Day 11 Julie James – Romance Old and New

Timeless Romance

First, let me start by saying how thrilled I am to take part in the first ever Read-A-Romance Month! I’m happy to talk about some of the things that have inspired me to write contemporary romance, so let’s get right down to it.

Mr. Darcy and Cary Grant.

Love IrresistiblyWell, okay, maybe not necessarily Mr. Darcy and Cary Grant per se (although back in their days, a girl certainly wouldn’t have thrown either man out of bed for eating crackers), but rather the films of Cary Grant and others of that genre, as well as Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. One thing that many of the black and white romantic comedies of the 1930’s and 40’s share in common with Pride & Prejudice is all the back-and-forth verbal sparring between a heroine and hero who don’t seem to like each other very much—at least, not at first. But we know from the get-go that underneath all that tension there’s an incredible mental, emotional, and physical attraction.

That kind of push-pull attraction is something I like to incorporate in my own writing—a hero and heroine who can’t seem to resist each other, no matter how hard they try. In particular, I enjoy using dialogue to highlight that attraction. Why do I love a good back-and-forth interplay between the heroine and hero? Because to me, it signifies that they “get” each other, and that they see each other as equals. Let’s be honest, if you really don’t like someone, you aren’t going to stand around trading witty barbs with that person. So, often, what’s being said between the lines can be even more important than the actual (often sarcastic) words coming out of my characters’ mouths. Which is a good thing, because half the time my heroines and heroes can’t admit to themselves how they feel, let alone to each other. Without instant declarations of love and sentimentality, every word exchanged, every look, even, becomes that much more important.

One thing I like about dialogue-driven stories, be they books or movies, is the way the tone of the exchanges between the heroine and hero evolves as their attraction grows stronger. As the characters take tiny steps toward revealing their feelings, their dialogue and thoughts start to be less guarded and become more flirtatious. Banter between a heroine and hero is essentially foreplay—and the more heated the banter, the hotter I think the couple is going to be in bed when they finally get there. Therein lies the fun: we, as readers or viewers, get to watch as that attraction builds and builds, waiting for that moment when it’s going to rise to a boil and spill over uncontrollably.

And that fun—that excitement and anticipation, that enjoyment of reading a story that captures our imaginations and our hearts—is one of the many reasons that romance matters.

Recommendations:

E-published authors I think you would like: Shannon Stacey and Ruthie Knox (*this links to Ruthie’s RARM content on her site. ~B)


 Questions for Julie:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

African dollWhile on safari in South Africa, my husband and I bought a small statue from a village marketplace that we later learned is a “fertility idol.” A couple months later, the statue was broken during the move from our condo to our first house and—since we were thinking about starting a family—I (being superstitious) decided that having a broken idol was a bad omen. So I super-glued it back together.
Here’s a photo of our cute, but patched-up, African fertility guy:

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

Hmm… For my thirtieth birthday, I went to New York City with some girlfriends. My husband gave me a card before I left and told me to open it when I got to New York. Inside was a clue telling me where to go to find my gift—he sent me on a scavenger hunt in New York City to find it. Very sweet.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of your books, which would it be?

This is a tough question, but I’d probably pick a scene from Something About You, where the hero, Special Agent Jack Pallas, gives the heroine, Cameron Lynde, a ride home on his motorcycle. At this point in the book, the two of them have been trying to fight their attraction to each other, but when Cameron rides with Jack on the motorcycle, her mind starts going in . . . well, a naughty direction.  Here’s the excerpt

Julie is generously donating one autographed paperback OR e-book copy (Kindle/Nook/Kobo) of Love Irresistibly to one international reader AND one U.S. reader. International contest submissions enter hereTo enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 12 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Julie JamesAfter graduating from law school, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie James clerked for the United States Court of Appeals. She then practiced law with one of the nation’s largest firms for several years until she began writing screenplays. After Hollywood producers optioned two of her scripts, she decided to leave the practice of law to write full-time.

