Day 16 Barbara Freethy – Reaching Higher, Digging Deeper

Exploring What’s Possible

Falling for a StrangerWhile many people believe that the heart of a romance novel is an extraordinary love story, I also believe that the heart of a good romantic story is hope. Readers are often moved and even changed by reading romance novels. Something in the story resonates with what’s happening in their life, or what they want to be happening in their life. The love story gives them hope that they, too, can have that magical, wonderful, amazing story, that it doesn’t just exist on paper but also quite possibly in their own lives.

A woman wrote to me after reading my novel DANIEL’S GIFT and told me that after she finished the story, she decided to end her engagement. She said that while reading Jenny’s thoughts about settling for a man who would make a good father and a good husband but not necessarily be a life-changing love, this reader decided she was about to make the same decision, and she wanted more. My story had given her the “hope” that something else existed for her. At first, I was a little worried that she was letting a piece of fiction impact her life too much. But two years later, she wrote me again to tell me that she was engaged, and this time she knew in her heart it was absolutely the right man. So she got her own happily ever after!

I don’t believe that women, or even men, believe that romantic love stories that exist in our books happen every day, but I think writers show what’s possible, and make readers want to reach higher, dig deeper, get more for themselves, which brings us back to that feeling of “hope”.

So This is LoveOne of my books, ONE TRUE LOVE, is about a couple who experienced a terrible tragedy and split apart. They come back together years later with another chance at love, but taking that chance will mean exposing all the pain that they’ve buried away and being vulnerable again. After reading this story, a reader told me that she’d had a similar experience with her husband, and after reading my book, she’d decided to have a long overdue conversation and maybe they would have their second chance.

Not all books are so transformative or emotional. Some love stories are just for fun or for thrills or for the imagination. My most recent novel, FALLING FOR A STRANGER, which is the third book in my Callaway Series, starts with an ex-Navy pilot visiting a beach side bar on a tropical night. Drew meets a beautiful and somewhat mysterious blonde whose secrets will change his life forever. This book is fun, sexy, mysterious, but I think it also explores the deeper themes of trust and honesty. Which brings me back to the idea that love stories are not always just about romance but about how love changes people.

Readers of romance novels find joy, fun, adventure, thrills, and transformation within the pages of our books, and without romance novels, the world would be a little darker and heavier.


I have many favorite authors in romance. In the contemporary world, I really enjoy books by Christie Ridgway, Barbara Samuel and Carol Grace.

Questions for Barbara:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

This is a tough question since I just cleaned my house out! But one of the craziest items I had was a three-foot stone figure of a jockey that I inherited from my parents. They used to race thoroughbreds and someone had given them a copy of the jockey who had sat their favorite horse. Sadly, to say, he’s moved on to someone else’s house now.

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

Her wild, wild imagination… I have no idea. I think I’d love to be played by Sandra Bullock or Reese Witherspoon. Someone who is down to earth with some humor to them!

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

I think those would have to be cards from my kids. In my recent spring cleaning, I discovered a note from my daughter when she was about five years old. That meant a lot to me.

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?)

I think first time readers would love Drew and Ria in FALLING FOR A STRANGER. And they would probably also love Julia and Alex from DON’T SAY A WORD.


Barbara is generously donating two copies of   FALLING FOR A STRANGER – winner’s choice of print or ebook – to a U.S. reader.  And two ebooks of  FALLING FOR A STRANGER to an International reader (International readers enter here). U.S. 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 16 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Barbara FreethyBarbara Freethy is a #1 NY Times Bestselling Author and has published 35 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara began self publishing in January of 2011 and in two years has sold over 3 million books and has put ten of her titles on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists. You can learn more about Barbara at


Buy Barbara’s Books on Amazon

  • Linda Scarchuk

    I love all your books, thank you for the hours of enjoyment

  • Sue G.

    I agree…romance books just give you ideas of how things could be. One may assume that how things are with the person they are currently with is how things are suppose to be. They may not know any different. Reading romance shows them that life can be different.

  • rebecca moe

    Hope–exactly! I think it’s wonderful that so many authors of romance have such wonderful reader letters sent to them. Can as many authors of other genres say the same, I wonder? That in itself should be telling.

  • Melanie Backus

    Thank you for the post! I love a good book!

  • Jen C

    Wonderful addition to RARM! 🙂

  • brhill2010

    I love romance novels because they do give you hope and show you most of the time what a real man is. Most of the scenarios in romance are true. some of them I have experienced personally and that is when I pick up my favorite romance to see how the hero and heroine deal with it. Thanks for being a romance writer.

  • Karen Johnston

    I love all your books! The first I read was Ryan’s return and I’ve been hooked ever since! 😉

  • Tonda Galloway Hargett

    Wow, what an amazing author!

