Day 3 – Eloisa James

Romance Matters

Why does “romance” as a genre matter?  It’s a complicated question, that goes beyond the mere fact of entertainment.  Joy matters, and I feel joy after reading a good romance.  But a more complicated answer is that romance has a rhythm and a promise to it that appeals to me.  I know the world is a tough and cold place; I’ve lost my mother and I have a child with a chronic illness.  But—and this is a big but—I also know that love and joy make all the difference.  Romance reminds me that if there’s a pattern to the universe, it’s one shaped around and by love.  We can all use that reminder now and then.

If you love historical romance, I’d suggest that you give Juliana Gray a try. (*Juliana’s posting today, too! ~Bobbi)  She’s a brand new author, who just published her 4th historical.  I’ve found her romances to be super smart and yet—most importantly—she understands that a great romance doesn’t just craft beautiful sentences.  It has to go to the heart.  Hers do.  Also, I was recently introduced by a reader to a wonderfully ditzy, fun heroine in a book called SEA CHANGE, by Darlene Marshall, an e-published author worth exploring. Sea Change is original, fun, and a bit eccentric – I definitely recommend it! (*And Darlene provided R-A-R M content on her site, too – find it here.~ B)


Questions for the Author

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

Our rescue dog, Lucy, is not beautiful.  She’s a mini-dachshund, but with some other things somewhere in her ancestry, so her legs are a bit too long.  And during her former life on the streets, someone took off part of one eyelid, and nibbled on her tail.  We keep her because she is the happiest, most joyful, and most lovely object in our house.  Though she’s not really an object, but a gift.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

Double Life.  Helen Mirren

What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

Leaving out Lucy (see above), my husband and children… I love a simple birthday card that my husband gave me, when we were first married and had no children and no money.  Now he comes home with presents – which are wonderful —back then, we really only had words.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

I’d say that When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a crowd-pleaser.  Many people love the fairy story, but others greatly enjoy the fact that the hero, Piers, was inspired by Dr. House.

Eloisa James is  generously donating five copies of The Ugly Duchess  to give away, and 20 copies of her fairy tale sampler.  U.S. only, apologies to international readers.  To enter, 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 3 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

  New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa’s very first book that she “found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar”; later People Magazine raved that “romance writing does not get much better than this.” Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her “double life” is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she’s written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women’s magazines such as More to writers’ journals such as the Romance Writers’ Report.

Buy Eloisa James’ books on Amazon.


  • Allison Siegel

    I, too, feel joy after reading a good romance. I will definitely be checking out your books in the near future.

  • Kim Cornwell

    I love your books and will check out Juliana. i love historical romance! Reading romance gets me through life! I couldn’t live without my books! Thanks for stopping by! Romance rocks!

  • Eloisa, Thank you so much for being a part of this, and for being, always, a fierce, eloquent spokesperson for smart women who read romance! I admire and appreciate you so much!

  • Kristin Shaver

    Every time I read a romance novel, I am reminded of my own grand romance. It definitely brings joy to me and to my marriage.

  • Denise Christensen Metcalf

    Just started reading you books, Eloisa, and loved the romance in When Beauty Tamed the Beast, although I have never watched House. Historical romances have been a fun part of my life for over 30 years, and I love the fun and escape they give me. Keep up the good work!

  • Rhiannon Rowland

    Romance can sure make a day brighter and more than anything we all need to love. I love that you mention a card for your favorite gift. I’ve kept all the love letters and cards from my husband over the years, they are the most wonderful words written in my opinion.

  • Dina Keratsis

    Romance novels are so very important because they show how life can be and very often, it is. Love your books, by the way. I started following you on FB long before I read you, and I’m so glad I picked up that first book.

  • Cheryl Hastings

    I primarily read only romances for just that reason….love! I adore Juliana’s books and am looking forward to trying Darlene’s, too. Eloisa is, of course, a must read always, but thank you for your thoughts and also your recommendations 🙂

  • PJ Ausdenmore

    This is why I read romance! There’s plenty of sadness in this world in which we live. When I pick up a book, I want hope, love, and joy. Thank you for so eloquently voicing our emotions….as you always do!

  • Sally O

    Perfectly encapsulated why I read romance! Thanks, EJ!
    My mom passed away last September, and I treasure the letters or little notes that she sent me over the years.

  • Melanie Backus

    Keeping my fingers crossed!

  • Elizabeth S

    I absolutely love a good romance book! I’m a mother of three boys and when I do find time to myself its always a book for me. 🙂

  • Sayra Turner Johnson

    A good romance novel is an escape from the everyday stress of life. I too find joy when reading romance. I love all of your books Eloisa!

