Day 7 Shana Galen – Real and Vital Romance

How I Celebrate Romance

Readers sometimes ask me if I base my heroes on real life. As much as I’d like to say yes, the answer is no. My husband is not a romance hero. Yours probably isn’t either. That’s because romance heroes are fiction. Real men (and women) have real flaws and annoying habits. Their breath doesn’t smell good in the morning. They don’t always remember to lower the toilet lid. And sometimes they snore so loudly you have to smack them to get some sleep.

Additionally, real life just isn’t romantic. We authors skip over the boring parts of our characters’ lives—the parts where they fold laundry for an hour or make school lunches or type numbers in a spreadsheet. We skip to the fun parts—falling in love, taking a fabulous vacation, great sex, a gourmet dinner out (or in). But those things aren’t part of the every day grind.Love and Let Spy-300

Still, does this mean that we can’t celebrate romance every day? That we can’t make the daily grind romantic in some small way? No, my husband isn’t a romance hero, but I can find something romantic in so many things he does every day. He calls me to tell me he’s on his way home from work. He shows me a funny post from Facebook. He takes my car to be washed. He may not ride up on a white stallion to sweep me into his arms, but he shows me he cares in a thousand little ways. The little things add up, and if we pay attention to them, can bring romance into our every day lives.

I like to celebrate romance through other avenues. I look at the people around me and see so many ways romance is celebrated. My grandparents were married seventy-two years before my grandmother passed away in May of this year. On the last day of her life, as she lay in hospice care, my grandfather asked her for a kiss. They were affectionate until the end. What about those couples on a first date? I love watching them when I’m out at a restaurant. They’re so adorably awkward. There’s an older couple who comes to the Starbucks where I write on Saturday mornings. Even though there are plenty of chairs available, she always sits on his lap and they read the paper together. It’s sweet, even if it’s also a little over the top.

Critics of romance often say romance novels give women unrealistic expectations. That’s insulting to women’s intelligence; moreover, it belittles the importance of romance in all of our lives. It’s not a silly idea that only exists in fiction. It’s real and vital and we can finds ways—big and small—to celebrate it every day.

Recommendations: I’ve read so many great debut authors this year!

Some of my favorites are Gina Conkle (Meet the Earl at Midnight), Jessica Peterson (The Gentleman Jewel Thief), and Sherri Browning (Thornbrook Park).

Questions for the Author:

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

After my fiancé and I broke up, a friend studying in Leeds, UK invited to me to come and visit her. I jumped on a plane and went. I’d never traveled anywhere by myself, but I refused to be intimidated or scared. I figured out planes, trains, and buses all on my own, and my friend and I had a blast. It was an adventure, and it made me feel strong and independent again, something I needed after the end of a long-term relationship. (You can read a little bit about this in Shana’s 2013 post.)

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 always had stories in my head, and I had always been told I was a good writer. But one day in January 2000, I sat down and started to write a book. I wasn’t just playing around. I was serious about it. I’d never considered that I could write as a profession, but once I made that leap, I knew I wanted to be an author more than I’d ever wanted anything else. It took years before I could afford to write full time, but all the hard work was totally worth it.

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

It was definitely Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I tried to read it at the beginning of my Senior year in high school and couldn’t get past the first chapter. And then I tried it again at the end of the year and couldn’t put it down. That novel introduced me to the Regency period, which is what I write about now. I fell in love with that time, the fashions, customs, and language. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if not for that book. I’m so thankful I gave it a second chance.

Shalen is generously offering a print copy of Love and Let Spy. Entry form below. (Domestic only, apologies to international friends.)

