House House

To celebrate Valentine's Day, we asked best-selling romance writer and House fan Eloisa James how House stacks up against the heroes in her books.

At first glance, Dr. House is nothing like a conventional romantic hero. Can you imagine him bare-chested on a book cover, a bodacious blonde (or perhaps a ravishing radiologist) drooping in his arms? Not so much. House is the "Hunchback of Princeton," as Hugh Laurie himself once said. He's a disagreeable, physically (and emotionally) crippled genius. He'd hold up that blonde just long enough to point out her roots. The Cranky Cripple and the Bodacious Bride would never make it to the shelves — just ask my editor.

As the TV series has gone on, though, it's become evident that House does have a heroic side. He notices the weird eyelash lesions everyone else missed, just as the patient flatlines. And he displays extra-ordinary courage every time he orders hundreds of tests without consulting an insurance adjuster. Clearly, if one has the misfortune to contract a mysterious disease, Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital is the place to cure it.

But maybe we don't need a cover-worthy hero if the heroine fits the bill? Dr. Lisa Cuddy is not only wildly intelligent, but she wears pencil skirts and stiletto heels all day. That's heroic. Plus, she's the queen of the snappy retort, not to mention those emotional zingers that shake House down to his toes.

So, as a romance writer, would I bet on their relationship? Will the House scriptwriters allow the disagreeable doctor and the audacious administrator to stay together long term... or to the end of the season? My guess: Yes! We like male dysfunction in America — and we particularly like to see those dysfunctional males on their knees.

I let myself be inspired by House this year, and the hero of my latest romance, When Beauty Tamed the Beast, is an irascible and damaged doctor. My story went in a very different direction than the show, but to be honest, House is precisely my idea of a romantic hero. A man in love is vulnerable. Watching an intense, fascinating egotist like House become vulnerable to Cuddy...? Pure pleasure. — Eloisa James

Win one of four sets of House DVDs, Seasons 1-6! Click on the TV Guide Magazine logo at eloisajames.com from February 10-27 and fill out an entry form for a chance to win. Plus, 50 readers will receive a signed copy of her new book!

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