Sheila Athens – Smart Women & Romance

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

Smart Women Read Romance

We’re smart women.Athens-TheTruthAboutLove-19270-CV-FT-v4 (1) front cover only

We’re college students and nurses and teachers and office workers and stay-at-home moms.  We’re lawyers and IT professionals and craftspeople and construction workers.  We juggle children and bills and jobs and pets and elderly parents.

And yet we read millions of books—romance novels—when we already know how they will end. 

Why would so many smart, savvy women (and men) read books that we know, by definition, will all end with a Happily Ever After?

Because we want to relive the sheer joy of falling in love again. 

We want our heartbeats to quicken when our hero rakes his eyes over us from across the room.  We want to feel the warmth of his breath on that tender spot just below our earlobes.  We want to experience that overwhelming sense of wonder the first time he tells us that he loves us.

In short, we want to feel

We don’t want to hear about the Dow Jones or the latest Congressional impasse or the details of today’s corporate scandal. Those topics numb us.  Every morning, we put on our suits of armor and head out the door to face another day in a world that is often cold, often harsh, almost always impersonal.

But when we curl up in our favorite chair and open a romance novel, we feel

We swoon over men who were invented in the hearts and minds of Robyn Carr or Kristan Higgins or Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  We get to date bikers and dukes and billionaires and cowboys.  And best of all—they all think we’re special. 

Our nerves jangle and our anger flares.  Our heart sinks when it seems we’ve lost everything, then soars when we’re taught—again—that nothing is more powerful than love. 

We feel.

Because that’s what makes us come alive. 

We’re smart women.  And we read romance. 

Sheila recommends:

Virginia Kantra  ( ) A master of storytelling and a writer who paints pictures with her words.  Her CAROLINA MAN is one of the best books I’ve read this year. (See VK’s RARM post here.)

Laura Trentham ( ) I loved her sexy debut contemporary, SLOW AND STEADY RUSH, about a small town football coach and the woman he falls in love with. 

Jamie Beck ( ) Levi, from IN THE CARDS, is one of the best heroes I’ve read this year.  I also liked her friends-to-lovers story in WORTH THE WAIT. (Read Jamie’s RARM content here.)

Questions for the Author:

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

I spent seven days in the hospital during the summer of 2013.  My illness was nothing life-threatening, but I hated being cooped up inside for all those days.  Most of all, I hated the lack of privacy.  Any hospital employee could walk in at any time and expect that I’d chat with them or let them examine me.  The nurses encouraged me to get up and walk, but only up and down the same sterile hallway filled with harsh fluorescent light and the smell of cleaning products.  Though the staff was great, I’d lost my freedom, my access to nature and my privacy.

When I finally got out of the hospital, I couldn’t wait to walk the dog.  What was normally a mundane chore became sheer joy.  I could walk where I wanted, when I wanted.  I could feel the sweet warmth of sunshine on my forearms.  I could smell the Confederate jasmine that climbs up the big tree in my front yard.  I looked forward to sleeping in my own bed, with no fear that some stranger would come in and require small talk. 

I was with my family in my own comfortable surroundings and I loved it. 

That day reinforced something I’d already known but forgot too often:  that some of the best things in life are small and commonplace.  We don’t need big events to make us feel joy.  It is ours for the taking every day of the year. 

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

I have a La-Z-Boy recliner that I got as a college graduation present many years ago.  It sits in my bedroom and has everything I need nearby: A reading lamp, a pencil holder on the floor, a nearby socket for keeping my Kindle charged and a set of earbuds hanging on a thumbtack stuck in the wall (very fancy!) This chair is my refuge.  I read there and I plot there.  My sons come talk to me there, sometimes reclining on the bed if the conversation seems like it might last a while. 

It may be a decades-old chair, but it is my favorite.  It is my sanctuary. 

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

The deep, soulful sound of a man with a Southern accent.  There’s a reason my books are set in the South!

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?

THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron.  As the name implies, it is a book for artists.  The first time I read it, I was so overjoyed.  I discovered—for the first time in my life—that there were other people out there who also see art as “a spiritual transaction,” to use Julia Cameron’s words.  When I found that book, so many thoughts and perceptions from my past began to make sense.  I discovered there were people out there whose brains work like mine. It was life-changing for me.

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)

Since Capt. Von Trapp was one of my first crushes, I have to pick him.  I heard Christopher Plummer’s interview with Scott Simon on NPR in late 2014 and he was still as charming and gentlemanly as ever. 

I’d also like to do a write-in vote so I can honor another important “Chris.”  A plaque in my study contains the following quote: 

“Promise me you’ll always remember:  You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  –Christopher Robin to Pooh”

Not a bad quote for us all to remember! (Grace Burrowes also picked Christopher Robin. You can see her post here, and enter to win an iPad.)

Sheila is generously giving away two copies of THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE to U.S readers.

