Vanessa Kelly – #LoveRomance Role Models

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!


Learning to Love ‘Me’ Through #LoveRomance

Like most people, I look for shortcuts to create space in the daily schedule—which often means resorting to theMy Fair Princess 2 Internet. So I’m not embarrassed (mostly) to admit that I used Google in researching this post, because I was drawing a TOTAL blank on what to write about #LoveRomance. Call it deadline brain, call it menopause brain, call it whatever you want, but I had…nothin’.

Ergo, Google.

And this is what I discovered: #LoveRomance is a BIG tent, beautiful topic. It includes romance novels and writing (of course), but also TV shows and movies, pictures on Instagram, manga, cartoons, people’s personal histories, and tons and tons of memes. Cool, but not really helpful for my purpose—coming up with a focus for this particular post. So, I decided to go back to a time before the Internet, when dinosaurs roamed the earth—in other words, my adolescent and teen years, when I was first becoming aware of romance.

And this is what I was surprised to discover once I thought about it: loving romance, specifically romance novels, taught me to love myself at a truly critical time in life.

Like so many teenagers, I was a geeky, socially inept, physically awkward, goofy-looking kid with frizzy hair and spectacularly thick glasses. For many reasons, I felt entirely unlovable. It didn’t help that my parents—while awesome in so many ways—were pretty disconnected from my issues. Having grown up in serious poverty during the Depression, they really couldn’t relate to the teenage angst of the 60’s and 70’s.

See You at Sunset

Vanessa Kelly also writes contemporary romance with her husband as V. K. Sykes.

Now, of course I was privileged in many ways. I had loving parents, a middle-class existence, and some great friends—mostly drama class freaks like me. But most of my pals possessed more self-confidence and did a whole lot better when it came to dating and socializing, which meant I was usually the third wheel or fifth wheel in various groupings. There were times when I was pretty lonely, and I spent way too many years pining for guys who never noticed me. Which was totally stupid, of course, a lesson I FINALLY learned from reading romance novels.

The romances I discovered in my teenage years featured heroines who were more interested in solving the mystery, finding justice, or making their way in the world rather than waiting for the hero to show up (Nancy Drew was also a great teacher in that respect). Those heroines were the governesses in Victoria Holt novels, who protected their youthful charges before finding true love with the dark and dangerous lord of the manor.  They were Mary Stewart heroines—some of them also kind of geeky, or at least loners—who faced down bad guys and saw justice done and only THEN had time for their HEAs. They were Georgette Heyer debutantes or widows, constrained by the values of the time but still determined to live life on their terms as much as possible. And if the hero couldn’t accept those terms? Well, then, he wasn’t the hero for them.

In short, they were women who had courage, didn’t need a man, and had enough confidence to do the right thing—and genuinely seemed okay with themselves. They were terrific role models, and they taught me that I had choices that didn’t involve waiting for approval from some random guy.

In other words, they taught me to be me. And that was the first lesson imparted by #LoveRomance—that you can’t really be part of us, not in any way that satisfies, until you truly learn to be me. In order to open your heart to the world, you have to learn to love and accept yourself first.

Vanessa Kelly recommends: 

Rachel Bach aka Rachel Aaron      (at Amazon)

I love Sci-Fi romance, and I’m so happy to see it making something of a comeback. My favorite read of 2015 was the Parodox Trilogy by Rachel Bach. Rachel is an INCREDIBLY talented writer. Her prose is crisp and evocative, her world-building is imaginative and thought-provoking, and she writes awesome action sequences. But it’s the depiction of character that really pulled me in. Her heroine, Devi Morris, is a mercenary who is the definition of badass. But Devi is also funny, flawed, vulnerable, courageous, kind, and emotional in a way that is thoroughly believable for the kind of life she leads. If you haven’t read these books, go do it right now!

Lena Diaz    (at Amazon)

I’m also a huge fan of romantic suspense, so I’m also recommending Lena Diaz. Lena’s books are the definition of a high concept thrill ride, and they feature strong heroines and drool-worthy heroes. If you’re looking for action, suspense, and some great romance, you must give Lena’s books a try, too.

Questions for the Author:

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

The first time I visited Rome I felt the romance of history all around me. Every part of that glorious city seems to whisper of by-gone days, a sort of poetry in every cobblestone, ancient monument, or beautiful old church. It filled me with awe and touched my soul in a way I find difficult to describe, even to this day. It seemed like the most romantic place on earth—if I could have, I would have moved there in an instant!

