I have to tell you, it’s a crazy week in the Dumas household!

One week and one day before Read-A-Romance Month begins. (What? You don’t know that August is RARM, where the world comes together to celebrate romance novels and the romance genre? I’ll share a link at the end of this post.)

It’s also Restaurant Week in my fair city of Madison, Wisconsin, and since my husband is a restaurant proprietor, that also makes things a little busier than usual....

And finally, it’s the RWA National conference this week in San Antonio. I’m not going to San Antonio—which makes me sad, because I was born and raised in Texas and have a ton of friends I was hoping to meet up with in nearby Austin, on top of all of the amazing writers who’ll be there—but if you’re at all connected to the romance writing community there is so much that happens this week that you’re still caught up in the energy and excitement of the conference and everything going on. Social networks keep you informed and connected, and even if you can’t be there, it’s still fun to experience it vicariously.

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Good luck to all of the Rita and Golden Heart Finalists! So many great writers and books up for awards this year, I am very glad not to be a final judge (especially in historical romance—that’s quite a list, with a big bunch of my 2013 favorites.)

With so much going on though, I’ve been feeling very scattered and had a hard time coming up with a topic for this week. Perhaps great Morning Glory Texas-based romances? I may be from Texas, but I just realized I haven’t read many romances based there. I asked around a bit and received some wonderful recommendations, including classics like Morning Glory by Lavyrle Spencer and Lorraine Heath’s Texas-based books. (With special mention of Always To Remember, for which Wendy the Super Librarian wrote an eye-popping positive review last week.) I’d also like to mention a lovely little-known Harlequin Historical, The Rebel and the Lady by my real-life friend Kathryn Albright, which takes place in the shadow of The Battle at The Alamo. (I’m glad I read that one when it came out a few years ago, or this Daughter of the Lone Star State romance advocate might have to turn in her Born-in-Texas card!)

Then I thought, how about food and/or restaurant-based romances? Ooh, there are so many great ones out there, and a few that just recently released. I enjoy everything by author Barbara O’Neal—aka Barbara Samuel—and her March release, The All You Can Dream Buffet, is next on my to-be-listened-to pile. (Can’t wait!) Susan Wiggs’ recent The BeekeepeApple Orchardr’s Ball was a lovely follow-up to last year’s exquisite The Apple Orchard. It revolves around the opening of a destination cooking school and includes scrumptious recipes. I actually love this kind of romance and will probably have to do a full blog on it someday, considering all the great options.

However, I soon realized that this post should highlight a recent favorite, Linda Francis Lee’s The Glass Kitchen, a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s also a great book for this post, because it includes elements of both Texas and food—how perfect is that?!

This sweet, sexy, magical book follows Portia as she escapes her mismatched and philandering husband by fleeing Texas to move into the Manhattan basement apartment she’s inherited. Navigating complicated relationships with her two sisters who abandoned Texas for New York years ago, as well as the fractured family upstairs—especially the younger daughter desperate to heal them and her compelling but distant father—Portia reawakens a long lost gift she must learn to embrace in order to claim the enchanted life she is meant to live.

I’ve been following Linda Francis Lee for a while and have enjoyed everything I’ve read, but this may be her best yet. I loved it, and if you enjoy food-based books and/or books with Glass Kitchenmagical elements, you should definitely pick it up. You might enjoy it even more if you’re from Texas.

So yes, I’m feeling a little scattered. But see? I still managed to share some really great books for you to try, and channel a little love to RWA and my great home state of Texas.

Brava, romance.

Want to win a copy of The Glass Kitchen? Publisher St. Martin’s is generously offering three copies of the book to give away. You can enter to win one at my Facebook page.

Want to learn more about Read-A-Romance Month, the online festival of romance novels and the romance genre? Ninety-three authors—three a day during the month of August—will post essays on the theme Celebrate Romance. To learn more and see the calendar of participating authors, check out the home page. August is a great month for romance!

Bonus: Read Linda Francis Lee’s lovely RARM 2013 post here.

Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer, book reviewer, romance advocate, and founder of ReadARomanceMonth.com. She mostly writes about books and romance for NPR, The Huffington Post and Kirkus.