Julia Whelan – The Hope of Love

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

The Great Equalizer

At which age do we begin to glimpse our limitations? When do we begin comparing ourselves to others? When do others begin comparing us to our peers? I’d like to think Middle School, but I’m pretty sure it happens earlier than that. I have a vivid memory from the one time my mother tried to send me to day care. I was four. I was standing patiently in line for the water fountain and just as I stepped up to take my turn, a boy appeared beside me and elbowed me away, saying, “Out of the way, girlie.” I remember this so clearly because it was the first time anyone had ever been mean to me. I was an only child, born to parents who’d always treated me like an equal, and here was this kid who not only physically assaulted me, but had also, with his “girlie” comment, instantly “otherized” me. I was suddenly, irrevocably different than him. I was less than him.

I think life does a good job of telling us who we aren’t.

Your sister’s the pretty one. Maybe math just isn’t your subject. Well, you’re no athlete, are you, kiddo? You can wear that if you want to, but just know it’s not flattering.

As a result, we do our best to find our tribe, the people we have enough in common with to claim unity; at the very least, we try to find the people who aren’t the same things we aren’t. It’s our own non-magical version of a Sorting Hat.

We are not equal.

We get into different schools. We get different jobs. We advance at different rates. We suffer different fates of chance. We are treated differently based on race, gender, sexual orientation, size, health. We live in a constantly shifting order of dominance, depending on whom we happen to be standing next to that day, that minute, that moment.

But there is one area in which we are all equal.

We all have the hope that we will be loved.

Sometimes it’s a secret hope. Because sometimes we’ve been told we’re unlovable. But unlike all of the other things we aren’t, our loveability can change in an instant. With one glance across a bar, a subway car, a cubicle divider. And we live for that possibility. I think we’ve all had that friend (or maybe we’ve been that friend) who is in a loveless-but-otherwise-not-terrible marriage. No one’s getting hit, no one’s being degraded, no one’s in danger. But, still, they tell you they’re leaving. Why? Because they’re willing to gamble on the unknown, on the possibility of future love rather than settle for the current state of lovelessness. That’s powerful. We blow up families, security, the status quo for the belief that we might be properly loved in the future. We would never do the same thing thinking that we might, overnight, become good at math, become prettier, become successful.

And in the meantime, we watch shows and read books that reinforce this notion that love is just around the corner and more, that it is the true kind, the real kind. No one can take that belief away from us. It is rooted deep. Deeper, often, than our belief in ourselves.

The possibility of love is the great equalizer.

To me, that’s the true power of romance.


Julia recommends:

I have so many! I read books for a living, after all.

Taylor Jenkins Reid – (lights candle at the alter, bows head, murmurs): Our Lady of All The Feels, patron saint of Book Club Fiction, forever and ever, amen.

taylorjenkinsreid.com     –    @Amazon


Elisabeth Egan – I can’t be the only person DYING to read a second book from her. A Window Opens slayed me, in every way one wants to be slayed. (

www.elisabethegan.net     –    @ Amazon


Allie Larkin – I find myself thinking of Allie Larkin’s characters just randomly throughout my day. As if they’re real people. It’s weird how good she is.

allielarkinwrites.com     –     @ Amazon


Allison Winn Scotch – her wordsmithery is such that you’ll start a sentence laughing and be crying by the end of it and then you’ll realize you have 300 MORE PAGES OF THIS.

allisonwinn.com     –     @ Amazon


Robinne Lee – whose debut, The Idea of You, is blowing up and is everything you could want out of a smart, sexy, thought-provoking romp. Plus, I have mad love for actresses who use their talent and intelligence to write the characters they want to see more of in the world. She is the sister of my heart. (Read Robinne’s RARM post here.)

www.robinnelee.com      –         @ Amazon


My TBR pile has Emma Straub on it, as well as Jill Stantopolo’s “The Light We Lost,” which sounds right up my alley and every time someone starts talking to me about it cover my ears and sing “lalalalala.” She also narrated her own audiobook, so good on ya, Jill!


