Day 31 Eloisa James – Romance, Delicious & Satisfying

Celebrating Romance, Past, Present & Future

In celebration of Read-A-Romance Month, I decided to take another look at a little collection of tattered, worn romances that have travelled with me three-week-lady-x_highrez-keylinefor most of my life.  Five of them were written in the 1980s by a Regency romance writer named Diana Campbell, who appears to have vanished—her only paperbacks are available for .01¢, and a quick Google search revealed nothing.

From the moment I discovered her work, I adored her voice. Even though Campbell was writing in a chaste genre, she understood the art of flirtation, of desire, of enticement; she was a master of sexual tension, without ever going past the bedroom door.  She realized that the sexiest conversations are ones in which men and women’s wit plays off each other.  Marietta and Christopher in The Marriage of Inconvenience, for example, snipe and fight and quarrel all the way through the book. Their sparring builds the tension between them (and the reader) until you are longing for them to remember that they’re married, that the bedroom door is right over there, that they’re really in love with each other…

And when  they finally do fall into each other’s arms, it’s enormously satisfying — not because of writhing limbs (there are none), but because they keep talking.

“If you were in a delicate condition, Marietta, nothing could give me great pleasure.  Permit me to rephrase that.  Nothing could give me more happiness. I do believe there is another activity which might afford great pleasure.”

“Christopher!” she chided.  But she was no longer discomfited:  it was right that he should want her, that she should ache with this deep, sweet longing.

Rereading Campbell’s books now, I see that the pace is a good deal slower than we are used to now; that she relied heavily on italics; that chastity is somewhat frustrating for a reader used to reading about intimacy.

But I also realized that just how much I learned from Diana Campbell’s books — about how sexy clever conversation can be, and how delicious it is for the reader to long and long for the two characters to discover each other.

So this blog celebrates not just romance—but those romance writers who were the wind at my shoulders as well as the shoulders of the other romance authors who’ve written blogs this month.  Bravo, ladies! And thank you.


My top summer recommendation is Linda Francis Lee’s THE GLASS KITCHEN, a wonderfully sexy, smart version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  In a completely different key, I’m enjoying Tanya Huff’s ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM, a new-to-me urban fantasy set in a fascinatingly creative alternate Canada.


Questions For the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.
One of the most courageous things I’ve done in my life doesn’t sound frightening at all: I walked into a high school dance on my own.  I’ve never forgotten the pure terror that gripped me and the joy that followed when all was well. The experience taught me a valuable lesson: fear poses its ownOnce Upon A Tower dangers.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)
I was always writing when I was a child: mostly plays, but I started at least one novel.  My parents were writers, so I could envision the life of an author easily.
Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)
The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  At this point, I’ve spent over half of my life studying and teaching those 26 plays.  It’s rather startling to know that they are worth those years and more.

 Eloisa is generously giving away 3 copies of Once Upon A Tower to U.S. readers, (apologies to international friends). Entry  below.


ELO-2012New 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 being a finalist for a RITA—the top award in the genre of romance fiction awarded by the Romance Writers of America—over ten times, she won in 2013.

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. 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.

In 2014, Eloisa was nominated for a career achievement award by Romantic Times Book Review. (~Bobbi here – I interviewed Eloisa James for Kirkus a few months ago. If you’d like to read the piece, you can find it here.)

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  • mariannewestrich

    I love finding quick witted dialogue in romance. So much of the steamy build-up takes place there!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I think the sexy, clever conversation is the reason why many people enjoy the Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracey movie “Adam’s Rib” or movies that are similar to this one. The slow build up while negotiating the fast pace of the dialog is delicious!

  • Ellen

    Witty banter is great. Thanks for the recommendations. I really enjoyed The Glass Kitchen.

  • Anna

    Snappy conversation is why I love old Hollywood. They couldn’t show sex on screen, so the characters had to use the dialogue. Movies today ain’t got nothing on them. Although romance novels now certainly have both amazing dialogue AND sex, so I don’t see what the problem is.

  • Sheryl N

    I love to read and sometimes I find that I overlook great authors. Thanks for a great post.

