Tag Archives: romance novels

Why I Write…

The answer to this question varies with my mood. Some days I have a story to share that I think people will enjoy. Other times I simply need to express myself and words are my best tool for that. There are times I feel like being clever with language. Other days I have this ridiculous notion I’ve come up with something important to convey. Once I answered this question by talking about how writing fiction and poetry is the best way for me to organize my scattered thoughts and make some kind of sense of this messy world too.

I was thinking about all this a little while ago when I re-downloaded my drafts of Attractive Nuisance and Sweet Nothings from the cloud. The other day I’d told a friend I hadn’t been working on a novel lately, only flash fiction and poetry, because I can’t focus for more than a few minutes at a time. But ever since yesterday, when I impulsively replied to Jim’s post about a song, by jabbering on about an old pile of writing, I’ve been energized about working on this layered tale again.

Thing is, I don’t think it’s coincidence that this happened at the end of a week when I’m feeling especially frustrated at other people’s behavior. I’ve never been good at seeing patterns in the actions of real characters unless they’re completely obvious. I’m much better with fiction. And, of course, writing my own gives me a feeling of control I get nowhere else ~ I create a new world, populate it with my creations, and make them do what I want.

Just noodling. Back to work! 😀

Y is for You [A2Z]

You’ve Got Mail is my favorite romantic comedy. It stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, both outstanding, and it’s written and directed by Nora Ephron. I love the build-up of conflicted feelings between Kathleen and Joe, who not only are business rivals but also are with other partners as the story opens. (Both sets of couples break up before K&J get together.) None of that can overcome their growing attraction toward each other though ~ and for quite a while it’s not a physical attraction, which is the best part to me. It’s a combination of an emotional and intellectual connection sustained in writing via chats.

I’m not gonna lie: it’s always been my preference/dream to find this with someone before meeting in person and discovering that it translates to physical chemistry as well. Probably this is why I was so magnetized by the idea of dating sites in the first place. But just like in this movie, most men are deceptive in chats; in real life, though, the ending doesn’t work out so happily ever after.

To me, You’ve Got Mail is simply perfect, the epitome of a romcom. The best of the best. I only wish I could have saved it for last, but there’s one day left…

X is for Xenobia [A2Z]

Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James is a perfect Regency romance novel. It has everything a fan of the genre wants. There is a beautiful and headstrong heroine, who is determined to live life on her own terms, even if it is 1799. We also have an arrogant, handsome, bastard son of a duke, focused on marring someone sweet and biddable. Said sweet miss is terrified of the bastard and would much rather hang with the affable country doctor. School friend comes to visit bastard and says hey nice decorator you got there… shame if some other man took her away from you. Bastard doesn’t like that idea!

Very fun book with little Easter eggs (homages) to other pieces of literature buried in the pages. I probably missed some. Explicit sex scenes abound.

U is for Until [A2Z]

Until We Kissed was such an enjoyable read that I went and downloaded the other 6 Pine Valley contemporary romances right after I finished it!

Librarian Livvy believes she’s dating the perfect man until she meets writer Mason. Sparks fly immediately. Why doesn’t she feel this amazing chemistry with Mr. Perfect, the doctor? It’s a mystery she’ll have to solve as Mason returns to the library day after day to work on his next novel.

Neither Livvy nor Mason are flawless, and they overcome their imperfections to become better and build love and trust. Some readers dismiss books where protags are imperfect, but I like to see characters work on themselves as humans do (ideally) and become their best selves with the help and support of someone who cares for them deeply. When that happens, I find the happily ever after to be more satisfying.

This romance novel does not have explicit sex scenes.

S is for Splash [A2Z]

Splash is a fun, fantasy romcom starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah in the lead romantic roles, and it also has the ever-hilarious John Candy (RIP) and Eugene Levy. The movie was directed by Ron Howard. Tom Hanks has done a lot of comedy, and also many serious roles too, but I like him best as the good guy in a romcom. We’ll be seeing him again toward the end of the alphabet.