Julie’s books have been listed on the American Library Association’s Reading List for Top Genre Novels, Booklist‘s Top 10 Romances of the Year, and have been featured as one of Cosmopolitan magazine’s Red Hot Reads. Julie’s novels also were chosen as the Best Contemporary Romances of 2010, 2011, and 2012 in the All About Romance Readers’ Polls. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages and Julie’s sixth novel, LOVE IRRESISTIBLY, is now available.

Julie James lives with her husband and two children in Chicago, where she is currently working on her next book.

Find Julie’s books on Amazon


 

Excerpt

 

It was hard to tell over the motorcycle engine, but Cameron was almost certain she heard him chuckle. When they slowed down, she relaxed and loosened her grip around Jack’ waist. Without thinking, her right hand just sort of happened to graze along his stomach, and she felt his abdominal muscles tighten in response, firm and hard as a rock.

And that was pretty much the moment she started thinking about sex.

In her defense, to start things out, he was the hottest man she’d ever laid eyes on—and now her hands, too—and it certainly didn’t help that she was straddling him be­tween her legs. As they drove, nice and slow along the side streets, Cameron tried to pull her mind out of the gutter. But then they stopped at an intersection and she noticed how Jack’s hands worked the handlebar/clutch thingy as he revved the engine—almost like a caress—and she began imagining other things his hands could caress, strong hands that could lift her up, hold her down, flip her over, pin her against a wall . . . and she realized then that her mind was already so far down in the gutter she’d need an extension ladder to get it out so she might as well just give in to the whole darn fantasy.

They were just getting to the good part in her head—in her mind she had revised the scene from the other day when Jack and Wilkins came by to tell her about the surveillance, only this time it was only her and Jack (no clue how he actually got inside her house, useless details) and this time she had just stepped out of the shower (with perfect makeup and hair, of course) and he was waiting in her bedroom (an act that would be stalker-ish in real life but was necessary to advance the storyline) and he said some sly bit about was she going to be a cooperative witness and she said something equally sly back (she hadn’t come up with the exact line yet but at this point the dialogue became superfluous) and then she dropped her towel to the floor and walked over and without saying anything else they tumbled onto the bed and—

Pulled in front of her house.

  The motorcycle came to a stop, and Cameron blinked as she came back to reality. She sat there, needing a moment to regroup, trying to focus on the fact that the man she was with was Jack Pallas, who had only meant trouble for her in their brief, but bad, history together.

Noticing that she hadn’t moved, he turned around and flipped open the visor of her helmet.

“You okay in there?”

Cameron snapped out of it. “Sure—I’m fine.” She pulled off the helmet, handed it over to him, and even managed a nonchalant look. Or so she thought.

Jack looked at her closely. “Are you blushing?”

Cameron shrugged. “I don’t think so. Maybe there’s a little color on my cheeks from the wind.”

“You were wearing a helmet.”

Right.

Time to go.

She climbed off the bike as quickly as she could in her dress and heels. Jack had parked the motorcycle next to the curb, and the added inches made it easier for her to
get down. With an efficient nod, she said her good-bye. “Thanks for the ride. Good night.” She turned and headed toward her front gate.

“Hold on—I need to check out your house.”

She stopped, having forgotten about that. “Well, let’s hurry up, then,” she said over her shoulder. She got to the gate and reached for the handle when his hand came down over hers.

“Anxious to get rid of me, are you?” he asked.

Cameron turned around. “Yes.”

Jack paused, as if seeing something he hadn’t expected. He took a step toward her. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Uh-oh . . . trouble.

She tried to play it off. “Like what?” She opened the gate and backed toward the front steps.

Jack continued to advance on her. “Like that.”

Cameron put her hand on the stone ledge and slowly climbed up the stairs. “You’re imagining things.”

He shook his head slowly. “No.”

“I must’ve gotten worked up from my first motorcycle ride,” she lied. And possibly from thinking about riding something else, too.

Shameless.

Jack clenched his jaw. “Christ, Cameron.” As he backed her toward the door, his expression was part angry, part . . . wow—something else entirely. “What the hell am I supposed to do when you look at me like that?”

“Ignore it. Stay focused on the fact that you hate me.”

“I’m trying. I’m really trying here.”

He had her trapped against the door. Cameron wondered if he could hear the pounding of her heart, it was beating so fast.

