Day 30 Anne Gracie – The Mighty Romance

Romance Writer, Out and Proud

When I first started writing romance I kept it a secret. I was an English teacher with a higher degree and any writing I The Autumn Bridemight do was supposed to be “serious” and “literary”. I knew I would cop a lot of flack from friends and work colleagues.

But I loved writing my stories, and when my first book was published I started telling people. From then on the jokes flew thick and fast. You? Writing romance? That rubbish? What a joke! Yeah, right. Hilarious.

Beneath the “fun” and “joking”, there was a good deal of scorn for the genre I’d chosen to write in. Writing crime fiction would be far more respectable, apparently. What does it say about our society that books about murder are more highly regarded than books that celebrate love?

Of course, none of these people had read any of my books. They didn’t need to — they knew what they were like. They’d ask, “When are you going to write a real book?” or “Are you still writing those little books?”  My books are about 100,000 words, so by “little” they didn’t mean length, but that the books were trivial.

I tried not to let it get to me, but sometimes it did.

A letter from a reader changed my attitude. This letter:

Dear Anne
I have just finished your novella The Virtuous Widow and I had to write to say how much I loved it.  I don’t usually read historical romances, but I got a collection called Regency Brides with another collection and decided to keep it.

Perfect RakeI have a lot of time to read now.  Up until May 10th this year I was a 24 hour carer for my dad but he died on that day.  Just last week I was told that I have a degenerative spinal disease (my spine is crumbling) and I will be in a wheelchair in the future. My husband is disabled and we have 2 sons aged 5 and 8.  Because they need me, I usually tend to my own pain control at night time when I do most of my reading.  I really couldn’t put your book down until I had finished it.  It took my mind off everything that has happened, and took me back to Ellie and Amy’s home.

I intend to look for some other books of yours at my local library as this story really whetted my appetite.  Up until I started this, I hadn’t been able to settle to read, but this story got me going again. Thank you.

It was my first piece of hard evidence that romance matters. Really matters.

When we’re struggling through hard times, or needing escape, or hope, or reassurance or simple entertainment, how fabulous that we can find it in a romance novel.

Never doubt that romance matters. It does.Untamed

It’s also fun! And that’s an unbeatable combination.

Recommendations: A new author I would recommend is Anna Cowan. Her debut book, UNTAMED, is just out and it’s highly original, unconventional, beautifully written and a little bit raw in places. Her book is available as an e-book internationally, and a trade paperback in Australia.

If short, sassy contemporary romance is your thing, I’d recommend Kelly Hunter, a Harlequin author who writes the best sexy banter around.

Questions for Anne:CharlieLamp

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

It’s this lamp, made by a wood turner friend of mine for an auction to raise money for an artists’ space. The wood is Australian native wood, the “lamp” is a car head light, and it’s an eye. It’s crazy, it’s ugly and I love it to bits.

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

There’s a song by singer Paul Kelly called “I’ve Done All the Dumb Things” and it would be the soundtrack for a movie of the same name. As for who would play me, maybe Renée Zellweger.

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

A dog. A dog is a creature full of love.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be?

The first meeting between the hero and heroine in The Perfect Rake is fun, I think — part of it’s on my website. You can read it here.

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.

Anne is generously donating one copy of The Autumn Bride for international readers and one copy for U.S readers. International readers enter here. 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 30 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!

anneGracie4Anne Gracie spent her childhood on the move when her father’s job took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humor & love are universal languages and that favorite books can take you home, wherever you are.

Anne lives in Australia, but writes regency-era historical romances for Berkley books, USA. Her bestselling books have won a number of awards, including the  National Readers Choice Award (USA) — twice–  the Romantic Book of the Year (Australia) also twice, and have been nominated four times for the prestigious RWA RITA. She’s a former president and lifetime honorary member of Romance Writers of Australia. Find her online at

  • Allison Siegel

    Lovely letter. Well said. Will definitely try one of your books!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I agree with you that it’s a topsy turvy world when crime and intrigue novels get more respect than romance. I adore Gideon and the fact that he believes Prudence is the most beautiful woman in the world; as he should! Thank you for your wonderful stories.

