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.

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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.

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