  • alisha woods

    Love my Eloisa books

  • Britney Adams

    It is truly a joy to read a good book!

  • Martha Lawton

    Reading a good book is always joyous.

  • JW Ashley

    Harvard? Yale? Oxford? Shakespeare? How well does all of that mix with romance for you? I ask because my best friend and I met in grad school, getting English MAs. In a History of the Novel course, the class was discussing two different frontispieces. One was published somewhere prestigious; I can’t remember where now. The other was published in Covent Garden. The professor asked what we could infer from the places of publication. Most of the class was stymied. But my hand shot up. So did hers. The prof called on her first and I remember feeling frustrated–grad school was competitive and I wanted to make an impression. I certainly didn’t want to be outdone by this strange woman. But, as she started talking about Covent Garden I knew how she knew what she knew. She was a romance reader, too, devoted to historicals. In a community where almost everyone is certain that romances did NOT matter–except as potential problems–we both found someone else who knew the importance of love and joy and how these books could go to the heart and lighten it and cheer it up. Since then, we’ve been inseparable, our own private little tribe. At least until we went to our first RWA conference this year. But, until we started our blog together a little over a year ago, our love for romance was a big dirty secret. But we gathered our courage. Told everyone we knew (and then some) that romance mattered. Now, we’re even publishing novels. Of course, some of our near and dear still grumble. But when they do, we just read or write some more.

    • Way to go, JW! I know how wonderful it is when you feel like you find people who share your joy in romance novels. So glad you’re here (I know I keep saying that, but you’re so enthusiastic!) xoxo

  • Mary Henness Kilgore

    Was introduced to your books many years ago by a co-worker and have all of them (I think) since. Love your romances.

  • Kathy H.

    All of Eloisa’s books are on my bookshelf. One of my favorite authors.

  • Santa O’Byrne

    The truth for me is that reading a romance gives me the opportunity to leave the world behind and immerse myself in something and somewhere else even for a few minutes. I read in quick flashes and snippets these days and a great romance can do do much in just a few moments.

  • Mary O’Keefe Kellogg

    Ah, ah! Someone else (JW Ashley) has picked up on your double-life as an academic!

    Absolute heresy in some sectors, but why, really? Isn’t a teacher’s role to give students the “tools” (whether facts or a world view) to help them live the best lives they can? Doesn’t the world-view-expanding effect of a well-researched and well-written romance present a dedicated teacher with an ideal tool for “getting the medicine down” painlessly? Isn’t that what really matters, in the long run: catching the readers so up in the story that their memories and their reflections on it enrich their lives?

    Thanks for doing just that.

    One question for your alter ego. Is there any chance of your re-issuing the book you published in 2000, “Queer Virgins and Virgin Queans on the Early Modern Stage”? Even better, as an ebook? Please?

  • Kristy Birch

    To me reading is all about pleasure, relaxation, and escape. I love escaping with books that I KNOW will leave me happy and smiling. AsMs. James said, reality is full of tough lessons, unpleasant experiences, and all too rarely wonderful moments; for me romance novels celebrate those wonderful moments.

  • vikibat

    Love romances – always very uplifting even when things are stressful! Love Eloisa and highly recommend her!

  • Krysten Michelsen

    LOVE all your books! I reread them when I’m in the mood for a good romance 🙂

  • Shannon Watson

    I love you comment that romance inspires joy. That’s absolutely true. Nothing makes me happier than getting lost in a good book because when I emerge my day is brighter. 🙂

  • Donna Logan Brown

    Eloisa, I also find joy in reading romance and get that feeling when reading yours. I’ve read all your books except two and they’re in my vast TBR stack. Your stamina is amazing considering all the special events you attend. I’m loving the RARM event as I’m meeting new authors and revisiting old “friends.”

  • I love the cover of Once Upon a Tower! I agree, joy and romance make life bearable. 🙂

  • The joy. So simple and yet so true. Thank you for the countless moments of joy you’ve brought me over the years.

  • lisa

    Eloisa I have to agree. Joy or the excitement I feel when the protagonists finally acknowledge their feelings pushes me to keep reading these lovely stories. When the stories are well written, as yours are, a reader can get immersed on another plane so to speak. The HEA is also a big draw because you know no matter how much stress your feeling from the conflict it will all work out in the end, very satisfying.

  • Janice Rholetter

    I don’t know of a better antidote to the hurts and horrors that the media and life bombard me with daily than a visit to the world romance offers, a world where women win, love triumphs, and happily-ever-after is a given. I’m a stronger, happier person because I’m a romance reader, and Eloisa James novels are among my favorite reading material.

