eight BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL THE SAME BOOK.
        Do not buy the new one. You will regret it. Just re-read Devil’s Bride and be smug about the money you saved.

  7. I can’t even remember which was the first one. I have no idea. But I do know there isn’t one I haven’t read, except the novellas and the anthology stories. Sigh.

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