  • Cay Scheumack

    I remember Diana Campbell Regency Romance books. I have a box of Regency romance books that I go back and reread especially when I feel like reading the suggestive intimacy instead of the intimate scenes. Georgette Heyer was another who was the same. I plan on giving our granddaughter those books soon after I reread to make sure they are only suggestive, I remember Claudette Williams as being one of the first I read that was not only suggestive but still nothing of today’s

    intimate scenes. Just have to say. Eloisa, you are a remarkable woman, writer, professor, and person. I have admired you for all you do, especially all the time you take out of your day for your readers. THANK YOU!

  • LisaVH

    My favorite books are ones that are both sexy and smart. Thanks for the great post. I will have to check out The Glass Kitchen.

  • Emmel

    Haven’t thought of Diana Campbell in ages! And Fiona Hill, and Dinah Dean (ah, the Russian side of the Napoleonic wars), and Barbara Allister…. Thanks for reminding me of them. I have to go scour my keeper shelf now for their books. 🙂

  • Martha B

    I’m unfamiliar with Diana Campbell, but the chaste romances of Georgette Heyer had me laughing and cheering back in the day. Witty dialogue is still what I look for from current authors. Clever banter and humor leading to intimacy is so satisfying. Side bar: Three Weeks with Lady X was an absolute delight. The fact I got to read about Tobias (Thorn) as an adult was a bonus. I’ve always wondered (imagined) what happened to Villiers children and now I know what happened to his first born. Villiers was my favorite Duke from the Desperate Duchess series. Thank you for giving us (your readers,) such great stories.

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    I enjoy romances that build up tension between H/h! I will now search for Diana Campbell at my library. Great to read from an author who inspired you. Thanks for the chance!

  • Yaritza Santana

    Love your books. Got to personally meet you in 2011 in a Library in Connecticut and going to be sitting on your table for Barbara Veys Readers Appreciation Lunch. See you soon. Love seeing your beautiful pictures on your FB from Europe.

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for the reading suggestions. It will take me years to get through all the new books and authors I’ve heard of this month!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I already have the book, so won’t enter to win. Loved it! I will be reading Linda’s book for a book club this month. Thanks for the essay!

  • Rita Wray

    Great post, I have The Glass Kitchen on my to read list.

  • Julie Nieves

    Thanks Eloisa for your wonderful novels! I’ve so enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to adding your recommendations to my reading list.

  • alisha woods

    Eloisa knows I am a huge fan. Since have this book won’t enter. If you haven’t read her books she is a must read!!

  • Emily Seelye

    I love your fairytale stories. My favorite’s are the retellings of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

  • Glenda

    I do hate not being able to find a favorite author from years ago or recently online or anywhere else. Love you books!

  • Sharon Forbes

    I enjoyed your post, and am going to put a book or two of yours in my huge TBR stack! Thanks to you and so many other wonderful romance authors for hours and hours of reading enjoyment!

  • Louise Risser

    I always love reading your books. Can’t wait for the next one.

  • Dawna Coniglio

    You are one of my favorite authors 🙂

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I’ve always been a fan of your books and I still have quite a few to read 🙂 I agree that wit and words are a vital part of what makes a romance novel so enticing. Of course, I enjoy the actual romance and bedroom scenes. But, I love the building tension and interplay between compelling characters that lead up to the physical intimacy. Nothing grabs me more than when you can almost see the sparks flying off the page of a novel because the characters are so well written and have such witty and engaging banter. I’m sorry to see RARM go on this last day, but I looks forward to following you as well as all of the other authors through blogs, posts, interviews and of course, your books. Thanks for your great post and amazing books!

  • Tammy H

    I loved those regencies, too. They were my favorite!

  • Kim

    I like regencies, but I don’t think I’ve ever read Diana Campbell.

  • Debbie Fuller

    I discovered you by accident when your book “Potent Pleasures” kept begging me to buy it and since I was in need of some potent pleasure I relented. I read your book and reread it and read it again. It has become one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing your stories with us and bringing untold happiness along with the purchase of something as simple as a book.

  • Meredith Richeson Hillenbrand

    I love your books. You are one of my favorite romance authors. I don’t have a job, so free books are mostly what I buy, however, on the occasions that I do have money to spend on books, yours are the first I buy. I agree with your assessment about romance novels. I really enjoy the reparte between couples. Thanks for writing!

