Day 26 Lori Handeland – Believing in Love

Hope & Love – The Essentials of Romance

The very first romance I remember reading was JANE EYRE in eighth grade.  We were allowed to pick a book from a list, then we gave a report to the class.  I picked it because it was the longest book and I knew I’d be done before everyone else otherwise.  As it was, I read the The Lone Warriorthing twice. I loved that book.  What wasn’t to love?

Dark, tortured hero falls in love with the sweet, earnest young woman.  Trouble ensues.  You think they will never be together and voila!  They are.  I was hooked.

I spent most of high school reading Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney.  Then I found Kathleen Woodiwiss.  I very clearly remember turning down a date with a football player so I could finish SHANNA.  It was a good decision.

I moved on to Rosemary Rogers, Janelle Taylor.  I couldn’t stop.  I still can’t.

Romance promises joy in a world with far too little of it.  Romance is uplifting.  It’s intriguing.  While I always know that I’ll get my happy ending, how the author gets there is forever a surprise.  Life’s too short and I’m too busy to waste time on a book that will leave me depressed. I can watch the news, read the newspaper or listen to my in laws for that.

Some say romance is unrealistic.  I refuse to accept that.  There’s a thing called hope, and I have it.  So does every romance I’ve ever written and every one I’ve ever read.

I’ve been asked “Do you want your daughter to grow up with unrealistic expectations of her relationships?”  Well, I don’t have a daughter, but if I did I’d want her to have hope, to believe in love.  Both of those things are worth dreaming of, believing in and fighting for.  This is the essential message of romance.

Recommendations: I’d like to recommend Liliana Hart, who writes all sorts of great series and in several different genres.

Questions for Lori:

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

I have a little table that is a hound dog dressed like a butler, holding a tray.  UGLY.  But we call him Clint, after the gun shy hound dog in  one of my Harlequin Superromances (A Sheriff in Tennessee) so I just can’t get rid of him.

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

“Always Hopeful” with Demi Moore.

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

A puppy.

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?)

Alexi Romanov and Cat O’Banyon in BEAUTY AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER by my alter ego Lori Austin.

Jessica and Lord Dain from Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.


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 celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.

Lori is generously donating five copies of An Outlaw In Wonderland to give away to US readers (domestic only; 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 26 to be eligible, though winners will be announced at a later date.

Also visit the Awesome Contests page to register this week to win a Kindle Paperwhite and “A Month of Romance” (31 books) from Amazon Montlake, or  the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!


Lori Handeland is a two time RITA Award winner and the New York Times Bestselling author of the paranormal romance series, The Nightcreature Novels, as well as the urban fantasy series, The Phoenix Chronicles and the historical fantasy series, Shakespeare Undead.  She also writes western historical romance under the name Lori Austin.  The third book in her “Once Upon a Time in the West” series, THE LONE WARRIOR, will be available in January, 2014.  Lori lives in Wisconsin with her husband, enjoying occasional visits from her grown sons. You can find her online at or learn more about her alter ego Lori Austin at


  1. Harriet Mahabir says:

    Hi Lori,
    I agree with you . I do not think that the romance genre gives us unrealistic expectations of romance. I think they show the possibilities that we can achieve if we met the right person and work on our relationships.

  2. Lisa Glidewell says:

    I am so like you! I love to read a romance novel with a happy ending. Call me old-fashioned but I believe in love and happy endings too. Romance, relationships, and love with happy endings are out there. I have four daughters and I encouraged them to believe in love because it’s out there. It might take some patience, some hope and a whole lot of faith but I know that they can find it. We all know that a good relationship takes alot of hard work . But for each one of them, “I want the fairytale!” (Julia Roberts~Pretty Woman)

  3. Allison Siegel says:

    I’d rather read a book that makes me happy afterward than one that doesn’t. Romance provides us with that happy feeling, and it does give us hope in our own lives. Will be checking out your books soon!

  4. mariannewestrich says:

    Where would we be without hope?!?!? Romance provides hope and escape from the day-to-day grind. Thanks so much for the hours of reading pleasure!

  5. Melanie Backus says:

    Hope and love, two things vital in life! Thank you for what you do.

  6. Laurie W G says:

    Thanks for sharing! For me you have to have faith, hope and love to attain a HEA.

