In Conversation with Morgan Lockard: Must Read Romance

Calling all romance genre fans! Meet Must Read Romance, Carrico/Fort Thomas’ latest book club.

Mark your calendars for its first meeting on Jan. 5.

Held at 7 pm every first Thursday of the month, members can choose books to discuss based on rotating themes rather than an assigned book.

Share (and receive) recommendations, discuss what you’re reading and more. Need ideas? Keep an eye out for a rotating display at the Carrico/Fort Thomas Branch featuring books, audiobooks and a list of titles from the library’s digital collection that with each month’s theme.   

Attendees of the monthly discussion can even select a free book to keep! Registration is required.

Leading the club is Adult/Teen Services Librarian Morgan Lockard-Ellis, a longtime fan of the romance genre. Thinking about joining? Check out Morgan’s conversation with Public Relations Coordinator Mackenzie Manley about why she’s starting the club, her love for the romance genre and what attendees can expect.

Morgan Lockard-Ellis on Must Read Romance

The interview transcript has been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity. 

Mackenzie Manley: You’re a longtime fan of the romance genre. What are some of your favorite elements to find in a romance novel?

Morgan Lockard-Ellis: I shift depending on what genre we’re looking at. When it comes to historical romance, I really like the more independent heroines and a good male hero that is going to be very supportive of her. If you get into the 1980s, some of those can get a little rough. Newer ones (written by authors such as) Tessa Dare and Lisa Kleypas have done a good job of making more independent, stronger heroines.

When it comes to things like fantasy romance or even contemporary, I really prefer an enemies-to-lovers trope. It’s far too entertaining. You always get more witty banter with stuff like that.

Mackenzie: Tell us what readers can expect from the new book club.

Morgan: My hope is to bring in people who already enjoy romance or even bring new people into the genre to let them enjoy being able to talk about it with other people who also enjoy it. The publishing world calls romance the genre that keeps the lights on because they sell a lot of it. But it’s kind of taboo to talk about reading romance. A lot of people are embarrassed when they talk about it so I want to bring a new positivity to the genre. 

People can meet others who also read it. That’s why it’s themed and not a set book. Also, when you talk about romance you have issues with people who maybe want it to be a closed-door romance and others who want it to be steamier. I want people to be able to choose books they’re comfortable with.

Mackenzie: You touched on it, but there can be a lot of preconceived notions about what the romance genre is. What are some misconceptions that people have about the romance genre and community as a whole?

Morgan: A lot of people don’t think it’s very serious mostly because one of the biggest things to make a romance book a romance book is a happy ending… A lot of people think that just because it ends happily that it’s not serious, it’s not real literature.

I think people should be able to enjoy whatever they enjoy. A lot of (romance novels) these days tackle heavier topics, especially on the contemporary side. There’s also the growth of more diverse and LGBTQ authors. Romance is a great place for those authors to take off, along with young adult fiction.

Mackenzie: How did you first get into the genre?

Morgan: My mom and grandmother, my dad’s mom. They both read a lot of romance novels. I have a collection of probably 300 at home. A lot of them have been titles that we’ve shared over the years along with stuff I’ve added myself.

MackenzieDo you think there has been more acceptance of people feeling open to discussing romance in recent years?

Morgan: Oh, yeah. I really, really think it has taken off. Especially with shows like Bridgerton being on TV, I think more people are seeing the romance genre as something that is accessible…

As more people become aware of it, especially with the (COVID-19 pandemic) and people wanting comfort reading and escapism during periods where you can’t get out—romance, with its happy endings, is very much good comfort reading. Even with LGBTQ books. One of my month’s themes is diverse reading and I have picked a few LGBTQ books for our giveaway.

Mackenzie: With the themes that you’ve selected, do you hope that people can break out of their molds?

Morgan: I do want people to explore different genres since there is so much romance. Even when you’re just looking at historical romance, you have everything from Regency to Victorian.

By alternating the theme month to month, I wanted people to be able to see, ‘Hey, you may not have thought you liked something in contemporary romance but it turns out there is something you might be interested in.’ That’s one of our challenges with book clubs regularly: trying to get readers to try something new. When you do a genre-focused club, you have to come at it a different way to get them to step out of their comfort zones.

Check out upcoming dates for Must Read Romance and other book clubs at or pick up a brochure at your preferred branch.

Upcoming Must Read Romance Dates & Themes

January 5: Historical Romance – Regency

February 2: Romantic Comedy

March 2: STEM Romance

April 6: Fantasy Romance: Witches

May 4: Historical Romance: Scottish

June 1: Diverse Romance

Registration Required.


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Thank you to everyone who attended Hadley Vlahos' discussion of her memoir "The In-Between" last Friday. It was a meaningful, moving and impactful talk! ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago
Thank you to everyone who attended Hadley Vlahos discussion of her memoir The In-Between last Friday. It was a meaningful,  moving and impactful talk!