Elizabeth Harmon – Adventures in Romance

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!

If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!


Loving the Adventure

I was in junior high when I discovered romance novels.Pairing Off

A summer babysitting job for a neighborhood mom came with an unexpected perk—a shelf of Harlequin romances I was free to enjoy while the kids played in the backyard. But that wasn’t all. One of my mom’s friends dropped off a box of sexy paperbacks, which I devoured like Oreo cookies. Often with Oreo cookies.

I quickly realized that the books I loved most not only featured a swoony hero, but also an unusual setting that served as an integral part of the story. England was fine, but a little too familiar—unless it was a remote English castle under siege by Norman invaders. I lost myself in stories of heroes who were Caribbean pirates, heroines who were whisked from the maid’s quarters of San Francisco mansions, circa 1906, to the Yukon gold rush.  A romance set in ancient Egypt, with a heroine who was a priestess, still lingers with me to this day, even though I’ve long since forgotten its title.

My favorite author at the time was Valerie Sherwood, who wrote big sweeping romantic epics that often centered on real historical events.  Not only did I get to enjoy a pulse-pounding love story, I learned something, in a much more enjoyable way than my freshman history class.

Romance and I drifted apart while I was in my twenties and early thirties. When the urge to read a good GiB-FINAL_Coverromance returned, I was disappointed to see that the historical epics and varied settings I’d loved had fallen out of vogue. So I turned to contemporaries, which were set in large cities and small towns, on the rodeo circuit, in the seamy underbelly of New Orleans, foreign countries, Hollywood, and much to my delight, professional sports.

Once more, I was immersed in worlds I’d never been before.  Authors such as LaVyrle Spencer, Pamela Morsi , Curtiss Ann Matlock and Susan Elizabeth Phillips used fascinating details to bring their story-worlds to life and when I began to write my own books, I wanted to capture a little of that magic.

A background as a features writer had turned me into a research geek, which came in handy. It also helped that one of my favorite romance tropes was the Fish Out of Water.  My first novel was a historical Fish out of Water romance that landed a well-born heroine in the East End slums of Victorian London, where she not only learned the ways of a pickpocket, she fell in love with one.  I followed it with a contemporary sports romance about an American figure skater heroine whose last chance at gold means moving to Moscow to pair with Russia’s sexiest male skater, who happens to be the first man she ever loved. That book launched my debut series, Red Hot Russians.

Writing the series, I’ve learned a lot about one of my favorite sports, and a country I’ve never visited.  It’s taken me to the Winter Olympics, behind the scenes on a reality TV show, and I look forward to future books and series ideas that take me into more exciting new worlds.

As a reader, I’m always looking for the next adventure. This year I’ve read books set in a prison, in the thick of a political campaign, and high-end downtown Toronto.   Up next is a carnival.  These might not be places I’d like to go in real life…definitely  not prison, though downtown Toronto sounded pretty nice.  But what better way to experience them than in the hands of a skilled author, who will not only give me a look at a new and interesting world, but also a dreamy hero…and a happy ending.


Elizabeth recommends: 

Jenny Holiday    –   jennyholiday.com    (at Amazon)

I’ve read one book in Holiday’s 49th Floor series, as well as her novella in the 1980s themed “Mix Tape” anthology and love her voice. She’s clever, humorous and gently snarky, and her well written characters and settings drew me in.

Regina Kyle    –    reginakyle.com      (at Amazon)

Kyle’s New York City-set Art of Seduction series for Harlequin Blaze, features heroines (and one hero) who make their living in the arts. The book’s first book Triple Threat stars a playwright and a Hollywood actor, determined to be taken seriously. The other books feature a tattoo artist, a fashion photographer and a ballerina.

Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.

I’m one of those crazy people who adores snow, and to watch it fall over a nighttime city, is to me, the epitome MichiganAveSnowof romance.  One night my husband and I went to the bar on the ninety-fifth floor of the John Hancock Building in Chicago, sat by a window and watched the snow coming down. It was early December, and the building across from where we sat was lit with red and green. Dense white snow, good wine sipped in a sophisticated late night bar, with the guy I love. It doesn’t get more romantic than that.

Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.

My sorority sisters, who I still consider among my closest friends.  Through college, then into our single, dating years, we discussed the men in our lives, confided our hopes and disappointments, offered Kleenex and “you’re too good for hims” during the break-ups, and toasted at each other’s weddings.

Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?

Just as I love snow, I also love lakes and two favorite romantic places I’ve visited with my husband, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and Petoskey, Michigan, are both on lakes.  I’d have to say the sound of gently lapping waves  means romance.

 Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?

Will and Elly from Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. Both are wounded and need something very basic from the other—she needs help on her farm, he needs a job and a home. In this lovely World War II-era story two broken people, the town outcast and a lonely drifter, are healed by each other’s love and find the strength to endure war and other trials on their way to Happily Ever After.

