By Maureen Lee Lenker
November 25, 2020 at 06:31 PM EST
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Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Romancing The Runoff

The romance community is looking to give Democrats a happily-ever-after in Georgia.

With the auction Romancing the Runoff, which was organized by authors Alyssa Cole, Courtney Milan, and Kit Rocha (the pseudonym of writing duo Donna Herren and Bree Bridges), the community of authors and readers raised nearly $400,000 in the last week. The auction raised funds for three Georgia voter organizations: former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight, the New Georgia Project, and Black Voters Matter.

Abrams herself is, of course, a romance novelist. Writing under the pen name Selena Montgomery, she penned eight romantic suspense novels between 2001 and 2009. "We all lead political lives," Abrams previously told EW of the intersection between politics and romance. "The nature of making decisions of having to meet our choices and find pathways for opportunity — that’s what politics is. Romance is a genre that invites people to explore lives that are not their own, but who understand there’s a common thread for all of us. We may be making choices that don’t necessarily benefit us but we’re all impacted by the decisions that are being made."

"Democracy only thrives when every vote can be cast and counted, and we are fighting to help dismantle the legacy of voter suppression in Georgia," reads the group's mission statement.

As an impassioned voting rights advocate, Abrams spearheaded one of the biggest upsets of the 2020 election, turning Georgia blue in the presidential race for the first time since 1992. Her efforts have also led to two separate run-off races for the U.S. Senate, with Democrats hoping to elect Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Thus, the idea for Romancing the Runoff was born, an auction aiming to help organizations already doing the work to combat voter suppression on the ground in Georgia. Organized in only 12 hours, the website quickly swelled with auction items and raised $95,000 before the auction even formerly began. Over a dozen volunteers helped catalog over 700 items, ranging from rare editions of romance classics to manuscript consultations with prominent authors like Sarah MacLean.

Hollywood even got in on the fun with Bridgerton series author Julia Quinn donating tie-in editions of The Duke and I signed by the leading man and lady of the forthcoming Shondaland series.

"We read these books about the world falling apart and people coming together to put it back together to get their happy ending,” Bridges told Bustle of the romance community's swift ability to organize and fight for justice. “It’s almost like a training.”

The auction formally ended on Tuesday night, raising just shy of $400,000 and exceeding their original goals by over 150 percent. And that's not quite the end of their journey — Abrams added her own donation of an autographed copy of a hardback edition of her first novel Rules of Engagement. The item is open for bids through Dec. 1.

How's that for a happy ending?

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