Every March, we bemoan the lack of representation of women in our textbooks, statues, science, and literary canon while celebrating a few token great ladies. Denied context, these women stand out like mad women in ballgowns in the wilderness — interesting more as an anomaly but hardly representative. The truth is our lady ancestors were living varied, fascinating lives and if we want a complicated, triumphant and real version of women’s history, then we ought to read a historical romance novel.

Historical romance novels — like the series by Julia Quinn that inspired Netflix’s biggest hit, Bridgerton — teach women’s…


In 2019 was honored to deliver the keynote speech at the Wisconsin Romance Writers conference and New Jersey Romance Writers Conference. This is that speech.

You can listen to the speech here: https://soundcloud.com/user-152218203/why-romance-matters-by-maya-rodale

This morning I’m going to talk about why romance novels matter. I’m going to talk about history, feminism and sex. But first I’ll start with a story about a creepy guy at a dinner party.

I was recently a dinner party and having polite conversation with the husband of the hostess. He asked what I do, and I replied that I write romance novels. Being a romance…


True story: I started reading romance novels in college at my mother’s insistence. I was pursuing an English degree with a focus on women as authors and characters when my mother (rightly) insisted that I could not legitimately get such a degree without reading the most popular and profitable books by women, for women. AKA romance novels.

Being an academic snob, I resisted reading those trashy books until finally I rolled my eyes and huffed and said, “FINE. Send me a syllabus.” And she did! …


As a woman, author and card-carrying member of Romancelandia, I was disappointed but not surprised when news broke this week that women’s representation in film “climbed” to a “historical high” of a mere/whopping 29% of top grossing films in 2016. I had the same reaction upon learning that the New York Times would be discontinuing their mass-market and epub bestseller lists — a decision that disproportionally affects women’s writing, particularly romance novels. Both highlight a stubborn refusal to make or recognize stories by and about women.

The New York Times book review section has only reviewed romance novels twice —…


The first thing I ever learned to cook, as soon as I was tall enough to reach the stove, was a can of soup. Campbell’s chicken and stars, to be exact. I remember being desperate to learn to cook as a kid and nagging to be taught. As a picky eater home alone after school, cooking meant independence — I could feed my hunger on my own time, in my own way. It meant the power to give myself that happy and content feeling of a full stomach.

The more I hung around the kitchen with mom (when she got…


When I mention that I write romance novels at cocktail parties, one of the most frequent responses from men and women alike is “Oh, like the Fabio books?”

When The New Yorker wrote about HarperCollins’s recent acquisition of Harlequin to the tune of $450 million, a significant portion of the post wasn’t about the deal or the genre, but…Fabio!

When the popular reality show America’s Next Top Model wanted to take on the modeling challenge of a romance novel cover photo shoot, they enlisted…Fabio! After all, in the words of Tyra Banks, he is “Mr. Romance Novel himself.”

When I…

Maya Rodale

Bestselling author of funny, feminist historical romance. Romance reviewer for @nprbooks. As seen in Bustle, Glamour, Shondaland, Buzzfeed, HuffPo,PBS. She/Her.

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