Day 17 Sarah MacLean – Romance and A Full Life

Romance — Good For Us!

In recent months, we’ve heard a lot about why romance is bad for us. In recent months. Who am I kidding? Romance Sarah MacLean book coverreaders have been hearing this for a lot longer than that. We’ve heard that romance is bad for us. That it, like candy, is too sweet. That it sets terrible expectations for relationships. That it is silly. That we should be investing our time and energy and brainpower into eating our literary vegetables.

As my heroes would say, “Bollocks.”

Romance is good for us. It has been for centuries. For millennia, even (after all, surely somewhere right around standing on two feet and creating fire, man learned to smooch. And surely when he started painting on cave walls, he did it to impress a girl).

I could tell you all the “eat your vegetables” reasons why romance is good for us: Sure, it’s a genre written by women and for women and about women, which gives us a look at who we are, at how we are, and at how we might be; and sure, the moment when readers say “we choose romance,” is a powerful one–one where we choose pleasure and happiness and satisfaction in a way that we don’t always in life; and sure, the time we spend on our couch or in our bed or in our car reading or listening to romance novels is a much needed break from the world–and rest is something we have needed for millennia, right next to love.

But that’s not why romance is really good for us.

Romance is good for us because at its core, it’s about hope. Hope that someone will see us, and accept us, and perhaps—after all that—choose us. Hope that our future holds happiness. And satisfaction. And yes, pleasure. Hope that, when it’s all said and done, we’ve made the world better, not worse. That we’ve lived fully, not in fear. And that we’ve loved thoroughly. With courage. And with gusto.

If that’s not good for us–and for the world–what is?

Read on.


I’m wild about Tessa Bailey and Charlotte Stein these days — both write tremendously sexy, tremendously compelling contemporaries with sexy heroes and smart heroines. (Tessa did a RARM post you can read here.)

As for historicals, I’m so excited that Lisa Kleypas is coming back to historical in 2015 — I can hardly wait for whatever it is that she’s cooking up! (Lisa Kleypas – RARM 8/30 yay!)

Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

I quit my job to write romance novels.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I wrote my first book on a dare. I was out with a good friend who worked in publishing and, after one-too-many drinks, I proclaimed that “I could write a book!” To wit, she replied, “I dare you.” And because I’ve never met a dare I wouldn’t take, I did.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

I didn’t know it then, but the day I found a copy of Jude Deveraux’s The Black Lyon tucked beneath my older sister’s bed, dog-eared and well-loved, was a red-letter day. It was the late 80s. I was young. Ten, maybe eleven—old enough to know there was something decadent and scandalous about romances, but not old enough to entirely understand why.

I can still see that book, a gorgeous, red-haired Lyonene in her pink negligee, and her dark Ranulf de Warbrooke, the eponymous Black Lyon, eyes closed, massive arms clasped around her . . . worshiping her. The book was touted as “the magnificent love story of a fearless lord and the woman who tamed him,” and magnificent it was. Ranulf is dark and tortured, an unparalleled warrior feared by all—all except our intrepid heroine, seventeen and scrappy . . . and stunning.

After that book, there was no going back. I was hooked. Forever.

Sarah  is generously giving away  3 print copy sets of the Rules of Scoundrels series to U.S. Readers, and 2 print copy sets internationally. (Each set includes the three already-published titles: A Rogue By Any Other Name, One Good Earl Deserves A Lover, and the 2014 Rita Winner, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished.) U.S. readers may find the entry form below, international readers enter here.

Sarah MacLean photoSarah MacLean is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical romance. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and nominated for numerous awards. She also writes a monthly romance  column for the Washington Post. When not writing, Sarah travels the country to discuss the romance genre and its place in both gender and cultural studies. She lives in New York City.

She also just won a Rita. Yay Sarah!


Buy Sarah’s Books:

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  • Kathy Nye

    Romance is about hope. I agree. Thanks for starting my day on a positive note.

  • lisa

    Oh my goodness, Ranulf is also the first hero I fell in love with and propels me to keep looking for him in other stories I read. This is probably why I love your stories as well. Keep writing 🙂

  • Laurie W G

    I look to romance for the HEA but I can see hope as a huge part of attaining this state.

    I do like Lisa Kleypas but I am unfamiliar with Tesas Bailey and Charlotte Stein. I will check them out.

    Jude Devereaux was one of my earliest romance authors too.

  • Anna

    I think hope is a huge part of why I read romance now. It gives me hope that there are relationships that can and do work, when I see so many in real life that don’t survive.

    Congrats on the RITA!

  • Debbie Oxier

    I suffer from depression. Romance books are what keeps me going because they do inspire hope and provide an escape. Thanks for writing them.

  • Judy Goodnight

    Thank you so much for taking that dare! I am such a fangirl of the Scoundrels series – eagerly awaiting Chase’s story.

  • Deb Hinshaw

    Thanks for posting today, Sarah. You are one of my auto-buy authors. You have your own style of writing, and I like that you mix fun and humor in your stories, just like JQ or Suzanne Enoch or Cathy Maxwell. Even for those of us that are living our HEA, reading romance is still a wonderful experience to see that love and loving are always thriving in this crazy world.

