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.
No Force More Formidable
I slunk out of Algebra class with an envelope clutched in my hand. The sense of dread that can only come from holding a sealed letter addressed to your parents absorbed me. Far too much of a rule-follower to have ever tried to see what the letter actually said, I was certain it read something like – Jillian is hopeless in math. We’re not certain she can even count using her fingers. Please do something about this. The situation is dire.
So lost in my own mathematical misery, I gasped when the strap of my training-bra slapped against my back. There was already a raw marking there from the same torture I’d been given the day before. Turning to glare at my own personal nemesis, refusing the tears that welled in my eyes, he laughed in my face and assured me that I was too short and too ugly to ever get more action than that.
I wanted to crawl inside my locker and never come out. Instead, my best friend thrust a novel into my hands with a firm, “You have to read this!” We’d been sharing books since elementary school. None of them had ever had a shirtless pirate gracing the cover, however.
Certain that anything was better than being me right then, I took the novel, tucked it inside my World Geography book, and read for the rest of that day. The fierce pirate and the willful heroine fought each other and then joined forces to conquer all of the trials and tribulations thrown their way. The dashing pirate threw the depraved bra-popper off of his ship at the point of his sword. Or maybe, it was the antagonist, trying to kidnap the heroine and force her into a marriage for money that he drowned. I’m pretty sure there’s room for interpretation, and either way, I was in heaven.
If the heroine had the guts to stand up to her captors and even argue with her pirate when he deserved it, perhaps I could at the very least tell a teacher about my bully. In a moment when I felt utterly hopeless, it was a romance novel that yanked me from my reality, soothed my invisible wounds, and ultimately eased me back into my life with a plan.
It gave me hope. It showed me that there is nothing more worthy of fighting for than love. I am quite certain there is nothing more powerful than the belief that against all odds love will always win. And if love feels a little too far away, romance tells us to keep our eyes on the horizon. Hope is the ship love voyages upon.
Today, this world is often heavier than it felt the day my teacher handed me that envelope. I still can’t do math, and yet, that isn’t the biggest problem any of us face. Occasionally, the bullies are circling, the mortgage payment is late, and the headlines are gruesome. To trade all of that in on a poor math grade seems like a good deal. And yet, at the end of the day, there are always novels ready to whisk us away on an escape where love will always be victorious. Sometimes a certain ending is the perfect antidote to life’s uncertainties.
Romance will always be here to offer us hope. It will deliver time and time again. Because those of us lucky enough to get to write it don’t believe that hope only exists on the pages we script.
I, personally, got to marry my own romance hero, a man who may not drive bratty bullies off of our ship at the point of his sword, but who does fold me into his arms and promise me that no matter what happens he will always be there to help me conquer the cold, cruel world. I’ll take him over a sword-wielding pirate any day. I believe in the power of love because I live it every single day. I write about it because I want to give the world the love and the hope it so desperately needs.
Sometimes, I think about that girl with the envelope, the one who felt so powerless. I wish I could go back and tell her that someday she’ll get to deliver hope to readers across the world. She would know what a tremendous gift hope is. I’d tell her that her heroes and heroines will prove the power of romance, and that there is no force more formidable than love.
I’d also tell her that Algebra doesn’t turn out to be all that important. And to pay very close attention to the guy who keeps staring at her in class, the one who told the bra-popper to back off or else, the one who ultimately helped her pull a B in algebra. He turns out to be the best husband and father she could ever have dreamed of.
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment when you felt or were aware of the power of romance.
I would have to say the first time I truly understood the power of romance was at my first Romance Writers of America conference. I stepped into this room, packed with lovely people, who had stories of love to share with the world. Hope was in the air. I listened to speakers share what romance had done for them. Eventually, I worked up the courage to share what romance novels meant to me. I was met with a dozen nodding, smiling faces. Our paths all look different, but at our core I believe romanced writers write because the world needs the love in our stories. We believe that at such a profound level we write because we must.
Tell us about an object that has powerful memories for you.
Aqua Net hairspray! Kidding, I’m kidding. This actually goes back to that girl with the envelope. When my first novel was published, my husband got me a used copy of the novel with the pirate on the cover, the one I’d read all those years ago.
Tell us about a word that has power for you.
I love all the words! I believe it was Dumbledore, via J.K. Rowling, who said they are our most inexhaustible source of magic. He was right! If I have to choose just one, I’d go with hope. If you have hope, you have everything you need to keep going.
Tell us about a powerful book you read this year (or one that’s so powerful you’ve never forgotten it).
Fiction – Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Non-Fic – Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Tell us about a person who’s had a powerful influence on your life.
There have been a few people in my life who love to inform me that I write so well I don’t have to write romance. They insist that I should choose another, more respected genre. Can you feel how hard I’m rolling my eyes? Someday, I plan to dedicate books to all of them. Their words only make me more determined to write the literature of hope.
Jillian is generously giving away a signed paperback copy of Un-Hitched from the Camden Ranch series. To enter, leave a comment below by 11:59 pm PST September 3, 2017. (US only)
(And heads up that you can get a free e-copy of a Jillian Neal full length title by signing up for her newsletter at her site.)
She’ll be giving away more copies as part of the US 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.
Bestselling romance writer, Jillian Neal wrote and illustrated her first book at the age of nine, a riff on the beloved mouse and cookie tales. Since then, her writing has definitely improved. Sadly, her drawing skills have not. When her best friend snuck her a sultry, Fabio-clad novel when she was thirteen, she was sold, no going back. A vehement lover of love and happy endings she found her home between the pages of romance novels.
Her caffeine addiction is quite possibly illegal in several states as are a few of the things her characters do. When she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you’ll find her reading, indulging her unhealthy addiction to all things Sephora, or thinking up perfectly good reasons to perk yet another pot of coffee.
Though she’ll always be a Bama girl at heart, Jillian lives outside of Atlanta with her own handsome hero and their teenage sons.
Buy Jillian’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.
(Jillian is contributing to the US bundles, and sponsoring the cup/tote giveaway.)
To enter to win these bundles, send an email to Week4@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 Week4@ReadARomanceMonth.com 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 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