Romance Is My Day Job

From alphas to betas and Harlequin novels, Patience Bloom knows romance

by Sarah Weinman

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Romance is My Day Job

By Patience Bloom

When we first meet Patience Bloom, she is 40 years old, sitting on a train headed back to New York City after a disastrous weekend away with the “extremely gorgeous” and “elusive alpha male” boyfriend she will break up with when they get home. She’s been in the dating pool for decades, in relationships, long and short, with alphas, betas and beyond. All the while, for 10 years now, she’s held down a job at Harlequin editing romance novels, still the books she loves best.

The conclusion Bloom reaches, that her “life is nothing like these books, not even a little bit,” and, “I’m okay if it’s just me,” sounds like a cliché. But, as this charming and winning memoir reveals, fate had a different ending in mind for Bloom.

In chronological detail, Bloom takes readers on a travelogue through her romantic life, starting with the awkward high school dance where the date she carefully asked out runs off the dance floor (though her evening is saved by the class clown), through short-lived Paris flings during a year abroad, to relationships more tortured and boring in Cleveland, Albuquerque, New Jersey and, eventually, Manhattan. Throughout, she escapes her life’s tumult in romance novels, and then, after stints as a teacher and temping, lucks into work at Harlequin, where the employees “seem serene—overwhelmed with work, but happy, because it’s fun work.”

Romance Is My Day Job ends up doubling as a solid primer on how the most commercial side of book publishing works. Bloom’s colleagues are supportive of her work and, later, some great changes in her love life. Before Bloom knows it, an out-of-the-blue instant message from Sam, that long-ago class clown, leads to intense online, then telephone, conversations, and an improbable long-distance relationship.

For the woman who wrote, “When it comes to romantic comedies, I’m firmly in the Julia Roberts camp,” it’s a great leap of trust. But—no spoiler here—Bloom and Sam make things work, as she realizes “the truth about love is that the right spouse is obvious” and, above all, that the romance novels she loves and edits “were right—about everything.”

Sarah Weinman

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