What’s interesting to me about the plot of Splash and so many of these romcoms and romance novels too is that one or both of the protagonists are absolutely sure of what they want, and don’t want, in a life partner. This is just like real life, especially now in the age of dating sites when we have our lists of must-haves and can’t-stands. We know the kind of person we’re attracted to and have a hazy picture of him or her in our mind already before we’ve even spoken to anyone. We kinda know how tall they should be, their age, their body shape, their political positions, their hobbies, what music and movies they enjoy, how much money they have, what kind of traveler they are, their feelings on kids and pets, and most importantly exactly how many miles away they live. Someone might be perfect, but we don’t want to drive more than 27 minutes to date them. God forbid.

In real life, and in fiction, we treat people like objects, to be examined for flaws and then rejected in the endless quest for a better one. But in fiction what happens is that the situations are contrived so that the protagonists are forced to spend time with each other. During this time, they realize that their preconceived ideas of what makes a perfect partner are wrong and that this other person, who seemed like “a bad match” on paper because s/he didn’t fit into the checkboxes, is actually the right one for them.

Dialogue between the brothers in Splash:

Allen: I don’t understand. All my life, I’ve been waiting for someone and when I find her, she’s… she’s a fish.

Freddie: Nobody said love’s perfect.

Allen: Oh, Freddie, I don’t expect it to be perfect! But for God’s sake, it’s usually human! Every day, people meet, they fall in love, every day! And look at what I got.

[…]

Freddie: Yeah? Well, that’s a crock. It doesn’t work that way. Look, do you at least realize how happy you were with her? That is, of course, when you weren’t driving yourself crazy. Every day? Come on. Some people will never be that happy. I’ll never be that happy!

So, this is why I like the fantasy stories with the guaranteed happy endings, unlike real life where fussy people end up alone.

R is for Romancing [A2Z]

Romancing the Stone is an adventure romcom starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. I mentioned it in my review of the romance novel Heart of Fire because that story also involved a heroine trekking down to the jungle, etc. But in RTS we have a city girl (a romance novelist!) who is not an archaeologist and is totally unprepared to brave the dangers of Columbia. However, off Joan goes to rescue her sister, who’s being held for ransom by some baddies.

Joan encounters Jack (popular name for protags), who is also seeking the treasure map Joan needs to deliver to her sister’s kidnappers. Naturally, Jack is the antithesis of everything Joan dreams of in a man, but she changes her mind yada. I’m not too impressed with this storyline in my twilight years, since it mirrors reality too painfully ~ woman having to adapt to man instead of the other way around. In real life, you so often end up alone despite contorting or erasing your self to please Mr. Man, or you wish you were alone.

I mean, how many times are we going to need a snarky macho dude with lightning-quick reflexes to chop off a deadly snake’s head while we are trying to have a convo with him about something important to our heart? I’d rather have the empathetic verbally adept guy with mediocre snake-chopping skillz. Yes, I understand that it only takes the one deadly snake… so you spend your life adapting to snarky jerk just in case there’s ever a snake, and you never find anyone to fucking hear what you have to say.

Be that as it may, RTS is still a fun flick, and Danny DeVito is always hilarious.

Sorry to have digressed into a mini rant in the middle of this thrilling review series that no one cares about! 🙄😂🤪

Q is for Quite [A2Z]

Not Quite Dating by Catherine Bybee was a fun, fast read. Not gonna lie to my readers: I chose it solely for the Q factor. Needed one to fill the spot in the alphabet bloggery, and I wanted a book available on Kindle Unlimited. I wasn’t thrilled with the tame cover, which makes the novel appear to be about some prairie girl looking for Mr. Right in a country church, but when you desperately need a Q, you can’t be so picky.

First, the cover is deceptive. No idea why it was chosen since it’s all wrong for the book. The story takes place out in Ontario, CA, and features a hot Texas cowboy trying to seduce a California waitress. There is a lot of drinking and a lot of kissing and a ton of chemistry. It’s not a tame romance novel.

Second, it has a crazy, twisty plot semi-snitched from Taming of the Shrew. Jessica isn’t a shrew ~ she’s super sweet and kind ~ but she is looking for a rich man and won’t consider dating “poor” Jack when he hits on her after showing up in her diner in dusty clothes and driving a beat-up truck. He decides not to tell her who he really is, instead opting to become her friend and “help” her find her dream guy.

