The Curious Disappearance of Judith McNaught: What Happened to ‘The Sweetest Thing’? | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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

…publishers began concentrating more on quantity than quality… Inevitably, the market became saturated, and – equally inevitably – disenchanted readers began expressing dissatisfaction with the quality of the books.

Judith McNaught, Q&A with All About Romance, September 1990

The promise of another Judith McNaught novel and my belief in romance died in the same breath. Here’s how it happened:

About eight months ago Judith McNaught, mother of the historical romance, founder of my relationship dreams, announced her first book release in twelve years. 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, 2018.

It’s May 2019 and there is no book in sight. 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 reached out to McNaught’s publisher Simon & Schuster, to journalists who had interviewed McNaught shortly before the “release”, I even rooted names from her novels’ acknowledgements and contacted anyone I could find. 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?

Simon & Schuster’s lack of concern for Judith McNaught’s audience, combined with my fruitless attempts to find words of news or praise about her, is, in a word, infuriating. While a perfectly understandable reason for the quiet may exist, no one is willing to tell. It’s as if McNaught’s return would rekindle a plague fire. As if her brand of romance, so different from current top sellers, is anathema to the romance industry.

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? Why hasThe Sweetest Thing been abandoned to the black hole of Amazon pre-order, with a release date of – get this – December 2045?

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 1985 quite literally established the popular genre of historical romance. Prior to Whitney, the 19th century was considered a big snooze and a feminist’s nightmare. Now 84% of the romance novels read are from that same “historical” sub-genre. 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. Several things separate her from the competition, including the sophistication and intelligence of the writing, but the biggest difference between her and, say, most of the romances at Barnes & Noble can be summed up in one old-fashioned word: sentiment.

“Reading or writing a romance novel constitutes a public declaration of sentimentality…women possess an inexhaustible abundance of determination and courage. Sentimentality has enabled us to civilize and soften the other half of the population of the planet.”

Judith McNaught, Q&A with All About Romance, September 1990

In this case, I don’t define sentiment as lovey-dovey, gushy-mushy stuff. 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. By the end they’re still strong, but they’ve surrendered themselves entirely to the women they fell in love with. This is very emotionally evident to readers and is the proven McNaught guarantee.

Take, for example, A Kingdom of Dreams, published in 1989 and McNaught’s only medieval novel. 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. The common folk below cheer wildly, and this is her “kingdom of dreams.”

The same principle applies to the modern romances. Take Someone to Watch Over Me, a mystery/suspense romance published in 2003. An utterly fantastic read. The originator of my pen name, Valente, and I say that with no shame. This novel’s hero is targeted by corrupt police and government officials, accused unjustly of every crime from manslaughter to driving five miles over the speed limit. And yet the heroine, an actress, marries and stands by him, making a point to change her surname to his on a Broadway marquee. This gruff man of mystery is melted into a puddle of sentimentality as he sees the name unashamedly light up the sky — “an unfamiliar constriction tightens his throat” and he embraces her in front of every camera and body on the street.

The Curious Disappearance of Judith McNaught: What Happened to ‘The Sweetest Thing’? | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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. Let’s take a look at recent releases, shall we?

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. Comparing these men to McNaught’s is like holding “Baby Shark” up to Beethoven. Both endearing in their own way, but one is clearly superior.

In discussion with the founder of McNaughtized, now the only place on the internet where one can find McNaught news, I asked what separates McNaught’s novels from all the rest. “She writes the most swoon-worthy heroes EVER,” Jessica said, “It really does bear repeating: BEST. HEROES. EVER!!  Other authors try to create this…but then you get into said hero‘s viewpoint and the allusion shatters—either because he has the emotional range of a 19 year old frat boy, or because the author simply doesn’t seem to know how rich, commanding men think. NO ONE writes a hero the way JM does.

Comparing these men to McNaught’s is like holding “Baby Shark” up to Beethoven. Both endearing in their own way, but one is clearly superior.

Most of the released advertised by Avon include heroes of questionable magnitude: a self-made man desperate to improve his status, a second son, a scientist, or, most commonly, a man who doesn’t even want to have a title but (poor thing!) is forced to have power. 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. So Judith McNaught’s moving endings are replaced with sexy couples that barely resemble Georgians sneaking away to show each other the “parts they like”, a heroine expressing “very bad thoughts about a certain duke,” and finding “the passion she’d only written about.” Because that’s the sum of female happiness, (she writes sarcastically).

