Day 24 Molly O’Keefe – Romance is Powerful Medicine

Solace in Uncertain Times

Wild ChildI feel like I should use this platform to talk about how romance novels are like a global room of one’s own for women of all shapes, loves, denominations and addresses. It’s one of the few places where I see not just versions of myself and my friends and family but where I find many of the things that are important to me discussed and dealt with in a consistently hopeful way.

But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I want to talk about why romance matters to me personally.

Before my sophomore year of high school, I would call myself a romance “dabbler.” The keeper box under my bed was just starting, I had a few Deveareaux, some McNaughts, my Elizabeth Lowell collection was in its starter stage. I was a novice.

I come from a small town and had a very Norman Rockwell experience previous to my sophomore year. My father was a teacher and coach at the high school, my brother was a sports star. My mother was a nurse. I was your typical overweight but funny girl whose best friend just happened to be a beautiful blonde cheerleader. Our sophomore year the beautiful blonde cheerleader started to date a very cool junior. A very hero-worship able guy with a jeep who never had a problem with his girlfriend’s chubby best friend tagging along with them. There’s a good chance that I am romanticizing him – but somehow it’s all worse for that. If I could remember a moment when he wasn’t generous and loving and funny and kind, this story wouldn’t be so awful.

Because I didn’t know that he was bi polar. And I didn’t know that he’d stopped taking his medication. Until he committed suicide.

My world, my best friend’s world – the larger world of our friends and my entire town – it was torn apart. Our grief was communal which in many ways seemed to be a relief, but at the same time my friend’s grief only made mine more painful. It felt like the world was setting out to crush all of us and only relentless worry could keep it at bay.

Relentless worry and romance novels.

In the face of my grief and confusion – I became a scholar of romance novels. An addict. I found solace in those other worlds, where friends didn’t kill themselves with their jeeps in a closed garage, leaving behind beautiful blond cheerleaders who screamed and cried and wailed.

I cannot tell you how badly I need that Happy Ever After. And McNaught, Kinsale, Deveraux, Lowell delivered every time.

The romance novel, for certain people at certain times, is powerful medicine.

And that is only one of the many reasons why they’re so important.


One of my favorite authors is Stephanie Doyle, whose Harlequin Superromances often deal with bigger issues. Her latest – For The First Time is out in October and is one to check out. In digital only historical you can’t get better than Courtney Milan. Every single one of her books breaks my heart and makes me gasp in surprise. She’s simply one of the best of the genre. Her latest – The Heiress Effect is stunning.

Questions for Molly

Molly O'Keefe SweaterWhat is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

A sweater my mom made, I think for my father millions of years ago. The arms are different lengths, the hem is crooked. It’s all kinds of bad. I love it.

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

Mommy Gone Mad? And Tina Fey, of course.

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

Every single piece of art work from my kids.

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?)

There’s a sort-of sex scene in my October book Wild Child that I just LOVE. It’s sexy and vulnerable and surprising – even for me and I wrote it! It’s the one in the bath – I hope you’ll check it out.


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!

Molly is generously donating  three e-book copies of CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE to U.S. readers and two printed copies of  CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE to international readers.   International readers enter hereTo enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page  — Today is the last day to register for a Nook HD+ and 31 books courtesy of Harlequin. You may also do both  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay do 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.

Molly O'KeefeMolly O’Keefe published her first Harlequin romance at age twenty-five and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring each character’s road toward happily ever after. She’s won two Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice awards and the RITA for Best Novella in 2010. Originally from a small town outside of Chicago, she now lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, two kids, and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America. Her new series THE BOYS OF BISHOP will begin in October with WILD CHILD, NEVER BEEN KISSED in June and BETWEEN THE SHEETS in July.


Buy Molly’s Books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

  • Nancy Huddleston

    Romance is a wonderful escape from every day hardships and not so everyday. Love your books. Thank you for your stories of love and hope.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      thank you Nancy – a good romance novel can be a cure for a lot of things!!!

