Sonali Dev – Romance & Romanticism

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

Insufferable Idealism

Being a romantic is something I’m accused of all the time. Not in the way of enjoying flowers and candles and gifts of diamonds. I suppose all of those things have some appeal, but oftentimes that appeal is mired in expectation (will he remember this was the first time our hands touched when we reached for the same muffin twenty years ago?) and anxiety (will these flowers look better on Instagram or Twitter?). Nope, that kind of romanticism is far too tiring for me. You know what isn’t tiring? All the reasons why we want to give flowers and light candles  and make grand gestures in the first place.

Yes, I’m that kind of romantic, one who wants what lies beneath romance and holds up its skin, and finds that the manifestations are a pleasant enough side effect. The kind of romantic, who craves the exuberance of expressing love, but craves even more the knowledge that love is expressed when it becomes uncontainable.

Go ahead, roll your eyes. I know I sound insufferably idealistic but bear with me. The classical, albeit paraphrased, definition of the word ‘romantic’ is exactly that. Insufferably idealistic. A fact I learned in sixth grade when Mrs. Das, our English teacher, used the word ‘romantic’ and all the hormones in the classroom exploded at once in a joint orchestra of giggles, and she had to put us in our place by explaining it to us with all the hormone-killing sternness any good teacher should posses. She informed us that the word romantic in literature and art meant responsive to the appeal of what is idealized, heroic and adventurous.

Something about that definition felt like coming home. It clicked inside me like a missing puzzle piece finding its place. It took me a while to articulate why it felt like such a moment. But even back then I knew that I believed in the idealized form of things. An affliction that has proved incurable over the years. Growing up, her definition helped me not to buy into the collective societal cynicism about marriage, friendship, parenting, dreams. I could believe these things to be whatever the heck I wanted to believe them to be. I could believe in the heroism of heroes, in the communality of communities. Because I was not alone in my beliefs, there was a word for what I believed in.

Today, the opposite of romanticism — cynicism— seems so much more popular. Films, TV shows, and books are helmed by anti-heroes. We’re surrounded by stories that tell us that darkness is real and hope and love are escapism. That the faith in overcoming darkness is childlike and somehow simplistic and naive even though without that faith in our power to heal how would we ever go on? When around us iconoclasts incite excitement, and the prospect of change threatens to surround us with violence.

It isn’t an accident that I write and read romance. I’d bathe in romanticism if I could. I’d eat it with a spoon and drink it with a straw. What could be more powerful than a place where insufferable idealism is the norm? Where happiness, and its less glamorous twin, wellness, is always the goal. Always. Where a closely knit community of writers and readers and romantics band together between crisp earthy-smelling pages and under an e-reader’s transformative glow to worship the possibility of happiness. Where believing in something as farfetched as love that lasts is embraced not scoffed at. That to me is the power of romance.

For those who watch us from the outside, this place of ours seems to be about the flowers and the candles and the grand gestures. Oh how they miss the point. What this place of ours—  Romancelandia, where the power of romance reigns supreme— is really about is finding the thing that makes us want to perform grand gestures, and then fighting for it, even when everything the cynics tell us about the world seems true. It’s about holding on to our insufferable idealism. It’s about heroes finding their heroism. And no hero ever finds her heroism without first kicking cynicism to the curb.


Sonali recommends:

Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai, because, dear lord, this might be the best contemporary romance I’ve read in a while.

Alisha Rai    –     –     @Amazon


The Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe, because Gilded Age New York set historicals  have given me back my historical romance mojo.

Joanna Shupe   –    –     @Amazon


Deception So Deadly by Clara Kensie, because this lovely paranormal thriller young adult romance is finally available in novel form after first being released as a serial.

Clara Kensie    –     –     @Amazon


Questions for the Author:

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

I received an email from a reader after she had read The Bollywood Bride. She told me that my story had her in tears. Her mother had suffered from bipolar disorder which had been worsened by her birth. She had lived with the constant guilt of ruining her parents’ lives. She said that like Ria, for too many years both she and her sister had struggled with fears about turning into their mother and of passing mental illness down to their kids. She said that watching Ria find love  was cathartic to her and thanked me for letting others know how it feels.

Her email was the greatest gift I’ve ever received for my writing. Everyone wants to be seen. Having that one reader touched by a story so close to her reality was a moment so powerful and humbling I could never describe it.

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

Our kitchen table is kinda hideous. It was our first anniversary gift from my parents. We picked it out ourselves so the lack of taste is all us. It’s streaky oak in a modern design that scratches up the chairs that go with it. I love it. It’s lived in all our homes with us and seen us as graduate students, young parents, immigrants building our life here in america. It’s home and I would not change it for anything.

Tell us about a word that has power for you.

