Tag Archives: Carole McKee

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Carole McKee

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Carole McKee, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

What does Romance mean to me? It’s a wonderful feeling. While candlelight dinners and flowers are great, they are not true romance. Romantic? Yes, possibly.

It’s the little things that make up romance. Roses ordered from a florist are lovely, but that store-bought bouquet picked up at the grocery store, on an impulse, just means so much more to me. And nothing says ‘I love you’ more than when he interrupts a walk in the park to pick a wild flower for his lady. It’s a sweet thing to do.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

Romance is sweet. In my opinion, anyway. Subtle acts and small gestures that say “I love you.” A phone call in the middle of the day, just to say, “I’m thinking of you.” These little things are so romantic, and they mean so much. I believe that these romantic gestures lead to love.

Romance is beautiful. The whole world seems brighter; music is sweeter, colors are more vibrant, stars are plentiful, and people are happier when there is romance in the air.

Created by Freepik

Romance is love. Being romantic shows that a person cares. Just by thinking of things to do in order to make the other person happy, is a way to show loving and caring. That’s romance.

Romance can be so uplifting. It makes a woman feel special. Romance makes a woman feel pretty.

I worked with a woman who always looked sad. She was divorced, and had been for several years. Her 50th birthday was fast approaching, and to her, it was depressing. She told me she felt ugly and useless, and unloved. What this woman didn’t know was that there was a gentleman in the next department who was interested in her. He was 52. My mission? To make things happen. Now, I don’t like to play matchmaker, but I’m not opposed to spreading little factual tidbits. I told Jerry that Norma’s birthday was the following Saturday, and I just mentioned in passing that she had no plans to celebrate. Good ole Jerry took the hint. On Friday, flowers arrived at Norma’s desk with a lovely note, saying that he would love to celebrate her birthday with her and could he pick her up for dinner at 7:00 on Saturday?

Created by Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com

Gotta love Jerry!

I saw the biggest transformation I have ever seen. Norma’s face lost ten years right away. Her eyes lifted at the corners, as did her lips. Her face looked brighter, and actually healthier. When she showed me the note, the first thing she said was that she had to get some new make-up and get her hair done. I suggested she go all the way, and buy a new dress, too. For the first time ever, I saw Norma smile and become giddy. She emailed a positive response to Jerry. But it didn’t end there.

Surprisingly, Jerry was the romantic type. Norma and Jerry became an item, and Jerry showered her with compliments, flowers, and little surprises almost every day. I witnessed a wallflower turn into a rose. That’s what romance does for you! Oh, and by the way, Norma and Jerry are married now. They both retired and spend their time traveling, or just staying home. Isn’t romance and love wonderful?

Romance can keep a woman healthy. This may be a stretch, but I don’t think so. Happy people get sick less often. That’s been proven. And what could make someone happier than to have love and romance in their life?

Created by Whatwolf – Freepik.com

I have heard people remark that romance ends after the honeymoon. It doesn’t have to, and it shouldn’t. Why would anyone stop showing love and consideration just after committing to someone, promising to spend forever with that person?

Saying ‘I love you’ can be the beginning of a wonderful life together. Romantic gestures reinforce those three little words. But even before those three words are spoken, the little romantic things two people do for each other make those words flow easily, right from the heart.

Romance doesn’t mean the same to everybody. This is what it means to me. Most importantly, romance is what makes a woman feel cherished, special, and beautiful. Every woman deserves to feel that way.

Created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

I wish I could say that I have experienced true romance, but I was never that fortunate. Since I haven’t, romance is not a driving force in my actual life, but it is so in my writing. I know what romance should be, and my characters experience it. In my first novel, Perfect, there were plenty of romantic overtures.

Nathan and Katrina are truly in love, and Nathan is the master of romance! In all my novels my female characters get treated to wonderful romance, and my male characters get treated as I think a woman should respond to romance.

To me, this is the way it should be.

Wow! How incredibly romantic. I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Carole! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Carole McKee has been writing since 1996, beginning with a short story written as a tribute to her beloved dog after he passed away. She published her first novel, Perfect, in 2007, followed by the “Choices” series. She recently published four eBooks. Her genres include Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Contemporary Romance. Originally from Pittsburgh, Carole now resides in Clearwater, Florida. Many of her stories take place in Western Pennsylvania, a place she still loves. Prior to becoming a writer, she acquired a widely diversified work history and education.  She now writes full-time, and enjoys retirement life.

