Penny Watson – The Gifts of 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!


The Sweet Fruit of Romance

My husband and I have been together since we were teenagers. Gift-giving has always been a bit confusingTaste of Heaven for us. I like to give home-made sentimental gifts. My husband likes technological gadgets and expensive over-the-top gestures.

You’d think after thirty years of togetherness, we would have figured out how to do the gift thing, but we still struggle. I will give him a family photo in a frame, and he’s disappointed it’s not a fishing rod. He’ll get me the latest iPod, and I’ll pretend to be happy. What I really wanted was a home-made card and a bouquet of my favorite garden flowers.

The year after I had a heart attack really upped the ante. That heart attack was an eye-opener in many ways. Most importantly, it showed us how much we love each other and how strong our marriage is. When my birthday rolled around—and boy, was I happy to be alive and celebrating—Carl was under a lot of pressure to purchase the perfect gift.

I expected a high-roller weekend to Vegas or something along those lines.

But that’s not what I got.

When it came time to present me with my gift, Carl sheepishly asked me to go outside.

There, sitting on the front lawn, was a pot with a stick in it.Fig

Well, technically, not a stick but a fig tree. However, the fig was small and scraggly and pretty pathetic-looking.

It was the most beautiful thing in the world!

Carl knew I always wanted to grow my own fruit—even though we’re stuck in the middle of suburban Boston.

And so he got me a fig tree in a pot, with promises of luscious fruit and dense foliage and years to grow and prosper.

I cried like a baby. It’s my favorite gift of all time. Still is, to this day. It was the perfect symbolic gesture to show how much he loves me and knows me and had every intention of spending the future together.

So, what happened to the fig tree?

Every year, it gets exactly ONE fruit. One. My neighbor has a fig bursting with fruits. He offers them to me each summer. But I’m still proud of my scraggly little tree. That one little fig—dangling from the branch, holding on for dear life and determined to make it—is the sweetest fruit of all.

Penny recommends: 

Julia Barrett   –  (at Amazon) –  is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is beautiful and emotional and very romantic. BEAUTY AND THE FEAST was my introduction to Julia’s work. It is set in the Napa Valley and includes very sensual and lush descriptions of food. It’s a wonderful example of sexy and romantic foodie fiction. 

Questions for the Author:

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

Most romantic thing I’ve ever seen in my life…

One day while I was walking around Newport, Rhode Island with my husband, we happened to stroll by Trinity Church at the top of Queen Anne Square. For those of you not familiar with Newport, Trinity Church is a gorgeous historic building from 1698. Just at the exact moment we walked by, the doors flew open on the little building next to the church. A bride and her entourage paraded onto the cobblestones. She was laughing with joy, her veil was blowing in the breeze, and the sunshine illuminated all of the women in their romantic gowns. They clasped gorgeous bouquets as the sun set behind them. They walked about twenty steps to the church, opened the doors, and went inside. I knew the bride was going into that church to marry the man she loved, stepping into a new life.

This entire thing happened in about a minute. That’s all. But I stood there with tears in my eyes as I watched the women disappear into the church.

When I turned to my husband and said, “Wasn’t that incredible?” he answered, “What?”

He missed the whole thing!

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

My good friend and author Bobbi Ruggiero shares my love of romantic things…fine wine, soul-crushing music, lush garden blooms, the magic of a hummingbird in the summertime.

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

Absolutely! One of my favorite places is the Newport beach near my husband’s childhood home. There is nothing more romantic than strolling along the sand, with the cliffs to one side, St. Georges cathedral at the top of the hill, Sachuest Point behind you, and hopefully a Del’s Lemonade truck waiting at the lot. The beach is surrounded by wild Rosa rugosa, and you can smell the gorgeous fragrance everywhere. Walking on that beach at sunset is pure romance.

Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?

My favorite fictional romantic couple is Derek Craven and Sara Fielding from DREAMING OF YOU by Lisa Kleypas. He’s the ultimate rough-and-tumble bad boy, and she’s a prim-and-proper author who has led a very sheltered life. The romance and chemistry between these two characters is swoon-worthy!

Tell us about your dream date. 

I had it! My husband took me out for a birthday dinner in Vermont many years ago. We were sitting outside on the porch enjoying a glass of wine. All of a sudden, a hot air balloon came floating along the Ottauquechee River. It was so unexpected and gorgeous and romantic. Loved that date! 

Penny is generously giving away a copy of A TASTE OF HEAVEN to one U.S. reader (apologies to international friends). 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 Aug 10, 2016. 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

PennyHeadshotCroppedPenny Watson is an award-winning author of quirky fiction, a beard aficionado, a lover of cocktails, and a plant geek. She lives outside of Boston with a fly-fishing obsessed husband, two spirited Filipino kids, and a wiener dog.

Learn more:     |     Facebook     |     Twitter


Buy Penny’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 and support!

  • Sue G.

    My hubby can be very creative when he tries…for our first anniversary he gave me sheets of paper (since it’s the paper anniversary) that had a story of our first year married and all the big things we did or that had happened that year. He did this every year until we had kids.

