Thursday, January 31, 2013

For the Love of Reality: Harlequin Heartwarming by Karen Rock

Art often imitates life and Harlequin Heartwarming novels aim to do just that. I appreciate – and am eternally grateful for- fantasy romances where I am kidnapped by a ripped pirate with a heart of gold, handsome millionaires who whisk me away to tropical destinations on private jets and brooding dukes who risk their social standing and inheritance to make me their duchess. And don’t forget the jewels! I’ve spent many an afternoon curled up on a lawn chair, couch or in bed (gasp!) with these amazing men, transported to the incredible worlds their talented writers envision.

 
Yet Heartwarming romances diverge from the fantasy and are grounded in the ups and downs of falling in love in real life. It’s messy, contradictory, redemptive and ultimately uplifting. These ‘real-mances’ affirm that love flourishes despite life’s challenges. Romances bloom just as beautifully in everyday life. What better way to bond than when working together to succeed despite the odds?
 

Our readers will recognize themselves in our heroes and heroines. Some might say, “Yes- I’m that single mom working two jobs and fitting in meetings with guidance counselors for my lovable but sometimes problem child. But I’m also a woman worthy and capable of finding true love. And while my future partner may have an imperfect life too…he’ll be perfect for me.” Ultimately, that is a love story we can all relate to and it’s the kind of romance I want to tell.

 
Heartwarming romances make us feel less alone. They show us that no matter the soil, love can grow. Most of all, they encourage us not to give up on love. If a brave young woman in a Heartwarming can overcome a difficult childhood or past romantic disappointments and learn to trust again, than so can the reader. It’s inspiring. Art imitating real life- the beautiful, flawed reality that is our everyday lives.

 
Take the movie The Descendents. Who didn’t fall for George Clooney’s portrayal of a lawyer who must learn to parent his rebellious and destructive daughters when he loses his cheating wife in a boating accident? He considered himself “the back-up parent”, but by the end of the movie, he’s healed his family and himself. He is the ideal Heartwarming hero- a man facing the realities of life, making mistakes along the way, and learning from them. And we love him for those imperfections. Of course his cut jaw and dimple don’t hurt either. (Who am I kidding?!) Either way, he’s not the fantasy; he’s the reality. I wouldn’t have him, or my heroes, any other way.

It’d be great to hear your thoughts about what makes the perfect hero, romance, or any comments you would be kind enough to share. Comment below and you’ll be entered to win my copy of Lynnette Kent’s amazing novel, A Song for Kate, and friendship bracelets- one for you and another for one you hold dear… perfect or not J
 
The winner will be announced on my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters ; Please stop by and check it out or catch up with me at:
http://www.karenrock.com
http://www.twitter.com/karenrock5
 
(I love to pin- don't you?)
 

55 comments:

  1. What a beautiful and uplifting post. Karen you are amazing and I am totally in awe of you.
    I too spend hours and hours in bed with fictional boys... Really what could be better ;)

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  2. haha- fictional guys are awesome! Thank you so much for your kind feedback, Kayleigh :) I spend way too many hours reading too... but is there such a thing as too much reading (glances at my overflowing sink) Okay... maybe... lol

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  3. I love your image of ripped pirates and the others you spend your day lounging with.

    I love an Alpha male who will whisk me off away from laundry, dishes and vacuuming.

    I'm headed over to look up Harlequin Heartwarming stories.

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  4. lol- who doesn't love a ripped pirate?!! Agreed, Michelle :) They do take us away from our world. Thanks so much for commenting and for checking out our Harlequin Heartwarming stories!

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  5. I'm a sucker for romance, really. It makes me all mushy but I still love reading them anyway :) x

    Thank you for this giveaway :)

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    1. You are welcome for the giveaway! A Song for Kate is such a great book and it definitely made me mushy :)Thanks so much for commenting.

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  6. Karen, I could read your words forever! You have such a engaging manner. I would consider it an honor to have your books!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sandie! You just made my day :) You've honored me today with your kind words. Thank so much for your wonderful post!

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  7. Fictional guys are perfect as each writer does them, I spend hours with my fictional friends and family and I love those long series where you get to know them so well they won't leave you even after you finish the last book. I like them wisecracks and stubborn, sweet and romantic and yet heroic and wild when the time is right.
    Thank you for this, I'd never really thought about this.

