Day 10: Michelle Monkou – Romance and Safe Spaces

My Lifelong Love Affair with Love

Passionate GameOf course ROMANCE matters. As a reader of romance, it was the lifeline that I securely fastened around my waist from the time that I could tie that knot. As a child growing up in Guyana, I spent many after-school hours in the company of an elder who read Mills and Boons in staggering quantities. I would peek over her shoulder to read, while braiding her hair. Or I’d sit opposite her on the verandah, waiting for my mother to come, and spending the time staring up at the book covers. In my head, I would be off to those romantic settings of faraway places. Then, it was my turn to discover Harlequin Presents in my teens. By this time, I was living and going to school in the U.S., which seemed so foreign and unfriendly. With my two bookaholic friends who were also newly arrivals to the U.S., we escaped into the world of romances. We would pool our money to buy the books and when we couldn’t afford it, we’d beg the librarian in the book-mobile that came into the neighborhood to loan us those “adult” books. We formed our romance bookclub long before that was a trend. We read a book a day and we’d meet at each other’s apartments to talk about and exchange the books. During the meeting, we’d read our favorite passages to each other. Romance books in our young lives mattered more than anything else. From reading, we moved onto writing romances.

Now out of the three of us, I’m the only one who kept writing. We’d long gone our separate ways, more confident and settled with our lives. One day, I got an email from one of the friends who had discovered my published books. For you see, I wanted to create those stories that took hold of my imagination from a young age. I wanted to be the sculptor shaping my perfect hero to meet his perfect heroine. Writing romances gave me the freedom to write about people like me, but more importantly, about people who looked like me.

Romance is all around me. I was 17 years old when I met my husband in college. He was 21 years old. Not quite the age appropriateness that my parents, especially my mother, wanted to see. I then transferred to another university after two years, pushing that long distance button, but our romance survived. Recently we celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary with our two kids who say they are never getting married–LOL.

Racing HeartsUnlike any other genre, romance books facilitate our basic human need to love and be loved. We have enough of a diverse spectrum—erotic romance, historical, contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, inspirational, and everything in between–to quench the various paths to this common goal. When we huddle to talk about the epic worlds of a shapeshifting society, or the palace intrigue of an ancient time, or fall in love with small town America, all the outer trappings of how we categorize ourselves, as citizens, melt away. Next time pay attention to how romance bookaholics talk about their favorite stories or characters, their love for alpha vs. beta heroes, or the strength of their favorite heroines. What race you are, your religious affiliation, your gender bias don’t matter. We cross all the social divides and constructs to share our love for these books.

Society could stand to learn a thing or two from romance novels. Maybe instead of angry posturing, a few romance novels on the diplomatic tables could do more for furthering society than how many weapons to build or ways to control or annihilate certain populations of society. Romance humanizes us. It invites us to walk in someone else’s shoes. It invites us to see the world through different lens. Most of all, romance says that no matter your starting point, no matter where you are on the journey, love is love.


I would like to recommend award-winning Celeste O. Norfleet’s books. She’s a prolific author and has a great ongoing family series called The Coles. Her latest release is The Thrill Of You. I would also recommend e-author Iris Bolling who writes romantic suspense with a touch of Ian Fleming flair. Her latest book, The Pendleton Rule, will not disappoint.

Questions for Michelle:

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

The Fabulous, Delusional World of Moi. I think the title captures how I think. Sometimes I think things are worse than they actually are or that they are better than they actually are. On that note, I’d have a supermodel play me because of that delusional state that I live in.

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

Usually it’s just a simple two words – THANK YOU. Gratitude is always appreciated. And yet, it’s sometimes the most forgotten thing.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

Marc Newton and Erin Wilson of Racing Hearts–I loved writing about a race car driver and his doctor, a clichéd couple, but so is a billionaire and his secretary, and yet, we don’t stop reading them.


Michelle is generously donating two copies of Passionate Game to give away. To enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 10 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

Michelle MonkouMichelle Monkou is a multi-published author with over 16 books in print and digital. She began her writing career in 2002 with Black Entertainment Television (BET) Books. Now, she writes for Harlequin’s Kimani Romance and publishes backlist and original stories on her independent digital platform, Stella Maris Publishing. Michelle served on the board and as president of Romance Writers of America. She’s a weekly contributor on USA TODAY’s Happy Ever Blog. Her website is


Buy Michelle’s Books on Amazon.

  • Jen C

    Aw, what a great piece. I also think romances would make diplomacy better! If anything, it will remind the head honchos involved that real people with their own lives and stories to tell are affected by their decisions.

  • Terry Odell

    I found romance late in life–when I decided to play around with writing a mystery and my daughters told me it was a romance. I’d never read one to that point, but I realized that my love of mystery series was based to a great extent on the developing relationships between the characters. I think there’s romance everywhere.

