Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Jo Bugman

Padawan Learner
I'm on book 3 of Mary Balogh's Bedwyn Saga.
The first, Slightly Married, I sort of dragged through it until I could understand the main male character, Aidan's, struggle with honor and his need to be 'honor bound' not just to the main purpose (without giving spoilers) but also to life in general. The need to have our sense of honor and duty can often prevent us from doing what we WANT to do, and that living an endlessly honor bound life can stop us from actually living. I thought it was a great representation of the struggle of manhood: when do we chose what we wish to do compared to doing what we are expected to do for the family and society? But I guess that's not really just a male issue! Eve, the main female character, was a very sweet lady but represented to me the proverb "you don't have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm", as she was so focused on pleasing everyone else in her life that she forgot to plan for herself.
Slightly Wicked, the second book, was good. I thought the 'villain' of this one was very good and I was whooping when he got his comeuppance. Both of these books showed that sometimes our biggest devils in life can be our own family members, shaping our self image from a young age whether intentionally or not.

Or at least, that's what I got out of these two very tender, loving stories. Looking forward to book 3, although I am noticing a common theme that the female characters are always very quick to reject the male's proposal for marriage, usually on the basis of pride, despite their desire to say yes!! I'm not sure if this is a little dramatic gimmick in the plot line, but I'm finding that it's frustrating me. I get very upset when I see her say no, then slump off to her newfound spinster lifestyle in a woe-is-me attitude while making the poor man chase after her again. I've been turned down on marriage proposals on a few occasions so that can be where the frustration is coming from. Personally, I've adopted the mindset that if someone tells me to bugger off, then I'll bugger off regardless of whether they meant it or not. As from that point, it's the other's responsibility to let me know if they changed their mind. It seems I'm a bit more cynical than our romance heroes, I need to work on why this frustrates me.
 

Beorn

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Something interesting happened this morning as I was finishing off a chapter of Someone to Hold (Westcott Book 2) this morning. Camille was talking about the life of a lady and how she never imagined that love would be a part of marriage. It was just a necessary "duty".

I put the book down and started to pray because it was too cold to get out of bed. As I was praying I was thinking about how there was no companion in my life and I was saying to myself "that's ok, it's fine, whatever...". Then I zoned out and I saw Camille running from her family/love. She fell into my heart at the same time I emphasized "HEART" from the prayer.

It was kind of odd to have Camille fall into my heart and I'm not really sure what to make of it. She was not expecting love and I grew up waiting for and expecting love at every corner. I'm trying to figure out if there's a sense of me running away although this might take some time to ponder. I'm only about 40% of the way through the book so maybe more of the connections will become clear as I read.
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Regarding Julia Quinn:

Entire series (and sequels) are really ought to be read in order because many stories are actually playing in parallel and there are many side characters and events that appear as the main characters in the next books. That goes especially for "Lady Whistledown" novellas and "Smythe-Smith Quartet".

The series plays out in a period of a few years (from eldest to youngest Bridgerton, except for the Rokesbys prequel, of course) and every Bridgerton book has a 2nd epilogue which sometimes happens right after events of that book and sometimes years later. I´ve already mentioned that Kindle versions already have them included, but I don´t know for paperbacks. If paperbacks don´t have 2nd epilogues, you can ready them all in "Happily ever after" set of novellas.

I´ve noticed a small amount of recycling of the stories or events, so I was a little surprised that the author would do that in the connected series, but ok.
It was overall a good reed. :-) Actually, now that I´m writing, the series really was a good one.
Have muddled through these books (not all) and noted like you said here - in the series purchased, some books had 2nd epilogues. These extensions paint the picture of what one does not know of the books that follow i.e. who married who, their children et cetera. This did not seem to matter though, and it was interesting to see how the characters developed even after 10 - 20 years of marriage.

Another thing noted by Quinn was in her telling of growing up with her father. Her father was a professional writer, so as she started to write he was interested in her work - why romance, for instance, he had said with some scepticism. When it came to using the character Lady Whistledown, he thought it brilliant, and all he kept asking her was, who is she? At the time, Julia said she had no idea, yet...

The other day on a long drive into the city, I had a chance to ask my mum some questions concerning her own marriage - questions that are in alignment with many of these book; the themes of them. Good grief, one would think one would know - nope. So, was it a love match, for instance, and had assumed it was, yet was it?

