Day 5: Linda Francis Lee

Reaching for the Stars

When I was a senior in high school my high school boyfriend took another girl to our prom. At the time, it was a shock. My senior prom! It didn’t matter that the girl asked him, that she was supposedly a good friend, or that she was the sweetheart of his sporting team and she asked him to escort her for the pageant portion of the prom. It mattered that instead of only escorting her for the initial pageant, he then asked her to be his date for the rest of the dance and she said yes. But soon both of their betrayals became the greatest gift. Why? Because instead of going to the prom my brother and I went skiing with family friends, and it was on the long, lovely and cold drive from Texas to Colorado that the mother of that family gave me my first romance novel.

I had been raised on reading for school. See Spot Run. Or later, The Grapes of Wrath and Red Badge of Courage. For pleasure, I read biographies of historical figures. I was stunned reading my first historical romance – a thick novel filled with the history of English royalty and romance. Five years later I started writing my own romance novel. Now, all these years after that, I have written seventeen romance novels and three women’s fiction novels that are filled with romance. No question my life changed for the better the minute my boyfriend asked another girl to our senior prom.

The truth was, from the minute I opened the cover of that very first book I was hooked. The pages were filled with men and women you could root for. These were men and women who valued honor and were willing to do the hard work to become better people. That first novel mattered because it showed me a glimpse of the type of love I would rather have than the type served up by a boyfriend who would take a friend of mine to our prom.  Years of reading romance novels taught me that doormats never won. The kind of woman who stood up for herself, who showed the hero that she loved him, all the while refusing to cow to him in any way – even if she felt the need to – was the kind of woman I wanted to be. 

Can romance novels be unrealistic, or too good to be true? In some cases, yes. But to me, the best romance novels are like myths, the sorts of stories that were once told to teach people a better way to live, a way to teach women to stand up for themselves, to be individuals, to be strong. The very best romance novels make readers want to reach for the stars and not settle for less.


Since we are always looking for new-to-us great authors, let me recommend:

An author whose work I enjoy ~ M.J. Rose

An author I found through e-books ~ Samantha Young

Questions for the Author:


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

I have a stuffed Snoopy that my grandfather gave me when I was 10. All these years later it is ragged, falling apart, but a reminder of good men and a love that is unconditional.


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

The Misadventures of Linda starring Sandra Bullock.


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

My husband – who truly loves me for better or worse . . . perhaps a reference to The Misadventures of Linda!


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?)

So far, I have two favorite couples from my books: Finnea and Matthew in an older historical of mine, DOVE’S WAY. Also, I love Frede Ware and Sawyer Jackson in THE DEVIL IN THE JUNIOR LEAGUE. Since I wrote DEVIL, I’ve had readers who have written to me saying they named children after Sawyer. He is truly a man of strong values and honor. Plus he is hot.

Linda is generously donating five copies of Emily & Einstein (U.S. only, apologies to international 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 midnight EST Aug 6 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Linda Francis Lee is a native Texan now calling New York City home. Linda’s writing career began when her article “There Is No Finish Line” was published in her university’s quarterly magazine. But she got sidetracked from writing when she started teaching probability and statistics. Later she found her way back to writing, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution called her breakout novel, Blue Waltz, “absolutely stunning.” Now Linda is the author of nineteen books that are published in sixteen countries around the world. Two of her most recent novels are in development for feature films, and she is in the process of co-developing a television series set in her beloved Texas. When Linda isn’t writing, she loves to run in Central Park and spend time with her husband, family, and friends. She loves to hear from readers. You can find her at


Buy Linda’s books on Amazon.

  • PJ Ausdenmore

    “Years of reading romance novels taught me that doormats never won.”

    Love this! This is what romance detractors never seem to understand.

  • TrishJ

    I think I was about 14 when I read my first harlequin romance. I “found” it in my mother’s room. Sigh. I then found the library and a truly great librarian who directed me to the romance section. This is a new author for me, but I will certainly correct this obvious mistake. 🙂

    • Hi, Trish – I hope you’ll read my NPR post on the About page, and Linda’s books are awesome! :o)

  • Nancy Huddleston

    Started reading historical when I was younger. I fell in the love. Thanks for a chance to revisit the past.