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Carole, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Nikki Ashton visits us on May 30th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Romance, sports romance, Writers, Writing

A Character Interview with Melanie Thomas from SECOND CHANCES plus a conversation with author Carole McKee!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Amber Skye Forbes’ character on November 25th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it.  I had the pleasure of meeting Carole McKee, the author of Second Chances, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Melanie Thomas, from the book.  We’ll get a chance to talk to Carole in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Melanie Thomas!


Marie Lavender:  Hello, Melanie.  Please have a seat.

Melanie Thomas:  Hello.  Thank you.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

Marie:  We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?

Character Melanie:  Sure.

Marie:  So, Melanie, what is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Melanie: I run a T-shirt printing shop. It’s called “Do-a-Tee.” Well, I started the company to give people who were down on their luck a second chance to pull themselves up. I hire the homeless–the ones who are hurting. Those who want to better their lives. I love it. Every time I see one of my employees better their lives, my heart swells.

Marie:  Great! So, what is your family like?

Melanie: My parents were killed in a plane crash a few years ago. I have a brother who lives in upstate New York. He does the same thing I do, except he runs a tool and die shop.

Marie:  What did your childhood home look like?

Melanie: Well, I still live in it. It’s a big house in an upscale neighborhood. Lots of rooms. I still keep my parents’ housekeeper since the place is so big. Besides, given my mission, I could hardly let the housekeeper go. Anyway, it’s a really pretty house.

Marie:  Do you have any hobbies?  What do you enjoy doing?

Melanie:  I enjoy running the T-shirt Printing shop. I love making those people happy. Other than that, I read. In the summer, I keep a small garden.

Marie:  So, what is your greatest dream, Melanie?

Melanie: To see everyone healthy, happy, and comfortable with a roof over their head. And of course, I would love to fall in love.

Marie:  What kind of person do you wish you could be?  What is stopping you?

Melanie: I believe I am the person I want to be. Caring, compassionate, and helpful to others. My parents left both my brother and I very well off. There was also a huge insurance policy they took out before they got on that plane. Neither one of us will ever have to work, and there’s plenty of money to make a difference in others’ lives.


Marie:  I’m going to throw another random question at you now.  Who was your first love?

Melanie: I have to laugh here. I was a terrible romantic in high school. I fell in love with a boy in my French class. His name was Kurt and he spoke French very well. I just figured anyone who spoke the romance language that well had to be a great guy and a great kisser. Wrong on all counts.

Marie:  Oh (laughs). All right…this one is going to be a bit more serious.

Melanie, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Melanie: Of course, losing my parents. That was definitely the most terrible thing that ever happened to me and my brother, Matt. But the fire at the shop was also devastating, to more than just me. Everyone who worked there was out of work for awhile until we could rebuild.

Marie:  Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?

(Melanie nods.)

Marie:  What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Melanie: I wanted to marry and have four kids. That’s all I ever talked about, growing up. I even had their names picked out. As of yet I have not achieved that dream, but there’s still time. Of course, I also wanted a career as a female executive. I sort of reached that dream, in a way.

Marie:  Well, that’s great! I also have one of my kid’s names picked out.

So, who is your role model?

Hands down–my Mom. She was everything I could ever hope to be. I loved her dearly. And I miss her.

Marie:  I know you do (pats Melanie’s hand). 

Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.  Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Melanie: NO. If I don’t like someone, they know it. I like everybody I am in contact with.

Marie:  So, what is your deepest desire?

Melanie:  To have a loving husband and children. Maybe not four of them, though. I think I may have found the one. No, I’m sure I’ve found him. Tim. We got off on the wrong foot, but oh boy! The shoe is on the right foot now. I’m in love.

Marie:  That’s great! So…let’s switch to another question.  What is your greatest fear?

Melanie:  Probably losing my brother. He’s all I have left. We are close.

Marie:  Well, thank you for visiting us today, Melanie.  (Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have Carole McKee on the stage today. Hi, Carole!


Author Carole McKee:  Hi.  Thank you for having me here.

Marie:  My pleasure!  We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Melanie. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

Carole:  I based her character on myself if I suddenly came into a lot of money. She is doing exactly what I would do. She’s kind, caring, and she gives her all to make a better life for the people who work for her. In return, they are loyal and they all love her.

Marie:  (Nods.) So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Carole:  Definitely her compassion and caring about others. She knows she grew up as a very lucky girl, and she just want to make life better for others who did not.