Shana Galen Shana Galen is the bestselling author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Booklist says, “Galen expertly entwines espionage-flavored intrigue with sizzling passion,” and RT Bookreviews calls her “a grand mistress of the action/adventure subgenre.” She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city. Now she writes full time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Krysten Mich

    I completely agree with you on the “real” romance! It’s definitely the little things in life that often count the most, even if they aren’t considered huge romantic gestures 🙂

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks for stopping by, Krysten.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I am a big fan of everyday romance…I love people watching and it’s always fun to see couples interact. My husband and I have been together for quite awhile and I still appreciate little things he does–taking care of ALL outdoor lawn work, accepting my need to bring home every stray dog/cat, letting me sleep in when I’m particularly tired…you get the point. All of these things make the annoying habits fade away (although I’ve been known to poke him pretty hard during a particularly loud snoring fit). I love the extreme highs and lows in romance novels and how amazing every journey is but I have to say that I am very happy to have a nice calm, loving relationship in real life with just the right amount of romance. I am just getting back into reading historical romance again, so I’ll make sure to pick up some of your books….it’s been awhile but I remember loving the ones I have read so far. Thanks for your contribution today–great essay!

    • Shana Galen

      Thank you, Courtney! And my husband has had to deal with the strays too!

  • angryreader

    Like yours, my husband fills my life with little things that are the romance of everyday life. I read your books (and love them) for the fairy tale romance you give us, but I would never trade that for the warmth of a marriage in the real world. After 41 years, he is dearer to me than he was when we were young and silly with love. But sometimes, when no one else is around, we old coots act just as intoxicated with each other as we did when we were first together.

    • Shana Galen

      I don’t think you could have put it any better, angryreader. Nothing beats a great friend and husband.

  • Sue G.

    Loved your write up! My hubby isn’t like a romance novel hero either…he’s just a regular guy. My favorite thing he has done for me this year is renew our vows for our 25th wedding anniversary. He really didn’t want to do it because he said nothing has changed since we did it the first time but he did it because I really wanted to. It was just our immediate family and it was perfect!

    • Shana Galen

      Oh, Sue! That’s so sweet. Thank you for sharing.

  • Claire Gilless

    Enjoyed what you wrote above – just picked up a couple of your books and am looking forward to reading them. Thanks

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks, Claire!

  • Kathleen O

    I like a hero that has flaws. Nine of us is perfect. But we live to read about those White Knights.

    • Shana Galen

      It’s fun to lose yourself in fiction. We don’t have to believe it!

  • Kylan Alexander

    My husband isn’t “romance novel romantic” but he is very affectionate, almost annoyingly so. I am not a touchy-feely kinda girl. I don’t know why considering I love romance novels and have read them for 20 years. I just have a personal space issue. But I wouldn’t trade him for anything nor anybody. I hope I win this book! It’s the only one I don’t have yet by Shana! I even tracked down her Shane Bolks books. 🙂

    • Shana Galen

      Wow, Kylan! You are a true fan, and I hear you about the personal space.

  • cheryl c.

    My husband doesn’t do the grand romantic gestures, but he shows his love in daily small ways that actually mean more to me.

    • Shana Galen

      That’s so important, Cheryl. What a great guy.

  • Patty Vasquez

    I don’t know how you taught middle- and high-school and wrote at the same time. Bless you for that! When I’m having a tough time with my 4th-graders, I daydream about the current hero in the book I’m reading to get me through the moment. Thank you for giving me heroes to sustain me, as well!

    • Shana Galen

      Patty, I would get up very early and write before school. Crazy, right? I couldn’t write after school because I’d have too much on my ind, not to mention grading and lesson plans to do.

      • Patty Vasquez

        The amount of discipline that required is impressive. I’m glad you can write full time now. I have a really hard time balancing my life once school starts. My husband will tell you he’s the one who gets the short end of the stick. And yet, he still goes out and puts gas in my car for me. 🙂

        • Shana Galen

          My husband used to complain I talked to him like he was 12 the first hour I got home. Poor guy!

  • Martha B

    Yes! My favorite genre (Regency historical’s); yours are fun reads. Switching gears, I think the acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, etc. add up to BIG romantic gestures. It pleases me (after 34 years,) when I discover my husband emptied the dishwasher after it has been run, folds the laundry or makes dinner just b/c I am having a hard day… Sensitivity to my life wins hands down. I feel treasured.

