Day 31 Sherry Thomas – Beauty, Strength & Endless Possibilities

Romance and the Gaze of Kindness

Sherry Thomas mybeautifulenemyRomance, like any other branch of literature, is in the end all about the human condition. But unlike literary fiction, for example, which often defines itself by presenting an unflinching image of everything that is wrong, cowardly, and cruel, romance sets forth an equally unapologetic vision of everything that is right, brave, and kind.

I often talk about the courage inherent in romance, because happiness cannot be arrived at without the willingness to do the right thing, which is often a difficult thing to do and therefore requires all the valor the soul possesses. But I haven’t talked very much of the kindness that is the other wing of romantic happiness.

People are often hard on themselves. They see their imperfections through distorted lenses that magnify all mistakes and flaws to painful proportions. But romance, at heart, is all about the gaze of kindness, of being seen clearly, warts and all, yet still pronounced wonderful and worthy of the deepest love.

There is something spiritual about that gaze of kindness. It’s why people come away from meeting truly enlightened beings awed and transformed. Romance takes the essence of that and sets it in the every day realm. And by doing so, gives the protagonists—and the readers—a potently uplifting experience.

When we say characters are transformed by love, often what we mean is that they have been transformed by the gaze of kindness. Of being seen for the first time not as an assembly of blemishes and deficiencies, but as beauty, strength, and endless possibilities.

That’s why I cry and sigh and smile when I read the very best romance has to offer, because in those pages I encounter this deep, lovely kindness and its powerful effect. And that’s why romance should be celebrated not just this month, but every month of the year.

Recommendations: 

Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

The Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox


Questions for the Author:

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

Probably my year abroad as an exchange student when I was nineteen. My mother was opposed to the idea, so I financed the whole thing with my burning skyscholarship and my student-job savings. It was wonderful, I adored Aix-en-Provence, and I would love to have the opportunity to live overseas again for an extended period of time. Only five more years before my youngest leaves home for college!

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?)

It started with me, at age 23, throwing a bad romance against the wall and deciding I could write better. I couldn’t, not for many years. But there was a naivety that carried me through those years—plus, once I started, I discovered that I really enjoyed writing and there was nothing else I’d rather do.

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

Besides the book that met the wall and set me on my career?

I would say it is Susan Johnson’s Wicked. Susan Johnson was the last author I discovered by browsing the shelves on my own, and she came into my life at just the point when I was fiddling with the beginning of my first book.

Up until then, the historical romances I’d read all had some major adventure/murder mystery/political intrigue plot line. But Wicked, while set during war time, focuses almost exclusively on the romance. And it was a revelation to me that a romance could be carried by just the romance.

And I’ve never looked back.

Sherry is generously giving away one copy of her August release, My Beautiful Enemy, to U.S. readers (entry below) and another one of the same for international readers (enter here).


Sherry Thomas BioSherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today—one of the first to be reviewed by the New York Times Book Review. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

English is Sherry’s second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger’s Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.

Sherry also writes young adult fantasy. The Perilous Sea, volume two of the Elemental Trilogy, will be available fall 2014. You can find Sherry online at www.sherrythomas.com  (~Bobbi again – I also interviewed Sherry Thomas for Kirkus earlier this month. If you’d like to read that piece, you can find it here.)

Buy Sherry’s books:

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  • mariannewestrich

    Would love to know which book hit the wall that day! 😎

  • Jen Wyatt

    Sherry, you are a shining star. Do you really need sleep? Write faster! Your books are my favorite escape.

  • Patty Vasquez

    Wow. This is an “Aha!” comment for me, because it makes so much sense. “But romance, at heart, is all about the gaze of kindness, of being seen clearly, warts and all, yet still pronounced wonderful and worthy of the deepest love.” I keep thinking about the hero in one particular book I read, who can’t understand why everybody considers the woman he loves to be plain, when clearly she is the most beautiful creature on earth. He must have read your essay! It was a terrific book, too, written by Anne Gracie.

  • Anna

    I’ve never actually thrown a book across the wall, but I’ve wanted to. Would love to know which one took the hit! And I really loved the idea of kindness, that someone can learn to see their own beauty/good points through love’s gaze.

  • StephanieBurgis

    I love this post – especially the point about that deep kindness of romance.

  • LisaVH

    I think as a whole we underestimate the power of kindness. Something I want to teach my kids to remember.

  • Emmel

    I think understanding that romance means you accept someone for who they are, including the warts, bumps, and imperfections, is once of the vital things that romance teaches us. So many people search for a partner who is perfect, instead of a partner who is perfect for them. None of us are ideal, and realizing that about yourself as well as others, is something romance reading offers.

  • cheryl c.

    I also cry and sigh and smile when reading a really good romance. That is why romance is so entertaining and satisfying.

  • Sheila M

    I completely forgot about Wicked. Now I have to find a copy to re-read.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I hadn’t thought about kindness as the basis of romance, but you make a good point! Thanks for the sharing your insight!

  • Julie Nieves

    Such beautiful insight into why we love romance novels – “But romance, at heart, is all about the gaze of kindness, of being seen
    clearly, warts and all, yet still pronounced wonderful and worthy of the
    deepest love.” Thank you Sherry!

  • Diana

    Thought-provoking post– I’m a huge fan of Sherry Thomas!

