Day 18 Diane Gaston – Love, Hope & Transformation

Nothing Like That Happy Ending

One of the questions romance writers get asked repeatedly is, “When are you going to write a real book?” Even some of my romance writing friends dream of writing women’s fiction or mystery/suspense someday.9781472043986

Not me. I love writing romance.

Specifically, I love writing Regency Historical Romance. The Regency period takes place in England during the early 1800’s when George III went mad and his son was declared Regent. Jane Austen and Byron wrote during this time in history. Wellington vanquished Napoleon at Waterloo during this period. It remains an enduring favorite among readers. I love nothing better than reading and writing a Regency Historical, but I’m a fan of all romance fiction.

I’m not alone. Almost half of all mass market paperback books sold are romance novels; romance sales account for one third of all fiction sales. A love story obviously holds wide appeal.

One reason romance novels appeal, is that they are character-driven fiction. What the characters think and feel, and how they interact with each other are the most important elements of the story, more important than the events taking place around them. The reader is able to become intimate with the characters, is able to see into their very souls. This sort of examination of the human character exists in other literary forms, but in romance its emphasis is on a central and powerful life event, falling in love and committing oneself to another human being.

I love this focus on the romantic relationship, that heady, scary, joyous experience of falling in love. The first meeting, the initial attraction, the first kiss, first love scene—all of these create an irresistible thrill. It is a delight how romance authors recreate such moments with originality, diversity, and freshness, giving the reader that vicarious experience of falling in notoriety marriagelove over and over again.

In today’s romance novel, the heroine of the story is a strong woman, an equal match for an equally strong hero. Just as a football game is at its most edge-of-your-seat exciting when played by two teams of equal skill, so is the love story between a man and a woman of equal strength of character. That two people can remain strong and true to themselves and still commit to another creates a great story.

I love the hopefulness inherent in the romance novel. No love story would be complete without forces threatening to drive the lovers apart, some conflict that makes it appear impossible for them to wind up together in the end. When the hero and heroine overcome these obstacles it helps me believe that obstacles in my own life and my own relationships might also be overcome.

Love Transforms. That’s the message in romance novels. In a good romance, the hero and heroine are not the same at that end of their journey together as they were in the beginning. The love they give to the other alters them, changes them for the better, makes them grow as human beings. That is a powerful message of hope–To love makes us better people.

I adore a happy ending. My respectful apologies to Nicholas Sparks and others, but a love story that ends tragically always disappoints me. I’d like to kick Shakespeare for allowing Romeo and Juliet to die in the end when he might have saved them in the nick of time. The play might have ended with a wedding celebration and the unification of the feuding families. That would have been uplifting. I want that happy ending. I want those characters I’ve begun to care about to win in the end. To win what we all want to win, love and happiness.

Our world is full of depressing events, of man’s hatred, greed and cruelty, of death and destruction. When I read a book I want to escape those realities for a bit. I want to be reminded that there is another side of life. A loving side. A hopeful side.

The continued possibility of a happy ending.


I’m delighted to encourage readers to try reading Harlequin Historicals. Not only are there authors writing the Regencies that I love, but you can also find Westerns, Viking Romances, Medieval Romances, Chinese, Edwardian, and more.  Just look at the August offerings:

Beguiled By Her Betrayer by Louise Allen (1801 Egypt and England)
Never Forget Me by Marguerite Kaye (1918 England and France)
Salvation In The Rancher’s Arms by Kelly Boyce (1800s American West)
The Rake’s Ruined Lady by Mary Brendan (Regency England)

 Questions For The Author

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

I am not a very daring person. Not very adventurous. But when I first started writing, I very much wanted to succeed. Writing led me to do what for me were daring things. Attend writers meetings where I knew no one; travel on my own to Romance Conferences; introduce myself to people I did not know. This may not seem very adventurous to most people, but for an introvert like me it was really pushing myself.

2 – 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 was a mental health social worker in my former profession. When things got stressful and my colleagues and I used to sit around dreaming of other careers, I used to say that I’d like to sit in a turret and write romance novels. At that time I was just joking, but then I read a best-selling novel, a love story, and I thought it was the worst book I ever read. I thought any romance I’d ever read was a thousand times better than that book (which will remain nameless). I thought if that book could be a best-seller, maybe I could write a book. A friend of mine had gone back to school and spoke of taking a creative writing course at the community college. I signed up and started writing even before the class began.