Jack put his hand on her hip. Such a simple touch, but Cameron’s breath caught nevertheless. With her back pressed against the door, the only movement of her body came from her chest, her breathing short and quick in anticipation.

Jack’s gaze fell on her parted lips. He slid his other hand to her nape and tilted her head, pinning her with dark eyes so hot she felt the burn in her stomach.

She knew she could push him away if she wanted to.

She didn’t want to.

His gaze softened. “Cameron,” he said huskily, and she felt as though she melted right there.

  • Nancy Huddleston

    Not fair! Now I have to find out what happens. Can’t wait!

  • Melanie Backus

    Hoping to win. Love a good book!

  • TrishJ

    Jack is one of my all time favorite heros. I love the give and take between characters in your books. And the humor! I feel that we also get to know them better as they dance around each other. Love, love your books!!

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love finding new authors. Can’t wait to finish the story! Thanks for stopping by

  • Laurie W G

    Dialogue is so important. It needs to interest, to entertain and to maintain our attention. I especially love witty dialogue like Jill Shalvis.
    I’m new to your books so I would love to read LOVE IRRESISTIBLY.
    THANKS!

  • Sandi in OH

    I love the old movies…Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Clark Gable. I love it when I can find books that have wonderful give and take dialogue.

  • Britney Adams

    Can’t wait to read more!

  • Rochelle

    Hot read. I love that book! And all your others.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Wow! You made your point with that excerpt!

  • Laura Z

    I have loved all of your books so far, still need to read Love Irresistibly. I really like that they are set in Chicago since I live there.

  • MaryC

    Love the verbal sparring between the heroines and heroes in your books.

  • rebecca moe

    I already have all of your books (some in more than one format, because I’m an audiobook addict); I love, love, LOVE them! The first one I read was Something About You–and seriously, you had me at the dedication. I knew right then that your books and I were going to get along just fine 🙂

  • Adite Banerjie

    Ooh…love the excerpt. Sexy banter is why I read romances! 🙂

  • Patty Vasquez

    It’s funny how the authors’ essays bring back our earliest memories of being hooked by a particular type of romance. Way back in the days of record players, my parents had a record of “Kiss Me, Kate,” a Broadway musical by Cole Porter. The musical is based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. I listened to that record endlessly because I loved the clever, verbal banter (and lyrics) between the 2 leads who obviously liked each other. That early listening must have imprinted on me, because it carried right over into my adult life in the books I read (yours and Lauren Willig’s are at the top of the list) and even the movies I enjoy watching.

  • Kathleen O

    I love your books.. I was so happy to have found them this year.. You have given me many pleasurable reading hours with more to come.. I love that you equate your love of writing romance to Cary Grant and Mr. Darcy…

  • Marcy Shuler

    I like it when the characters get a bit snarky to each other. LOL It makes them more human.

  • Carrie

    I love all of your books. I’m anxiously awaiting Vaughn’s story.

  • Joan Varner

    I totally agree with you about the dialogue connecting the reader to the characters. The give and take between the hero and the heroine tells you about them and how they are handling their interactions. POV is important but I need to “hear” them talking to each other as the plot expands. The barbs, innuendos, snarky conversations, and the banter is what make a book for me. Thanks for your books.

  • Carrie Marie

    I was just thinking about the fact that I love stories where our hero & heroine have such interactions. And then I read your article. Lovely! : ) Also, that scene? I think I need that book now…

  • Mary Jo Burke

    You had me at Mr. Darcy and Cary Grant!!

  • michelle fitzsimons

    Great excerpt–can’t wait to buy! Thanks for the introduction;-)

  • Donna Logan Brown

    Love the excerpt. It’s an open invitation to read your book and a perfect example of the type of exchange written in your essay. Your statue is a hoot. Would like one similar to it. I hope this is an annual event, Julie.

  • Karin Anderson

    I love Cary Grant! He has the amazing ability to portray comedy and romance all at the same time.

  • Sharon Rudolph

    Your books are amazing! I love the banter between the characters. Mr. James sounds like a definite keeper!

