Hello, fellow romance lovers! I’ve had the great honor to be a participant in two of the Rogue anthologies which are filled with stories of resistance-centered romance. Next week, the fourth anthology, Rogue Hearts, releases with my story “Coming Up Rosa.” The inspiration for my story is Penzeys Spices and the messages their president, Bill Penzey, includes in each newsletter.
I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for over a decade, but in November 2016, Bill came out with a very strong message against racism and the attitudes that led to the election of our current president. The reaction to that newsletter, per Bill himself, was deeply felt with customers heatedly ceasing their custom with messages of Bill crossing a line with what he said and others, who had never before heard of Penzeys, embracing the company. This was not a one-off message. Since that November 2016 newsletter, Bill and company have routinely spoken out against new governmental policies they have felt are harmful to America and its citizens and residents and in favor of efforts to bring people together for positive change. The thing is, these messages have always been deeply rooted in the company’s values of food being a way for people to express welcome, kindness, and love.
The same weekend that Rogue Hearts went up for preorder, Bill and Penzeys unveiled a new promotion called “American Soul” where they gave away a free box set of spices and flavorings they thought best represented the wide range of experiences in America and the soul of the country. The response was so huge they not only ran out of the box sets on the first day, but they also ran out of their supply of specialty made ¼-cup glass jars due to all of the people ordering enough product online to get free shipping and were unable to get another order of the jars in for another three weeks. These promotions are no mere marketing gimmicks. With every newsletter and promotion, Bill encourages readers to find ways to be active in their communities as positive forces of change. Bill, as a friend of a friend of mine assured me, is happily married to his long-time wife. How could I *not* base a romance hero on him, especially for a resistance-themed anthology?
I hope you’ll check out “Coming Up Rosa” as Ian deals with threats to his leadership over the customer newsletters he sends out and Rosa is challenged by our nation’s health care system when it comes to her mother’s terminal condition. Oh, yeah, and the facts that Rosa had a childhood crush on Ian, he rejected her attempt to act on it before she went off to college, and their mothers are best friends. I had a blast writing this story, and I hope you have as much fun reading it.
About the Author
Kelly Maher is the author of contemporary romances that feature smart heroines, witty heroes, and settings that make you feel like you’re living there. A city girl at heart, Kelly currently lives in DC where she works as a librarian when not writing. She loves hearing from readers and can often be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.