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

I read all those early historical romances, the ground-breaking ones by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey, but after I started writing, my friend Helen suggested I read traditional regencies and Georgette Heyer. Believe it or not, I had not read Georgette Heyer. Once I entered that world, I never wanted to leave. Now I don’t have to! I can spend all my days in Regency England! It was not one book that changed my life. It was an entire genre of books!

Diane is generously giving away two copies of A Lady of Notoriety, her July Harlequin Historical, to  North American readers (entry below) and one copy of A Lady of Notoriety to international readers (enter here). (Canadian readers, you may enter this one on the page).


DianeGaston2Diane Gaston’s dream job had always been to write romance novels. One day she decided to pursue that dream and has never looked back; she is now writing full-time. Her books have won Romance’s highest honours—the RITA Award, the National Readers Choice Award and the Golden Heart. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three very ordinary house cats. Diane loves to hear from readers and friends.


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  • cheryl c.

    I also love a happy ending. I honestly don’t know why authors like Nicholas Sparks are so popular. Tragic endings to love stories just really depress me, and that is not my idea of entertainment!

    • Right, Cheryl. I’d much rather be uplifted than depressed when I finish a book

  • TrishJ

    I read romance books for the HEA. I like the trip from beginning to end. I don’t mind a little angst thrown in, but please give me a happy ending. After spending so much time getting to know the characters, I want to know they get their HEA. A good romance ca help me cope with a difficult day. Love your books!

    • yes to everything you said, TrishJ. I agree with you 100% about romance! (and thanks for the nice words about my books)

  • Sharon Forbes

    I really enjoyed reading about your love of historical romances, and that you always want a HEA (I do, too,when I am reading romances!) I don’t always like an unhappy ending.

    • I know that not all readers read for the happy ending, but it is what I like best. I don’t want to see characters I’ve invested in wind up worse off or dead at the end of a book!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I like your ending for Romeo and Juliet. And I agree about Sparks – he does give you HEA, sometimes, but since it is not a guarantee, I don’t risk it any more. I NEED the HEA!

    • Me, too. Without the HEA, I feel like I wasted my time!

  • Patty Vasquez

    There is just something about the Regency period that pulls me in, too. Maybe it’s the clever dialogue, quick quip, or haughty raise of the single eyebrow. Whatever it is, I’ll read books in other romantic sub-genres, but inevitably find myself back in the Regency period. You’ve chosen an excellent era about which to write.

    • I’ve tried to figure out why I love the Regency, too, Patty. I agree with what draws you in, but I also think the time period is an exciting period of change or, more accurately, a period on the cusp of great changes.

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for your contribution to this site. Loved reading what you had to say.

  • mariannewestrich

    Would love to read Romeo and Juliet with a wedding celebration at the end! Brilliant!

    • The thing is, I know we would not remember Romeo and Juliet if it were not for the tragic ending, but I still wish it were there!

  • Adaffern

    I think the regency period appeals to people because rules were so rigid you knew what was considered right and wrong (even if it was silly) rather than today’s version of anything goes.

    • It certainly makes it easier to find areas of conflict! Society’s rules vs what the hero and heroine need to be happy!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I love all sub genres within romance, but I started out reading Regency period romance and I think they will always hold a special place in my heart. I get so frustrated when I read a book without a happy ending because the whole reason I read is for enjoyment. And there is nothing less enjoyable to me than investing the time in reading a book, only to walk away feeling upset and unsatisfied. This is why I thank all of you romance writers out there that feed my insatiable need for the happy ever after and keep me sane and optimistic. My life is relatively drama free and happy but I swear, reading romance makes me a better person! Thanks for all you do and I love your essay today 🙂

    • Thank you, Courtney. And thank you for letting romance writer know that their work means something!

  • “This sort of examination of the human character exists in other literary forms, but in romance its emphasis is on a central and powerful life event, falling in love and committing oneself to another human being.” Perfectly said!! Thank you so much for your words!

  • Stephanie M.

