Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Eboard10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I swear that I was having the same thought while reading the above posts, me too will be reading the Survivors club series after finishing reading The Consortium/Quorum novels (I've decided reading them before starting reading the dark novels).
Same here! I'll soon start novels 4 and 5 of the Billionaire Banker series and already have the first books of the Survivors Club series lined up after that.

In the meantime, Laura's tome is keeping my mind company :-)
 

ryu

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I am done reading the 12 novels of the " True Gentlemen" series from Anne Burrowes. I find that the author got better as she wrote those books. I particulary enjoyed the 4 last ones, because I was reading them parralel to the Billionaire Banker series. (It made me appreciate the sweet moments all the more😁). The characters were better written and were more nuanced IMO. You could see them mature and reach their potential through the stories.

One thing that came back constantly was that alone, you cannot achieve much. If you want to thrive, you need people who got your back, who have your best interest at heart, who see the real you. Thanks to that, they could blossom at a time where life was far from easy, especially for women.

I really liked that Mrs Burrowes managed to show so many good role models from such a variety of personalities. She showed that the way to lead a full life was to be a man or a woman true to its nature, and it could be done within the contrainst of a rigid society like Victorian England.

I came to like them all and will miss them.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Well, after much too long a hiatus, I'm back reading romance. Although I'm a big fan of Mary B, I've decided to try a different author, Kerrigan Byrne. Actually, I'm halfway through the first book of the Devil You Know series but I don't know if it's actually on the recommended reading list, and I don't know where to locate said list. Would someone mind pointing me in the direction of that list. Would really appreciate it.:-D
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Well, after much too long a hiatus, I'm back reading romance. Although I'm a big fan of Mary B, I've decided to try a different author, Kerrigan Byrne. Actually, I'm halfway through the first book of the Devil You Know series but I don't know if it's actually on the recommended reading list, and I don't know where to locate said list. Would someone mind pointing me in the direction of that list. Would really appreciate it.:-D
The other two books in that series are All Scot and Bothered and The Devil In Her Bed. The first one is How To LOve A Duke In Ten Days.
 

JGeropoulas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The question is interesting. The author of the books describes in a "kinesthetic" way many situations.

It's easy for me to get into these books because I have a dominant brain (the right one which is activated) which brings me a lot of images through the descriptions related to the eye, smell, skin, hearing and taste.

To answer the question, I think that the author plays on words by describing the smallest details of what the senses give off to make us enter the story as if we were the ones living these episodes. What the eyes see to better enter the landscape, the castles ... but also in this era of aristocrats with the costumes and women in their roles. The surprise in front of the beauty or the indifference in front of the rich...

Yes, it is often said that the eyes are the reflection of the soul, but also the good manipulators know very well how to work with their facial fibers so that the eyes reflect what they want to reflect.

When I was young, I was naive and thought that everyone was showing their good side... I was often taken in by trusting that their eyes reflected "trust me", which was "false" after the experience.

Over the years of practicing with clients, I have learned that eyes and facial expressions (micro-expressions) can really be used in a conscious way to bias the other person listening to the story or if there is a product to sell or if there is a personal interest behind it.

What micro-expressions to do when you don't want to be compassionate with another person but rather empathetic, understanding, respectful? Some emotions are very similar and yet they have their differences. When we play the game of guessing the emotion we can put in our eyes, there are so many different answers that differ from what we want to express and say to the other person. You can try it with your friends.

In my twenties, I increased my knowledge in order to trust myself more and help my family. Without really being aware of the path (it was instinctive) I went to areas where we had to sharpen our senses to refine our knowledge. How to discover a plant in its different stages of growth to pick it at the right time, how to discover essential oils by just smelling them, how to find a tension in the body by massaging, how to listen to the key words in a story to better intervene, why does a body have this morphology, what suffering made it do this etc...

The eyes and ears are constantly taking in information and memorizing it all. I think some of our childhood programs were formed by what we saw and heard. And by reading these novels, I realize that the author wants to maintain the attention by putting the smell, the eyes and the touch. What happened for me and I believe for others, these descriptions came to stimulate our own baggage, our perceptions and for some it brings a forgiveness, a hope, an awareness of what surrounds us.

I couldn't say that the author intentionally wanted to do this emotional work.
Here are the links to an Asberger's Syndrome empathy test based on interpreting just the eyes of people. It's a great exercise in which you select from 4 choices of possible emotions:
Here are the definitions of the emotions given as possible choices. (Be careful not to scroll down past page 10 and see the answers until you've finished the test!):
 

Korzik18

Jedi
FOTCM Member

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I´ve finished reading the Bedwyns - prequels, saga and sequels.
The only book I haven´t read is "Once Upon A Dream" since there is still no Kindle edition.