My mum and her sister (the sister being 3-years older) were born in the 20's - the latter part for my mum. Each married the same year, and each others husbands to be (my father being one) did not ask their wives directly, no, these potential husbands each asked their father for their daughters hand in marriage. My next question was, so then he proposed to you? Well, no, it just kind of happened. And like many of the stories (my mum being 21-years old at that time), there was that question of being on the shelf - the fear of being a spinster. So like her sister, who was more advanced in age, they did not think about it, they just married. Was it a love match? I don't think it was - in either of their cases. This leave other questions...

Going back to Quinn, one of her books has the character, and his wife too in a different and yet similar way, who as a boy had lost his father at the age of 18-years old. The son was thereafter paralyzed, knowing his own death would follow like his father at the same age (based on the circumstances) or before, and this seemed to bear down on his emotional being. Quinn makes mention of this in a note after the story - more around men since her readership is mostly woman, and she was worried that woman would not understand why this emphasis of this particular character was there. Julia also mentioning how common it is for men to note these things (suppressed as they are) in their lives should this be the reality. In the case of the story, the main character, Anthony, had lost his 38-year old father - and he feared reaching that age, if he reached it at all. This was something I had encountered with my brother when he died at the age of 50 - I was six years his junior, and it held the same type of power over me; if he died at that age, surly I would or could. Silly that, yet it was there. Next thing I knew I turned 51-years old after some trepidation in that 50th year. I've also been in life acutely aware of the age my dad had died - as an age marker, and it is approaching. All this has stayed deeper down within, even if it is silly to think that way - common as it is, and Quinn brought it to light in these pages of hers.

Anyway, this discussion of Quinn's surprised me as a subject - made to her woman readers because I knew what she was saying, had felt it, albeit not of a father but a brother. In the end, just live, as we know not the hour or the day.
 

Gabriela

Padawan Learner
I just finished the saga about Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Indiscreet, Unforgiven and Irresistible) by Mary Balogh.
I enjoyed mostly the last two in general but a few quotes from the third book were very insightful and saved them to remember. I'll attach the screenshots.

Also loved the fact that in all books dogs play an important part in the life of the characters, dog's company sometimes soothed the character's pain or a walk with them ended in an special encounter or an insight. And this opened like a new appreciation for dogs (and maybe cats) it made me remember of all that I went through with dogs in my life (as I always had dogs in my parent's house) that dog loyalty and love no-matter-what that really warms your heart was portrayed in the books and I think It was a lovely thing to add to the story.

Now I started with Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed by Anna Campbell. 🤓
 

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Persej

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
In this way I think that these stories are kind of like 'training wheels' for our imaginations, and assist us in growing our potential for greater being.

This process reminds me of a movie called Blade Runner 2049 where the androids are imprinted with fake memories which would help them to have human-like reactions. You could say that we are now trying to do the same thing - to imprint ourselves with imagined stories in order to train our emotional centers to behave like real human beings with fully activated emotional centers.

 
R

R o l a n d

Guest
Few years ago, I had a romantic time away in portugal and Lisboa. Portugal does have a romantic seance appeal after one drinks fine wine. I don't know If I felt that way about the country, the woman I was with or both. Being frankly about it, thinking nostalgic, reading this romance genre in the now I would have done a lot better then.
 
R

R o l a n d

Guest
Foi por vontade de Deus
Que eu vivo nesta ansiedade
Que todos os ais sao meus
Que toda minha a saudade
Foi por vontade de Deus
Que estranha forma de vida
Tem este meu coracao
Vive de vida perdida
Quem lhe daria o condao
Que estranha forma de vida
Coracao independente
Coracao que nao comando
Vives perdido entre a gente
Teimosamente sangrando
Coracao independente
Eu nao te acompanho mais
Para deixa de bater
Se nao sabes onde vais
Porque teimas em correr
Eu nao te acompanho mais

Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.
Aeschylus
 

Mari

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I started yesterday with Bedwyn saga, One night for Love.

I can’t put it down.

The heroine is such a wonderful person.
So hurt, so damaged, but so beautiful and pure.
I don’t recall marking (usually I don’t mark these romance novels that much) so many parts in any other romance book and I‘m only half way trough.

I get goosebumps and lumps, also feelings of joy and sorrow, and they are all mixed up.
Balogh is a virtuoso with describing emotions and I feel every step of the way with the characters. Fascinating how with her descriptions you cannot hate people because they have the same feelings and thoughts as I do.

The hero is also a good and caring person. He is so easy to fall in love with.

I‘m stunned and taken by this book and cannot transfer all my thoughts and feelings to match my inner world.

