Day 24 Cathy Maxwell – The Answer is Romance

The Answers I’d Like to Give

The Scottish WitchMy father thinks he is a funny man—and occasionally he is, except when it comes to romance novels.

Background:  My mother is a huge reader.  She once belonged to every Harlequin book club known to marketing. (She calls them her Harlecomes. Isn’t that cute?  They “come” in the mail.  But actually, my mother is the queen of malapropisms, and since I’m her kid, I’m not half shabby myself.) Anyway, I grew up with my mother sitting in her corner at the kitchen banquette reading away. At least a book a day.  Sometimes more. I always knew where she was.  I still do.  Today, she reads on her couch in her office.  At this very moment, while you are reading this blog, I bet she is sitting on that couch, unless “Rizzoli and Isles” is on the telly.  But she will return.

Anyway, my dad’s favorite line about romance novels is “Check out page one hundred, that is where the sex scene starts.”  Yuk, yuk.

Now, he says this with pride.  He loves the line.  He believes it is clever and loves to tease his wife about her reading.  He will use that tiresome line on anyone who talks books with Mother.  When I was younger, I thought he was being condescending.  However, as I’ve grown older, I realize he is delighted his wife isn’t shy about sex and the value of it in relationships.  He has been a happy man for most of his sixty plus years of marriage and has never begrudged her a book or reading time.  And Mother knows what side of the bread has the butter.  She rolls her eyes and returns to her reading.

Of course, my tolerant understanding behind the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” of his humor doesn’t mean I will let him throw out that line willy-nilly. One year, he and I met up when the Romance Writers of America Convention was in the same town where he had business.  As he entered the hotel lobby, I could see he was dying to use his “line.”  He quivered–yes, I used that word on purpose–with the desire.

He honed in on Debbie Macomber who was innocently waiting to meet some people for breakfast.

Is that a romance writer?” he asked.

Ah, yes, it is Debbie Macomber,” I said without thinking.  After all, it was early in the morning. My brain hadn’t had coffee.

Let me go ask her if she knows what happens on page one hundred—

He never got the opportunity to finish the sentence or take more than a few steps toward Debbie before I delivered a full body tackle and dragged him out the lobby’s revolving door.

In truth, I may have saved his life.  Even though Debbie Macomber is the kindest of people, offending writers is not a healthy pastime.  We are not as indulgent as wives.

THE DEVIL'S HEARTBut most people don’t know that.  There is always a jokester.

So, here are a few of my answers to “those” questions:

Are your books based upon your life experiences?

You betcha.  I loved being a pirate sailing the Caribbean.  Life on a ship is smellier than you can possibly imagine.  Of course, I hate it when I write about a dead body.  The research could land me in jail if I’m ever caught.  Would you like a cup of tea?  My latest work in progress deals with poisoning.

Seeing that I missed what they were really asking, the question is rephrased: Are the sex scenes in your books based upon your experiences?

Oh, no, they are far too tame for my real life.

And finally:  Do you know what happens on page one hundred of every romance novel?

Yes, Dad, two people start to realize whatever direction they were moving toward in life would be more fun and more meaningful if they fell into step together.  And this isn’t just about sailing the high seas or saving the world from rogue FBI agents or small town sheriffs or filling your dance card or even doing one more load of laundry to keep the family going. No, there is something deeper going on from page one to one hundred to the very end of the book because we all want someone fully committed to loving each of us for all that we are, right now in the present tense in spite of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the corny.   Love you, Dad. (You, too, Mother.)


You are reading this essay at Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.  Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

Cathy is generously donating  one set of Chattan Curse books ( LYON’S BRIDE, THE SCOTTISH WITCH, THE DEVIL’S HEART) to U.S. readers (apologies to international readers)

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 11:59pm EST Aug 23 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

Questions for Cathy:

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

Cathy Maxwell's DogMy dogs.  Maya is a sweetie but Truman is a five year old hound with big ugly freckles on his nose and I adore him.  He had no manners when we first met.  I rescued him from a pound two months ago.  Maya picked him out. He wasn’t neutered, has heart worm and had Lymes and every parasite and worm known to man.  T-Dog is a work in progress.  Every day he changes.  He is learning he is in a safe place with toys and cushions to sleep on and two squares.  I’m smitten. I think he is too.  He sleeps with a happy dog smile on his face.

