Nancy Herkness – The Mighty Romance Novel

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 Powerful Force of Romance

I’m tired of romance novels being dismissed as fluffy, trashy, or trivial. I’ve been reading and writing romance for many years and the lack of respect for our beloved genre continues to shock me. Because I know that it is a powerful force to be reckoned with just by reading the emails I’ve gotten from readers.

A couple of years ago, I received a message that included a photograph of a well-worn original mass market paperback edition of my first novel, A Bridge to Love. The photo came from the wife of a now-retired soldier; she had just found me on Facebook and wanted to tell me how much the book had meant to her. Turns out she had bought it shortly after it was published (in 2003) at the PX on the base where her husband was then stationed. At the time, she had two very young children, their little family moved quite often, and her  husband was frequently away on dangerous assignments. Whenever the stress and loneliness threatened to overwhelm her, she re-read A Bridge to Love, both for escape and for comfort. She said it had gotten her through many difficult times. I cried.

Another reader emailed me to say that she was battling cancer and her niece offered to read to her. They found one of my books on Amazon, bought it, and “giggled like teenage girls” as the niece read it aloud. They finished it in one night. The reader thanked me for giving her and her niece some time when they did not dwell on the future; when they were just happy. She said that she hoped her niece would carry that wonderful memory with her always. Tears were streaming down my cheeks by the end of that email.

My books are far from unique in this. Many other romance writers I know have received notes from readers in equally difficult situations who have found strength and solace in our stories. Which leads me to wonder…

How can anyone dismiss romance as being unimportant or insignificant when it has the power to bring comfort and even joy in times of stress, loneliness, and serious illness? What could be mightier than the ability to lift the spirit, to give the gift of laughter, to make bright, vivid memories when all seems dark and hopeless? That is one heck of a super power!


Nancy recommends:

I just discovered Elicia Hyder’s Soul Summoner series and gobbled all the books up one right after the other.

Elicia Hyder  –  –  @Amazon


I’d like to give a shout-out to my three wonderful critique partners and recommend their fabulous books:

Miriam Allenson’s delightfully funny For Love of the Dame with its perfectly incompatible opera singer heroine and baseball player hero.

Miriam Allenson   –   –   @Amazon


Lisa Ann Verge’s lushly romantic historical adventures, the latest of which is Wild Highland Magic, which features a heroine with faery blood and a hot Highland warrior hero.

Lisa Ann Verge   –   –  @Amazon


Jennifer Wilck’s new release, the warm, emotional Addicted to Love, whose damaged hero struggles with a tragic past. He won my heart in a big way.

Jennifer Wilck  –  –  @Amazon

Questions for the Author:

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

Since my essay basically answers this, I’ll refer you back to it. :o)

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

I love my little slice of a pallasite meteorite. My husband gave it to me when my second novel, SHOWER OF STARS, was published because the book features a meteorite hunter hero (no, it’s not science fiction, LOL). I’ve been fascinated by outer space ever since I was a kid and got addicted to Star Trek (the original one!). I loved the concept of this ship, filled with people from all nations—and a half-alien!—who banded together to explore the vast universe. The vision of Earth as a unified whole was such a happy one that I found it irresistible.

Now every time I look at my real live rock from outer space, it reminds me of the wonderful, hopeful idea of all Earth as one peaceful, unified planet. It’s an idea that I find especially necessary to hold onto in these dark, difficult days.

Tell us about a word that has power for you.

Hope—the thing with feathers, as Emily Dickinson calls it. The only thing left in Pandora’s box after she released all the evils into the world. Without it, how could we face the days when nothing seems to go right in our personal lives or on a larger stage? How could we get up in the morning if we didn’t hope that today would be better? “Hope” is right up there with “dream” and “love” for me, as a necessity in everyone’s life. Without it, there is no progress, no resiliency, no future.

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

Jane Eyre is the book that started me down the path to writing romance novels. I read it when I was very young, and I was enthralled by the emotional intensity of the story. I know everyone loves Mr. Darcy but he will always play second fiddle to Mr. Rochester in my heart. To this day, I still love a dark, powerful romance hero in historical clothing.

