Day 1 – Susan Mallery

three-little-words-webRomance Power

I am a feminist.

I read and write romance.

Those two statements do not contradict each other. In fact, I contend that romance novels empower women, which is why I’m so honored to kick off National Read-a-Romance Month. Romance novels have empowered me personally to build a career as a storyteller and a self-employed businesswoman, but I feel that they empower readers in two major ways.

1. Romance novels teach women that we can do and be anything.

The women in romance novels have some pretty fabulous careers. In my latest book, THREE LITTLE WORDS, a Fool’s Gold romance, there’s a female self-defense instructor who used to be an assassin, a female mayor, police chief, firefighter… The heroine of Alexis Morgan’s charming romance, A TIME FOR HOME, which will be out next month, unexpectedly inherits a Victorian home and decides to go into business for herself as a bed and breakfast owner.

There is no limit to what a romance heroine can do. Even in historical romances, you’ll find stories of exceptional women who exemplify the empowered spirit. Author Maureen Child has been e-publishing many of her earlier romances, with strong women who tamed the Wild West… and the men who rode there.

entertainment2. Romance novels teach women how we deserve to be treated by the men in our lives.

Romance novels teach us that we should hold out for a man who encourages us to be who we are. In fact, he delights in who we are, and he wouldn’t have us any other way. Sure, a hero may behave badly at times, but then he has to learn something, to grow. He has to earn his happy ending by proving to the heroine – and to the reader – that he is worthy of her love. He has to demonstrate that he will cherish her, respect her, be faithful to her. Anything less, and the ending isn’t happy, and that won’t do.

There’s a fantasy element to romance novels, but it’s mostly about looks – he’s usually tall, handsome, and has the sculpted muscles of an Olympian. Those are superficial attributes that should come with a “for entertainment purposes only” warning label. But look past his gorgeousness (if you can), and you’ll find a decent man with a generous heart and a desire to protect and nurture those he loves.

Those are qualities we should all seek in a mate, aren’t they? Romance readers do. And they find them. Eavesdrop on a conversation between romance readers, and you’ll often hear them talking about the nice things their husbands or boyfriends do for them. Romance novels teach women that we should expect to be treated with kindness and respect.

And yes, that means that we should expect a man who considers our orgasm to be just as important as his own.

See? Empowering, right?

 


Questions to the Author

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

I live in a condo, so space is a major issue. When we moved into the city, I didn’t hold onto anything I considered ugly, so I’ll go with the “craziest.” I love (love, love, love, love to the point of fetishness) purses. Despite our lack of space, I can’t bring myself to get rid of my crazy purse collection. Sometimes I go into the closet just to look at them and to run my finger lovingly across the leather.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

The movie would be titled, “You Can’t Put that in A Book!” and I would be played by Leelee Sobieski, because the wordsmith in me loves her name.

What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

My parents taught me to value reading, and I can’t think of a better gift than that. Reading has touched my life in countless ways.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

Ford and Isabel in THREE LITTLE WORDS are pretty spectacular. While I love all my heroes, Ford is one that I think I could marry in real life. He’s a retired Navy SEAL, so he’s intense when he needs to be, but his personality naturally gravitates toward easy-goingness and a great sense of humor. I have a lot of admiration for Isabel, too, who deals with unexpected disappointments in her life with a can-do attitude. No obstacle is insurmountable for Isabel – she pouts for a minute and then figures out how to move on. They’re going to have a very happy life together!

 Susan has generously donated five copies of ALL SUMMER LONG to give away (U.S. only). To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 1 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Susan MalleryWith more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the people next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans. Join Susan’s mailing list at www.SusanMallery.com.

Search for Susan’s books on Amazon.

 

Day 1 – Julia London

A World of Romance

You are here, reading this blog, because of a romance. It might not have been a great romance. Or it might have been a stupendous, angels-sang-and-stars-fell sort of romance. The romance may not have lasted, and then again, it may have lasted for many years. Whatever the circumstances, a romance between two people made you.

