The Ugly Duchess, the September 2012 Top Pick in Romance, is a sexy, senusal Regency fairy tale that romance columnist Christie Ridgway calls "delicious" and "sensuous." Eloisa James, Shakespeare professor by day and romance author by candlelit night, answered a few questions on fairy tales and the romance genre.
Describe your book in one sentence.
The Ugly Duchess is a version of "The Ugly Duckling," in which the duckling is a duchess who falls in love with a pirate . . . because every ugly duckling deserves a gorgeous man with a tattoo (and a title).
If you could live in any fairy tale, which would it be?
Cinderella. Great dresses, magic wand, fabulous castle, singing mice—it’s got it all!
What are the sexiest scenes to write?
Scenes in which the hero and heroine are flirting. Nothing is as sensuous as elegantly constructed, witty conversation.
What is it about the Regency era that makes for such unforgettable romances?
The circumscribed nature of relationships between men and women at the gentry level and above make it an interesting period for romance. Sexual mores were not as rigid as they became during the Victorian period and nor as loose as during the Georgian.
Why are romances your favorite books?
The simple answer is that I love a happy ending. But a more complicated answer is that romance has a rhythm and a promise to it that appeals to me. I know the world is a tough and cold place; I’ve lost my mother and I have a child with a chronic illness. But—and this is a big but—I also know that love and joy make all the difference. Romance reminds me that if there’s a pattern to the universe, it’s one shaped around and by love. We can all use that reminder now and then.
What fairy tale will you remake next?
My version of Rapunzel will be published in July 2013.
And one question for your double life as a Shakespeare professor: In your opinion, what is the most romantic line Shakespeare ever wrote?
A half line, spoken by Romeo when he finds Juliet in the tomb: “O my love, my wife."