Day 24 Karen Rose – Stronger for the HEA

Give Me The Happy Ending

Hello!  I’ve been writing for twenty-one years and never once did it occur to me to finish a story with anything other than a

ctythappy ending.  I know that there are readers out there who adore sad, tragic endings and other readers who maybe mix it up between the happy and the sad.  But for me – as a writer and as a reader – the happy endings are a critical component of any book, and here’s why:

My first post-college real-world job required that I fly.  As a passenger.  In a plane.  At thirty-thousand feet.  I was panic-stricken … which unfortunately made me a chatty flyer, the kind the rest of you HATE to sit next to.  Most people were nice, but one day a man said, “Lady, buy a book!”

I thought, “Oh.  But what kind?”  I’d always loved to read as a kid, but college kind of took the fun out reading.  I got so busy reading textbooks, that I’d forgotten what I liked to read.   So I went to the library and got a bunch of different genre books – mystery and humor and westerns, but none satisfied.  None made me forget I was trapped in a steel tube at thirty-thousand feet.  Until I read my first romance – LaVyrle Spencer’s YEARS.   I closed the book on a happy sigh, surprised that the flight was nearly over.  I knew romance was the genre for me.  It was the way I got from City A to City B without having a major panic attack on the plane.

But then, my husband got sick.  He was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  He was barely twenty-six years old and I was still twenty-five.  We had a six-week old infant.

Today that infant is twenty-four years old and my husband is thankfully healthy, so it ended up all right.  But we didn’t know that then.  It was a serious, aggressive form of this cancer that, even though caught early, had already begun to spread through his body.  The treatment was pretty horrible, and not a day went by that first year when I wasn’t utterly terrified.

That’s when I understood the true value of a romance.  Of the happy ending.

It became a warm, cozy, dependable corner I could crawl into and forget my life for a while.  When I emerged, I was stronger, Watch Your Back USrenewed, reenergized – and able to face my very scary life once more.

I still pick up a romance when I need that cozy corner, whenever I’m upset or scared or devastated.  When my father died unexpectedly and I rushed to the airport in shock, my feet carried me straight from security to the airport bookstore – and straight to Nora Roberts.  I knew they’d have at least one of her books.  I didn’t even care if I’d read it before.  I only knew it was what I needed.

I hear this from readers all the time – they’re going through something horrible or scary or painful or life-changing, and my books help them get through.  That’s an amazing honor and an incredible privilege.  It’s a gift I do not ever take for granted.  It makes my job the very best job on the planet.

As a reader, I need those happy endings.  As a writer, I am privileged to give them to you.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

PS:  Testicular cancer is the leading cancer that strikes men aged eighteen to thirty-five.  If you have a son, husband, brother, friend in your life, urge him to do self-checks.  Nowadays, it’s a very curable cancer – if caught early.  Men cringe at the thought of self-checks and think it will never happen to them, but trust me, it happens.

Take care of yourselves and read romance!


My recs for books are mostly paranormal romance as that’s my “downtime” love, but I have a few gems to recommend for thriller lovers, too!  I love Nalini Singh, Diane Duval, CL Wilson (all paranormal).  For thrillers I turn to Lisa Gardner and Michael Connelly.  Newer and up-and-coming authors I’ve found – paranormal author Danielle Monsch (she writes about GARGOYLES – how can you not love them?!?) and for thriller readers – Robin Perini, Kendra Elliot, and debut author Nichole Christoff, whose novel THE KILL LIST will be released in December.

Questions for the Author:

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

I’m not very daring or adventurous, actually.  I have adventures purely by accident and at best hope to survive them.  The most daring thing I ever did was to eat a fish that was still alive so as not to offend my host, who’d served it as a delicacy.  It was in Japan back in the ’90s and it took every nerve I had because (a) I hate fish, (b) I hate raw fish even more, ( c) it was served on its own body and the fish was still blinking at me.  I managed it with a smile.  I have not eaten sushi since that night.

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 started writing in July of 1993 because I saw this repeating scene in my head that was keeping me from sleeping and making me crazy.  I wrote the scene down while on vacation in Minnesota while sitting on my BFF’s ugly orange futon, hoping to drive it from my mind forever.  Instead, that one scene became two, then twenty, then it became my first book.  But then I only wrote for myself.  I never planned to be an “author.”  I never planned to allow anyone to ever read my work.  It was a hobby, a guilty pleasure in which I indulged when my kids were finally asleep and then later when I was on the road working my job as an engineer.  I travelled a lot in those days and as there were no ebooks back then, had to pack my reading material.  I could never pack enough books so I started writing my own.