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. They kiss and say something sweet and that’s the happily ever after. It’s the pithy conclusion at which critics scoff. It’s proof that romance novels are now, officially, what their detractors claim: unrealistic, uninspiring, — hollow.

Many readers expressed their dissatisfaction by refusing to buy new authors at all, or else only in used bookstores… I can only suggest that you make your preferences known in the time-honored tradition of a capitalistic society: Complain to the retailers who aren’t providing you with the products you want…

Judith McNaught, Q&A with All About Romance, September 1990

Well, Judith, here I am — complaining!

I’m doing just what you advised. Your publisher, Simon & Schuster, is not focused enough on romance to bear mentioning their latest publications. Their newest books are not yours, nor do Avon’s books hold a candle to your meaningful plot weaving and character development. We may never know what happened to The Sweetest Thing, but from what I know of current romances I can imagine what went down. Simon, and perhaps Schuster, didn’t bother to mention whatever delayed your book release because, as I can see them remarking, “No one’s interested in her books anymore. They don’t empower women.”

But I and several others are very interested. More than interested. Here’s just a few posts I found on McNaught’s Facebook page.

The Curious Disappearance of Judith McNaught: What Happened to ‘The Sweetest Thing’? | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

“‘This title will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on December 31, 2045.’ Something is terribly wrong. Yes, I and many of you have been waiting so patiently and with enthusiasm for the next book written by Ms. McNaught. What is the issue? Would like an honest and straightforward answer.”

…how can women possibly feel empowered when publishing companies carelessly decide what’s important and what isn’t, what readers want and don’t want?

“My dear favorite author … how come when I go to buy the book on Amazon they only promise to deliver when I’m 91 years old, that is December 31st, 2045?????? I found this offensive to your fans.”

“Judith McNaught – I hope you are alright. Could you please come out of hiding and tell your loyal, extremely patient fans where the book THE SWEETEST THING is and when it will truly be published or not. Your cover photo says it was supposed to come out last October 23. Then, it was scheduled to come out January 8, 2019. Still another no show. Now, I see it listed coming out in 2045. How do you expect to keep your loyal, extremely patient fans to continue coming back when you are continually lying to them?”

How indeed? And how can women possibly feel empowered when publishing companies carelessly decide what’s important and what isn’t, what readers want and don’t want? I used to feel empowered, back when I had hopes of another Matt Farrell or Michael Valente, when McNaught proudly announced her first release in twelve years and I excitedly marked my calendar. As long as her books remained prominent, I believed that a strong man could fall in love, the kind of love that lifts women up in the air and applauds their ability to, as Judith put it, “soften the other half of the population.”

Supposedly, that’s not what readers want.

My belief in romance died the day I assumed this book was never coming. It vanished with Judith McNaught. Rest assured, I won’t be picking up another romance novel any time soon. That is, unless Simon & Schuster finally deigns to speak up.

* Update *

Click here to add your name to an online petition, requesting information from Judith McNaught’s publisher Simon and Schuster.

The Curious Disappearance of Judith McNaught: What Happened to ‘The Sweetest Thing’? | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

  1. I started to read JM’s books in 2021. I cannot find “The Sweetish Thing” and
    “Can’t take my eyes off of you”. Were they ever published? JM has no peer in the written word world. I do read others but miss her written words. No one has her way of expressing the world of words. Hope to find the two novels I am looking for.

  2. I began reading Johanna Lindsey’s books before I did Judith Mcnaught at the age of 16. Before that, I was reading Harlequins. I began sharing these books with 3 of my 6 sisters and a couple of friends. So, we had to find other books to read. I found Judith Mcnaught’s book “Double Standard in the public library and began looking for other works of hers. found “Whitney My Love.” I became so engrossed in Judith’s books that I would bug the local bookstore if she’d written another. You see, no other author uses imagery and other figurative languages as she does. I cry; I get angry; I become excited, I laugh,etc. What ever way that main character is acting or feeling,get the picture through Judith’s words. No other author is like her, even though I do enjoy Johanna Lindsey, Amanda Quick (and her other pseudonyms), Jude Deveraux, Julia Quinn,Julie Garwood, Sandra Brown, and Lisa Kleypas. I have read many of these authors’ books. Yet, I always reread Judith’s books. My favorite Mcnaught historical romance novels are Almost Heaven A kingdom of Dreams, Whitney My Love, Something Wonderful and Once and Always. My favorites of the contemporary books are Paradise, Perfect, Double Standards,Night Whispers and Tender Triumph. However, the best of all of her books, in my opinion is Every Breath you Take. All of them are tastefully written and gives hope for a true romantic soul.

