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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