Huntley Fitzpatrick – The Joy of Imperfection in Romance

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Joyfully Swept Away In Romance

We read them to be swept away, right? That’s what everyone says about romance novels:book-whatithoughtwastrue
Crack the spine and boom, you are whisked out of day-to-day life, to a world of dreams and romance, to encounter larger-than-life characters, to travel beyond the limits of space and time to unlimited imagination.

Oh yeah, there’s all of that—and thank heavens for it all. 


My own favorite moments in any romance (and I’ve read at least two a week since I was 13)? Always the awkward, unusual ones.  Not the long walks on the beach , the perfect proposal on bended knee with all the right words and a diamond as big as the Ritz, not the grand gesture.  In every romance I adore, there are particular moments when the helpless, hapless, hopeless humanity of one character  shows up—in front of or at the same time as the other character—they reveal themselves, warts and all (okay, not warts, as definitely not workable as a romantic condition) and there is laughter—and that cracks open the door to let in even more love.

So many examples!

that scene in Jennifer Echol’s LOVE STORY when the heroine has written a love story about a girl seducing a stable boy, and her real-life model for the stable boy (and rival) walks into class halfway through the reading.

The moment in Christina Haag’s COME TO THE EDGE (a nonfiction memoir) where she and her boyfriend kiss for the first time “for real” and pull apart to realize he’s tangled his toothbrush in her hair.

In my own book, THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO, when the hero comes home, exhausted, bmlt2to find the heroine unexpectedly asleep in his room—and then she wakes up and knees him in the groin. Laughter and mutual vulnerability are such key ingredients for romance to me that I can’t imagine connecting to a romance without them.

In my own life, I remember them with a grin and a fizz of laughter and delight—the first time my husband kissed me, on a beach, waves pounding, sun beaming down on us like a blessing—and then proceeded to list the ingredients of the tuna sandwich I’d eaten before meeting up with him. The time my first boyfriend and I slipped away together to a closet to kiss and then had to shrink further and further back against the wall as his mother came in, searching for abandoned parkas and such to donate.

Huntley recommends:

Sarina Bowen, Sarina Bowen, Sarina Bowen – ( )  I was completely swept away by her utterly romantic, edgy but so sweet NA series, The IVY Years…She’s one of those authors who gives me romantic goosebumps (yes, those ARE a thing) whenever I think of my favorite scenes in her books, someone I recommend to everyone whole loves a true romance between warm, wholly human characters who are utterly relatable (and hella hot). (Bobbi here ~ I’d just like to point out that this is at least the fourth time Sarina’s been recommended! Read Sarina’s RARM content here.)

Miranda Kenneally ( ) Her strong, believable, warm, relatable heroines find their match in her equally strong, tender, appealing heroes…and they’re all athletes, giving this armchair athlete a lot to cheer for vicariously, even beyond the lovely romances.

Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 

There was a night in early August a long time ago when I was young and in New York City. I had my first well-paying job, and by some miracle a house-sitting gig at an uptown apartment. I’d met a boy from school for dinner, a friend I’d been secretly (or not so) in love with for years. Dinner over, we were walking uptown afterwards. The night was warm and starry, with a breeze from the river. I had a sundress on, and carried my sandals in one hand. We got to the window of a bookstore and he turned to me, gave me a kiss beyond the casual hello/goodbye ones we’d shared before. When I drew back, I noticed that his white shirt shone in the darkness, like the flash of his smile. I looked over his shoulder and saw something I’d never noticed about the NYC sidewalks…that at night they glistened with mica like a constellation of a thousand tiny stars. I wanted to keep the moment forever, at the same time I knew that the only way to do that was to remember it. And I have.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

My grandmother’s cottage near Cape Cod…I’ve been coming to this little point of land in Massachusetts all my life. Hundreds of memories of being there—almost every one joyous  (how many places can one say that about?). I grew up walking the beach there with my father, hunting for jingle shells; I met and married my husband in that same little community; I took my mother there for her last birthday, made her a lobster roll and gave her champagne to sip as she gazed out at the blue, blue water and said “I’ve had a good and lucky life.”— a gift I treasure to this day. In our house, we have a small blue glass bottle full of glass from one of the beaches on that point of land—hundreds of grains of sand, each with their own sparkle, just like those memories .

