Skip to main content

As You Like It

Literary news, book reviews
and more…   rss-icon 

Eloisa James and my moment of Zen

by Kay S | Feb 06, 2017
A little advertising before I talk about Eloisa James and my moment of Zen. In case you don’t know, Ms. James is coming to the Allen County Public Library on March 4, 2017. The event will start at 1 pm, in the Main Library Theater. Afterward, she will spend some time with us doing author things, like signing books and talking about books and answering questions about books - so join us!

A Zen moment has been defined as: a moment of clarity, insight, enlightenment. You become aware of the nothing/everything that makes the world go 'round and you are somehow better for it.potent pleasures

Well, how does that fit in with Eloisa James? I will tell you, my little Petunias. I have been a fan (squeal) of Eloisa James ever since I spent a gazillion dollars for her first novel Potent Pleasures in 2000. Why did you spend a gazillion dollars on a book, you may ask. You see, buckaroos, her very first book was released in hardback only. For those of you who don't know, before electronic books, most romance books were released in paperback form. So, for a debut author to have her first novel published in hardback form was a big deal. What this would mean for us, the readers, was that our expectations were set higher because we were paying a higher price. (In the end it's all about money.) I'll offer a little bit more perspective on this phenomenon. I have a humongous load of books - thousands to be inexact. Out of all the thousands of romance books in my collection, nine of them are in hardback form. So you see, it was rare for me to invest in a hardback romance book. But, buy it I did, and my expectations were high. Because of Potent Pleasures I became a big fan of Eloisa James.

Here is one of the reasons I'm one of Ms. James' biggest fans. Anyone who is at all familiar with the romance genre and the people who inhabit Romanceland (readers, writers, and critics) know that there are a lot of people who are unafraid to express their opinion, even when they're wrong. On top of that, the readers of historical romance books tend to be nitpickers. Just write about one puffed sleeve in the wrong time period, or call a champagne glass a flute, or address a lordly gent the wrong way, and online sites are inundated with irate voices. Well, Potent Pleasures stirred up a slight controversy among readers of the historical romance genre because it contained a few inaccuracies and – OMG - an unlikable hero. It was the hub-bub heard round the world. Well, Ms. James heard the cacophony of voices and here's what she did. Before her book was released in paperback, she rewrote parts, corrected the mistakes, and tried to make her audience happy. Did she have to do that? Not really. She could have done what other authors do, just let it go, and move on to the next one. But she didn't. She wanted happy readers. In my opinion that is one of the reasons she has such loyal fans. But that isn't the only reason for their loyalty. Even in her debut book there were glimmers of some wonderful writing and characters who were different from the standard players residing in Romanceland. She showed promise and I knew if she persevered, she would become one of the leading voices in romance. And, she has. Ms. James has created book after book of wonderful worlds, filled with fascinating people. As of this writing she has published 28 novels, 5 novellas, 6 collaborations and 1 memoir. (Excuse me if I miscounted.)

Now for my moment of Zen, when all was made clear. Stop here if you don’t want a spoiler. duke is mineSo, years passed and Ms. James wrote book after book, all of which I read because by then she had earned the honor of being one of my auto-buys. Then in 2012 along came This Duke is Mine. I rubbed my hands together gleefully, excited to be reading another Eloisa James book. The characters were well developed, although I wasn't all that keen on the hero or heroine, but there was a secondary character by the name of Rupert whom I loved. I won't go into the details surrounding Rupert, but let's just say I became very attached to this character.

Now for my "Annie Wilkes" moment. (You remember Annie from Misery?) Ms. James killed off Rupert! Now, I would never call Ms. James a dirty-birdy - but to say I was really really upset would be an understatement. I might have been a tad bit hysterical, the memory seems to be a little clouded. Let’s just say the book almost hit the wall. How dare she write wonderful Rupert dead! AAAAAAAk!!! He was the bestest secondary character ever!!! I was crushed - I may have even shed a tear. Then I had a moment of clarity.

My Eloisa James Moment of Zen. An epiphany, a moment of clarity, an awareness. My light-bulb went off. I realized for me to have such a visceral reaction to the death of a character in a book filled with 300 pages full of words, I would have been – dare I say it - emotionally attached to that person. How could I have become attached to a bunch of words? Well, you see that sneaky Eloisa James put all those words together in such a way that I became absorbed by them. Rupert's character drew me in, I liked him. My gut reaction to his loss boiled down to some compelling writing by the author. It was then I knew that Eloisa James could write extraordinary images. Because isn't that what a talented writer does? They create vivid imagery for us to see in our mind – and they use only words to do that. For me, that is what makes Eloisa James a must read.

And that, my fellow Petunias, is my Eloisa James moment of Zen.

kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.


Leave a comment
  1. Kay | Feb 09, 2017

    Catherine - Congratulations on you debut!! As far as Rupert - I don't think I could do him justice. When I think of Rupert I think of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man or Jennifer Ashley's Ian or Laura Kinsale's early works.

    And, for anyone who happens to read this comment, Catherine Tinley's book will be released in paperback February 21 and ebook March 1st. The title: Waltzing with the Earl.

  2. Catherine Tinley | Feb 07, 2017

    Kay, have you ever thought of writing an Rupert alternative story yourself? I am just about to publish my first romance novel (with Harlequin Historical) and my launch is March 4th as well! I've read so many great books over the years, then finally I had a 'what if?' moment of my own.
    I began writing it - just to see if I could do it - and it turns out I can. Not that getting published is the be-all and end-all - the PROCESS was so much fun!

    Good luck with the event!


    Leave a comment