Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2019 with Jen DeLuca

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Jen DeLuca

​Jen DeLuca was born and raised near Richmond, Virginia, but now lives in Central Florida with her husband and a houseful of rescue pets. She loves latte-flavored lattes, Hokies football, and the Oxford comma. Well Met is her first novel, inspired by her time volunteering as a pub wench with her local Renaissance Faire.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

Please Note: This post is about the book version of Sookie Stackhouse, not the TV show True Blood. Post contains spoilers for the end of the series.

I don’t want to be that person, and say “I liked such and such before it was cool,” but I’m going to anyway. When I picked up a copy of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris and met Sookie Stackhouse for the first time, there were only three books in the series, and the True Blood television series wasn’t even a glimmer in Alan Ball’s eye. I was sucked in (oh no, is that a pun?) from the very first line: I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar. I inhaled the first three books and waited eagerly for more. The books became an annual tradition, and Sookie became a friend that I got to check in with once a year. Every new installment was a chat around a kitchen table with an old friend, warming my hand around a mug of coffee while Sookie caught me up on what was going on in her life. Part of that feeling was thanks to Harris’s close writing style, where Sookie often spoke to the reader in a conversational tone. But most of it was simply because Sookie was so real. She wasn’t anything fancy. She was a waitress in a small town, with no lofty ambitions. She lived a quiet life and did her best to keep it that way. Things just kept…happening to her and those she loved.

Paranormal romance novels are often about excess. Immortal heroes drive lavish cars, drink top-shelf liquor, and throw around their black AmEx cards. But the world of Sookie Stackhouse was real. It was relatable. It was as lived-in as her home, built by her great-great-great grandfather and added on to over the years. She looked forward to a frozen pizza after a long shift at Merlotte’s. Her vampire boyfriend Bill Compton bought his shirts at Dillard’s. I could relate to Sookie; I often like a Freschetta pizza at the end of a long day myself.

But more than that, the thing that drew me to Sookie, that kept me buying the books and looking forward to that yearly kitchen-table chat, was how Sookie knew exactly who she was, and remained true to herself. Over the course of thirteen volumes, she was thrown into a world containing vampires, shifters, witches, fairies, and Elvis, and she had relationships with most of those (except Elvis; they were just good friends). Despite these overwhelming circumstances, her values and priorities remained the same. She was always honest: to her friends, to her romantic partners, and most importantly to herself and therefore to the reader. She was upfront about her faults, defending her hobby of sunbathing in her yard, knowing it was bad for her, with a “hey it’s my vice cut me a break” attitude. She was honest about who she was, describing her home as nothing fancy but she kept it clean (which usually made me look around my own dog-hair-covered couch with a twinge of guilt – don’t judge me, Sookie!). 

The ending of the series was slightly controversial – most fans wanted her to end up with Eric, but she gave him the boot – but to me it was perfect. Honestly, we all should have seen it coming. After years of relationships with various men who wanted her to change, wanted her to be something other than who she was, she ended up with bar owner/shifter Sam Merlotte. Sam, who had been the one person throughout the series who stuck up for her, supported her, and never asked her to change a single thing about who she was. He loved her for her, just as Sookie loved herself. 

Seeing Sookie have such a perfect sense of self made me examine my own life. It made me less ashamed of my own shortcomings, and made me less inclined to need to keep up with what everyone else had. I had a feeling that if I met Sookie, she would think that I was enough; I was fine just the way I was. 

Title Well Met
Author Jen DeLuca
Intended Target Audience Adult
Genre Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date September 3rd 2019 by Berkley
Find It On GoodreadsAmazonChaptersThe Book Depository

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

One response to “Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2019 with Jen DeLuca”

  1. Hello I need Jen’s book immediately! And this post was so well written – I could feel the connection she felt to Sookie. Thanks so much for this series, Jen! I am getting so many new books and authors out of it.
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