Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Alejo

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I started this project with a big scepticism, to be honest, but it wasn't bad at all.
It was both, useful reflection of inner struggle one can deal with, which can be translated to our own lives, but also kind of an escape from our current, crazy times.
Having completed the Bridgertones, I see that many people read Mary Balogh, so which one of her books would you recommend me to begin with?
Oh, almost any, perhaps the first one in one of her series, I find it to be more engaging that way. Westcott was very nice, the Bedwyn Saga was probably my favorites, and I have just finished the Survivor's club series and that was fantastic as well.
 

ryu

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FOTCM Member
I started this project with a big scepticism, to be honest, but it wasn't bad at all.
It was both, useful reflection of inner struggle one can deal with, which can be translated to our own lives, but also kind of an escape from our current, crazy times.
Having completed the Bridgertones, I see that many people read Mary Balogh, so which one of her books would you recommend me to begin with?
I would recommend the Survivors series.
 

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I started this project with a big scepticism, to be honest, but it wasn't bad at all.
It was both, useful reflection of inner struggle one can deal with, which can be translated to our own lives, but also kind of an escape from our current, crazy times.
Having completed the Bridgertones, I see that many people read Mary Balogh, so which one of her books would you recommend me to begin with?
As others already said, you can’t go wrong with Balogh in picking up the series.

I would suggest Bedwyn then Survivors because she pick a character in Badwin to finish in Survivors.
So „the right“ order would be:
Bedwyn prequel (2 books), then Bedwyn saga, then Simply quartet.
Then Survivors.

Westcott series isn‘t finished yet, that’s why I haven’t started with that series and cannot comment on it. Balogh should release last two books of the series this year.

There is also Huxtable quintet series and The Horsemen series where you pick one and start, and those series have no relation (that I know of) with any other series/books.

All of her series are excellent read.

To me personally, her Web triology (named Dell Historical Romance in the excell sheet) is the masterpiece of all the romance books I‘ve read so far.

Happy reading!!!! 🙂
 

Rabelais

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I worked my through The Survivors series, then The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and some Ann Gracie books - and the Russian Billionaire, as well as Le Carre's Billionaire Banker series. By then I was a bit burnt out on the romance novels. I will get back to them soon though, but I saw this meme today and had a chuckle.
picard.png
 

France

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I'm finish the series The Ravenels of Lisa Kleypas.

I loved it.

The last book, West's character, particularly worked on me internally (dreams and memories from the past). It brought up behaviors related to wanting to be perfect according to certain beliefs I had. When these memories come back, the inner "judge" knocks at my door to judge myself for not having given my best in such or such "family" situations.

Following the dream, a peace settled in me. A feeling of forgiveness towards myself became conscious in the following days. I accepted to recognize that I could not do more.

And at the end of this reading my daughter called to tell me that she was aware of the demands she was putting on herself to be perfect in order to live her daily life to the fullest for the well-being of others and herself. She realized that this belief
was making her suffer. She no longer benefits from living this way because the demands take all her energy. She slowly regained her peace of mind and became aware of the times she was demanding and the times she was letting go.

I found it funny that while reading the book, the work was done on me and one of my children without saying anything while this work was being done.Or was she doing work on herself and it had repercussions on me while reading the book, maybe too? the important thing is that these realizations and this work were done at the same time.


Afterwards, we were able to exchange about this belief acquired over the years... from generation to generation...

Now I have started the Mackenzies & McBrides series.

I am on the 4th book in this series. I love Ian who comes back in each of the books. He is slowly mastering anger, how to relate to others and his trusting relationship with himself. The author does a good job of demonstrating the feelings of the over gifted and their difficulty in trusting.

J'ai fini la serie de The Ravenels.

J'ai adoré.

Le dernier livre, le personnage de West, m'a particulièrement travaillé intérieurement (des rêves et des souvenirs du passé). Cela a fait monté les comportements reliés à vouloir être parfaite selon certaines croyances que j'avais. Quand ces souvenirs reviennent, le "juge" intérieur cogne à ma porte pour me juger moi-même de ne pas avoir donner mon maximum dans telles ou telles situations "familiales".

