Elizabeth Essex – Our Universal Superpower

Hi friends!

Welcome to the 5th Annual Read-A-Romance Month!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate this awesome genre! Come back every day to read all three “Power of Romance” posts. Check out the full calendar of authors here. You can also find links to the last four years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook.

Happy August!

#LoveRomance #ThePowerOfRomance

Romance & Empathy

I think the greatest power of romance is its readers, because the people who make romance the best selling genre of fiction, are also the people who have the most of what that world needs more than ever—empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, and experts in social behaviors say that readers of fiction have more empathy, and thus exhibit more cooperative behaviors which benefit society than non-readers.

Scientific data from a number of different studies, from sources as varied as Kingston University London, and the journals Science, Trends in Cognitive Studies and Scientific American, have all cited links between reading fiction in general—and romance novels in particular—and the ability to exhibit empathetic behavior. With its emphasis on the personal journey of the heroine and hero, and the promise of a happily ever after, romance novels provide a safe place for readers to explore the interior lives of other people who we might not encounter in our everyday lives or our current time period. But the more we understand those other people, the more likely we are to recognize their humanity and cooperate with them in meaningful, productive ways.

The best romance novels take a universal experience or emotion, and make it unique to a particular character—the reader experiences those same emotion, those same highs and lows, and learns through the character how to act react and more importantly feel for another. For a short period of time, a reader can step into the shoes, experience and mind of another human being, and make those experiences and emotions their own. When we read HARRY POTTER, we become Harry—we learn to stand up for ourselves, and we learn that it is like to fight for what is just and right. When we read my MAD ABOUT THE MARQUESS, we become wee Quince Winthrop—we experience the illicit thrill of picking a pocket and playing Robin Hood. When we read Joanna Bourne’s “BEAUTY LIKE THE NIGHT,” we become Severine—we learn what we will sacrifice of ourselves in order to help others.

When we read any romance we learn that everyone, be they duke or a debutant, mad marquess or inveterate thief, navy seal or a librarian, is carrying a burden others cannot see. But romance readers see that burden—and that makes our readers superheroes to me.

 

Elizabeth recommends:

My summer reading list includes:

Joanna Bourne: BEAUTY LIKE THE NIGHT.  I think Joanna Bourne is the best historical romance novelist writing today. I loved this latest story in the Spymasters Series.

Joanna Bourne   –    www.joannabourne.com   –   @Amazon

 

Anna Harrington: WHEN THE SCOUNDREL SINS. Anna is a new to me author whose “Capturing the Carlisles” story of a bookish girl and a lovable scoundrel made perfect summer historical romance reading.

Anna Harrington     –      www.annaharringtonbooks.com     –     @Amazon

 

Julie Anne Long: DIRTY DANCING AT DEVIL’S LEAP. I became a devoted fan of Long’s historical Pennyroyal Green series, and was leery of following her into contemporary romance, but all the yearning emotion that made me love the Redmonds and Everseas makes the Hellcat Canyon series worth the trip.

Julie Anne Long  –    julieannelong.com    –   @Amazon

 

Erica Monroe: SECRETS IS SCARLET. Erica writes wonderfully gritty Victorian-era romances that take place far away from the ballrooms of the ton. Her absorbing stories feature heroes and heroines from  in the rookeries of London, working class men and women who deserve their happily every after just as much—if not more—than the rich dukes and debutantes who populate most historical romance novels.

Erica Monroe  –  ericamonroe.com    –   @Amazon

 


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment when you felt or were aware of the power of romance.

I have always found romance novels wonderful for soothing what ails me, but I had never really thought about how my romances might effect others until I got a letter from a reader about my 2013 book, A BREATH OF SCANDAL. In the penultimate scene, the heroine of that story, Antigone Preston, must face her nemesis. She draws a gun to defend herself, and when the hero bursts into the scene, he advises her not to shoot. “He’s not worth it,” the hero says. “I know,” Antigone responds. “But I am.”

I get so much wonderful mail about that one line, and about how so many readers found their own “I am worth it,” moment in that book.

Tell us about an object that has powerful memories for you.

I am lucky enough to have a great many antiques and furnishings that have been passed down to me from previous generations. My particular favorite a beautiful tall case clock, built in 1810, that has kept time for succeeding generations of Essexes. There is something very moving in knowing that I am passing my time in the same measured cadence as my forbearers.

Tell us about a word that has power for you.

