Nancy Herkness – The Radiance of Joy

August is Read-A-Romance Month.


Be sure to visit Read-A-Romance Month every day in August to see what all 93+ authors have to say about the Joy of Romance.

Love Romance? Let’s celebrate. xo

Rediscovering the Capacity of Joy

When the nastiness of the real world dims my sense of joy, I turn to romance novels. I Herkness-TheCEOBuysIn-Finalknow that within their pages I will find characters who are struggling with their own journey toward happiness. And I will walk beside them on that journey.

Of course, the heroes and heroines of romance novels are flawed. Otherwise, they would be boring and implausible. They have made mistakes in the past and they continue to make mistakes. They have blind spots and baggage and emotional issues, just like all of us, but they are, at their foundation, decent human beings. Just human beings who have lost their capacity for joy.

What makes them special to me is that they realize they have all these flaws. These people draw on their guts and insight to look inside themselves and see what is really there. They live with the dark edges of their realities, but try to do the right thing anyway.

That’s before the hero and heroine meet.

After they encounter each other, even more riveting things happen. First, the characters have to acknowledge that love is a possibility in their lives. They have to search for the courage to open themselves up to the risk that they might get hurt, perhaps badly. I revel in the willingness of these wounded people to make themselves vulnerable again.

Sometimes they can’t allow themselves to love because they don’t feel worthy of the person they want. That pushes the characters to become better people, something the whole human race should be aiming to do.

One of the largest lessons the characters learn is to put another person’s needs ahead of their own when the situation calls for it. Even more amazingly, they discover that someone else will do the same for them. 

Ultimately, our hero and heroine discover that love cannot survive behind the barricades they have built around their hearts. Love is expansive. It makes their souls unfurl and reach for the light. It throws open closed doors. It leaves the past behind and marches boldly into the future.

There is no joy without love. As the characters uncover this truth, I am swept along on the same tide of discovery. I remember how to open my heart to another, how to make myself vulnerable, and finally, how to experience the overwhelming radiance of joy.

That is the power of romance.

Nancy recommends:

I just devoured Joanna Shupe’s ( ) three new historical romances, The Courtesan Duchess, The Harlot Countess, and The Lady Hellion. It’s hard to believe she’s a debut author because her writing is so smooth and assured. The characters leap off the page and compel you to keep speeding onward to the end. Make sure you have plenty of time allocated for reading before you start because you won’t want to put these books down. (Sonali – 8/1 – also recommended Joanna. If you didn’t read Joanna’s post yesterday, read it now, here.)

Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 

The saying is that we do not remember days, we remember moments. There is one Xmas card-leaves 001moment that stays as vivid and bright for me as though it’s preserved in a perfect drop of crystal. My daughter is about eight and my son is six. It’s an autumn morning where the sky is so blue it hurts your eyes, and the air is so crisp it scours your lungs. We are escorting my daughter to the street corner where she can meet her friends to walk the rest of the way to school. My son’s little hand is warm in mine. In my other hand I hold he leash of our golden retriever Max (sadly, no longer with us), the world’s best dog. My daughter (now attending veterinary school) is petting Max as she strolls. We are chatting away about nothing and everything. I keep that memory wrapped in my mind like the most fragile china to take out when I’m feeling blue. And it always makes me smile again.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

My brick patio. I bask in the brilliant sunlight, admiring whatever is blooming in my Patioflower beds. My golden retriever, Brodie, rolls around in the emerald green grass, while Rocky the Yorkie weaves in and out of the hostas, sniffing and yapping. I remember my now-grown children leaping through sprinklers, kicking around soccer balls, and catching fireflies in this yard. Joy seeps into my bones.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

A horse whinnying. It takes me back to my childhood and my dapple-gray pony Papoose.Papoose cropped He was my best friend and constant companion from third grade to ninth grade. I told him my troubles and he eased the burden of them. (Papoose is the original model for my Whisper Horse novels.) One evening, he walked up three steps and into our kitchen because he was lonely and afraid of a thunderstorm. My mother wasn’t pleased but I wanted him to stay. (I got overruled.) When I sat in his field, he would lie down and put his head in my lap. His trust and affection were a constant in my young life.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

I have never forgotten the epilogue to Judith McNaught’s Almost Heaven. I fell in love with the main characters Elizabeth Cameron and Ian Thornton and was distraught when I came to the last sentence of the last chapter of the book. When I turned the page to find an epilogue, my joy was boundless. I dove into the scene that took place several years later and got teary-eyed at the beautiful, heart-tugging interactions between the characters I adored and the children they now had. I just re-read it in order to write this and it made me smile and cry all over again.

