Last week I mentioned Read-A-Romance Month (I hope you’re enjoying all the amazing posts on The Joy of Romance! You can see the calendar here. )

It’s been an incredibly busy month, both trying to keep up with the site but also keeping up with the wealth of pro-romance events in the Chicago area this month.

On August 1, I attended a Susan Mallery Fool’s Gold event, which was basically a Susan Mallery Fool’s Gold lovefest. It was so much fun to meet Susan and a huge crush of her fans. To be surrounded by romance fans is always an uplifting experience, and Susan is such a lovely ambassador for the genre, as well as the enchanting community she’s created on the page! I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I hear her latest release, Thrill Me, is terrific.

Mid-month, I had my first-ever Read-A-Romance in-person event at the Schaumburg Library, and it was a grand success. There were 15 writers signing for the full-house crowd, and the panels and open Q&A sessions were witty and fascinating. Thanks to Julie James, Julie Ann Walker, Elizabeth Hoyt, Jade Lee, Lori Handeland, Sonali Dev, Kate Meader, Amy Jo Cousins, Nina Lane, Blythe Gifford, Adrienne Giordano, Kathryn Albright, Christine Merrill, Corrina Lawson, Tracey Devlyn and Beverly Long (mostly Wisconsin and Chicago-area writers). Definitely looking forward to more of these in the future!

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Finally, this week Kristan Higgins and Sonali Dev did a signing at the legendary Anderson’s BookKristanHiggans_dinner Store in Naperville, Illinois, and I wended my way across the Wisconsin border to join them and a good crowd for that. (Kristan’s book If You Only Knew, came out Tuesday.) I was invited to dinner beforehand and was delighted to find that Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Joyce Lamb (the writer and romance advocate behind the fab USA Today/HEA blog) were there too.

Read-A-Romance Month is just wrapping up. In some ways, August always feels something like a wedding to me: I’m both amazed that all the hard work has come to great fruition, but also a little sad that I’m too busy to relish it.

Nonetheless, the essays always make me laugh and smile; they make my heart soar and ache. They are wise and funny and profound. Rather like many romance novels.

I hope you’ll check out the lovely Read-A-Romance Month essays. And if you’d like a few suggestions for books that are touching, passionate and sweet, here are some:

If you haven’t discovered Susan Donovan yet, then you’re in for a treat. Her delightful Bayberry Island series concludes with the Sept. 1 release Moondance Beach, in which an artist may finally have the chance to win the heart of the Navy SEAL she’s loved for years from afar.

Christina Dodd’s Virtue Falls series is suspenseful and romantic, with a touch of Native American mysticism. If you like intrigue and adventure, you’ll love this book. Tall Dark Immorta

I haven’t had a chance to read the next Jennifer Ashley book, The Stolen Mackenzie Bride, which moves the Mackenzie clan into the highlands of the 18th century and extends the passionate family back a generation, but what a fun concept and a great way to take this superb historical series in a new direction. Can’t wait to read it!

Finally, I hope you’ll all consider purchasing Cat Devon’s Tall, Dark and Immortal, which releases Sept. 1. Cat Devon, aka Cathie Linz, passed away this spring, but she was a beloved romance advocate and was instrumental in changing the way libraries carried and considered romance. She will be sorely missed, and I know her friends and the industry would love to see her final book, published posthumously, crack every possible list. Cathie was known for her bright humor and sexy heroes, and this title looks to be more of her hallmark style and wit. 

(There a slew of great authors releasing in early September, including Mary Balogh, Tracie Solheim, Sabrina York, Christine Feehan, Shana Galen, Tawna Fenske, Beth Kery, Julie Ann Walker, Barbara Freethy, Cara McKenna, J. Kenner, and D.D. Ayres. If you’re already a fan of these authors, then here’s your heads up for their new releases. If you’re not, then give them a try!)

Summer’s almost over. Savor every last drop!

Happy reading. xo

Photo above right: Kristan Higgins, Sonali Dev, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips before the Anderson's signing

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