TrumanTruman laughing because he is happy– Yeah, that is his laugh. When he is really happy, he shows his teeth like Alfred E. Neman guffawing.  Frightening!  And endearing.  This picture was taken when he first joined the household.  You can’t see how hard his tail is wagging.  Note how ratty his coat is?  See how soft and relaxed he looks in the other pic?  All I can say is eat well and take your vites, my friends.  It does make a difference.

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

AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD . . . because I like the sound of it and it can mean so many things. In truth, life is not for the faint of heart, not if it is to be enjoyed fully.  If I’ve learned anything, it is to embrace the adventures that come to us every day.  Even a load of wash calls for some heart.  Certainly my son’s laundry did.  (When he left for the Navy, I had to spend two days cleaning his room.  Now, that was an eye-opening adventure.)  As to who would play me, I was going to say Catherine O’Hara, the mom in HOME ALONE.  However, this is show biz!  I want Angelina Jolie to have the part.  I want a big budget! And minions!  And vegetarian food on the set, even for the kids!

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

Time.  I adore having my children and family visit.  I love being in their company. And I can’t replace time.  I can’t make up for it or barter it or manufacture it.

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’ll recommend BECAUSE OF YOU.  It is my take on the Prodigal Son and there is some lovely heat to that book.  Just delicious.  As to my pick for best kiss in a novel–It is when Dallie stretches Francesca across the hood of a car in FANCY PANTS by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  Best kiss written.

Cathy Maxwell

Cathy Maxwell is NYT and USA Today bestselling writing of over twenty-five historical romance novels and dallies as a contributor to when they need a sensible opinion. You can reach Cathy at


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  • Mary Anne Landers

    Thank you for your post, Cathy. It reminds me of a man at an RWA convention. He wore a T-shirt that read, “My wife writes romance novels. And I help with the research.” Keep up the good work!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      The support of one’s spouse in any endeavor is worth his or her weight in gold!

  • Nancy Huddleston

    That is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing your family. What! Your were never a damsel in distress. Lol

    • Cathy Maxwell

      ROFL over the idea of me damseling in distress. I could never faint. Not ever!

  • Kim Cornwell

    My husband always picks on me about having my nose in a book.
    I tell him you watch your reruns of gunsmoke and I’ll read my romance books. So we never have an issue! OMG how many of them shows to they have(I Lloyd them too). Good for you all of my 4 dogs and 2 cats are rescues. My hubby so said no more animals. I also have 7 horses and a jackass. I would love to try your books. Love meeting new authors.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      I have two horses. But I don’t need a jackass. I’ve meet them all the time out there in the dating world! 🙂 Hope you love my books. Hugs!

  • Laurie W G

    Luckily my parents always encouraged me to read whatever I wanted. It sounds like your parents were very proud of you!
    I do get the why romance comments. I don’t care. My free time is mine! I always say that I will recommend a book that I know will change their minds. So far no one has had the guts to take me up on my offer.
    Love your comments. What a great sense of humor!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Laurie! And you are right. I romance because I love good stories. Period. I dislike book snobs.

  • Alissa

    What a delightful essay. A love letter to romance, endearing, supportive parents and all page 100’s out there.

    P.S. I adored your answers to “those” questions. So funny.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Alissa. 🙂

  • Tin

    Hi, Cathy! I love your mom’s Harlecomes! My husband lets me read passages out loud to him — not necessarily the “fun” (read: naughty) stuff.

    Your dog has such a happy smile. ^_^

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Does he let you dress him up as a pirate . . . ? 😀

      Yup, Truman is enjoying the good life now. He makes me happy.

  • Melanie Backus

    Reading your post started my day off with a smile. Keep up your good work! I love your dog pics too!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Melanie.

  • Sue G.

    Your dad sounds like a hoot! Love a guy with a sense of humor!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      He is the best!

  • Patty Vasquez

    Cathy, your books have a very important place on my bookshelf. They are within easy reach when my school year gets crazy: at conference times, report card/grading periods, and the end of the school year. Your stories are the answer when I think I might lose my mind. They keep me sane and make me smile. Thank you for that!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Patty. You made my day!

  • Britney Adams

    Great post! I love “the good, the bad, the ugly, and the corny”

    • Cathy Maxwell

      I’ve lived with it all my life. I don’t understand people who can’t laugh at themselves.

