Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Alejo

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hi guys,

After the RFK book, I dove back in to the Simply Quarted, I must say I was truly looking forward to see how that series ended, and I wasn't disappointed. First off, I will say that being a big fan of the Bedwyns, it was truly rewarding to see them being an active part of these stories. Freyja Bedwyn is somewhat central to the series, and she was always one of my favorite characters, and seeing it all go around was a treat. A few thoughts on the spoiler section.

As a quick recap, the Simply Quartet follows the story of a few teachers in Mrs. Martin's school for girls, Mrs. Claudia Martin was Freyja Bedwyn's governess at some point, until she walked out on them because of how imposible Freyja was to educate, giving them all a lesson in character and humility. This plays an important role later on her story.

The story follows Claudia and Joseph, her story is somewhat well known, but one of her key features is that because of her experience with the Bedwyns she despised the aristocracy, and specially dukes, this is to a degree part of her arch, to let go of the past so that she could move into the future. It's a whole theme with her, at some point her first love shows up in the story to stir up some trouble, but at the same time it gives her closure, and recognition of where her own grudges come from and how much she had allowed them to rule her and define her.

In her interaction with her first love, Charlie, an interesting concept is explored I think, the idea of forgiving but not forgetting. And as he apologized for having abandoned her, and asks her to marry him, she through allowing her hurt to go, her would to heal, was capable of making a more conscious decision, which was to refuse his offer, but it wasn't out of resentment, it was out of her recognition of who she was and who he was. And It struck me that old grudges work like that in practical terms, it prevents us from seeing ourselves and a situation clearly. Grudges and old resentment comes with an established set of rules that we adhere to, but sometimes for the sake of that adhesion, we forego our ability to choose.

In some other stories the idea of guilt being self centered was explored, in this one the reasons why were made visible. If you place yourself at the center of someone else's life, or if you make them the center of yours, that creates a dynamic that you won't allow you to make a conscious choice. I thought that was marvelous.

Joseph, is the heir to a dukedom, so without Claudia working through her issues, she would have never been able to recognize him, as a human being and not simply as a category of human being. He has an illegitimate blind daughter, that he loves, but... and once again the idea of following rules not of one's choosing shows up... because of society, he hides her from everyone. But his love for her send him seeking Claudia for an education for her.

This little triangle is lovely and so very tender, their scenes were always very moving, his daughter, Lizzie, was the embodiment of innocence, and what brought Claudia and Joseph together, it was what gave them a chance to fight for themselves individually and for one another. And it gave them the bases for what their future life together would bring, as after their marriage they sought to open up a school for disabled children.

But, it was another way to show the betrayal of something pure and innocent, or rather, something authentic. Lizzie, could be understood too perhaps, as the light trapped by our obstinate adherence to rules not of our making. Be it pride, guilt, resentment or whatever other programs. Not only do we close ourselves to ourselves, but to the love/knowledge that may come from that relationship. if that makes sense.

In the end, Lizzie was enough for Joseph to escape a marriage to a truly coldhearted creature.

Claudia was such an endearing character, strong and mature, and I truly love stories about older characters, there's a maturity that is very enjoyable. She is thoughtful and careful with her words and very wise. Her entire character was build upon the idea of going for our goals/dreams with faith in life or the universe.

At some point she says something along the lines of: Life is a collection of dreams, and the trick is to know when to let some of them go, without growing bitter at life’s disappointments, and when to stop chasing them, so as to actually live life. Life is generous once one has decided to take a positive course, and will continue to open new doors in that direction, provided one is brave enough to keep on walking through them instead of choosing to remain on familiar wrong side of a door. Life will continue to provide opportunities for us should we have the will to carry on a positive path

That was brilliant, put another way, once you choose a direction in life that you know in your heart and mind to be positive, life will continue to open doors for you, and it's up to you to walk through them, despite how scary and how certain disappointment is, and our progress is truly limited by our choices and our capacity to continue to accept the path drawn before us by the choices we've made thus far.

Another interesting idea, was on one occasion when Claudia and Joseph were walking in silence, she said something along the lines of: We're afraid of silence, of our potential. There’s a lot of things surrounded by silence and darkness, truly our fears and the things we wish we never had to look at, however, our potential also lies in that place... and that is more difficult to behold. What we don’t wish to admit is simply scary and painful, though sometimes enough to freeze us from action and send us seeking busy oblivion, as if that were possible. But our bright and beautiful parts, hidden in the silence, those are truly terrifying, because it’s a reflection of who we could be but choose not to be.

