Most of all, my heartfelt gratitude to three Ballantine employees, who accomplished the impossible by getting this book done on time: Charlotte Herscher, Daniel Mallory, and my editor of twenty years, Linda Marrow. A mile away, limousines and luxury cars paraded in a slow stream toward a uniformed security guard posted at the gated entrance to the estate. Wyatt does not want any vehicles parked inside the gates this evening. Although there were plenty of helpful attendants and available Range Rovers waiting within sight, large snowbanks and parked cars had encroached on the winding residential lane so that it was almost impassably narrow in places, and the steady procession of slow-moving vehicles had churned four inches of unplowed snow from earlier that day into thick slush. The whole ordeal was unnerving and annoying to everyone.

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The Sweetest Thing, a novel that apparently changed titles and plots a dozen times was, at last, formally announced with a release date of October 23rd, Not only is there no book, there is no announcement of a book.

No apology or explanation to disappointed fans and, bizarrely, no confirmed release. A book that has been written and the legendary author who wrote it seem to have both disappeared. After a patient and utterly polite six-month interval, I decided to investigate this phenomenon with all the vigor born of my adolescent reading habits.

I did everything short of drive to her hometown in Texas and yell her name out the car window. My efforts were answered with a few occasions of blunt refusal and a lot of cryptic silence. Why would any publisher fail to bring this romance author, one of the first to ever receive a multi-million dollar contract, back into the light? While a perfectly understandable reason for the quiet may exist, no one is willing to tell.

As if her brand of romance, so different from current top sellers, is anathema to the romance industry. Why hasThe Sweetest Thing been abandoned to the black hole of Amazon pre-order, with a release date of — get this — December ? Ladies and gentlemen, I have a theory.

It all comes down to the difference between Judith McNaught and, to put it bluntly, everyone else. McNaught is the mother of all romance. Whitney, My Love , published in quite literally established the popular genre of historical romance.

If this decades old success were all she accomplished the vanishing act would be understood. But McNaught did so much more. She wrote a number of successful historical and modern romances, many of which appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, dabbled brilliantly in suspense and crime driven plots, and even wrote a novel in support of adult literacy. The works of McNaught were never mere bodice-rippers. They were unique then and are even more unique now. Sentimentality has enabled us to civilize and soften the other half of the population of the planet.

That you can find literally anywhere on the romance shelf. The kind of sentiment Judith and I are talking about is transformational, and it can be applied to any and all of her heroes.

McNaught men begin as alphas, arrogant and a bit domineering. This is very emotionally evident to readers and is the proven McNaught guarantee. The novel concludes with the hero taking his wife, and mother of his child, out onto the parapet of the keep and literally lifting her in the air, he lifts her higher and higher in triumph and adoration. An utterly fantastic read. The originator of my pen name, Valente, and I say that with no shame.

And yet the heroine, an actress, marries and stands by him, making a point to change her surname to his on a Broadway marquee. That is some powerful sentiment. As McNaught herself once said, it takes bravery to read and write this stuff. Bravery implies vulnerability and that is the last thing modern audiences want.

I logged onto the website for Avon Books, 1 romance publisher, and studied the authors of their advertised releases. I went to the bookstore and read several synopses, I even peeked at their endings. Both endearing in their own way, but one is clearly superior. In the scant few years in which I neglected the romance novel world, the industry developed an allergy to powerful men.

Without powerful men, there is no opportunity for sentimental transformation. Even the less sexual endings struck me as unsatisfactory. In their effort to showcase womanly independence, the women are invulnerable, the men remain the same. See also.


The Curious Disappearance of Judith McNaught: What Happened to ‘The Sweetest Thing’?



Someone Like You



Someone like you : a novel


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