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    1. I agree, Susan! It is great to really get to know those wonderful heroes in a longer series. That's one of the many things I like about Heartwarming is that the books are longer at 70,000 to 75,000 words. It's fun to spend more time with a character you've fallen in love with yourself... but don't tell my husband

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  8. I've not heard of the Descendents. I'll have to go out and find it. LOL, when you have kids, the hero is the man who goes outside to play catch with the seven-year-old after a full day of work and then comes in and kisses the wife who accidentally burned the meatloaf because she was trying to cook, do laundry, and clean out the refrigerator all at the same time, and doing it after she put in a full day of work.
    My hero

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    1. Pam your post just made me swoon! A man who spends time with the kids and is affectionate even though dinner is ruined... LOVE! That's the beauty of real life relationships and I'm so glad as Heartwarming authors we get to celebrate that aspect of romance :)Thanks so much for sharing that beautiful post!

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  9. So many men, so little time! I'm grateful that romance gives us such a variety of awesome choices. For me, discovering new genres of romance- and the men that go with them- has been a really fun journey. I started out a historical romance fan and was sure that a strong, alpha warrior was the only guy for me! But then I started reading contemporary romance and realized there was a whole other magic in falling for a local sheriff or the hunk next door. Since then, I've swooned over vampires and shapeshifters, futuristic warlords and football heroes... and added a whole lot more books to my keeper shelf.

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    1. It's raining men at Harlequin!! And we love them all. You are right, Joanne. Harlequin authors do an amazing job of making us fall in love with such different and compelling men. I love that I can decide which type of romance and which type of guy I want to spend my weekend with given so many wonderful choices... (again- don't tell my hubbie Then again, he feeds my habit by buying me amazon gift cards- so a shout out to him!) Thanks for sharing your insights, Joanne :)

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  10. What a beautiful & interesting post! You're an amazing woman & one of the best Author in this field. Romance is the pleasurable feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love and courtship. Romance is the expression of one’s love or deep emotional desires for another person. Congratulations Karen!

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    1. Thank you so much, Cristian! You are so kind and I'll share your compliments with the many talented Harlequin authors and editors who've made this publishing empire the leader in all things romance :) I'm so honored to be a part of it and lend my voice in such a distinguished group. And I agree that mystery and excitement are important ingredients in a good romance- one of the reasons we love those dark, brooding heros... what can they be thinking...? Thanks so much for your post, Cristian!

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  11. What a lovely and uplifting blog - I really enjoyed it!! And a Geroge Clooney photo too - wowsa!! Great way to start out my day. :)

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    1. I think I had you at George Clooney, Cathy lol! I'm so glad you found the post uplifting and enjoyable. What proportion of those good feelings had to do with George's rugged profile btw? For me it would be about 99.9%! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts :)And I'm such a huge fan of your heroes!

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  12. I haven't seen that movie yet. It sounds great! I love characters who are flawed but relatable.

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    1. Those flaws can be a person's most endearing qualities! The imperfect hero is one of my favorites and if you love that kind of guy, you will love The Descendents! (Besides, can any movie with George Clooney be a bad one- even with the sound off? lol)

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  13. I must admit, I like some perfect fictional guys from time to time, and I should *probably* read more about real romances (at least, hubby might be happier if I did, lol!). I'm not sure what makes a perfect hero--it's probably different for everyone--but I do know whatever it is, it takes a whole lot of work!

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    1. Oh those strong, Alpha men! They definitely get our heart racing. And, like in all Harlequin lines, they are in Heartwarming as well. There's no denying the chemistry between reader and Mr. Perfect when he says, "Now shut up and kiss me" and by God you were thinking the same thing... Remember when Rhett Butler said to Scarlett, "You need to be kissed, often, and by someone who knows how." SWOON! Thanks so much for your post, Meradeth :)

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  14. Hello, I too am a sucker for romance. I love the "un-perfect" characters. I can't stand the same old stories of "poor pretty girl finds billionaire to sweep her away".

    With that said...

    My second self-published book, Discovering Pride, was just released today! I'm excited to take part in the online reading communities and enjoy hearing what others have to say.

    Thanks for listening to my short rants. Enjoy the day!

