Hi romance friends!

It’s August, which in my world (and I hope the whole romance world!) means Read-A-Romance Month! I hope you’re all checking in each day to read the amazing essays and fun Q&As on the theme of The Joy of Romance. I’m always humbled by the breadth, depth, and poignancy of messages romance authors bring to the event, and how eloquently they express their own love of this wonderful genre.

If you haven’t discovered Read-A-Romance Month yet, I hope you’ll give it a peek. You can find the full calendar of authors here

It’s been a great summer for romance. Romance Writers of America had an extremely fun and positive sold-out conference in New York. The NPR summer book spotlight was all about romance, and a poll to nominate top romance titles was shut down early because of the huge and overwhelming response. (Go romance!)

Media coverage in mainstream and book-based platforms is becoming increasingly positive. Jezebel, BuzzFeed, BookBub, BookRiot and even the Washington Post all have routinely positive essays and commentary on the romance genre. Brava! (And of course it goes without saying that Kirkus, NPR and Barnes & Noble have regular pieces that smile on romance, since I regularly write them! But I am grateful that they have given me those spaces.)

I sense a shift. A positive shift. And even if sometimes it feels like three steps forward, two steps back—as it often feels in regard to anything having to do with women’s interests—today, I’m choosing to focus on the net positive one step, rather than the tiring two we lose too often in the journey.

I wrote a bit about the dark side in a recent popular piece I did for B&N, but today, on a beautiful, sunny, not-too-humid summer day in Wisconsin, I’m focusing on the light.

There’s a lot to celebrate.

Susan Mallery hit the NYT bestseller list at #1 this week. And in so many ways, her Facebook post about hitting that fantastic milestone represents what is so wonderful about this community that so many people outside of it don’t get.

This was her post:

THRILL ME is a #1 New York Times bestseller!!! After 22 years and 140 books, I'm an overnight success. {wink} Thank you to every single one of you who bought Thrill Me during its first week of release. YOU made this happen, and I am so grateful. I can't tell you how much your enthusiasm means to me.

Years ago, my friend Debbie Macomber gave me a bottle of champagne and told me to open it when I became a #1 New York Times bestselling author. She believed in me. I opened that bottle this afternoon. Here's to the most wonderful readers in the world!!!

Do you see how perfect that is? There’s friendship, support, faith, humor, self-deprecation, steadfastness, community and gratitude. In just two short paragraphs. Susan has done a posSusan Malleryt every year for Read-A-Romance Month (thanks Susan!), commenting on romance as feminism (2013); romance as representative of real-life, long-term romantic happiness (2014); and the importance of community in romance, both the books and the actual romance community (2015). 

Like most highly successful romance authors, Susan is great at what she does because she understands how powerful romance novels truly can be.

In a recent conversation on romance, I brought up the fact that it astounds me that the same American culture that gobbles up self-help books that offer suggestions on how to “Be Happy”looks down on books that make women who read them (surprise) feel happy.

Still. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and even if too many steps seem to go backward, as long as we move forward, we’ll get there.

We get closer every day.

Looking for a books to make you feel happy? Here are some titles that came out this week:

I did an interview with Lauren Willig recently, and I’m right in the middle of her last Pink Carnation romelovenovel, The Lure of the Moonflower. I’m loving it, and of course Lady Jane is pairing up with the absolute perfect match for her!

Have not yet read this one, though I keep trying! (I’m just a little busy….) Anita Hughes’ Rome in Love looks delightful, with a nod to Audrey Hepburn and her experiences filming Roman Holiday. Hughes has a charming, breezy style that should be a great match for this storyline.

And of course, Thrill Me, by Susan Mallery. A second-chance-at-love story with a backdrop of Fool’s Gold as a “Destination for Romance.”It’s been that way for a while now, so it only makes sense the town would make it official! Congratulations again, Susan.

What are you reading this week? Other than the fabulous posts at Read-A-Romance Month ReadARomanceMonth.com ? ;o)

Photo: Susan Mallery; photo courtesy of the author.

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.