  • alisha woods

    Wanting to read Courtney Milan’s book, but haven’t yet

  • Glenda

    You are so right about most of us judging ourselves harshly, although some of us are better at hiding it. 🙂

  • Louise Risser

    I’m a fan of her books. I have read many of them.

  • Sharon Forbes

    I love that expression, the gaze of kindness! So very romantic! It is true that so many of us look at ourselves with a very critical eye, I know I do! Thank you for such a different, yet kind(!) outlook on ourselves. I am looking forward now to reading one of your novels, as I have yet to enjoy one, thank you again!

  • Martha B

    It has always impressed me that you write such beautiful novels in English (which is not your first language). Next, I am in awe of how extensive you have researched your books bringing to life foreign settings like in Not Quite A Husband. Thank you for giving me hours of pleasure and transporting me to other worlds through your books.

  • Debbie Oxier

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I love your underlying message of the importance of kindness in your romance essay today. I could not agree more and I think kindness to ourselves is of the utmost importance to living a happy, fulfilling life. Romance has brought me so much joy over the years and since I started reading the genre at such an early age, I think it has shaped much of my life and helped to mold me into the person I am today. I have adored reading all of these essays and I think I will be riding the romance high for many months to come. Thank you for all that you bring to us as an author, and more importantly as a spokesperson for romance.

  • Tammy H

    Great post!

  • Barbara E.

    Yes, this: “romance sets forth an equally unapologetic vision of everything that is right, brave, and kind.” That’s exactly why I love romance. I would rather focus on those things than the terrible things I hear in the news every day.

  • Fantastic words, thank you so much!

  • Debbie Fuller

    Great words, great thoughts, great post!

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    That’s why I cry, laugh and sigh, too. To experience it’s kindness, love and heart. I ♥ romance. Thanks for the chance and I enjoyed your essay very much!

  • monica87

    Love the ‘gaze of kindness’ analogy. Very sweet put.

  • Sherry Thomas

    Thank you, everyone, for your very kind words!

  • Dana Shoulders

    I wanted to leave a comment simply because I love all of your books, so I already have the one you are giving away :). I live in Round Rock, TX and I was so sad to miss the appearance you made a few weeks ago in my area.

  • Loraine Oliver

    I have loved Read a Romance month and wish we could have them more often!

  • Meredith Richeson Hillenbrand

    I really liked what you had to say about courage and kindness being integral parts of romance. Thanks so much for writing!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Thank you for your post. You are a new to me author which is the best part of Read-A-Romance-Month. I will be checking into your books.

  • Sue G.

    It is true that you overlook many things when you are in love! 🙂

  • Marcy Shuler

    Great post, Sherry!

  • librarypat

    Congratulations on the success of your writing career. Taking the giant step to study overseas at such a young age sounds like it was a great experience. I went overseas for 3 years, but was a few years older (21). I am sure I had a bit more freedom than you perhaps did. It was a great opportunity to learn more about myself and the world. It isn’t something everyone can handle or appreciate, but for those who can, what a great experience it can be.

    Patricia (B) on rafflecopter.

  • Judy Goodnight

    After reading your essay here, I’m definitely looking forward to trying your books! Truly, a loving relationship must have kindness at its core so that we can love each other in spite of, perhaps even because of, our imperfections. What a burden it must be to be in a relationship in which you must strive to always be perfect.

    • So excited for you to read ST if you haven’t already. One of my favorite writers. xo

  • WinnieP

    I’m about to read The Hidden Blade, and would love to win My Beautiful Enemy.

  • Cindy A

    I’m looking forward to reading your books. This has been a great month to get to learn about my favorite authors and find new ones. Too bad it is coming to an end.

  • Joan Varner

    I will be looking for your books on my next shopping trip. I always find hope when I read a romance.

    • One of my faves! You’re in for a treat. :o)

  • Janie McGaugh

    Wonderful essay. I never thought about love that way, but I can see that really is what it’s all about.

  • M Kuxhaus

    I don’t know if I would want to live in another country; I’m not even sure if I want to try another state!

  • Geraldine Pierson

    I found favorite authors and new authors at Read-A-Romance-Month. I am a fan of your books and I enjoyed reading them.

  • rebecca moe

    Knowing that you originally couldn’t write better than that bad book gives me hope! You write beautifully now–I can’t remember what about it made me pick up my first book by you from the library (Not Quite a Husband) but I am so glad I did!

    Thanks so much for posting, and writing!

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your post. I am new to your books and will be adding them to my TBR list. I love Courtney Milan’s books. Thanks for the recommendations. 🙂

    • One of my faves, you’re in for a treat! xo

  • Pamby50

    Thanks for sharing your post on reading romance. I have added you to my list to read.

  • Evelyn S

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Erin F

    congrats to Sherry on her success 🙂 Love her books! Thanks for sharing!

  • Dawn Anderson

    I’m learning about so many new writers (to me) this month. Sherry is one I’ve never read but I’ll be looking for her next time I’m in the bookstore.

    • Oh Dawn! The Luckiest Lady in London was one of my favorite books last year! I love Sherry Thomas. You’re in for such a treat! :o)

  • Pam P

    I’m a fan, Sherry, ever since your first book. Great post.

  • flchen1

    Love how reading a terrible book inspired you to write better ones, Sherry! Write on!

  • Chanpreet

    I love how writing didn’t come easy to Sherry, but if you read any of her books now, you’d never know that.