Sweet Dreams are made of very crappy, really wonderful teen romances


The eighties bring to mind all sorts of ace things for me but when I think about what I was reading, it was all about the Wakefield twins* and Sweet Dreams.

I’m not afraid to admit that I still have a vast (complete) collection of Sweet Dreams books. I know the stories were all the same, I know they were lame, but there must have been something in them that made me anticipate the new release each month.

I haven’t re-read any of my Sweet Dreams favourites. Why not? A combination of fear of disappointment (all the same, all lame) and the fact that reading about Elizabeth Wakefield having an orgasm has scarred me for life. I can never un-read that.

So instead, I’ll indulge with a walk down memory lane and list my top ten Sweet Dreams romances –

1. Kiss Me, Creep by Marian Woodruff – my hands-down favourite and the teen equivalent of “sexual tension”**

2. California Girl by Janet Quin-Harkin – a swimming pool romance? Doesn’t get much better.

3. The Popularity Plan by Rosemary Vernon – ‘makeover’ time!

4. The Popularity Summer by Rosemary Vernon – sequel to The Popularity Plan – more makeovers.

5. Ten Boy Summer by Janet Quin-Harkin – are you seeing the theme here?

6. P.S. I Love You by Barbara Conklin – yes, the dying boyfriend one! For the record, I considered this to be a weepy tear-jerker of the highest quality.

7. Love Times Two by Stephanie Foster – the sisters theme was a springboard into my Sweet Valley High obsession.

8. Thinking of You by Jeanette Nobile – this cover was my go-to reference for a pensive look.

9. Just Like the Movies by Suzanne Rand – looking back, Marcy and Lance don’t sound like a couple with a hot romance but anyways…

10. On Her Own by Suzanne Rand – before there was Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, there was this.

I stopped reading the series after getting through approximately 80 titles. On reflection, that was a lot of stories about boys, summer and first kisses.

New books were added to the series until 1995, at which point there was more than 230 stories about boys and kissing. I guess if you’re going to cover a topic, you ought to do it thoroughly.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

*Team Jessica
**A theme I later relished in the tv shows Moonlighting and of course, 90210 and Melrose.


51 responses

  1. Oh my there are a lot of memories there. I confess to reading them too before moving on to SVH. I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of them on your list and my favourite was always PS I love you. Have you read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay? She writes a hilarious chapter on her love for Sweet Valley High – now what I expected to read when picking up the book.

    • I know, right?! It’s the very best of pastel, preppy 80s fashion. Apparently one of the later covers featured a very young Courtney Cox as a model. Don’t know about you but I would consider that a career highlight πŸ˜‰

    • WHAT?! They were passed back and forth between my friends for years! Some graduated eventually to Mills & Boon but I moved on to literature (with a little Jackie Collins occasionally on the side).

  2. Oh what a memory flood. I think my entire early teen romantic life was based on fantasizing about being the one of the girls in these stores. Perhaps that is why my romantic ideas are now so out of proportion. Long live 80’s flashbacks

    • Totally. I wanted to be California Girl and I suspect the reason I re-read Kiss Me Creep a million times was because I had a love/hate thing going on with a particular guy (although, for the record, the hate thing won-out with this guy and there was never any kissing!).

  3. Oh man, these books! I came across these books in the 90s (had no idea they were published in the 80s and despite adding the ones I did read to GR a while ago, I never bothered looking at the publication date) and I think they were my first foray into romance titles πŸ™‚ Anyway, great ist! From the books you listed, the only one I read was On Her Own (and the only other title I read from the series was A Ghost of a Chance).

    My TTT

    • I remember Ghost of a Chance! The amazing thing is that in looking at the covers, it brings back all the memories – there must have been something good about them for them to stick with us for so long.

  4. Sadly I was born in the 1990s, so it doesn’t trigger memories to me, I feel left out… πŸ™ But anyway, we all read books we’d almost be embarrassed to talk about these days when we loved them back in the day xD It explains the Twilight hate, in my opinion!