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

When I was in grad school, I had three very dear friends. The four of us, two straight women and two gay men, were nearly inseparable for several years—and we all had equally bad luck when it came to our love lives, which was certainly an additional bond between us! One of my friends had a beautiful family cottage on a lake in Ontario, where we used to spend many winter weekends, cooking, watching old movies, drinking vintage cocktails, and dishing about our fraught romantic adventures. We would also pack up hot toddies in thermoses and go on winter hikes, sometimes across the lake ice to various little islands—which probably wasn’t very smart, given the isolated location! Fortunately, we never came to a bad end, and those times are some of my most cherished memories. Those friendships were a constant that helped me weather many storms in my personal life.

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

As you might guess… Rome. Also, I love the sound of the wind in the trees, which always strikes me as hauntingly beautiful and soulful.

 Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?

Easy. It’s always Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson from The Amelia Peabody Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. The way Amelia and Emerson fight is truly delicious and ultimately very sexy. They’re absolutely hilarious, brilliant, larger than life characters. All my heroes and heroines have at least a wee bit of the Emerson vibe about them.

Tell us about your dream date. 

I’ll be honest—I’m not much for dates, and I think a dream date would make me nervous. What if it didn’t turn out as well as either of us expected?! For me, nothing works better than just hanging out with my hubby, having a glass or two of wine, talking over a nice dinner, and then maybe watching a good movie. Yeah, I know that’s kind of boring, but I tend to prefer the smaller, quieter moments of life. That’s when I truly find the best emotional connections.

Vanessa Kelly is generously giving away three copies of MY FAIR PRINCESS, the first book in her new Improper Princesses Series (out Aug. 30th) two to US readers 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 27, 2016.  Good luck! ***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

IMG_0078Vanessa Kelly writes bestselling Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra, and was named by Booklist as “one of the new stars of historical romance.” Her books have finaled in numerous contests, and she won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Vanessa also writes USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance with her husband under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.

Learn more:     |     Facebook     |     Twitter @VanessaKellyAutr


Buy Vanessa’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo


Buy V.K Sykes’ 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!

  • catslady

    I’m looking forward to your new series – sounds wonderful!

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thanks so much for stopping by, catslady!

  • Kathy Nye

    Amelia and Emerson together are my favorite scenes in the series. I love knowing favorite authors like the same books/characters. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Kathy, those two are SO wonderful together. I just about kill myself laughing over them. “Another shirt ruined!”

  • Patty Vasquez

    Oh, those teenage years! I don’t know how many times I read Victoria Holt’s King of the Castle. I was Dallas Lawson! I won the heart of the Comte! Then real life intruded on my dreams. For years I blamed romance novels for putting silly notions in my head about love. After a heart-breaking divorce, I met a man who not only didn’t care if I read books, he encouraged me to read romance. My hero had found me. As a mature reader of romance novels, I’ve learned to forgive and accept myself for who I am. I’ve come full circle.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Patty, I’m SO happy you found your HEA! *hugs*


    OOOOOOH I love Amelia and Emerson too. He is such a wonderful hero. And she is so oblivious to so much – but not oblivious to his charm. Thanks for this post- and Patty – congratulations on finding the perfect hero for your story.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      I adore Emerson, Annette! And Amelia is so hilariously oblivious. I love it when Ramses starts in with his POV, too.

  • Michele Hayes

    I love your books, and this sounds like a great series. Thanks for the chance to win.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thanks so much, Michele!

  • Nicole Marie

    Sounds like a great new series! Thanks for the chance to win

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, Nicole!

  • Rita Wray

    I enjoyed the interview.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, Rita!

  • clynsg

    The opposites attract theme can make for some very good stories!

    • Vanessa Kelly

      It’s always fun!

  • Melissa Williams Herrin

    Can’t wait to read the new series!!! Thank you for the giveaway.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, Melissa!

  • Ann Mettert

    I grew up with the same books you did. 🙂

    • Vanessa Kelly

      The classics, right?!

  • Molly

    I can’t wait to read this new series

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, Molly!

  • Quinn Fforde

    This is such a good point — young women deciding who they want to be by modeling heroines.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      It really helped me, Quinn.

  • Sandy Xiong

    You mentioning Georgette Heyer and I realize that I’ve never read any of her books before. I feel like I’m missing out on some of the classic romance novels. I haven’t even gotten the chance to read Pride and Prejudice and so whenever all my friends talk about it, I’m clueless. I really should read it but everyone spoil the book for me already

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Sandy, you should read whatever makes you feel happy, and don’t worry about what your friends are reading!

  • Diane Sallans

    I really enjoyed Vanessa’s last series about the male royals – looking forward to this next series.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, Diane!