    1. I can’t agree more. You have hit everything I feel about Judith. I have read all the authors you mentioned and a variety of others. I started with Kathleen Woodiwiss. Perfect is one I reread almost every year. I have almost everything she wrote on my bookshelves.
      Where is she?

    1. I don’t think it is ‘our’JMcN, I googled ‘Judith McNaught death’ and an obituary popped up for a Judith McNaught who died in 2020. This lady’s husband was called Wesley, and she was a mother to EIGHT children.

  3. Oh no. I just read that Judith McNaught died in early 2020, which explains so much! My condolences to her family and friends.

    1. Willa, I also read a while ago about a Judith McNaught who died but some details didn’t match with our Judith McNaught. So it couldn’t be her.

    2. Willa, I can tell you for sure that the obituary online is not the one of “our” Judith McNaught but a person with the same name

  4. I too love and miss JM. I have read every single one of her novels. I started reading her in 2001 and I swear her books got me through the epoch changing year of 9/11. Here I am 20 years later waiting for another McNaught. I do read others – Kleypas, Julia Quinn and Mary Balogh. Kleypas and Quinn are formulaic – I can just about figure out the entire trajectory once I get going. But what to do in the absence of JM? I’ve seen some names on this list that I will try out, but still I hope we can find out what happened to JM! There’s probably some kind of non-disclosure agreement that’s preventing her from speaking out and I bet her contract prevents her from self publishing. All the best to her and I have so much gratitude for all the years of truly good reads she gifted us with.

  5. I’ve never stop looking out for stories that Judith Mcnaught wrote. And I certainly would like to read another one. Any news about her is eagerly awaited.

  6. I, too, have legitimately been wondering about Ms. McNaught. I first picked up “Perfect” about 20 years ago and fell in love with her characters. I have all her books and have read them each multiple times. The idea of getting a new book from McNaught is exciting. Now, if the publisher(s) will just release the darned thing so we can all enjoy it, life would be grand.

    1. Wonderful article. I would respectfully suggest, however, that Mary Balogh be considered a worthy peer of Ms. McNaught. Both protagonists generally go through some essential change that’s sigh-worthy at the end.

  7. I feel the same, I would add Kat Martin, Meagan Mckinney to the list. The presence of the romances is too polite, Mrs. Hoyt is distinguished. Do publishers remember the success of 50 Shades of Gray? we like to read about dominant, strong men, maybe not really practical, but in romance … I like to sigh after reading a book and think – how he loved her …

  8. I have a collection of her historical romance. And I am a fan. I tried other books from different author but I would always going back reading her two books Until you and Something Wonderful.

    1. In Poland, we love Mrs. Judith’s books. There are no reissues of her books, old editions are very expensive at auctions. Do you know what’s happening to Mrs. Judith? Nobody writes like her now, I miss Judith, McKinney, Deveraux, Lindsey (I’m 37 and the affairs of Mr. Kleypas, Dare are nice but polite). Mrs. Hoyt writes well …

  9. Judith McNaught, where are you? I’ve read all your books and have waited not so patiently for a new novel. What’s going on? Can I get a reply from you?

    1. In Poland, we love Mrs. Judith’s books. There are no reissues of her books, old editions are very expensive at auctions. Do you know what’s happening to Mrs. Judith? Nobody writes like her now, I miss Judith, McKinney, Deveraux, Lindsey (I’m 37 and the affairs of Mr. Kleypas, Dare are nice but polite). Mrs. Hoyt writes well …

  10. The only books I have ever read that I thought compared to and were as good as a McNaught book were the Chesapeake Series by Nora Roberts. I am nearly distraught that Judith McNaught seems to have lost her Mo-Jo! It seems she may have had a couple of false starts, but some how couldn’t make it happen! Judith, say a rosary, and start one more time! PLEASE!!

  11. I have been wondering where Judith McNaught is myself. I have read all of her books many times. I do hope we hear something soon. I have two favorite authors Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood I sure wish they both would put out something new.