  • jcp

    Your post was so funny and sweet.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you!

  • Deb Hinshaw

    Thank you for your post today, Cathy. I chuckled my way through it…humor here, just like your books, too. Your dad’s “line” is funny; makes me want to go check out page 100 in a couple of my books. 😉

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Please don’t encourage him, Deb! 🙂

  • Kareni

    I enjoyed reading about your parents — thanks for sharing!

  • Vonda M. Reid

    What a wonderful story about wonderful parents. Love the pictures of your dogs. (My dogs are rescue dogs as well.)

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you. Rescue dogs rock!

  • Rochelle

    I think that your Dad sounds lovely, especially in never begrudging your Mother her reading time.

    Sweet doggy face, by the way!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Rochelle. He is one in a million.

      • Cathy Maxwell

        I just realized my post could mean the dog or my dad–and it is true of both of them. They are one in a million.

        • Rochelle

          I knew which one you meant 😉

  • Meredith Richardson

    I love the story about your dad, my dad likes to tease my mom about her romance books as well but he’ll sit and listen to the audiobooks with her and tear up during a good romantic comedy.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      I don’t believe my father would tear up, but he has listened to romantic suspense on long drives and he enjoyed the books.

  • Janie McGaugh

    I enjoyed your story; you have a great dad. I don’t think Truman is ugly, except, maybe, when he’s laughing!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      It is a frightening expression, isn’t it?

  • MaryC

    Thank you for sharing the story about your parents.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  • glittergirl54

    Oh I loved your post and your humor. I’ve got to read your books =). My question is — how did your Dad know what happens on page 100? Did he read your Momma’s books to find out? I’ll bet he peeked if he won’t own up to reading the them, lol. My husband reads some of my romance novels that I carefully select for him. I call them “marriage enrichers” or “idea books” 😉 Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      I believe my dad is “hopeful” that is what happens on page 100, and sometimes he is right!

  • Nicole Fortuna

    Loved the story about your parents. I am adding your books to my TBR pile.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you!

  • mariannewestrich

    Love that your dad joked with you and your mom about reading. My dad always indulged my reading and now my hubby continues that tradition!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Like I said, this way, they always know where you are. 🙂

  • Elizabeth Gray

    Great interview. We have cats that just showed up at our house in need of medical attention. Our moto is “if we take you to the vet, you are ours for life”. We have five now because of the moto. Glad you took the dog into your home to love. Will be adding the series to the tbb list.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      And I will be happy to be on the tbb list, Elizabeth. I hope I never disappoint you or any reader.

  • Glenda

    Aww, love the rescue pup story. Eating right can make all the difference in the world for both 4 and 2 legged creatures. 🙂

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Amen. I learned a lesson.

  • Pamby50

    Telling us about your parents has me smiling. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Looking forward to reading one of your books.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Hope you love the book. Remember, the Chattan Curse Trilogy is VERY closely connected. Start with LYON’S BRIDE, then SCOTTISH WITCH, and finally THE DEVIL’S HEART.

  • Sheryl N

    Great interview. Added this author to my list to try. Thanks for the chance

  • Thanks so much for being part of this Cathy! Love this story, and it makes perfect sense to me. You’re the best. xoxo

    • Cathy Maxwell

      You are the best, too, Bobbi. This blog is a great idea. What a wonderful way to celebrate these last blessed days of summer.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Great story! It’s nice to see long-lasting couples that still have humor & romance in their lives!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      You betcha. Because “until death do we part” can be a VERY long time without humor.

  • Rowan Worth

    This was great! Thanks for sharing!! And Truman is adorable.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you! He’s got spirit.

  • Martha Lawton

    You’re dad’s joke is funny. One person opens a book in random to see if there is sex on that page and then chooses to read it based on that knowledge alone….

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Hmmmm . . . I’m going to have to go check my books! 🙂

  • Ann

    Love the story. Your parents sound wonderful!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      They are, Ann. I am blessed.

  • Allison Siegel

    Lovely story. Can’t wait to try one of your books.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Allison.

  • Barbara E.

    Oh, your essay was fantastic Cathy! I love your answers to the question about life experiences, too funny. I guess if you write or read romance you need to keep a sense of humor to deal with the uninformed out there. I think it’s the only way to keep your sanity.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Humor is the only way to keep your sanity for every aspect of life imho, Barbara. Without it, we would be pitiful creatures, wouldn’t we? 🙂 And thanks for the kudos!

