It’s August 31, which to me means, above all, the end of the 5th Read-A-Romance Month.

And I have to tell you, these posts on the theme of #ThePowerofRomance have been amazing.

People often ask me what my favorites were, and I find it a very difficult question—because they are all terrific representative essays on why romance is powerful, soul-affirming, life-changing, healing, educational, transformative, and all the other adjectives that people who read romance understand them to be, while so much of the rest of the world belittles them down out-of-hand.

This year, one standout post for content was Manda Collins’ post - Healing, Sustaining Romance - where she shares her belief that romance novels helped her survive a devastating childhood and teen-age cancer.

“There’s no empirical data to prove that romance novels helped heal me during that terrible year. Logic would say that it was the powerful chemo drugs that came as close as they could to killing me in order to save me did that. But romance played its own healing role. It healed my spirit.”  (Read more.)

Manda’s most recent title is Duke with Benefits, which features a mathematician Regency heroine and the Duke who falls in love with her as they try to solve a dangerous puzzle. I haven’t read it yet, but it received an excellent Kirkus review with this summary: “A bluestocking Regency romance of unusual intensity.”

Another post that gave me goosebumps was Sara Flynn’s - Lessons In Romance - in which she reminds us how romance truly can make us feel better when we’re going through difficulties, but can also teach us lessons in how to be loved and what we should demand, or at the very least, expect from partners who tell us they love us. The first romance novel she discovered was by Amanda Quick aka Jayne Ann Krentz, and I just love that one of the first fearless defenders of romance - brava JAK! - was Sara's gateway author into romance, and that she has herself become a writer and defender of the genre, with a very powerful story of her own. (Sara Flynn is the pen name of actress Meg Tilly, and if you read one RARM essay this year, I hope it’s this one.) 

“I came from a challenging childhood. Abuse of all kinds was rampant. My yardstick of what to expect from a man was extremely low. If a man said he loved me, didn’t hit me too often, didn’t chase me around the living room wielding an axe or a butcher knife, I was trained that I should be grateful that he saw something worth loving in me.”  (Read more.)

It doesn’t look like Kirkus reviewed Sara’s debut novel, Solace Island, which released this spring and is the first in a series, but it’s received great reviews elsewhere, including a star from Library Journal, which called it a "fetching debut . . . (a) satisfying romance in a cozy town setting." Which probably delighted Sara, since her “power word” in the RARM Q&A was cozy.

If you love audio books, like I do, you should definitely check out the Day 10 posts, from Julia Whelan, Tanya Eby and Xe Sands, three fave audio narrators - Xe even did a very fun audio version of her “essay” and shared delightful details about her own real-life love story. Tanya shared powerful details about how she overcame some of her own romance and body hangups thanks to romance novels. And Julia’s post was simply lovely — “But there is one area in which we are all equal. We all have the hope that we will be loved.” — which makes me even more excited to read her upcoming debut novel, My Oxford Year, which releases in early 2018. (I definitely hope she’ll be narrating it!)

Anyone who’s been paying attention to romance in the past few years has likely read or heard something from Damon Suede, who is simply a mesmerizing spokesperson for romance, and a terrific author too. (His book Hot Head might be the most popular gateway book into gay romance so far.) His post, Building Better Worlds, is beautiful, smart and stunning.

“Unlike every other popular genre entertainment, romance has always stood up for people at the margins. Romance has happily woven glorious sunsets for everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, politics, religion, or general quirkiness. Completely sensible when you think about it. In story form that posits the centrality of human relationships, how could prejudice or cruelty trump the simple magic of the human heart?” (Read more.)

Also? If you ever have the chance to hear Damon speak or give classes on writing, marketing or anything industry related, you really must go. He’s a master at craft and a brilliant teacher—plus he’s just really fun. Damon’s most recent release, Lickety Split, released this spring.

Yes, I’m biased, and every year I feel like every person in the romance community should read every single RARM post. Want to celebrate romance? Know the Joy of Romance? Understand the Power of Romance?

These things are written by romance writers, and you won’t find a smarter, brighter, more eloquent, more passionate group of people in the world. AND they keep publishing afloat, while writing their powerful stories despite being belittled and dismissed by much of the broader industry that they enable.

Romance? Romance authors? The Romance community? Romance publishing? 

That’s Power.