Your Professor Writes Romance Novels? Deborah Harkness, Barbara Shapiro and Nicole Peeler

edenskeeper March 23, 2015 0 Book Reviews, Uncategorized


In colleges and universities around the United States, the halls of academia echo with the whispers of “publish or perish”.  Traditionally, tenured positions are tied to published articles, research and tomes guaranteed to keep the institution in the limelight. It is easier to attract top-notch professors, cream of the crop students, big money grants, and more alumni funding when you can deliver bragging rights.

While most professors produce highly researched niche works that tend to cater to the needs of other academics, policy wonks, and the occasional pundit, there are those intrepid souls who risk the derision of their fellow colleagues, students and development fund directors by publishing -dun-dun-dun-dummmm – romance novels! Even worse – paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels!

Here are a few of my favorite professors and their works for your enjoyment.


The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

A fanciful mix of science, history, and supernatural creatures, The All Souls Trilogy, has made All Souls Trilogyinternational headlines with its popularity. Professor Harkness has written several prize-winning non-fiction books; been awarded fellowships at prestigious institutions; even taught in the hallowed halls of Oxford. Rumor has it, that the professor was inspired by the display case of an airport bookshop filled with vampire novels that were climbing the ranks of the NY Times’ Best Sellers List. On a whim, she dared herself to write a vampire story of her own. The rest, as they say, is history.

See my review of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness here.

The Jane True Series by Nicole Peeler

Professor Peeler is probably most recognized for her Paranormal Romance books, The Jane True Series. Professor Peeler is currently leading an MFA program at Seton Hall University. She still manages to make time for her fans especially on Facebook. Her new series, Jinn and Juice, hits the street in paperback this April.

In the tiny village of Rockabill, Maine, Jane True—26-year-old bookstore clerk and secret Tempest Risingnight swimmer—has no idea that her absent mother’s legacy is entry into a world populated by the origins of human myths and legends.  It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: vampires are not quite what we think; dogs sometimes surprise us; and whatever you do, never—ever—rub the genie’s lamp.   For Jane, everything kicks off when she comes across a murder victim during her nightly clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean.  This grisly discovery leads to the revelation of why she has such freakish abilities in the water: her mother was a Selkie and Jane is only half human. With this knowledge, Jane soon finds herself mingling with supernatural creatures alternately terrifying, beautiful, and deadly—all adjectives that quite handily describe her new friend Ryu.  When Ryu is sent to Rockabill to investigate the murder, he and Jane fall hard for each other even as they plummet into a world of intrigue threatening to engulf both supernatural and human societies.  For someone is killing half-humans like Jane.   The question is, are the murders the work of one rogue individual or part of a greater plot to purge the world of Halflings?

The first Jane True book is my favorite. Jam packed with a quirky bunch of characters and a heroine who is just beginning to figure out what she really wants out of life, Tempest Rising offers an original take on one of the most loved and mysterious mystical creatures in Celtic mythology, selkies.

The Art Forger by Barbara A. Shapiro

Professor Shapiro taught Sociology at Tufts University and Creative Writing at Northeastern University. Inspired to try her hand as a novelist after the birth of her second child, Professor Shapiro hit the ground running with her first novel, The Art Forger.

On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in Art Forgerhistory, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

I was living in Boston when this theft occurred and nostalgia led me to pick up this novel. I listened to the book on Nice combination of story lines and an imaginative take on what could have happened to these pieces of artwork. At its core, The Art Forger is a love story. How far would you go to save someone you loved? Would you be willing to sacrifice your own dreams and even your reputation?

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