  • Melanie Backus

    Thank you for your post. Romance is wonderful and will always make a difference in one’s life. Thank you for what you do!

  • mariannewestrich

    I just added you to my to-be-read list. Thanks so much for letting us get to know you!

    • Such a treat ahead of you! (put her near the top!) xoxo

  • S E Gilchrist

    What an inspiring and lovely letter. It certainly puts my own life into perspective when I hear about the challenging lives some people endure. I read and write romance because I love where it takes me…to a place of comfort and hope (and adventure I can experience without getting my feet wet!). And I love Regency Romances and, in particular, yours, so keep writing please!

    (I have The Autumn Bride, Anne so no need to add me in the draw.)

  • Beautiful words, Anne, thank you! Thank you also for sharing this touching letter with us. And thank you for the international gift, I hope hope hope to win your book (or yes, well, I’ll buy it!). 😉

    • Autumn Bride is so wonderful! (I’ve hooked 3 non-romance friends on Anne Gracie with that book.) ;o)

  • Nancy S. Goodman

    Isn’t it sad when someone receives more respect for writing about rape, murder and war? What’s wrong with wanting a happily after after? We’ve all become too cynical now a days, and need to sit back and read letters like you just posted.

  • Laurie W G

    I’m hoping more people will become enlightened and discover the wonder of reading romances!

  • Polly

    Not sure if it was a novella or The Autumn Bride that led me to Anne Gracie, but I aam hooked on her books. I already read UNTAMED, and found it an excellent read. Pretty sure it was Grace Burrowes who recommended it (and since I love EVERYTHING she writes, I gave it a try) but R-A-R-M has led me to a lot of great new authors.

    • I am so glad, Polly – thanks so much! xoxo

  • Anne

    Thank you for sharing! I discovered your books a couple of years ago and you are on my favorite author list. Thanks for writing.

  • Deb Hinshaw

    I enjoy your books, Anne, and your fun and witty writing. Thanks for sharing today.

  • Nancy Huddleston

    I love romance in any form. Books make me feel so much
    So thanks.

  • Beverly DeeAnjello

    I am partial to historical romances. They are the best escape after a tough day.

  • Sue G.

    I love reading my happy endings. Sometimes it to forget about a crappy day. Sometimes it is just because. Thanks for all the happy endings!

  • Tonda Galloway Hargett

    When I first started reading romance novels, I started with regency historical romance. They’re still my favorite, but I’ll read just about any kind of romance as long as it has a happy ever after!

  • jcp

    I enjoy your books.

  • M Kuxhaus

    That lamp is fun. I love the eyelashes.

  • glittergirl54

    Oh awesome — another english teacher converted. If only you could get your words out to those literary snobs and get them to READ YOUR BOOK! I know, when you need to bring a gift, give one of your books. I loved your quote “When we’re struggling through hard times, or needing escape, or hope, or reassurance or simple entertainment, how fabulous that we can find it in a romance novel.” It is SO TRUE! I’ve had a real hard year loosing both my parents in less than a month over the holidays filled with family birthdays. Romance novels got me through. Thanks for the giveaway and best wishes for your continued success.

    • {hugs}

    • Anne Gracie

      Glittergirl54, hugs on your hard year. I lost my parents in the last few years, too, and when my mum was dying I sat by her bedside long into the night reading my friends’ books. So romance got me through, as well. Take care.

  • christinejensen

    I Love that it is fun! I want to smile when I read, and romance always makes me smile.

    • Anne Gracie

      Christine, there’s an old song about “too much fun” — basically, that there’s no such thing. There’s too much grim in the world. I’m all for fun.

