Day 4 Madeline Hunter – Romance As Sanctuary

Celebrating Romance

I’m all for celebrating romance. Oh, not only the lovey-dovey romantic moments in life, although those are worth celebrating too. I’m speaking of romance novels.accidental duchess

A reader once wrote on a reader/writer email listserv that reading romances had reminded her that her real life romance needed attention. She expressed more eloquently than I ever could how her reading stopped a downward slide in her own relationship. Romance novels remind all of us of the excitement and thrill of falling in love. They help us see our partners with star-struck eyes again. If romance did nothing else for readers, this would be a good reason to celebrate it!

A husband wrote to me, telling me how, when one of my books is published, he buys it for his wife, then takes over caring for the children for the weekend so she can have a mini-vacation lost in her book. Is he cool or what? This woman has five children, a job, and goes to school. Finding time to read is almost impossible, but her husband found a way to give that to her. He liked that his children saw their mother reading too, and he takes joy in her excitement over having that time to refresh her mind and imagination.

I received an email from a reader last week. She thanked me for my books and said she was a fan—words that authors live for. Then she said her brother had died recently, and reading my books helped her survive the grief. I wrote back that I completely understood. A few years ago, the same thing happened in my life, and my reading and writing of romances provided a sanctuary.

I have read romances through family crises, children’s illnesses, grief and worry. I do not read them during bad times to escape into the worlds on the pages. That happens more often when all is well. When all is not, I turn to them because I find stories and characters that reinforce my own resilience, optimism and strength.

So I celebrate romance for the many roles it plays in readers’ lives, and think you should too.


I highly recommend the following authors:

Mary Balogh (read Mary’s Balogh’s essay from RARM ’13), Eloisa James (8/31), Sabrina Jeffries, Terri Brisbin, Lisa Kleypas (8/30),  and Blythe Gifford.

Questions For The Author:

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

I would have to say it was the decision to take a huge leap of faith and love, and adopt my second son. We adopted him internationally, so not only was it daring, it was also adventurous. And inspiring too. The first time he looked at me with those dark eyes is indelibly marked on my heart.

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?)

Since I always wrote, the “moment” came when I made a commitment to my writing, and carved out the time in a busy life to write regularly with publication as a goal. At that moment all of this changed from “always knowing” I wanted to be a writer, to KNOWING I was going to be a writer, come hell or high water. Once that commitment was made, the real journey began.

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

Wow, this is hard. I guess one would be the first historical romance I read, by Roberta Gellis. It hooked me, totally. It also fired my imagination, and got me back into creating stories again. I suppose I would not have this career if I had not read it, so it definitely changed my life.

Madeline is generously offering five copies of The Accidental Duchess to US readers (apologies to international friends). Entry form at the end of the page.

Madeline_HunterMadeline Hunter is a two-time RITA winner and seven-time finalist, and has twenty-five nationally bestselling historical romances in print. A member of RWA’s Honor Roll, her books have been on the bestseller lists of the NY Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly. Over six million copies of her books are in print and her novels have also been translated into thirteen languages. She has a Ph.D. in art history which until recently she taught at the university level. Madeline’s last romance, The Accidental Duchess, was published in June, 2014.

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  • Kathy Nye

    I love the husband who gives his wife a mini vacation to read. How sweet.
    I still have my Roberta Gellis books. It’s nice to know you read them also.

  • TrishJ

    I have read romance through all kinds of personal trials. I have my comfort reads too. If I an feeling especially down, I will re-read these gems, like wrapping up in a warm comfy blanket. A guaranteed good feeling.

  • lisa

    Thank you for your essay and the inspiational characters you’ve created in your stories. Whether I need that inspiration or just to lose myself I love them.

  • Lynne Oberdieck Ernst

    Love your books…and I understand why…your suggested list of authors I already read. 🙂

  • Anna

    And most of those suggested authors are my favorites too!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Thank you for your essay! I also enjoy reading books by Mary Balogh, Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries & Lisa Kleypas. I have not read anything by the other authors, but I will check them out.

  • angryreader

    Gellis has always been one of my favorite escapes… it seems she has a character appropriate for every emotion I can possibly feel. I understand well the idea of sanctuary in books. I lost a dear friend the year after By Possession came out…and reading through your series helped me cope. (BTW, angryreader is a leftover from my political posting days…it is not a comment on the current discussions.)

