Books and Champagne: An Evening with Eloisa James, Julia Quinn and Sarah MacLean

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending a meet-and-great event in Ridgefield, Connecticut with historical romance authors Eloisa James, Sarah MacLean and Julia Quinn in promotion of Eloisa's new memoir, Paris in Love. This was my first time visiting Ridgefield, which happens to be Julia's hometown. The library where the event was held is nestled in the most delightful little spot on Main Street, a block away from the event's co-host, Books on the Common. I'll just allow myself the cliche and say that it was like something out of a New England storybook!

I almost didn't attend the event, having not yet read either Eloisa's or Sarah's works, but after both ladies convinced me via Twitter that I wouldn't be tossed out for such an offense I decided to give it a go. This was my first time attending any sort of book event, really, and it was a complete thrill. I loved hearing Julia, Eloisa and Sarah talk about everything from their early experiences reading romances to the constantly debatable perception of genre fiction versus literary fiction. There was a lot to be gained from their discussion (I only wish I'd brought along a notepad to help me remember it all) and all three of them were absolutely hilarious. Three marvelous personalities, their unique writing talents and fathomless good humor - not to mention champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and lots of book talk - made for a very memorable night.

Eloisa read several passages from her memoir, Paris in Love. Hearing her discuss how she compiled the book and listening as she shared from it made me all the more excited to dive into the pages. I love that she approached it, as she said, from the aspect of being an observer in Paris. If I'm ever fortunate enough to visit Paris that's how I've always thought I would want to see it; I wouldn't care as much for sightseeing and all the busy doings, but following the simple nuances of everyday life in the city. Additionally, I could tell there would be a smattering of heart-warming people to meet and sweet stories to discover within the book, which is what makes memoirs such special things.

The effervescent Sarah MacLean, she so sweetly remembered me from our little Twitter conversation! We chatted a bit and she was so kind. I was surprised to learn that she worries about doing readings from her books as they might not offer the fullest essence of the stories, because right after hearing the readings she, Maya Rodale and Katharine Ashe gave at the Liberty State Writer's Conference last month I scurried right over to BN.com and bought all three of their latest releases. Literally, right after. Literally, scurried.

How marvelous is that necklace? I couldn't stop staring at it!

The woman of the hour, Eloisa James, was ever so gracious. She encouraged me to overcome my fear of flying and finally visit Paris, which I will try to do - after I visit it vicariously through her book, of course. I got the sense from meeting her that she's an honest and boldly-living woman, which was incredibly inspiring. She makes you want to go out and make some crazy dream of yours come true (you know, like moving to Paris for a year).

Marvelous Julia Quinn was such a pleasure to meet. I told her about my first experience with one of her books when I won Ten Things I Love About You through Goodreads - she was so excited to know that. She talked about the next book in her lovely Smythe-Smith series, which comes out next month (so excited), and she shared some hilarious stories of her adventures in writing. I loved the one about when she asked her husband to examine a scene in which her hero has a festering wound, and after reading it he said simply, "Yeah, he has to die."

Many, many thanks to Eloisa James, Julia Quinn and Sarah MacLean for giving us Connecticuters (Connecticutians? Did I mention I'm new here?) a fabulous Sunday diversion and a chance to talk historical romance, Paris and books in general. If any of these wonderful ladies will be making an appearance in your town soon I greatly recommend that you snatch up a seat!