Romance Novels with Real Life Doppelgängers

Julie James' Just the Sexiest Man Alive

When the news broke that former Washington, D.C., mayor Adrian Fenty has been quietly dating Laurene Jobs Powell, the widow of Apple computer founder Steve Jobs, I immediately wanted to read a romance-novel version of this relationship. It’s the old trope of the billionaire and the do-gooder, but with the genders reversed and the added complication of previous relationships and kids (romance novel minefields that can be very touching when done well). The story is definitely ripe for fictionalizing—for me, it brought to mind Nora Roberts’s classic novella All the Possibilities (reprinted along with a connected Roberts novella as The MacGregors: Alan and Grant), in which blue blood Senator Alan MacGregory falls in love with free-spirited artist Shelby Campbell. While we wait for some enterprising writer to take on Adrian and Laurene’s romance, here are a few more stories that seem ripped from the headlines:

Her Favorite TemptationSarah Mayberry’s newest novella finds an overworked doctor falling for her next-door neighbor—who turns out to be a famous rock star. This brought to mind U2 frontman Bono and his wife of 31 years, Ali Hewson. Hewson initially planned to become a nurse, but instead made a career of her shared passion with her husband for social justice, campaigning to help people affected by nuclear radiation accidents. (Mayberry’s forthcoming novel, Her Favorite Rival, is connected to the novella through a supporting character.)

Burning UpMatt Damon, who famously dated actresses Minnie Driver and Winona Ryder, met and fell in love with bartender Luciana Barroso in 2003, and married her two years later. Damon and his wife now have four daughters, and if Daddy Damon isn’t the cutest thing in the world, I don’t know what is. To keep that magic going, check out this book, again from Mayberry (really, just read all of her books. She’s a delight on Twitter and a wonderful writer), in which personal chef Sophie takes a job cooking for high-maintenance movie star Lucas. She convinces him to enjoy something other than a plain grilled chicken breast, and things get steamier from there.

Just the Sexiest Man Alive.  Julie James’ debut novel, in which ambitious lawyer Taylor Donovan finds herself assigned to prep actor—and People’s Sexiest Man Alive—Jason Andrews during a sexual harassment case, has not one but three pairs of Hollywood doppelgängers. Both Juliana Margulies and Dustin Hoffman are married to lawyers (Keith Lieberthal and Lisa Gottsegen, respectively), as is Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who got hitched to attorney Justin Mikita just last month. While none of the three actors met their spouses under such fraught circumstances (as far as I know), they have good representation on deck in case of parking tickets.

What famous couple’s story would make a great novel?

  • http://www.goodreads.com/joeleoj Joel Cunningham

    I just finished Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio and now I want someone to write that book.