  • Heather Coulter

    I also love to discover new authors, thanks for the recommends. Bonus you are also new to me author.

    • Glad you’re enjoying RARM, Heather! Thank you. xoxo

  • Melanie Backus

    I love great reads. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  • Bette Hansen

    first of all your high school boyfriend is probably still a dawg so to heck with him but good that their was a silver lining when you read that romance. I haven’t had the opportunity to read your work but I will be looking out for it now…Thanks for sharing

  • Amy McKechney Lang

    I have not read your work as of yet but I am looking forward to trying it.

  • Ora

    I can’t remember if it was from a recommendation from her b&n page or a Facebook post from Eloisa James introducing me to your books. I’m really glad she did.

  • Jen Ferraro Stepke

    Your high school boyfriend was and probably still is a selfish jerk, but I am very happy that you can see the silver lining of that experience. That is probably why you write such amazing stories! Thank you for the books you have and will write and Thank you for the giveaway. 🙂

  • Britney Adams

    I loved Emily & Einstein! Keeping my fingers crossed for my own copy!

  • rebecca moe

    Love the myth analogy–so true!

  • Kim Cornwell

    I love your books. I also have a small ragged snoopy that rides in my dash of my school bus. He’s been with me for 16 years. One of my students gave it to me. This year I added a purple dinosaur for relay for life donation. Now Snoopy has a friend! Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Thanks, Kim! I have a monkey from when I was 10 that I took with me to college. I’ll never give him up. :o)

  • Meredith Richardson

    I’ve never read your books before but I’m looking forward to reading my way through them 🙂

  • Robin Ray

    Reading all the posts from Author’s that I have either Heard Of But Not Read and Author’s that I Have Not Heard Of is going to increase my To Try List significantly by the end of the month. Linda Francis Lee is in the Former Category and the fact that I now know she is a Native Texan just might have elevated her standing on the list (We Native Texans that for some reason live elsewhere are awesome). Its also cool to know that a couple of her books are being made into movies. I wish more Romance Authors had books being made into Movies.

    • Agreed, Robin – and Linda’s from my hometown in Texas, which makes it even more cool to read that story!

  • Kristy Birch

    I love the idea of romance novels being like ancient myths. There is a moral and lesson to take away from all the really good ones.

  • MaryC

    EMILY & EINSTEIN is one of my favorite books!

    • Isn’t it great?! Such a sweet book. :o)

  • Sandi in OH

    You are right about romance and myths. They have helped me to understand problems and how to solve problems. They have always helped me get through difficult times.

    • I love that the characters in romance must be problem-solvers. It’s one of the best factors of great romance. xoxo

  • Sue G.

    Sounds like that boyfriend didn’t deserve you! That was great of your friend’s mom to give you a book. Not sure if I’d give a 17/18 yr old a romance book. I guess it depended on how graphic it was.

    • Sue – I think this was the late 80’s/early 90’s. Much less graphic in those days! xoxo

  • Jen C

    So true, I don’t even have a response. “The very best romance novels make readers want to reach for the stars and not settle for less.”

  • suepeace

    Love how you’ve written about romance here!

  • Morgan

    Thanks for the suggestions! I have so many to add to my list.

  • Patty Vasquez

    “The very best romance novels make readers want to reach for the stars and not settle for less.” Truer words were never written. I paraphrased a similar thought when having a serious conversation with my daughter last fall about her string of, as Gwen Bristow would have called them in Jubilee Trail (showing my age!), “Lukewarm milk toast” boyfriends. I even used romance novels as my example. I told her that a boyfriend might not ever live up to the exact model of a romance hero, but she should always expect to be treated as the single most important being in his world, with respect and faithfulness. I told her she would know when she’d met “The One,” and she should never, ever set her bar low just to have a boyfriend. I’m so glad to find out I’m not the only one to think this way! LOL

  • Kim

    I love Snoopy! I think romance does a great job of highlighting strong, intelligent women.

  • Ann

    I must say, I’m rather glad that you didn’t go to your prom!

  • christinejensen

    Hooray for strong women 🙂

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I could not agree more with your message. My mom was a great role model for me and taught me to never be a doormat…she also is where I inherited my love of books, especially romance. I really think it is vital for every woman to strive to be their version of a romance heroine–how much better would our world be if that were true?!?! I’ve always enjoyed your books and look forward to everything you write!