  • Valerie

    YAY for dogs! What is your favorite breed? Your note from the reader was heart warming and I have to ask have you reached back out to see how she is these days?

    • Anne Gracie

      Valerie, I don’t have a favorite breed, but mostly in my life I’ve had working (sheep or cattle) dogs of mixed breeds. My beloved Chloe-dog, who died a couple of years ago, was a kelpie-blue-heeler cross — both australian working cattle dog breeds. She was intelligent, energetic and a total darling. I still miss her heaps. I have pictures of her on my website — she was medium sized, black and tan with touches of white.

      • Valerie

        awwwww I’m sorry to hear about your Chloe. My husband is a Vet Tech so I know more than I should about different breeds and such, but I know it’s almost always the individual dogs personality wise. I grew up with a golden who at least was a great traveler as we moved all the time and then when I got married we had a terrier mix…. they always reach our hearts…thanks for sharing your Chloe

        • Anne Gracie

          Thanks, Valerie. She was a beautiful, loving happy dog.

  • Kareni

    Ms. Gracie, I’ve enjoyed many of your books. Thanks for them and for this essay. All the best!

    • Anne Gracie

      Kareni, thank you so much.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Hi Anne, what a wonderful post you gave us today, thank you. I have belonged to a “Literary” bookclub for a little over 15 years. The group is composed of many longtime friends and I enjoy it very much. However, they are not willing to give Romance a try for all the reasons you wrote about. I read romance and they all know it; they call them my “sexy books.” I say it’s their loss; they don’t know what they are missing. Like you, I have advanced degrees in Language and Literature and getting them took a lot of “serious” reading. I, too, am Out and Proud about Reading Romance: I want my HEA’s!

    • My book club is pretty hostile to romance, too. I love most of the books we read, but I feel almost like a fraud being part of a group who won’t try romance. A dilemma I’m working on in my head. Will definitely be starting a new one soon. Just a question of whether or not I also stay with the current one. xoxo

      • Flora Segura-Buchler

        My feelings exactly, Bobbi. I wish I could find enough Romance reading friends to start another book club, too.

    • Anne Gracie

      Flora, I so understand what you;re saying. It bewilders me how resistant so many of my friends are to romance. They are happy to enjoy a good romantic movie, but try a romance book? It’s as if they fear it will give them a secret lobotomy or something. Crazy. I adore my HEAs too.

  • Mary McCoy

    Thank you for your books, and I love that lamp!

  • I haven’t read your books yet Anne, but they sound absolutely wonderful. Going to check them out now. I am a huge fan of regency era romances. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by today! Be proud of what you write 😀

    • Oh, Brooke – another wonderful treat for you. xoxo

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks, Brooke. I’m very proud to be a romance author, and even prouder to be part of such a wonderful community of readers and writers.

  • Janie

    That’s a cool lamp.

    • Thanks for all your great comments, Janie! xoxo

  • Thanks so much Anne – for being here and writing such wonderful books! xoxo

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Bobbi — you have done such a special thing with this month of fabulous posts. You’re a true heroine!

  • Meredith Richardson

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us, one of the best parts of romance books is the way you and so many authors are able to reach readers and help them find hope and sometimes just sit and have the chance to laugh and relax as they read a nice romance book.

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Meredith — I have loved reading all the different posts each day. Hasn’t Bobbi done a wonderful thing?

  • Lisa Glidewell

    What a wonderful essay! Reading is amazing escape from all the unfortunate things life deals to us at any given moment. Romance novels are the escape that not only take you away to a different place or time but also give you hope and the feeling of happiness and love. :~)

    • Anne Gracie

      Well said, Lisa. Thanks.

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love meeting new authors! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Britney Adams

    Romance is never trivial! I can’t wait to read THE AUTUMN BRIDE!

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Britney.

  • Cheryl Hastings

    Beautiful letter! I loved The Autumn Bride, can’t wait for the next in the series 🙂

    • Anne Gracie

      Cheryl, I’m so glad. Thank you.