    • Shana Galen

      Isn’t it amazing that we find something like emptying the dishwasher romantic? But it is! It shows thoughtfulness, and that’s romantic.

  • Amy Dudley

    I fully agree that romance critics that say that romance novels give women an unrealistic view of romance need to wake-up and read a little better! It is under fiction not non-fiction and furthermore are you implying that just because a person reads a romantic novel that they would specifically expect their spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, significant other to hold up to that image? Romance in real life may or may not meet up to what you envision for yourself, but in no way shape or form, unless you came from a loony bin, should you expect fully for what you read in a fictional character. Critics are just people that think they should tell everyone else what they should and should not do/read/write/watch/etc and more times than not cannot back their stories up with enough data to be relevant. Sorry Shana rant over you know I adore your books and congrats on the newest release!

    • Shana Galen

      I was enjoying the rant, Amy! Great points!

  • Kristan Higgins

    I actually don’t find romance to be unrealistic these days. I think the people who criticize and generalize aren’t reading romance. In Lord and Lady Spy, for example (fan girl moment), you did such a brilliant job of portraying a marriage on the rocks; the overlooked wife, the somewhat clueless husband, his inept attempts at being a good dad. The romantic (and realistic) part was how much he wanted to overcome those things and how he truly didn’t know where to start. I loved that.

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks, Kristan!

  • Carrie

    I can’t stand when someone says “romance novels give women unrealistic expectations.” Reading romance is what helped me to know what I wanted out of a relationship and not to settle for less. My husband will be the first to admit he’s not romantic, and when he tries it almost always epically fails, but he makes me laugh, he cooks for me, massages my feet and back after a long day, keeps up with the maintenance on my car, and overall treats me so well. The heroes in romances may be daring and dashing, but what they all have in common is how they treat and care for the one that they love. How is wanting to be loved and cared for an unrealistic expectation?

    • Shana Galen

      Great point, Carrie. We may not want to marry pirates or spies, but we all want a man who loves and supports our dreams.

  • Kathy Nye

    Romance readers are intelligent. I appreciate your comments. They will help me out when my “friends” give me a hard time about reading them.

    • Shana Galen

      Sorry they give you a hard time. I’ve never understood why anyone should care what anyone else is reading.

  • Glittergirl

    AWESOME post. I think I’m going to have my hubby read this one. You are so right about love and romance…it shows up in many ways and we have only to open our eyes to see it all around us. We miss blessings because we don’t stop and change our perspective. Thank you for this.

    • Shana Galen

      I’d love to know what your hubby thinks of it.

  • Sheryl N

    Great post! I enjoy reading romance and your books are some of my favorites. Congrats on the new release

    • Shana Galen

      Thank you, Sheryl!

  • Barbara E.

    Wonderful post Shana, and I agree with it all. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to want and expect romance in our lives, especially those little things that show someone cares. 😀

    • Shana Galen

      Definitely not unrealistic, and we just have to look sometimes.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    How wonderful & honest you were in this post. I agree with it all. It’s not unrealistic for a reader to want or need the escape a book can provide. My husband might not be romantic but he shows me how much he loves me with lots of little things. Thank you.

    • Shana Galen

      That’s so fortunate and important, Eileen.

  • ki pha

    Awesome post Shana. We always take things for granted and it’s nice to see those small things that can make us happy and appreciate them. You may never know when you won’t have those small actions as part of your life anymore.

    • Shana Galen

      So true! I don’t like to think of it that way, but it’s good to be reminded that nothing lasts.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    My husband isn’t terribly romantic, either, but he is reliable & does a lot of things around the house. I would be lost without him. I guess that is romantic!

    • Shana Galen

      It absolutely is, Sharlene.

  • Marcy Shuler

    Love the post, Shana. My hubby is definitely not a romance hero, but then again…I’m not a heroine either. LOL

    • Shana Galen

      Good point, Marcy!