It was the summer of love; I dropped all other readings and simply enjoyed the summer and my vacation with the Bedwyns. :-)
Now I have A LOT of catching up to do with the parallel reading projects and new books that came out.

This was one of the best series I´ve read.
In general - it didn´t make me extremely angry or made my cry my eyes, except for the first book "One night for love" which is one of the best novels I´ve read. I was on verge of tears and it squeezed my heart.

I was so proud and happy for Lauren in "A Summer to Remember" that she got out of her usual/learned self and just be the person she is.

The Bedwyns I saw as a deeply loving family and I was especially glad to see Wulfric in all his cool, also a deeply loving person, but also so trained, and I was happy to see his side at the end of the series. I think that Catherine is perfect person for him and I laughed all through the book how she pushed him out of his comfort zone.

The death of Alleyne was such a deeply touching moment and I was so sad, never mind I knew that it cannot be the end of his story and that he will come alive in one of the next books, but nevertheless when reading I was deeply sad for the family.

Morgan, Freya and Eve are so strong and powerful women.
I think that Marquees is a perfect match for Freya and her story was also very funny.
I liked Freya´s strong, honest and outspoken personality and her free spirit.
And I was more angry with Ashford in Morgan´s story than with Peter in Susanna´s story.

In Rannulf´s story, I was stunned by the Judith´s family and how they treated her all because she was beautiful.

But one of the happiest moments was when I´ve figured out that Syndam will get his happy end as well. I was grinning for half an hour when I saw his name at the beginning of the book and gobbled the book in 2 bites.
That was a difficult story; they were both so damaged people and it was so difficult to read their thoughts and feelings.

Now a little pause with the romances and to the next projects! :-)
I´ve stopped reading the parallel thread because of all the spoilers, so I have a LOT of catching up to do all over the forum and the books...
:read:
 

Jones

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Yeah, it's in the Romance thread, I followed the link from my bookmark of the post though so maybe that changes the address 🤷‍♀️

Have edited previous post to fix link - hopefully!
 
Last edited:

Alejo

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hi everyone,

I have just finished The Arrangement by Mary Balogh (book 2 in the survivor's club series). This one was very moving, had a lot of interesting ideas that I will share further on. It was also very funny, I caught myself laughing out loud a few times. On to the spoiler section:

The story follows Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh and Sophia's story. After the events on The suitor, Vincent runs away from his family trying to arrange his life, goes back home and runs into Sophia, he proposes marriage to her after she was kicked on the street by her aunt and uncle for foiling their plans to have Vincent compromise their daughter and thus forcing a marriage proposal out of him.

They make an arrangement, she needs a place to live and he's somewhat at fault for her condition due to his not standing up for himself. Their arrangement is a marriage, for about a year, after which both will separate and live independently, she agrees, they marry, discover one another and fall in love, conceive a child and decide to forget about their arrangement and live as a proper married couple.

There are several ideas that I found rather interesting, Vincent is blind, after an accident in the war, and Mary explores his mindset in a lovely and intense way. He is effectively surrounded by darkness constantly, not only the darkness of not seeing light, but of his guilt, the loss and grief, he's overwhelmed by the love that his family show him, to the point of treating him with such contempt so as to attempt to decide his life for him, he despises the pity that he feels from his family.

And he carries guilty over the rejection he feels, it's a truly nasty negative feedback loop. And through him, Mary exposes that concept, living surrounded by darkness, the darkness of the world at large, the darkness of our own actions, our own selfishness and self pity. Interestingly he controls this darkness with two techniques, one is breathing, and the other is truth, reminding himself that he's blind, that's it. No need to attribute anything other than that fact to his current situation.

The other source of truth he has is Martin, his valet, with whom he has the most endearing friendship. Martin keeps him on his toes, makes fun of him and is bluntly honest with him. He brings him back down to earth. That speaks of the value of a network to me. In one of the early scenes, Vincent feels the push of this darkness that threatens to squeeze him, and I loved that he reminded himself that if he was surrounded by darkness, constant and everlasting, then his only option was to remind himself of the light within. That was fabulous.

Now, Sophia is "invisible" her parents are gone, and so she has been staying with family members who treat her like something beneath the help, and she has grown accustomed to this role, she was deemed the mouse. Quiet, small, ugly and mostly unnoticeable. Having her own insecurities with regards to her physical appearance, her worth and lovability.

