As a veteran editor of Harlequin romance novels, Patience Bloom has had the enviable job of facilitating fairy-tale love stories between heroric hunks and whip-smart heroines for 16 years. When it came to her own affairs of the heart, though, Bloom's dating life was far from picture-perfect. In her 40s and after many short-term relationships that ended in disappointment, she nearly gave up on love—until reconnecting with a high school acquaintance offered a shot at her very own happily-ever-after. Romance Is My Day Job is Bloom's charming, utterly relatable account of navigating the ups and downs of dating and finding love when and where you least expect it. We asked Bloom a few questions about the book.
How did the idea for the book come about?
I started writing Romance Is My Day Job as a stress-reliever six weeks before my wedding. Two years went by, and an agent—who became my agent—convinced me to polish the book and try to sell it. Why not? Sam and I have an extraordinary story. A reclusive 40-something romance editor unexpectedly reunites with the wild class clown of her high school years. That’s a pretty good romance.
What was the first romance novel that you ever read? How old were you and what did you think of it?
My first official romance novel was Phantom Marriage by Penny Jordan, followed immediately by Desire’s Captive. I didn’t realize there were books like this—just for me! I was 14 and reading romances when I should have been studying for exams. I remember Desire’s Captive more because the hero’s name was Nico, and after being such a grumpus through the entire book, he finally admits his love to the heroine. I gasped and then melted.
How did you become a romance book editor? Was it something you always wanted to do?
I liked to read romance novels, but I read a lot of other books, too: nonfiction, thrillers, literary fiction and commercial women’s fiction. Publishing was my calling, and by some happy accident, my first job was at Harlequin. So I turned my guilty-pleasure reading into a full-time job.
What was the weirdest reaction a guy ever had when you first told him about your job?
The weirdest reaction came on a fourth date with a guy, who’d just told me he’d gotten back with his ex. I didn’t know why he wanted to keep seeing me until he handed me his unpublished book. He knew all along that I was an editor, and this was the only reason why he wanted to date me. Most guys were enlightened, asked a lot of questions and thought it sounded like a fun job.
Is there a romance hero archetype that you didn’t encounter in real life? Which archetype do you feel would be the worst kind of guy to date in real life, why?
I never dated the law enforcement guy, though I appreciated their rescuing my cats during an apartment fire, giving me directions, and reassuring me during some crises in the city. Dating a NYC cop would have been too scary for me since I worry too much, but I’d have made an exception for Elliott Stabler [from the TV show “Law & Order: SVU”]. In my experience, the worst guy to date is the alpha male. He’s just a jerk. Alphas are loveable in romance novels because you know that some goodness lies behind the intensity. In real life, the alphas I’ve encountered have been sadistic as boyfriends, but fun as just friends (as long as we do what he wants to do).
What’s your favorite genre of romance?
I like moody historical romances, romantic suspense and sexy, glitzy romances (I’m not sure that’s a genre). A nice, cozy small-town romance can also be deeply satisfying. Paranormal or Western-themed romances are not as much of a draw for me, but I have read some great ones.
How did your “uninspired” dating life affect how you felt about your job?
No matter how awful my date was, the romances I read the next day were mood-boosters. If love couldn’t happen to me, these heroines felt like my sisters, also in search of someone. I rooted for the characters to find love instead. It didn’t depress me to come to work after a lame night with Mr. Not Right at All.
Why do you think romance novels are so popular with readers?
These are happy stories about love. They leave the reader with hope of some kind, not necessarily that Mr. Perfect will land in their laps, but that love exists. Romance novels are fun decadence, fantasy and dream-food for romantics.
What was it about your husband that signaled to you that he was “the one”?
I knew he was “the one” when we first spoke on the phone—within a week of our connecting on Facebook. He has this reassuring voice, and I wanted to keep listening to him. Something clicked. This felt different, so we just kept talking on the phone. Because I had two feet on the ground, I also understood that he might not recognize me as “the one” for him. I was ready for anything—even nothing.
What’s next for you?
Promoting this book is next. While I do that, I’ve started writing Cassie McBride’s Dating Adventures: How to Love Like a Romance Heroine, with a little more dating memoir thrown in. I also am generating more romance writing tips on my blog (www.romanceismydayjob.com). If that weren’t enough, I’m writing a steamy office romance (might as well).
(Author photo by Patrick Smith)