  • Linda Henderson

    I read Nancy Drew too, and the Hardy Boys. I also loved Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart. On of my favorite older books is Bride Of Pendorric by Victoria Holt. I’ve had to re-buy that book a half a dozen times. I also love your V.K. Sykes books, as well as your Vanessa Kelly ones.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, Linda! Bride of Pendorric was one of my favorites, too!

  • Sue G.

    Great write up Vanessa! Loved that you had to use GOOGLE! 🙂 I hope to go to Rome some day…all that history looks just too fun!

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Rome just BREATHES history, Sue!

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    I really enjoyed your post. It made me smile and dream a little. There is so much romance in the world if people would only look around and seek out those little things that makes one’s heart beat a little faster.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Eileen, that is so very true!!

  • Tina Hairston

    Eagerly awaiting the new series! Congrats and thank you for the giveaway, Vanessa 🙂

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, my friend! xo

  • Pamby50

    I love that you Googled Love Romance! I thought you were describing me during that part of the post. Always having a crush or waiting for that guy to notice you. So glad those days are gone.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      I’m so glad they’re over too, Pamby50!

  • Lady Vampire

    Congratulations on this new release! Sounds amazing and I just loved this interview. 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win as well.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thanks so much, Lady Vampire!

  • “Loving romance, specifically romance novels, taught me to love myself at a truly critical time in life”: reading romances can truly be a way of self-improving, giving confidence and strenght. Thanks for your post!
    Marinella from Italy
    (I was in Rome the first week of august. Truly and ever magnificent!)

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Marinella, I can’t wait until my next visit to Rome!

  • Vanessa Kelly

    Thanks so much, Karen! My favorite vintage cocktail was an Old Fashioned. My friends were more the martini type.

  • May

    I love Amelia and Emerson too. 🙂 I thought that the first book in how they met was brilliant. 🙂

    I went to Rome on my honeymoon and it was wonderful. Way too hot though…


    • Vanessa Kelly

      Yes, it sure is hot in the summer, May! Such a beautiful city, though.

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for the author/book recommendations and for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, even if you had to really dig to come up with them. You did good!

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thanks so much, Debbie!

  • Gillian Hurst

    I can’t wait to read all these books! And really looking forward to My Fair Princess.

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Thank you, Gillian!! Love your name! *wink*

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Hi Vanessa! I already won your book, so don’t enter me for this one. I agree with you that a romantic date is staying at home with a glass of wine & watching a movie! Stress free, except for the choice of the movie! LOL!

    • Vanessa Kelly

      LOL! We have “discussion” over that too, Sharlene.

      • Sharlene Wegner

        I pick the romantic comedies every time! Why are we not surprised?

  • Krysten Mich

    So excited for the new improper princesses! 😉 Love all of your books (both historical & contemporary)

  • Kareni

    Thanks for an enjoyable post. I’m with you on those awkward teen years; I’m not sure I’d want to relive them! Best wishes with your independent writing as well as the co-writing with your husband.

  • Janie McGaugh

    My first romantic heroines were also penned by Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt, and Mary Stewart, with the addition of Dorothy Eden and Phyllis Whitney. It was hard to find Regency romances at that point in time, but there seemed to be a lot of Gothic romances around!

  • Mary McCoy

    Amelia and Radcliffe are a great couple! I too started out with the classic gothics.

  • Connie Saunders

    I have always been a fan of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart!

  • Patricia Raye Schuette

    From 5th grade I loved reading Nancy Drew and in fact had all of her books. As I got older I found Georgette Heyer and Marian Chesney.

  • Amanda Frank

    I read a lot of historical fiction as a teenager well besides the HP Series. My favorite Heroine and Hero are Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. There is just something to Pride & Prejudice for me. I’ve never read Georgette Heyer but I’m thinking I should.

  • i haven’t read the story of your favourite couple but you caught my interest
    best wishes from belgium

    • Ada H

      Hi Miki, this is Ada and I’m helping with the RARM drawings. You have been chosen as Vanessa Kelly’s winner. Please send a message with your email address to me at and we’ll put Vanessa in touch with you. Thanks and Congrats!

      • THANK YOU!!!!!!

  • Ellen

    Nancy Drew, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt …all favorites of mine in the 70’s. As for romantic dates, sometimes those quiet ones are the best. Thanks for sharing.

  • rebecca moe

    I felt the same way about London as you did about Rome (haven’t made it to Rome–yet!) with the romance of the history that is everywhere. So. Amazing.

    Speaking of amazing–I had the chance to read an ARC of My Fair Princess last week, and loved it! Can’t wait for more in the series 🙂

    Thank you for posting!

  • Kim

    Lake Ontario is a great place to visit.