  • Stephanie M.

    I love the lamp. Thanks for your essay today. 🙂

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Stephanie. I’ll tell Charlie his lamp is a hit.

  • Pamby50

    Romance books gots me through rehab for my neuromuscular disease. You don’t know how much you have till you have to try to get it back. Looking forward to reading your books.

    • Anne Gracie

      That’s great, Pamby50 — and well done you for fighting back. All the best of good luck.

  • Cathryn Hein

    Gorgeous, moving post, Anne. How wonderful to be able to touch someone like that. It’s a special thing and a great example of the power of romance.

    I just love the way romances make me feel. All warm and gooey and just plain happy. How on earth could anyone disparage that?

    • Thanks so much, Cathryn – I hope you’ve been enjoying all of the posts on Read-A-Romance Month. xoxo

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Cathryn — and yes, you said it, the power of romance.

  • rebecca moe

    What a fabulous letter! Thanks for sharing. (That lamp is awesome, btw!)

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks, Rebecca

  • Tin

    Best part of RARM is discovering new authors and what motivates them to write their stories — thank you for sharing that letter, Anne.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    My heart breaks for your reader. Glad she could find solace in your wonderful books. It would never occur to me to belittle anyone for writing anything, so I just don’t get these people that knock romance. I love it!

    • Anne Gracie

      Sharlene, I don’t get it either — but really, I think the belittlers are the ones who don’t get it. And look what they’re missing out on.

  • Marcy Shuler

    Your letter from that reader was touching. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Ann

    Thank you for sharing. The letter says so much . . .

  • Marcia Berbeza

    Of course romance matters. I don’t pick up a book to cry or feel sad, (although some folks do), I want to feel better when I’ve finished a book. So I want my guaranteed, happily ever after ending, I want to laugh, I want to fall in love, I want to feel good. I may even cry over a story, but I want to know that it all gets better. If I want sadness and tragedy, all I have to do is look around. Real life is full of it, all you have to do is talk to people and you realize how desperate they are. I read to escape. So I read romance.

    • Anne Gracie

      Lovely comment, Marcia. I think when I’m crying over a book, I’m actually enjoying myself. *g*

  • Ketta Peters

    Finally! I was wondering when someone would pick Renee Zellweger as their “star.” Great post, thanks.

    • Ha! I thought the same thing. And there’s a certain resemblance between Renee and Anne, don’t you think? ;o) I think Sandra Bullock is winning for most mentions, yes?

  • Mary Jo Putney

    What a lovely post, Anne! Luckily I’m so lowbrow that I never had the kind of criticism you did, and I hate thinking that there are jerks in the world who would sneer at your wonderful books without even bothering to read them. But yes, there are such jerks. That was a beautiful letter, and a perfect example of the magic romance can achieve. And I’m sure it was the first of many such letters.

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks, Mary Jo. I think most romance writers have received letters like this at various times. It’s a wonderful thing, and a reminder that ahem, romance really does matter.

  • Brenda E

    What a touching story, Anne. So glad you didn’t give up. Never read your books but certainly will be looking for them now.

    • Anne Gracie

      Brenda, I’m so glad I didn’t give up too. The romance community — readers and writers — is a wonderful one. Awful to think I might have missed out on knowing all the wonderful people I’ve met through writing romance.

  • leah g

    Wow, thank you for sharing yet another great story.

  • Krista

    I LOVED His Captive Lady! Lots of great angst 🙂

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Krista, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  • Nancy

    Thank you for sharing the reader letter. I, too, think it’s sad that our society devalues stories with guaranteed happy endings that often make people feel better and help them escape from difficult times.

    • Anne Gracie

      It is sad, nancy, but maybe blogs like this will help spread the word. Hasn’t Bobbi done an awesome job?

  • Fiona McArthur

    Proud to love romance, proud to be an Anne Gracie fan xx Fi

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Fi.