  • michelle fitzsimons

    Thank you so much for sharing! While the hustle & bustle of returning kids to school seems to overwhelm this time of year, I felt a little more surly than usual. (And not just because I’m sending my last one to kinder;-). In the midst of our chaos the other day, I realized that I hadn’t been reading my favorite splurge–Regency Romance! I’ve been relying a bit too much on “the vegetables.”. While wholey nutricious, I do enjoy a fairly “balanced” diet of varied literature. However, even the balanced diet can be made all the richer with a fine glass of wine or a chaser of chocolate. My regency novels are the treats which warm my heart, place a smile on my face, & help me endure the chaos! Thank you for your contributions–definitely some of my favorites to visit again & again:-)

  • Kylan Alexander

    I really like Sarah’s books. I am also looking forward to Lisa Kleypas returning to historical! Historicals are always my favorite. If I could only read one sub genre, it would be historical romance.

  • Sarah

    I’ve become a little obsessed with the Rules of Scoundrels series lately. Especially Cross and Pippa’s story. I cannot wait for the fourth one in November!

  • Sara Underhill

    I loved those old Jude Deveraux books, too – that’s exactly what got me hooked on romance as a young teenager!

  • Joyce Rajnyak Burkhardt

    I agree that romance is about hope, and love ;-). I really enjoy reading the different journey that each couple travels to their HEA. I am eagerly, and not so patiently, waiting for the 4th book in this series.

  • Sue Gorman

    I am glad that you took the date and wrote the book.
    Congrats on your RITA. Looking forward to reading your next book!

  • Claire Gilless

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your works … glad you quit the day job.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoy your books! I’m glad you took the dare!

  • Rochelle

    Romance is about hope. I never can understand all the bashers of the genre. I say go and read your depressing books and leave the HEAs to us!

  • Megan Lenners

    Absolutely love your scoundrels series, can’t wait for the last one to be released. Rereading the love by numbers series to get ready!

  • Danielle Beaulieu

    Love your books! I can’t wait to read more …

  • Tammy H

    Romances are the best!

  • Kathleen O

    I think I cut my teeth on Historical Romances..

  • Tiffany Dover

    I have these on my amazon wishlist! My birthday is on the 28th – they would make the perfect gift 😉

  • Kim

    About the dare: Was that book one of your published ones?

  • alisha woods

    Jude Deveraux was one of my first historicals I read. I like the Velvet series

  • Patty Vasquez

    I know that romance is a genre largely written by women, for women, and about women. But it’s about men, too. And men have the same basic needs as women. I wonder if more men would write and read romance if the publishing world could be convinced to change the look of a romance novel cover. And your story about accepting a dare after being out drinking, reminds me of a joke that is currently making its way around fb: Don’t drink and Prime.

  • Sue G.

    I like that thought that at the end of a romance book is hope! Never looked at it like that. I always just like my happy ending!

  • Barbara E.

    I really enjoyed the post. I agree that romance is good for you, it certainly is good for me. I remember discovering romance at my library with a book by Georgette Heyer as a teenager, and I was hooked. It’s been a constant in my life ever since.

  • Wonderful words! And a fantastic giveaway, thank you so much (from an international reader)!

  • Debbie Fuller

    I love the way you wrote about romance as hope.

  • Barbara

    I loved her post!

  • Patty Wilcox

    Romance books are good for you. They lift you up and help you cope on bad days.

  • Emmel

    I love the concept of literary vegetables. Now, are romances carrots, to help us see ourselves more clearly? Beets, to tinge everything with the red of passion? Or perhaps iron-rich beans, to fortify us as we face life’s adversities?

    Just as long as they’re not collard greens, I’m fine! 🙂

  • Sheila M

    Absolutely love your books and the passage you wrote about hope above is incredibly beautiful!

  • Ellen

    With all the negativity in the world, I need all the hope I can get. Thanks for sharing.

  • ki pha

    Hope is everything that makes a romance novel great. Hope is what makes love between the hero and heroine succeed in over coming obstacles that stands in their way. And as you said it, hope is the core of the story. It makes us readers hope for love and for our own HEAs too.

  • Martha B

    Funnily enough, The Black Lyon is on hold (at our local library). I wondered if they read your post before I did! LOL

    First, I adore your books. I’ve read every one of them. I’m so glad you accepted that dare, I am equally glad you have a column in The Washington Post. Recommendations from trusted authors that I read, convinces me to try somebody new – – someone I have never read. I’m glad the Post saw the value in adding this column..

    Now, switching to you (and your books). I can’t wait until I read the last book in the Rules of Scoundrels series. I don’t want to say anymore (to spoil it for others who have that series). If you haven’t yet read the Rules of Scoundrels series…, Do NOT pass Go. Do not collect $ 200 but start reading them now.

    What are you waiting for?!

  • Marcy Shuler

    I live in the real world, so I don’t want to read about it. I read to be happy…and romance always does that for me.

  • Julie

    Sarah, I love your books and your writing talent. Thank you for sharing.

  • Joan Varner

    I loved your post. Thank you for sharing hope.

