Tessa Dare – It’s Not Just the Sweetness

It’s Read-A-Romance Month.


Visit every day in August to see what 93+ of your favorite authors have to say about The Joy of Romance. Do you love Romance? Let’s celebrate. xo

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The Triumph of Romance

Let’s take a moment to think about some delicious things, shall we?salted_caramels

  • Sea-salt caramels
  • Lemon meringue pie
  • Ripe melon with chili powder
  • Chocolate-dipped almonds
  • Sliced nectarines with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar (try it!)


Are you still here with me, or have you run to the refrigerator/grocery store? ☺ Believe it or not, I didn’t list those foods just to make you drool on your keyboards, but because they illustrate—to me—an essential feature of romance.

It’s not just about the sweetness.

People often categorize romances as “feel-good books”—and they are! But for many who 23587120don’t read the genre, it’s easy to overlook the fact that romances evoke a lot of emotions other than happiness. There’s joy, to be sure. But the recipe for a memorable romance novel isn’t complete without a healthy amount of bitterness, pain, anguish, loss, guilt, or fear thrown in.  Just like the addition of salt, citrus, chili, or vinegar can make a fruit or candy even sweeter to the taste, the struggles our characters go through make their eventual happy ending that much more powerful.

The joy of romance isn’t about easy, unearned bliss. It’s about triumph. It’s about overcoming obstacles. It’s about fighting for love while saving the jewels/orphans/universe. 

Books about characters with perfect lives wouldn’t be “feel-good books.” Not for me, anyway. I come back to romance again and again for the joy of watching characters conquer the odds and reaffirm something we all understand: That the salt, bitter, and sour of life are essential to savoring the sweetness.

(And seriously, try the nectarines with balsamic and brown sugar. It’s amazing!)

Tessa recommends:

First, I’ve been recommending Alyssa Cole to anyone who’ll listen. My introduction to her work was the novella “Let it Shine” in the anthology The Brightest Day. It’s the story of an African-American college student and a Jewish boxer who were childhood friends and sign up to become Freedom Riders during the civil rights protests of the early 1960s.  Then I moved on to Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight—a novella with a romance between an African woman in King James’ court and the Highland laird who pursues her with unshakeable determination.  Cole’s writing is just fantastic. She has a way of bringing “the feels” in force, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Second, Regency romance lovers should keep their eyes open for Eva Leigh, debuting late September from Avon Books. Eva Leigh is a pseudonym for the author you may already know as Zoe Archer. Her new series, Wicked Quills of London, kicks off with Forever Your Earl, a romance between a female scandal-sheet publisher and the earl who offers her unprecedented access into the life of a rake…so long as she stops digging into certain rumors surrounding his troubled friend. The romance is both smart and sexy, and the banter has a His Girl Friday feel that I adored.

Questions for the Author:

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

“Surprised by joy” was how author C.S. Lewis described his religious conversion, and I think that phrase strikes me as an apt description of the emotion “joy.” The purest joy always comes as a surprise. Wedding days, childbirth, and so forth—these are joyous occasions, but they also have so much relief, work, and anticipation tied in with them that half the pleasure comes from it just being over.

One of the moments when I was surprised by joy was when I met my now-husband for the second time. We’d been introduced some six months earlier, in an entirely different context and country, so we weren’t unacquainted. But on our second meeting, we hugged in greeting—and it was the best hug I’ve ever had. When we discussed it much later, we agreed we’d both experienced the same thing—we embraced out of casual greeting, and suddenly neither one of us wanted to let go. It was a feeling of pure joy.  Love at second sight, I guess! Two months later, we were engaged.

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

The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA is one of my favorite places on earth. It has so many of the things I love most: rare books, beautiful art, and lovely gardens. I’ve spent many a joyful afternoon there with my children, their grandparents, and friends. It’s my happy place.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

My favorite sound in the world is the sound of my son laughing while he watches America’s Funniest Home Videos. He loves that show, and he will laugh so hard, for so long. It is the most purely joyful sound I know. That show is also the reason I will never, ever purchase a trampoline.

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 was a little late to the party that is Sonali Dev’s A Bollywood Affair, but when I read it, it just blew me away. The characters were so complex and compelling, and the emotions just ripped me apart. It was one of those books that had me racing through pages to get to the happy ending, but then forcing myself to slow down so I could savor every sublime page of Dev’s prose. I just loved it.

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)

Oh gosh. I want all of the above! I’m torn. Chris Rock is hilarious, and Top Five was one of the best movies I saw last year. Chris Evans is just dreamy. He’s Captain America! Enough said. But if I must choose, I think I’m going to have to ride the wave that is Chris Pratt. He has it all – good looks, roguish charm, a genuinely warm personality, and those forearms. Rrwar.

Tessa is generously giving away a signed copy of WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT to one U.S. and one international reader.

tessaTessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen historical
romance novels and four novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award and multiple RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Awards.  Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and two cosmic kitties.

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