Suite au rêve, une paix s'est installée en moi. Un sentiment de pardon envers moi-même s'est fait conscient dans les journées suivantes. J'ai accepté de reconnaitre que je ne pouvais pas en faire plus.

Et à la fin de cette lecture ma fille me téléphone pour me dire qu'elle conscientisait les exigences qu'elle se mettait pour être parfaite afin de vivre son quotidien au maximum pour le bien-être des autres et d'elle-même. Elle réalisait que cette croyance
la faisait souffrir. Elle n'a plus avantage à vivre de cette façon car les exigences prennent toute son énergie. Elle reprend doucement son calme et conscientise les moments qu'elle s'exige et les moments qu'elle lâche prise.

J'ai trouvé cela cocasse de voir qu'en lisant le livre, le travail s'est fait sur moi et sur un de mes enfants sans rien dire pendant que ce travail se faisait. Ou faisant-elle un travail sur elle et cela a eu des répercussions sur moi pendant la lecture du livre, peut-être aussi? l'important c'est que ces prises de concience et ce travail se sont faits au même moment.

Par la suite, on a pu échanger à propos de cette croyance acquise au fil des années... de générations en générations...

Maintenant j'ai débuté la séries des Mackenzies & McBrides.

Je suis au 4e livres de cette série. J'aime Ian qui revient dans chacun des livres. Il maitrise doucement la colère, la façon d'être en lien avec l'autre et sa relation de confiance avec lui-même. L'auteur démontre bien le sentit des sur-doués et leur difficulté à faire confiance.
 

Voyageur

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I'm finish the series The Ravenels of Lisa Kleypas.

I loved it.

Have not read any of her books, so will try them out. Glad for your endorsement.

Finished Jess Michaels The Love of a Libertine (Duke's By-Blows series), and as said, it moves into the lives that the Duke of Roseford produced out of wedlock, and who are later reacquainted with their half- brother, the new Duke of Roseford from the 1797 Club.

There seems to be three half-siblings to Roseford, one half-sister and two half-brothers, beginning with Morgan. The others follow in separate books. The Morgan story pits half-brother's against each other while sharing an abusive father, but very different lives.

As said above in another post, Morgan "wakes up in Newgate," and thereafter is brought around to one of Roseford's friends, the Duke of Brighthollow, and also to that of his sister, Elisabeth.

Also said above, and if read in the 1797 Club series, Elisabeth is a young 16-year old, who had been manipulated with the thoughts of marriage by a real piece of work, Aaron Walters. She is rescued in that story by her brother. In that story the Dukes new wife also had come under the spell of Aaron, and it ends badly for Aaron.

Elisabeth suffered chaos as a result of Aaron, and she moves into the new book 4 years later - hiding out due to her own inner struggles and embarrassment of what had happened to her. Her brother is concerned and cannot get her to move forward, yet he is understanding, as is his wife, the Duchess.

Morgan is on his last legs after carousing all these years, and then having his half-brother pull him out of prison and pay off his debts. Both brothers do not know the other in any deep way, and Morgan resents him not knowing that they both suffered under their father for different reasons.

A deal is made to try and help Morgan straighten himself out between Roseford and Brighthollow, to become the latter’s ‘Man of Business’ on his estate, which is Elisabeth’s sanctuary that she does not want to leave. Elisabeth knows a little of Morgan’s past and is standoffish, although polite. Her brother is protective knowing what she went through.

So, both these characters, Morgan and Elisabeth, have a lot to work through, and at the same time, Morgan’s past begins to catch up to him as they discover an attraction for each other (with guilt) and begin to share small pieces of their lives, yet not the whole. That is their discovery process among brothers who are either protective or disappointed and can’t share their feelings. Particularity in the case of Roseford and Morgan, who have their own deep discovery of each other as brother.

The Duchess make appearances and they are always lovely, intuitive and forgiving. As often is the case in these types of stories, there is rallying around each other, wishing for the best and offering words to help sooth troubles.

