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Zara West’s Book Reviews: Julia Quinn

Writing Humorous Romance

Sticking with my Regency theme, today I am reviewing an oldie, but goodie, Everything and the Moon by Julia Quinn (1997). Like Mary Balogh, Julia Quinn has written a large number of romances over a long period of time. Like Mary Balogh, she was one of the first romance authors whose series drew me in and has kept me buying and reading her books for over a decade.

What is it about her books that makes them irresistible? They make me laugh.

Julia Quinn is a master at infusing humor into her books. Since writing humor is something I struggle with, I can’t help but admire an author who not only makes readers laugh, but can do so over twenty plus novels.

What makes her romances humorous? Based on my reading of most of her books, I believe it is the total mismatch of the hero and heroine’ goals and the refusal of the heroine to do the expected thing in a Regency romance. That, combined with some of the wittiest dialogue in the romance genre, is a sure fire path to leaving a reader with a smile on her or his face.

Everything and the Sun is a perfect example. The hero is the son of an earl. The heroine is the daughter of a vicar. As children they grew up together; as teenagers they fell in love. But through the cruel machinations of their fathers, their budding romance is destroyed and each go their separate ways furious at the other.

When they meet again seven years later, Victoria is a put-upon governess, and Robert an earl. But sigh—he still loves her, and he is not going to lose her again. Victoria, on the hand, wants nothing to do with the man she thinks abandoned her and now seems to want her to be his mistress, and she’s no pushover. This leads to a series of escapades in which Robert makes his case, and Victoria rebuts it or makes him look like a fool.

The pea incident is a good example. Julia Quinn Everything and the MoonThe Earl has finagled a seat for the governess at the dinner table embarrassing her tremendously. Victoria retaliates by flirting with Captain Pays. And then the peas are served.

She turned to Robert. “If I recall, you detest them. Pity we weren’t served pea soup.”…

“Actually,” Robert said, beaming. “I have just developed a sudden fondness for peas. Just this evening, as a matter of fact.”

Victoria harrumphed and returned her attention to Captain Pays. Robert slid some peas onto his fork, made certain no one was looking, took aim and let fly.

And missed. The peas went flying in every direction, but none managed to connect with either Victoria or Pays. That was the sort of evening he was having. And it had started so nicely too.

By now you have figured out that Julia Quinn’s Regency is not Jane Austin’s or even Mary Balogh’s. Her characters are fun loving, light-hearted, always a bit immature, and very modern. Sure they suffer heartache. Sure they do all those Regency things—house parties, balls, masquerades, and recitals. But transport her heroes and heroines to the present day, and they would do just fine.

So if you are willing to suspend belief in historical fact and settle back for a laugh, a smile, and a happy ending, you can’t go wrong with a Julia Quinn. Her newest book The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband releases on May 30th.

Writing Humorous Romance Julia Quinn Style

  1. Make one character avidly in love and the other avidly reluctant.
  2. Throw in a series of misfortunate events and silly misunderstandings.
  3. Have both characters sink to levels of immaturity that go against the accepted/expected behavior in that social setting.
  4. Write light-hearted, witty dialogue and give the heroine a sharp-tongue and the ability to think on her feet.
  5. Add in some melting love scenes and a happy ending that leaves the reader laughing.

Learn more about Julia Quinn

Juila’s Website


Do you enjoy humorous romances?

Why or why not?

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