Judith Krantz was the bonkbuster writer I read growing up and the author I took as inspiration for my own novels. Scruples, I’ll Take Manhattan, Mistral’s Daughter – there are too many books to name but she’s the blueprint for fabulous, fun, well-written escapist reads.
Vicki Hendricks' novels – Miami Purity, Iguana Love, Voluntary Madness, Cruel Poetry and Sky Blues – are all Florida noir thrillers, absolutely steeped in scorching sunshine, sweat, sex and murder. There’s no one else like her.
Philippa Gregory’s Wideacre doesn’t have tons of racy sex scenes, but the erotic tension between Beatrice, a privileged heiress in love with her family’s estate, and Ralph, the sexy gamekeeper’s boy (plus quite a few other men Beatrice seduces along the way), stayed with me for years after I read it. Unputdownable.
The Girl Behind The Fan and The Girl Behind the Mask by Stella Knightley are a mixture of historical and contemporary erotic romance, and are beautifully written books about the exquisite torture of unrequited love.
And finally, Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure, with her Sleeping Beauty series. Warning: these books make Fifty Shades look like Enid Blyton, so they are definitely not for the easily shocked!
Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance is published by Simon & Schuster on 8 August.