  • J.J.

    I’ve got to get that Emily & Einstein book!

  • Cheryl Hastings

    Strong women rock!! I try to instill in my own two teenage girls that you can be strong and classy while making sure you are no ones doormat. i LOVED Emily and Einstein and recommended it to many friends, romance and mom-romance readers alike 🙂

  • Ruth

    Linda, I couldn’t agree more. THAT is the kind of woman I want to be, and HE

  • Ketta Peters

    You’re a new author to me, and I really like what you’ve written here, so I’ll be checking out your books “toot sweet”.

  • M Kuxhaus

    I’m glad your prom was replaced with something more long-lasting!

  • Marcy Shuler

    Good thing for us you didn’t go to prom, Linda. 🙂

  • Rhiannon Rowland

    Ha, I went with my ex-boyfriends sister. I took her as my date, since he dumped me a week before prom. We had an awesome time and he later said he regretted not going, (insert tongue sticking out here) HA! Made my summer, that did!

  • brhill2010

    Your boyfriend did wrong and I am glad something came better out of it. I guess romance shows that every heroine has a hero and it gives you something to fight for. I love romances.

  • I love that you chose Sandra Bullock to play you 😉 She’s my favorite actress. That boyfriend messed up and missed out!!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Lucky for us that you turned a bad experience into a good one & became a romance writer!

  • Kortney

    I have never read any of your books but would the opportunity too!

  • leah g

    wow I love your article. So true, it is so much better to reach for the stars, and reading that happily ever afters do exist, even if they aren’t easy is such a great model for hope.

  • MooMoo Cake

    I’ve always loved to read myths and fairy tales. In the last month, I’ve been on a Cinderella binge, reading versions from various cultures and traditions. Sure, I pretend I’m reading them to my 6-year-old niece, but I’d read them to myself if she didn’t want to listen. But I do try to find the stories that show strong characters (male and female) so that my niece doesn’t end up sitting around, waiting for a prince to slay the dragon/witch and scale the tower for her. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your thoughts. And for contributing to this event!

  • QuenKne M

    I have read romance novels since I was 13 and I have never had the insight that all of you (so far) have given me in these 5 short days. It’s unbelievable how powerful your words are, but then again that’s why you are what you are… the best writers in the business!! By the way, Linda, thanks for the Lucky Duck Club.

  • Pennie Morgan

    Isn’t it great how things turn out for the best and you found your silver lining… I devoured Nancy Drew books and any other mystery I could find in my elementary school until I couldn’t find anything else and took a neighbor’s romance book and the rest is history. I had to move to the downtown library for my books 🙂

  • tonda hargett

    I have always loved reading, too, any type of book. But especially romantic novels!

  • Diane Giarrusso

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m off to find one of your novels to read! Yippee! a new author!

  • BookLady

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. You are a new author for me. Would love to win Emily & Einstein.

  • Charlotte M. Liebel

    Well, Linda! Have to say I’ve shared more than one disappointing boyfriend experience from teenaged through adulthood. Even married twice. Had two beautiful daughters and, because of them, am still friends with their dad. So, my story isn’t all bad.

    I love your story and the fact that you learned how to like a boyfriend from your first misery! Good for you!

    Charlotte M. Liebel

  • Love where you say that romances are “a way to teach women to stand up for themselves, to be individuals, to be strong. The very best romance novels make readers want to reach for the stars and not settle for less.” It’s something we say all the time on our blog. Thanks so much for writing and for teaching us all so much. 🙂

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Hi Linda! I adore your books and enjoy interacting with you on FB. I also was lucky enough to win a “Lucky Duck” last year and it sits proudly on its own little mirrored lake in my china cabinet!

  • Barbara Johnson

    I loved Emily and Einstein. I read a recommendation that Eloisa James posted and bought the book. I’m so glad that I did. Usually, I’m not intrigued by stories with an element of fantasy, but Emily and Einstein proved me wrong. I truly came to care for both of them, which is the height of excellent writing — believing in the characters that an author created and feeling a sense of kinship with them. Thanks for such a terrific story. I’ve recommended it to several friends and they were enchanted as well.