  • Julie

    Shana, thank you for your talent. I love to read and because of talented people like you, I have get to read every day.

    • Shana Galen

      Thank you, Julie.

  • Quinn Fforde

    I agree with you. I would add that the “unrealistic” parts can inspire us to bring more overt romance into our everyday lives. I know it has for me, and that spurred my husband to go past the small gestures sometimes. These books are good for us!

    • Shana Galen

      Yes, thanks for pointing that out, Quinn.

  • Brittany Hill

    Shana I have to agree with you when you say that people say romance isn’t a real thing. I see people who hold romance near and dear to their hearts. My aunt who was married for seventy years land up passing away in July. While she was in the hospital for double pneumonia her husband sat by her side and wouldn’t let her hand go until she finally passed away. Their loved endured a lot of obstacles but they always got over it and became stronger for it. They have been an inspiration for me.

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks for sharing that, Brittany.

  • Janie McGaugh

    I enjoyed your post. It reminds me to pay attention, so I can see romance everywhere. Also, thank you for the recommendations; I haven’t read any of these authors, yet.

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks for stopping by, Janie!

  • I think its lovely that you have such a clear memory of a book. I have a couple of them too. But nothing in the romance dept until after I was married. haha
    Anyone remember Death Be Not Proud. I remember bawling like a baby.

    • Shana Galen

      Yes, that was a great book, Lisa.

  • Pamby50

    I so agree with you about romance being everywhere. It isn’t the grand gestures but the little ones.

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Emmel

    Yes, you always need to give Austen more than one try. I did the same thing with Persuasion. Tried it in my early 20s and just couldn’t relate to it. Then I picked it up again about 10 years later, and it made sense to me!

    • Shana Galen

      Agreed! I always like to try books more than once.

  • Patricia Schmitt

    I like that you look for romance in places like Starbucks. Maybe I need to do that!

    • Shana Galen

      If you go to the same one often enough, you’ll see the same people and meet them.

  • M Kuxhaus

    I want to name a girl Jane, after Jane Austen.

    • Shana Galen

      Love that!

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you for your post. I know what you mean about love and romance being around you when you people watch. I have been blessed to see it, too.

    • Shana Galen

      Fun to catch those little gestures.


    Love the cover of your book. The title really grabs me to read it. Also thank you for sharing about your grandmother. I put this on my read list. thank you

    • Shana Galen

      Thank you, Peggy.

  • Tina Rucci

    Thanks for your post. I was so glad to read that your husband calls you when he’s leaving work. My hubby sends a text that says “leaving” and I’ve sometimes wondered if he’s the only one who does it. 🙂

    • Shana Galen

      Maybe ours are the only 2 🙂

  • Glenda

    I may be in the minority, but in real life I honestly believe that the small things are more romantic than big sweeping gestures. The little things can and usually do happen every day and show that he or she is thinking about you all the time and cares about your everyday comforts. Thanks for a great post Shana! 😀

    • Shana Galen

      Thank you for stopping by, Glenda.

  • Anne Hoile

    It’s the little things in a marriage that mean the most–going to the grocery store with you or for you if you have other errands, putting gas in the car, helping in the kitchen at dinnertime, etc. I only hope the things I do for him is just as loving.

    • Shana Galen

      So true, Anne. I always appreciate help.

  • Danny

    I think it are the little gestures that are important

    • Shana Galen

      Agreed. Thanks, Danny.

  • Jen C

    Awww. I want to be that old couple at Starbucks!

    • Shana Galen

      They’re so sweet. Saw them today.

  • rebecca moe

    What a great post–thanks for writing it!

  • Kim

    Have you been back to Europe since you visited your friend?

    • Shana Galen

      No. I’d been once before but not since.

  • Ann Mettert

    I love your books. 😉

    • Shana Galen

      Thank you!

  • Stephanie M.