  • Kristy Birch

    I adore your characters’ dialogue jousts! One of my very favorite scenes is the Cubs game in Love Irreistiabily; my three favorite things baseball, witty sparring, and romance all in one! Heaven! I turned my sister on to your books and we often talk about how funny and real your “jousting”scenes are.

  • Erica

    Oh my gosh – that statue is way too awesome 🙂

  • Rosemarie N.

    I love books or movies when the main characters don’t like each other but are attracted to each other for real. It makes a book or movie more exciting to watch the banter between them. I love reading your books. They make me root for the hero or the heroine to get their happy ending.

  • Ann Mettert

    I love banter. Cary Grant has always been a fave. 🙂

  • Tabetha J

    I love Jack and Cameron’s story!

  • Angel L

    I love your books! Can’t wait to read It Happened One Wedding. 🙂

  • Kathy H.

    Your books are a keeper on my shelf.

  • Bethany Morrell

    Love every single one of Julie James’ books!
    And that statue is hilarious!

  • Meredith Richardson

    Haha love that statue it’s so unique and fascinating that you can’t help but stare at it. I’ve never read your books but that excerpt was great! I can’t wait to read more.

  • Renee W

    I have read all of your books multiple times. And I have to confess Cameron and Jack still ROCK

  • Kim

    All of Julie James’ books are great. Her heroines are smart, sassy and independent.

  • Nicole Fortuna

    Love your books!

  • Divya Sriram

    Hope I’ll win!

    ps. I’m in the US.

  • I adore Cary Grant… especially his films with the lovely Katherine Hepburn. She is such a role model for me. I remember watching their movies as a pre-teen, and I’ve never stopped. And I sometimes wonder, do I love Grant’s characters because they were smart enough to love a woman like Katherine. Or, do I admire Katherine because she’s loved by Cary Grant. Also… which came first, the chicken or the egg? 🙂

  • Gaby Reyes

    Aw I love Julie James so much. Such an awesome writer! 😀

  • miki

    i do prefer to read about a romance slowly building because evn if there is love at first sight it’s only the push they need to make it work they must learn to know and trust each other

    thank you including international readers as always!!

  • Shirene_DFT

    Authors inspiration of Grant & Darcy totally explains why Julie has such wit and under currents to her characters. Keep up the awesome work.

  • Jenny Judkins Callister

    I totally agree. The dialogue is so important and I enjoy all the verbal sparring.So much better than overthinking inner monologues. Thanks for sharing this insight Julie!

    • Thanks, Jenny! Hope you enjoy some of the other posts on Read-A-Romance Month, too! xoxo

      • Jenny Judkins Callister

        I am just now discovering them! Love it when I find a new way to share my love of reading & romance.

  • glittergirl54

    You are so right about the banter. I can’t wait to start your books! Thanks for the post and the giveaway =)

  • Kareni

    I’ve enjoyed all your books, Ms. James. And the witty dialogue has been a big part of that! I’m looking forward to your next book and wondering who will star in it.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I love banter. I think that is why books that the main characters have a banter in them appeal to me.

  • Melinda Utendorf

    I love Julie James and all of her books. The banter is always great!

    • Hi, Melinda! Thanks for the comment. Hope you enjoy more romance books, and visit R-A-R M through the month. xoxo

  • Reid Storey

    Crossing my fingers!!!

    • good luck – hope you read more essays from Read-A-Romance Month, too. xoxo

  • Jeannette Aguilar

    Love Julie James’ books.

  • Agustina Kesuma

    Love all your books…always can’t wait to read all your next books 🙂

  • Melissa Sullivan

    I have to agree. I love dialog driven stories. They’re so much fun and keeps you wanting to read more. I especially love the quick whit style like the one that was common on Gilmore Girls.

  • ptclayton2

    Love your books and someday hope to go to see the cubs i am a giants fan but since living in iowa for 10 years the cubs are the ones on tv ..Maybe next year my husband will drive me there !

    • Thanks for the comment! xoxo (Good luck getting to the Giants) Hope you get to enjoy more of Read-A-Romance Month! xoxo

  • Ruth

    The BEST example of verbal sparring is Cary Grant and Rosalyn Russell in the movie “His Girl Friday.” Intelligent, witty, fast-paced and often surprising, there is no doubt these two are a perfect match for each other. BOTH characters are savvy, clever, and definitely equal. Thanks for getting that, Julie!

