Day 8 Loretta Nyhan

Hungry Like the Wolf

I started reading romances around the age of twelve, the same time, according to my mother, that I entered “that awkward stage.” And that was a kind way to describe it. Suddenly, everything I ate fed only my nose, starving my neck, my legs, my arms–all of which were the approximate circumference of no. 2 pencils. Instead of feathering, my thick hair rested in clumps around my ears Princess Leia-style.The Witch Collector

Only a forensic specialist could detect the thin line separating my brows…

In a nutshell, I was the girl who held up the wall at school dances.

Eventually I grew into myself, but at the time—this was the early 80s, when the self-esteem movement was but a faint glimmer in our sparkly blue eye shadow—I was miserable.

But then…rescue came, not in the form of Prince Charming but in the squat, brick building known as the Roden Branch of the Chicago Public Library. A very astute librarian, having watched me pick up and put back a Nancy Drew mystery I’d probably read at least a hundred times, asked me a question which would change my life: Have you read anything from the Sweet Dreams series? She held up a book called P.S. I LOVE YOU. A pensive girl with haunted, soulful eyes stared back at me from the cover. She looked like she needed more than a friend–she needed a confidante.

I whipped out my library card faster than you could say “Duran Duran.”

Romance novels became mine to devour.  I read at the breakfast table, on the way to school, in between classes; I’d even lock myself in the bathroom to get in a few more chapters when the house was in chaos. I couldn’t get enough. I'll Be Seeing You

Their appeal lay in more than simple fantasy. The heroines in those novels were occasionally perfect, golden-haired beauties, but more often they were regular girls experiencing first love AND dealing with family issues, academic pressures, athletic competition, and simply figuring out who they were and what they stood for. Each novel added to my growing knowledge of how people connected with each other. I didn’t read those books and feel envy (well, maybe a little), I felt hope.

Hope makes you feel good about the world, which is only a short step from feeling good about yourself.

The Sweet Dreams books evolved into the immensely popular Sweet Valley High series. After figuring out how to use a curling iron and tweezers, I changed into someone with slightly more commercial prospects as well. But I never stopped reading romance because I never grew tired of learning about the many ways we find out who we are and how fit into the world, how we fall in love with ourselves and others.

I’ve never stopped hoping.

The only difference is now you’ll never find me hiding on the outskirts of a dance floor—I’ll be right in the middle, smiling from ear to ear and shaking what I’ve got.


Recommended authors:

Hanna Martine writes both Paranormal and Contemporary romances equally well. In the New Adult genre, Colina Brennan’s work is hot, hot, hot!

Questions for Loretta:

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

A severely dented tin lunch carrier with a busted handle. My grandfather used it to bring lunch to his job in the steel mills during the 30s and 40s.

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

Much Ado About Nothing (oh, wait—that’s not entirely original, is it?) I’d like to say some sultry brunette like Rachel Weisz or Mary Louise Parker would play me, but in reality it would be someone more head-in-the-clouds like Diane Keaton.

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

I feel incredibly blessed, as this is the most difficult question to answer because I have a lot of choices. I’m going to go with something recent: a dear friend gave me a metal badge from the 34th Infantry in WWII. It belonged to her father, whose battalion followed the same Northern Africa to Italy path my character Sal’s does in my novel I’LL BE SEEING YOU.

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?)
In I’LL BE SEEING YOU, the letters from Rita to her husband Sal, who is serving overseas during WWII.  The strength of their love shines through in those short V-mails.

Loretta is generously donating two copies of I’ll Be Seeing You and  two copies of The Witch Collector (e=published only) to give away to U.S. readers. (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 8 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

lorettanyhan1I’ll Be Seeing You, Loretta Nyhan’s novel cowritten with Suzanne Hayes, debuted from Harlequin Mira in June 2013. Loretta and Suzy are hard at work on a second book for Mira, Empire Girls (coming June 2014). Loretta also writes paranormal thrillers for HarperTeen. You can find her at or

When she’s not writing, Loretta is knitting, baking, and doing all kinds of things her high school self would have found hilarious. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her very patient husband and two wonderful sons.


