August is Romance Awareness Month. That isn't to say that romance shouldn't always be celebrated, but the month-long dedication represents an acknowledgment of how important it is to be aware of it and to hold onto it in relationships and the world alike. Believing in romance and love and the connection it provides fosters a sense of hope, and romance novels are a great conduit through which that message comes across.
It's easy to join the bandwagon and make the generalization that all romance books are alike and that they care only about physical intimacy. But what many fail to see is how empowering they are for both men and women, and the emphasis they place on their wants and needs, something that particularly strikes a chord in the wake of everything that has been going on in the news.
Romance novels show different forms of love, and offer a judgment-free space for readers intrigued by different concepts and practices. Its authors are also not afraid to weave in political, social, and economic issues within the love stories they craft. Christina Lauren's Dating You/Hating You, for instance, is an enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy on the surface, but at its heart, tackles the double standards that plague women in the workplace.
These novels also offer wonderful escapism. As obsessed as we find ourselves with the news lately, it's nice to step back and into a world that makes us feel hopeful with stories that show that happily-ever-afters exist even after hardships and extenuating circumstances.
In honor of Romance Awareness Month, 10 romance authors tell Bustle what romance books mean to them and the value of reading them today, driving home the point that while August may come and go, romance is here to stay.