  • rebecca moe

    I’m not looking forward to the day when my son leaves home and I venture into his room…

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Rubber gloves and an oxygen mask. Musts! You will be surprised how long a banana peel can last under a bed, and what grows on it. (But I did find all that clean underwear he claimed he never had. The stack was in the back of his closet. Boys are gross!)

      • rebecca moe

        Boys are gross, for sure! Thanks for the advice–I’ll have to listen to a good audiobook or two (I see Audible has eight of yours ;)) to help keep my mind from dwelling too much on what I find, I think…probably lots of socks in there somewhere. He can never find clean, matching ones, but I’ve bought so many!

  • Marcy Shuler

    You obviously inherited your dad’s sense of humor, Cathy. LOL So funny. And I absolutely love your books! The Chattan Curse series were the first books that brought you to my attention.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Hooray! I’m so glad you enjoyed The Chattan Curse series. And in my family, if you didn’t have a sense of humor, you wouldn’t last long. Thank you for your kind words about my books. They are appreciated.

  • leah g

    I love rescue dogs that are all hidden beauty! and I love your story. Your family sounds kind of like mine. ‘Funny’ dad and indulgent mother, but full of love for each other.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Great description of my parents. We have been blessed, haven’t we, Leah?

  • BookLady

    What a wonderful post! Loved the story about your dad. Truman looks like a great addition to your family. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, BookLady!

  • Brenda E

    OMG. I laughed so hard my hubby asked me to read him your blog. “..loved being a pirate…cup of tea?” I especially loved the part about body-tackling your dad to keep him away from Debbie Macomber. Love her writing. Now that I’ve had a taste of yours I can’t wait to get my hands on one of your books. Thanks.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      I hope I never disappoint you, Brenda. Are you serving your husband tea for breakfast????? ;-D

  • I’m a mom who reads constantly…I love how that is something that stuck with you. I’m hoping my daughters love reading as much as I do. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Cathy!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Brooke. Both of my daughters are readers. One is a nurse and she burns through books. Reading is a mental vacation.

  • Larena Hubble

    LOL I love the line about are the books based on your life experience and your answer. Too funny.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thanks, Larena.

  • Mary McCoy

    I am now opening 10 of my favorite romance books to page 100 as a scientific experiment lol.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      You must report back on the results! (Every time I write sex, I have to look at the page #. One never knows.)

      • Mary McCoy

        Well, the final tally was interesting. Six of the ten showed nothing related to a sex scene, while two had what I considered verbal foreplay, one had a kiss, and one was the afterglow/post nookie sleep scene. He must have based it on the shorter category romances as opposed to the average stand alone titles today 🙂

        • So anytime you decide to become a romance novelist, you can already say you’ve done your research on the important parts of romance novels, Mary! ;o)

  • Kim

    Clever response. People assume that they’re the first person to ever ask you if the books are based on your life.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      True, Kim, although I was the one who asked Sue Grafton what she would do when she came to Z? Her eye roll told me she’s heard the question before. The answer: She says she’ll be dead before she gets there. (I hope not!)

  • Jen C

    What a fun post to read! 🙂

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Jen.

  • Carol Luciano

    lol Catherine O’Hara would be perfect. 🙂 I love your post and your books Cathy.

    Good thing you were able to tackle your Dad. lol

    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Thank you, Carol.

  • Karin Anderson

    Oh! Yikes. I can imagine Debbie Macomber’s reaction. Although it might be funny if someone beat him to the punchline.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      Debbie would laugh. She is absolutely gracious and very down to earth. Beating Dad to the punchline would be very funny.

  • Beverly DeeAnjello

    I love that your mother had a Harlequin subscription. I did when my children were little. I loved to read and I didn’t have a car and the fact that these books came to my house was amazing.

    • Cathy Maxwell

      It was good for the authors, too. Mother still gives me a heads up when she discovers someone who writes the best romance.

  • I’m always so inspired by the way you turn personal anecdote into solid, lesson-teaching essay-writing. An incredibly hard task that you make look effortless. You did the same thing during your RWA2013 keynote. My friend and I were there for our first ever National conference. Your speech was one of the big highlights. Thank you so much!

    • Cathy Maxwell

      I hope you have a fabulous time! And thank you for the compliment. I value it.