When I began to write novels myself, I remembered this marvelous gift of an epilogue and resolved to always include one in all of my stories. Adding those glimpses of the future of my characters is as much fun for me as a writer as it was for me as reader.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

I have to go for Chris Pine because he plays my favorite character ever: Captain James Tiberius Kirk, who saved the universe too many times to count. Chris Hemsworth is a close second because I would cast him as the lead in a movie of my second Wager of Hearts book The Quarterback Antes Up.

Nancy’s giveaway: Three lucky readers will win an autographed copy of The CEO Buys In, Book 1 of Nancy’s Wager of Hearts novels, a sexy, sophisticated new series about three billionaires and one high-risk venture: love. (U.S. only, apologies to international readers.)

Herkness green-head shot squareNancy Herkness is the author of the award-winning Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels.  She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. Her new series, Wager of Hearts, follows the romantic adventures of three very wealthy men who make a life-changing bet. 

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc. She has received many honors for her work, including the Golden Leaf Award, the Maggie Award in Contemporary Romance, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.  She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English literature and creative writing.

A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband, two mismatched dogs, and an elderly cat. 

For more information about Nancy and her books, visit and sign up for her New Book Alert. You can also find Nancy on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Buy  Nancy’s books:

availableon-amazon  availableon-nook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Shawna

    Actually just saw this book on Goodreads and thought, that one sounds good 🙂 Thanks for giving us all a chance to win it! I am also a great fan of the epilogue!

    • Shawn, I’m delighted to hear that THE CEO BUYS IN appealed to you on Goodreads! Hope you’ll get a chance to read it and let me know what you thought.

  • mariannewestrich

    Love a good epilogue. One of my favorites is in Lover Enshrined by JR Ward. It brings tears every time!

    • I know, Marianne! You just need to spend a little more time with the characters you’ve grown to know and love. All my books have epilogues because of Judith McNaught.

  • Diana Michelle Tidlund

    have yet to read your work but love finding new authors so look forward to reading your books

    • I hope you enjoy my work, Diana. Thank you for stopping by RARM to visit with me.

  • Bette Hansen

    I really enjoy your books! Nathan and Chloe were wonderful together!

    • Thank you so much, Bette! I just love hearing that! I’m so glad you stopped by RARM to let me know. I think Chloe is one of my favorite heroines (although I’m not supposed to play favorites).

  • Erin F

    sounds awesome 🙂 I’d have to go with Chris Pratt. He’s cute and self deprecating and relateable. Thanks for sharing!

    • Erin F, the Chris question was tough because I like all of them. But Captain Kirk is my ultimate hero. 🙂

  • catslady

    I’ve not read you as yet but it sounds like a great story.

    • Thanks, catslady! Hope you’ll pick it up and let me know what you think.

  • Lynn Brooks

    I’m a WV too, now in MD 🙂 Great to be introduced to your work!

    • Hey there, fellow mountaineer! Nice to meet you here at RARM! I hope you’ll visit my website where you can find out more about my West Virginia set Whisper Horse novels. I loved going back to the mountains in my imagination and you might too!

  • Jennifer C

    I loved your sheer joy moment with your kids and dog; I could completely picture that by your description. Also loved reading about your horse, Papoose, and that you used his image on some covers. We had a horse growing up, Smokey Twilight. Your post helped bring back many memories with him! 🙂

    • Jennifer C., what a lovely name your horse had! I’m glad I could remind you of your happy times with him. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Christyna

    Indeed, there is power in romance. Thank goodness for that and for writers such as yourself who want to promote it! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Awww, thanks so much, Christyna! Thank goodness for wonderful readers like you too!

  • Aleen D

    Sounds like a good read! Your patio looks beautiful! Gardens make me feel peaceful and I’m glad to know yours brings you such joy 🙂

    • Aleen, there’s something about plants that soothes you, isn’t there? They’re quiet and patient and steady. Thanks for joining the fun at RARM.

  • jcp smith

    now I have to read Almost Heaven

  • Beth K. Vogt

    “Ultimately, our hero and heroine discover that love cannot survive behind the barricades they have built around their hearts. Love is expansive.” Beautifully said, Nancy. And I would have to agree: I love Chris Pine as today’s version of Captain Kirk too!

