I think the concept of guilty reads is more on people perception to the subject as opposed to your own. To me, my guilty pleasure reads are something I don’t often enjoy but crave it once in a blue moon. And while I adore light slice of life shoujo manga: where two main leads blushes furiously over holding hands, sometimes I venture to the mature side!
Now, even though I read them, I rarely like series that is ONLY it, it needs to have a plot not just fanservice. Well, they’re good sometimes but I rather spend time on reading something I can fully immerse into—that’s the reason I read anyway. It is why it took me a while to warm up to this genre because those one shots I read were like “WTF? THAT’S IT?!” (Shinjo Mayu’s works are def no go area for me! *roll eyes*) and my first impression just so strong that it took some time for me to reevaluate and give it another chance.
And then I got older, and well, I tried some of them. Same formula but there are some I highly enjoy. I’m excluding josei series since they’re are usually mature in nature (but I did rec something adult here so a little warning for kids out there!)
1. コーヒー＆バニラ (Coffee and Vanilla) ∙ is my all-time guilty read! Like this is seriously super sweet in a sexy kind of way. I’ve always been a big fan of this author’s works but she rarely release full serialization prior to this, so I was actually excited when she made this serialized as opposed to short or just series of one shots like her earlier works were. Maybe people will raise their eyebrows (or thrown off??) with my comparison but I think it’s like Fifty Shades of Grey minus the whole traumatic childhood, cougar Mrs. Robinson and the you-know-what *winks* (and yes, I read FSoG and yes, all three of them). It’s the same in the sense that male lead is young CEO and the female lead is an innocent college student. But that’s where the similarity stops, because Fukami is so loving and protective of Risa. Risa, however, her naivety sometimes makes me literally *SMH* but their overall vibe is so sweet. There are conflicts here and there but easily get resolved as the author really want to showcase the vanilla rather than the bitterness of the coffee (the bitterness in a relationship).
2. ブラックバード (Black Bird) ∙ if Coffee and Vanilla has similarities with FSoG then Black Bird is kinda like Twilight (yes, that Twilight—yes, that Bella + Edward vampire story in case you forgot). It’s a fantasy series but instead of vampires that male lead is an Ayakashi, precisely a Tengu. The female lead is called “Senka Maiden” or the “Bride of Prophecy” in which she bears fortune on whoever possesses her. If her blood was drank it will prolongs one’s life, while her flesh extends life and finally who marries her will bring luck to this person’s clan. She was initially intended to marry the older brother but the younger and the male lead fought for her! What I loved about it is how fiercely Kyo loved Misao. It was shown over and over in very subtle yet strong way (like how he looked out for her and I loved those details). It really showed to me how he loved her. Towards the end when they SPOILERS ALERT FOR BOTH BLACK BIRD & TWILIGHT: Misao got pregnant reminded me of how it happened to Renesmee (I read Twilight before this one so…) carrying the child was life threatening—fatal for her. And the agony it was for Kyo it totally came across! I loved how in the end he made way for both the baby and Misao to live; and the sheer emotion when he saved Misao was just so overwhelming. *coughs* So where all the smut here, Mitchii. Ah yeah, Kyo is pervert and then the whole thing about being bride entailed *winks, winks, nudge, nudge*
3. モトカレ←リトライ (Motokare retry)∙ it’s a story of second chance. The two main leads are middle school lovers but they broke up because of circumstances but fast forward to college they are neighbors and the sweet ex-boyfriend is now a player??—so different from he used to be. BUT! Since their break-up wasn’t so squeaky clean there were still lingering feelings, that and some added convenient plot moments that pushed them together. Again. And there you go, couple made from trying it out again. What I like about it is that it showed how naïve they were back in the days that lot decisions were not well thought out. They were impulsive and reckless. But now they’ve matured they tend to talk more about it, they actually weigh in decisions now, and the most important thing is that they TRUST each other more—which fundamental in any kind of relationship, peeps. Since they’re well, adult now the level of intimacy leveled up as well—it’s not hot a la Coffee and Vanilla hot but it’s still has that, y’know?
4. GAME～スーツの隙間～ (Game – Suit no Sukima) ∙ this is the only adult series I’ll rec because chances are if you pick up josei series there’ll be intimate scenes there. But this one takes the cake! It’s freaking HOT alright *wiggle eyebrows* The thing that draw me in here the main leads are very strong character and they’re playing this sort of hot and heavy kind of bedroom game—the one who will fall in love loses (BTW it’s just very hot vanilla, alright?!) And these two are bold and assertive and quite stubborn—no one likes to lose! They’re basically sefure セフレ or friends with benefits in other culture. They both are working in the same company & they’re hiding it pretty well, but they have those looks so palpable that you can cut the sexual tension with a knife! They seem to be into each other, at least more than just night buddies but who will actually admit that?! Yeah, things are progressing quite nice~!
5. ヒミツのアイちゃん (Himitsu no Ai-chan) ∙ it’s a fun series! I always advocate love stories that showcase the ups and down of relationships instead of ones that got interfered (yeah, that says a lot coming from a love triangle fanatic)! And this one is the former! Sure there other people who are interested in them but I think as the story progressed their bond got stronger! They’re cute because they were rivals (at basketball) and the girl was sort tomboy (ish) at the start. A little maid cosplay and BAM! She got him hook line and sinker (although he did like her even before that but she just didn’t see herself as a prospect). The smut isn’t so much but you know it’s a smut. That part for me is just added oomph because I enjoy the story regardless, even if the removed that aspect I think the comedy and dynamic of the characters are strong enough to make the gears rolling. So yeah, I liked this in cute kind of way.