Buy Loretta’s books on Amazon.

  • PJ Ausdenmore

    Nice to “meet” you, Loretta! Hope seems to be a frequently mentioned reason for why we love our romances. I’ve turned to them many times in my life when I desperately needed hope and they’ve never failed me.

    Love the sound of I’LL BE SEEING YOU. Off to check it out!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Nice to meet you, too, PJ! I completely agree–hope seems to be the overwhelming theme, which makes me so proud of the genre!

  • Jen C

    Love it! That was an entertaining post. My daughter is starting high school and she likes contemporary stories about kids her age, but she’s not a voracious reader. I keep thinking which books on my shelf I could suggest she read. I think she’d really like romances.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      It just takes that one special book to turn a kid into a “can’t get enough” reader. My son took a while too, but Harry Potter turned him around. Maybe the right romance novel is in her future! Thanks for the kind words, Jen!

  • Rhiannon Rowland

    I didn’t discover romances until I was a 20 year old stay at home mom, wished I would have discovered them earlier.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      I love your name–it’s my favorite Fleetwood Mac song. Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Sue G.

    I lived at the library growing up. We couldn’t afford to buy books growing up so we borrowed as many as we could. Judy Blume was my go to during my junior high years!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Love her! We weren’t exactly the Trumps either, so libraries provided such an opportunity. I loved the feeling of anticipation walking in and seeing all those books.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I think I followed a very similar path–I had some great librarians that shared great romance authors with me and I spent much of my junior high and high school years holed up with a book. And while I still spend a lot of time holed up with a book, I am a great lover of social interactions and being in the spotlight now! Romance novels have been such a big part of my life for so long and I feel that in a lot of ways they have shaped who I’ve become as a person. As a side note, I think I read through the Sweet Valley High books at warp speed and what nostalgia I feel remembering those girls 🙂 I will definitely be adding you to my to be read list!!!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Great comment, Courtney, and thank you so much!

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    I discovered reading later in life too, I love my library and the treasures I find. Love your post and different style of writing with Suzanne!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thank you! (And yes, isn’t it funny–we’re so different yet similar in the ways that matter!)

  • Melanie Backus

    Great post! Keeping my fingers crossed for the win.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thank you and good luck!

  • BookLady

    As a child I also enjoyed going to the public library where I discovered romance novels. I love to read and always have a book nearby. Thanks for sharing the great post.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Me, too! When I was younger I would sleep with a book under my pillow. Thanks for the kind words!

      • Raynelle Nazario

        My daughter does that! As I used to do and sometimes you can still find my tablet under my pillow:)

        • Loretta Nyhan

          That is awesome. Book love for the 21st C.

  • brhill2010

    I started to read romance about the age of 12. My sister had this romance book that I couldn’t quite put down and I read the whole thing in about 8 hours. The next day I dove into my mom’s secret stash of romance novels while she was working. I fell in love with these books and every time I read one I know there is hope and fight behind every character!!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      I love that story! There are few things better than the feeling of completely losing yourself in a book.

  • Nancy Huddleston

    We had a used bookstore in our neighborhood that I would ride my bike too and get books.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Yes! It almost felt like an adventure, right?

  • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

    I love you so much, L! I wish I could have been right next to you in that library. Only I would have been taking out Stephen King novels. This is why we write so well together!!!! I love this. Thank you. XO, Suzy.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      We so would have hung out together, even then! Love you!

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love finding new authors! As a only child, my nose stayed in a book.
    I was not outgoing either. In high school at the agenof 14 I was approached by the most good looking boy I had ever seen. He asked me to go the the football game with him. I thought I was dreaming. I Well I woke up and soon began to realize I wasn’t the ugly duckling I thought I was. We will celebrate 30 years of marriage this year. Although we have been together for 32. I love to read and he watches reruns of Gunsmoke!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      I LOVE that story! It also goes so well with the theme of “hope.” Thanks for sharing, Kim!

