Joanna Bourne – The Glorious Romance Ride

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!

If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!


How do I love Romance?cover RogueSpy

I’m gonna go way back in time with this … and I can go surprisingly far back with Romance books.

You know how folks who grow up to be athletes talk about playing soccer or skiing right from when they were kids. They just jumped into the pool or kicked a soccer ball and it was magic to them. Natural and right.

I am a reading athlete. I slapped up against my first complex books and it was like they were ham and I was eggs. They were peanut butter and I was jelly. They were gin and I was tonic.  Like that.

Why Romance though?

Along about fourth grade I was reading piles of science fiction and adventure books. Loving them. But I couldn’t help but notice these books were all about boys and men travelling to other planets. About boys and men having adventures. And, with the notable exception of Nancy Drew, about boys and men solving mysteries. Women existed in these books, of course, but they were always secondary to the heroic folks who were doing the important stuff, who were, as I mentioned, male.

All very well in its way, but being a woman in pupal stage, I wanted stories with a woman at the center, Black Hawkdoing exciting things.

I found those stories in Romance.

They were big, sprawling Romances in those days. (Jo gets a far-away look in her eye.) You picked up a book and you had your leisure time committed for the next week. Heroines crossed the Atlantic to settle in the new world or rebelled against the King of France. Or both. They swung swords in Medieval castles, avenging their family honor. They tamed their Viking captor while they competently fought off his enemies. Or they, like, bent the ton to their imperious will. They got stuff done.

Now, in those very early days when I started reading Romance, I was not so much in love with the heroes as I was living the challenging life of the heroine. The hero was along for the ride, as it were, on the heroine’s adventures.

It took a while, but somewhere along the line, when I was thirteen or fourteen, I kinda blinked and noticed the hero. I can even tell you the first hero I noticed with any attention. It was Jeoffrey de Peyrac in the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon. Jeoffrey, scarred, brilliant nobleman and scientist in Louis XIVs France.

“Gee,” says I to myself. “He’s kinda interesting. And … like … sexy.”Gambled-Away-by-Molly-OKeefe-Jeannie-Lin-Cooper-Bourne-Lerner-300

Now, the thirteen- and fourteen-year-old boys who surrounded me were not, so much, interesting. They couldn’t swordfight or play the lute, for instance, and they didn’t have the King of France lusting for their blood.

But, at heart, those boys were trying to be larger-than-life heroes like nobleman Jeoffrey de Peyrac, just as I was wishing to be the brave and beautiful Angelique. Their dreams and mine met and touched, somewhere in our imagination. Maybe, just a little, it’s the fictional heroes of Romance who taught me to love and admire men.

That’s a bit of what Romance authors do, I think. We craft a heroic story. We tell what might be. We create the happy endings. And our readers go out in the world to find the real-life heroes waiting for them.

Joanna Bourne recommends: 

Here’s five folks I greatly enjoy reading.

Susanna Kearsley  –  (at Amazon) touches on paranormal elements in her stories. And always an unraveling of the human heart.

Grace Burrowes  –  (at Amazon) There’s no one who writes about healing and human growth better. No one warmer. Truly, these are love stories.

Anne Gracie – (at Amazon) – brings us intelligent, delightful tales from the Regency. You know you’re in for a good time when you open one of her books.

Deanna Raybourn – (at Amazon) gives us complexity and subtlety. Several layers in everything that’s happening and heroines who are, in Heyer’s phrase, not just in the common way.

Gail Carriger – (at Amazon) is the go-to author for steampunk. I like her tough, eccentric, no-nonsense heroines.

And I hope you’ll check out Gambled Away (at Amazon), the historical anthology I did with four other great romance writers:

Jeannie Lin  –  –  (at Amazon)

Molly O’Keefe  – –  (at Amazon)

Rose Lerner  –  –  (at Amazon)

Isabel Cooper  –  –   (at Amazon)


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.

Is there anything more romantic than moonlight over the sea? So many nights I’ve looked across a wide dark ocean with a road of light stretched toward the moon.

Full moon and high tide and the sound of water dragging and crashing on the sand. I stand with the wind Moonlight on the sea public domainin my face, knowing a million lovers have looked at the same moon and the same ocean down through the age.

I imagine this scene and I get

“It’s only a paper moon

Sailing over a cardboard sea,

But it wouldn’t be make believe

If you believe in me …”

caught in my head, which isn’t so romantic maybe, but I have no control over my subconscious. I’m afraid it’s frightfully pedestrian. 

Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.

Oh dear. I’m going to be all pedestrian again.

I talk about life and love with my grown-up daughter. She is so wise. Also, usefully, she keeps me up to date on the social scene. I would be cheerfully living in the Twentieth Century, completely out of touch, without the Dear Daughter.

Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?Island waterfall public domain

There is a tropical island off in the South Pacific. It’s not too hot, but the sun is bright. The winds blow steadily across trees full of huge brilliant flowers. The water is clear as the air, full of fish that seem to hang suspended by nothing at all. You don’t have to wear clothes and the shells you pick up on the beach are colored like the flowers.

Maybe it’s Tahiti. It’s somewhere I’ve never been. There are waterfalls.

Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?

Eve Dallas and Roarke. I love them both and I love them together.  Brilliant creation.

Tell us about your dream date. 

He’s tall, dark, and not handsome. He’s clever with talking but he also does silences well.

We’re in Paris in the 1920s. He knows so many people — the great creative artists, the ancient men selling paris bar public domainprints by the Seine, a street sweeper from Tunisia. We walk along the river in the darkness, not saying much. We cross to the Left Bank to go to a Jazz Club on a tiny street. A man from New Orleans plays. On the other side of the room Hemingway gets a little drunk and starts speaking reading his latest work with flamboyant gestures. Picasso, tanned dark, shrugs.

We drink absinthe and listen to the music and stare into one another’s eyes. Pastries happen.  

Joanna Bourne is generously giving away five books, one each to five winners, US only (apologies to international friends). Winners may pick any of  Joanna’s books they’d like, or take pot luck. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST Aug 7, 2016. Good luck! 

(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.)

#LoveRomance  #HappyReading

bourne joanna headshotI write historical fiction set in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England. It was a time of love and sacrifice, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing. I live in the Appalachian Mountains with a view out over the countryside, sharing it with my brown mutt and a peculiar cat.

Learn more:    |     Facebook     |     Twitter


Buy Joanna Bourne’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help and support!

  • Kathy Nye

    You were already a favorite author of mine but now that I know you like Eve and Rourke too , well you are even more amazing! Enjoyed all your answers above.

    • Hi Kathy – Joanna is having trouble signing in to disqus to interact. Feel free to try to meet up with her on the FB page. (Link to her post there is:


  • Sue G.

    I love how you use your daughter to keep up with things! I have a 23, 21 and 19 yr old daughters and I do the same!

    • Hi Sue – Joanna is having trouble signing in to disqus to interact. Feel free to try to meet up with her on the FB page. (Link to her post there is:


  • Welcome, Jo! You’ve been on my auto-buy list and your books, on my keeper shelf since your debut. Where do I feel surrounded by romance? It’s when I’m immersed in one of your wonderful stories! And now, thanks to your dream date answer, I’m going to spend today strolling La Rive Gauche and mentally absorbing the ambiance of 1920’s Paris. Not a bad place to let my mind go adventuring! 🙂

    • Love this comment PJ xo

      fyi, Joanna is having trouble signing in to disqus to interact. Feel free to try to meet up with her on the FB page. (Link to her post there is:


  • Shana Galen

    Can I borrow your dream date?

    • right?! :o)

      fyi, Joanna is having trouble signing in to disqus to interact. Feel free to try to meet up with her on the FB page. (Link to her post there is:


  • Adriana Anders

    Love your dream date, Jo. Also, your my reading athlete idol.

    • Hi Adriana xoxo

      Joanna is having trouble signing in to disqus to interact. Feel free to try to meet up with her on the FB page. (Link to her post there is:


  • Kim

    I’ve enjoyed Joanna Bourne’s spy series.

  • rebecca moe

    Great post! Too bad there’s not room for reader athletes on the Olympic team…Though I suspect the competition would be fierce 😉

    I devoured Nancy Drew books growing up, until I found the Sunfire books (YA historical romances from Scholastic–most had some kind of love triangle) which ended up being my gateway drug. I couldn’t get enough of them! History + girls doing stuff = <3

    • :o)

      fyi – Joanna is having trouble signing in to disqus to interact. Feel free to try to meet up with her on the FB page. (Link to her post there is:


  • DVC Eeyore

    I just started reading your Spy books but I love your “book list” more to read… That romantic island location… Hmmm, sounds like a wonderful author cruise getaway wish list with lucky readers… 🙂

    • Hi there – Joanna is having trouble signing in to disqus to interact. Feel free to try to meet up with her on the FB page. (Link to her post there is:


    • Congratulations, you’re one of Joanna’s winners. :o)
      Please send me a private mssg on the FB page – / – with your email address and we’ll get you your books! xo

      (and include Joanna Bourne winner in the heading, thank you!)

      • DVC Eeyore

        I don’t have access to FB so how can I send you my email?