It was a pretty good story considering the differences in so called stations between brothers, with the realization that both were similar, and both find love with the other, as does Morgan and Elisabeth when they break open their feelings and reveal.

Oh, and there is a duel with Morgan.

Morgan’s sister makes an appearance, and she seems to be the focus of the next book. Also, the other brother has just come back from serving in war, and is in hospital healing (book III). There is a fourth book, too.
 

Aeneas

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After having read the Billionaire series, I had a break reading other things but then came back to the Westcott series which I had saved for after the Billionaire series. It has been like going on vacation to delve into this series as it doesn't disappoint and just is so different from the Billionaire series, though admittedly the focus of the authors were also different.

Much has been said by others of the Westcott series, so I will not repeat. In the first 3 books which I have finished, a key theme is orphans, reversal of fortune, that is from rags to riches and the reverse. Balogh shows the many facets to the fate that existence hands the characters and how they change and transform as those facets come out into the light. There are some very honorable and noble male characters and equally likeable female characters who show courage and grit to face the unknown.

I am actually looking forward to a long day at work tomorrow as it will give me ample time to start book 4, Someone to care.

PS: Thank you @Alejo for your great resumes and insights from your readings. They make me want to reread the Survivor and the Bedwyn series, to name but two :)
 

Alejo

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PS: Thank you @Alejo for your great resumes and insights from your readings. They make me want to reread the Survivor and the Bedwyn series, to name but two :)
I am glad you enjoyed my thoughts on them, I only hope I have not spoiled them for you. Bedwyn was my favorite, but Survivor's is a very close second, and they're both rather moving.

Someone to care is a very nice story actually :) I enjoyed it very much.
 

Anthony

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After having read the Billionaire series, I had a break reading other things but then came back to the Westcott series which I had saved for after the Billionaire series. It has been like going on vacation to delve into this series as it doesn't disappoint and just is so different from the Billionaire series, though admittedly the focus of the authors were also different.

Much has been said by others of the Westcott series, so I will not repeat. In the first 3 books which I have finished, a key theme is orphans, reversal of fortune, that is from rags to riches and the reverse. Balogh shows the many facets to the fate that existence hands the characters and how they change and transform as those facets come out into the light. There are some very honorable and noble male characters and equally likeable female characters who show courage and grit to face the unknown.

I am actually looking forward to a long day at work tomorrow as it will give me ample time to start book 4, Someone to care.

PS: Thank you @Alejo for your great resumes and insights from your readings. They make me want to reread the Survivor and the Bedwyn series, to name but two :)

I've been reading the Westcott series recently as well, and just the descriptions of internal psychological landscape of the characters is superb, and as you've mentioned there are plenty of noble characters to go around. Balogh is a great teacher of empathy, of learning to put yourself into someone's shoes, and she clearly shows how hard it is to understand oneself, let alone another person. I love how she shows that without an outside perspective, we're pretty much blind as to what is driving us, and what to do with our problems.
 

Alejo

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Hi guys,

I have just finished, Simply Unforgettable by Mary Balogh, it was an enjoyable story but I think in comparison to some of the work of Westcott and Survivor's it was a less intense novel. More heart warming than anything, and the pacing of it kind of left me a bit confused at times. It did leave me with a few ideas to ponder about that I wanted to share here.

The story follows Frances and Lucius' story him an Earl who had promised his ailing grandfather to marry within the year, and she's a school music teacher who is settled in contentment in Bath, they run into each other during a drive in the snow after christmas, spend some time together alone, grow rather fond of one another... spend an intimate night, and they separate.

There's a point in this story where I had trouble following the pace, he leaves but comes back insisting, she sends him away, he tries again, she sends him away, he tries again, she sends him away and at the end she accepts him and they marry one another.

I mean, It isn't quite like that, I do think there's value to the story, she feels ineligible, she's stubbornly attached to that decision she made about it. And maybe the point of the story, as I write these words, was to annoy the reader with Frances' stubborn fixation with being right about being the wrong person for Lucius (though all Lucius does is insist, sometimes invasively, though there could be another way to read that.. but it might be a stretch).

