Day 20 Tessa Dare – Romance? My Pleasure

Refusing To Feel Guilty

As a writer, I don’t like the idea of censoring words. If a word exists, there’s a right time and place to use it.Romancing_the_Duke

But there’s one phrase I wish I didn’t hear so often in connection with romance, and it’s this one:

“Guilty pleasure.”

How many times have you heard (or said) that phrase about romance? “Romance novels are my guilty pleasure.”  I’m sure I’ve said it myself.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m so happy that readers take pleasure in reading romance! Romance novels are all about fun. It’s the addition of “guilty” that gets to me. Because it comes loaded with the implication that we shouldn’t be reading for fun. Maybe we ought to be picking up something informational or improving, or at least something that’s on a celebrity’s book club list, or else we’re squandering time we should be spending on our other obligations.

The phrase “guilty pleasure” suggests that reading a book for no other reason than that we want to read it—well, that’s a reason to feel bad.

And in response, I want to say… to heck with that!

It’s no secret that most romance readers are women, and most women have busy lives. We have jobs, families, pets, community obligations… endless demands on our time.  It’s hard enough to find a spare hour or two to read anything. We shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about spending that time on a book we know we’ll enjoy.  For those who love the genre, reading romance makes our hearts happy—and in my experience, a happy heart makes me better at everything else. Taking time for our own pleasure and enjoyment IS taking care of our families, jobs, pets, and communities.

So if you catch yourself with that phrase “guilty pleasure” on your lips, or hear it from a friend, I hope you’ll strike that one word and feel proud to say, “Romance novels are my pleasure.”  Period. And anyone who has a problem with that? Send them to me.

Refuse to feel guilty.

Celebrate romance!


Questions for the Author:

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

Probably going overseas in my mid-twenties to work as a volunteer librarian in the Philippines. Not only was it a great chance to travel, learn, and experience a new culture, but it’s how I met Mr. Dare! Unfortunately, much of the area where I lived was destroyed last year by typhoon Haiyan. Next summer, we are planning to go there as a family, and I hope to help restock the library where I worked.

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?)

Like many authors, I have enjoyed writing stories since I was a child. By the age of 30, I had a dozen or so abandoned novels and a bunch of fanfiction.  The event that encouraged me to get serious about writing for publication was the Avon FanLit contest in 2006. I ended up winning the grand prize – a trip to visit HarperCollins headquarters in New York – and I decided I’d better write a book! Now I write for Avon, and I couldn’t be happier.

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

It’s always the same answer: Pride and Prejudice.  It’s the book that began my obsession with Regency-era romance. I wouldn’t be writing today if not for that book.

Tessa is generously giving away two print copies of Romancing the Duke to U.S. readers (entry below) and one copy to international friends (enter here).


Tessa Dare color photoTessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of eleven historical romance novels and four novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award and multiple RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Awards.  Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and their two children.

 Buy Tessa’s Books: 

availableon-amazon  availableon-nookavailableon-kobo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • MK

    I joined a book club because I thought it would get me to expand my reading genres (plus I love talking books), but I LOVED when we read a Nora Roberts for the club!

    • Tessa Dare

      Oh, that’s wonderful! Sounds like a great book club.

  • Krysten Mich

    It’s annoying when someone uses “guilty pleasure” in any situation I think. I try not to be influenced by what anyone else would think and just read what I want 🙂

    • Tessa Dare

      That’s an excellent attitude, Krysten. I agree. We’re all different, and we all find joy in different things. Vive la difference!

  • Angie Frawley

    I don’t care if it’s guilty or not,reading romance is MY pleasure!

    • Tessa Dare

      Good for you, Angie!

  • The only guilty pleasure I have is eating bread pudding on Fridays 🙂

    • Tessa Dare

      Hah! Oh, yes. There are definitely a few culinary pleasures that I feel guilty about, myself.

  • Nicole Fortuna

    Romance is my pleasure and I am never ashamed of it. Taking time for yourself is important and I am always happy to spend a few hours in a good romance novel.