  • Britney Adams

    Great post! I can’t wait to read the Callaway Series!

  • Joanne Ozment

    Great stories.

  • Sandi in OH

    Isn’t it strange that so many people don’t understand that they have the ability to change their life to whatever they want it to be.

  • bafreethy

    Hi everyone! I’m happy to be participating in this wonderful month of romance! It was fun to share some of the letters I’ve received. I’m always touched when readers find a personal connection to one of my stories. It’s really amazing! I don’t know if authors of other genres get the same kind of mail but it’s fun!

    If you have any questions about any of my books, I’ll be popping in and out today so ask away!

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love finding new authors! Thanks for stoping by and sharing with us!

  • MaryC

    Reading ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS right now – love your books!

  • Vicky

    Barbara, I am a big fan. Thank you for sharing a little about your life. I too, love the hand written notes tucked away from when my grown kids were little.

  • jcp

    I’m enjoy RARM so much!!

  • Laurie W G

    How rewarding to get such positive feedback from your readers! It’s amazing what seemingly small things can make such an impact on our lives.

  • suepeace

    Love your books, Barbara!! 🙂 Great post about romance books too! 🙂

  • Kareni

    I’ve read a number of your books and enjoyed them all. Thank you!

  • Erlinda Mejia

    My intro to your books was Some Kind of Wonderful. Loved it, love your stories. I always look forward to your next release. You know how you can see a new book by a favorite author and you don’t even read the cover, you just buy it? You are on that list for me. Thanks for sharing!

  • Meredith Richardson

    I really enjoy your books, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us I totally agree that hope is really important and that reading romance it gives us hope in our own lives.

  • Thanks so much for your words!

  • mariannewestrich

    Just added you to my to-be-read list! 😎

  • Ketta Peters

    I really like “A Secret Wish” — thanks for a great post.

  • Stephanie M.

    TGIF and RARM!

  • Janie

    Congrats on the new release, Barbara. I’ve been a fan since I picked up “Don’t Say a Word.”

  • M Kuxhaus

    I love hearing about letters from readers!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    It is a great testament to you & to your writing that people feel comfortable sharing their personal stories. I agree that romance can give you hope, but also can be a distraction from every day troubles.

  • Becky Rabalais

    Intrigued that you are now self-publishing your books. How has that changed things for you?

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    I have to agree with some of the previous posts about some of the letters from fans that you have received and shared with us here today. However, I want to point out the other side of that coin: that authors very often respond personally to these letters of outreach. I am proud to know many authors who take the time to interact with their fans not only through social media, but by one to one responses to letters and emails. I have a great deal of respect for that.

  • MooMoo Cake

    I love your books. Especially Just the Way You Are.

  • Ann Mettert

    Enjoyed the essay.

  • Martha Lawton

    I too think these stories are about hope. Thank You for your stories

  • Larena Hubble

    I think romances can give hope but some can also give much needed laughs too.

  • Marcy Shuler

    Romances give you an outlet for all your emotions. The best ones can make me both laugh and cry.

  • BookLady

    Your books sound wonderful! Romances do provide hope for happy ever after endings. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ann

    Romances touch all the emotions! Love the hope.

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    Sounds like a great story! Congrats on the RWA win!

  • Marcia Berbeza

    I love romance because it makes me feel good. Period. Life can be so tough sometimes, you need that little bit of fantasy to make you feel good.

  • I love the fun in romance novels! Contemporary romance makes my heart smile.

  • QuenKne M

    I love that romance novels give us hope because everybody needs to have hope to get through the twists and turns of life. I think it should be mandatory reading that everyone in high school read a romance novel – that includes the guys!! Oh, what they could learn!! 🙂

  • Pamby50

    I was given several books of yours by a friend. I will take your recommendation to start with Don’t Say a Word. I’ll have to look up where to go from there. Looking forward to starting.

  • Glenda

    I love the stories of how reading help improve lives. You are right when you say a good story can give us hope.

  • Eileen Wetterstrom

    I know that happily ever after is a lot of work — giving without thinking of receiving–from both partners helps cement a true and loving marriage.

  • Mary McCoy

    While I was reading your comments above, I started hearing Susan Brightman in my head singing “Love Changes Everything” from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Aspects of Love. Thank you for giving your readers hope!

  • Vickie P

    Really enjoying the Calloway series!

  • leah g

    That realization that its ok to want something more and that maybe it is possible and somewhere out there is so important. I love that books can give that/reaffirm that in so many people.
    I love your Callaway books.

  • Karin Anderson

    There are a lot of Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep requests for movies. You can tell who romance authors love. 😀

  • Kim

    Great post! Great choice of Sandra Bullock for the movie role!