Sarah MacLean – Sharing the Love

It’s Read-A-Romance Month.


Visit every day in August to see what 93+ of your favorite authors have to say about The Joy of Romance. Do you love Romance? Let’s celebrate. xo   |   RARM 2015 Calendar    |    RARM on Facebook

Quick note: Back in the spring when I started asking authors if they’d like to take part in RARM, there were a few who said yes, but knew there was a chance they wouldn’t be able to. Jill Shalvis was one of those, and she let me know a good while ago she wouldn’t be able to participate. I’ve been so busy I wasn’t sure what to do about it, but Sarah MacLean graciously stepped in to write a post. (THANK YOU SARAH!) Enjoy. xo

The Joy of the Ones Who Get It

Two decades ago, 16-year-old me scribbled on some silly piece of paper for some long-forgotten high school career-day project that my dream job was “romance novelist.” I rogue not takenthink it is possible that I was half rolling my eyes at the dumb project–I was a senior in high school and I was obstinate as hell and I didn’t want to be told where to apply to college or what to major in when I got there. So romance novelist it was. No one would tell me what to do to get that job. That job wasn’t realistic.

It still isn’t, is it?

Romance novelist. What a weird job. When I tell people what I do, I often get the raised eyebrow. The wide eyes. The shocked “Really?”

But sometimes, I get a giant grin, and that “Really?” is more like “REALLY?!” And I know I’ve found someone who gets it. I’ve found a reader of romance, who cut her teeth (because it’s usually a her) on McNaught and Deveraux and Garwood and Phillips. And I know that the conversation won’t include the phrases “you mean like Fabio?” or “Like, smut novels?” And I won’t have to smile and laugh and hope that it ends quickly. Instead, I’ll be able to talk about love stories. I’ll be able to tell them about the new Lisa Kleypas (it’s great) and ask them if they’ve read Victoria Dahl or Louisa Edwards or Alisha Rai (they should) and compare favorite Sophie Jordan novels (Sins of a Wicked Duke, forever and always) and pull out my phone to order their favorite books there, on the spot.10428803

I’ll be able to talk about this world that we love, filled with larger-than-life heroes and even-larger-than-that heroines, and crazy plots and teary black moments and sigh-worthy endings. Because that’s what happens when romance lovers get together. There’s an overflowing sense of excitement at finding a kindred spirit. Someone who knows exactly why you love reading so very much.

I don’t know really why I write. Certainly not because it comes easy, the words flowing like warm honey the way they do for some. And not because it’s fun, as there are few things lonelier than staring at a blank page on a warm summer day, when you’d much rather go to the park or the movies or anything but this. And it’s not because I “can’t imagine doing anything else,” as so many others say. I can easily imagine doing other things.

Sure, there are days when it does come easy. When the words do flood the page and the story arcs and the characters motivate and the plot thickens and the love—because there is always love—blossoms. But truthfully…it’s not because of those days, either.

I write romance for the same reason I read romance–because every once in a while, I meet a person who says “Really?!” instead of “Really?” And because, in those moments, I get to experience the most valuable things in our world. Things like community and excitement and friendship and joy.

Sarah recommends:

Lisa Kleypas for making me wish I could write paintings like she does (see Lisa’s post)

Victoria Dahl for writing contemporaries that feel both sexy and important

Louisa Edwards/Lily Everett for her smart, romantic big city chef romances and her smart, romantic small town romances

Alisha Rai for writing erotic romance better than anyone out there

Sophie Jordan for the bathtub scene in Sins of a Wicked Duke (and everything else she writes)

Questions for the Author:

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

I love big, outrageous movies. I love them with a giant tub of popcorn that I will never finish and a diet coke as big as my head. I love them in big, stadium-seats inside black as midnight movie theaters. And if there are explosions and outrageous kissing in ridiculous places, all the better. I adore them. And I have absolutely no problem suspending all disbelief and giving myself up to the joy of the adventure. There are a lot of these movies that make me tremendously joyful. Ocean’s 11. Casino Royale. Iron Man. Sherlock Holmes. I know, I know…these aren’t the best movies in the world, necessarily…but I love love love them. The movies bring me joy. A lot of it.

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

London. I try to get there once a year, so I can wander through the old streets and eat Cornish pasties and sit on the bank of the Serpentine. It’s my very favorite place in the world, without question.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

Lawnmowers in my parents’ neighborhood on Sunday mornings. It’s the sound of summer and, more importantly, summer vacation.

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 had the very good fortune to recently read a debut historical romance that is coming in Spring of 2016 — How the Duke was Won by Lenora Bell. It brought me joy because it reminded me of those big old romances from when I was a kid–far reaching and romantic, emotional and smart, with a brilliant heroine and a swoon-worthy hero. It should be on everyone’s to read list for March 2016.

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)

Oh, Chris Hemsworth for the muscles, Chris Pratt for the silliness, Chris Rock for the brilliance and Christopher Plummer for 8-year-old me who dreamed of being a problem like Maria.