    I loved reading your article. The little things my husband does are very important to me. I also do little things for him. Even something as simple as a text from him can make my day better. 🙂

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks, Stephanie.

  • Sandy Xiong

    Since I’m a single lady here, I’m hoping that my future husband is like your husband. I hope he can include me in his life everyday and just makes me feel love every day

    • Shana Galen

      I hope so too, Sandy.

  • Linnea Bassin

    I myself was a high school English and Social Studies teacher. I have left after 9 years to a different career. I miss my kids but I am so glad to be read of everything else there. I think it is great you are writing now. I love historical romance among many others.

    • Shana Galen

      I’m so lucky to be able to have this career.

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful thought.

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks for taking the time to read it, Sheila.

  • Jo Anne

    You’re absolutely right, Shana. It’s the little things. My brother always kisses my sis-in-law coming in or leaving, a peck, but that’s not when I see their romance. I see their romance when they share a story, or a conversation, and look at each other with such friendship, such caring, such enjoyment. That’s when I see their love.

    • Shana Galen

      That’s so sweet, Jo Anne. I think it’s wonderful you notice that.

  • Gretchen Miller

    So true

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks for stopping by, Gretchen.

  • mariannewestrich

    It is the little things … and I try to remember that and give back to him, too! 😎

    • Shana Galen

      Yes! It’s important that it be a two-way street.

  • LSUReader

    What a sweet post. Thanks, Shana. I look forward to reading your newest.

    • Shana Galen

      Thanks, LSUReader.

  • Diane Sallans

    I’ll have to put those debut authors on my TBR list.

    • Shana Galen

      Do, Diane! You won’t be disappointed.

  • Amy-Cook

    Love this post…so true about real life husbands vs book hero…glad I have both in my life. 🙂

    • Shana Galen

      Me, too! Great way to look at it.

  • Chelsea B.

    Pride and Prejudice!!!! Yes. Just yes. 😉

    • Shana Galen

      I think I’ve found a fellow lover of P&P.

      • Chelsea B.

        *Straightens her I Heart Darcy T-Shirt* Who, me? Noooooooooooo… 😉

  • Erin F

    lol… you hit the bullseye. We want our sig others in real life to be like the romance we read but that’s impractical. So it’s nice to be able to escape to a “hero” once in a while 🙂

    • Shana Galen

      And that’s what it is. An escape for fun. We know it’s not real life, and that’s okay!

  • Adaffern

    P&P started me reading regency romance too.

  • librarypat

    I am so glad you touched on the issue of romance and love. Yes, romance novels skip over the boring parts of every day life. We certainly don’t need to read about that. We are reading to get away from it. More importantly, you mentioned all the little things that on their own are not great romantic gestures, but taken together, show the love and, yes romance, that is in the relationship. It is much easier to make a grand gesture every so often. It takes much more to show someone in little ways every day just how much we care for them.

  • Jessica Peterson

    Thanks, Shana, for including THE GENTLEMAN JEWEL THIEF in this post! So cool. And agreed on PRIDE & PREJUDICE – I’ll never forget the way I felt after reading Darcy’s sudden, and unexpected, confession.

  • Gretchen

    Yes! I read Romance so I can see the bigger picture – that love and relationships are important, and last longer than a day of laundry or cleaning up after sick kids. Seeing the bigger picture in a book helps me see the bigger picture in my own life.

  • Emily Seelye

    A good romance novel puts me and my husband in good moods

  • Anne

    Thank you for your essay. I do believe my husband is very romantic just because of the little things he does. He brings me a cup of coffee in bed on Saturday mornings and it is just a sweet loving gesture. I have always believed its the little things that keep a relationship together.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your grandparents’ story. It’s so very sweet. I think romance happens every day, while it’s true that we would never have that perfect romance stories, there are many small things that are romantic in every day life

  • Judy Goodnight

    Lots of days it’s thinking about romance stories that get me through the humdrum have-tos of life. And sweet story about your grandparents.