  • Kim Cornwell

    My best friend Lisa introduced me to your books and I fell in love! I myself love all kinds of romance. We read together so we can discuss and laugh together! She is my only real friend and we talk everyday! It’s so sad to lose someone to suicide. I found out years later that my mom had tried to kill herself. She had been raped and had gotten pregnant. She didn’t succeed and lost that baby.
    She later married my dad( didn’t last long) but she said she got the greatest gift “me” out of a marriage that was doomed. I lost contact with her because of the 3rd man she married always wanted money from me. Sorry to say she chose him. I miss her so much but I have a wonderful family and BF they fill that void. Thanks for the great books you write and for stopping by and sharing!

    • Molly O’Keefe

      Oh Kim! I’m so sorry – I’m so glad you have friends and family to and of course great books to ease some of that pain!

  • Lucile Stenger

    Thanks a lot for the contest 😀 !

    • Molly O’Keefe

      My pleasure Lucile! This is a great event isn’t it!!!

      • Lucile Stenger

        Yes, it is ! And that’s really nice to you to offer books to international readers too 😉

  • Laurie W G

    Thanks for sharing your story. So sad to die so young. I haven’t read any of your books yet, or the authors you recommended. I will look for books from all of you.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      I hope you do Laurie – Courtney and Stephanie are both amazing writers with great books!!

  • Liz Talley

    Beautiful story, friend 🙂 I know that chubby, funny girl pretty well. We sometimes grow up to become romance writers so we can give the same gift to the chubby, funny girls of the next generation (and I by no means discriminate against grumpy, skinny girls). This also brings to mind the bigger message – we never know what lives beneath the glittering visage of others. Can’t always rely on what can be seen. And I agree on your recommendations. Both strong, emotional writers 🙂

    • Molly O’Keefe

      Hey friend!! Thank you!!!

  • Melanie Backus

    Books help us in so many ways. Like the slogan,”Calgon, take me away!”, a book can do that same thing. Thank you for doing what you do!

    • Molly O’Keefe

      I totally agree Melanie!

  • Bette Hansen

    beautiful story….thanks so much for sharing this one and all the ones you share in your books.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      thank you Bette!

  • MK

    Books are indeed a powerful medicine to remove us from where we are and take us to someplace we’d rather be. Thank you for sharing

    • Molly O’Keefe

      I totally agree with that MK!

  • Erlinda Mejia

    I’ve always felt strongly about finding small treasures in every book. On my shelves you ‘ll find most of the books have turned down corners of a page where you’ll find an incredible or touching phrase or scene. Words that resonated through me.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      it’s amazing what reading gives us, isn’t it??

  • Kathleen O

    Reading has got me through some pretty tough times.. I can’t imagine where I would be with out wonderful books to read. I feel your pain of loss of a friend. I lost my cousin when she was just 16. It was a tragic loss for all of us, Her family, her friends. Books got me through that awful summer.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      i’m so sorry for your loss! I should have realized when I wrote this post that it would make people think of the terrible moments in their lives that reading helped them through. I’m glad we all had somewhere to turn for hope and escape.

      • Kathleen O

        Thank you Molly. And I too am glad we have books to get us through the bad as well as the good.

  • Mary Tapia

    “The romance novel, for certain people at certain times, is powerful medicine.”

    This is the best description of the genre I have ever seen!

    • Molly O’Keefe

      thank you Mary!

      • I hope you don’t mind the tiny edit… xoxo

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    Thanks for sharing your story. I like the fact that romance provides an escape and is healing in so many ways. I look forward to reading your books.

  • Sue G.

    How sad for your friend. When I was in 7th grade, a boy in my homeroom committed suicide. Never heard why. Very sad.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      I’m so sorry – so young too!!