Sarah is generously giving away A Rogue By Any Other Name and One Good Earl Deserves a Lover to one lucky US winner (apologies to international friends). To enter, leave a comment on this post or on the Facebook page post (you can find that here). Comments must be left by 11:59 pm CST on Sept.5. 

Sarah MacLean photoNew York Times & USA Today bestselling author Sarah MacLean wrote her first romance novel on a dare and never looked back. She is the author of historical romances and a monthly romance review column at The Washington Post, and the recipient of back-to-back RITA Awards for Best Historical Romance. Sarah regularly speaks about the romance genre, its history and its intersection with feminism in both academic and consumer settings. A lifelong romance reader, she is the creator and moderator of the 2500 member strong Old School Romance Bookclub on Facebook. Sarah lives in New York City.

Learn more at or visit her on Facebook.

Buy Sarah’s books:

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*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to an affiliate portal that supports Read-A-Romance Month. Thanks so much for your help!

  • alisha woods

    chris pine all the way. fell for him in Princess Diaries 2

  • catslady

    I’ve enjoyed your books and love these types of stories.

  • Dorothy Salvagin

    I love your books, all of them. Thanks, from a devoted fan.

    • sarah maclean

      Thanks for reading, Dorothy!

  • mariannewestrich

    So glad to share my addiction to the outrageous movies with someone! 😎

    • sarah maclean

      I’m thrilled I’m not alone, Marianne!

  • Emmel

    One of our greatest joys is finding and other romance readers and commiserating with them!

  • jcp smith

    I need to read your books sitting on my TBR pile…

  • Carol Luciano

    Loved reading your post. I’ve also enjoy your books. Your recommendations are some of my favorite Authors..Alisha is a new Author but I’ll have to check her out. Thank you for the giveaway.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  • Kim

    Unfortunately, most of the snarky comments about romance novels is usually made by someone who never read one.

  • Debbie Fuller

    Great post! Thank you for honesty, your book recommendations and your time.

  • Karen Mikusak

    I enjoyed your interview and would love to win!

  • Michele H.

    Finding people who “get” why I read romance is why I went to the RWA Literacy signing in NYC this summer. It is challenging and frustrating when most of the people who are readers in my friend/colleague circle say, “Oh, you read those?”. It is one of the reasons why online communities and podcasts have been such a blessing to genre readers, because we can congregate with our people regardless of distance.

    • sarah maclean

      So happy you got a chance to go to the Lit Signing, Michele…honestly, those RWA events are the best way to remind yourself that you’re not alone! Thanks for reading!

  • Bernadette Long

    I have really enjoyed reading your post!

  • Thanks for your post so filled with joy and happiness and satisfaction, that you bring as a reader and as an author!

  • Molly

    I love your books can’t wait for the next one

  • Kareni

    If we ever meet, you can be sure that I’d be one saying REALLY?! as I’ve enjoyed reading many of your books. Thanks for an enjoyable post; the only problem is, now I want to eat Cornish pasties.

  • Dawn Anderson

    I love the names of your books! Very clever.

  • Sandy Xiong

    I read romance because I know I am a failure at writing. I seem to do more better at writing essays for classes than writing something for fun.

    • sarah maclean

      Thanks for reading, Sandy!

  • Tai Smith

    I have no one who shares my love and passion for romance directly in my life and understands the joy and hope it offers. I am so glad many others do. And I am thankful for Sarah MacLean and all the many others who bravely weave stories that inspire and encourage! You are my heroes!
    *I’m a Chris Pine and Christopher Plummer fan(who can resist those eyes!!)

  • LSUReader

    Love all your books Sarah! Thanks for visiting today.

  • Sheryl N

    Love Sarah’s books! Can’t wait for the new series to come out. I am going to check out those recommended authors

  • Brenda E

    Great post, I’ll be looking for your books!

  • Elizabeth ‘Liza’ Schroedle

    I enjoy your books. Old movies are my favorites like The Quiet Man, The Horse Soldiers, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Operation Petticoat.

  • Quinn Fforde

    I am so thankful that social media has made it easier for the romance readers to talk. I don’t know any IRL, but I know tons online.

  • Diane Sallans

    I agree about London, not so much the lawnmowers.

  • Martha B

    Your books are such delightful reads! I discovered you with your debut novel and have read all your books since then. Unfortunately, I cannot keep myself from reading them in a couple days. To me, they are like Ben & Jerry’s, (I devour them).

    • sarah maclean

      New one coming on 12/29, Martha! I wish I could write faster for you!

      • Martha B

        That is NO problem, Sarah. Your books are worth the wait! 🙂
        BTW, my calendar was already posted with the release date of your next book.

  • Cindy A

    I’ve just started reading your books! I am loving them! More is always better!

  • dholcomb1

    I think you are a fabulous writer–so glad to have met you a few years ago!


    • sarah maclean

      Thank you, Denise!

  • Anna

    Those are some of my favorite movies, and I also love the movie experience.

