Day 12 Maya Rodale – Women, Read On!

A Billion Reasons Romance Matters

Romance matters because marriage for love simply is not an option for millions of people around the world. Because we’re still fighting over a woman’s right to choose, when every romance novel is about empowered heroines making choices, starting with something fundamental like who to marry. Romance novels can give a girl Ideas, and the idea that she gets to make decisions for herself is one she ought to have.

Wicked WallflowerRomance matters because, as one brilliant feminist blogger points in a post you must read, “Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.” Romance heroes aren’t just paper people in possession of six pack abs and a billion fictional dollars; they are examples of men who treat women with respect and reverentially. That is sexy. I think romance novels give us girls an idea of what to look for in a good man.

Because the battle over a woman’s place—In the home! At the office! Lean in! Lean out!—has been raging a long time. Meanwhile, writing has given women an opportunity to put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboards to write stories for publication—and money. History is full of women who supported their families by writing novels by A Lady, suitable for Ladies. And at the end of a long day at home and/or the office and/or home office, a woman deserves to leave the dishes in the sink and indulge in the respite a romance novel provides.

Because in romance novels, women are taken care of. It’s not about the money or the orgasms, but the fundamental desire to feel loved and cherished and to know someone else will help shoulder the burdens. Romance heroines are loved, even though they are uppity, outspoken, unfashionable, plain, have problems, or unable to apply the perfect smoky eye make up. In fact, they are loved because of the very things society tells us are flaws. I think romance novels give a girl permission to just be herself and trust that the love will follow. We can take care of our selves, thank you very much, but we’re happy to share the love.

Romance matters because in most professions women still make less than men—but when it comes to publishing we are an unstoppable. We write, we edit, we agent, we publish, we promote, we buy. We, as an industry, show the world what it looks like when women step up and work together. It looks like a billion bucks and a lot of happy women.

Romance matters because people still use the phrase the “guilty pleasure.” As if pleasure were something to feel guilty about! The video below shows you why we’ve been made to feel guilty about the joy we get late at night, under the covers—yes, I’m talking about both sex and staying up late reading a romance novel. Both of which are nothing to be ashamed of.

That damned mob of scribbling women—romance novelists—are changing the world, book by book. Because romance novels spread powerful ideas about love, personal choice, how a man ought to treat a woman, how good people treat all people, and what really matters. (No, it’s not a billionaire duke with 16 pack abs. It’s love, plain and simple.)

Romance matters because there should be one thing in life that is 100% absolutely guaranteed to end happily.


Maya is generously donating one autographed copy of Seducing Mr. Knightly to give away (U.S. only, apologies to international readers.) 
To enter, 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 11:59pm EST Aug 12 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

Maya RodaleMaya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence. She is now the author of numerous smart and sassy romance novels. A champion of the romance genre and it’s readers, she is also the author of the non-fiction book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation Of Romance Novels, Explained and a co-founder of Lady Jane’s Salon, a national reading series devoted to romantic fiction. Maya lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. More about Maya at

Buy Maya’s books on Amazon


  • Nancy Huddleston

    Nicely put. This is a wonderful take on romance.

  • girlygirlhoosier52

    I only wish that we’ll all see the day that Romance gets as much respect as it deserves… PS.. does anyone know or can tell me what the Romance book publishing industry is worth?

    • Maya Rodale

      According to RWA, romance generated 1.4 billion in sales for 2012. Tons of stats are available here:

      • girlygirlhoosier52


    • Yes, also the single biggest selling fiction genre. Isn’t Maya’s message great?! xoxo

  • Melanie Backus

    It feels good to be taken care of and it feels safe.

    • Maya Rodale


  • Jen C

    Great essay! I enjoyed the extras (the other article, the video). When my hubby and I are with our group of friends, I often have to stand up for romance novels as I’m the only reader of them in our group. The essays this month have given me lots of information to use to help support my own arguments for the genre! Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi, Jen – sorry if I asked this already – have you read the NPR piece I did? It’s on the About page. One reason I wanted to do this is to provide a platform for all reasons romance is good for women. I definitely wanted Maya involved, since she’s such a great voice for that perspective.

      • Jen C

        I sure did. And I was so happy to see it on NPR!

  • Barbara O’Neal

    I just read the Because piece and it is fantastic. I’ll be looking for your books.

  • Maya Rodale

    Thank you everyone! 🙂

  • Beverly DeeAnjello

    I love the fantasy behind romance novels. I think we all need a little escapism.

  • Kareni

    Thanks for the post and the link to the sadly thought provoking

    “Why Society Still Needs Feminism post”.

  • Ann

    Very well said!

  • Ora

    I love your books. You are one of my historical authors.

  • Meredith Bond

    Very powerful! Thank you for that.

  • Meredith Richardson

    Romance books are empowering not something to be mocked 🙂 Awesome Video!!

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love meeting new authors! Thanks for stopping by.

  • jcp

    Love getting names of new of authors to try,

  • Kristy Birch

    Thank you for this amazing essay and video!!!

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I loved your essay and video.

  • Sandi in OH

    I had a friend who wouldn’t be seen reading a romance novel. Guess what she reads now.

    • Maya Rodale

      HA! 🙂

  • Sharlene Wegner

    It is definitely a relief for me to sit down & read a romance at the end of a long day! Thank you for you inspirational words!

  • Kathy Nye

    My favorite posting! I love the message is coming from a younger generation than mine.

  • Karin Anderson

    Yes. To every single point you made. I totally and completely agree.

  • Tawnya Bentley

    I believe your fourth paragraph summed it up perfectly!!!! I will probably be “paraphrasing” you on that paragraph, with credit of course, for years to come.