  7. Nancy Huddleston says:

    I want my children (boys and girls) to have hope and believe in love. Romance shows what a woman should expect and how a man should treat a woman. Thanks romance.

  8. Kim Cornwell says:

    Love meeting new authors! I also don’t have any daughters, but I have 2 boys! I have taught them to be honest and treat every woman like a lady! I know that whatever woman catches my boys , they will know they have found a true man! I raised them that way and very proud of them! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  9. I love my happy endings. That is why I read romance.

  10. Cheryl Sanders says:

    My favorite line out of this entire article is ” Life’s too short and I’m too busy to waste time on a book that will leave me depressed. ” AMEN! That is why I enjoy reading romance. Thank you Lori!

  11. christieMI says:

    Okay, you hit the big three in my early reading as well–Whitney, Stewart and Holt! As well as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I don’t remember what my first paperback romance could have been–it might still be lurking on a bookshelf in the basement though.

  12. Donna Logan Brown says:

    So glad you became a part of RARM and agree with your statement about romance promising joy. Sometimes the road there is a bumpy one, but it’s worth the trip. Enjoy you on TGB and love your books, esp. the westerns.

  13. rebecca moe says:

    LOL, that table! My daughter would love it (and I’m raising her to read romance too, like a responsible mother ;))

    And my TBR list continues to grow….

  14. Deb Hinshaw says:

    Thank you for posting today, Lori. I loved the line you wrote about happy endings and knowing each romance will have one, but how each author gets to the HEA is a surprise. That is so true!

  15. {whew} busy morning! Finally getting on here to say thank you so much Lori for being here, and for writing such lovely words about romance.

    I find that women who believe in a personal HEA, that it’s possible, tend to find them. I think creating a safe place for our daughters to read romance – or whatever the heck they want! – allows them to create their own dreams, and reading romance gives them a sense of hope for the future. Why is romance unrealistic?

    Thanks again, so glad you’re here. xoxo

  16. Amy Livesay Hart says:

    This is a book I really want to read! The cover is mouth watering! Heh heh 😉

  17. Tonda Galloway Hargett says:

    Wow, I know I’m going to love your books, so thank you Read a Romance Month! We not only started out reading the same authors, SHANNA is my favorite book! I used to read it at least once a year. Now I’m discovering so many new-to-me authors, I have a hard time choosing! I’ll be looking for your books ! 🙂

  18. YaY for hope

  19. Melissa Cowling Terry says:

    I enjoyed reading your essay. I like the hope and joy that reading romance provides too.

  20. Mary McCoy says:

    What is life without hope or books without romance? Thanks for your books and for your post, and for participating in the WisRWA panels at Franklin and other libraries!

    • Lori Austin says:

      Hi, Mary! I wish they’d have more panels like the one we had in Franklin. That was fun.

  21. Joanne Ozment says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what you said. Love a happy ending .

  22. I agree with you. If I were lucky enough to have a daughter I would want her to grow up believing in love and to have hope (in herself and in her world)…

  23. Larena Hubble says:

    what is wrong with reading a book that give you hope? I love romances for the HEA’s and can’t imangine not reading them. There is so much to choose from.

  24. glittergirl54 says:

    Your quote –“Romance promises joy in a world with far too little of it. Romance is uplifting. It’s intriguing. While I always know that I’ll get my happy ending, how the author gets there is forever a surprise. Life’s too short and I’m too busy to waste time on a book that will leave me depressed. I can watch the news, read the newspaper or listen to my in laws for that.” — YES-YES-YES!!! I absolutely agree. Life is too short for angst and I read to find the bliss. Thank you for adding to we reader’s bliss.

  25. Cheryl C. says:

    The new book looks interesting. Okay, the guy on the cover looks interesting, but I’m certain the book is just as great.

  26. Thanks for posting, Ms. Handeland. I read and enjoyed your Phoenix Chronicles books; now I need to read something by your alter ego!

  27. As you were listing all the authors you were reading when you were younger, I thought I was reading all those same authors. I agree that Shana was worth the read. Looking forward to read one of your books.

  28. Stephanie M. says:

    Thanks for your post today. I’ve added you to my TBR list (under both names).

  29. Patty Vasquez says:

    You and I followed the authorial (is that a word?) path in high school. I have a daughter, and I told her that life isn’t necessarily a romance novel, but she should expect to be treated as though she is the most important person in the world by her significant other just as the hero treats his heroine in their HEA. She should never set the bar any lower than that!