Questions for the Author:

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

Oh, God. Probably the first time I got a bad review for a Romance audiobook. The reviewer complained about my alpha male voice. Not like I was bad, per se, but, like, they just didn’t believe they were listening to two separate people and I was simply not embodying the romantic ideal she had in her head. At first, I beat myself up about it; gotta work on the sexy alpha hero voice, apparently. And then I realized that unless I sounded like SebYo or Jeremy York or Steve West, I was never going to win this battle. She wanted one of those guys talking to her, not me, no matter what I did. She wanted to live in that story, with that guy, and I was – frankly – an annoying distraction. The best friend at the bar who’s standing over your shoulder muttering in your ear that the gorgeous guy buying you drinks isn’t everything he says he is and you’d be better off going home alone. That review is hilarious to me now. But the takeaway: Don’t get between a rabid fan and her audiobook hero. Duly noted.

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

I have this empty Chandon bottle with a yellow scrap of fabric tied around the neck. It was the bottle my parents opened in the hospital after I was born and it always sat on the bureau in my childhood room, yellow fabric and all (I don’t know why…maybe so it wouldn’t be mistaken for, you know, an empty bottle of champagne and thrown out?). Anyway, it’s gone with me wherever I’ve lived. It’s the oldest thing that’s consistently been by my side my whole life. I recently moved and about half way through unpacking, I panicked. I couldn’t find it and I couldn’t remember packing it, just had no visual of picking the thing up and depositing it in a box. For weeks I thought it had been lost or the movers had broken it and didn’t tell me or…? It was in the very last box I opened, cheeky bugger. And it’s sitting on the bookcase by my recording booth, right next to some awards, as I type this. :o)

Tell us about a word that has power for you.

Power, actually. The word, “Power.” I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, and how it seems that it has a different connotation for men and women. For many women, I think “power” is a dirty word, because it’s associated with oppression or domination or even just a level or ambition that implies some kind of disregard for the well-being of others. But, I think the word is aspirational. Not necessarily in gaining outside or external power, but in owning the power you innately have. In business, it’s a never-ending battle and Taylor [Jenkins Reid] actually talks about the struggle in this interview (read it here) and it resonated deeply with me. No one can give you power. You just have to own it. And only when we own our power will others recognize it; then the question becomes: how will we use it?

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

This is an impossible question. There are so many. For the sake of brevity, I will name the first book that flashed into my mind when I initially glanced at the question: ME BEFORE YOU. It has stayed with me on every level; Jojo Moyes’s wit, dialogue, character insights, story-telling, and, gosh, the prose-value alone… everything is perfection. I’m a really jaded reader and I was sure I knew where she was taking the story and she managed to whip my head around just in time for me to watch the bus as it gleefully ran me over. This book killed me. I couldn’t do anything but think about it for DAYS. And the sequel (which in and of itself makes her a badass, to have the courage to write a sequel to THAT story??) is terrific in a totally different way.

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

As odd as this may seem, right now I’m really influenced by the main character of the book I’ve written (coming out next year). I put her through the wringer and she came out stronger and more mature and made some decisions I never expected her to make. She taught me a lot about myself not only as a writer, but as a person. So, if fictional people count, then Ella Durran is definitely an agent of change in my life. For many reasons.

Main Drawing:

Julia is generously giving away a digital audio copy of PLUS ONE by Elizabeth Fama, a romantic dystopian YA novel she co-produced. (Julia says, “It’s fun, it’s good, there’s original music in it.”) Plus it was nominated for a 2015 RITA award. To enter, leave a comment below by 11:59 pm PST August 5, 2017. (US only)

She’ll be giving away another audiobook as part of the US bundles, and is contributing to the a tote & cup giveaway! (see below for more information)

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

Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and audiobook narrator. She is perhaps most well known for her on-camera acting work on ABC’s Once and Again and her award-winning narration of over 200 audiobooks (including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl). After a healthy career as a child actor, Whelan attended Middlebury College and Oxford University, graduating with a degree in English and Creative Writing. Whelan is repeatedly featured on AudioFile Magazine’s annual Best Of lists and, among other honors, was named Audible’s Narrator of the Year in 2014. She is also a Grammy-nominated audiobook director. Her debut novel is forthcoming.


Learn more:

www.jmwhelan.com     |    Facebook     |     Twitter @justjuliawhelan


Buy Julia’s (narrated) books – for now ;o)

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


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.

(Julia is contributing to the US bundles, and sponsoring a cup/tote giveaway.)

To enter to win these bundles, send an email to Week2@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 Week2@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “International” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

Week 2 contests are Aug 9 through Aug. 16

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