  12. I read somewhere once, that she mentioned at a party (or something – I forget the exact details) that she was talking to someone who knew she was an author and they asked what kind of books she wrote – and when she said ‘romance’ – the guy acted like she announced that she wasn’t a “real” author. What a shmuck. People that put down entire GENRES of books just because they don’t read them! Its like saying, “I only like crime and mystery novels, so anyone who writes about fantasy, or history, or comic books aren’t ‘real’ writers”.

    But Judith McNaughts books shouldn’t even be in the same genre as the crappy “romance” novels she’s lumped in with. Reading JMN’s books has ruined me for reading any other romance novels – but I still do, HOPING to find someone, ANYONE who can craft a plot line and develop characters like JMN.

    JMN books are like homemade macaroni and cheese compared to Kraft instant-cups-mac-n’-cheese. Sure, Kraft’s instant cups are quick and easy – and they aren’t terrible (especially if you are starving for some Mac n’ Cheese) – but one taste of real – HOMEMADE mac and cheese — with several types of cheeses, and a hint of mustard and other spices. And with some fresh tomatoes and maybe even breadcrumbs toasted on the top? Well, you have a dish of that, and forever you never forget it. Its technically the same genre as other Mac n’ cheese – but really, could anyone in their right mind even COMPARE a dish of homemade mac n’ cheese with Kraft instant mac n’ cheese? No way. But then you remember – making homemade Mac n’ Cheese takes a long time! Its labor intensive, its messy – there is prep time, baking time, clean up time. It takes hours! And a cup of instant Mac n’ cheese – that is 3 mins in the microwave and its done. That’s like crappy, cheap romance novels — a canned plot, 2 dimensional characters, wham, bam, thank you ma’am. That’s it. In conclusion – JMN is homemade macaroni and cheese. And I love her.

    So – I guess what I’m saying is that I’m terribly afraid that JMN is probably exhausted by all the work it takes to make her mac n’ cheese – I’m sure it takes years of toil. And to have jerks at a party say because she writes ‘romance’ she’s not a real author (or whatever it was he implied) – that’s like someone saying -‘meh, your homemade mac and cheese is the same as Kraft”. WRONG.

    Mrs. Judith McNaught – if you are reading these comments — please know that WE — the READERS — love your books. You’ve created something lasting in this world and that’s something to be proud of. Don’t listen to schmucks.

    Also — who needs a publishing company?? Can’t you self-publish a book nowadays? I bet if you published one – even just a digital one — and put it on your website – or your FB page – it would sell like WILDFIRE. Count me in!

  13. Judith McNaught is my favorite author. Period. Not just favorite romance author – just the best author. Her stories are so deep with layers and the characters are so well developed!!

    1. I have read all her books, and several more than twice. They are the best written books, Period. I have looked and looked for a writer that comes even close, and have been disappointed again and again. Julie Garwood does come close, but there is no one like Judith McNaught. At the age of 82, 2045 is surly not on my schedule, so my only option to fill my need of McNaught written books, is to read all of them again.
      I do hope that Ms McNaught is well and it would be great if she would let us, her many fans, know how she is doing. There once was a Website dedicated to all things McNaught, with Facebook like messages. Itvwas fun, and Ms McNaught would sometimes join us. There even gatherings with her and her fans done for several continuous years. And just about the time I retired it all ended. What a shame. I wished we could have that comraderie again. Just one more thing, Judith McNaught, I and i therevare others that miss you. Sieg Paulsen

    2. Vince Flynn had that sort of unique talent that, no matter that one knows all will end well, he could hold you in a GRIP, for at least 1/3 of the book and one enjoyed the read to that point and after!! It is a rare talent! Vince’s life sadly ended early, and I keep hoping Judith will get her special ability and motivation back!!

      1. Yes! Judith is awesome. So was Vince Flynn. We need more “professional” literature by great authors. Not the drivel being written by all these wannabes who think they write a great story. No depth. No characters worth the time. And, sadly, a non-existent plot or storyline.

  14. I too am waiting for Judith McNaught‘s new book. I’ve been waiting it feels like forever. If she’s sick that’s one thing but the whole back is another. No one writes like Judith McKnight and therefore she has a fan club waiting. Please deliver, timely as we are all getting old waiting. Most importantly we are not content with another author. I really hope for an announcement that her book is appearing.

  15. I have also been puzzling the disappearance of Ms. McNaught. I’m not so sure it is the publisher. Her silence started when her mother died. Maybe her mother helped her write the books and now she is unable to complete them on her???? I read somewhere she had breast cancer. Maybe she just isn’t up to writing additional books. She is 76 and maybe she just can’t do it. Just wish she would announce that she has retired or make a statement about why she is no longer writing. Like many others I’ve been waiting for a new book. It just seems unfair to her legion of fans that are waiting for that book to keep changing the date and breaking a promise. All we want is a definitive statement.