Marie:  Great!  Now let’s take the opposition on that. 

What, do you feel, are her greatest weaknesses?

Carole:  She probably doesn’t do enough for herself. Caring about the employees at the shop, her dogs and cats at home, her brother, and her best friend, Jack doesn’t give her much room to care for herself.

Marie:  I see.  What are some of her favorite foods?

Carole:  Italian, and — believe it or not–Deli food. Club sandwiches are high on her list as well.

Marie:  What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

Carole:  She’s beautiful, but she has no idea.

Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Carole: There shouldn’t be any reason to dislike her. She’s a terrific person. She’s kind and caring and she’s resourceful enough to help everyone with whom she comes in contact. She’s a beautiful woman who grew up in a wealthy household, and she believes in reaching out to others.

Marie:  Great!  Well, now that we have a real taste of Melanie Thomas, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Second Chances?

Carole: Well, doing what Melanie does has always been a dream of mine. In many ways she is like me, except for the beautiful and wealthy part.

Marie:  She definitely seems like a very special person, and from my own experiences with you, I know you are too.

So, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Carole: My writing is character driven. I build my stories around the particular character I want to develop. I have a degree in Behavioral Health, so I tend to explore the psychological aspect of my characters–especially the bad guys.

Marie:  That’s great! I can see how having that background would help flesh out your characters.

So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Second Chances or publishing it?  What would you do differently the next time?

Carole: No, not really. I did a lot of research, but it really wasn’t anything that held me back. I did my own cover. Since I’m not a computer wizard, I probably should have paid someone to do the cover. As far as the actual book goes, I am happy with it. I might consider publishing it in paperback now that I have a bricks and mortar store that carries my books.

Marie:  It’s definitely something to think about.

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog.  And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Second Chances appears to be.  Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by Carole McKee, a very talented author! 


Here is the blurb for Second Chances:

Melanie Thomas believes that sometimes people who are down on their luck just really need that little boost upward to improve their quality of life; and she can provide that. Since she started her tee-shirt embossing shop she has made a difference in her employees’ lives by giving them a new lease on life–hope–a second chance. Her employees are grateful and dedicated to her, but someone else wants her property for his own purpose. Things start happening after he approaches her with an offer to buy her building–an offer she immediately turns down. When inspectors start showing up, Melanie believes it’s a ploy to force her to sell and she silently laughs about it. But when the building burns, she knows exactly who to accuse. It hurts because she was falling in love with him. It seems everyone needs a second chance now and then.
Purchase Links:
About Carole McKee
Carole McKee is originally from Pittsburgh, but has resided in Florida since 2002. Most of her contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels take place in the Western Pennsylvania area, the place she will always call home. Carole is a passionate writer, making readers feel the emotions of her characters. One reader exclaimed, “Carole McKee’s books help cleanse the tear ducts!” Her first novel, Perfect brought out so much emotion that she got phone calls from people who were in tears when they finished the book. Another reader says that she laughs and then she cries with every one of McKee’s books.
Carole’s writing career actually began in 1995 when she wrote a tribute to her beloved black Labrador Retriever when he passed away. The tribute was published in a veterinary magazine a few months after it was written. Although the stories were in her head, she didn’t begin writing seriously until 2006 when she began writing Perfect. It was published in 2007. She entered Perfect in a contest and it won an ‘honorable mention’ which was just the encouragement she needed to seriously pursue a career as a writer. The first of the “Choices” series was published in 2008. Readers didn’t want that series to end, so because of many readers asking for more of those same characters, she wrote Consequences, the fourth and last of the series. It was published in the Spring of 2013. It was time to end the series. “Choices” lead to “Consequences,” eventually. In addition to these books, which are available in paperback and eBook formats, Carole also published these four eBooks:  Kisses from the Heart, Second Chances, Maddie’s Garden and Going Home. Coming soon is another series entitled “Testosterone Poisoning” featuring new characters, and new circumstances.

Carole’s Books:









And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Carole McKee, here are some of her author links:

Blogs:  http://author-carole-mckee.blogspot.com/


Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carole-Mckee-Author/218075198224440


Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CaroleMcKee

Amazon Author Central:  http://www.amazon.com/Carole-McKee/e/B0082D3810/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CaroleMcKee   

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Melanie Thomas, the female main character of Second Chances, and Carole McKee, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so fun to have you here! 🙂


Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, Contemporary, Fiction, Readers, Romance, Women's Fiction, Writing, Writing Tips