Tell us about your dream date. bridge

It’s something that’s still in the future, as my husband and I haven’t made it to Europe yet, but I imagine a beautiful night in Paris, a wonderful dinner and a walk to our hotel, admiring the sights. And if it’s snowing…so much the better!

Elizabeth Harmon is generously giving away winner’s choice of a Red Hot Russians e-book (MOBI, EPUB, PDF), one to a US reader, and one to an international reader.

 To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the *Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST August 16, 2016.  ***International friends, be sure to include your country in your comment so we know to include you in the international drawing.  Good luck!

(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.)

#LoveRomance  #HappyReading

elizabeth_harmon_5Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world.  Her debut novel, Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA Award Finalist.

An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest, where life is good, but the sports teams aren’t. She loves to hang out on her front porch, or at her favorite local establishments, enjoy good food and wine, and talk writing with anyone who will listen.

Learn more:

elizabethharmonauthor.com      |     Facebook     |     Twitter


Buy Elizabeth Harmon’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

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

  • Elizabeth Harmon

    Bobbi, thanks for hosting me today and I am delighted to be part of RARM16.

  • Sue G.

    I think you are the first person who actually admitted that they love the snow! I’m from Cleveland, OH so we get a lot. I don’t mind it when I’m in my house, with my cup of hot tea and reading a good book….but to have to be out in a snowstorm….nope!

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      Yeah, people think I’m nuts, and it’s true, driving in it’s no fun. But I still love the way it looks, and walking in it too. Thanks for commenting.

  • Carol Opalinski

    Hi Elizabeth! Unlike you, I’m not a big fan of snow but your romantic moment sounded dreamy. Great seeing you in San Diego!!

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      It was! Great seeing you in San Diego too. Are you planning to go to Orlando for RWA17? No snow there.

      • Carol Opalinski

        I’m planning on it!! See you there!

  • mariannewestrich

    Your snowy evening sounded heavenly.

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      I enjoyed every minute of it. Michigan Avenue in Chicago is one of my favorite places to go in the wintertime, especially in December when they have all the lights up. Thanks for commenting.

  • Noelle Greene

    I have fond memories of Morning Glory as well. I just only now realized I named a hero in my first book after that hero (subconsciously)? All these years later I still think about those characters and setting.

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      LaVyrle Spencer was brilliant at creating wonderful characters and vivid settings. Morning Glory is an amazing book, and I also loved her last book, “Then Came Heaven” about a widower and a novice nun. Absolutely beautiful book set in small town Minnesota in the 1950s.

  • Debbie Fuller

    i enjoyed your post. Thank you for sharing with us today.

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      Thank you Debbie, it was my pleasure.

  • Linda Henderson

    I enjoy different settings in romance books. I can’t travel a lot due to my severe RA so I do all my traveling through my romance books. Harlequin is good for that. You can be in Greece, England, Australia, Italy and just about anywhere in their books. I’m also a sucker for small town romance series stories. Love series books.

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      How about a small-town series set in far-away place? I’d definitely read that!

  • Pamby50

    I’ve been to the John Hancock Building twice but in the summer time. Simply gorgeous. I have been all over the world thanks to romance. I am still looking forward to going to Ireland. My son said it is even better looking than any photos you’ve seen.

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      Ireland is on my list too. Gorgeous scenery, quaint little towns and pubs.I love the way romance allows us to armchair travel.

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    Thank you for your post and sharing your thoughts. I grew up in Chicago but now live in Minnesota. I think we lived parallel lives. I read lots of those bodice rippers of the 70s and fell in love with historical romance novels. I was able to re-live the history I loved but in a different way. Those pirates!! Swoon!! While raising my children & teaching full time I had little to no time to read. When I was able to find some me time I returned to romance books too but enjoyed contemporary much better. You are a new to me author but I’m intrigued enough to check out your book.

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      While I don’t miss some aspects of the old-skool historicals, ie. “forced seduction,” I would love to read a sweeping story like those I loved back in the 70s. Several friends have recommended Outlander, which has been on my TBR list for years. So many books, so little time. Thanks for your interest in my books and I hope you enjoy them.

  • Piper Huguley

    Such a great idea to write a romance set in the figure skating world! I’m a fan and I love watching the sport and hearing of the real-life romances (ones that weren’t engineered by the Russians anyway). A great post!

    • Elizabeth Harmon

      Piper, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and its great to hear from another figure skating fan. The sport (especially pair skating and ice dance) are perfect for romance, which is one of the things I love about it too.

  • Molly

    Great idea

  • rebecca moe

    LOL–I go to prison five days a week, and can’t really say I recommend it as an ideal destination (I’m the prison librarian, so at least I get to leave after 8 hours). I’m not sure I’ll be reading a romance set there anytime soon…but maybe someday. In the far distant future.

    Thanks for posting–I read book 2 in your ice skating series, and loved it!