  • Meredith Richardson

    I remember when I was in middle school and I went to the romance section of our local library for the first time. I was over whelmed by all the books, I felt like a kid in a candy store and in a way I was just of a different variety. Romance books aren’t just a way to escape, they give everyone a little bit of magic and hope that makes life worth living.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Nicely stated, Meredith. Thanks for the comment!

  • Amy McKechney Lang

    I was such a bookworm that at the age of 15 the head librarian asked me if I wanted a job as a Library Page. I took the job and was promoted to a Library Clerk after I graduated from college so that was my job while I went to the local community college and during semester/summer breaks when I went away for my final two years of college.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      What a wonderful experience! I would have loved that job. Thanks for commenting, Amy.

  • rebecca moe

    I loved the Sweet Dreams books…until I found the Sunfire books by Scholastic (historical romances). I devoured those books! Sadly our library didn’t carry them, so I singlehandedly kept my brother’s class’s book orders going strong, just so I could have them all 🙂

    Great post! I’ll Be Seeing You is already on my Goodreads TBR list…

    • Loretta Nyhan

      I do remember those. The day Scholastic book orders came in was like Christmas! Thanks, Rebecca!

  • Donna Logan Brown

    You are a new-to-me author and I understand your nose-in-a-book philosophy as expressed in your essay. So glad you could be a part of RARM, so I could get a chance to “meet” you.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thank you so much!

  • Kristy Birch

    I love the message of hope. I devoured my older sisters Sweet Valley High books until she discovered I was stealing her stuff and sold me out to our mom for violating the no trespassing rule for teenage sanctum.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Ha! This made me laugh, because I was the older sister. Thanks for commenting!

  • tonda hargett

    Good for you, never stop hoping! One of my favorite expressions is “There’s always hope.” And I mean it! 🙂

    • Loretta Nyhan

      There is! Most definitely.

  • Lisa Glidewell

    Love the post! Thank you for being here today. Teen years are hard, thank goodness we do survive. More young girls should read your post today. Love your books!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thank you!

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    We all need a little hope in our lives. 🙂

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Yes, we most certainly do. Now more than ever.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Wonderful post today, Loretta. You are a new author to me, but I can’t wait to add you to my growing TBR list.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thanks so much, Flora! So nice to “e-meet” you!

  • Sandi in OH

    I think I was about 12 when I started reading young adult romance books. I started by reading books by Janet Lambert. I loved all her books.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thanks for sharing, Sandi!

  • Pamby50

    A good romance book can take you anywhere. I just wished I started earlier. Looking forward to reading a book by you. Just added you to my authors list.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thank you so much!

  • MaryC

    The children’s librarian at my local branch introduced me to so many great books/authors – the exposure to different genres was wonderful.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Librarians are truly special people. Children’s librarians should qualify for sainthood.

  • Cyndee Martin

    I loved your comments! Thank you. I to was a person holding up that wall just a few (very few) years after. Thank goodness for wonderful librarians.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Yes! Who knows where we’d be without them!

  • Ann

    Thank the stars for librarians!

    • Loretta Nyhan


  • MooMoo Cake

    I was in high school when I started reading romance novels, but I had been looking for romance in everything else I read for years before my first “romance novel.” When I first found the genre, I became even more of a bookworm than before, which my parents thought impossible. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Good luck!

  • Mary McCoy

    OMG I never thought I would see my neighborhood library show up online! I haunted Roden library from before they built the “new” brick building (before that it was in what is now Norwood Restaurant on the corner of Raven and the NW Highway). I never saw it as squat, especially when the fancy stairs at the back were still open, before they had to close them because the kids were using them as a bike ramp. I lived 2 blocks away and spent countless hours there escaping into alternate realities. By the time you were introduced to Sweet Dreams, I was already graduated from Taft and college but I always went back to the library to visit with Dorothy Nast and the other librarians. By then, Harlequin and other series romances had made it to the shelves. I look forward to reading your books!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      A neighborhood gal! Thanks for this! I took driver’s ed at Taft. I live in the `burbs now, but I recently drove past the Roden library and it looks so much smaller than I remember–but I guess that’s how it always is, right?

