Life is Tough. Read Romance.

Why do I write romance? I haven’t been asked that question as much as I expected, but there’s a simple answer. Life is tough.

I’m sitting at Starbucks staring out the window at the gray, misty world around me, and realize the weather matches my mood. As usual, life and my procrastination means I’m writing this closer to my deadline than I’d hoped, and recent events are weighing heavy on my mind and my heart.

Yup, life is darn tough. Recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, et al have wreaked havoc with people’s lives. While those natural disasters are devastating, what truly tears at my heart is what destruction we inflict on each other. When did we get to the point where so many people believe the answer to their problems is violence against their fellow man? Someone cuts you off on my highway? Pull out a gun and shoot ‘em. Gone is a girl about to be a college freshman, along with all the good she could have done in the world. Something not right in your life? Take an arsenal with you to a Las Vegas hotel room and kill fifty-nine people who’ve done absolutely nothing to you. My heart breaks for the lives lost and those irreversibly changed because of the violence we perpetrate on each other.

Which brings me back to why I write romance. When I read, I don’t want to come away depressed. Life has a way of doing that on its own. The lyrics to Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” have run through my head since his death on the heels of the Vegas tragedy. “No, I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around. And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.” I write romance for the same reason I read it—to keep the world from draggin’ me down.

In my books my characters have been knocked around by life. In To Love A Texas Cowboy, when Cassie’s sister and brother-in-law are killed in a plane crash, she moves from New York to Texas because she become guardian to her niece. In Roping the Rancher, Colt, a single father to a teenage girl who’s left the military, struggles to find purpose and meaning in his life.

I write about characters discovering a strength they never knew they possessed and receiving help when they least expect it, but need it the most. Themes of finding an untraditional family when theirs has failed them time and time again run through my stories. Good always triumphs. The bad guys always get what they deserve in true Western fashion. My characters face life’s difficulties, but receive the reward for facing them and getting through the dark tunnel. At the end they find love, strength and happiness.

So that’s why I write romance—because life is tough. I hope when people read my books they escaped for a little while, and maybe they are filled with hope that they too, can find their happy ending.

Comment and let me know why you read romance to be entered in the drawing to win a Texas Starbucks mug, a gift card and either Roping the Rancher or To Love a Texas Cowboy.


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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at

50 thoughts on “Life is Tough. Read Romance.”

  1. I think I read romance to be taken away to another place, another time and to read the last page so I can have the “Ahhhh moment”. You know, the moment when the author ties everything up in a sweet ending where the boy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. Romance novels take me away from the trials and tribulations we find in our everyday lives.

    Thank you for the great post!

    Cindy W.

    • Cindy, I know what you mean about the “Ahhh moment.” When I wrote To Catch a Texas Cowboy I got to the end and thought, “This isn’t the right ending.” I’m not getting the “Ahhh moment.” I knew if I wasn’t getting that, readers wouldn’t feel it either. It took me a while to figure it out. I was talking to a friend telling her all the story lines I’d wrapped up when it hit me. AJ had been driven by his need to honor his father, and I hadn’t wrapped up that story line. Once I knew that, I added to the ending and got my “Ahhh moment.”

  2. Good morning Julie- it has been a tough week and life is darn tough. My heart breaks from all the tragedy we’ve been inundated with lately. Yes, that why I read, to escape all the evil in this world that keeps rearing its ugly head. I’m also a recovering alcoholic, I’ve been sober 17 years this past September 24th and reading has been one of the most important things in helping me stay sober. I Can escape into a book and forget everyday life that tends to bring us down. So I thank all you wonderful authors who help me stay the course in this amazing journey that I’m on. By the Grace Of God I’m making it one day & one book at a time. Have a great day and Happy Fall, my favorite time of the year.

    • Tonya, congratulations on your sobriety. Seventeen years and counting, talk about having strength and courage. May God be with you as you face every day, and what an honor, that you credit reading to help you on your journey. I’ll never forget that and will keep it in mind as I put words on the page.

  3. Reading inspirational romance takes me to a happy place, whether it be historical, contemporary, suspense or thriller/mystery. It also makes me appreciate my husband each time I read a book.

    • MH, I know what you mean about going to your happy place. I set my stories for Harlequin American in Estes Park, Colorado, and as I wrote them, I found myself going back in my mind to one of my favorite mini-vacations there. Though Wishing is fictional, I based it on Athens, Texas, another place I love, and I’m always transported there when I work on those stories. Thanks for stopping by this morning!

