In her 25 years of writing romances and plays, Donna Tunney has come up with countless names for all her characters – from a werewolf to an FBI psychic to a woman battling for custody of her daughter.

But of all the names she’s penned, one moniker didn’t seem quite right: the one inked on her birth certificate. After all, she thought, a character who writes steamy romance novels needs a sufficiently spicy name. So Ms. Tunney crossed out her name and took on the “much racier” identity of Roxy Boroughs.

“It gives me a little mask to wear,” she said. “I have a line that’s sexier, and I didn’t think my actual name conveyed that. It was a pretty boring old name.”

(The Pioneer used her real name with permission as she said the Valley is too small to keep her identities separate.)

Under her new name, Ms. Boroughs writes ‘nice books and spice books’ and said the happy-ending genre has much to offer.

Unlike a love story (say for instance, Titanic, she said, where poor Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t make it), romances always close with “a positive, uplifting end.” And that promise of a satisfactory conclusion is exactly the sparkle that “makes romance special.”

While the stories are guaranteed to turn out well, they come at a cost.

“At the end of a romance novel, the characters have to earn their true love. They have to change and grow and be willing to sacrifice something to be with that other person,” she said.

In many cases, romance novels tackle difficult topics with characters working through challenges such as body issues, overcoming abuse, learning to compromise or finding ways to resolve conflict, she said.

“It’s kind of a blueprint for real life,” she said. “You’re really exploring all facets of emotions. Some can be darker emotions or may be things that you don’t really want to face. It’s cathartic for the author and for the reader too because they can sit in their own private worlds and join in the author’s world that they’ve created and perhaps find solutions to their problems or at least a friend out there.”

And seeing the characters navigate their own struggles and end up with a shiny-eyed ending gives hope both to the readers and writers of romance novels.

“It encourages people to realize, ‘I can overcome things and find true love – even if that true love is self love,’” she said.

No matter what genre an author writes, there’s always room for a little romance, she said. Mysteries, action adventures, inspirational/ spiritual novels, thrillers, Westerns and more all benefit from adding some love.

“Even Harry Potter has some romance in it,” she said.

Romance 101

Ms. Boroughs – an expert at love and at writing who married her first love, has written seven books and sold over 25,000 copies of her stories – is teaching a romance-writing session at the Radium Public Library at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 5th.

There she will share her tips and offer giveaways and treats. She will also hold a book signing, where either Ms. Tunney or Ms. Boroughs – the character with whom she identifies most strongly – will add her signature with a flourish before sending her students off to write their own happily-ever afters.

In October she is releasing A Stranger’s Love, the third book in a spicy suspense series, and is working on a sweet Christmas romance. To check out her collection, visit