Now back to the book…
 

mkrnhr

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Emily proves to be a hell of a woman when she refuses to marry Ashley, the man she loved for years, when it is presented on a silver plate, because at that moment, it isn't right, because at that moment Ashley proposes out of guilt, not out of love. The book is all about how Ashley realising his love as morphed into a more mature love, he learns to give back, to let go of the past.
Emily is a wonderful character indeed. I'm still reading through Silent Melody, right up to the incident with the military friend of Ash. There are many frustrating moments, among which the assumptions that some characters make about Emmy's life, feeling and thinking. At some points Ash is an idiot sometimes, but slowly learning.
So far it's a great novel, not only from the romance story point of view, but also from the perspective of how partial information and assumptions can lead to false narratives that can be very unfortunate (and frustrating to the reader). Also, the events occur in the 18th century so the mental images can be different from the usual.

Before that, with "Heartless", I was surprised to understand Luke at the arrival of Joy. Where does that come from since there is no reference of comparison to any lived experience? It is telling of the quality of both books I think.
 
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Alejo

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hi guys,

Just finished up Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh, great story and very interesting concepts that I will share in the spoiler section.

This story follows Elizabeth and Collin, Collin is Wren's brother who married Alexander Wescott who is in turn Elizabeth's brother. There's a 9 year age gap in between Collin and Elizabeth and this is somewhat an obstacle that is overcome by the end.

In terms of relationships, they explore the value of being a friend to whoever you marry, there's a distinction between marrying a friend and befriending who you're to marry. The idea seems to me to be that the level of interaction need to be there in a romantic relationship as you would with a friend, obviously in a romantic setting the interaction is more intimate, but the basis of it should be friendship. A true friendship with someone who wants the best for you and for whom you wish the best upon.

The title kind of says it all, it also explores the idea of trust, and what it means and I think she does a very good job at it. What does it mean to trust someone and what does it mean to be trust worthy ourselves? It's not only sharing intimate facts and lending an ear to someone one cares for, although that is definitely part of the package. Sharing our burdens and welcoming that of other's is the basis of trust.

But in the novel, Elizabeth and Collin trust who one another is. There's a part of the book where Collin says something along the lines of "You are more than beautiful, you're Elizabeth" and I thought that such a phrase captured the essence of what Balogh was presenting, he was speaking about Elizabeth being who she is, with all that it implies, her past and her present and how that informs how she would react to her future.

It made me think of that idea of trusting other's, loved ones, coworkers, this network, friends and family. But also about being trustworthy, what does it take? it's more than making promises and keeping them, it's living in a way that indicates to the world that you may be trusted, and this requires a lot of self awareness and work on the self and honesty.

In the book it is illustrated in a betrothal proposal that Elizabeth accepts from another man, who upon a perceived slight, turns into a jealous being and creates a scandal for her. She realized that the marriage he sought was a possessive one, where her obedience would be the way he'd ensure that she would not do what she ought not to, according to him. Which is an effective way to, artificially and forcefully, get the results that trust would provide, albeit empty and void of any significance.

Perhaps, summarized, it could be said that part of the work we strive for is to become a person who is capable of knowing which promises he makes because he knows he will keep them. Which also means humbly knowing which promises not to make, knowing one's weaknesses and tendencies, habits and limitations and so on.

I am not sure if on purpose, but this was the least sexual novel I've gone through by her, and I think the propriety of friendship and the building of trust might be the reason, their final intimate encounter was sort of the culmination of the trust being finally achieved, as they finally trusted one another with their feelings, the love they felt for one another, the fragile trust of vulnerability and admission of the immense power that each had over the other for good and ill.

The book also explores the relationship that Collin has with his mother, a narcissistic devouring mother that had been at the core of his issues, although there's a twist at the end that might change things and not that it changes her character or the impact she had on him and his sisters, but it humanizes the caricature that his mother had been so far. It depicts her as simply someone who needs other's admiration, it makes her "evil ways" into simply a symptom of a condition. It takes the hungry beast and turns it into a puppy, same tendencies, but mostly harmless if handles adequately. I thought this was nicely done, although I suspect it's not the last we hear from Lady Hodges.

Can I be trustworthy? really trustworthy? was the question that the book left me with as I finished it, and secondly, am I courageous enough to trust someone? And how to determine this if not by observing their behavior and not their words, what do I trust from them, who they are or who I want them to be?

I remember in one of the biblical lectures that JBP gave, he said something along the lines of "People are really hurt by betrayal, people can overcome sickness and trauma, disasters and catastrophes, even death, but betrayal really does them in. Not only does it change their present and their future, but also their past. Not only do they not know their partner, but also themselves, it throws everything into chaos". That resonated with me heavily after being with someone who had been unfaithful.