  • Nicole Fortuna

    Thank you for a great essay. I bought Accidental Duchess a couple weeks ago and it is in my TBR pile. I haven’t read your books before but I have read a lot of Elosia James and Lisa Kleypas. I am looking forward to reading your book.

  • Laurie Skinner Gray

    I read romance books to escape from the hectic and stressful life I have. They help me unplug and unwind. I would be very cranky without them!

  • Glenda

    Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve never read Blythe Gifford thougt I love books by the other ladies. I read romamce in part as a way to relax after a busy day – to redirect my brain from daily issues so I can sleep.

  • Martha B

    To read about the husband who bought your book(s) for his wife and then freed up the time for her to read it, warmed my heart. Isn’t that what we all want? To be loved in our own way by someone who knows us deeply.

  • rebecca moe

    You listed some of my favorite authors in your recommendations! Terry Brisbin and Blythe Gifford are new to me–somehow my TBR always becomes more towering in August 😉

    Thanks for posting!

  • Deb Hinshaw

    Oh, wow, what a great post today! How inspiring for you, and all of us, to read about the husband who gave his wife reading time, and the woman who was helped in her grief through your novels. Thanks for posting today, Madeline.

  • mariannewestrich

    Love the man who buys books for his wife AND makes the time for her to read them! Outstanding!!!

  • Mary Dieterich

    Great story about the man who makes time for his wife to read! Thanks for the recommendations.

  • ki pha

    Hi Madeline!!

    Awww That husband is just fabulous! Wouldn’t we all want a husband like that! I find that as I get older I don’t have much free time to read anymore. In fact this past weekend I decided not to attend an annual family picnic so that I can have the whole day to catch up on my reading. It was wonderful.

  • Tonda Galloway Hargett

    I loved reading your post, thank you so much!

  • Debbie Oxier

    Loved your post. Thanks.

  • Carrie

    I agree with the reader that reading romances is beneficial
    to our own relationships. In romance novels the characters are faced with the
    prospect of not having the other in their life if they don’t overcome some
    internal conflict, which is a terrifying thought. Even though we know there
    will be a happily ever after in the story, there is that reminder to our lives that
    we could lose someone unless we take action. Relationships take work and can
    easily go south if we don’t take time to nurture them.

  • Martha Lawton

    I read them when things are good and things are bad. They help me stay in life and help me vacation in my mind.

  • Brenda E

    I loved what you had to say about reading romances that reinforce some of the best qualities in yourself. I also find strength in these as well, but until reading your post didn’t realize why I really loved the heroes/heroines with those qualities. Such an “Ah ha!” moment for me. I am also a fan. 🙂

  • Sue G.

    I want that reader’s husband who buys her the books to tell all men to do that! What an awesome thing!

  • Joan Varner

    Your post was inspriring for me because I never thought about how much the heroines often help me to remember my own strengths. Thanks!

  • Barbara E.

    Wonderful post. I love the recommendations for authors to read, especially my favorite Eloisa James. 😀

  • alisha woods

    will have to check out Roberta Gillas never heard of her

  • Patty Vasquez

    My husband celebrates with me when I make a big score at our local re-sale book store and find several books on my wish list. This past weekend it was 3 Georgette Heyer books. He knows how important reading is to me and that’s a little bit of romance I get from him on a regular basis.

  • Moriah

    What a fantastic story about the husband who gifts his wife with time to read. It just shows the best gifts aren’t the most expensive but the ones that have the most thought put into them.

  • Gina Burgos

    Wonderful post 😉

  • Michelle Fidler

    Interesting post. It’s sad that some people don’t have the time to read. Avid readers are usually able to make time. Your book sounds good.

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for providing a wonderful insight.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I am so jealous of the lady who’s husband bought her books & made time for her to read. My husband is a reader, butisn’t so good about giving me time to read too. I love how some books can heal you, some confirm who you are, & those who allow you to escape. I loved your post. Thank you.

  • Sheryl N

    Thanks for the author recommendations, always looking for something new.

  • Julie

    Love to read, thank you to all the authors

  • Quinn Fforde

    Wonderful stories! I guess all romance readers have stories like this. I know that romances have helped my marriage!

