Passion Unbound: A Sneak Peek into Romancing the Books Festival's Author Lineup

By: Emily McQuade, Public Services Librarian
March 16, 2024

On Saturday, March 23rd, the Winter Park Book Festival returns with a new theme, Romancing the Books! Romance is one of the fastest-growing genres, with book sales increasing by 50% in 2022, according to Publishers Weekly. With this in mind, we designed Romancing the Books for readers.

At the festival, readers will engage with nine romance authors: get to know the writers, take photos, have their books signed, and win prizes. Special guest and bestselling author Claire Legrand will join the festival for an exciting keynote discussion. Additionally, activities arranged by our partner Lorelei’s Lit Lair will give readers a chance to learn about and interact with authors. And if attendees discover a new author, we’ve got it covered. Independent bookseller and Romancing the Books partner Writer’s Block Bookstore will be on-site for attendees to browse books and make purchases. Best of all, everyone will spend the day connecting with fellow romance readers!


10:00 AM           Edyth Bush Theatre Opens

10:15 AM           Welcome, Meet the Authors

11:00 AM           Break, Author Alley Open, Book Signing

12:45 PM            Keynote by Claire Legrand, Q&A

01:30 PM            Prize Winners Announced, Photos

02:00 PM            End of Event


Romancing the Books Festival is open and free to all, however registration is required for the keynote. You can sign up here: Winter Park Library Romancing the Books Festival . Learn more about the featured authors below.

Keynote Author

Claire Legrand

Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now she is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels, most notably A Crown of Ivy and Glass and the Empirium Trilogy, as well as The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, the Edgar Award-nominated Some Kind of Happiness, and Sawkill Girls, which was nominated for both a Bram Stoker Award and a Lambda Literary Award. She is also one of the four authors behind The Cabinet of Curiosities, a critically acclaimed anthology of short stories for young readers. Her next book, A Song of Ash and Moonlight, releases in September 2024. When not writing, Claire enjoys tending to her many plants, learning about fashion and interior design, rooting for the Phillies, and quoting Star Trek to anyone who will listen.

You’ll enjoy Claire’s work if you like fantasy romance that is steamy, fast-paced, suspenseful, and intricately plotted, with strong female characters.

Readalike: Rebecca Yarros, Jennifer Armentrout, Cassandra Clare


Featured Authors

Caro Carson

Despite a no-nonsense background as a West Point graduate, U.S. Army officer, and background at Fortune 100 in the healthcare industry, Caro Carson has always treasured the happily-ever-after of a good romance novel. Now a USA Today bestselling author of The Bartender's Secret and The Slow Burn, as well as a RITA™ award winner, Caro is delighted to be living her own happily-ever-after with her husband (who is a handsome Texan) and their two children. They live in the great state of Florida, a location which has saved the coaster-loving theme-park fanatics a fortune on plane tickets.

Caro’s writing is characterized as contemporary romance, friends to lovers, and opposites attract.

Readalike: Lisa Kleypas, Karla Sorensen, Emma Chase

Trish Doller

Trish Doller is a writer, traveler, and dog rescuer, but not necessarily in that order. She is the international bestselling author of Float Plan, The Suite Spot, and Off the Map. She lives in southwest Florida with an opinionated herding dog and an ex-pirate.

Trish’s works are perfect if you like contemporary romance that is character-driven, atmospheric, hopeful, funny, richly detailed, steamy and thoughtfully written.

Readalike: Christina Lauren, Katherine Center, Abby Jimenez

Becki Lee

Becky E. Conekin is a senior lecturer in history at Yale University and a senior research fellow in European Studies at the Whitney & Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. She has previously taught in Paris, Berlin, and London at the London College of Fashion. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the author of The Autobiography of a Nation: The 1951 Festival of Britain, Vernier: Fashion, Femininity & Form with Robin Muir, and the co-editor of The Englishness of English Dress and Moments of Modernity: Reconstructing Britain, 1945-1964. Her romance books include Finding Dolly, Dating Breena, and Discovering Jillian.

You’ll like Becki’s novels if you appreciate contemporary romance with a strong sense of place, clean romance, fake dating, funny, and heartwarming.

Readalike: Carina Taylor, Julie Christianson, Melanie Jacobson

Connie Mann

Connie Mann is a licensed boat captain. When she’s not dreaming up plotlines found in Beyond Risk and Beyond Power, you’ll find "Captain Connie" on the waterways, introducing boatloads of schoolchildren to their first alligator. She and her husband live in central Florida just a stone’s throw from Ocala National Forest.

Connie’s books include romantic suspense that is action-packed, fast-paced, friends to lovers, strong sense of place, and compelling.

Readalike: Adriana Anders, Jayne Ann Krentz, Julie Garwood

Madeline Martin

Madeline Martin is a New York Times, USA TODAY, and international bestselling author of historical fiction and historical romance with books that have been translated into over twenty different languages. Look for her titles, Keeper of Hidden Book, The Librarian Spy, and The Last Bookshop in London.

Madeline writes historical romance that is well-developed, bittersweet, books about books, life during wartime, hopeful, and engaging.

Readalike: Kristin Harmel, Ellen Marie Wiseman, Kelly Rimmer

Dylan Newton

Dylan Newton was born and raised in a small town where the library was her favorite hang-out. After over a decade working in corporate America, Dylan quit to pursue her passion: writing books. Her novels include Change of Plans, All Fired Up, and How Sweet It Is. When she isn't writing, Dylan is pursuing her own happily ever after with her high school sweetheart as they split time between Florida and Upstate New York with their two much cooler daughters and a tone-deaf cockatiel.

Pick up one of Dylan’s books if you enjoy contemporary romance that is well-developed, mildly sensuous, heartwarming, small town, candid, and engaging.

Readalike: Helena Hunting, Anna E. Collins, Lacie Waldon


Sera Taino

Debut romance author of The Trouble with Exes, Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more of our own voices stories to romance readers.

Try Sera’s work if you like contemporary romance that is authentic, latino/latina/latine, steamy, atmospheric, heartwarming, and upbeat.

Readalike: Jennifer Dugan, Evie Mitchell, Santana Knox

C.L. Wilson

Author C.L. Wilson’s unique blend of richly-imagined fantasy, action, and emotional intensity has made her books a favorite read for romance and fantasy readers alike. Praised for exceptional worldbuilding and lyric prose, her critically acclaimed novels, like Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows, have regularly appeared on bestseller lists including the USA Today, the New York Times, and Publisher’s Weekly.

Try reading CL if you enjoy fantasy romance that is fast-paced, action packed, epic, steamy, and lyrical.

Readalike: Grace Draven, Elizabeth Vaughan, Thea Harrison