Where would the world be without romance? Our most enduring tales and legends are romances, such as one of my favorites, the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere. I remember being enthralled with their illicit love when I was a girl—from the tension of their attraction and their fruitless efforts to keep love from blooming, to their doomed lover. I wanted Lancelot and Guinevere to be forever happy! But I ached for King Arthur and wanted his happiness just as fervently! It was very heady stuff for a pre-teen.

Romance has not mattered only in legend or fiction, it has also influenced our world’s histories. Think, for example, of the story of Czar Nicholas Romanov and Czarina Alexandra, who were so blindly in love that they didn’t see how unhappy their fellow countrymen were. Alexandra was seen as an outsider, and while Nicholas was romancing his czarina, giving her many happy babies and showering her with gifts, his people were starving. Nicholas and Alexandra were so into each other they didn’t see the approaching revolution until it was too late. It cost them their lives and the lives of their children. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if the czar had not allowed love to blind him. Could he have changed the course of Russian history?

Speaking of romance affecting the course of history, I must mention Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. Edward VIII’s abdication for Wallis is a classic example of how nothing can explain what individuals see in each other. I can see why Wallis was attracted to the King of England—he was a king. But Wallis? She was not a looker. She got around. She had a reputation of being brash and irreverent. She apparently had no qualms about having an affair with Edward, then divorcing her cuckolded second husband when Edward became king so that she could marry him, and presumably, become queen consort. Edward was, by all accounts, besotted by Wallis, to the point that he famously abdicated by saying “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

Had it not been for that famous romance, the world would have been denied the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Can you imagine the U.K. without Queen Elizabeth? Without Charles and William and Harry and a new royal baby? Yes, romance matters!

It certainly matters to me, because my parents fell in love and married and had four kids, just like their parents had done, and their parents before them. I particularly love the story of my great great grandmother, who fell in love with an older man. He took her from a plantation in Tennessee and brought her to West Texas to live in a dugout. She never saw her family or Tennessee again. Life on the plains was completely different than anything she’d ever known. The weather harsh, the farming and ranching hard, and throw in a few skirmishes with Indians to boot. She had her first child in a dugout, alone, with a ranch hand sitting outside in case she needed help. She went on to bring five more children into the world, became one of the founding members of the town where I grew up, and an inspiration to all the daughters who have followed her. She was a strong woman, full of grit and determination, and had she not been charmed by the doctor who was twenty years her senior, not only would I not be writing this article or books, I would not have the blood of hard-scrabble, can-do ranchers running through me.

Romance matters. Pick up a romance novel today.


 

Questions for the Author

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

I have a ceramic thing, sort of a screaming head with a hat. It was supposed to be a self-portrait in my sophomore art class. It’s truly hideous. It shows a definitive lack of talent, irreverence, and a developing sense of humor. I love it. It’s a great reminder of a time in my life that I was pretty pleased with myself for no defensible reason, and I have carried it around with me all these years.

If there was a movie made of your life, what would it be called, and who would play you?

Fourteen Ways to Sunday, starring Melissa McCarthy as me. It would not be a drama, it would be a comedy of errors with a huge supporting cast. Many character names will be quickly forgotten and referred to as “that guy” or “that girl” in the credits.

What is the best monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

Easy – love. It has come to me in many forms, from many directions, and with many faces. Some of it canine, some of it human, some if spiritual. It’s made this journey worth taking, worth getting up every day and doing it all over again.

Pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of your books:

That is a difficult choice for me, but I think perhaps the love scene between Lady Carey and Mr. Harrison Tolly in The Seduction of Lady X. Their attraction had been growing for years, but it was forbidden love and, as far as each other knew, unrequited. I love the scene where they finally come together. All those years of pent-up desire spilling out of them was lovely to write and to read later.

New authors to recommend:

A new historical author, who has set her Clan Mackenzie series in one of my favorite historical locations: Scotland. Juliette Miller has just released her second novel, Highlander Taken. (*Juliette has created R-A-R M content, too, at her blog.)

A new author who is making a big splash with her smooth writing is Terri Osburn. Her debut novel, Meant to Be, is a contemporary romance set on the Outer Banks. (*And Terri, too – read her R-A-R M content here.)

