Georgette Heyer: If you want to know what the Regency genre can and should look like, look no further. My first Heyer was Devil's Cub, and it was quickly followed by others. My favorites are Devil's Cub, The Grand Sophy, Sylvester, and Friday's Child. But how can I leave off The Convenient Marriage, The Corinthian, Cotillion, and Frederica? She showed me how funny and smart the most frivolous of plots could be. I'm not a fan of the historicals, which all suffer from Very Important History Syndrome, but the light, silly ones? I gobbled them up, they're all on my keeper shelves.
Jennifer Crusie: Oh, Jennifer Crusie, how I adore you. Rom-coms in book form, only better, smarter, and funnier than any rom-com you'll find in theaters today. Crusie is what the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s would look like if they could be transplanted to today--meaning, edgy, sharp, and actually witty. In true "show, don't tell" fashion, no one is described as witty, they just are. I love it. My favorites are Faking It and Bet Me, though you can't go wrong with Fast Women, Agnes and the Hitman, Charlie All Night, and Anyone but You. Am I forgetting a favorite? Probably. You can't really go wrong with anything by Crusie.
Connie Willis: For To Say Nothing of the Dog alone, she'd make my favorites list. If you haven't read it, it's only because you've never realized how much better your life would be with a mad-cap, time-traveling novel about the Blitz, Victorian times, ruffles, ugly art, dogs, and fate. Not to mention naiads, cathedrals, and punting. The plot's a bit complicated (how'd you guess?), but it's a book that makes me laugh just thinking about it. I love just about everything she's written--she's another rom-com writer, only with a sci-fi bent, but To Say Nothing of the Dog is far and away my favorite.