        • I’m so sorry, I just saw this! You can send me an email at Please put Joanna Bourne winner in the header. Thank you! xo

  • gamistress66

    dang, never would have dreamt that date, but sure as all get out wish I was on it now, sigh. never gave it much thought, but guess it was that heroines featured in romances was one of the reasons I first fell in love w/ them as a young teen (and no the real life teen boys were nothing like those wonderful sexy fictional heroes)

  • Carol Opalinski

    I loved you post and your dream date sounds heavenly. Thanks for the reading recommendations. I’m always on the lookout for new authors/books! A friend recommended your spy series and I’m looking forward to it. My first romance was The Scarlet Pimpernel so I have a soft spot for spies.

  • cheryl c.

    I really enjoyed reading this post, and I am hooked on your “spy” books. I confess to being a little bit in love with Hawker. Will there be another book in the series?

  • Debbie Fuller

    Love the author recommendations, some of which I have not read before.

  • Heather Roach

    I too am a reading athlete! Great post, women centered fiction is SO important.

  • Cathy Lykens

    I am the youngest of five girls born in six years (yes, my mother was busy) and I started reading romance novels pretty early. It was easy just to pick up a book after one of the others finished…now I am never without something to read.

  • Mary Dieterich

    We could form a seriously strong reader athlete team! Thanks for the great post. I think I enjoy romance because of the great adventure of it all.

  • catslady

    I have 3 of the books in this series but am missing Forbidden Rose and the new Rogue Spy. I’m looking forward to reading the entire series!

  • Rita Luken

    Love discovering new authors. Thanks for a great blog post.

  • Pamby50

    I love that Nat King Cole or was it Natalie’s version that popped in your head. My favorite romantic couple was Paul Newman and Joanne Woodard. I saw them in The Long Hot Summer. They met each other for the first time and by the time it was over, they were making plans to get married.

  • Donna Finlay

    I’d like your dream date too. And Grace Burrowes is the reason I tried your books.

  • Claire Gilless

    You’re a new author to me so will be checking out your books … have a similar spot in mind for romance – Hawaii as it’s where my future husband and I started dating and then returned to 25 years later (we’ll go more often now that kids are out of the house!)

  • Angie G

    What a fun post. Joanna Bourne is one of my favorite authors. I’m quite fond of Eve & Roarke too. Thanks!

  • Jessika Zee

    Thank you for the contest and insight. I agree I like my heroines in the middle of the excitement. Lol tall, dark, and not handsome too good. We have to have our heroes with some character.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Wonderful post, Joanna! I’ll second Shana Galen on borrowing your dream date! However, it’s all me when I say, like you, I discovered my love of reading at a very early age. I like to say that I got the reading gene from my father. I do not have any memories of him that do not include books; he was never without a book at hand. He shared that passion with me even before I could read by telling me stories, fables even history and of course, reading to me. When I did learn to read we were able to share that as well. It is an amazing gift he gave me; thank you, Daddy, z’l.

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    I want your dream date and your romantic place. I think I”ve read some of those older books you were mentioning early on. Thank you for sharing your post.

  • Pamela Aares

    Joanna is one of my favorite authors. Spymaster’s Lady hooked me! And yes, is there room for another on that dream dates, Joanna? Xoxo Pamela

  • Judy Goodnight

    Your essay on romance made me realize that I started reading in the romantic tradition much earlier than I thought – tales of King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table, Beau Geste, tales of heroes & adventures, tales of honor and sacrifice. Then there was my favorite book that I took out of the school library time and again in 5th and 6th grade – Judith of France. After chapters of courtly intrigue in England & France, she manages to assert her independence and get her man – a gallant knight who was known as Bras-de-Fer, Iron Arms. Swoon!

  • Meghan Stith

    Awesome! I’ve read “The Black Hawk” as well as “The Spymaster’s Lady.” I liked both of them. Her writing is very historically based and detailed.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Linda Henderson

    I love Eve and Roarke too. I love the sounds of your tropical island. I think I would love to visit there.

  • Mary McCoy

    Joanna’s spies are to die for!

  • Glenda

    Thanks for the recommendationspotlight, Joanna I really should say recommendation since Gail Carriger is the only one else I haven’t read and loved. Love your dream date too!!

  • catslady

    Love her stories and most of the same authors are my favorites – going to check the few I didn’t know – thanks!

  • Molly

    Great post. Lol

  • Kareni

    Coming very late to the discussion. I enjoyed this post very much and am reminded that the Angelique books were the only books I was ever forbidden from reading by my mother. I was about eleven at the time and was told I could read them when I was sixteen. I promptly began to read them as soon as my mother left the house! I’ve been reading romances ever since.


    This is a lovely post. Thanks so much for sharing.