I didn’t consider being an “author” until 5 years later when my husband urged me to “do something” with all the books I’d written.  I dipped my toe in, submitted my first book, got some good rejections – good enough to encourage me to keep going.  I joined a writer’s group and attended my first conference.  It was there that I admitted to myself that “this writing thing” was something I might want to try doing for real.  That was July, 1999.  I made my first sale in December, 2001.

I often think that the fact that I wrote for fun and a hobby for so long made things easier for me.  I didn’t have the pressure of trying to get published.  The thought terrified me!  I was able to find my voice and refine my craft without the burden of a publishing goal.  I did it because the characters called to me.  When things get tense even today, I dig deep and find that love for the story that got me started.

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

It would have to be Little Women.  I read it for the first time when I was eight years old and, although I’d read many books before it, none grabbed me by the heart the way Little Women did.  I became one of the March sisters and lived their hopes and dreams and disasters right along with them.  I remember thinking, “Wow.  A lady wrote this.  Out of her head.  How did she do that?”   I think Little Women was the first book in which I was aware that the story came from a real person’s imagination and not just from “the library.”

Karen is generously donating one signed copy of WATCH YOUR BACK  to U.S. readers and one signed copy to international readers.


Karen Rose resized 724x1060Karen Rose is a #1-internationally bestselling author, her books appearing on the New York Times, London Sunday Times, and Germany’s Der Spiegel bestseller lists.  A two-time RITA® winner, five of Karen’s other titles have been RITA® finalists.  Her fifteenth novel, WATCH YOUR BACK, was released in February, 2014.  Her books have been translated into twenty-thee languages.

A former chemical engineer and high school teacher, Karen lives in Florida with her family, two dogs – Loki and Thor, and two cats – Bella and Geist.

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  • mariannewestrich

    The HEA is so important. Reading is all that got me through when my father had cancer and we had 8 weeks from diagnosis until we lost him. I could escape in my books and looked forward to each happy ending!

    • I’m sorry for your loss, Marianne, but glad that you were able to escape. I did the same when my dad died.

  • Reggie Davis

    Have been waiting for your new book!!!

    • Thank you!! Soon! Nov in the UK and Feb in the US!

  • Abbie Marchant

    Karen, there is so many things I could say to you and to thank you for the ways in which your words have touched and inspired me to become the strong person I am today.
    I picked up ‘Die for me’, in one of the darkest parts of my life and I just wanted darkness, ugliness, just something that made what I was going through to pale. Sounds very morbid, but none-the-less true. The moment I picked up that book, it changed me.
    It made me look back, retrace my steps and see what changes I would like to make for myself and for others. At the earliest (that I would allow myself to look), was my final year of high school, I was a young, confused and had very low self esteem. I didn’t want to go to uni, I had no overwhelming desires of a career, I simply wanted to get an administration job with the government and work until retirement.
    You’re books’ opened my eyes and allow me to accept my passion and drive to help people. To be there for those, whom I wished had been there for me. I wanted to be in the criminal justice field and in particular a police officer.
    I looked into what had to be done here in Australia to achieve such thing, I had two options: a) apply for the academy and go it that way or b) go in with a criminology and criminal justice degree and have the ability to go into higher ranks quicker to open up those doors that allowed me to work with those people I knew desperately needed support and guidance, not to mention to create the bridge, bond and trust with the faces of the law.
    Long story short, I am now completing my final unit of my degree. The girl who didn’t want to go to uni, now has that ball point pen millimetres from signing that degree.
    You could call it a snowball effect. Your experiences, the good and the bad, changed you and your family and as a result has enabled you to touch and alter the course of many of your readers lives, such as myself.
    I cannot wait to meet you in Australia in a few short months time. Knowing me, I’ll get star struck and tongue tied :).
    Abbie Marchant

    • Okay, Abbie, now you’ve made me cry. I am so humbled. Thank you. It’s a ripple effect, because you will go on to touch so many lives too. Isn’t this lovely?

      I look forward to meeting you in Australia, too. And don’t be tongue-tied. I’m just me. I’ll give you a big hug and it’ll be like we’ve been friend forever 🙂

      Where are you in Australia?

      • Abbie Marchant

        I do hope you’re right about that ripple!
        I’ll hold you to that hug :).
        Seeing as I am one of your avid Facebook stalkers at the moment, you may have stalked me back by now, but I am based in Brisbane.