  • Glenda

    Any thing you do that improves someone’s life is more than just worthwhile — you are improving the world. Writing romance novels definitely does that. 🙂

    And I Love your lamp!!!!

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks, Glenda. I’ll have to send Charlie here to look at how many people love his crazy lamp.

  • Kelly Hunter

    Anne, I adored your reader letter and loved the reading rec. Thank you!

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks, Kelly. I never make a reading recommendation I don’t mean. I love your books.

  • Larena Hubble

    I think the people that tend to belittle romances the most are the ones that never have read any of it.
    I agree that romances can get you through some very rough times. I know it has with me. it gives me a chance to escape and have an HEA.

    • Anne Gracie

      Larena, you’re right about the belittlers. And it’s their loss. *g*

  • Patricia Rice

    So glad you realized how very valuable romance is! I was fortunate that the people I knew had no idea what “romance” was and were impressed that I actually wrote a book. Not sure what that says about the company I keep. Love your lamp!

    • Anne Gracie

      It’s fine company you keep, Pat — I’m over my critical “friends”

  • Barbara E.

    Oh yes, romance does matter. It takes us away from our daily cares and transports us to a place where dreams come true and people live happily ever after. What could be better than that? And of course, it’s fun too. 😀

    • Anne Gracie

      So true, Barbara. Thanks.

  • Karin Anderson

    I’m kind of in love with your crazy lamp. 😉

    • Anne Gracie

      It’s great, isn’t it Karin? My woodturner friend generally makes fine furniture, but he also does some off-beat stuff for fun, and I love it.

  • MooMoo Cake

    Your eye lamp is truly weird and awesome and I enjoyed the excerpt posted on your site and really want to see how the story and relationship of Prudence and Gideon develop. And I will also check out The Autumn Bride and your other books.

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks, MMC, I love it. I hope you enjoy my books, too.

  • BookLady

    What a lovely letter! I’m sure your romance novels have made a difference in the lives of many of your readers. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anne Gracie

      I hope so, book lady. I know reading romance has helped me through some tough times.

  • Janie McGaugh

    I read romance primarily as an escape and entertainment, but there are times when I take away the hope and encouragement even more.

    • Anne Gracie

      Janie, I think that goes for all of us. It’s the icing on the very yummy cake.

  • Ann Mettert

    Very good essay.

  • Kim

    Thanks for sharing the letter! Reading is a great way to escape and I love the historical genre.

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks Kim — reading has always been my favorite escape, too. And historicals rock.

  • Carol Marinelli

    I love the escape of romance. I still find myself amazed that people would be critical of something that gives so many, so much pleasure. cxx

    • Anne Gracie

      Crazy, isn’t it, Carol? Thanks for dropping by.

  • Trish McMuffin

    Anne, I adore your crazy lamp! It looks like something out of Monsters Inc:)

    And thanks to you, I have just picked up a copy of Anna Cowan’s Untamed. It sounds intriguing and it will keep me going until my next Anne Gracie! Gotta love a great romance!

  • Dory Codington

    I went to library school a few years back and was dismayed that so many future librarians made fun of patrons who took out romance or cozy mysteries. I pointed out in one class that although we all got to sit in a library all day, some people nursed dying children, taught school or generally had a bad day and didn’t want to read depressing ‘literature.’ And that was before I started writing my own.

    • Anne Gracie

      Dory, I ran a small campaign at my own library, where the *only* books that weren’t shelved alphabetically were picture books for under 5’s and romances. The *only* books you couldn’t have a librarian do a shelf check for, if you were phoning to reserve a book. But they did see the error of their ways 🙂

  • Jen C

    I love being part of the romance community. Readers, writers, reader-writers, and writer-readers — I think we all get it. And because of that, we support each other. What a nice letter your reader sent, and even nicer is the gift you didn’t know you were giving her.

    • Anne Gracie

      Thanks, Jen — what a lovely way to say it.