So trust, it's something truly precious and delicate, it can be the backbone of a lifetime worth of love and care and honesty, true friendship and growth. But if broken, it can mean chaos and despair. It's something that belongs to the unseen, and I do believe it takes well trained eyes to see it properly.

Now on to Someone to Honor !
 

Chu

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Hannah in book 10 describing her detachment, like multiple personality disorder; it was such a real description, my heart wept for her...

Just a note here: Hannah didn't have MPD. She had more of a dissociative disorder where she would "leave her body" to dissociate from pain, but she didn't have multiple personalities. And yes, her story was so tragic, yet so heartwarming to see how much courage and love she had in her!

In the following days of listening to the book, I fell into sadness. And even the traditional happy ending and a sea of tears did not ease my depressed psychological state. I cannot fully understand the reason for this. Although the story is partly in tune with my life. I had a similar episode many years ago. When I realized that I could lose a loved one, but I have no right to hide the truth from him. And like Abby, I didn't feel sorry for myself. She did not want to live in a lie, but she did not want to cause pain and problems to her beloved either. To tell the bitter truth is like inviting another person to enter your reality voluntarily and the payment for this can be either absolutely happiness or many problems. But it must be his conscious choice too. Fortunately, my fears were completely unfounded. Sometimes we ourselves exaggerate the problem too much, we dramatize the situation too much.

This was just a short episode in my life, one of many lessons. I think I passed it with dignity, although it was very scary. The reward was the same happy ending with complete understanding between partners, as in a romantic book. So these novels are not as fantastic as they might seem at first glance from their plot.

Then why am I still crying? Maybe I can't accept myself to the end. Maybe I feel sorry for other people who are experiencing similar situations and do not have the happiness of being understood and accepted.

Maybe both? I've had a similar experience with some novels. Sometimes it feels like I needed more processing even if the experience itself turned out okay, or wasn't so traumatic. Other times, it's "PTSD" from certain experiences, even if consciously I don't go remembering them every day. It could also be that that was something you manifested at the time because you needed it, and needed truth, while today you sometimes forget to be that person? Well, it could be so many things! I would say, just let the process take place, and be grateful for the outcome of that experience in particular. Some experiences are "turning points" in our lives, and they may carry some weight (good and bad) that we didn't manage to process at the time, so they resurface now. But if it leads to integrating them and learning from them even better, then it's good, I think!
 

mkrnhr

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
So far it's a great novel, not only from the romance story point of view, but also from the perspective of how partial information and assumptions can lead to false narratives that can be very unfortunate (and frustrating to the reader).
Finally finished "Silent Melody", and it's a great novel. The internal dialogues and actions touch upon external consideration and understanding (both with Emmy and Ash, but also with other characters including Luke). The story is also about trauma, forgiveness and healing. The ending is more than satisfying (including what happens with the villain) and the novel quicky became one of the favorites.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Regarding the Mistress Trilogy, I would propose a change to the present ordering:
263 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 1 More Than a Mistress (2000)
264 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 2 No Man's Mistress (2001)
249 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 3 The Secret Mistress (2011)

About The Secret Mistress Mary Balogh writes:
This is the prequel to More Than a Mistress and No Man’s Mistress. It is Angeline and Heyward’s story, for which a number of readers have asked. They are already married in the other two Mistress books, but they seem a mismatched pair though her brothers do admit to each other, in some disgust, that they seem besotted with each other. I decided that it was time to discover for myself exactly how these two came together.
Maybe one could write "The Mistress Trilogy (Prequel)" or something similar in the spreadsheet to alert readers.

There are a couple of scenes in the first two books that were left out by the editor, as I understand. They can be found along with a later written "Series Epilogue" in Now a bride. See Amazon and Goodreads where it is listed as Mistress #2.5.

Below I have copied the content of Now a Bride and the books to which the scenes belong because although one can read it in one go (less than 50 pages), it would make more sense to read what belongs to More Than a Mistress right after or possibly even along with the book.
The Mistress Books
Jane and Jocelyn (More Than a Mistress)
The Proposal -"-
The Wedding -"-
Return to Acton Park -"-
Viola and Ferdinand (No Man's Mistress)
The Wedding -"-
Home to Pinewood Manor -"-
A Final Word
Series Epilogue
When I read More Than a Mistress it was very clear that something was cut unusually short. Similar but less so with No Man's Mistress. Although Now a bride is short it was a worthwhile addition.
 
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