    1. Others have disappeared, what has happened to Lynn Kurland an Julie Garwood? I cannot find out if they have died or are just no longer writing; do you know?

  16. I love JMN! Been reading her (and rereading) for decades. Every time I pick up one of her books I can’t put it down until it’s finished. She brings to life the alpha male I love: strong, stubborn, sexy and after some twists and turns, totally devoted to the woman he loves. I so much wish they would finish/release The Sweetest Thing. I can’t find another author like her except possibly some of Brenda Joyce’s novels.

    1. Can you please give me a list of all her books! I have just read Perfect and Paradise. She is an Amazing writer! They would make Amazing movies. What books of hers should I not miss out on reading? Where is she now?

    1. I also wonder if anyone contacted her children? I don’t want it to work like Joanna Lindsay who had cancer, but we didn’t know. She died in October, and we found out about this only six months later … ((

  17. We should start a petition for all fans to sign. We need to be heard!! We need to know why nobody answer our questions and why there´s no new book in sight.
    Would you be available to create that petition?

    1. Loved her as an author. But like many creative people she has apparently become a complete fruitcake.

      I know she had some health and personal issues (death of her mother, couple of divorces, & whatever else) or so it was reported. BUT if she doesn’t want to write again, isn’t inspired, has enough money, etc, she should simply say she’s retired and be done with it.

      So completely sick of the decade (almost two really) of stringing her fans along.

  18. I would love to read Judith’s book that was supposed to be “Can’t take my eyes off you”. I have saved all her books and now that l’m older I have all of them on my IPAD. It’s easier for me to read. I just finished reading for the 3rd time “With my every Breath”. Please let us read another book by Judith. She’s the best writer.

  19. Hello!

    I am shocked to hear that the book has been postponed or god forbid, cancelled altogether?

    I have read mostly historical romance since I was 20 years until i was about 24. Then, i met my now husband. He is the perfect example of a JMN hero. And I got tremendous strength from reading her books and thus knew how to approach this proud but amazing man. I now have a hunch that once has to experience this love in order to be able to write it down as she does.

    When I was suffering, because do not get me wrong these men hurt as deeply as they love deeply, I had no understanding from my friends. Even my own idea of this sort of man was vastly negative when I went through it myself. Any feministic streak I had within me just did not give him a chance. And he was too proud to adhere to any modern notion of the right man in this day and age. He is 53 at the moment by the way. did this sort of man die out, and thus the genre is unbelievable?
    If that is the case it is sad…

    1. Oh Carmen- We should be friends! JMN historical romances just get to me every time. Ian Thornton, Clayton Westmoreland, oh my. I think you and I married into the last generation of that type of man. Smart, independent, strong minded, witty, competitive, And I might as well add sexy too. (Fellow feminists, don’t judge) Mine went on to become a 2 Star General in the Army, His innate leadership skills changed lives and he turned out to be an excellent father too. Yes, there were rough times- these types of men are not given to compromise.They often are insensitive to our feelings. No one is perfect. However, I still say thank you each day: HE was the wisest decision I ever made. Sounds like you feel the same. I enjoyed your post!

  20. I have been waiting and waiting for her to bring a new book to us. She is my favorite author. After reading this, I think I’ll buy all her books again in kindle addition are read them again!

  21. So I have to wonder – did Judith McNaught pass away? Her house is sold fully furnished and another book doesn’t come out until 2045? I’ll be gone by that date as well! I loved her stories and her wordsmithing – sometimes I’d be laughing and crying in the same paragraph. She had such a talent for bringing the story to life and she tied up all the loose ends – much like Kathleen Woodiwiss – God rest her soul.

    1. I agree I laughed and cried many times reading these treasured books. I have waited and remained hopeful but I gave up reading romance like many of you because the “new” romance became depressing. I know her husband passed away and then her Mother. Maybe she just has no more love to give? I have original copies of every book JM wrote and have reread some over 30x. No one else compares. JM, thank you for carrying me through some tough 25 yrs. I wish you peace, wherever you are. Shame to Simon & Schuster for showing us such disrespect. I try not to buy from them ever when purchasing books.