  • Linda

    Great article. For me, the Romance genre inspires me to work harder at my own marriage, cause happily ever after in the real is what we make it… Love your books!

  • dotland101

    I haven’t found a book Eloisa James wrote that I didn’t like, and she indeed has perfected not just her novels, but historical romance genre as a whole. I’m new to romance genre, but as they say, better late than never. 😉

  • Manda Collins

    Over the years, I’ve found so much comfort in the spike of joy I get when I finish reading a great romance! And many of those have been by you, Eloisa! Thanks for your additions to the genre!

  • Dayna

    Romance novels have been my escape from reality for a long time now. They have gotten me through some hard times simply by distracting me and giving me a mental break. They let me relive those tingling feelings of falling in love for brief moments and then end happily. What more could you want?

  • Hannah Weitzman

    Lucy is adorable. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Ruth

    A wonderful male mentor told me a long time ago that happiness is circumstantial, but joy is bone deep in spite of the circumstances around us. Loss, illness, a slim bank account can affect our happiness, but not the joy one finds in friends, children, love. Ice cream? Romance matters because it reminds us of that. And you, Eloisa James, have brought romance and laughter and countless other bits of joy (even tears of joy) to every one of your readers. THANK YOU. I do not understand how you write and teach and travel and tour and care for your family in only 24 hours a day. I do not even think you have free time between 2:00 and 3:00 o’clock in the morning! Must be that double life thing. And Helen Mirren is a superb choice!! AND ladies, I have read every thing Eloisa has written to date and you cannot go wrong with any of her novels!!!! Pick one and experience the joy!!

  • suepeace

    Great post! Lucy is so cute!!

  • Chrissy Burns

    I too enjoy the element of escapism that comes with reading a romance novel. I appreciate when I find a fantastic writer who is able to drop me physically 😉 into the environment of the book and cause me to become completely submerged in the characters and their attributes and flaws. The best authors make their characters “real” to the reader. Eloisa James is my personal favorite of the romance genre. I have enjoyed reading everything she’s published and can honestly say that her novels don’t feel like they’re following a set formula or “write-by-numbers” format. She branches out with her novels to encompass newer, more modern audiences of readers-but always stays true to what we’ve come to expect. I.e. her brilliance. I’ve read her books and found them full of joy, but alternately tragedy. I love how in-depth her novels’ worlds become and read them with as much passion as she writes them.

    • What a lovely post, Chrissy – thank you! xoxo

  • Carla Michelle Peavler Alcorn

    You’re spectacular! There just isn’t any other way to look at it. I love your books and they have their own special shelf on my bookcase. I can also relate to the teenage problems you post sometimes. I have two of those as well lol. Thanks for many happy hours of reading.

  • Becky Rabalais

    Wow! What an education! Shakespeare! Love it! Thanks for the generous donation of your books!

  • Rebecca Berus

    I love your fairy tale inspired stories. They are super fun and thanks for reminding us all why romance is so important.

  • Janet Lombardi

    I been reading romance novels since the 5th grade with Mrs. Mike. I have a romance book with me always no matter what. I have read your books and have enjoyed them. Your books are on my shelves .

  • Sharlene

    I am a total and complete Disney fanatic, so Happily Ever After is definitely something I am going to read about. Your fairy tale series were some of my favorite books ever.

  • Jen C

    You’re right on with “a great romance doesn’t just craft beautiful sentences. It has to go to the heart.” I’ve read well-crafted writing in stories that were blah and not-so-great writing with a great story to tell and everything in between. It’s the stories I remember for sure!

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Now that you’ve all had a chance to read this article, I hope you can better understand why I love the Romance Genre and Eloisa James’ books in particular!

  • Melissa Spencer Feehan

    Great first time reader recommendation! I think WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST strikes a good balance. It has something for everyone.

  • Thea

    I adore your books, Eloisa. I have found, a specific moments in my life, usually some crisis, much succor, insight and wisdom. Your duchess series came at a time when every bit of dialogue you wrote resonated with me. On a greater scale, I also think that many romance books are marginalized and yet, there are the writers’ voices that impart so much hard won wisdsom – all there for those who read them. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t have to justify what or how much I read and what I’m also finding is that there are more folks than ever who don’t seem to be disagreeing with me, anymore.

    • So nice to find the right tribe. Glad you’re here Thea. xoxo

      • Thea

        Thank you kindly, Bobbi! xo t

  • Bahar Tabatabai Foltz

    I love romance novels because I always know how a book will end. Life is difficult and complicated, and in a lot of situations, there is no happy ending. It’s a comfort to know that I can count on my book to end with a wedding and happily ever after.