  • Maya Rodale

    Thank you ALL for the compliments and comments! I’ve been wanting to say all those things for years, and I’m so thrilled to have the perfect opportunity with Read A Romance Month and to hear from some like-minded heroines-in-real-life 🙂

  • tonda hargett

    I love your essay on what romance really is, wonderful!

  • Eileen Wetterstrom

    Your essay dealt with why we should read romance novels. I think I hear you saying that you believe it helped emancipate women. Could it also mean that reading romance helped to tame the dictatorial nature of man? More to ponder on why we love our romance novels…

  • Cheryl Castings

    I SO agree with your statement, “Romance matters because there should be one thing in life that is 100% absolutely guaranteed to end happily.” There is enough in our lives to become depressed about, and I absolutely won’t read a book or go to a movie that doesn’t end happily.
    I really enjoyed the video, too!

  • Leslie Thompson Monfort

    You are right. Romance brings women together better than anything else. Well, except maybe chocolate. I hope to join the romance writing world someday

  • Britney Adams

    Great essay and video! Thank you for sharing!!

  • Pamby50

    I love the fact that romance is empowering women. I am not surprised at how much this industry is generating. With all depressing things going on in the world, a good romance book to read at the end of the day, takes you away. Look forward to reading one of your books.

  • Nicole Fortuna

    Love your books! I agree that romance novels help you realize that you can be yourself and have love follow. The best thing about romance is that no one is perfect but still acheive their happy ending. I too think that romance empowers women.

  • ki pha

    Oh Maya, I love the way you think and put words to empowering women.

  • LOVE your writing girls 🙂 I show that video to every friend who mocks my love of romance novels. Thanks for sharing!!

  • alisha woods

    can’t wait to read Mr. Knightly book

  • Kelly

    Fantastic post, and I love the video. I’m going to share it with a friend of mine who gets angry every time I mention romance novels (happens a lot) because she thinks I’m “wasting my brain.”

  • Ruth


  • Joanna Gregson

    My colleague Jen Lois and I, both sociology professors, have been studying the romance community for the past three years. Your post strikes a chord! We’ve started sharing some of our findings if you’re interested in hearing what we’ve said (links below), or you can follow us at Romance Sociology (facebook) or @RomanceSoc (Twitter). We’re loving this dialogue!

    • Maya Rodale

      Fantastic! Thanks for the links!

  • MaryC

    Great post and video!

  • Barbara E.

    I really enjoyed the post and the video was awesome!

  • I really love your perspective! Thank you for sharing today.

  • Ketta Peters

    I have passed along this blog post to every woman on my mailing list, thank you!

  • Patty Vasquez

    Everything you’ve said about romance novels being revolutionary and causes panic among powerful men makes so much sense. You’ve put into beautiful facts and figures something I think I only knew intuitively. Thank you for that. Just as an aside, I’ll never forget the day my mother, now 77 years old, told me she wished there had been “hot” romance novels to read when she was a blushing bride. She said her honeymoon and the early years of her marriage to my dad would have been much more interesting!

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you.

  • Joanne Ozment

    Love your message.

  • rebecca moe

    Great post! Especially loved this:

    Romance matters because there should be one thing in life that is 100% absolutely guaranteed to end happily.


  • Marcy Shuler

    Great message!

  • Mary McCoy

    Loving your video and hoping to make it down to the Lady Jane’s Salon in Naperville soon with my daughter.

  • QuenKne M

    If you could see me, you’d see I was giving you a standing ovation with a “you tell ’em” cheer. Thanks for sharing. Awesome * Awesome video!!!

  • BookLady

    Great post! Every woman should have choices. Thanks for sharing.

  • Melissa Sullivan

    Lovely post! I agree that all women should have choices. I shudder to think of the man my parents would push on me if i didn’t have a choice. (Course now i think they’ve given up somewhat on me finding one. They’ve seemed to contented themselves on my singleness).

  • Becky Rabalais

    How wonderful that we have choices! Many thanks!

  • catslady

    You can count on one hand the times I don’t read in bed at night – afterwards 🙂

  • brhill2010

    I can’t not read before I go to bed!! I absolutely love reading!!

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you. A powerful commentary and a powerful video.

  • Kim

    Thank you for that post!! I love how romance novels can empower women to look for what they deserve in life. It’s great to see heroines (and heroes) come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.

  • Katy M

    Great post! I feel empowered to read – not that I’m ashamed anymore in what I read. But facts and stats help when you encounter someone really prejudiced, and then you can avoid that person.

  • Marcia Berbeza

    Oh, dear! I think I missed the nightly deadline! 🙁 Too busy reading! I must read before bedtime or I don’t sleep!

  • JenM

    Wow, what a fantastic video! I’ve been guilty of hiding my love of romance, and I have one friend in particular that always makes fun of them. I think I’m going to send her this link.

  • Sue G.

    I am not ashamed of reading romance. I love my happy ever after! That is certainly why I read them. I want to feel happy when I’m done. Like I just made new friends.

  • Ann Mettert

    I found your take on romance very interesting.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Tell it, Maya! This has been such a wonderful forum for thoughts and ideas; thank you for your terrific insight.

  • Cat C

    Very, very cool. Love the video!

  • Mary Tapia

    Thank you!! I loved your post! I’ve been a feminist since the late 60′ and a romance reader since the middle ’70’s. Please continue to raise te expectaions and the consciousness of the young women of today!

  • brhill2010

    I love your views on romance and why it matters. I think that when women write romance they give both the man and women the right amount of problems like any normal person would have and it excites me to no end to watch the hero and heroine work together to solve their problems.

  • Lisa Hutson

    What a posting!! Well done. Thoughtful. Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.