    • Thanks so much, Beth. I’m glad you felt I expressed it well. Sometimes it’s hard to find words for those powerful emotions. Yup, Chris Pine is mighty fine. 🙂

  • Texas Book Lover

    The moment with your kids and dogs sounds really special. Sometimes I wish my kids were still little.

    • I know. I miss my children a lot. They’re both grown up and off to their own lives now. It’s great when they come home though, isn’t it?

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I haven’t read any of your books but I will be doing it now.

    • Thanks so much for taking a chance on a new-to-you author, Melissa! Hope you enjoy my writing.

  • Karen Mikusak

    It sounds like a great book. Would love to win!

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for taking the time to post here. Enjoy your day.

  • Cindy A

    Chris Pine is yummy!

  • Dorothy Salvagin

    I’m a Capt. Kirk fan too. Chris Pine is the best one.

  • carolaw41

    I love going to the shore and listening to the waves. My favorite book is FOR THE ROSES by Julie Garwood. My favotite Chris is Chris Hemsworth.

    • I love the sound of water too, Carola. It’s so soothing. You won’t hear me complain about Chris Hemsworth either. 🙂

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I love that children and pets play into your favorite memories! Time goes so quickly & life is so busy that sometimes I forget to live in the moment, especially with my family.

    • It’s hard to remember to savor moments when you’re in the thick of daily life, Sharlene. Maybe that’s why the ones I do remember are so clear. If I’ve helped you find those moment, I”m a happy person.

  • Kathryn Trask

    Hmm how come I have missed your name on my romance books. I have just put the Ceo Buys In to my want to read list. Ha! I fib. I just went over to GR to check up on your other books and I find I did hear of you and got to read Take Me Home first! Sounds great. You won’t go out of my awareness again.

    • Oh, I’m delighted to hear that, Kathryn. I hope I won’t slip out of your awareness again either. LOL! I want to hold onto my wonderful readers. You can sign up for my New Book Alert here: . Then you’ll never forget me again. 🙂

  • Michele Hayes

    I love finding authors that are new to me. Thank you for the

  • Kai W.

    There are moments when I do wish life would be simple. Certain sounds and situations with my nephews reminds of those times.

    • I’m not sure life is ever simple, Kai. I guess that’s why we hold on to the shining moments when it seems to be pure and wonderful. So glad you joined the party here at RARM.

  • Melisa Safchinsky

    Can’t wait to read your book!

    • I’m so happy to hear you are looking forward to it, Melisa! Many thanks!

  • Marcy Shuler

    I love your new cover. And your recommended author is on my TBR list. 😉

    • Glad you like the cover, Marcy. My editor and I worked really hard on getting it right. Joanna Shupe’s books are fantastic. I know you’ll enjoy them.

  • Amy Livesay Hart

    Beautiful horse! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Linda Henderson

    I love your brick patio. My kids are all grown now too but I get to help with my grandkids. After the tornado here in 2011 my youngest daughter and her husband had their garage remodeled into a space for me so I get to see her three kids a lot. I also sit with my 6 year old granddaughter a few days a week but that will be changing because she is finally starting school. We didn’t start her last year because she has a trach. We got the word a few weeks ago that it can finally come out but unfortunately not until August 27th. So she will still have it for the first couple of weeks of school. It broke my heart when she found out that it wasn’t coming out before school started, she told us she just wanted to be like all the other kids. She has been so brave through all of the procedures and tests and finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So I know how it is when the kids are grown.

    • You are so lucky to be a part of your grandchildren’s lives. That’s a wonderful thing. I hope your granddaughter will be like all the other kids very soon. Poor little thing! I wish her all the luck in the world with her new school!

  • BookLady

    Loved the story about your pony Papoose! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, BookLady! He was my best buddy growing up.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    You are a new to me author but do not fear as I will be seeking out your books. I loved your memories. It’s so nice to reflect the past as our children grow. I have four adult children (31, 29, 26, & 23) who gave me lots of wonderful memories as they grew up. Okay, there were definitley some hard times too, but the good memories are what keep me going.

    • Always the good memories, Eileen! I admire you for raising four children. Two was all I could manage. LOL!

  • kirsten west

    Love the story about Papoose

    • Thanks, Kirsten! You must be a horse person. 🙂

      • kirsten west

        I adopted an off track Thoroughbred. She’s so sweet with kind eyes.