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

I owe Maxine Kumin, my creative writing thesis advisor at college, a huge debt of gratitude. I had never considered writing as anything more than a fun hobby. She was the first person who treated me as a serious writer, so I began to believe that I could be. She also asked me why I never wrote about horses since I loved them so much, a question that eventually led to my Whisper Horse series. Although she was a Pulitzer-prizewinning poet, Maxine cheered the publication of my romance novels with great enthusiasm. I mourn her passing.


Main Drawing:

Nancy is generously giving away an autographed copy of THE VIP DOUBLES DOWN. To enter, leave a comment below by 11:59 pm PST September 2, 2017. (US only)

She’ll be giving away more copies as part of the US bundles, and was particularly generous in sponsoring the tote & cup giveaway – thanks so much, Nancy! (more info. below)

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


Nancy Herkness is the author of the award-winning Wager of Hearts and Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels.  She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award.

Nancy has received many honors for her work, including the Book Buyers Best Top Pick, the New England Readers’ Choice award, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.  She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English literature and creative writing.

A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in a Victorian house in suburban New Jersey with her husband and a goofy golden retriever.

For more information about Nancy and her books, visit


Learn more:   |  Facebook   |   Twitter@NancyHerkness     |   Pinterest


Buy Nancy’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


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.

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

To enter to win these bundles, send an email to 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 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 (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  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.

    I agree! I think most people who bash romance novel have probably never even read one! It drives me crazy!

    • Alas, I think you are correct. Many, many people I speak with think it’s fine to dismiss the whole genre even though they’ve never cracked open a single romance novel. Sigh. The mainstream media tends to feed that, which is a shame. I applaud RWA for offering a Veritas Award to highlight positive stories about the romance genre.

  • Ren

    I loved our story! It brought tears to my eyes just reading about the letters you received. I love your books!

    • Thank you so much for loving my books and my post! When I get emails like those I understand how important the romance genre is.

  • cheryl c.

    I wanted to get up and applaud when I read this from your article: “How can anyone dismiss romance as being unimportant or insignificant when it has the power to bring comfort and even joy in times of stress, loneliness, and serious illness? What could be mightier than the ability to lift the spirit, to give the gift of laughter, to make bright, vivid memories when all seems dark and hopeless? “

    • I’m so happy it struck a chord with you! That makes me smile. Thanks for visiting with me here!

  • Kareni

    What fun, Nancy, to find a post by an author whose books (Wager of Hearts ) I’ve enjoyed reading. I liked learning that you’re a fan of the original Star Trek series. Have you also read any of the books based on that series? I have some definite favorites — Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan and Ishmael by Barbara Hambly amongst others. Happy writing to you. I look forward to reading more.

    • Kareni, lovely to “meet” you here! Yes, I have indeed read the books based on the show. I wish I could remember the titles but there were a couple that I adored. They got some great writers to work on those. It was a wonderful way to extend the show for us crazed trekkies. Did you like the Chris Pine & co. movies as much as I did? (Well, except for this last one which wasn’t so great.)

      • Kareni

        I’ve seen only a couple of the newer Star Trek movies. The original TV show is still my favorite though I will admit to a certain fondness for the fourth movie (the one with the whales).

        • Oh my goodness, that fourth movie is hilarious! I also liked the Wrath of Khan. But you should check out the first Chris Pine movie which shows how the crew became the crew of the Enterprise. It’s terrific.

          • Kareni

            Ah, I have seen that Chris Pine movie. I agree that it was entertaining with a different spin on the Uhura/Spock relationship, too.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoyed reading your post. I love your books.