  30. Marcy Shuler says:

    Romances make me happy and that’s good enough for them to matter. Period.


  31. MooMoo Cake says:

    Your post is short but sweet. And so true! Thank you for contributing to this great event and writing (and providing readers with joy and hope). I love Clint!

  32. Melissa Sullivan says:


    post. ^w^ I don’t think romances give unrealistic expectations either. If
    anything it teaches young girls that they don’t have to settle for the
    man-child, bore, or brute. That if they’re patient there is a hero waiting for

  33. Wowee look at that hot cover. 😉 Really liked reading your essay, Lori!

  34. Great post! Thank you for this and all of your books.

  35. I love your thought and completely agree that if I had a daughter I cannot imagine anything better than her having hope and love!

  36. I’m glad hope “keeps” coming up as a reason why romances matter. 🙂

  37. I do love a good western romance. Just like non-romance westerns, they’re fun and the good guy always wins the girl. Nothing wrong with a nice, feel-good message of hope and rightness in the world.

  38. I love romance with its happy ever after endings. Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Kathleen Woodiwiss were also some of my first romance authors. Thanks for sharing.

  39. I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that love is a rarity that few people find. Good romances give examples of how it can work– especially since mom and dad don’t know anything. 😉

  40. Britney Adams says:

    Hope and love are essential! Thank you for sharing!!

  41. Funny you should mention A Sheriff in Tennessee, as I just read it for the 3rd or 4th time! Love that book and all the Luchetti family. And of course the werewolf series. Another favorite series was the Rock Creek Six so I’m tickled to see that you also write westerns as Lori Austin! Now I have another author name to track down. 🙂

  42. Courtney Cogswell says:

    I’m seeing so many commonalities among the participating writers as well as the commenters on each of the posts. Clearly romance brings together a special group of people and so many of us have led very different lives but have so much in common as well. I choose romance for the hope and love in each book I read because I love the rush of a happy ending following an amazing journey. On a slightly different note, I love that there are so many dog/animal lovers involved in this. As a proud dog/cat owner it is amazing to see everyone’s posts about their pets 🙂 Just proves my point that animal lovers are special (possibly better) people!

    • Lori Austin says:

      I have found a common thread with animals/pets as well. We have a lot of love to share.

  43. Bernadette Long says:

    I think it’s important for sons as well as daughters to hope and believe in romance, too. We need to encourage the men in our lives.

  44. Meredith Richardson says:

    I love what you wrote about romance books giving people hope. It’s so true and it’s something we need in a world where the divorce rate is so high… true love and happily ever afters do exist!! It’s just sad that people love to talk about all the bad relationships instead of the couples that have been together for 50-70 years.

  45. Loved your post and your Lori Austin books. I also got hooked on Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney and still have many of their books in my permanent collection. Also loved what you said about wanting hope and love for our daughters, and I agree those are definitely worth fighting for.

  46. Barbara E. says:

    My first romances were the Georgette Heyer stories I picked up at the library and I was hooked. That was about 45 years ago and I’ve never stopped reading romance since. 😀 The styles have changed a bit over the years, but the basic components never do, especially the happily ever after.

  47. Marcia Berbeza says:

    OMG, as you listed your favorite authors earlier in life, I flashed back! I still remember reading Shanna. I was a junior in college and taking summer school and living on campus. A bunch of friends and I decided to spend the afternoon at the pool and I took Shanna. (She was never the same after that day, got a little damp!) But we had gone with a mixed group and I had questions about the book, what was the plot, etc. I still remember describing it and thinking how silly it sounded to say it aloud, but could I stop reading? No, I could NOT!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lori Austin says:

      I never like to describe or read things aloud out of context. Like a soap opera no one else watches–sounds silly. One has to immerse oneself from the very beginning.

      • Marcia Berbeza says:

        Isn’t that the truth? Here I was at that sunny pool baking myself and I was reading these incredible snow scenes!

  48. Ketta Peters says:

    Another author for my wishlist!

  49. Love and hope are important components. I agree that romance novels are a great way to balance out the negative news.

  50. Vonda M. Reid says:

    I loved “Nate”! I’m so glad you are writing westerns again (since I don’t read paranormal romances or urban fantasy books).

  51. Karin Anderson says:

    Awww. I think Clint’s kinda cute. 😀