It’s always a bit problematic to say “spring is here” in Wisconsin, because snow has been known to fall in May. However, signs are good that warm weather is here for the season, and we are enjoying apple blossoms, tulips and daffodils.

For romance readers in this part of the country, spring tends to be fruitful in other ways as well, and this year has brought some really fun events to the Midwest.

I had the pleasure of meeting a slew of authors, readers and librarians at the St. Louis version on Avon’s KissCon last month. Authors included Maya Banks, Shelly Bell, Toni Blake, HelenKay Dimon, Susan McBride, Jennifer McQuiston, Julia Quinn, Kerrelyn Sparks and Candis Terry, and it was such a treat being able to talk to most of them. The panel included a fun and quirky Q&A that gave a sense of the authors’personalities. It was hosted by the St. Charles City-County Library, and they did a great job shepherding attendees and authors alike. Special thanks to the Avon team for making the event possible and librarians Jennifer Compton and Sara Nielsen served as the local coordinators.

If you’re interested, Avon has another area KissCon coming up in Chicago on the evening of Monday, Sept. 28 at the Arlington Heights Metropolis Theater. The event will feature 10 authors, among them Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Beverly Jenkins, Wendy Corsi Staub, and Tonya Kappes.

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Speaking of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I was so happy to have the chance to see her at a Romance Appreciation event held by the Windy City RWA chapter a few weeks ago. I was invited as a special guest (thank you Windy City), and it was great to meet a number of new-to-me authors and catch up with some I’d met befoKissConre. We were celebrating romance and the life of a beloved Chicago author we lost in early March, Cathie Linz. Cathie was a fierce romance advocate, a founding member of Windy City RWA, and a former librarian–turned–bestselling romance author. Since her death, love has poured out from across the romance world, and Windy City RWA has renamed this lovely annual event the Cathie Linz Romance Appreciation Dinner. RWA has also renamed their Librarian of the Year award after Cathie, a pitch-perfect tribute to this smart, lovely woman who was instrumental in starting the dialogue between librarians and romance authors. Rest in peace, Cathie. You were dearly loved.

By the way, Cathie has a posthumous book release coming up on September 1 under her pen name Cat Devon. Known for her wit and humor, Cathie brought her inimitable voice to the sexy Entity vampire series, and the romance community would love to see Tall, Dark and Immortal be her bestselling book ever. Jayne Ann Krentz calls the series “fresh, fabulous, and wildly entertaining”and had this to say about Cathie’s writing and this title:

“Cat Devon (Cathie Linz) infuses her books with warmth, humor and heart. Tall, Dark and Immortal is no exception. Paranormal fireworks and fun! There is an effervescent energy and enthusiasm in her storytelling that leaves the reader with a wonderfully upbeat feeling. I love Cathie's work and if you haven’t discovered her yet, now is the time.”

Finally, this past weekend I was able to attend the Barbara Vey luncheon. Wow, talk about the awesomeness of romance being in one (gigantic) room! I hesitate to even mention names, since I can’t list everyone: EloisLuncheona James, Kristan Higgins, Heather Graham, Linda Howard, Cherry Adair, Julie Ann Walker, Eileen Dreyer, Lori Handeland, Linda Winstead Jones, Jade Lee, Jane Porter, and Mary Burton were just a few of the mega-watt authors in one room.

Particular gratitude to Heather Graham for letting me stand at her table while I waited, breathing deeply, for my phone to turn up, since it had apparently been knocked into one of my table-mates’many baskets and bags. I haven’t had a chance to read Graham’s most recent Cafferty & Quinn title, The Dead Play On, which released at the end of March, but wow, it sounds great. You can always count on Heather Graham for a mesmerizing read.

I had a great time meeting new authors, catching up with favorites and gushing about romance with other readers. Kudos to Barbara Vey for organizing such a fun event, and for all the romance readers who showed up. I was at author Tracy Solheim’s table—she writes both sports romance and a new beach series with a Second Chances theme. She was a delightful hostess, and I’ll be checking out her books as soon as I can. Sleeping with the Enemy also releases in September and brings a pro-football team owner and an ex-lover back together to track down a malicious blogger. Yum!

My tablemates are an excellent example of the kind of draw this luncheon has for readers. Barbara (Michigan), Judy (New Jersey), Dani DeBuono (Illinois), Alyce (Wisconsin) and Windsong (Maryland). So nice meeting you, ladies!

So I’ve been kind of busy and more social than usual, but very grateful for the abundance of opportunities to witness the power of the romance community.

Brava, romance, and all hail the Midwest!

Photo above right: Authors Juila Quinn & Jennifer McQuiston at KissCon. Photo above left: Lucy Carol, Linda Howard, Lori Handeland, Linda Winstead Jones, Kristan Higgins and Deanne Gist at the Barbara Vey Luncheon.

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.