She's like the perfect example of the wrong crystallization of a habit or a belief, so much so that she'll sacrifice love in order to maintain it alive. And this is shown in Lucius own irritation at her, in that sense, I think Mary did a good job showing that when we want to hold on to something, no matter how wrong or how much evidence to the contrary exists, no one is getting in our way, not even ourselves.

It is interesting that the way out of such a stubborn crystallization, was truth, it was sharing, it was Frances finally opening up to Lucius and telling him exactly what she felt about herself and why she had to refuse him. An interesting part of the story takes place here, or at least an interesting concept, which actually appears in a lot of her novels.

Lucius says at some point "you presume to know me so well.. you do that a lot". It struck me while getting through their story that this is exactly what some of these narcissistic programs, or defensive ones, or fears and so on, do in us... convince us of what someone else would do, think or say... and when really thinking about it, that's kind of ridiculous, absurd even.. yet, we do it all the time. I know I do.

Now, Lucius insistence with Frances wasn't my favorite way for these two to end up together, all he had to go on was that he knew, after their one intimate night, that she was a passionate person and so being a teacher wasn't her dream, something she confirms, but it felt like a bit of a stretch to me.

But, there's something that I thought was interesting if one takes that story as an archetypical dynamic inside of Frances.

The story explores several ideas, talent, passion, integrity and naïveté.

Frances was always passionate about singing, however she had been overtly protected by her father while she was growing up, upon his passing, her passion and talent for singing was taken advantage of by predatory individuals due to her naïveté. Despite her innocence, she had enough integrity to walk away from all of it, not let her self be taken advantage of any longer and kill her dreams, freeze her passion and use her talent in some other way, teaching, something honorable but safe... in the running away from life kind of safe.

The trouble that Lucius comes to shed light on was that by her freezing her passion, she was denying her self to herself. There was no way anyone was to know her if she kept on sacrificing her nature. Lucius almost represents her heart, her emotions and the yearning for her true self, and in that sense, his impertinent insistence and inability to take no for an answer, is better understood.

Lucius was Frances' unavoidable truth, the aspect of herself she could never forget or ignore, no matter how long she wished to postpone admitting it to her self, she had to face these emotions, face her own nature and that was Lucius in her life. Their marriage at the end, was a way in which she integrated her nature with her conscious self, her dreams and passion with her knowledge and maturity.

Upon finishing this story, I kept on thinking about Julius Caesar, and his "Stay true to your own nature, and fear nothing" that phrase always struck me as rather interesting, because it's not simply identifying with your drives and dreams and passions, but rather bringing them under your conscious awareness and giving them a role in your life. But that can only be achieved if one does not ignore them, accepts them and nurtures them with knowledge and integrity.

So, perhaps if there's a few take aways from this story, the biggest one would be...stubbornly holding on to a defense mechanism after its useful existence, is annoying, to others at the very least, but to ourselves... it's sacrificing something unnecessarily and at our own peril, like constantly cutting parts of ourselves that naturally grow, just so that we can prove to the world that they were never there in the first place... if that makes sense, like shaving our heads constantly only to be able to say to someone "see? I told you I've always been bald"

And secondly, emotions and passion can be a force for transformation, if nurtured with knowledge and integrity and allowed to mature as we do. As the C's said, some emotions will hold us down and prevent our progress (like the emotional kick from feeling correct about why we need to be right about these silly programs) and there are others who might be what ignites and maintained the engine of transformation running.

It's interesting that for most of us, learning academically and intellectually about any given topic isn't enough, emotionally integrating a story that displays those very same principles tends to stay with us for far longer. So, emotions definitely have a role in our lives, sometimes destructive, sometimes freezing, but potentially transforming and the harbingers of progress.
Now, onto Simply Love

Thanks very much for reading. Oh, if you're following the Mary Balogh Universe, there's a reference to the Bedwyns in this book, that was awesome :D

Thanks for reading everyone.
 

Mari

The Living Force
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Another author coming up! Oh goodie!! I loved this series!

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