  • J.Georgi

    This post hit so close to home! Oh, I think most of us remember those awkward years and escaping into a book (except for those blessed few). I did enjoy the hand-me-downs of Sweet Valley High as well as the Babysitter’s club (a few innocent romantic moments in those too). Romance/Friendship books are so important at that age when you are really trying to find your place in the world. As a side note, I really enjoyed both “The Witch Collector” and “I’ll Be Seeing You”. Looking forward to see what’s coming next….

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thank you so much!

  • Raynelle Nazario

    I started reading Romance novels at about 11 or 12, my older sister loved to read them. Janet Dailey was one of my first authors to read. I have read the entire Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Hardy Boys books. I loved hanging out in the library growing up!

    • Loretta Nyhan

      I was obsessed with Nancy Drew! I like the old school covers, though…

  • Anne

    Good for you, thank you for sharing.

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Some of my best childhood and adolescent days were spent curled up in the big green faux-velvet chairs of my local library reading romances! (Love the cover for I’ll Be Seeing You!)

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Thank you!

  • Ruth

    I admit, I wasn’t the shy, skinny girl. I was the taller than everyone, big, loud girl. I was unbelievably abnormal by “normal” adolescent standards. I had friends, both girls and boys, I ran from one activity to another, I was so happy being 17. I’m not being snotty, and please don’t be envious. My awkwardness and self doubt came much later. I honestly wish I had found romance books sooner than I did. I could have used a heroine role model and worthy hero. But now! I have them in spades!! At my not-so-young age, I dive in and roll around in romance and and soak up hope and relish the over coming of obstacles that lead to not just happily ever after, but also the power of love that lingers after I turn the last page. Thanks, Loretta! <3

    • Loretta Nyhan

      Fantastic comment. It made me want to cheer-yay!

  • Wonderful post! I enjoyed reading it…I had the awkward stage, too, and the majority of my teen years were spent in the library. 🙂 Perfect way to spend time! Your books sound incredible.

  • Cheryl Hastings

    The library was, and still is, one of my very favorite places to be. I’d come out lugging stacks of books and then proceed to devour each one. Looking forward to picking up yours 🙂

  • Leslie Bartlett

    Romance books are good for what ails you. My mother gave me my first romance, it was P.S. I Love you! I did not enjoy reading at the time but that series changed everything for me. My reading scores improved by several grade levels in one year as I flew through the series. I even saved the box set and my daughter has now read them and started her love of the romance book.

  • leah g

    I wish I had discovered books at a young age. I had a hard time reading and hated it. I spent so many years alone and angry til I finally realized it was ok if it took me three or four times as long as my siblings, and started figuring out how to just take the time to enjoy.

  • Kim

    I also loved my public library and discovered romance novels at an early age. I’ve always been an avid reader.

  • Marcia Berbeza

    I always wanted to be able to change someone’s life. So I became a school librarian! My challenge is to match kids with books that speak to them. I have some kids that keep the same book out for months and others that are more adventurous. What ever it takes to keep them reading! I love romance, but personally I call it junk food novels. Doesn’t teach me anything, but it sure feels good going down! (Sorry!!) I’m always embarrassed when people ask me what I’m reading and it’s usually a romance. Not one of the deep weepy ones on the NY Times list, but something that’s going to make me feel good! Keep up the good work!

  • Britney Adams

    What a great story….and great librarian! Thank you for sharing! I am eager to read, I’LL BE SEEING YOU. Letters are one of my very favorite things!

  • Vickie P

    Would love to read I’ll Be Seeing You!!

  • Ketta Peters

    God bless that librarian! I’m hoping that the deadline had the wrong day posted, as it’s the same
    as all of Day 7’s authors — so this is a “just in case post.”