  • Katia Lbt

    Thank you for your books. I’m expecting each new release with great attention

    • Thank you, Katia! Next up is Deacon Novak’s book!

  • Melissa Hoerth Hongisto

    Love your books! You remain my favorite!

  • Debbie Oxier

    So glad your husband came through everything all right. Thanks for sharing and the recommendations. Haven’t read some of those authors.

    • Thank you, Debbie! Hope you enjoy the recommendations 😉

  • Christina McComiskie

    I love a good romance story. It warms your heart. I love the names of your cats, Karen! 🙂

    • Ha! Bella is really Belladonna, after the poison. We thought it fitting for a suspense writer’s cat. She’s featured in one of my books, YOU CAN’T HIDE. She used to get fan mail, lol.

  • Paula Isaacs

    I love reading your books, I like how you bring characters from one book to the next.

    • Thank you, Paula! My next book is Deacon Novak’s book and takes place in Cincinnati, which allows me to bring back a character from a past book. Do you know which one?

      • Paula Isaacs

        Did you miss me and watch your back? Cant wait to read his story

  • Nicole Fortuna

    My husband had testicular cancer in 2008. His was caught early and the cancer hadn’t spread far. It was a scary time for me and I read a lot of romance for a year just to escape. He is healthy now and cancer free. So glad that your husband is as well.

    • Same here – glad your hubby is well. All the best to you both!

      • Nicole Fortuna

        Thank you and I really look forward to your next book!

  • so glad your husband was okay, and is still okay! 🙂 and you’re spot on about HEA’s. i steer faaaaar away from non-HEA books. and if i accidentally read one? it puts me in such a funk i have to read like 3 recovery books before i can even try another new book!

    • LOL. Recovery books. Made me chuckle, Carrie.

  • Alita Lelonek

    love your books looking forward to your new one

    • Thank you, Allita! It’s Deacon Novak’s book 🙂

  • Erin F

    I totally agree. Romance gives you a cozy corner to relax and leave the world behind. It’s sad that you had to discover this during such heartache but it sounds like you and your family came out stronger. Thanks for such a powerful post!

    • Thank you, Erin! It made us stronger, indeed.

  • claire Shaw

    Hi karen just started your books for the millionth time hoping to finish them just in time for me to receive closer than you think. Thank you for your books I love each character

    • Thanks, Claire! Deacon’s up next. I hope you like him. He’s been fun to write.

  • Sheri Morell

    Hi karen I absolutely love your books. And look forward to books to come

  • Joan Varner

    Romance and romantic suspense are my “go to” when I need that escape from real life. Thank you.

  • Irma Jurejevčič

    Hi Karen. You are a new author to me and I love this post and Readromancemonth for this all!

    • Irma, thank you! Hope you enjoy my books 🙂

      • Irma Jurejevčič

        Thank you 🙂 I have no doubts 🙂

  • Martha B

    I love, love, LOVE a happy ending. I read books where I am guaranteed a HEA. I’ll watch and read stories where Jack Bauer, Jack Reacher or Jack Ryan wins. The obstacles, conflicts, and misunderstandings in books with romance lead to impossible circumstances for the two main characters. I am always curious to read how the author will resolve all those roadblocks so they can reach their happy ending.

    I was SO fortunate to win an ARC of Watch your Back (on Goodreads). Thank you. I loved Stevie and Clay. I was very surprised at the plots twists in the closing chapters of that book. It kept me reading into the wee hours to discover how it ended. What a great example of a page-turner!
    ​I recommend YOUR books!

    PS Whew. I’m very glad your husband is still cancer free. A life threatening scare like that makes you grateful for every single day of life.

    • Thank you, Martha! I loved Stevie and Clay, too. And the scenes with Cordelia made me sniffle as I wrote them.

  • claire Shaw

    Thank you for replying loved deacon in did you miss me knew there was a story waiting xx

    • Deacon demanded a story. So I had to write his!

  • claire Shaw

    Can’t wait to receive my book had it on pre order Thank you again for all you’re books xx

  • Quinn Fforde

    Very moving! A good post!

  • Hailey Fish

    I loved it!

  • Denice Edwards Jackson

    I picked up one of your books on a whim, and now I am hooked! Really enjoy your writing, and I am looking forward to reading more from you. You have made a lifelong fan of me :).