  • Quinn Fforde

    Enjoyable post! I do love your characters’ banter.

  • Julie

    I love your books, thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  • Loraine Oliver

    I love the books I have read by you and can’t wait to read the next one!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I love your books, especially the humor behind the banter between the characters. I tell everyone that they should read The Glass Kitchen by LInda Francis Lee as it’s one of the best women’s lit book I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for sharing your post. 🙂

  • Sue G.

    Harvard, Oxford and Yale! Wow! Impressive.

    I do love good conversations between the couples…especially when it is funny!

  • librarypat

    I have a box full of old regencies and I pull one out to read every once in a while. I am certain some of them are or were Diana Campbell’s. The books of that era were sweet and chaste but still many of them portrayed good relationships. They are a nice change from the intense and explicit books now being written. The authors had to rely on the emotional aspects of the relationships which are more important than the physical.

    Patricia (B) on rafflecopter.

  • catslady

    Just have to say how much I’ve enjoyed her books!! Thanks for the insights!

  • Mj

    I just love your books, now reading about you makes them even better

  • Janie McGaugh

    Since I started my romance reading with Georgette Heyer, I continued to read the more innocent Regencies for a number of years. I always loved the ones that had witty banter between the characters. I’ll have to check out The Glass Kitchen. It sounds really interesting.

  • Laurie Skinner Gray

    Sometimes I like reading the old Regencies and Betty Neel books. They are uncomplicated and everything revolves around the relationship, not sex. It can be a very refreshing change of place.

  • M Kuxhaus

    I adore your books. Thank you for writing them!

  • Ann Mettert

    Love Eloise James. 🙂

  • I enjoy all sorts of romance, from the chaste to many degrees of erotica and all in between. I love that you mentioned a writer like her. I wonder what her books will be going for now that you have mentioned her, Eloisa.
    How fun that you are the last go on the month of romance!

  • Geraldine Pierson

    I like Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance. I like any book with romance in it and a good story with some history. I do not like erotica. I love your books and thank you for giving me so much enjoyment in reading them.

  • rebecca moe

    Now of course it will be my personal mission to find myself some Diana Campbell books–and my TBR continues to grow!

    Wonderful post, Eloisa. Is it too late to stow away in your suitcase for England? 😉

  • Stephanie M.

    I love your books and look forward to Four Nights with the Duke. Can March 31, 2015, get here quicker?? Please??? 🙂

  • Pamby50

    I love how you thought about Diana Campbell’s books. You have now got me thinking of a book that I’ve read several times. I can’t remember the author as I read it over 35 yrs ago and I lost all my paperbacks when our place flooded while we were at work. I love your books.

  • Evelyn S

    Great post!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Hope Stern

    I love reading wonderful writing and yes, the escapism and knowing that in the end, something wonderful quite possibly will happen. For me, how an author gets there is pure heaven . Thanks for a wonderful post and one of my all time fave books and characters, my Josie.

  • Erin F

    I adore great tension and repertoire 🙂 Thanks for the great post and congrats on the new release!

  • Dawn Anderson

    Eloisa’s fairy tale stories are some of my favorite books. My first full length book of hers was the Duke is Mine, a wonderful take on the Princess and the Pea.

  • Anisa

    That’s a nice post. Thank you for sharing!!

  • I love Eloisa James’ fairy tale stories. And I completely agree that romances have changed over the years. It’s a complete difference in experience reading romances from the 80s compared to todays

  • Alexandra

    I don’t read them much anymore but my first forays into reading romance included a lot of inspirational romance because my small town library seemed to have those more than anything else. As a young teenager some of those covers really made me blush but the inspirationals, too, could have such romantic sexual tension. I still like to read a good one now and then.

  • Debbie_K

    Love your books. Smart , funny and sexy all wrapped up in a great story

  • Judy Goodnight

    The style (and heat quotient) of romances have certainly changed over the years, but I agree that there is still pleasure to be found in those older books. I still enjoy Elizabeth Cadell’s books which are quite chaste but the romance is definitely there.