“I’d like my romance with a side of chocolate, please.” This can be your order if you stop by Lady Jane’s Salon in Naperville, a romance reading salon that meets every few months at Le Chocolat du Bouchard, an independent chocolate shop in Naperville. Founders and romance authors Tracey Devlyn and Adrienne Giordano promise all visitors a great time and happy taste buds.
Romance fiction is big business as per Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013. In 2012, romance generated $1.438 billion in sales as the top-performing category on the best-seller lists (across the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists). With a large market share, it seems only right to capitalize on romance fiction’s popularity.
Lady Jane’s Salon in Naperville began two years ago after Tracey and Adrienne went to the original Lady Jane’s in New York City, started by romance author Hope Tarr. Wanting to bring the experience to Chicagoland, Tracey and Adrienne found their home at Le Chocolat. It was a delicious match made in heaven that promises a Happily Ever After for attending fans.
The usual format for Lady Jane’s is for four or five authors to each read an excerpt from her (or his!) recent novel to a crowd of about forty in the loft at Le Chocolat. Raffle prizes are given away and recently, a question and answer session with the authors was added. The authors stay afterward to sign their books for attendees and chat, as romance fans sip hot or cold chocolate concoctions or savor decadent desserts made in the store below.
The June Salon had a slightly different format. First, there were readings from two writers. Kelsey Browning writes “sass-kicking love stories and cozy Southern mysteries.” She read a lively section from her latest book Running the Red Light that had the audience rolling. LJS founder Adrienne Giordano, who is a USA Today Best Selling author, read from her book The Defender, a Harlequin Intrigue, out on June 10. Several guests won books and other goodies after each reading.
After the readings, Tracey and Adrienne, along with their plotting partners Kelsey and Theresa Stevens (writer, previous executive editor of a small romance press, and creative writing instructor), provided a master class in plotting. They meet twice a year at a neutral location and have so far plotted twenty-two books together. They each have different skills to bring to the plotting table. Kelsey is good at characterization while Theresa asks ‘why’ a lot and helps the team dig deeper. Adrienne is a plot and structure master and Tracey rounds out the group with great knowledge such as knowing how to kill characters in sixty different and unique ways. They have a great rapport and respect for each other and are committed to the advancement of their collective careers. They also know that wine and chocolate are valid inducements to well-plotted books. The process was intriguing with many useful tidbits for aspiring and published authors. And fans in the room enjoyed getting a glimpse into how writers create their masterpieces. Their plotting success is proven: all four have active and successful writing careers.
Adrienne loves the energy in the room and the mix of readers they have had the past two years. Tracey enjoys the sense of community the salon brings. And for what is next, Adrienne would love to mix it up a bit and bring in an author such as thriller writer David Ellis and Tracey would love to have Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz highlight someday. Later this summer, LJS will feature guest host Bobbi Dumas, freelance writer for NPR and Kirkus reviews, and staunch supporter of the romance genre.
Lady Jane’s Salon meets every few months at Le Chocolat. The next Salon is on August 5 at 7:00 p.m. Authors Sarah M. Anderson, Tracey Brogan, Shannon Schroeder, and Robyn Bachar will be reading. RSVP through the LJS website. The events usually sell out at least a month in advance. Pick out your tasty treat in advance and find out more about the host store. Le Chocolat du Bouchard is at 127-129 S. Washington St., Naperville, IL.