    • Thank you, Denice! I’m so glad you followed your whim 🙂

  • rebecca moe

    HEAs are definitely required! I’ve always said that real life is depressing enough–I don’t need more in my books 🙂

    And your daring thing is much more than I could ever do…

    • Rebecca – agree with the HEA. I do daring things only when I must, LOL.

  • Jenny Kelly

    i love Karen Rose books. the more the better and would love this book!!!

  • Cindy A

    AND a high school teacher?! That takes courage.

  • Pamby50

    Glad to hear your husband is doing so well. Love my HEA. I admit I’ve never read anything by you. Checked out the library & there are so many titles to choose from. Where would you suggest I start?

    • Pam, I think it’ll be more enjoyable to start at the beginning with DON’T TELL. The characters cross over as the books progress. My website,, has my book list.

  • Judy Flohr

    HI Karen, I love HEA. The past two years with my mom’s pasing in 2012 only two years after dad in 2010, books saved me. Its nice having some happiness to make you take a step back and relax.

    • Hi Judy! I know. The happiness there is nice to have as a backup plan

  • Sue G.

    I’m glad your hubby beat his cancer. I agree…we all need a way to escape life and have a way to get a happy ending even if it’s only for a short while.

    I give you credit, there is no way in hell I would have eaten that fish. I do not like seafood and the thought of eating it raw…nope, not gonna happen!

    • Looking back, I am amazed too. Not sure I’d do that today!

  • librarypat

    I think it is great (for us) that you decided to start writing down those scenes in your head. It made for as good hobby for you and we ended up with another author whose books we enjoy. You were smart enough to do it when so many of us are afraid to take that first step. I hope there are many more scenes and characters in there waiting to get out.

    • Pat, thank you! I’m not sure it was smartness, though. I don’t think I knew what I was attempting!

      • librarypat

        With many things we do, it is probably just as well we don’t think about it or know just how crazy what we are attempting is. We would probably never attempt much of anything.

  • Anna

    Oh, I love Little Women. I remember that being my “car trip” book. Even though I’d read it several times, it was long enough to get me through the 5 hour car ride to my grandmother’s. And usually I read it again on the way home. 🙂

    • Anna, me too! My grandma’s house was 9 hours away and I’d use a flashlight to read when it got dark outside.

  • TrishJ

    I love knowing my romance books will end with a HEA. Doesn’t matter how I get there, I just need a happy ending. I have so many comfort books, depending on my mood. That is the beauty of romance books. You can find comfort there.

  • Patty Vasquez

    Oh my gosh! I think I might have gone running from the table had a fish I’d been expected to eat blinked at me. I agree, Nalini Singh and C.L. Wilson are extraordinary paranormal writers. I’m not familiar with Diane Duval, however. I’ll have to check her out.

    • Dianne Duval is really wonderful! I think you’ll enjoy her world.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I enjoyed your post!! There is no way I could have eaten that fish!! You are a new to me author so I will be checking out your books. Thank you.

    • Eileen, thank you! I hope you enjoy them!

  • I love your books! I’m a huge fan of murder mystery for years, then later I became a fan of romance novels. And I refuse to read any romance novels that don’t have a happy ending. I’m so glad that I stumbled across your books two years ago. I picked up my first one, “Kill for Me” and I was hooked. I sat there reading, addicted. I went back, gathered all your book, and read every single one I could get a hold of during my winter break. And I have preordered every single book since. Your writing is amazing. I can’t wait to read the next one. I have to say I loved Stevie and Clay, especially since their relationship has spanned so many books. I’m so glad they finally found their happily ever after!

    • Andrea, thank you! I loved Stevie and Clay too. Next up is Deacon’s book, so I hope you’ll love him and his heroine, Faith. (She’s a newbie.)

  • catslady

    Just have to say how much I enjoy your books – very much page turners!!

  • Sheila M

    I love happy endings!

  • donnas

    Great post. Its all about the happy endings.

  • M Kuxhaus

    Wow. The fish eating story? That was adventurous and brave. I don’t think I would have been able to do it.

    • Not so sure I’d have the courage to do it now, LOL.

  • Tammy H

    I’m so glad that your husband is ok.

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your inspiring post. You are new to me and I can’t wait to read your books. I had a very hard few months this year and romance books really got me through it. I love being able to escape to another place with great, and some not so great, characters.

  • Glenda

    Karen, So glad your husband overcame the cancer! We need more PSAs about self checks for that and breast cancer.

    And as for the delicacy fish dish…. aww man I am so glad I have never been in a position where I had to do something like that! I’m impressed!