Mary created a rather poetic set up for this story, showing how something seemingly impossible was actually the most adequate love match. A blind man who falls in love with an invisible girl, superficially it should not work, but yet.. once the story takes shape, it could not have been any other way.

Her invisibility and his blindness helped them recognize the need for independence in the other and they sought to give one another just that. But their handicap made them very observant of what lies underneath the superficial levels, he picked up clues that would otherwise not be noticed, and she had the best way to describe the world to him as she had trained her observational skills to a great degree.

She became his eyes to the world, in a sense, and he became the most trustworthy source of assurance. She described the world in great detail to him, and she was the most beautiful girl he had ever known, despite never having actually seen her.

This story made me think of reassurances in a relationship, beyond romantic ones of course, and how the only way to provide that to someone is with truth. We are all insecure about so many aspects of ourselves, our physical appearance, our character or personality, our voice or whatever it may be, and it's really not until truth is offered that we don't have a chance to question ourselves properly.

We can live in a familiar lie for a very long time, forever even. However, there's a trick, reassurance doesn't come from simply being told what one wants to hear, in this story Vincent didn't just tell her that she was beautiful, Vincent knew she was beautiful because of how she behaved. The thing is that she had convinced herself otherwise because of her life experiences. So in a sense, the truth that can heal our insecurities won't come until our behavior matches that truth, so to speak.

It reminded me of how life experiences reflect our relationship to the universe, Sophie didn't just get the affection and love for being the protagonist, she worked hard to keep her promise to him, not on principle, but because she recognized how much it meant to him, to be free, and how much faith he had placed on her with his life long generosity and kindness, and so he freely returned her efforts with exactly what she needed, a reflection of who she truly was. I think life works that way sometimes.

They both shone in the darkness they were surrounded by either accident or choice, and needed one another to reflect this internal light upon each other.

Their story doesn't have a climax at the wedding, which I liked, their big triumph came when their silly stories were to be published in print. This was one of my favorite aspects of the story, they feed one another creatively too, she's a great illustrator and he's full of occurrences, which makes him very witty and inventive.

Another great idea at the end, when Vincent is punishing Sebastian, someone that Sophia had fallen in love after her father died in a duel, with who had proceeded to destroy her self image by telling her how ridiculous it was the notion of her being in love with him "have you seen yourself?", was when Vincent realized that he had better chances of winning their fight, because he had more experience with darkness (their fight took place in a cellar with no lights).

That's a great thought, that's when life gives you lemons, that's a very interesting idea about making the best of what life throws at you because it's already in your hands, instead of nagging or complaining. What do we do with all that has happened to us? the things that made us cry, the pain and suffering, the injustice and accidents? the loss of love, heartbreaks, grief and time... what do we do with our pain and experience?

What do we do with our darkness? which we most certainly have. Like the first story, do we turn our nightmares into kindness and generosity? into assertiveness and joy? or do we adopt the dark and seek to cause further misery in the world? starting with ourselves. Or do we cultivate our light within?

Specially today, with all that is going on, that light within might be all that we have, but within that light is all of our life experiences, all we've learned, all of our intent for the world and our loved ones, all our knowledge and values. Like in the movie V for Vendetta, it's an inch, and within that inch, we are free.

That's the question that this book left me with.


Thanks for reading, The Survivor's Club series has been very interesting so far, intense and moving. Now on to The Escape.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Hi everyone,

I have just finished The Arrangement by Mary Balogh (book 2 in the survivor's club series). This one was very moving, had a lot of interesting ideas that I will share further on. It was also very funny, I caught myself laughing out loud a few times. On to the spoiler section:

The story follows Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh and Sophia's story. After the events on The suitor, Vincent runs away from his family trying to arrange his life, goes back home and runs into Sophia, he proposes marriage to her after she was kicked on the street by her aunt and uncle for foiling their plans to have Vincent compromise their daughter and thus forcing a marriage proposal out of him.

They make an arrangement, she needs a place to live and he's somewhat at fault for her condition due to his not standing up for himself. Their arrangement is a marriage, for about a year, after which both will separate and live independently, she agrees, they marry, discover one another and fall in love, conceive a child and decide to forget about their arrangement and live as a proper married couple.

There are several ideas that I found rather interesting, Vincent is blind, after an accident in the war, and Mary explores his mindset in a lovely and intense way. He is effectively surrounded by darkness constantly, not only the darkness of not seeing light, but of his guilt, the loss and grief, he's overwhelmed by the love that his family show him, to the point of treating him with such contempt so as to attempt to decide his life for him, he despises the pity that he feels from his family.