    --Jill

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Jill! How exciting that you've self-published your second book. It's such a fulfilling experience to write a novel and I'll definitely be checking out your works :) I love the imperfect hero too and I'm sure I'll enjoy Discovering Pride.

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  15. I love real romances. Contemporary characters set in the real world with people just like me or my neighbors. And if those real life heroes can make me laugh as much as I smile, and maybe even shed a few tears before the story is over, I'm a very happy girl :)

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    1. Oh Rachel you said it! A man who can make you laugh and smile is definitely a keeper. I like writing romances that combine laughter and tears because that's what real life is full of- those ups and downs with the happiness that comes with a fulfilling ending :) And I'm so excited to read your upcomng New Adult series btw! Congratulations on your sale. I know I'll love it since I'm a fan of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century. You certainly know how to shade your work with those bright and shadowed moments in the best way!

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  16. Millionaire Bad Boys and other such characters are certainly fun to read about. I've enjoyed my share of fantasy romance. But nothing gets to my heart and can make me cry like a love story with real people or realistic characters. Being able to relate to the characters engages me in a way that more fantasy-style romance can't reach.

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    1. That was beautifully said, Ruby! I agree wholeheartedly :) When we see ourselves and our lives in the novels we read, it hits home and feels so personal. Thanks so much for your lovely comment!

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  17. I'm actually still exploring the romance genre. The best kind of romance that I've read so far is where the hero and heroine grow up together, life takes them in separate directions, but somehow they find their way back to each other. The last story I read like that was Cathy McDavid's Aidan: Loyal Cowboy, and I'm still looking for something similar :P

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    1. I love a romance where the characters have a long history and grow to love each other too! I have a story I'm proposing soon with that theme in mind... That being said, my giveaway, A Song for Kate, features a successful singer who returns home to find the girl he left behind- hoping to win back her heart. Thanks so much for your post,Candy!

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  18. Well said, Karen! And everyone! Hooray for George Clooney - snytime, anywhere. And loud cheers for the men who slog with us through our daily lives and lend the support a loving husband or significant other is supposed to offer. I think the basic truth is that THERE'S A LOT OF SEX APPEAL IN KINDNESS, whether the hero is a ripped pirate or the man next door.

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    1. HUZZAH for GC!! He's gorgeous but what's more, he seems like a warm, kind-hearted man and as you said, Muriel, that just makes him sexier! I adore my husband because he is a caring person and so funny (plus he dressed up as a pirate for Halloween one year :) Thanks so much for your post. It's great hearing from a fellow Heartwarming author (AKA a "Heartwarmer")

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  19. You're so right, Karen. It's uplifting to travel to an exotic locale through a romantic story (especially with a handsome main character), and to be inspired to tackle our problems instead of letting them tackle us.

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    1. That's a great line, Dale... "tackle our problems instead of letting them tackle us" Love that! Such a strong bond is created when we have a partner with him to tackle those problems :) Thank you so much for your comment.

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  20. Karen,
    Great post as always. What's especially great is that the Harlequin brand offers stories in so many sub-genres that there is something to hold the interest of the broadest variety of readers. Love is a beautiful emotion and it won't be long before Valentine's Day where the world celebrates love. Hey, is that right, or is that special day only celebrated in the U.S? I should have checked that before making a statement so broad. Ha ha. I'm counting on someone to correct me if I'm wrong. Happy end of January day. Spring approaches, happy days ahead.

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    1. Thank you so much, Roz! I love Harlequin for the same reasons that you do- the many options it affords its readership. I enjoy finding romances to suit my mood and love to go on eHarlequin to see what's new in each of the lines. I appreciate your comment :)

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  21. Wow that is all I can think to say now

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    1. Faith... are you staring at George...? LOL "Wow" is about all I can think when I'm looking at his picture :) Thanks for commenting!

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  22. George's character in the Descendents is pretty perfect. The perfect hero to me has scars and flaws, both physical and emotional. He/she is funny and intelligent and seeks the same in a partner, plus romance, romance, romance! I guess I like the same in fiction as I do in real life!

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    1. You nailed it! That is exactly my kind of guy and I enjoy writing someone with those qualities... my heroines too, actually. It's the feeling I get when I'm garage sale shopping... "If I could fix up this old wardrobe..." then "Nahhhh- It's perfect, chips, scratches and all." Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts :)

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  23. Roz - Google "Ís Valentine's Day celebrated around the world?" and you'll have your answer. Apparently it is in many countries, but banned in others because of its evil, consumerist roots. But, I'll bet even in those countries, lovers give each other their hearts.

