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.
Although many readers label the romance genre “escapist fiction” thanks to the excess of swoon-worthy dukes, billionaires, sheiks, athletes, and vampires, I think that type of pigeonholing overlooks the fundamental power of romance: hope.
Hope is especially prevalent in realistic romance—stories that reflect everyday people in everyday struggles.
Most readers have probably butted up against serious hurdles in their lives, like being a single parent, addiction, abuse, infertility, or death of a loved one. Maybe time-travel with Outlander’s Jamie Fraser is a solution (yeah, that’s hard to resist), but being transported out of reality is a temporary fix at best. Conversely, when a reader relates to a character like herself falling in love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, it makes the prospect of a happily-ever-after not seem like such a fantasy. What, if anything, is more powerful than that particular kind of hope?
Moreover, almost every romance is also a story of personal growth, and when a reader identifies with a protagonist, then she, too, might experience that same evolution, or at least see her situation from a new perspective. Both experiences provide that reader hope for a positive outcome from their own tough situation.
For example, books like Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us and Lisa Kleypas’s Blue-Eyed Devil show a cycle of emotional and physical abuse on the page. The reader gets a peek into the psychology of the abuser—of how a narcissistic personality cleverly makes his wife feel responsible for his behavior, which isolates and traps her for too long. Books like these brilliantly signal to women readers who might feel guilty about or shamed by such a relationship that they are not responsible for the abuse, and that they can leave and find love again. Talk about the power of romance!
Other love stories that tackle difficult topics, like Jamie Pope’s Hope Blooms (a grieving teacher who survived a school shooting that claimed her fiancé gets a second chance at love), Laura Moore’s Making Waves (a woman who is emotionally scarred by her mother’s entire family learns to trust and love), or my own Before I Knew (a woman rebuilds her life after her mentally ill husband commits suicide in front of her), hopefully empower and, at times, provoke readers who might be facing similar challenges.
In every case, when a romance grabs you by the heart, drags you straight into the battle for romantic and self-love, and then delivers you into the warm afterglow of a happily-ever-after, you can’t help but be hopeful about life.
And here’s the bonus: research proves that positive thoughts affect your brain chemistry and overall health, so reading love stories that give you hope and happy endings has an actual, physiological benefit as well. Perhaps that’s romance’s superpower!
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment when you felt or were aware of the power of romance.
This may sound silly, but I’ll confess it anyway. I’m an introvert and have always struggled with a sort of self-conscious insecurity. I’m never the person who will walk up to a group of strangers and introduce myself. And yet, when in the throes of my first crush (first grade, Jimmy Goldberg), I handed him a simple love note at school one day. Although he did not return my affection, I learned something about “romance” in that moment. In addition to making our hearts beat faster and our tummies flutter, love and romance makes us brave. I wanted to give him that note, and not even the threat of humiliation could stop me!
Tell us about an object that has powerful memories for you.
I keep a model trolley in my office. It was a gift from my beloved late stepfather to my daughter when she was born. Sounds odd, I know. But my stepfather—an accomplished, self-made man—was particularly fond of being, among other things, the Chairman of the Port Authority of Pittsburgh. For him, that trolley was a symbol of personal pride. He gave it with love, and so it is treasured and protected. My now sixteen-year-old daughter had less than three years to know him. When she’s old enough to appreciate the trolley, I will deliver it to her safekeeping. For now, it watches over me everyday as I write, and represents perseverance and love.
Tell us about a word that has power for you.
“No.” That’s a powerful word, and one many women are uncomfortable using. Too often, we feel guilty if we say “no” and thus end up committing to too many things, or getting ourselves into other situations that we really never wanted for ourselves. I’m fifty now, and I’ve gotten comfortable saying no. It’s been freeing, and I wish I’d learned to say it much sooner.
Tell us about a powerful book you read this year (or one that’s so powerful you’ve never forgotten it).
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. If you haven’t read this sister story set in France during WWII, what are you waiting for? It offers a deep and rich cast of complicated characters and complex relationships, and ultimately delivers an outstanding and powerful message about love, loss, and survival. I wrote a ten-paragraph review on Goodreads if you’re interested in more detail, but this book is a work of art. The other book that left me ravaged (couldn’t talk all day because my throat was so sore from crying) was Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You. I hoped, until the bitter end, for a different result. The story destroyed me while also leaving a powerful impression about the strength of genuine love.
Tell us about a person who’s had a powerful influence on your life.
I’m going to choose someone unlikely for this because I think even people we don’t know intimately can materially influence us.
My daughter has taken voice and piano lessons since kindergarten. For a number of years, she had a teacher named Chris York. Chris brought out the very best in all of his students and was universally adored by them and their parents. Throughout the years, I watched his students grow into the artists they would become thanks to his enthusiastic tutelage and respect for their individuality. We were all devastated when he got married and moved away, but I’m grateful for the real love of music and confidence he instilled in my daughter. He also inspired me to want to emulate his commitment and passion. I think of him when confronted by new writers who seek advice and encouragement, and I hope, like him, I can help people tap into their own creative wellspring.
Jamie is generously giving away two signed books plus an $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. To enter, leave a comment below telling us your favorite romance novel by 11:59 pm PST August 25, 2017. (US only)
She’ll be giving away another set of books & gift card as part of the US bundles, and is participating in the international bundles, plus she’s sponsoring the tote & cup giveaway (more info. below)
There are many more drawings too—including international book bundles! See the bottom of the post for more information.
National best-selling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than one million copies. A 2017 Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, her books have also hit Heavy.com’s Top 10 Romance Novels of 2015 and been selected as a Woman’s World Book Club pick. Critics at Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly (including a starred review), and Booklist have alternatively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking, and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.
Buy Jamie’s books:
*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.
(Jamie is contributing to the US and international bundles, and sponsoring the cup/tote giveaway.)
To enter to win these bundles, send an email to Week3@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “Bundles” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)
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 Week3@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “International” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)
Week 3 contests are Aug 17 through Aug. 24
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