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

I grew up in a little coastal town that had both a commuter rail station and a steam train for the benefit of tourists and locals who wanted to view the sparkling waters and the leafy maples of the Connecticut coast the old fashioned way.  On a lot of clear nights, I’d fall asleep to the distant sound of trains wending their way along the coast line, rattling or roaring by, announcing themselves with long, low, haunting whistles. To this day, the sound of a train whistle makes me feel peaceful, whether it is a crowded commuter train or a freight train, wherever I hear it, under whatever circumstances, it sounds like home to me.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

I have three middle-of-the-night bathtub books. Definition: Ones I pick up when I can’t sleep, need the comforting luxury of a bubble bath and a read that never fails to make me feel safe and happy. My three: THE NEXT BEST THING by Kristan Higgins (because Ethan…’nuff said), THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND by Elizabeth George Speare (Nat Eaton, childhood crush, adult guilty pleasure) and PLAY DIRTY by Sandra Brown. I love Sandra always, but this book?  The ultimate hero in desperate need of redemption, Griff Burkett, who finds true love when truly down, out, disgraced and ruined. I cry every single time he gives her the necklace with the tiny diamond…because…well, you’ll see.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)hemworth

I suppose the answer to “which Chris would you pick?” can’t be “All of the above”???  Okay, if you twist my arm…Hemsworth. Of course. Aside from his mild attractiveness and moderately fit body, he also seems to be a family man with a sense of humor—and that is my Kryptonite.

Huntley is generously giving away 5 copies of each book (but only two of THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO), as well as two audio versons of the second (WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE) and the third (THE BOY MOST LIKELY TWO) to U.S readers.

author-huntleyfitzpatrickHuntley Fitzpatrick, author of the award-shortlisted and highly-acclaimed MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, grew up dreamy, bookish and dedicated to romance in a small coastal town in Connecticut. She worked as an editor for contemporary romance and romantic suspense at Harlequin before returning to her lifelong love—writing YA. She is also the author of contemporary YA romances What I Thought Was True and The Boy Most Likely To. She lives in Massachusetts, USA, in another coastal town much like the ones featured in her books.

Find Huntley online:   |   Facebook   |   Twitter

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  • Carla Neggers

    Enjoyed reading this, Huntley. Love the description of your grandmother’s cottage!

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Wow. Thank you, Carla! I love your books SO much.

  • Karen Mikusak

    Loved your interview. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thank you, Karen!

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoyed your essay! I like the awkward parts too. They are the parts that remind me of real life.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thanks, Melissa–yes, I love fantasy, but when romances treasure the real, it reminds me to, too.

  • Dawn Anderson

    The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins is one of my faves.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      I love them all, but that one has a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.

  • Aye Lopez

    Thanks for the chance! Looking forward to read your books! 🙂

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thanks, and Good luck.

  • Sharon Forbes

    I enjoyed your post, made me remember some sweet memories, thanks!

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      I’m so glad it brought up memories of your own, Sharon. Good luck to you.

  • Carol Luciano

    I enjoyed your post. Beautiful memories. I’m looking forward to reading your books. Thanks for the giveaway chance.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Good luck! And thank you, Carol.

  • Kareni

    Thanks for sharing the lovely memories of time spent at your grandmother’s cottage. Happy writing!

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thank you so much–yes, the cottage is a treasure to us. Not many people are so lucky to have one place that contains so many great moments. I wish everyone a place like that.

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for posting and for putting into words why we read romance (at least some of the reasons.)

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thank you so much–and yes, so many many reasons that it is impossible to list them all.

  • Aleen D

    I love when their is humor in romance novels. Also, if the characters have flaws it makes it more enjoyable to read their journey to overcome them.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      You bet! Overcome and identify, which makes the overcoming that much more powerful and sweet a victory.

  • mariannewestrich

    I think that humor in romance novels is necessary (almost as much as the romance).

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      I absolutely agree with this.

  • Sheila M

    What beautiful stories. Thanks for sharing.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thank you so very much, Sheila.

  • Chanpreet

    Would you believe that two of Huntley’s go to books are my favorites too?

    I remember reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond for fun when I was 11 or 12. That book started my love for romance. It was my gateway to this wonderful world.

    Sandra Brown is another favorite author, but of her romantic suspense titles Play Dirty is my favorite.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      I am so thrilled to hear that–yes, Nat Eaton–sigh. And Play Dirty kills me every single time. Thanks, Chanpreet.

      • Chanpreet

        You’re welcome Huntley! It’s wonderful to know I enjoy some of the same books as you do, while also loving the books you write! 🙂

  • Pamby50

    Wonderful post. Your grandmother’s cottage sounds amazing. All the wonderful memories. Another reason to love RARM.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thank you. And yes, I’m so thankful to have such a good memory!

  • Erin F

    what fabulous memories!! Thanks for such a fun post!

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thank you so much!

  • Linda Henderson

    I enjoy humor in a romance book, I like to laugh, cry and cheer at the happy endings.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Me too. I have a whole long list of books and authors I can count on to work that magic every time.

  • Marcy Shuler

    I love romance books that also make me laugh!

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      I almost can’t find it romantic if I don’t laugh, too. (And also cry a little)

  • T. Rosado

    I enjoyed your first two novels, but My Life Next Door was one of my favorite reads in the past year. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I’ll be reading The Boy Most Likely To soon. You are one of the reasons I love reading young adult fiction. I am a mom to young teenagers and I find that young adult has improved so much since I was a teenager. My daughter and I have fun comparing notes.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      Thank you so much!. My daughters and I do the same thing–and some of our best and closest conversations have been about books we’ve both read and loved or hated. It’s a great thing to have that in common with your kids–opens a whole new avenue.

  • Awkward and unusual moments are really some of the ingredients that make a book unforgettable!

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      They sure do for me, Marinella. And a movie, too.

  • Sue G.

    Your kiss on the streets of New York sounded so magical.

    • Huntley Fitzpatrick

      That’s exactly what it was–just magic. I hope/believe everyone has at least one of those.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    Great post! I completely agree and find that many of my favorite books have some cringe worthy or laugh out loud moments in addition to the romantic ones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed, gasped or even squeaked out loud while reading a book and looked up to see my husband laughing at me. But that’s how I know I’ve found a great author because I’m truly engaged in the story…which is of course a Romance since that is pretty much exclusively what I read. Thanks again and I’ll look forward to reading your books!

  • Texas Book Lover

    What a great post! I gotta tell you that my daughter and I both read and loved My Life Next Door last year and it earned its place on our keeper shelf. We are both really looking forward to reading The Boy Most Likely To very, very soon. We have no doubt it will end up right beside its companion.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Thank you for sharing your post. What happened to the guy you kissed on the streets of NYC? That was described magically. It took me a while to find love and reading romance books allows me to relive those times again.

  • kirsten west

    Enjoyed your memories of the cottage near Cape Cod.

  • Lisa Hutson

    Those are fun moments in a story. I love a little humor (or sometimes a lot of humor, Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins) in my romance reading. Laughing, crying, gasping in shock, reading faster to find out what happens next. Then going back to read slower in case you missed something. LOL I love reading romance.

  • Jennifer C

    I love humor in my romance books! 🙂

  • Kai W.

    I love reading the humor in romance books after having a bad day. They make me smile.

  • Mary McCoy

    LOL love the tuna fish sandwich kiss!

  • Martha B

    I love the quote (by Oliver Sacks,) that you posted on your Facebook page. He said, “I have loved and been loved… ” How beautiful is that! Thank you for sharing stories with us readers about finding and being loved.

  • d chan

    I was born and raised in Hawaii and absolutely love the idea of coastal towns. In some ways they seem more romantic than a beach/tropical setting. Especially when they are written into Huntley’s books!! I would love to visit one in the future.

    By the way, I just finished The Boy Most Likely To and LOVED IT!! Although my favorite is still (and will always be) Jase, Tim is a real great guy and readers will like him even more than when he was in My Life Next Door.