Persist. I’ve been thinking about this word a great deal this year. Given the volatile political climate, this word has taken on a feminist connotation and association that frankly delights me, because one of the key characteristics I like to give my heroines is persistence—in the end, they will get both what they want, and what they deserve, as long as they persist.

Tell us about a powerful book you read this year (or one that’s so powerful you’ve never forgotten it).

The book that I return to time and time again, whether I am writing, or whether I just need the solace of beautiful, exact words is a collection of the poems of Robert Frost that was given to me when I was in grammar school. There is a cadence and an absolute rightness to every word in his poetry that reassures me that there is a right word, and that I will—if I persist—find the right word in my own writing.

Tell us about a person who’s had a powerful influence on your life.

There is a person whose name I do not even remember, but whose words stuck in my brain for years, just waiting for the moment when I would truly hear them. I was working in my first job after college, at the august Yale Center for British Art, and a young woman from the Yale business school (who I recall wanted to become a literary agent) was interning in our office. She overheard me describe the galleries, which were closed that day so the wool carpeting could be washed, as “smelling of wet winter children,” and she told me I needed to be a writer. Every time I tell someone I’m a writer, I think of her and thank her for planting that little germ of an idea in my brain.

 

Main Drawing:

Elizabeth is generously giving away copies of MAD ABOUT THE MARQUESS and A FINE MADNESS to one lucky reader.  To enter, leave a comment below by 11:59 pm PST August 31, 2017. (US only)

*Also a heads up that Mad For Love (Highland Brides Book 1) is currently free for the Kindle.

Elizabeth is giving away more books as part of the US bundles. (more info. below)

There are many more drawings too—including international book bundles! See the bottom of the post for more information.

Elizabeth Essex is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed historical romance, including Reckless Brides, and her new Highland Brides series. Her books have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and Seal of Excellence Award, and RWA’s prestigious RITA Award. The Reckless Brides Series has also made Top-Ten lists from Romantic Times, The Romance Reviews and Affaire de Coeur Magazine, and Desert Isle Keeper status at All About Romance. Her fifth book, A BREATH OF SCANDAL, was awarded Best Historical in the Reader’s Crown 2013.

When not rereading Jane Austen, mucking about in her garden, or simply messing about with boats, Elizabeth can be always be found with her laptop, making up stories about heroes and heroines who live far more exciting lives than she.  It wasn’t always so.  Long before she ever set pen to paper, Elizabeth graduated from Hollins College with a BA in Classics and Art History, and then earned her MA in Nautical Archaeology from Texas A&M University.  While she loved the life of an underwater archaeologist, she has found her true calling writing lush, lyrical historical romance full of passion, daring and adventure.

Elizabeth lives in Texas with her husband, the indispensable Mr. Essex, and her active and exuberant family in an old house filled to the brim with books.

 

Learn more:

www.elizabethessex.com   |   Facebook   |   Twitter@EssexRomance   |   Pinterest

 

Buy Elizabeth’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!

 

#LoveRomance   #The PowerofRomance    #ReadARomance


MORE DRAWINGS!

Each RARM post will have one main drawing each day (posted above). Authors are also contributing to weekly (US only) bundles, which will be drawn at the end of the week. Each bundle will consist of at least five books and the amount of bundles will depend on the amount of books the authors contribute.

(Elizabeth is contributing to the US bundles and participating in the cup & tote combo.)

To enter to win these bundles, send an email to Week4@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “Bundles” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

International friends!

Rather than individual drawings off posts, this year we’ll do sets of books, 3+, depending on how many authors contribute. To enter, send an email to Week4@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “International” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

Week 4 contests are Aug 25 through Aug. 31

For the 5th Annual Read-A-Romance Month, many of the contributing authors  are supporting an extra-special drawing – high quality tote bags and mugs printed with a fun, pro-romance image (see below).

Read-A-Romance Month, through the generous support of many of the authors, is giving away at least 30 mug & tote combos.

Plus, at least two lucky winners will win a Read-A-Romance Month “Month of Books” Mega Bundle, consisting of 31 books!

To enter these exciting drawings,  send an email to August@ReadARomanceMonth.com (US only, apologies to international friends – though keep an eye out later in the month.

(US only, apologies to international friends – though keep an eye out later in the month. I may include an international cup/tote combo.)

You will not be automatically added to a newsletter, and I promise not to sell or give your email addresses to anyone. I do reserve the right to send you an invitation to sign up for my newsletter, which will also have opportunities to win more prizes and great romance reading tips!