  • Martha Martin

    I still think I hold the record for the number of times I have read one of your books – and now I have read them all. I think one of the reasons romance novels get so little respect is because everyone remembers the cheap romance magazines from the 40s and 50s. I know my sister and I read some of them after our mother was in bed so we wouldn’t get in trouble. I also think one of the reasons is because so many forego the story just to graphically describe the sex between the “stars” of the book and because of some of the language that is used. Trust me when I say that not everyone engages in continuous sexual activity or talks “like a sailor,” as we used to say. I’m glad your books are not like that. I’ve read some that I removed from my Kindle afterwards because the sex was so graphic and the language so blue. Keep up the good work Nancy and we will keep enjoying what you write.

    • Martha, you are a super fan for sure! Thank you so much! Alas, many of the people who condemn romance novels have never even read one! I’m always amazed that people focus so much on the sex because sex scenes are actually a pretty small percentage of my stories. It’s just that in a romantic relationship between adults, I feel sex is an important part and needs to be included.

      • Martha Martin

        After Fifty Shades of Grey came out, there was a editorial piece in our paper (which reminds me, I have something I want to cut out of Sunday’s paper and send to you), from a person who writes editorials nationally about the book. You could tell from the way it was written that he, yes it was a man, had never read the book. I fired off and response to it and the man who is the editor for the book/movie section of our paper called me and wanted to know if he could pass it along to the editor of the paper because he thought it was worth printing. I said yes, but it never appeared in the paper. Some editors just don’t like for you to criticize their syndicated columnists.

        • Wow! Good for you! Too bad they didn’t have the guts to print your letter.

  • mariannewestrich

    I love your books!! In fact, you’re one of the main reasons I’m coming to the NJ brunch on October 15th. Can’t wait to meet you and also meet Mariah Stewart. Thanks so much for the many hours of reading, relaxation and escape! See you soon!

    • You have no idea how flattered I am that you would come to see me. Can’t wait! I’m also thrilled that you put me in the same comment with Mariah Stewart! She’s the nicest person, so I know you will enjoy meeting her. You’ve made my day…again! 😉

  • flchen1

    How fun, Nancy! Loved this interview 🙂 And hee–I grew up watching original Star Trek, too! My brother was a fan, so I’m pretty sure we’ve seen them all… 😉

    • Star Trek is the best! There will never be a greater starship captain than James Tiberius Kirk. 🙂

  • Pamby50

    I watched the original Star Trek growing up too! It was the first show in which all people were represented. As for the power of romance, it has gotten me through plenty of ups and downs.

    • Right! Star Trek was about diversity before anyone talked about it. First interracial kiss on TV! Of course, I was young then so I had no idea how significant that was. I just loved the whole atmosphere of the Enterprise.

  • Glenda

    It is amazing how much a good romance can improve your outlook on life! A few years ago for Christmas, my kids bought me the entire Star Trek series on DVD! We spent many hours re-watching some wonderful television. 🙂

    • What great kids you have! And how wonderful that you could introduce them to the wonders of Star Trek!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I agree with you absolutely. You can’t dismiss romance novels as trashy or trivial when all around us people are living the stories and themes the romance novels tell. It’s never made sense to me.

    • My private theory is that it’s a genre written mostly by women, read mostly by women, and even edited mostly by women. Therefore it is “less” or not worthy of serious attention, the pink ghetto. Sigh.

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    What wonderful and moving letters those were that you received. I am so tired of the bashing of romance books. This genre sells more books than any other for a reason. Love you Nancy!!

    • Love you right back, Eileen. I get tired of the bashing too. I used to get angry; then I got philosophical; and now I’m just sick of it. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, right?

      • Eileen Aberman Wells


  • Tori Valenzuela

    Romance is so powerful! Beautiful letters from fans! Thank you gor sharing their touching words

    • You are so welcome! I love sharing how great romance is.

  • rebecca moe

    I agree, the criticism of romance is entirely unwarranted, and needs to stop! Thanks so much for posting 🙂

  • Kim

    It seems as if people have preconceived ideas of what a romance novel entails, yet have never read one.

    • It’s very frustrating, isn’t it? I’m always amazed by that kind of blind prejudice.

  • Kezia King

    My own story is so similar to the military spouse you described. Romance has gotten me through all my husband’s deployments. It just upsets me so much when people criticize romance because I know that it has saved me.