    Thanks for writing!! 🙂

  • Range Girl

    Please don’t enter me; I already have both books. I just wanted to have a fangirl moment and gush about you. I’m new to romance and just discovered you in the last year, so I’ve only read the one series, but it is GENIUS. You’d never know the words don’t flow like honey. Even your “Chris” paragraph above is wonderful. Thank you for becoming a romance writer.

    BTW, I used to be one of those eye-rollers. What a fool I was. I wish I’d give the romance genre a try in high school.


    • sarah maclean

      You’re so kind, Miranda. Thank you so much for your comment…and for reading. I hope the rest of my books are as entertaining as the ones you’ve read!

  • Lisa Hutson

    I read romance because of the happiness and surprises they have. And a happy ending. Always the happy ending.

  • Erin F

    I love Ms. Maclean’s books! When I got back into reading historical romance, she was one of the first authors I picked up and I fell back in love 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    • sarah maclean

      Thanks for reading, Erin!

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    And this my dear Sarah is the same reason why I love reading and sharing the romance genre, REALLY! 😀 Community, excitement, friendships and joy♡ Smiles, Lorelei

  • Amy Livesay Hart

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Texas Book Lover

    As a reader of romance who get the same response…YES, YES, YES!!!!

  • LaurieL

    So glad you wrote “romance novelist” down on that piece of paper on career day!

  • Jerry Marlatt Pierson

    If you told me what you did I would said that was wonderful and I would have been the happiest person on earth to meet you. My husband always hated my reading. I kept telling him to try it before you keep condemning reading. He started reading Bathroom Readers, Train Books and Real Ghost Stories. One day he chose to read a book by Kat Martin with the word Ghost in it. It was a Romance book that had a ghost theme and not one of his but he loved it and now that is all he reads is romance books. Thank you for your giveaway and a chance to win.

    • sarah maclean

      I love this story, Jerry! Thank you for making a romance reader of him!

  • PhyllisC

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thanks for participating. I love your stories.

  • Alyn Yang

    I’m so happy that you chose to be a romance novelist! I love your books!

  • Ren

    Love your books. Thanks for sharing

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I am one of the REALLY?! people with the giant grin! Thank you for the post!

  • Sue G.

    Fun write up! Love how you knew what you wanted to be at 18! Great choice in movies too!

  • Ellen

    Hi Sarah! I would be one of those “Really!!!” people. Then, I’d probably be so nervous that I’d speak gibberish. So, thanks for writing romance. I truly enjoy them.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I really wish people would stop saying that romance books are smut or whatever. I love reading historical romance because they give me a chance to revisit history, since so many include real history within the pages. I love contemporary because many times I can relate. Thank you for sharing your essay.

  • Violet Bick

    I’m so impressed with your 16-year-old self and her career choice (half eye-roll and all)!

  • Glenda

    Somewhere Chris Evans and Chris Pine are crying in their drinks for not being included in your list. ;-D

  • Gretchen Miller


  • Courtney Cogswell

    Love your books and I’ve read most of your recommended authors as well–looks like I’ll be adding Alisha Rai to the list next. I love to find fellow romance readers and whenever I do, it becomes the most excited conversation with names and book titles flying out of our mouths. I just experienced this the other day with a coworker and we have since started yet another Facebook group for reading suggestions, kindle deals, etc. And now, I just joined your Facebook group as well! I cannot express how much I love the people in the world of romance! Thank you for being a big part of it 🙂

  • Zoya

    Love Sarah MacLean books!

  • Joanna Moreno

    You hit a note of how I feel when people close to me realizes that besides “mainstream” literature I also read romance. It’s that “really?!” look that makes you want to slap them upside the head and tell them not to knock them until they try them. How can people undermine something they haven’t even tried is beyond me. Thanks for writing books I can proudly say I read and enjoy!

  • Amanda Vincent

    Love, LOVE everything you write!

  • Pamby50

    Thank you for stepping in for Jill Shalvis. It is awesome they way the romance community steps up to help each other out. I look forward to see what fabulous dresses you come up with for your covers as much as your books.

  • Rose K

    I so rarely get to have one of those great romance fan moments in real life. But when they happen, there is no greater feeling. That’s why I have come to love the vibrant, supportive, and kick ass romance community on social media 🙂

  • Tanya Guthrie

    I absolutely without a doubt love your work! I found you not so long ago and I’ve been reading you as much as I can! It’s like nothing else can reach me, I’m completely entranced by all of them I’ve read so far.

  • Carin Shaughnessy

    I love movies, too. All kinds, but the most fun is discovering old movies that are out of this world. One of my favorite discoveries is The Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly, Van Heflin, Gig Young, Lana Turner, oh the list goes on. Soooo good.

  • kirsten west

    Love your books! Thanks for the Sophie Jordan recommendation.

  • Claire Gilless

    I have all your books except The Season … but would love signed copies of any!
    Thoroughly enjoyable reading and put you on my buy right away list!

  • Diane Sallans

    I’ve really enjoyed your stories!