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HaBO: Romance Writer Heroine

Suzanne writes:

I was hoping that you could put the call out to the other readers, HaBO post
because I’m having absolutely ZERO luck in locating a particular novel.
Which shames me because my mad googling skills have earned me a reputation
among my friends for finding obscure books from their past with only minimal

Here is what I can remember of the book, it is a contemporary romance
possibly set in San Fransisco (I seem to remember them driving back and
forth across the bay). The herione is a romance writer, there is a scene
where she talks about how she came to write romance in which she describes
reading a truly awful romance book and flings it across the room declaring
that she could do better.

As for the hero, he is her new neighbor (at least I think he is.) Yeah,
crap. That is all I can remember.

I know that is scant information on which to work, but I’m hopeful that
SBTB will know what the bloody book I’m talking about is.

Is it me, or are there a number of romances featuring heroines who write romances? Anyone remember this one? And is anyone else somewhat reticent about getting into a book when the heroine is a romance writer? I always fear the author will be way more than a little present in the character!



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  1. 1
    ijinx says:

    This sounds like Remembrance by Jude Deveraux.

  2. 2

    At first I was thinking it might be The Boyfriend School by Sarah Bird, but upon reflection I agree with @ijinx that I remember a scene like that from Remembrance.  However, Remembrance is a time-travel as well as a contemp.  Does that ring a bell?

  3. 3
    Cate says:

    Could it be My Hero by Debbie Macomber?  The heroine is writing a romance novel, and keeps following the hero around so she can use him as inspiration for her hero.

  4. 4
    Katrina says:

    I can’t remember the name of it (sorry, not helpful, I know) but there was one where the heroine was writing a romance novel based on her new neighbor, and he found the manuscript pages when she was sick (this was before computers). He was furious but then kinda flattered, I think. Could that be part of the same story?

  5. 5
    Cat Marsters says:

    Nope, Remembrance‘s modern scenes are in NYC. And she doesn’t meet the hero there until the very, very end (she has to do the Tudor bit and the Edwardian bit first). And she doesn’t know how she came to be a romance writer, except that she tells people a fairy came along and biffed her on the head and said, “Thou shalt write romance.”

    This story does sound vaguely familiar. I’m wondering if it was a Harlequin Temptation? Or maybe I’m just making things up.

    I’m kind of leery of writing heroines who are writers, especially romance writers, because of the assumption that the heroine must be me. In fact, I was only thinking the other day how irritating it is that people who know me are always putting me in my books—and themselves too! “Did you write that scene about me?” No, I invented someone. It’s what we do.

  6. 6
    Beth says:

    It sounds like Improper English, by Katie MacAlister. Though, that was set in England. But the hero was definitely her neighbor. And I can’t remember why the heroine wants to write a romance, but she moves to England to do it.

  7. 7
    Diana Peterfreund says:

    Sounds like the Harlequin Temptation Brazen & Burning by Julie Leto, to me. It doesn’t take place in San Francisco, but in Tampa Bay. The heroine is a romance novelist. There’s scenes of them driving around in her hot red convertible. Over bridges, I believe.

  8. 8
    SylviaSybil says:

    “Did you write that scene about me?” No, I invented someone. It’s what we do.

    Ha!  Yes, I’ve had that happen to me.  “Yes, the character is a jerk.  No, she’s not you.  No, I’m not mad at you.  It has nothing to do with you.”

    And is it just me or does the heroine in this habo sound like a bit of a jerk, throwing someone’s novel around and declaring that they suck?  Of course, I don’t know how bad this doubly fictional novel is.  Maybe it really does deserve that treatment.

  9. 9

    I know I’ve read that!! I’m going to do a down & dirty search and I’ll get back to you.

  10. 10
    Las says:

    Damn, I KNOW I’ve read that book.

    I don’t think this is it, but there’s a Shiloh Walker book where the heroine secretly writes romance, but the hero isn’t her neighbor, he’s a cop/FBI agent/somethingorother who’s investigating her for some reason. The romance writing thing came out early and I don’t remember it being an issue.