    I am new to your books. Where should I start? My first jump into romance was with historicals. II have since ventured out, but always go back. ‘m all about the HEA; however, sometimes I need to read books without the HEA in order to appreciate it more.

    • Hi, Stephanie. How nice of you to be interested in my books! There are three places you could start. You could proceed chronologically from the first to the last (look at the connected books on my book page ). Or you could start with my latest series: The Masquerade Club series – book 1 – A Reputation for Notoriety, 2. A Marriage of Notoriety, 3. A Lady of Notoriety. Or the 3 Soldiers series. Check out that book page and see what makes sense to you.

  • Ann Mettert

    An interesting post.

  • Quinn Fforde

    It is amazing how much inspiration comes from the Recency era. I love it!

    • I am amazed at how many stories authors can think up in one narrow part of history!

  • Marcy Shuler

    I love historical romance! When people question why I read romance, I tell them I live in the real world and when I read I want it to be something hopeful and happy.

    • Me, too, Marcy. It was when life was stressful for me that I devoured those traditional Regencies.

  • ki pha

    Love your honesty Diane. I enjoy Nicholas Sparks novels but I love Historical romances more. There’s just something about them that pulls me to them and fills my imagination. History and fantasy of the glorious past.

    • I realize not everyone needs the happy ending to consider something a very good book, but I enjoy happy endings the most.

  • Julie

    I love reading historical romance novels. Thank you

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I loved your post!!! You put into words what so many of us readers really feel reading romance books. I started with the historicals but left reading while raising my four kids. When I had time once again to read I started reading contemporary. My oldest daughter got me back into historicals. My younger daughter stole my favorite Johanna Lindsay book and passed it around her friends. I guess I shouldn’t have been mad as she was spreading the love of reading. I did buy her her own copy later on & me too, for replacement. Okay, I guess I should say I bought the e-book version too. Favorite books are a must re-read.

  • Sue G.

    I agree…I love my happy endings. Nothing is worse than reading a good book that ends sad.

  • Martha B

    Reading Historical Romances during the Regency are my preferred choice. I gravitate to them because I LOVE the English setting, the clothes, manners and upper ten thousand, etc. Thank you for creating that world for us.

  • M Kuxhaus

    I came to Georgette Heyer books a little late, too. I started with Cotillion and I think the first 5 chapters could have been eliminated; for me, the story began in chapter six. I’m glad I plowed through those superfluous chapters and didn’t give up, because I really enjoyed it.

    • I’ve found the same thing with reading Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers. The pace was slow but once I stuck with it, I loved the book.

  • Geraldine Pierson

    I love your post and I love historical romances. I do not like books that have a sad ending. I have to have a happy ending or i do not want to read the book. One of the very first authors I read along time ago was Barbara Cartland. I Loved her books. Kathleen E Woodiwiss is another of my favorite authors and I have read her books many times. You are a new author for me and I am looking forward to reading your books.

    • Thank you, Geraldine!
      You know, I am ashamed to say I never read any of Barbara Cartland’s books!

  • Emmel

    Thank heavens for Heyer, who gives so many of us the path to discover romance!

  • Sheila M

    The question I have gotten for years is what real books are you reading (of course, excluding romances). I’m stubborn. Those questions just made me read more romances 🙂

  • Wendi Rogers

    There is something about the Regency Era that makes it perfect for a Romance novel. Thank you, for your post.

  • Moriah

    I can relate about not being adventurous and an introvert. Luckily once I get to know people I feel comfortable around them.

  • Janie McGaugh

    I’m with you; I want the happy ending!

  • Joan Varner

    I agree, Diane, that it is the hope and love that entice a reader to delve into a romance book and enjoy knowing two new people starting a relationship.

  • rebecca moe

    Yes! That is exactly what Shakespeare should have done–I would have actually LIKED to read/watch it then.

  • Pamby50

    I want my happy endings also. Regency period is so fascinating.

  • Angela H

    I think all books are “real” and don’t like when people say romance books are not “real” books Keep up the good work

  • Gretchen

    I am an introvert too! Going to meetings cold like that seems like a very brave thing to do!

  • I love your historical romances. They’re always fun to read and a great way to temporarily escape reality =)

  • Judy Goodnight

    I totally agree about the attraction of a story about two strong in character people who fall in love and commit to each other.