  • Marcy Cordova

    Reading is stress relief for me, so the excitement and happy endings of romance are perfect!

  • Kim

    Great post! I love that no matter what genre I read all have the same core theme of the main characters taking the leap and falling in love. I also love Lisa Kleypas and can’t wait to read her next historical!

  • Glenda

    Congratulations on your RITA, Sarah!

    I love your comparison of reading romance to eating your vegetables and agree 100% that hope is something that the world needs more of and romances help provide it. 🙂

  • Judy C

    I love your books, and thanks for the news about Lisa Kleypa.

  • Quinn Fforde

    I would argue that romance is an underrated literary vegetable, the equivalent of potatoes or corn. They are so ubiquitous that we forget they are good for us when made (written) properly!

  • Geraldine Pierson

    I love your books and I enjoyed your post. Reading is stress relief for me and I have always love Historical Romances the best.

  • Stephanie Fredrick

    Love your post, beautifully written and completely agree. Hope is what makes this world a better place. And for me no matter what genre you like, reading feeds the mind and soul and makes people wiser and happier.

  • librarypat

    Sarah, I couldn’t agree more. What is wrong with reading something that makes us happy. Why shouldn’t we enjoy a couple finding their HEA? Why not a bit of fantasy, history or intrigue? As a bonus, many authors put a great deal of time and effort into the research for their books. We are the ones who reap the rewards when that information is used to make the story more accurate and interesting.

    Patricia (B) on Rafflecopter

  • Sandy Xiong

    Reading romance does give us hope. It makes me see that there is always more to life even with all the problems occurring these days.

  • Tin

    I love the statement “we choose romance” — and I love the optimism that I find in reading romance novels.

  • kaycl17

    I love to escape and get lost and a great romance book, following along with the story and see the vision the author has for story that we read. When authors are truly great you can feel every emotions their stories brings us!! With Romance books authors write and play on every one of the emotions love has to bring in to us, love,hate, living, and death and lots more. That’s why I love Romance books, respect the authors with the talent to write some wonderful books!!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Thank you for the inspiring essay! I choose to read romance because it makes my happy! Life’s too short to read books with sad endings.

  • mariannewestrich

    We should always eat dessert first! So, I’m going to skip the literary vegatables. 😎

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I choose to read romance for the simple reason that it makes me happy. I am an optimistic, happy person and I want to read books with hope and love so that I can maintain my positive outlook. Of course there are things in real life that are negative and troubling, but I read for enjoyment so why would I choose to read something that just brings me down. We should celebrate the genre of romance because I believe it leads to happier, healthier people! Great essay and I definitely look forward to reading your books–my to be read list is crazy long and we still have almost 2 weeks left of RARM!!!

    • Courtney Cogswell

      And kudos on your Rita btw 🙂

  • LisaVH

    Hope….what a great word. That’s exactly what I love about romances. No matter how they start or how far down the rabbit hole they go, you know that it will all be okay in the end. How great is that? 🙂

  • Erin F

    thanks for such a fun post! Loved your answers 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  • Stephanie M.

    Congrats on your RITA win! You deserve it!! I love your books and I can’t wait for Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover in Nov. No veggies for me. I’m with mariannewestrich about dessert being first. 🙂

  • Ann Mettert

    I always say, Shakespeare wrote as much for the masses on the floor as the people in the boxes. Some people then probably thought he wrote junk. 😉

  • MK

    Yes, I totally agree, reading romance is all about hope

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Congrats on the RITA win!! I must be a vegetable since I”ve been reading romance books since at least the 70’s. It’s not the only genre I read, but the one I love best. Keep writing for us Sarah!!

  • M Kuxhaus

    Cheers to hope!

  • Janie McGaugh

    Yes! You said it well!

  • rebecca moe

    Did your “I dare you” book actually get published, or is it hiding in a drawer somewhere?

    Thanks for writing!

  • Chelsea B.

    “… literary vegetables.” GENIUS!

  • michelle fitzsimons

    Love your books–keep them coming!

  • Adaffern

    I love the idea of literary vegetables, sounds better than brain candy.

  • Jen C

    Here’s HOPING I win something this year! (even though the stories and discussions are prize enough) Go #RARM!

  • Pamby50

    Love the idea of romance vegetables. Enjoy reading your books!!

  • catslady

    I’ve enjoyed her books and what lovely covers!

  • Angela H

    I love the cover of your books they make me want to pick them up and jump on in not to mention the stories are great to read as well

  • Laurie Skinner Gray

    I totally agree with your sentiments on romance. Others may think romance books are fluff, but I’ve shared some things I’ve read with my husband and we enjoyed them!

  • Gretchen

    I would love to get that set of books!

  • Stephanie

    You put my thoughts into words. I wish everyone could understand.

  • Oh my gosh! I love your books. And I agree about the reasons why we should read romance novels. I love romance novels because they’re all about happily ever afters and believing that no matter what happens everything will work out in the end.

  • Mary Dieterich

    Thanks for the post. We definitely need all the hope we can get these days!

  • Brianne Sherwood Wolman

    Love the theme of hope – one of the reason I read. and also the HEA 🙂