GUEST POST: Mental Illness in RomComs By Therese Beharrie

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I’ve been pretty open about how the heroine of AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER and I share an anxiety disorder. In fact, creating Gaia was a way for me to manage my anxiety during one of the hardest years of my life. I often escape into books when I feel anxious, whether it’s writing them or reading them. Imagining that happening literally, as it does for Gaia in this book, was the most fun I’ve ever had trying to manage my anxiety.

But what means the most to me about AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER is that I was able to write a romcom about a woman with a mental illness. If that seems contrary it’s because for a long time, the representation of mental illness in fiction tended to be on the more serious side. I firmly believe there’s space for that, especially in romance, but there’s also a space for a lighter portrayal. In this book, I wanted to show that sometimes the effects of an anxiety attack can be soothed with a joke. That sometimes happiness can give anxious people the courage to develop healthier coping mechanisms. That the simple joy and hope of flirting, falling in love, and choosing to share your life with someone all while laughing aren’t only reserved for those without mental illnesses.

Happiness, love and anxiety can co-exist. I’d love to think I’ve shown my readers that in AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

From acclaimed South African author Therese Beharrie, this #OwnVoices rom-com about a romance novelist with a touch of magic is loaded with heart, heat, and smart, sexy banter, while also addressing timely, weighty issues around the foster care system, mental health, and the power of creativity.

In this sparkling new novel, acclaimed author Therese Beharrie delivers a delightfully magical romantic comedy about a woman literally living her dreams—and maybe conjuring a real-life hero …

One unexpected kiss…
A lonely childhood in foster care taught Gaia Anders that the only thing she could trust was her dream life. Now a successful romance author, Gaia has the best of two worlds. Anything she dreams at night is magically written into her bestselling novels. Nothing real can compare—until she get caught up in one utterly surprising, crazy-passionate, waking-life kiss…

One near-perfect guy…
Workaholic businessman Jacob Scott has had a crush on his brother’s best friend, Gaia, since forever, but he never expected this explosive desire. Or that living out his and Gaia’s sexiest fantasies in their now-shared dreams would turn his single-minded ways upside down—and make him want all of the woman behind them…

One dream that could come true…
But Gaia has secrets from her past she won’t reveal. And Jacob’s attempts to keep the peace in his own fractured family put him up against her deepest fears. Now, they must somehow face hard truths about who they are and what they’re running from. And the only way to break this spell means realizing real-life true love’s power…

Reprinted with permission from Kensington Books

 

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Her fiction writing has received the Author / Ambassador at Library Journal Self-e Authors, Winner Queen of the West Reader Favorite Award, Amazon Bestseller - Historical, Double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories. Writing humorous cozy mysteries and romantic comedy, Jocie can find humor in most everything, even when she shouldn't. She lives in the Midwest on Dust Bunny Farm with her family.