    • Tessa Dare

      Beautifully said, Nicole!

  • Kathy Nye

    “Celebrate Romance!” Love it.

    • Tessa Dare

      Thanks, Kathy!

  • Judy Goodnight

    Hi, Tessa! I’ve gotten to the age where I don’t care what people think about what I read, whether it’s classics, mysteries, fantasy, romance. To me, it’s all a pleasure and my chance to have a time to myself set loose in a world of the author’s making.

    • Tessa Dare

      Judy!! Always lovely to see you. 🙂

      I love your comment. There’s definitely something freeing about getting older and just not caring what people think anymore.

  • Debbie Oxier


    • Tessa Dare


  • Anna

    Hooray for libraries!!!

    • Tessa Dare

      Yes, hooray for libraries!!

  • Rochelle

    Hooray for the joy of reading romances. I love your books.

    • Tessa Dare

      Thank you, Rochelle!

  • Fern Martin

    I have heard the same comment more than once. I don’t think I have ever said it though. Anyone who knows me knows I have a book in my hand all the time. They don’t ask what kind.

    • Tessa Dare

      Good for you, Fern. And thanks for being a reading ambassador!

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for reassuring me that it’s ok to do what makes me happy.

    • Tessa Dare

      Thanks, Debbie! I know I need the same reassurance from time to time! We all need to encourage each other to do things that give us joy.

  • Erica H

    Last year I decided to remove the phrase “guilty pleasure” from my vocabulary. Everything is just a pleasure…no guilt involved!

    • Tessa Dare

      I love it, Erica! good for you.

  • LisaVH

    Reading is the only activity that is just for me. Everything else I do involves or is for someone else. Even if I am sitting in a room where my kids are playing board games, watching tv or just wrestling on the floor – the world in my book (or ipad) are just for me and that means I can ready anything I want. I love that! Guilt has no place in my reading. 🙂

    • Tessa Dare

      Oh, where is my like/star/recommend button for this comment? It’s perfectly worded. Thank you. Yes, the world of a book is sometimes the only place that’s ours.

  • Martha B

    Thanks for the great reminder that reading for fun is NOT a guilty pleasure. It feeds my soul and makes me smile inside and out!

    • Tessa Dare

      Beautifully said, Martha!

  • Lady Fitz

    I know I’m not alone, but I just love love love your Spindle Cove series! A Week T Be Wicked is my fav

    • Tessa Dare

      Thank you so much for the Spindle Cove love, Lady Fitz! I definitely know what you mean – it’s not always easy to admit to reading (or writing) romance. But even if I’m selective about who I discuss it with, I am trying apologize for it less. 🙂

  • Tessa Dare

    Bobbi reminded me that I forgot to share a book recommendation! Oh, drat. Of all the things to forget.

    Here’s a new book coming out in just a few weeks that you should definitely check out if you love fun Regency romance, smart heroines, and/or a bit of time travel. It’s called Must Love Breeches by Angela Quarles:

    I had a chance to read it early and just loved Angela’s voice!

    Here’s the blurb:

    A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England,
    but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals
    it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly
    polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her
    growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he
    curls her toes.

    To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance
    from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for
    revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his
    fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually
    as well as physically.

    Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and
    her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home,
    but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.

  • Claire Gilless

    I just discovered your books the beginning of this year and really do enjoy your writing style. Guilty pleasures – at the end of the day we all need some.

    • Tessa Dare

      Oh, thanks so much for reading, Claire!

  • Sharon Forbes

    I agree, this shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure, just something we enjoy, period.

    • Tessa Dare

      Well said, Sharon!

  • Quinn Fforde

    You tell ’em, sister! Totally agree!

    • Tessa Dare

      Thanks, Quinn!

  • Sue G.

    Romance novels are my pleasure! I love my romance stories and don’t care who knows it! 🙂

    • Tessa Dare

      That’s the spirit!

  • Emmel

    Yes, I’m happy to admit the pleasure that romances bring me. And there’s no guilt about that!