 

 

Check out all three great posts everyday in August at ReadARomanceMonth.com.  Or you can find the posts on the RARM Facebook page.  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  #ReadARomance

  • Sue G.

    Love your moment when you felt the power of romance! Such a great line!

    • Elizabeth Essex

      Thank you, Sue! I think I was too close to the moment when I wrote it—it came purely from my heart, but with the distance a few years can bring, I see now why it resonates with so many people. Thanks for stopping by to chat, and wishing you happy reading!

  • Angi Morgan

    Awesome post

    • Elizabeth Essex

      Thank you so much, Angi! Smooches of book love!

  • Kareni

    How fun to see a post from an author whose many books I’ve enjoyed! I look forward to reading many more in the years to come. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ms. Essex!

    • Elizabeth Essex

      Oh, thank you so very much, Karen! Much appreciated. I recently had a reviewer call me “the best historical romance author you’re not reading.” So I am thrilled to find a devoted reader!!!! Keep on reading, my friend!

  • Kathy Nye

    Persist is a wonderful word!

    • Elizabeth Essex

      It seems to be growing on me as well, Kathy. I know I’m going to persist, in all things, and hope everyone else does, too. 🙂 Wishing you happy reading!

  • cheryl c.

    I read Beauty Like the Night, too, and it was wonderful. Each book in the Spymaster series is on my keeper shelf.

    • Elizabeth Essex

      Same for me, Cheryl. A few years ago, my daughter’s HS class was assigned a unit on the French revolution, and were meant to be reading A Tale of Two Cities. They all got bogged down, so I recommended they read Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series as a way to understand the scope of French politics at the turn of the 19th century. They all got A’s, thanks to JB. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to chat, and wishing you happy reading!

  • Pamby50

    Wonderful post. It’s true we step into the character we most identify with. We go through the range of emotions and when the end comes, we take a deep breath.

    • Elizabeth Essex

      And Pamby, I think we even have to learn something about the characters we don’t normally identify with—that has great value to us all, as well! Thank for stopping by to chat! Much appreciated!

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    Great post!

    • Elizabeth Essex

      Thank you, Melissa. Much appreciated!

  • rebecca moe

    Ooh, that is a wonderful line! Adding A BREATH OF SCANDAL to my TBR right now 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Elizabeth Essex

      I’m so glad you think so, Rebecca. 🙂 Wishing you happy reading! Cheers, EE

  • Joanna Moreno

    Isn’t it amazing how sometimes strangers have so much bearing in our lives? I love that you listened to her because I love your stories =D

    • Elizabeth Essex

      I’m glad I listened, too, Joanna! I WISH I could remember her name, but I am convinced that some day I’ll meet a tall, beautiful literary agent and know that it’s her! And thank you for your kind words about my stories—that means the world to me! And I’ll keep writing you more! Happy reading!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I’m a teacher in an elementary school. I completely get the simile “smelling like wet winter children.” And it is a perfectly wonderful piece of writing. I’m glad that young woman planted the seed.

    • Elizabeth Essex

      Thanks, Patty! I’m a person who seems to have a strong sense of smell, and I think scents and aromas have always made certain memories—like those long days out in the snow sledding with my brothers and friends—stronger. So I try and use as much of it as I can in my writing. Wishing you happy reading, and HAPPY TEACHING! You have the best and hardest job in the world and I salute you for it! Cheers!

  • catslady

    Oh, I also enjoy those authors that you mentioned.!

    • Elizabeth Essex

      Oh, I’m so glad to find a kindred reading spirit! I love to read historical romance first and foremost, but I think it broadens the palate to read other genre’s too. I’m having a feast reading some historical mysteries at the moment. Wishing you happy reading!

  • Ellen

    I enjoyed your post. Great point about romance readers and empathy. It makes me want to hand out books to all the angry people. Thank you for sharing.

    • Elizabeth Essex

      What a brilliant idea, Ellen! A romance a day keep the rage away! 🙂 Happy reading!

  • Tori Valenzuela

    I love getting lost in the books I read, its almost like a meditation for me helps me clear my mind and calms my soul

  • Booklover

    You hit the nail on the head. I love books where I actually feel like I’m one of the characters.

  • Glenda

    ” experts in social behaviors say that readers of fiction have more empathy, and thus exhibit more cooperative behaviors which benefit society than non-readers. ”

    That explains SO much! I’m not surprised to be honest, but I do appreciate that there are scientific studies to support it. Thanks, Elizabeth!