Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Rebirth and Regrowth Of Contemporary Romance

Congratulations to "Kai", the winner in Casey's giveaway. Thank you to all participants!

On January 10, 2010, Carly Phillips stated to the Romance University that she thought we were seeing the rebirth and regrowth of contemporary romance.

When I was driving around Missoula recently on an errand, I heard someone say that contemporary romance was the fastest growing segment of the romance industry.

Why? I think it has to do with where we are as a nation and in our own lives. The economy may be recovering, but the vast majority of us are still struggling. The world is uneasy with a possibility of very damaging violence reaching its tentacles to America. The weather has damaged huge swaths of the United States, and yet we aren’t in concordance about what to do about it.

But why contemporary if you want to escape? Why not paranormal? Or historical?

The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost talks about two roads diverging in a wood. The narrator chooses “the road not taken,” and that makes all the difference in his life.

Almost every day we make choices that will affect our lives without knowing the consequences, like a butterfly beating its wing in Beijing altering the weather in San Francisco a few days later.

We never know how our lives might have been different if we’d taken the alternative road.

Contemporary romance gives you a chance at a “do over,” at least in your imagination.  We can be braver, richer, smarter, and more forgiving. We can have a fabulous career, live in a small town, travel the globe, and eat scintillating meals. Contemporaries are appealing because they’re possible. It’s more difficult for many of us to re-imagine our lives in Regency England or as a vampire.

As a contemporary romance author, I have a lot of experience to draw on. I’ve been a stage hand, secretary, teacher, tech guru, business coach, life coach and author.  I’ve lived in New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Montana, New York City, Pennsylvania, and California. The tech career gave me the opportunity to travel in Europe and Australia.

And I’ve been married more than once.

Nothing excites me as much as the tension between two people who are trying to figure out if they love each other.  The possibilities are exciting. Will they be able to overcome their emotional baggage? Will external forces keep them apart? We know they’re going to wind up together; it’s how they get there that provides the excitement.

My novels build that tension while exploring different aspects of our lives. California Sunset pulled from many aspects of my own life. In the opening scene, Annie is laid off from her tech career, similar to something I’ve experienced.

When my husband and I were first dating, we discovered the wine region in our own back yard--the Santa Cruz Mountains.  We wrote a book about the deep history of the area, and that knowledge became the backdrop of California Wine.

My latest book, California Homecoming, provided a chance to explore the life and culture of the Santa Cruz area more in depth. I’ve never been an innkeeper or an injured veteran, so research was required, but I love bed and breakfasts,
and a friend creates amazing cabinets which gave me the inspiration for Hunter’s skill.

Contemporary romances allow us to live vicariously and escape into another world. At the same time there is a guarantee of a happy ending, often missing in this crazy world.
I invite you  into the world of California Romance, where Sarah has just purchased an old Victorian on the Central Coast.

* * *
Sarah Ladina turned the key and pushed open the oak door, her pulse quickening in anticipation. Stale smells of forgotten perfumes and long ago dinners wafted from the entrance hall. She crossed the threshold, shut the door behind her, and leaned against it.

Mine. This soon-to-be-inn is all mine.

She rubbed her hand on her stomach. Ours.

Cobwebs huddled in the high corners of the paneled entry and a screw sticking from the staircase newel told of a missing cap. Layers of dust added texture to the floor.
The work was also going to be all hers.

Her shoulders sank. What had she been thinking?

“If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” Other people aren’t dependable.

A bark from outside made her drop her bag of cleaning supplies, snacks, and tools on the floor. Cautiously, she opened the door.

A golden retriever sat on the porch, staring up at her, dark eyes pleading entry. The dog barked again, stood, nosed the door open, and walked in. He...or she...made a beeline for the front sitting room, circled, and laid down.

Great. A dog who thinks it owns the place.

Keeping a wide berth, she walked toward the dog. “Shoo,” she said. “Go home.”

The dog looked up at her, rolled over, and beat its tail against the floor.

Definitely a girl dog.

“Go! Get out of here!” Sarah raised her voice. She did not need anything else to take care of.

The dog whined and thumped her tail harder.

Tires crunched the driveway gravel.

Sarah groaned, stomped to the door, and opened it wide.

To celebrate the launch of California Homecoming, I’m offering a $5 Amazon gift certificate to one of the people who comment on this post. In your comment please put:

  • A comment about this post on contemporary romance. Do you agree? Disagree? Why?
  • Your email in the format (Name AT provider DOT com) ie. janedoe AT gmail DOT com
  • The contest is open until midnight July 17th. Just Contemporary Romance will choose the winner.
To read more of Sarah’s story, buy a copy of California Homecoming now available on Amazon and iTunes

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST July 17th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. Casey, I enjoyed the post. When I was very young--pre-school--my family lived in CA. All I clearly remember was the Pacific blue and Catalina Island in the distance. You capture nostalgia and create anticipation all at once!

    Best of luck with California Homecoming and all your writing!

  2. Hi Casey;

    I was just thinking about you and California Homecoming the other day. Beautiful cover, btw. Thanks again for allowing me the privilege of previewing your story.

    1. Thanks for the generosity of your time, Rogenna, as well as the wonderful endorsement for my story!

  3. I love your list of careers. It's always neat to see published authors have such varied backgrounds. What you say in this post is exactly why I love contemporary. Also I think authors have much more freedom to create their heroines. She can be a mother, or not. Employed, or not. Sexually experienced, or not. Religious, or not. And within all of that, she can still manage to feel constrained by society and family expectations. Or not. I've been taking advantage of Crimson Romance's sale to try out a bunch of new authors and your books are definitely on my list. Thanks for this great post.

    1. That's a great insight, Dee. In the last half-century, the world has definitely changed for women. Depending on where you live and how you were raised, there are still expectations, but they change from one person to the next. When people with different expectations rub up against each other, it's good to remember that. :-))

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hi Casey. What you say is quite true. We don't know how our lives will be change by the direction of our decisions. I have often from time to time have thought if I have fought harder against my parents' decision, I would have a difficult career. Everybody that I know currently, I would have never met based on that one decision. I could be living somewhere different. Our lives do have so many possibilities but it is the choices that we chose that could alter our current lives for better or worse. As a friend of mine always say, "We don't have a crystal ball to tell us our future."

    That's the reason why I like reading contemporary romance. I'm able to identify with today's issues and the choices that I make.

    Thanks for the interview.

    1. Thanks for your introspective comment, Kai. It does quite boggle my mind when I think about all my choices, some of which I do regret. However, as my DH keeps reminding me, all the choices I made led me to him, and he's a keeper!


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