    • Tessa Dare

      I love it! Thanks for commenting.

  • mariannewestrich

    Romance novels are not a guilty pleasure, they are where I go to escape the day-to-day! 😎

    • Tessa Dare

      Sounds great, Marianne!

  • michelle fitzsimons

    Love your novels–keep them coming! Always a pleasure;-)

    • Tessa Dare

      Thanks so much, Michelle!

  • Ellen

    I only feel guilty when I’m reading and I should really be doing housework. I usually get over it pretty quickly. (Housework will wait, a good book or book boyfriend, not so much.) Thanks for sharing.

    • Tessa Dare

      Heh, yes–oh, I know that feeling. 🙂

  • Glittergirl

    I’ve solved the “guilty” part of the reading thing…I ONLY read romance :-D. I even have my hubby reading carefully selected romance series…mostly paranormal and urban fantasy with a little romantic suspense thrown in. And I agree reading is good for the soul and romance gives us all hope and HEA’s too!

  • Judy C

    The first book that I read of yours was A Week To Be Wicked. It was such a delight to read something fun when taking a break from my textbooks.

  • Tessa, thank you so much. Your Spindle Cove series is amazing! I was in a deep need of a fresh, sunny laughter with a bit of commotion and you gave me. Thank you so much! (Particularly for A week to be wicked, but I have loved Izzy too!!)

  • Julie

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us. I love reading and you make that possible.

  • Erin F

    lol… I embrace my reading as a pleasure! My only “guilty” pleasure is brownies/sweets 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  • Nicole Potter

    I completely agree! Reading romance should never be a guilty pleasure, it’s reading – like every other genre! 🙂

    I hate that a lot of people look at my funny when I tell them I read romance books. But I’ve learned to smile and just gush about all the reasons WHY I love them, because there’s no reason why I should be embarrassed by it. I adore true love, a couple overcoming all obstacles to be together, and the great stories!! <3

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I don’t think I ever used that phrase. I already have your book, read it & loved it! And your essay reflects my sentiments about reading romance, too!

  • librarypat

    I agree we should not feel guilty about our reading choices. To me, a guilty pleasure is something special you do for yourself. Guilty, only because I am being a bit selfish and not sharing it.
    I am happy to hear you did the volunteering for libraries in the Philippines. I was a Peace Corps volunteer there, more years ago than I would like to admit. The schools were sadly lacking in books and resources. I am sure things have changed over all those years, but still there is much that can be done to help, making books available to everyone.

  • Brenda E

    I love it! Actually, I have no problem telling my family I enjoy romances, but what I say only to myself, is that maybe one particular type romance is a guilty pleasure for me – those are the light ones that only take a day to read, but that give me such a pick-me-up even on my worst day.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I never feel guilty reading anything!! I love reading!! I was raised to feel guilty wasting time and not doing things. However, I have learned that relaxing & reading are good for the soul. Maybe my guilty pleasure is eating sweets which this diabetic should avoid. No fun in that! 😀

  • M Kuxhaus

    I’m glad you got serious about it. I love your books! I’m reading the Dairymaid series now, but it was the Spindle Cove series that got me hooked.

  • Barbara E.

    Romance novels are my pleasure and I’m not worried about telling anyone what I read. If they don’t like it, I don’t really care, and I certainly don’t feel guilty about it. Actually, I don’t feel guilty about any of the pleasures in my life, I’ve reached the age where I deserve them. 😀

  • Sheila M

    You are absolutely right. We don’t need to feel guilty at all.

  • Joan Varner

    I haven’t put “guilty” with pleasure when reading a romance book for several years now. Frankly, I don’t care what others think about what I read. My reading is my choice and I LOVE to read all of the romance genres. Thank you for reassuring me that it’s ok not to feel guilty.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I vow to remove guilty pleasure from my vocabulary! And not only for romance, but I’m removing it with regards to chocolate and sweets as well 🙂 Although, I am pretty loud and proud across the board with my romance interests and have been for quite some time. I love reading more than just about any other hobby and romance has always been my go-to genre. Great post and I am a big fan of your books!