Julia has generously donated a copy of Homecoming Ranch to give away (international is okay). To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 1 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


 

headshot90kJulia London is the New York TimesUSA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly best selling author of thirty novels, including her most recent titles, The Last Debutante and Homecoming Ranch.  She is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a four-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Find Julia’s books on Amazon

 

 

Day 1 – Sarah Morgan – A Secret Affair?

A Secret Affair?

Recently I met a group of women (it’s important for writers to meet with real people occasionally and not just fictional ones!) and one of them was telling us that just the week before she’d avoided a serious house fire because she’d been awake reading at 2am and smelled smoke. She’d left a candle burning downstairs and had she not acted quickly the consequences could have been serious. The other people in the group questioned her about the damage, which fortunately was minimal. My question was ‘what were you reading?’

Sarah's 2013 Rita winner

I knew she had two very young children. For a mother of very young children to stay awake until 2am reading had to mean it was a good book. She blushed and said it was just a piece of ‘light rubbish’. I pointed out that the ‘light rubbish’ had kept her reading until the early hours and possibly saved her house from burning down and I’d really like to know what it was. She finally told me the title. It was a romance. This woman loved the book so much she chose to read it instead of sleep, but instead of saying to us ‘you have to read this book, it was so amazing’, she was embarrassed and uncomfortable about admitting she’d read it. Why? Because this was a group of women who didn’t know each other and she was afraid of being judged negatively.

I have a friend who is addicted to historical romances. She reads them while commuting into London, but because she is afraid of being judged she slides the book inside a literary work she’s never actually read and never intends to read.

Society dismisses romance as unimportant, but what is more important than human relationships? Like many writers I’ve received numerous letters from readers telling me my books have comforted them in hard times and made them smile. Romance fiction gives women strength and courage. It can provide inspiration and lift you up when times are hard. A good book can be a friend, an escape and a teacher. Through a romance you can indulge in a love affair with no consequences and journey to foreign lands (without airport queues).

Do I mind that sometimes people read my books in secret? No, I don’t. We don’t all want conflict in every part of our lives and I want my books to be a source of entertainment, not stress. I’d rather be the author a reader is addicted to in secret than the author of the book that sits on the shelf to impress visitors but is never picked up. That’s a boring life for a book. I want my books to feel loved, wanted and needed. I’m happy when my backlist fills someone’s ereader. I’m happy to be the author of a book that’s crushed into a bag and brought out in times of anxiety, stress or simply because the owner needs a moment to herself before dealing with real life. I want my books to have curled up corners because they’ve been read so many times (you should see my copy of Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights!).

Read romance in public or in private, I don’t care, but if you’re up at 2am reading a book because you can’t put it down, email me privately and let me know the title. I want to read it too.

Sarah
xxxx


 

Questions for the Author

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

A strange shaped pot (I think it’s supposed to be a pot) made for me in a pottery class by my son when he was four. I have no idea what it was meant to be but I love it and it has pride of place on my windowsill.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

The Writer Wears Prada Pajamas.  DouksApp
Starring Emily Blunt as Sarah Morgan.
Pajamas by Victoria’s Secret.

What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

Love. And also my children (although my husband smiled when he read this and asked if I’ve ever added up how much they’d cost us since they were born)

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be?

I’d pick Damon and Polly from my 2012 RITA winning book Doukakis’s Apprentice. And I’d read the scene when they arrive in Paris.

Which author are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading books by Carol Marinelli, Ruthie Knox and Nicola Cornick. (*All three authors also provided R-A-R M content. You can find the post from Ruthie Knox here, Nicola  Cornick’s here and Carol Marinelli’s here – with thanks to the IHeartPresents blog for hosting it!)


You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.  Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

 Sarah has generously donated a copy of her next Harlequin Presents release, LOST TO THE DESERT WARRIOR to give away (international okay). To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 1 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


 

SarahMorganUSA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and has won the award twice, in 2012 and 2013. She also won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and has made numerous appearances in their ‘Top Pick’ slot. As well as writing for Harlequin Presents, her first full length novel, Sleigh Bells in the Snow will be published by HQN in October and Ripped, her first title for the Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin programme will be out in November. Sarah lives near London, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying. She loves chatting with readers by email and on Facebook and Twitter.

Buy Sarah’s Books Online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble