Day 21 Pamela Palmer – The Essence of Romance

Lessons of the Heart

What is romance?

I adore romance novels, both reading and writing them. I love watching two people who are certain they’re not right for one KissBlood mm canother fall in love. As a writer, I love leading them through that dance of attraction and wariness, excitement and terror, that so many couples experience as they learn to see the real person buried deep inside the other, as they learn to trust one another and overcome their differences, and as they slowly fall in love.

But what is romance? What does it look like in real life? Is it flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day? Breakfast in bed on your birthday?

To me, it’s something far more simple, and much more profound. The essence of romance, for me, is two people realizing that nothing matters more to them than the wellbeing and happiness of the other.

We see this in our books all the time. The hero turns away from his mission, or his revenge, because continuing with it will harm the people the heroine loves. Or the heroine gives up the city life for the ranch because it’s only there that the hero will ever be at peace. I adore that richly emotional moment at the end of a good romance novel when one or both of the characters realize that as desperately as they’ve fought falling in love, they’ve lost. I love watching a hero who believes he had no softness in him melt for the heroine. And I melt when he finally understands that nothing matters to him but the safety and happiness of the woman he loves.

I learned this lesson of the heart, firsthand, many years ago.

I met my husband soon after I started college. He was a year ahead of me in school and the winter of his senior year he asked me to marry him. I said yes and we planned to wait until I graduated to get married, but then he took an accounting job within commuting distance of campus and we decided there was no need to wait. We married just before fall term my senior year.

We talked about what we’d do when I graduated—look together for jobs somewhere—but it soon became apparent that he loved his current job—the work, the company, the people—and that they thought very highly of him. As spring rolled around, I found myself being recruited by a number of what were top companies at that time — IBM, Texas Instruments, Eastman Kodak. But all the positions were out of state. And I just didn’t think it was fair to force him to leave a job he loved after only one year. So I turned down all my offers and started looking nearby.

Eventually, I found a position, but it wasn’t in my field (industrial engineering), and was the most poke-your-eye-out-with-a-stick boring job on the face of the planet (at least to a 22-year-old). We agreed that we’d work these jobs for a couple more years, then reassess the situation. But a year later, my husband, who loved his job more than ever, said, “It’s your turn. Find the job you want and I’ll follow you. Worst case, we’ll end up where we are now, with one of us happy and the other not, but that’s not going to happen. I can be happy anywhere…as long as I have you.”

I fell in love with him all over again that night. He may not have ever had the opportunity to slay a dragon or step into the path of a bullet for me, but he’s always protected my happiness, as I’ve always protected his.

To me, that’s the essence of real romance.


Laurin Wittig, who writes fabulously romantic Scottish historicals with a touch of highland mysticism.

Larissa Ione, one of my favorite paranormal romance authors. She writes some of the hottest heroes around.

Candis Terry, whose sassy, contemporary Sweet, Texas books are just plain fun.


Questions for the Author:

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

I’m a writer! Most of the daring, adventurous, inspiring things in my life are things I think about, and write about, but don’t actually do myself. That’s not to say that I haven’t had my fair share of interesting experiences. I rode an elephant in Bangkok, visited Stonehenge and Pompeii, watched an earthquake ripple across the ground in the Philippines like waves on the beach, and unwittingly drove close enough to a tornado that lumber from a disintegrating house hit my car. But I’m not sure any of those actually qualify as daring, adventurous, or inspiring. It sounds like it’s time to add something truly daring and adventurous to my bucket list! Sky diving, anyone?

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 had no idea I wanted to be a writer. Though I loved to read and daydream, I always disliked English class, especially the books they made us read. The first time I ever considered trying to write, I was in my twenties, reading Silhouette Intimate Moments novels every night after work. I got an idea for one, and tried writing it, but after the first chapter I had no idea what to do with my characters. Since a real writer would know what came next, it appeared clear that I didn’t have any talent. I set aside the dream of writing for a few years, though I continued to create stories in my imagination. Finally, as I did the dinner dishes one night, one of those daydreams became too big to keep in my head and I felt compelled to write it down. This time, however, thanks to the recent opening of a brand new library in my neighborhood, I discovered a wealth of books on plotting and character development and realized I could learn how to turn scenes into books and craft entire stories. The process was neither fast nor easy. After four manuscripts, half a dozen partials, and years of hard work, I finally sold my first book through the 2006 Golden Heart contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America. One of my final round judges was a Harlequin editor who bought my story for their new Nocturne line.

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

I don’t remember the title, or anything about the book, except that it was a sweet Harlequin romance set on a ranch in the Australian Outback, and it was the first romance novel I ever read. A friend loaned it to me when I was in college and I distinctly remember turning up my nose at it. A Harlequin romance? I was an engineering major. Harlequins were for…were for… It turned out they were for me. I started reading and couldn’t put the book down. The story was simple and sweet and I was utterly enchanted. I’d always liked to read, but I’d rarely found a book that could sweep me away. That one did, and romances have been sweeping me away ever since.

Pamela is generously giving away five copies of Wulfe Untamed to U.S. readers, apologies to international friends. Entry form below.


PamelaPalmer-2269-Color-LgPamela Palmer is the New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling author of more than sixteen novels, including the Vamp City, Feral Warriors, and Jewels of Time series. When Pamela’s initial career goal of captaining starships failed to pan out, she turned to engineering, satisfying her desire for adventure with books and daydreams until finally succumbing to the need to create worlds of her own. Pamela lives and writes in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

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