  • Kristy Birch

    Thank you for sharing such a difficult time in your life. The power of romance is unique to each person but I agree that for all of us it can be an escape that saves us some way. Can’t wait to read the new book.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      thanks Kirsty! I hope you enjoy it!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I was married to a man who is bipolar. He never missed a dose of his medication; however, he had self-medicated for a very long time. Our marriage wasn’t able to survive the roller-coaster of both our needs. During our marriage, I didn’t read a single book. It was a very barren, emotional landscape. However, in the aftermath, and through my recovery period, I consumed romance novels. I know I needed to be reassured that love between couples existed. If so many authors wrote about happy ever afters, there had to be hope for me, too. I held on tightly to that idea.

    • Molly O’Keefe

      OH Patty – what a difficult thing that must have been. I’m glad you got through to the other side of it with hope!

      • Patty Vasquez

        Thank you, Molly. Not only with hope, but without really looking for it, I ended up with my happy ever after. My husband is a rock (he married a ready-made family and dealt admirably for many years with the ex-husband) and totally indulges my romance novel habit.

  • Britney Adams

    Romance certainly is powerful medicine! Thank you for supplying it in wonderful doses!!!

  • i do need the HEA in my reading to help face the real world sometimes… just nopt to love hope
    so thank you for helping us dreams and hope ( and thank you for thinking abourt international readers too!!)

  • Kareni

    Many thanks for sharing this touching story, Ms. O’Keefe; I know that books have brought me a lot of comfort over the years. And many thanks for your fun books!

  • Meredith Richardson

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us, I love your books 🙂

  • glittergirl54

    You are so right Molly, sometime romance books are our hope and give us the boost we need in those times of aching. Thank you for that post and thank you for your giveaway. I wish you the best in your career that matters so much to we readers.

  • mariannewestrich

    Solace and escape – two beautiful gifts from romance novels! Thanks!!!

  • Rosemarie N.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoy reading your books. In these tough times books help us escape our real world. I just know what I do with them. Thank you !

  • M Kuxhaus

    Love your recommendations for other authors. And I’m pretty sure the kid in that photo is way cuter than the sweater!

  • Elizabeth Gray

    Books are sometimes the best medicine for the things we face in our daily lives. It can cheer you up or make you laugh when you’re down.

  • Molly, thank you so much for being part of this, and for sharing such a poignant story. xoxo

  • Glenda

    I understand how romances helped you through that horrible time during your teens. Reading has always been a form of escape and relaxation for me. Books have kept me close to sane for years.

  • Pamby50

    Thank you for your story. A good romance novel can get you through anything. I love the authors you listed to help you get through that time. Looking forward to reading something by you.

  • TrishJ

    I totally agree. Romance books got me thru a divorce, lonely times when my soldier hubby deployed. They kept me company when rocking my kids to sleep. Audio books shortened time driving to New army bases. They gave me hope, comfort and lots of joy. I am NEVER without I just recently found you Molly and am glomming everything I can find.

  • Vonda M. Reid

    Your post spoke directly to me. When my family hospitalized me for depression, I asked my mom to go to my house and bring me some romance books. Without those romance books, I’d probably still be in that hospital.

  • Ann

    Love your books!

  • Gina Burgos

    Thank you for your participate!

  • rebecca moe

    What a story–thanks for sharing.

  • leah g

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Its amazing how powerful romance novels seem to be for so many people.

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you for sharing your story. Romance saves my sanity often on a monthly basis.

  • BookLady

    Thanks for sharing this tragic story. It is amazing how romance novels can help us overcome the difficult times of our lives.

  • Brenda E

    I agree that there’s something healing in losing yourself in these wonderful stories of romance where we know we can all safely make it in the end with a happy ever after. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Larena Hubble

    I agree there are times when being able to lose yourself in a romance is what can get you through tough times.

  • Mary McCoy

    I love the sweater!

  • Kim

    Thanks for sharing your story. While a good book can’t cure grief, it can help you to escape for a brief period of time.

  • Jen C

    I’ve kept my daughter’s artwork! Some pieces have special prominence in our house even though she’s now in high school.

  • Mo

    The HEA in romance novels is the perfect balm for a wounded soul. The sweater photo is adorable!

  • Karin Anderson

    Yes! A vote for Tina Fey. 😀