    • PennyRomance

      Sue…that is such a sweet anniversary gesture. I love it!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I’m glad you’re still around to enjoy love and life with your husband and children and to continue to write books. Derek Craven and Sara Fielding hold a special place in my heart, too. Derek picking up and keeping Sara’s glasses in his coat pocket reminds me of your husband’s gift of the fig tree. Maybe because it’s a constant reminder of his love for you.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Patty! I gave a talk last year and discussed how small gestures can have a big emotional impact…and I used the example of Derek putting Sara’s glasses in his pocket! I love that part of the story.

  • Carol Opalinski

    What a fun post!! I loved your romantic moment that your husband missed. LOL!! Sounds like mine. Love your books and I love that you’re not afraid to write about older couples finding love and experiencing that excitement of chemistry. I recommend Apples Should Be Red to everyone.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Carol! Thank you so much for your friendship and support. I’m thrilled you like my older characters!


    I thank you for sharing – when someone writes about real romance it is simply lovely.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Annette! Sometimes real-life romance is just as good as fiction. :^)

    • Hi Annette ~

      You’re you’re Penny’s winner!. Please send me your email address so I can get it to the author and she can get you the prize. Thanks so much!

      (You can reply with it here or send me a message at If you send in an email please put “Penny Watson winner” in the title. Thanks so much! ~ Bobbi)

  • Heather Roach

    What a sweet story! Thank you for sharing.

    • PennyRomance

      Thank you, Heather. Thanks for reading!

  • Meghan Stith

    I agree with you! I absolutely adore Lisa Kleypas and I also love that book! She always writes such interesting, rounded characters that draw you in. I also enjoy that they are always flawed. Nothing bums a romance reader out more than a character that’s too perfect to relate to.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Meghan! I also adore Lisa Kleypas. I love her emotional and sensual stories. They are the best of romance!

  • Piper Huguley

    What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    • PennyRomance

      Thanks, Piper!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    A heart attack is so unexpected, especially when you are so young! I can see how that would put things in perspective & make you appreciate little things more. Hope you are feeling well. And I agree with you about Derek & Sara! Swoon!

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Sharlene! I re-read Derek and Sara’s story every year. It’s a gem!

  • Anna

    Aww, what a lovely gift!! Thanks for sharing ! 🙂

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Anna! Thanks for reading. :^)

  • Pamby50

    I teared up reading your story. I hope you are doing well. I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease and spent months in rehab learning to walk and the other little things we take for granted. The vow is “in sickness and in health”. I never thought I would be celebrating 35 yrs with him next month.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Pam. Thank you. I hope you are feeling better. 35 years is amazing!

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    I loved your post and understood the feelings you had with your heart attack. I was 44 when I had my heart attack. I was a wife, mother of four (ages 15, 12, 9, 6 at the time), and a high school teacher. My family did a lot for me and made me promise to not bring home school work or obsess over my misbehaving, challenging students. I looked at life differently and knew I had to make some changes because I was determined to be around to see my babies graduate from high school, college, get married, and have babies. They have all graduated high school and college. My younger daughter (child #3) married four years ago and oldest is getting married in October. Child #2 is also involved in a serious relationship. Anyway, after being together for 36 years, married 34, we still find ways to be romantic and show our love to each other. I wish you good health and look forward to reading your books.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Eileen! I was also 44 when I had my heart attack! It certainly makes you value every day and work on decreasing stress in your life. I’m so glad you had a good recovery. ***HUGS***

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for sharing such a sweet story. Your husband finally spoke to you in your love language.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Debbie! Yes, he did. He’s a good guy!

  • Linda Henderson

    It’s funny how some people think the big romantic gesture is necessary when a lot of the time some small thing is just as good. I’m a postcard collector, especially lighthouse ones, and last year for my birthday my sister got me a 3D looking lighthouse postcard. It’s about a 11 x 14 size and it’s gorgeous. That meant more to me than anything else she could have given me. I’ve never seen a lighthouse in person, but I keep hoping. My daughter and her family just got back early this morning from a week in Florida and I’m hoping they found me some cards while they were there. I used to have a pretty big collection but unfortunately lost a lot of them in the tornado here in 2011. Since I live in SW Missouri there are no lighthouses close to me. That’s on my bucket list, see a lighthouse.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Linda! I love looking at the vintage postcards in my favorite antique mall. That’s a great thing to collect.

  • Glenda

    I love your story about the fig tree! What might seem insignificant to one person, holds deepeating for another! Who knows maybe one year you’ll get a lot of figs. 🙂

    • PennyRomance

      Ha! That would be great. I’m still waiting for that.

  • rebecca moe

    OMG, the fig tree. What a fantastic story! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Rebecca! Thanks for reading.

  • Ellen

    A fig tree, what a wonderful gift. My husband’s grandfather used to grow figs in his backyard. My husband has many fond memories of his grandfather and the fig tree. I may have to borrow your husband’s gift idea….thanks for sharing.

    • PennyRomance

      Hi Ellen! It’s a great gift idea. Thanks for reading!

  • Mary McCoy

    I love your One-fig tree!

    • PennyRomance

      My husband also got me a raspberry bush…it’s covered with fruits right now!

  • Kareni

    I’m late to the discussion but I had to comment after reading your post. Your fig tree story made me sigh, your husband’s “What?” made me laugh, and the mention of the Del’s Lemonade truck made me drool. I went to grad school in Rhode Island and haven’t thought of Del’s Lemonade in years.

    I’ve enjoyed your books, so happy writing!

    • PennyRomance

      Thanks so much for reading. I ADORE Del’s lemonade. It’s the best!