  22. Kathleen,
    I just wanted to reassure you that I am your daughter’s age and am completely obsessed with all Judith McNaught novels. She is my favorite author ever and did not even discover her until I was 22. She gives me a lump in my throat every time I read her books, in a good way. I hope your daughter gives her a chance.

    1. Trisha,
      Well Brynn is a stubborn one and I’m thinking it’s not likely she’ll change her mind! However- I appreciate your good wishes on that score AND nice to know YOU are out there, carrying the torch so to speak. Judith McNaught’s characters are so well written they will continue to entertain throughout all phases of your life. I’ve had to repurchase the books in large print now that I’m getting older; maybe I ought to leave my collection for you? Haha, I promise they will forever bring a lump to the throat of aspirational romantics like us…

  23. Amid all of the comments did anyone mention the disappointing fact that it took forever to get her books on Kindle. And now it’s just as tragic that we can’t hear the stories on Audible except for Every Breath You Take. I personally Simon and Schuster is taking advantage of Judith McNaught and preventing her from providing joy to others as she has always done. Who of us wouldn’t pay to hear her as well as read the stories we love?
    Thank you all for keeping me from feeling stupid for my disappointment!

    1. I agree with you! And her books would make amazing movies! Perfect and Paradise
      All other romance novels seem so watered down compared to Judith McNaughts! Is she writing under another name?

    2. I agree with you!
      All other romance novels seem so watered down compared to Judith McNaughts! Is she writing under another name? Someone please make movies of her books!

  24. I agree with what’s been said. JM books have touched all of us in ways that can’t be defined but are deep and personal.
    Why can’t we find the books on audio? I know that abridged books were at one time on cassette.
    I so loved the comment that JM books are like the comforting element of ice cream.
    JM, you have helped countless sisters in this tribe through some very difficult times. No book? Fine. Just say goodbye. We need closure.

    1. Yes! Audible.com please. Can we request this from the publisher? I’d be interested if anyone here is knowledgeable regarding the process of going from book to audible?

  25. Would give a lot to cozy up with a brand new JM novel. No one develops characters like her. I reread her books ( all of them) every few years. I only regret that I can never read any of them for the FIRST time again. She is a marvel. Thanks to those of you who keep searching for word of her. I hope she is alright. Keep us posted!

  26. It’s another kind of world, and I think she thinks she doesn’t belong anymore, or at least, this is how I like to explain her vanishing. I still re-read every year some of the books, feeling awesome..as usual. Thank you, Judith, from my heart!!!

  27. I just want to thank you for your blog on JM. I’m 62, and like so many others have (for 30+ years) read her books over and over again. They make me happy; I savor every word and still find myself wishing the stories would not come to an end! My 30 something daughter does not understand what you explained so succinctly regarding the growth of the characters, particularly the hero – She acts offended at the mere concept of the storyline. Such a shame; younger readers are missing out on the best romance writer. She was my favorite and I miss her!

    1. Kathleen,
      I just wanted to reassure you that I am your daughter’s age and am completely obsessed with all Judith McNaught novels. She is my favorite author ever and did not even discover her until I was 22. She gives me a lump in my throat every time I read her books, in a good way. I hope your daughter gives her a chance.

  28. FYI folks…”The Sweetest Thing” is/was not an original novel. It is/was a full length version of a short story she wrote years ago for an anthology called “The Gift”.

    1. Totally agree. We want to know what happen to this book! Ms McNaught is the best selling and Best Romance writer of this era and they will not print this book. I want to know! I am not buying books. There are very few Writers that compare to Ms McNaught!

      1. I totally agree. I have been waiting for her new book for years. I haven’t found another author that I like better. She is special!!! I really think they owe us some answers.

  29. Sorry this seems a bit stalkerish, but after Googling JM’s name in the news section I saw that her stunning home was up for sale,this is in July 2019 Not only was it being sold fully furnished, but the realtor was speaking about JM in the past tense.

    “(She loved) having friends over and people over that she could entertain. She loved people. She did a lot of charity work. So many of the fundraisers were held right here at this house,” Foster continued.”
    I do hope JM is not seriously ill, or has it has been suggested she may have passed away, God Forbid.
    I doubt we will ever get to the bottom of this mystery, and though it pains me to say it I do not think we will ever get another JM book.

  30. I felt clueless about this 2045 date! I hope all the fans get answers! In this day and age how is there no information about what happened? Where is Judith mcnaught?