  11. 11

    Season of Passion by Danielle Steel? That’s got to be it. :)

  12. 12
    Beki says:

    A fairy biffed her on the head and said, “Thou shalt write romances?”  That’s exactly what happened to me too!  How awesome.  And yeah, my mom likes to read my mss and try to figure out which one of the characters is ME.

  13. 13
    Sarah Frantz says:

    There’s Grand Passion by Jayne Ann Krentz. Krentz also wrote a HQN Temptation series in 1990, The Adventurer, The Cowboy, The Pirate all about romance authors and finding their hero-type IRL.

  14. 14
    Camilla says:

    a category by Catherine Coulter I think…………..there were two linked, one about a model one a romance writer??

  15. 15
    Las says:

    That Shiloh Walker book I mentioned was Coming in Last. Now that I’ve thought about it more, I’m convinced that this is the book Suzanne is looking for. That scene where she throws the book is vivid in my mind. I don’t have the book anymore so I can’t check, unfortunately. I remember that the heroine had grown up in foster care.

  16. 16
    PetiteJ says:

    The Catherine Coulter novel is “Afterglow” and I loved that one.  If I remember correctly, she wears outrageous knee socks with flamingos and such on them and the hero grows to adore them.  The companion is “The Aristocrat.”

    What were their friends thinking of? Chelsea Lattimer and David Winter couldn’t have been more different. Chelsea was a writer. She lost herself in the past to make up for the inadequacies of the present. David was a doctor, a man of the here and now, with no time for the flights of fantasy that he was sure writers indulged in.

    Somehow, though, the two of them managed to see past their preconception: to find a common ground. David had to admit that fantasy had its uses. And as fog Chelsea, she was finding the present very adequate indeed!

  17. 17
    joykenn says:

    Do take a look at the Catherine Coulter novel “Afterglow”. That might be the one you remember.  Coulter sets a number of novels in San Francisco including a trilogy of historical romances.  I have a vague memory that the book that Chelsea is writing is a historical romance—is that novel “The Aristocrat” and that is why they are linked?

  18. 18
    Stacia K says:

    With very, very few exceptions, unless it’s written by Stephen King I won’t read a book where the MC is a writer.

  19. 19
    Jen says:

    Could it be Falling from Grace by Laura Leone? I think the heroine was a writer, but I’m not sure if she wrote romance. Definitely set in SF, and the hero is definitely a neighbor.

  20. 20
    JamiSings says:

    @Cate -

    Could it be My Hero by Debbie Macomber?  The heroine is writing a romance novel, and keeps following the hero around so she can use him as inspiration for her hero.

    Is that the one where the heroine also had two broken engagements and tells the hero at one point “There’s two slightly used wedding gowns in my closet” then instantly hangs up on him before he can react?

  21. 21
    Olivia says:

    First book I thought of was Rachel Gibson, “I’m In No Mood for Love” only because that is one of the few books I have read where the heroine is a romance author. I think the hero used to be the gardners son who lived near her too. But it takes place in Boise, not SF.

  22. 22
    Zoe Archer says:

    Maybe because it’s my job, but I don’t read fiction about writers, and I really don’t want to write about them.  I slightly broke my rule in an upcoming book, but the heroine is a journalist, not a novelist, so I didn’t feel too self-conscious about using that as her profession.  Writing about writers just feels solipsistic to me, especially when the character who is a writer has their work praised by other characters (this is even worse when we are given examples of the character’s writing and then someone remarks how brilliant it is…dude, you are praising your own work).

    Okay, end of screed.  Thank you for your time.

  23. 23
    Undomiel Regina says:

    This might be Sullivan’s Woman by Nora Roberts—at least, it sounds very similar, although I don’t think she wrote romance novels.  The heroine was definitely a writer in SF, and there was a Big Mis-type scene like the one described.

  24. 24
    Undomiel Regina says:

    Apparently I read well.  The Big Mis there was someone else’s description.