  • Wendi Rogers

    I never bought into the idea anything ‘pleasurable’ was something to feel guilty about. When guilty feelings creep in, I remember to ask myself whose goal or expectation am I not meeting. Thank you, for reminding me of this.

  • Samantha L A Hutton

    just found this author, loving her books!

  • rebecca moe

    Yes! Pride and Prejudice! My first love–changed my life! 🙂

    I loved your videos from the toy room, BTW. Almost as good as your books…

  • Pamby50

    It is pure pleasure to read romance books. Nothing guilty.

  • Michelle Fidler

    I like Regencies, too, and Jane Austen. Sometimes I read Austen sequels. Glad to hear that you’re a librarian. I hang out at the library a lot to use the Internet computers (that’s where I am now) and I also check out materials.

  • sarah free

    I have people try to judge me for my reading all the time, not the subject but the fact that I never am just sitting around watching tv or something but always reading at the same time.

  • Janie McGaugh

    While I don’t feel guilty for what I read, I do feel guilty, sometimes, for reading when I should be doing other things, especially sleeping! I love reading, and I’ll read the dictionary if nothing else is at hand!

  • Tammy H

    Reading romance is my nonguilty pleasure!

  • Adaffern

    I agree, to heck with feeling guilty!

  • catslady

    I just loved my first Tessa Dare and can’t wait to read another!

  • Angela H

    I agree you were adventurous for going overseas to be a librarian but I bet the experience was great and you have some good stories

  • Rita Wray

    I love romance novels and I don’t feel guilty.

  • Timitra

    I don’t feel guilty about reading romance at all, I love it!

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your post. You are correct, I am no longer guilty. It IS my pleasure to read romance and I can’t seem to get enough. 🙂

  • Gretchen

    Being a librarian would be my dream job!

  • colenemyers

    The only time I feel guilty is when I overspend at buying books but then I realize how much pleasure I get from reading them and the guilt goes out the window.

  • katkatkatkat

    Hi Tessa! First of all, I just wanna say that I love love love your books! I know you get that all the time, but I am saying it anyway. Second, I am surprised to know that your worked as a volunteer librarian in the Philippines! I’m from the Philippines, and that little fact made me love you and your works more!

    All the best!


  • Marjorie Borchardt

    You are right. Why should we have to feel guilty for reading what we enjoy? Isn’t that why authors write in the first place? So that others can enjoy their work. ‘Nuff said!

  • Cld

    I read over many genres, but romance is by far my favorite! I try to read a book a day, and never apologize for reading romance novels! : )

  • Mary Minjares

    When I was a little kid, maybe 8 years old, one of my aunts (a school librarian) started me off at the beginning of summer with an apple crate full of books. I plowed through all the Little House books, A Wrinkle In Time, Beezus & Ramona….just a ton of books that lasted me all summer, with reading some favorites more than once. It was the best summer of my life. That was about 50 years ago. I’m now sharing my books with her…and introducing her to romances has been so much fun!

  • Laurie W G

    How exciting to live in another country. How did you decide to go to the Philippines? How long did you live there. I hope you are able to make a return journey with your family.

    I’m looking forward to reading ROMANCING THE DUKE! Beautiful cover!

  • Deb Hinshaw

    Tessa, I love your books and stories! I remember having a conversation with you one day, via online, on a blog and we discovered that you lived in Williamsburg, Iowa for awhile which is about 25 minutes west of where I live now. Thanks for your positive message!!

  • Marcy Shuler

    I never felt guilty reading romance. I figure there were many things that I could be doing that were worse than reading and if someone said something to me I asked if they’d rather I’d do something else and give examples. LOL That usually shut them down real fast.

  • Mary Dieterich

    Why would you read a book if it wasn’t fun and enjoyable? Even a “good for you” book ought to be fun to read. I’ve loved all your books that I’ve read so far!