  4. Reading romance takes me out of the real world for a while and I know there will be a happy ending.

  5. I like to read romance because it takes me away from my boring life and very unromantic husband. I also like the happily ever afters. If a book is set in a destination that I dream of traveling to, that makes it even better. I like to post about the books that I like on my Facebook page and one time I had someone being mean to me and asked why I read trash and if I ever read any good books. I had to tell her off (and later unfriended her) because I love romance and I think they are very good books. People who don’t read them don’t know what they are missing.

    • Janine, I laughed when I read your “unromantic husband” comment. I’m married to an engineer, and he is a fantastic man, but not very romantic either. Some of his characteristics do show up in my heroes, though. He’s steady, consistent and has strength of character. I’ll take that and a man who’s there when times get tough over romantic any day!

      I think people who call romance novels trash haven’t ever read one. Otherwise they’d realize they’re not about sex. They’re about developing a relationship. They’re about family and finding someone who understands you, respects you, will be there for you during life’s ups and downs, and wants to build a life with you. One of the Las Vegas victims shielded his wife with his own body. He died saving her. That’s a hero, and we all hope to find someone that would love us that much. That’s the kind of relationships I try to create in my stories.

      Thanks for stopping by this morning!

    • Quilt Lady, I’m glad you enjoy romance. I’m guessing you also enjoy quilting. My BFF makes beautiful quilts. She gave me a gorgeous one for my guest room. Which reminds me, I’ve never posted a picture of it. Add one more thing to the To Do list…

  6. to be in someone else world for a little while and enjoy their life – to escape from all these horrors we are living through!

  7. Excellent post, Julie. I think if more people read romance, there would be less violence. Romance soothes the soul and gives you hope for tomorrow. I write it for the same reason you do. Everything can be going wrong in my life and chaos is everywhere, but the minute I dive into my story, wonderful peace descends. I forget about everything except the people in my story and giving them that HEA. These are crazy times in which we live. I’ve gotta write faster.

    Hugs and peace, my Filly sister!

  8. I wouldn’t say I read for escapism; I read for the experience, what I can learn and feel, and maybe see differently. The best writers are always saying more than just the romance although that’s the key framework for the story of course. The best romance writer always leave me with a satisfied sigh at the end but they also give me new insights and things to think about. Here’s an example from you wonderful blog, Julie:

    “I write about characters discovering a strength they never knew they possessed and receiving help when they least expect it, but need it the most.”

    If that’s not an excellent summary of life, I don’tknow what one is. Thank you, Julie

  9. When I read romance it makes me feel as if I am back in another era when men were men, politeness and kindness were important and love was real.

  10. When someone says romance it means something special, emotional, long lasting, and a time and era such as the 1950’s when everything as meaningful. I read romance for these reasons and to travel back in time and dream.

  11. I enjoy romance novels with a little humor, a little mystery, and of course a happy ending. They help me put away the cares of the day and think of more pleasant things. If tv shows and movies were more like romance novels maybe fewer people would choose violence as a way to solve their problems.

  12. When reading, I leave everything behind and enjoy the book. Romance novels are some of the best!

  13. I love reading for the adventures, the journeys, the tales of fighting for and finding love… the wonderful HEAs!!!

  14. Hi Julie. I have been blessed with a loving and loyal husband, a sweet, kind daughter and a precious granddaughter so I can’t say that I read romances to find family love . Perhaps it is because I have always lived in the same area and I want to experience travel via my books and my recliner. Perhaps it is because this farmer and retired librarian desires adventure through exciting characters. Or maybe it is simply because I love happy endings and there is enough tragedy and grief in our troubled world. It doesn’t really matter why. The important thing is for authors like you to write these books for people like me!

      • We now have our home and 1 acre of land on the farm in Kentucky that we purchased in 1978. Woe! I just realized it will be 40 years in March?

  15. I guess a simple answer for me is I am a huge romantic at heart so that’s why I love to read romance! The journey a couple travels to get to their happily-ever-after is fun to watch 🙂

    Thanks for the giveaway, I especially love that coffee mug! Coffee and a good book, that’s the perfect combination right there 🙂

      • I so agree with you Julie! The more challenges that come their way and the more they overcome them, the sweeter the HEA is at the end (in my opinion) 🙂 *Blissful sigh*

  16. As with most others, I read romance to escape from the reality of the craziness in the world. There may be danger, bad things, evil people in the romance stories, but for the most part, we know things will still turn out all right and there will be an HEA. Bad things do happen in these stories and sometimes the bad people don’t fully receive due punishment. However, that is the way life really is. The story shows us that we can still overcome and survive the bad and have a good, happy life.

  17. It is fun! I get to “live another life” and see new places through the pages of a book! I love my real life too, but it is fun to “live” others lives through books! It helps me relax too. I enjoy romance best because that is most like real life to me.

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