  • ki pha

    I love how you look at things. Dialogue can make or break a character’s appearance. And of course a good banter between the H/h is always loved.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    I love your analogy about Romance Novels and the Romantic films of the past. The comparison is spot on. I grew up watching and loving those movies. I do believe that my early love of that type of entertainment is a corollary to my currant day addiction to the Romance genre.

  • Stephanie

    I agree with you on a bantering between couples!

  • tonda hargett

    I’m with you, I love watching the old movies. And I definitely love your excerpt!

  • QuenKne M

    I also love that conversational banter between hero and heroine in books & movies. It puts a sexual charge in the air that is sometimes so strong it will singe your fingers when reading it in a book. Do we get to know the titles of your scripts chosen by that Hollywood producer??

    P.S. Cary Grant could have put his shoes under my bed any day!!!

  • Pamby50

    I can’t wait to read this book. I love a good verbal sparring.

  • Ann

    Love the statue!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I’ve been excerpts and cannot wait to read this book. I love your gifts. Did the glued fertility god help?

  • Jen C

    Oooo. I love good dialogue-driven stories. They can be so fun! *clap* 🙂

  • BookLady

    Verbal sparring between a heroine and hero make a romance so much more interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the great excerpt.

  • Hannah Weitzman

    I love your books! Thanks so much for writing them!

  • Katy M

    Good dialogue builds the tension – especially if it’s smart and witty. That excerpt definitely made me want to read more. Grrr…like right NOW!

  • Very nice excerpt! Thank you for sharing. Love checking out some romance on my birthday. 😉

  • Kim

    Loved the excerpt!! I love books that have great banter between the hero and heroine.

  • Rhiannon Rowland

    Great dialogue is the best, I’ve read books where it was terrible and so I was not interested, even though the story line was good.

  • Julie, thank you so much for taking part in Read-A-Romance Month! You’re such a great writer, and have truly perfected highlighting attraction and romantic-tension-through-banter! Can’t wait for your next book! ~ Bobbi

  • brhill2010

    I love the excerpt. I like you view on romance. I can’t wait for this book to come out!!

  • leah g

    Oh how I love verbal sparring when I reread books I find that those are the parts I hit the most.
    Thanks for the little taste.

  • Suzan Morrow Farrell

    The banter back and forth is so much more interesting than the novels that just go straight to the sex.

  • donnas

    Love the excerpt. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Ren Puspita

    Thanks for sharing the excerpt! I agree that witty banter between h/H can consider as foreplay, but I see it as how they interact to each other. That what make a romance is interesting because that kind of relationship

  • Anne

    Thank you for sharing. I really enjoy the verbal sparring as it is an echo of my life with my wonderful husband. I feel like you are writing my love story. Thank you again!!!

  • Guest

    Witty banter is better than chocolate. 😉

  • KV

    I enjoy the dialogue in your books.

  • Jenny Martin

    I love excerpts–but hate them too–because now I gotta get the book and read it!

  • Justine

    Yup, Julie James writes such entertainingly sarcastic dialogue. I eagerly anticipate her books every year.

  • Ketta Peters

    Scavenger hunt in NYC? That’s romantic! Like the witty banter too, reminds me of initial conversations with my hubby.

  • Raquel S.

    Wow thanks for this interview! This book is great witty banters and all!

  • MK

    I so love Julie James’s books!

  • Mary McCoy

    I love snarky dialogue. I agree that if you weren’t into a person you wouldn’t waste wit on them.

  • Chelsea

    Love Julie James’ books! I found them quite by accident, a friend of mine handed me one, and said you’ll love it. I did and have read them all! Another magnificent author to read if you haven’t!

  • Cat C

    Yes, yes, yes!!! I adore “Mr. Darcy and Cary Grant,” or what they stand for. Don’t forget Shakespeare’s contributions–for a recent example, Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing makes Beatrice and Benedick’s exchanges absolutely sizzle. Looking forward to reading the banter in your books!

  • mariannewestrich

    So glad to see you mention Shannon Stacey. You and she are on my must-read list!!!