        • That is so cool! She sounds a lot like Willow in my first Whisper Horse novel TAKE ME HOME. Willow is an abused Thoroughbred who gets rescued. How wonderful that you did that!

          • kirsten west

            I was lucky that she doesn’t have any issues! Definitely going to read Take Me Home!

          • Thank you! I hope you’ll let me know what you thought of the book when you finish it.

          • kirsten west


  • LisaVH

    Epilogues are my favorite part, too. I love getting that little glimpse at what the future held for characters that I have become invested in. I do NOT want to be left hanging. 🙂

    • That’s the way I feel, Lisa. I want to know what happens to them in the HEA. 🙂

  • Ann Mettert

    Some epilogues are good. 🙂

    • Now that’s interesting. You’ve got me intrigued: what epilogues have you read that were NOT good, Ann?

  • Deborah Favorito

    I loved reading about your favorite memories. Mine is the day we took my son, now 34, apple picking. He had on overalls with a brown jacket. He was bending over me eating off my ear of corn. He was 13 months at the time. My ex got a picture of it, but someone stole our camera, so the memory is only in my mind.

    • Sounds adorable! Thank goodness we have a camera in our minds to keep those memories. I’m so sorry your mechanical camera got stolen. That happened to me too, long ago in the days of film. I could replace the camera but the photos were gone forever. Made me so sad.

  • Sheryl N

    New author for me, enjoyed the post

  • flchen1

    What a lovely moment of joy you shared! I do think that is what we all mean when we say that time flies–that those moments are so easily forgotten unless we make the time to fix them in our minds as cherished memories! Thanks, Nancy!

    • Exactly, flchen1. We have to focus to remember those times. You can’t just let them pass by unremarked.

  • Ellen

    Chris Pine is one of my favorites, too. I enjoyed your joyful moment. Thanks for sharing.

    • Can’t resist those blue eyes and that roguish smile, right, Ellen?

  • Dawn Anderson

    Your joyful moment is the kind of memory we all look forward to having. Thank you for sharing yours.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Nancy, I loved your post. Although I have not yet read any of your books, you had me at Judith McNaught. I miss her writing and also l love a good epilogue. It is the frosting on the cake of a good novel, for all the reasons you site. Looking forward to trying your books. Finding new (to me) authors is one of the great perks of Read a Romance Month!

    • Flora, I hope you enjoy my books. Please keep in touch and let me know what you think about them. So glad you joined me here!

  • Sheila M

    I loved your story about Almost Heaven! I love epilogues to a good story as well.

    • Judith McNaught was one of my favorite authors, so I always wanted more of her characters. 🙂

  • Mary McCoy

    Thank you for sharing your joyful moment

    • You’re welcome, Mary. So nice to have you stop by here.

  • Seanna Yeager

    I love a good epilogue to wrap up a story.

    • I’m happy to hear that, Seanna. I will keep writing them.

  • Sue G.

    I know what you mean about memories. My 3 girls will all be in college this year and we start the empty nesting part. It’s funny how time flew by so quickly! LOVE the cover of your book by the way!

    • So glad you liked the cover, Sue! My editor and I worked really hard on it. I am in Iowa moving my daughter into her new place so she can start veterinary school! They grow up so fast. We have to treasure the moments we have with them, don’t we?

  • Carol Luciano

    I’m looking forward to reading your books Nancy. Your special memory was beautiful. Time passes so quickly that our memories are so precious. Thank you for the giveaway.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    • Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed my memory. Hope you enjoy my books as well!

  • Pamby50

    Our children bring us so much joy. When they were 2 & 3 they would go around raising their plastic bats saying “By The Power of She Ra” for my daughter and “He-Man” for my son. I haven’t read Judith McNaught in a while. Need to go back to read it.

    • Pamby50, I love the picture you painted of your children. Mine were into the Power Rangers, so they did all that funny pantomiming. You brought back another wonderful memory for me. Thank you!

  • Nicole Potter

    I completely agree! I LOVE the power of romance, all the different people and reasons and stories – all of them are great! And I love office romances and the paranormal genre in particular! 🙂

    • Well, mine is a unique kind of office romance. 🙂 The office gets moved to Nathan’s bedroom…for a very good reason. Of course, that puts certain thoughts into both Chloe and Nathan’s minds.

  • rebecca moe

    Thanks for the author rec, I’ll have to add her books (and yours!) to my TBR.
    Thanks for posting!

    • Rebecca, I think you’ll truly enjoy Joanna’s books. I ripped through the three of them in less than a week.