  • Cheryl Hastings

    I don’t know what I would do if I was too busy to read!!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    My husband and I are both big readers and I can’t tell you how many nights we’ve spent curled up on the couch with our respective books. I absolutely love reading romances and I think our relationship is better for it. Looking forward to checking out more of your books!

  • catslady

    I couldn’t survive without reading, especially romance – I never let a day go by without reading.

  • Pamby50

    I love your books and I’ve read most of the authors your recommend. Terry Brisbin is new to me so I will have to try.

  • Sandy Xiong

    Being so stress out from college and everything, I always end up reading to relax me. I escape to my books when I’m stress about exams or anything school related. I have only read three of the authors you recommended so I’ll need to check out the other two.

  • Emmel

    Gellis is amazing. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. I love her Greek gods trilogy.

  • Janie McGaugh

    I’m impressed by the husband who gifts his wife with books and time to read them. What a wonderful man!

  • Stephanie M.

    I love your books and can’t wait to read The Accidental Duchess.
    My hubby used to buy me books and always did a great job picking them out (with help from the clerks at the stores). Now he gives me gift cards so that I can buy the books I need to complete my collections. 🙂

  • Marcy Shuler

    Though my hubby wouldn’t buy me a book like the one in your post, he’s also a reader so he totally understands my need to read. 🙂

  • Kylan Alexander

    The Accidental Duchess is the only one of Madeline’s books that I haven’t read yet.

  • Judy Goodnight

    To me, reading is simply essential. I read a wide variety of books, but I always come back to romance to find my emotional center.

  • Laurie W G

    I agree that reading romances does lift you up when life gets you down. Thanks for your recommendations. I have not read Blythe Gifford.

  • Bernadette Long

    I believe that reading romance novels keep me ” balanced”and it’s inexpensive therapy.

  • Debbie Glenn Brown

    I love your books!!!

  • Deanna Stillings

    Very nice article, if anyone doesn’t understand why we read romance they should read this.

  • Jen C

    Today’s posts are dear to my heart. And yours finally made me tear up. Keep writing! Love your stories!

  • dholcomb1

    thanks for sharing these wonderful stories

  • Texas Book Lover

    My husband has sweet moments but he has yet to take over just so I can read. Can someone pass along a message that I would really, really like him to do this for me?

  • Gretchen Miller

    I agree very much so. fab

  • cheryl c.

    Reading romance novels for me is stress-reducing and entertaining.

  • Linnea Bassin

    Reading is an escape for me from the screaming kids and my crazy life.

  • Karin Anderson

    I agree with so many others that reading romance is an escape to a better world. I love seeing happy endings.


    Oh, I was like, Madeline Hunter has another book out. Gotta read it. Yes, I am a fan. Love your book cover.

  • Ann Mettert

    Love her books. 🙂

  • Anne

    Thank you for joining RARM this year! I enjoyed your essay and yes, I am a fan!!

  • M Kuxhaus

    Yay for adoption! I don’t have any personal experience with adoption, but I’ve always been a fan of it. Love makes a family. <3

  • Angela H

    I like the story of the husband buying your books for his wife. What a nice guy

  • Erlinda Mejia

    Reading romance has indeed helped me through difficult times, as an affirmation of life, as a temporary escape, to reinforce that happily ever after do exist. I read every genre but romance remains my favorite. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  • LSUReader

    What a wonderful story about that sweet man, treating his wife to your novels! (Wonder where she found him????) I enjoy your books, Madeline. Thanks for the post.

  • Diane Sallans

    I love Mary Balogh too! Yours & Mary’s books have helped distract me too during difficult times.

  • Erin F

    so touching that people are using your books to demonstrate love in real life 😉 thanks for sharing!

  • Adaffern

    I love your books.

  • Gretchen

    Mary Balogh is one of my top 5 favorites. My sister introduced me to her about 10 years ago. I just read your Rarest Blooms series this summer. I loved them!

  • Emily Seelye

    I love your books, I also relly loved this post

  • Meredith Richeson Hillenbrand

    I think that romance can demonstrate and teach us about real life, too. I really enjoy period romances like yours. Eloisa James is one of my favorite authors, too! Thanks for writing!

  • WinnieP

    I really enjoy your books