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    1. What could be evil about love? And it doesn't have to cost anything than watching a favorite movie holding hands on the couch, the dogs, the cat and your children snuggled against you.

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    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you so much :) I appreciate your stopping by and giving a wave so here's one back (*W*)

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  25. Another fantastic post, Karen! I do love a flawed hero...and heroine, for that matter. Characters who've experienced life and come out a little scarred but ready to take on the world are both memorable and endearing.

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    1. See- I knew there was a reason we work so well together... :) Actually there are many reasons-but our shared aesthetic is a big one :)Flawed but redemptive characters are the ones that have made the biggest impression on me- one of my favorites is Sally in When Harry Met Sally. Loved them both but Meg Ryan's portrayal of Sally was brilliant and a standout role.

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  26. Karen, what a great and inspiring post. I especially love the single mom you describe and the imperfect hero that is perfect for her. Love love love that. I need to remember that as I forge ahead in my writing.

    And Sally is wonderful. That's in my top 3 movies of all time. I love exploring the whole can men and women be friends debate. The way she moved from an attitude of I know what I want and how I want it to one of you weren't what I planned but it's perfect for me.

    And your post made me want to start reading another romance since I just finished reading a book earlier today. Hmmm... which one to pick off my shelf? LOL

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    1. Syndi, I always love reading your comments and I can not wait to read your Heartwarming because your writing voice is amazing! I think we've found the right line since we both love those perfectly imperfect romances- as you said, it's those moments of growth that make a love before our eyes visible ! Thank you so much for commenting:)

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  27. Loved your post! I'm a sucker for a good romance. Everything else fades away and the author takes me on a journey where stress doesn't exist.

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  28. Hi Stephanie! I agree that Romances are such a great way to step away from the world and lose yourself in another- and thank goodness for that!! Thank you so much for commenting :)

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  29. Thank you for all of the wonderful comments everyone! The winner of yesterday's givewaway is Susan McGarvie :) Please email your address information to me at karenrock@live.com to claim your prize! Congratulations!

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  30. Late for the giveaway but wanted to comment anyway...I do love romance but only when it's realistic. While sure, every once in a while, I like a completely unrealistic romance, as a way to step away from the world, most times I like romance that's a little grounded in reality.

    Great post, Karen!

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  31. Great post! I think romances provide us with a great bit of escape from the more mundane aspects of everyday life. PS I love the rose picture!

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  32. Karen, thank you once again for turning me on to literature that I might never have reached for on my own. I’m so excited to begin the Heartwarming journey with you. I’ve given some thought as to what I would like my romantic hero to look like. Here goes:
    1. He might wake me up in the the very early hours of the morning to look at a full moon he thinks is winking at us in approval of our new found love.
    2. My hero, upon finding a couple of my long dark hairs (I’m grossed out) on a bed pillow (yuck!) would scoop it up and tell me not to worry. He says he likes finding them since we live so far apart. They remind him of my presence in a cherished place.
    3. He dances around in his underwear, love handles and all and encourages me to enjoy all the glory my scarred and weary body. My hero would claim I move like a queen. And I do in his kind and generous eye.
    4. I might find my hero, sitting on my bed looking dazed. Upon inquiry, he would tell me something revealing he discovered about me in my personal space. Something tender and beautiful and his knees buckled.
    5. My hero would not look away from the steady and uncomfortable gaze of an abusive ex. He would claim the man would have to go through him before he would ever let him hurt me again.
    6. My hero is willing to take a chance on love again, even though he is terrified that the universe might once again be playing a cruel joke on him. I’m worth it he claims. Is it possible it just might be our turn?
    7. He knows my children come first.
    8. My hero often speaks to me without words. He just knows.

    Looking forward to reading about many unique men and women taking chances on love after facing many of life’s real challenges in the Heartwarming series.

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  33. Fictional Romances are good for the soul and imagination.... There are many ideas you can get from reading them. I am a big detail type person and nothing sets off a great romance like DETAILS..... You imagine it, you embrace it, you live it. Over and Over again....

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