Third, though the HEA ending is a given, the path there is not, and the navigation is unpredictable. Side characters are clearly set up for spin-offs of their own, which is a good thing in my book.

The only issue I had with NQD (besides the cover) was that too much suspension of disbelief was required. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of disguised identity romance novels, but they do seem to work better when set in Ye Days of Olde. It’s just not reasonable that people aren’t going to google stuff. And if you have a heroine who doesn’t question outlandish gifts and obvious ridic things, she begins to seem stupid, which is no good.

But here I am, a person who is totally immersed in a show featuring dragons, complaining that some silly woman believed her crappy car burnt up at the Toyota repair shop so they’re gifting her a brand new SUV. Maybe if a dragon had been involved… 🐉 🔥😂

The Cute Meet That Wasn’t

Last week I wore these bronze wedge shoes I hadn’t worn in months. I went downstairs to get the mail around 3PM and came back up on the elevator with a handsome man. Of course his face was buried in his phone. When I got off the elevator my shoe broke. What? I limped back to my office and took a photo of it, as you do.

I taped my poor shoe together with mailing tape until I got home, when I dumped them in the trash (and they weren’t even old!). But it occurred to me that if I were in a romance novel or a romcom, my shoe would have broken earlier so the cute man would have helped me. Maybe he would have taken me to his office where he had a special shoe stapling gun.

That’s not dramatic enough for a whole story though. Maybe he’d be a secret agent and ask me to hold a document for him. The next day, his office would be trashed and we’d have to go on the run. Naturally, I’d be wearing different shoes…

J is for Jennifer [A2Z]

Jennifer Crusie, that is! There are so many good romance novels by Ms. Crusie, and I believe I’ve mentioned a few times that the first one I read, Welcome to Temptation, is the book that inspired me to write my first romance novel. I dabbled as a teenager, but WTT made me realize I didn’t have to be afraid of letting my humor shine through my writing.

However! My favorite Crusie romance novel is one of her spin-offs to WTT called Faking It. This book is just so much fun, with so many great characters, not just the hero and heroine, who are marvelous, but all the side characters as well. We even get a 50-something mom who loves word games and is still sexy enough that two (two!) age-appropriate studs fight over her. Is it any wonder I love this book? 😂

If you haven’t read any Jenny, or for some reason have missed out on this one, I highly recommend Faking It… loads of laughs, delicious muffins, and larceny too.

Side note: I panicked when I realized I must have donated all my old hardcover books, and I gulped at paying full retail price for new Jenny. She is not on Kindle Unlimited. But then I remembered this big building full of books near the park where I walk sometimes… I wandered in there, renewed my expired card, and found Faking It on the library shelf. Amazing! 😀

A2Z Observations

We’re 10 days into April now, marking a third of the journey through my first A2Z bloggery challenge. Now, to be honest, I didn’t join in to get motivated to blog daily, since I do that already. I joined because I thought it would be fun to have a daily themed post.

Well, it’s not. 😱

Yes. Sacrilege. Allow me to pontificate. It’s a burden to write the posts that I’ve planned out on my list. It feels like work, bleh. It’s not fun like the other posts are, the genre challenges, the impulsive poetry, etc.

Another issue is that people aren’t responding to the romance novel reviews much, except to drop likes. I thought I had more romance readers here who would be interested in these books. Guess not. Maybe if I reviewed something “rapey” like The Flame and the Flower I’d get a conversation going haha.

But people are responding to the romantic comedy movie reviews, so I’m modifying my list to include more movies and fewer books, except for the reviews I’ve already scheduled. I’d rather go for the reliable over the uncertain, and it makes me a little sad to have a post with likes and no comments. Dunno why people can’t extrapolate things I say about romance novels into general discussions about other books and writing too, but like whatever. We’ll just focus on movies. 🙄

Further, with my regular newsfeed still overflowing with favorite bloggers posting great stuff, I don’t have time to wander to the A2Z page and check out new peeps. I’m already much too busy with blogging and working and everything else. That “make connections” part of A2Z is a bust for me, unfortunately. I don’t know how I used to have any spare time. Where did it go?

I think in the future if I do A2Z again it will be with a much more casual approach, not a theme/list. This feels way too much like actual work. 😝