  • Melanie Backus

    You know, our society probably could use a good dose of romance!

  • Priscilla C. Johnson

    Love it.. every time I read a book it becomes my favorite… Racing Hearts is special also. We need more romance in the world. Can’t wait to see you in October. :- )

  • Kim Cornwell

    Always love meeting new authors! Thanks for stopping by!

  • This is the first I’ve heard of Michelle! Thank you so much for sharing your post. Ya know, society does need an injection of romance. Everyone needs to feel good 🙂

  • Sandi in OH

    My oldest son said he was never getting married or having children. He is now married and has three children. They are adopting a girl from Haiti who is eight years old. By the time she is adopted she will probably be 21.

  • TrishJ

    Another new author to me. I do love to read and romance books always have the HEA. I always have a book in my purse and read every chance I have. I was once surprised when the nurse at my doctor’s office had read the same book. Our age difference doesn’t matter, we both love romance.

  • Iris Bolling

    My son stated he wasn’t getting married years ago. The right woman, a little romance and now I’m preparing for a wedding in 2014. LOL! Great article Michelle.

  • christinejensen

    Fantastic 🙂

  • Ann Mettert

    Another amazing person. Hope to get a chance to read her soon.

  • Ketta Peters

    Another new author for me, thanks for a great post.

  • Ann

    “The Fabulous, Delusional World of Moi.” – Great title for a movie!

  • Ruth

    Michelle, I firmly believe that only those truly meant to be together survive long-distance romance. Congratulations to you and your husband!

    • Michelle Monkou

      Thank you. I keep reminding my hubby how lucky he is LOL.

  • Meredith Richardson

    Thanks for sharing your story with us about your own romance story 🙂 I can’t wait to check out your books. I have to create a list of must reads after finding this site lol. All the authors and books I’ve discovered will definitely give me enough romance to read for a year or longer!!

    • Michelle Monkou

      LOL! I know what you mean. I’m just honored to be in the mix among all these wonderful writers.

  • Patty Vasquez

    “Society could stand to learn a thing or two from romance novels.” You are so right! Reading the author essays has had me thinking a lot about the role of romance in our lives. We’re surrounded by it: music, TV, movies, commercials, and of course, books. Love IS love. And if we could live by that simple mantra, the world would be a safer place in which to live and love!

    • Michelle Monkou

      Talking about romance books and hanging out with bookaholics have done more in creating lasting friendships than anything else.

  • Pamby50

    I was one of those who was never getting married after I watched my parents get divorced after 25 years. Silly people. Next month we it will be 32 years. Love and romance is the best.

    • Michelle Monkou

      YAY! My parents were separated after a gazillion years. And yet, I’m all for romance and finding that special someone.

  • leah g

    I love the idea of just handing out romance novels to people in the middle of an argument. With a read this, you will feel better note. Spreading the love, so much fun.

    • Michelle Monkou

      It would make for a great experiment.

  • What a beautiful story you have told us! I’ll surely read your books, because your words have inspired me. Thank you!

    • Michelle Monkou

      Thank you. I’m glad to be among so many stellar authors who are equally like-minded that romance does matter. All the best.

  • QuenKne M

    Nothing can stand in the way of love – not race, religion or anything else because love defies all. And that is why romance novels matter because they teach the most important lesson in life, LOVE.

  • Shelia Goss

    Michelle, I can’t imagine life without romance books. Regardless of what’s going on around me, a good romance novel will temporarily take my mind off any problems.

    • Michelle Monkou

      I heartily agree, Shelia, that romance books do improve our health.

  • brhill2010

    I love romance books no matter what people say. As the saying goes a romance book a day keeps the doctor away!! Thanks for being part of a great genre!!

  • Tina B

    Yours is such a great story! I enjoyed reading at a young age, but stopped for many years due to being picked on relentlessly. Sad reason, I know. But, once I started reading again, I discovered romance and haven’t stopped since!
    Congrats to you and your husband. 🙂
    I love your idea of teaching society to think like romances. They overcome all obstacles.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Kim

    Congrats on 23 years of marriage! I also started out reading Harlequin Presents. I love that I can enjoy a story about characters no matter how similar or different their lives are compared to my own.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Loved your post today, I have to agree with you about the importance of romance in our lives!

  • Britney Adams

    ‘It invites us to see the world through different lens.” One of the many wonderful things about reading a good book!

  • Rhiannon Rowland

    Ha, required reading…romances! It will make the world a happier place!

  • Chelsea

    Wow hott covers! I haven’t read your books, which I hate admitting to new to me authors, but I love romance and sports themed books! I loved this post, and you sound great! I will definitely put your books on my TBR list!

  • Diane Giarrusso

    What fun! and I agree with Chelsea! Hot covers–definitely a plus! You’re now on my TBR list! It’s growing by the minute! Thanks for shareing with us!