  31. Absolutely one of my favorite authors ever! She holds that honor with Karen Robards, Linda Howard, Sandra Brown, and Johanna Lindsay. I am endlessly frustrated by newer authors especially this trend of writing a partial book and making readers wait months for the continuance.

    That said, I suspect that her age or health have caught up with her and we should allow her to retire peacefully. She has given us so much and we should give her peace.

  32. I love Judith Mcnaught. I can read paradise and all the historical romances by JM again and again. Even now, I would remember some scene from a novel and smile at the perfection with which every detail was delivered. I fall in love with the powerful heroes all over again.
    I would have to say, these days the concept of romance lacks depth and character. Women are portrayed independent and confident to the point they seem unreal.the women in the novels don’t even blush any more.
    The plots are worse, they would avoid all situations involving distrust or error in judgment.I miss being emotionally involved. I miss loving a novel so much,you cant put it down.loving the characters so much, you wish they were real.

    1. I loved what you wrote about JM. You found the words that exactly express my own sentiments. All these years and I could never part with her books, they bring so much happiness every time I reread them.

    2. So well said! Such beautiful creation of characters and story. Can you recommend any other books or authors that compare?

      1. Karen, it has been decades since I enjoyed another HR writer as much as JMN. However, since you asked: In January of this year I discovered Lisa Kleypas. She has about 80 published books, both Contemporary and Historical Romance. Since HR is my sweet spot I am recommending: 3 books (with a bit of irresistible emotional angst) #1) Where Dreams Begin, #2) Then Came You, #3) Again the Magic. Following that … invest in the entire Wallflower Series, then the Hathaway Series and finish with the Ravenals. Try to read them in order if possible, as one book leads to the next in terms of storyline, descendants, etc. This is a total of 18! Kleypas books! I know, I know… but if you’ve got the time, they are WORTH IT. Like JMN, strong heroes and heroines, witty dialogue and banter, sexy time- hot, hot, hot!!! And a guaranteed happily ever after. Only wish I’d found this author sooner. Five Stars. Happy Reading!

      2. Karen- oops, one last thing I forgot to add to my previous post. The Wallflower Series has a 5th book, a Christmas edition novella. And if you prefer Contemporary Romance try her Travis Series. It seems to be everybody’s favorite!

  33. I am a 86 year senior. I have read all of Judith s books over and over again. I hope she does not buckle under and keeps writing. I am still in love with Matt Farrell, Michael Valenti, the detective who helped Michael, and all the other characters. She has such a sense of humor. I have tried to get her last book, but to no avail. Keep on writing Judith! I miss you. Mary Nizza

  34. May be some type of contractual obligation that she did not meet and the publisher cannot discuss due to a law suite or legal negotiations. So, they say nothing. Both sides are prohibited from commenting. She could be ill and does not want the public to know.
    Anyway, I agree, I do not read romance novels anymore except a few authors. I find the stuff out there very boring.
    She had a way of weaving a story with intense emotions, humor and drama. All you can do is reread them occasionally and hope it is just a legal battle that is resolved.

  35. It’s only fair that they tell the truth. Whether it’s politics or if she’s ill or just ran out of ideas. It happens. But once we know we won’t keep checking back all the time waiting in limbo.

  36. How I miss Judith McNaught, she is my favorite romance author. I also reached out to Simon and Schuster and questioned why 2045? I named my daughter Whitney that is how much I love her books. My daughter is now 32, she read the book when she was 15 and thanked me for naming her after Whitney Westmorland.I do not understand why they will not release “The Sweetest Thing” I guess we will have to wait and see, but I will be 95 years old by the time that books comes out!

    1. I agree with most of your comments, and certainly share your frustration, but respectfully disagree re authors today. There are currently some fantastic writers of both historical and modern fiction, the quickest to come to mind being Lisa Kleypas.
      I’m from Australia and particularly frustrated that, while Simon & Schuster have (some of) her ebooks available with some sellers, they are only available in the US. But why are some of her titles available globally as ebooks in foreign languages but not English? WTH??
      Having searched for literally hours, and after buying the Westmoreland series in *unreadabe* hard copy from overseas, (published by S&S) I found a few sites offering free downloads. However the last Westmoreland, Miracles, is/was only available in the US as an ebook, apart from being in hard copy only anthologies with Jude Devereux.
      It boggles my mind that, in this day & age, books aren’t automatically available as either hardcopy or ebooks. I’m 71 and arthritic and holding a book is a lot harder, which brings me back to my previous point re books *being unreadable*. The print was so small and black it was like tiny ants crawling across the page, hence the need to search for online editions. (They were SO cheap to print but not buy!)
      After all that I’ve come to the conclusion that her publisher Simon & Schuster, is to blame for EVERYTHING!

