Big welcome to Julia Barrett!
She has recently released a collection of contemporary romance with Jewish heroines.
Jewish Women Read (and write) Romance.
Yes, Jewish women (and men as my husband will testify) do read and write romantic tales. Or, as we say in the vernacular, Romance.
What’s not to love? A Romance is, to put it succinctly and with a nod to Joseph Campbell, nothing more and nothing less than the hero’s journey.
A chance, or serendipitous, encounter or event. An attraction. A loss. A dark night of the soul. A quest for courage. Growth. Redemption. And in the end, the achievement of the goal, i.e., true love.
Until 2007, I considered Romance and Romance readers to be, well, I don’t know how else to say it… not real readers. I apologize. I was mistaken. The smartest women I know write Romance. AND read it. Oh, sure, I read Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Outlander. But in my mind those were not Romances. They were novels.
Yet where would Jane Eyre be without, as my dear friend, Penny, dubs him, Rocky McRochester? If there ever was a tragic romantic figure, it’s Rocky McRochester. On a dark cold night, a chance encounter with a strange woman changes his life’s course. He comes to love his Jane with a fierce passion, and she him. Yet due to his own, albeit ultimately forgivable failings, he loses her. In the end he regains his lost love, but not before he is forced to traverse the Valley of the Shadow of Death, as does our broken-hearted heroine. Classic Romance trope. Love found. Love lost. Love regained.
Oh? What’s that you’re asking? What happened in 2007 to change my opinion of Romance?
In 2007 I was laid up with a severe knee injury. I was forced to wear a titanium brace for nearly a year. Without the brace I needed crutches to get around. I spent eight months of that year on the wait list for a particular surgeon. While I waited, I read.
(I believe a writer should be a reader, as in every writer should have an entire library floating around in her head. I’ll go so far as to say one must be a great reader to be a good writer.)
A friend brought me a book by Romance writer, Linda Howard. The book was Kill and Tell. I thought, why not? Who cares? I’m bored.
Kill and Tell opened my eyes. I loved that book. I proceeded to read everything Linda Howard had written, as in, I devoured her books. I moved on to other writers of Romantic Suspense and then onto Paranormal Romance, a few Historical Romances, and an occasional work of Contemporary Romance. The more Romances I read, the more I began to realize that Romance, at least the Romances I read, had common themes- Heroism. Sacrifice. Courage. Love.
I spent an entire year reading Romances of all subgenres, studying their strengths and weaknesses. After that year, I realized I wanted to write Romance. Not just a single Romance, but many Romances. As many intelligent Romances as I had in me. Truth be told, I found a deep well of stories to tell. Every story includes a part of me, and a big part of me is my Judaism.
All of my life is in my work. I am especially fond of Jewish themes, Jewish questions, and existential angst. (If the modern Jew can lay claim to any one attribute, it’s angst.) But in truth these are universal themes. Many of my stories are tales of suffering and survival. Yes, survival. Above all else, we are survivors. While my protagonists may not all thump their chests, yelling, “Hey, look at me! I’m Jewish!” They are. Each and every one of them. Their lives are Jewish lives. Their struggles are Jewish struggles. They laugh, they cry, they fight for their beliefs and for the people they love. Most of the time, my protagonists experience the dark night of the soul. They come out the other side stronger and more determined women and men.
As I said in the beginning, Romance, real Romance, is a rendering of the hero’s journey. The theme is timeless and universal. Therein lies the appeal. Yes, Jewish women (and men) do indeed read Romance.
The Jewish Collection Volume One
This volume includes three works of contemporary Romance: Beauty and the Feast, A Matter of Taste, and Pushing Her Boundaries.
Eva Raines, the heroine of Beauty and the Feast, is half-Jewish. Her experiences are loosely based upon my own experiences as a chef, caterer, and personal chef. She is also an Iowa farm girl transplanted to Napa, California. The recipes are my own and those of my extended family.
A Matter of Taste is a story of two facts—the fact of my grandmother’s secret hand-written recipe collection which came into my possession after her passing, and her predictions about the man I would marry. Her traditional Jewish recipes are to die for, and yes, her predictions came true.
Pushing Her Boundaries is a true story! Seriously. I wrote it after my husband and I were stranded in The Boundary Waters Canoe Area with insane guides and no food- for five days! We had to figure out how to survive and we did. Maggie is a nurse. She is Jewish. Much of her life story is mine as well. Mace, like my husband, is a sexy physician. My husband is, in fact, the person who told me to go all out with Pushing Her Boundaries. (You’ll see what I mean.)
About the author:
J.R. Barrett and her husband currently reside in Northern California, but she is an Iowan through and through. She reads, she writes, she hikes, she swims, she cooks and bakes, and she plays German shepherd basketball. She and her husband have three children and a big, strong, courageous German shepherd named Jake. She loves love, comic books and science fiction!
Follow J.R. Barrett on Twitter: @JuliaRBarrett
Catch up with her on her websites: I Don’t Think It Means…
And: I Can Write Anything Blog
You can find out all about Julia on her Amazon Author Page: Julia Barrett