    • And then it’s great to be old enough that you don’t care about revealing your reading past – one day you might embrace Twilight, as I did Flowers in the Attic πŸ˜€

  5. This is so weird, I have *never* heard of this series. How have I missed 230 books? I loved Francine Pascal’s trilogy about Victoria Martin & read them countless times as a young teen so I’ve no idea how these gems passed me by πŸ™‚

    • If you were a Francine Pascal fan I have NO IDEA how you missed these! Certainly don’t rush out to read them though…

      Maybe you were reading books of very high quality when you were 13? I moved from these to Sweet Valley High, then Flowers in the Attic series and then, apart from the odd bit of Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz, started getting into ‘literature’. But I don’t regret my years spent at the bottom of the reading evolutionary tree because, as crappy as they were, I suspect that I learnt something about story structure and telling a story simply.

      I’ve been toying with the idea of a post (or a few posts) about my ‘reading history’ – what books were significant and why. Haven’t decided whether re-reading will be part of it.

  6. I only ever read PS I Love You because everyone else at school was reading it (was there a movie too?)
    I jumped straight into Mills and Boons to satisfy my teen romantic needs. Our local second hand bookshop had 1000’s of M&B’s on their shelves….they kept me going through all those angsty years! I had favourite authors that I used to track down all their backlist titles, but I can’t remember any of their names now.
    Although the tragic compulsive series of my teens was The Flowers in the Attic books. OMG! Such drama! Such pathos! I’m still scarred by some of the things that happened to those kids.

    • Girls were very attached to PS I Love You (because of the tragic dying boyfriend). There was a movie with the same title but I’m fairly sure it was a different story.
      I never got into Mills & Boon (and unbelievably, have never read one!) but lots of my friends made it their next reading phase (and I suspect one of my friends still picks up a few each summer at the op shop…). I also did the Flowers in the Attic series and actually reread it last year. Oh goodness. So, so bad (although the writing wasn’t as rubbish as I was anticipating). I reread it because I watched the tv series. The whole time I was watching the series, my husband kept saying stuff like “Are they brother and sister?” “Is that their grandmother?!” and I was like “Shhhh! It’s too hard to explain!” πŸ˜€

  7. Oh my god! This brought back some memories and I loved PS I Love You. I can’t remember many others, but something about a tall girl perhaps?!

    I finished high school in 1985 so probably didn’t read any after that. Sigh…

    • I’ll look through my books at some stage and find out which was the tall-girl story! I reckon I read them when I was about 13 – 15. After that I got into more ‘mature’ stories! My mum was fairly relaxed about what I read although I do recall keeping my copy of Jilly Cooper’s ‘Riders’ on the quiet πŸ˜€

  8. I never heard of Sweet Dreams. I read a few Sweet Valley High, but was more into Babysitters Club. I lived in California, so I never usually liked books set in California.

    Not sure how to link my TTT in the comments. πŸ™

  9. I’m a 90s baby, so I have no experience with these books. That’s amazing that there are 230 stories in the series though. I do have a vague recollection of seeing a copy or two of Sweet Valley High books in the bookshop when I was younger, but I don’t think it ever became popular here in Indonesia!

  10. I wasn’t allowed to read Sweet Dreams as a kid…then I got completely engrossed in SVH as a teenager and trying to read them all (never did- when Elizabeth was with Jeffrey it was just boring)! Did you ever read SVU? That was kind of odd in places!

  11. There is a deep, dark part of me that wishes I had kept every single SWT book I owned, but I only chose a select few and got rid of the rest. There were so many…to keep them, dust them, cart them from apartment to apartment. Maybe when the twins grow real legs and dust and carry themselves I’ll re-buy the whole series πŸ˜‰

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  13. Seeing as how you’ve actually read a lot of the same teen books as I did back in the ’80s, I was wondering if you knew the title/author of a book that dealt with teen pregnancy? The male character always called his girlfriend “sweet baby.” Mainly he was just trying to sweet talk her into sex. When she finally does have sex with him, and gets pregnant, he dumps her. I don’t remember much else about the book. I think it was maybe from the Sweet Dreams series, but I’m not entirely sure.

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