Breathe. Because, well, it’s important and transformative and it can be the difference between panic and calm, anger and control, rushing through life and living.

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

The most powerful book I ever read will always be Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. Because, it was the first time I saw myself in a book and realized that the stories I had inside me might find readers after all.

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

My mother’s older sister was married to an imminent Indian poet. And no, my uncle wan’t just someone who liked to write poems, he was the quintessential poet. Gentle of soul, lyrical of word, deeply interested in the human condition. He sensed the writer in me long before I found her myself and he took my writing seriously long before I did. He passed away two years before my first book came out, too late to see that the spark of acknowledgement he had given me with his faith had not gone to waste.


Main Drawing:

Sonali is generously giving away a copy of A Change Of Heart and an ARC of A Distant Heart to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment below by 11:59 pm PST August 29, 2017. (US only)


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


Award winning author, Sonali Dev, writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after.

Sonali’s novels have been on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post and Kirkus Best Books of the year lists. She has won the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewer’s Choice award for best contemporary romance, the RT Seal of Excellence, and is a RITA Finalist.

Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog. Find out more at


Learn more:     |    Facebook     |     Twitter @Sonali_Dev


Buy Sonali’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.

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.

    What a great explanation of romantic by your English teacher. Maybe if all teachers did this, those people who bash romance would think twice before they did it.

    • Sonali Dev

      This is true.

  • Make Kay

    Sonali, I love your unabashed romanticism! You just keep doing you- you’re doing great at it!

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you! <3 <3 <3

  • mariannewestrich

    Loved your post! And loved getting to meet you at Nola StoryCon and then again at Barbara Vey. You are a delight!

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you!! Are you going back to NOLA? I will be there. And also BVW 18. Hope you see you again soon.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I love your stories.

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you. That’s my favorite line ever!

  • Mary C.

    I love the kind of romantic you are.

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you!

  • Maida Malby

    Keep sharing your romanticism with us. ❤️ your books.

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you!! (and that’s the plan 🙂 )

  • Michele H.

    You hit the nail on the head with your definition of romanticism. I need to read romance because I need that dose of anti-cynicism to help me cope with the cynicism in the news and world!

    • Sonali Dev

      Me too!

  • Kareni

    What a lovely post, Sonali. I hope you, your husband, and your family will have many more years together happily enjoying that hideous kitchen table. Happy writing!

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you! My family tells me they won’t miss it. But I say they will 🙂

  • Glenda

    The “word romantic in literature and art meant responsive to the appeal of what is idealized, heroic and adventurous. I love that definition! You had a wise English teacher.

    • Sonali Dev

      It’s amazing, isn’t it, the things that stick with us and the power of good teachers?

  • Pamby50

    I love your word Romancelandia. It is where we who love to read romance reside. Not that we don’t live in the real world but we need to go somewhere romance reigns supreme. Wonderful post!

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you. I can’t take credit for the word (it’s widely used and I have no idea where it originated) but I do love it!

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    I love your definition for the word romantic. Each of us very romance differently as are our needs for it in our life.

    • Sonali Dev

      Too true. Thank you!

  • Audrey

    Thank you for not shying away from tough situations and circumstances in your writing. That wonderful reader email is proof of the power of your story telling! Great interview, Sonali!

    • Sonali Dev

      Thank you! *touches heart*

  • Erin F

    thanks for the great post! I’ve read such high praise and recommendations for your books, I’m kicking myself for not reading yet 🙂 My power word is “no”. Learning to say it, mean it, and not explain it, has been hard. As women, it’s our natural inclination to do the opposite, at our own expense. A very wise woman told me to say no, mean no, and not explain no. It’s worked and such a wait has lifted!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sonali Dev

      That’s a really good word and GREAT advice. I’m getting better at no-ing. But it’s a process. Thanks for sharing. And hope you enjoy the books.

  • Sonali Dev

    Thank you! They’re treasures.

  • Tori Valenzuela

    Love your explanation of your favorite word! Breathe, something we take ofthen take for granted or don’t realize how signigicant it is in every day situations

    • Sonali Dev

      Yup. I tell myself this 10 times a day.

  • The reader story is incredible! How wonderful to hear your words affected someone so deeply.

    • Sonali Dev

      Thanks! It feels overwhelming and humbling.

  • Kezia King

    I think it was last year when you were one of the authors introduced diversity month here on RARM. It was then that I heard about your books and put them on my list. Later, Eloisa James posted about A Bollywood Affair on Litsy so I went out and got a copy. It was excellent! So went out and got the rest of them. 🙂 I can’t wait for your next book!

    • Sonali Dev

      Thanks Kezia! And thank you, Eloisa!

  • flchen1

    What a lovely post, Sonali! And thanks for sharing some of your own story as well as your beautifully written books with us!