  • Julia Hogans David

    I love to read. Reading a romance from other parts of the world take me to so many different places and I learn a lot about so many different things. I am constantly looking up the way people dressed or where they were heading, etc. It just takes me away for a while.

  • Dana Shoulders

    I love all your books and I’m impressed you could select just one to suggest when I would be stymied :). Plus I’ve already the two authors you suggested (most likely because you probably referenced them in your regular gig where you review 5 or so books a month) and I agree they are great! Please continue to lead your double life and if you ever have to pick, axe the university.

    • ha, Dana! I hope her students love her as much as her romance fans do. xoxo

  • glittergirl54

    You are so right about why romance is important. Sometimes in everyday life we don’t find or see the joy there and romance/reading gives that. It can give us a different perspective on life and allow us to see the joy in today. Thank you!

  • Mary Tapia

    Romance novels are an affirmation of life! That love still exists, that it is real and that things will really work out!

  • leah g

    Its so true. The crazier/harder life gets the more I enjoy romances just for that happy ending.

  • QuenKne M

    I’ve suffered with a chronic illness for over 28 years. I have to say romance novels are one of the main staples in my life that help me get through the days & the very long nights. Thanks for continuing to write such joyous books through days that must be stressful for you at times.

  • Nicole Fortuna

    Love your books and got my cousin hooked on them too! We love your fairytale stories and I just reread A Kiss At Midnight that was my favorite. I always look forward to new book from you.

  • tonda hargett

    Eloisa, I love your wonderful outlook on life, and can’t wait to read some of your works!

  • Eileen Bell Landau

    Romance tales are usually wonderful escapes. I get to visit a time period without having to re-assemble my molecules or paying for luggage. What could be better than boy meets girl or girl meets boy and they end up in love, married and with a ton of kids (plus servants to do all the boring housework).

  • Laura Z

    okay reading these blogs from all of these wonderful romance writers is going to make my TBR pile grow even larger than it is already. I need to take a couple of months off work just to catch up. I just finished reading Lady most willing and really enjoyed all 3 parts. Now I need to go find more of Eloisa James books to read.

    • Sorry, Laura, but I can’t bring myself to apologize… xoxo

      • Laura Z

        Well lucky for me that my Library has a large selection of books and my Nook needs some more books for my upcoming vacation.

  • Kim

    Miniature dachshunds are so cute and loyal. Congratulations on your RITA win.

  • Colantha Welker

    Your article on how romance matters connects with the idea that your husband gave you just cards that spoke romance reminds me why I read your books and other “romance” novels. Back in the historical times, love was shown more genuine than presently, and your books remind me as well about that reminder, love is important. Interestingly, my fiance loves it when I finish a romance, as I am a happier partner to him!

  • Valerie

    I love reading your commentary. Thank you for writing as much as you do, I only wish your next was out sooner

  • Kim

    Reading is an escape. I enjoy romance because I have so many options available to me. In romance, love can overcome any obstacle as long as the characters are willing to grow, compromise, and forgive.

  • ki pha

    Awesome post Eloisa! But I was about to say, Lucy is Not ugly~ LOL But then of course she’s the best part or crazy part of your life, besides the family.. 🙂

  • erom13

    Thanks for the advice on another historical romance author I should try out! You can never have too many

  • Eloisa, thank you for the shout-out. Your Lucy is lovely and I’m certain she believes, as all dachshunds do, that she’s in charge of everything going on in your life.

  • Melissa Sullivan

    Great post. I have to say i love reading romance because its a great reminder to us single girls that we don’t have to settle for less. That somewhere out there is a hero waiting for us too.

  • Ann

    “Romance reminds me that if there’s a pattern to the universe, it’s one shaped around and by love.” – Absolutely love this!

  • Dawn Watson

    Thank you Eloisa for being gracious with your talent and your time and for helping us enjoy our or rather your fabulous heroes and strong heroines! Many of your books along with your friend Julia Quinn’s are rereads for me as I always find something I seemed to have missed the last time I read a particular book.

  • Jordan H

    This looks like such a great book. I’ll definitely have to check it out

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I enjoyed your answers as well as your books. I love how you lead a “double” life. You intimidate with your educational history but come across as a down to earth person.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I’ve got a houseful of dogs that were once considered throwaways so I can definitely appreciate your Lucy–who is just adorable. I love your thoughts on why romance matters and I completely agree that joy and love are a necessity in life. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures and romance is always my first pick. I’ve read quite a few of your books and loved them! I’ll definitely need to review your books and makes sure to catch any that I’ve missed! Three days in and I’m just growing and growing my to-be-read list!!!!