  25. 25
    nekobawt says:

    no idea about the HABO, but the bitchery seem to have it covered as usual. :)

    i haven’t read many contemporary romance novels (though a few of my fav authors will tempt me now and then), so i haven’t been witness to many romance-novelist-as-protagonist romances. well ok, there was that one recent jacquie d’allesandro, but i think the heroine was more of an erotic novelist than romance. writing about a sexy female vampire, in the 1800’s. the heroine, i mean. eh, a lot felt out of place about that book without any of the potential author-insertion-iness, though i could say the same about the last 3 books in her “…after midnight” series.

    but anyway, i don’t think i mind romance-novelists-as-protagonists, but i’ve read a few romance-readers-as-protagonists books where i found those “nods to the audience” a bit off-putting. especially the ones where a specific author is mentioned, because it took the nod from an almost patronizing (yeah, i get a bit defensive about just about anything, i know) reference to the reader (“she reads romances, and you know she’s gonna wind up with mr wonderful; it could happen to you too!”/“he reads romances, because guys read romances, too, and doesn’t that make him even MORE mr wonderful?”) to…well, i don’t know, guerrilla advertising (“this character reads gena showalter.* you should too!”), or breaking the fourth wall. (“hi gena!”)

    i don’t know, really. it’s not like we can ask authors to leave an entire category of people out of the grab bag of character types…if a person you’re writing reads or writes romance novels, then they do, and that’s what you write. i suppose it’s just one of my personal “speed bumps.”

    *to use an example i recently encountered, where the heroine was on a plane and pulled out “the latest scrumptious gena showalter book.”

    captcha word: making82. i’m making 82 complaints, apparently.

  26. 26
    Suzanne says:

    Oh my god, it’s totally Coulter’s Afterglow. My brain is finally released from it’s torture! All the other info is flashing back, including some of the hero’s and heroine’s dickish behavior.

    Now I’m a bit ashamed to admit that it should have occurred to me to check out Coulter since I’m remembering that at that time I was reading a ton of her stuff. Yay for phases of authors. 

    Thanks so much dudes! You guys rock, as always.

    I’m going to order it online right now since none of my local booksellers have it.

  27. 27

    I’m so glad you found out which book it was. I’m also thrilled to learn of another Catherine Coulter book—I love her!

  28. 28
    aphasia says:

    Just throwing in a few cents in defense of the writers of the many many romance writer MCs out there- I have always really liked em. All the reasons not to make sense to me but yet, I do.

  29. 29
    PetiteJ says:

    @ZoeArcher – I think you have a very good point about the self-gratification of a writer praising her own work.  But what I enjoy from this sub-genre is the peek inside an author’s head. 

    **********minor spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************spoiler alert*************


    If I remember correctly, the heroine in “Afterglow” loses herself while she’s thinking of her book and calls it “plotting” or something like that.  I think she is in a minor hit-and-run accident when she’s out jogging one day and doesn’t see the car because she’s “plotting” at the time.  It’s details like this that I love.



    ********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler********end of spoiler*******************

    One of Jude Deveraux’s short stories has a heroine who is a mystery writer and it goes on and on about how brilliant and successful she is.  I can see how that could be annoying.  I thought she handled the who thing with enough self-deprecating wit to pull it off. 

    Actually, this is a mini-HaBO within a HaBO because I can’t recall the name of the short story.  The hero was probably a Montgomery/Taggart because I was obsessed with her family and collected all their stories.  The woman was single because the men she met were intimidated by her success as a writer.  She met the hero him on a ranch and there was mutual dislike, but of course they were meant to be together because she could tell him apart from his twin.  I won’t give more details because I have it and I’ll dig it out when I get home.  But does anyone recall this title off the top of their head?

  30. 30
    JamiSings says:

    @Petite – I actually brought up the same book in another thread.

    It’s a Jude Devereaux story from The Invitation.

    @Cat Marsters -

    “Did you write that scene about me?” No, I invented someone. It’s what we do.

    *sniff* Does this mean I should give up my life long dream of being the inspiration behind a great romance novel heroine? *winks*

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