  37. I miss Judith McNaught. I miss Julia Garwood. And Jude Deveraux.I miss all these authors who were my childhood. Yet, McNaught is the one of the ones that stand out the most. I’m not saying she’s the best. But there was a uniqueness to her that can’t be rivaled.

    I remember the newest edition of Whitney, My Love. Of my mother squealing with joy and anticipation. Of my cousins and aunties gushing over Whitney and her whimsical love story of drama, humor and growth. I read it then, when I was barely eleven years old. Maybe even younger. I understood, yet I didn’t understand the book at such a tender age. But even then, it stayed with me.

    Recently, I had moved and relocated. My sisters and I had thrown out what we didn’t need. But them, knowing how I feel about my books, gave me a bag full of things and when I reached inside, I came across the same edition I had read as a child. 28 years old now, I asked my sisters why they didn’t just throw the book away. They told me they didn’t want to get chewed out by me, lol. I thought to myself, whatever, I guess I’ll add it to the collection on my bookshelf even though I’ll never touch it again…but I did.

    I read the book in its entirety with new eyes, and I cried at the solid beauty of the tale McNaught told. All I could think about was, my god, I know they’re going to make a movie or tv series of this novel one day. Maybe even soon. A book that was this rich during her time in the ’80s? They wouldn’t dare pass up on it. I don’t know where I am going with this. Perhaps nostalgia has gotten to me. A childhood dream that has reawakened. But much older now, and also a writer making my own path, I’m saddened. But…in a happy sense.

    A part of me can’t help but feel, you know what? I think she’s done. I think she made her mark, and she put everything she had into these beautiful tales that now line my shelves again. Even if she doesn’t come back, I’m glad she was here and that she was able to give us beautiful stories we will never forget and always cherish. I’ve already lost Bertrice Small. And though I don’t want to lose Judith either, something tells me it’s okay. Because even if the worst had already come to pass and we just don’t know it yet, we will always have her tales with us. She’ll be remembered because of what she left behind.

    Damn. That got deep. Sorry for the novella, and thank you for your blog. Now excuse me while I go dab my tears…

    1. I commend your article! You summed it up perfectly. When I was 23 my mother had the book “Perfect” and I fell in love with Judith McNaught. No one writes like she does. Her development of her characters is the most thorough of any romance novel I have ever read. She takes you on a journey through every emotion. One minute you’re crying and the next minute you’re laughing. No author has ever inspired those reactions from me. I, too, have failed to be satisfied with any other author of romance. It’s like drinking a cheap wine.

  38. I agree. Would just like to know one way or another so that I can stop checking for REAL release date
    Any communication from Judith or publisher would be appreciated
    Love her books. Reread them often

  39. I too have been looking forward to this book and was so saddened and confused with the non-release. Back in 1998, I read Ms McNaught’s interview that you quoted about not buying books to show the publishing world what we wanted. So I went on a book buying hiatus. Your article perfectly sums up my feelings for her books, the current publishing industry, and why the non-release of this book has had such a big affect on me. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Lydia! So wonderful to find people who feel the same way I do. Let’s hope we hear something about this book!


  40. I agree. Let’s say JM has made the personal decision to retire from writing. That would sadden me, but she has that right. God bless her for she’s worked hard and deserves her well earned rest. But then,just say so. Just tell us that’s what’s happening. No one will be mad at her. Sad yes, mad no. But by telling us that her new release is due by a certain date, and then changing that date so that my future Great Great Granddaughter has to buy it for me, I just feel like the cat who is forever being taunted with a ball of string. In this case, the ball of string is “The Sweetest Thing.” Man up, Simon & Schuster. Just tell us the truth.

    1. Hi, Elizabeth! Thank you so much for commenting on this! Very well put. It’s really the silence that’s so confusing and insulting. I had trouble conveying in this article just how disappointed I was when there was no book. It was the one bright spot in a series of awful, depressing months. I was giddy on my way to the bookstore that morning. (She’s just that good!) Then — nothing. Hopefully, Simon & Schuster know now just how passionate we are about JM’s writing and give some kind of response.

      Thanks again!


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