  • Katy M

    I have loved Eloisa James’ books since picking up Potent Pleasures. If possible, I am loving her fairytale novels even more. You’re amazing! Also, I’ve kept a copy of the op-ed piece from the NYT to show naysayers – although I haven’t needed or felt the need to show it for quite a while.

  • Patty Vasquez

    I have a sister who gives me grief about reading “those kinds of books” while she reads endlessly confusing spy novels. I’ve quit trying to explain to her that the authors of “my novels” are brilliant individuals: Ph.D.s in literature and all manner of study, professors, doctors, attorneys, Harvard grads (and other marvelous institutes of higher learning), and smart, smart, smart women and men, some working a job outside of their homes while they write and some working the hardest of job of all inside their homes while they write. I’ve accepted that there are individuals who are never going to understand the need to take a break from the stress of our hectic lives, the sadness of news reports, the harshness of our daily jobs, to be reassured that there is love in the world. That love is a universal truth and exists across the boundaries of race, religion, age, gender, dimension, and creature. At the end of the day, I read a few chapters of a love story so I can go to sleep with this hopeful thought in my head: love and romance CAN make the world a better place.

  • MooMoo Cake

    I enjoy your writing so much and now that I’ve read this, I understand better why that is. Thank you for your insight and for participating in this event. Also, thanks for your recommendations!

  • Kymmberly Magnusson

    Reading romance is my passion.. Cant get enough. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful work in my favorite genre,

  • Lisagk

    Lucy is beautiful. I love the fact that you still have that birthday card…

  • Anna

    Brilliantly worded as usual Eloisa. Feeling joyful, romantic, swoony, and tickled are a treasure in this life, and where we find it we should garner it. Thanks to you for sharing your treasure trove with me!

  • Ronwyn Proctor

    I have been reading romance novels all my life, along with most other forms of fiction, my eldest daughter continually derides my choice of romance as being rubbish & nothing I say changes her mind.

  • Shelagh Merlin

    This is comment attempt number two. Loved the article (and all the others I’ve read here). Funny yu should talk about Lucy as ugly. For me she is personality on four legs. I love hearing about her.

  • steph fangswandsandfairydust


  • J Perry Stone

    “Romance reminds us that if there’s a pattern to the universe, it’s one shaped around and by love.”

    THAT is going in my favorite quotes section!

  • Anne Infantino Rinaldi

    I love reading romance, and I love that smart and articulate women write them for me to read.

  • gamistress66

    lovely sentiment & well put 🙂

  • Rhonda Jones

    I love your books and articles. What do you do just for fun besides read books?

  • Morgan

    Good books can make you laugh or cry, but I always love the feelings I have after the epilogue of a romance–all smiles!

  • librarypat

    It really is a shame that romance writers are not recognized for the quality of writing they do by those outside the romance community. As a reader, I have heard too often “Oh, you read that stuff. What a waste.” Library board members try to keep it of the shelves and even those who work in libraries won’t admit they read it. Of 6 employees at our library, I was the only one who read romance. Everyone else turned up their noses at it saying they didn’t have time to waste reading it. Funny, but they were all reading romantic suspense, but didn’t consider it romance. Most people don’t realize just how educated and qualified the authors are.
    Thanks for all the reading enjoyment your books have given.

  • Niki Rittenhouse

    I think romance novels matter because the stories and the ending make you feel good. 🙂 I love happy endings.

  • Tawnya Bentley

    Thank you for sharing your talent of story telling. And your stories of Lucy, and your daughter’s love of the young man I will not name, because of my dislike of him. I’m just glad another mother lives with a daughter similar to mine. My daughter is currently obsessed with a boy band I can’t stand.

  • I wish the people who look down their noses at “women’s fiction”, especially romances, would pay attention to who is writing them: strong, intelligent, usually highly educated women (and men) like Eloisa James, who believe that love, hope, and optimism are important and worth celebrating.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I am a big fan of your books, Eloisa, and I agree that love and joy make the difference & that reading romance can remind us of that.

  • Diane Giarrusso

    Thanks for the uplifting message about life. It’s tough to remember sometimes!

  • Barbara Johnson

    I love Eloisa’s books. To me, the best romance is one that is not only filled with love, but also with laughter. The greatest gift that Eloisa gives me is when I get to laugh out loud while reading one of her books. And believe me, I read and reread them.

  • Cindy Austin

    Eloisa James never fails to make me happy when I read one of her books, be it for the first time, or the seventeenth! I love a good plot.

  • Eileen Wetterstrom

    I love your books. Thank you for writing them and giving us a piece of who you are. I enjoy how you take fairy tales and create something new with them. I’ve read Juliana Gray and her books are great, too.