And he carries guilty over the rejection he feels, it's a truly nasty negative feedback loop. And through him, Mary exposes that concept, living surrounded by darkness, the darkness of the world at large, the darkness of our own actions, our own selfishness and self pity. Interestingly he controls this darkness with two techniques, one is breathing, and the other is truth, reminding himself that he's blind, that's it. No need to attribute anything other than that fact to his current situation.

The other source of truth he has is Martin, his valet, with whom he has the most endearing friendship. Martin keeps him on his toes, makes fun of him and is bluntly honest with him. He brings him back down to earth. That speaks of the value of a network to me. In one of the early scenes, Vincent feels the push of this darkness that threatens to squeeze him, and I loved that he reminded himself that if he was surrounded by darkness, constant and everlasting, then his only option was to remind himself of the light within. That was fabulous.

Now, Sophia is "invisible" her parents are gone, and so she has been staying with family members who treat her like something beneath the help, and she has grown accustomed to this role, she was deemed the mouse. Quiet, small, ugly and mostly unnoticeable. Having her own insecurities with regards to her physical appearance, her worth and lovability.

Mary created a rather poetic set up for this story, showing how something seemingly impossible was actually the most adequate love match. A blind man who falls in love with an invisible girl, superficially it should not work, but yet.. once the story takes shape, it could not have been any other way.

Her invisibility and his blindness helped them recognize the need for independence in the other and they sought to give one another just that. But their handicap made them very observant of what lies underneath the superficial levels, he picked up clues that would otherwise not be noticed, and she had the best way to describe the world to him as she had trained her observational skills to a great degree.

She became his eyes to the world, in a sense, and he became the most trustworthy source of assurance. She described the world in great detail to him, and she was the most beautiful girl he had ever known, despite never having actually seen her.

This story made me think of reassurances in a relationship, beyond romantic ones of course, and how the only way to provide that to someone is with truth. We are all insecure about so many aspects of ourselves, our physical appearance, our character or personality, our voice or whatever it may be, and it's really not until truth is offered that we don't have a chance to question ourselves properly.

We can live in a familiar lie for a very long time, forever even. However, there's a trick, reassurance doesn't come from simply being told what one wants to hear, in this story Vincent didn't just tell her that she was beautiful, Vincent knew she was beautiful because of how she behaved. The thing is that she had convinced herself otherwise because of her life experiences. So in a sense, the truth that can heal our insecurities won't come until our behavior matches that truth, so to speak.

It reminded me of how life experiences reflect our relationship to the universe, Sophie didn't just get the affection and love for being the protagonist, she worked hard to keep her promise to him, not on principle, but because she recognized how much it meant to him, to be free, and how much faith he had placed on her with his life long generosity and kindness, and so he freely returned her efforts with exactly what she needed, a reflection of who she truly was. I think life works that way sometimes.

They both shone in the darkness they were surrounded by either accident or choice, and needed one another to reflect this internal light upon each other.

Their story doesn't have a climax at the wedding, which I liked, their big triumph came when their silly stories were to be published in print. This was one of my favorite aspects of the story, they feed one another creatively too, she's a great illustrator and he's full of occurrences, which makes him very witty and inventive.

Another great idea at the end, when Vincent is punishing Sebastian, someone that Sophia had fallen in love after her father died in a duel, with who had proceeded to destroy her self image by telling her how ridiculous it was the notion of her being in love with him "have you seen yourself?", was when Vincent realized that he had better chances of winning their fight, because he had more experience with darkness (their fight took place in a cellar with no lights).

That's a great thought, that's when life gives you lemons, that's a very interesting idea about making the best of what life throws at you because it's already in your hands, instead of nagging or complaining. What do we do with all that has happened to us? the things that made us cry, the pain and suffering, the injustice and accidents? the loss of love, heartbreaks, grief and time... what do we do with our pain and experience?

What do we do with our darkness? which we most certainly have. Like the first story, do we turn our nightmares into kindness and generosity? into assertiveness and joy? or do we adopt the dark and seek to cause further misery in the world? starting with ourselves. Or do we cultivate our light within?

Specially today, with all that is going on, that light within might be all that we have, but within that light is all of our life experiences, all we've learned, all of our intent for the world and our loved ones, all our knowledge and values. Like in the movie V for Vendetta, it's an inch, and within that inch, we are free.

That's the question that this book left me with.


Thanks for reading, The Survivor's Club series has been very interesting so far, intense and moving. Now on to The Escape.
That was a beautiful analysis/review of this book. The problems of the protagonists were seemingly insurmountable, but what they did with their lives was just amazing.
 
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