Athens, Sheila author photo facing right May 2015Sheila Athens writes contemporary small town romance set in the Southern United States, where life is filled with sweet tea, warm summer breezes and men with sexy Southern accents. Her debut novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE, was a 2013 Golden Heart finalist and was published in October, 2014, by Montlake Romance.  When not writing, she seeks quiet spaces, eccentric people and colorful reading glasses.  She splits her time between her home in the Coastal South and her mountaintop cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

For more information, visit   |   Facebook   |   Twitter

Buy Sheila’s books:

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  • Bernadette Long

    It can be so rewarding to find joy in the little things in life.

  • Karen Mikusak

    I don’t think that I’ve read any of your books, but I love discovering new (to me) authors.

    • Thanks for visiting today, Karen! I love discovering new-to-me authors, too!

  • Jamie Beck

    I like that Southern accent, too. Sadly, living in CT, I rarely hear it. Love the Pooh quote, and you should’ve included a photo of the recliner! Thanks for the lovely shout-out, too!

    • You’re the second one to want a picture of the recliner. I’m adding it to my Facebook feed now.

  • Dorothy Salvagin

    I looked all over your Facebook photos for your recliner. If it is there I missed it.

    • I didn’t even think to put a picture of my recliner on my Facebook page. Good idea! I’ll do that now!

    • Pix of the recliner on Facebook now. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Sandra Owens

    Now I want a recliner! Lovely post, Sheila.

    • If I ever decide to ditch my recliner that is from the 80’s, I’ll give it to you, Sandy!

    • Thanks for helping me spread the word today about my #RARM post. xoxo

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I love southern accents too and I’m from the south.

    • I’m a Southerner, too. I grew up in the part of Missouri that is south of the Mason-Dixon line and have lived near the FL/GA border for the last 28 years.

  • Carla Neggers

    My mother is recovering from a broken hip, Sheila, and I so appreciate your comments about your hospital stay…as well as everything else. That Chris question is a tough one! 🙂

    • Thanks, Carla. I’m honored to share #RARM day with you!

  • Dawn Anderson

    Love southern accents, but they really do sound better when delivered by a deep male voice. 🙂

  • Aye Lopez

    Thanks for the chance! 🙂 I haven’t read your books yet, but is really nice to find new authors!

    • I saw your tweet today. Thanks for helping to spread the #RARM love. xoxo

  • Vanessa Kelly

    Love this book, darlin’!

    • Thanks, Vanessa. And thanks for helping to spread the news about my #RARM post today. xoxo

  • Carol Opalinski

    Awesome post!! Loved seeing you again at GRW last week and I’m looking forward to the next book.

    • Was great seeing you, too, last week. Thanks for stopping by #RARM. Be sure to check out the other posts, too. It’s been a great month of romance!

  • Carol Luciano

    Great post. You’re a. New Author Sheila but I’m looking forward to reading your books.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    • Thanks, Carol. It is always nice to connect with other romance readers!

  • Kareni

    I appreciated seeing your newly posted photo of THE CHAIR! Thanks for a fun post, and happy writing.

    • The chair is older than my children (and my oldest is in college!). Thanks for stopping by today. Be sure to check out the other #RARM posts. It’s been a great month of romance!

  • Debbie Fuller

    Your a new author to me. More great books to read and author recommendations to look forward to. Thank you for posting.

    • Thanks, Debbie. It’s great to connect with other lovers of romance.

  • Stephanie H

    What a lovely piece. Thank you! Carolina Man is one of my all-time favorite books. Virginia Kantra is a master storyteller! With thanks. #professionalromancefan

    • Great to see you here, Stephanie. I LOVED Caroline Man. And thanks for being a #professionalromancefan!

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • mariannewestrich

    What an absolutely charming post! Love meeting new-to-me authors and you mentioned some of my favs: Kristan Higgins and Robyn Carr. You’ve just moved up the TBR list!

  • Pamby50

    New author for me. Love some Robyn Carr & Kristan Higgins. Also love that you chose as a write in, Christopher Robin. What book would you recommend I start with?

  • Erin F

    That’s a fantastic post! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Linda Henderson

    After watching the news this evening I made the remark to my daughter that I couldn’t hardly stand to watch it anymore because it was so darn depressing. Ever once in a while there is a hopeful story, but not very often. Give me a good romance story anytime so I can escape from the madness of everyday life into a good story.

  • Marcy Shuler

    I love your post! I also love Christopher Robin. 😉

  • Sue G.

    Nice post. I love my romance books and my happy ending!

  • Texas Book Lover

    It is all about the feels and making me feel happy!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I really enjoyed your post!! I love reading romance books for many reasons – escape, romance, reliving my youth, and of course a HEA. I need to remember to count my blessings. I loved the quote you left by Christopher Robin. My sister loved Pooh and I think of her everything I see a Pooh post, picture, or quote. She passed away 15 months ago so I need and treasure those reminders.

  • kirsten west

    Enjoyed your take on romance and loved the quote to Pooh!

  • Jennifer C

    I loved the contrast in your sheer joy story. I have so been there. Happy to find a new to me author!

  • Kai W.

    It is so true that by reading romance, we are dating several heroes from different occupations.

  • Mary McCoy

    I so agree, smart women read romance.