And that's true, sometimes we seek oblivion of busywork because we don't wish to hurt, but sometimes this hurt isn't from a wound, sometimes is from unexplored potential. And she discussed this several times during the book, the need to take a leap of faith into the unknown, not as a reckless and immature way to not settle down, but as a way to continue to become who you choose to be.

But, this caused in her a bit, if not a lot, of pride. Her defining feature in life was how proud she was of her independence, and she lived her life as a defiant act against the aristocracy, she became identified with it. But as she discovered that it was Freyja Bedwyn, who had been the benefactor of her school (unbeknownst to Claudia), which allowed her to become independent, that she realized that there's really no way to live disconnected from other human beings, we need each other.

Though she had done enough work on herself, through helping her girls, that she handled the realization of Freyja's involvement in her life with grace and maturity. Closing the cycle initiated in Slightly Scandalous in a very rewarding manner.

The book also explores moments, and how every moment represents a choice in our lives, but there are forks in the road that are crucial. Also of love and parenting, Claudia decided to sacrifice her early wishes for a family by becoming a teacher, pouring that love onto her girls. Interestingly enough, if she hadn't chosen to do so, she would not have become who she was all along, and as such her life would have been entirely different. Several aspects of her character would not be there, compassion, understanding and patience, humility and a certain level of pride, things she gave her students and that formed her into someone capable of navigating a reinventing of herself once again after meeting and marrying Joseph.

Doing what it doesn't like works much the same way, but Claudia did not do it in an self adversarial way, she did it in a self daring manner. And she found herself in the process.

In the end, Joseph and Claudia found love in one another by recognizing the brilliant parts of the other. By encouraging each other to strive for more conscious self awareness, but... it was never imposing or rash, their relationship grew quite nicely, their story was very well paced. They always respected the other's destiny, until they found a way to make their lives align and work.

Overall, it was a great story and an end tot he quartet, I truly enjoyed getting through it.

Thanks for reading, the series as a whole was very nice, the last one was particularly moving for me. This series takes place After Bedwyn and before Survivor's.

Now, I wish to finish the Westcott series with the book that just came out, Someone Perfect :) I'll report back.
 

gottathink

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hi guys,

After the RFK book, I dove back in to the Simply Quarted, I must say I was truly looking forward to see how that series ended, and I wasn't disappointed. First off, I will say that being a big fan of the Bedwyns, it was truly rewarding to see them being an active part of these stories. Freyja Bedwyn is somewhat central to the series, and she was always one of my favorite characters, and seeing it all go around was a treat. A few thoughts on the spoiler section.

As a quick recap, the Simply Quartet follows the story of a few teachers in Mrs. Martin's school for girls, Mrs. Claudia Martin was Freyja Bedwyn's governess at some point, until she walked out on them because of how imposible Freyja was to educate, giving them all a lesson in character and humility. This plays an important role later on her story.

The story follows Claudia and Joseph, her story is somewhat well known, but one of her key features is that because of her experience with the Bedwyns she despised the aristocracy, and specially dukes, this is to a degree part of her arch, to let go of the past so that she could move into the future. It's a whole theme with her, at some point her first love shows up in the story to stir up some trouble, but at the same time it gives her closure, and recognition of where her own grudges come from and how much she had allowed them to rule her and define her.

In her interaction with her first love, Charlie, an interesting concept is explored I think, the idea of forgiving but not forgetting. And as he apologized for having abandoned her, and asks her to marry him, she through allowing her hurt to go, her would to heal, was capable of making a more conscious decision, which was to refuse his offer, but it wasn't out of resentment, it was out of her recognition of who she was and who he was. And It struck me that old grudges work like that in practical terms, it prevents us from seeing ourselves and a situation clearly. Grudges and old resentment comes with an established set of rules that we adhere to, but sometimes for the sake of that adhesion, we forego our ability to choose.

In some other stories the idea of guilt being self centered was explored, in this one the reasons why were made visible. If you place yourself at the center of someone else's life, or if you make them the center of yours, that creates a dynamic that you won't allow you to make a conscious choice. I thought that was marvelous.

Joseph, is the heir to a dukedom, so without Claudia working through her issues, she would have never been able to recognize him, as a human being and not simply as a category of human being. He has an illegitimate blind daughter, that he loves, but... and once again the idea of following rules not of one's choosing shows up... because of society, he hides her from everyone. But his love for her send him seeking Claudia for an education for her.

This little triangle is lovely and so very tender, their scenes were always very moving, his daughter, Lizzie, was the embodiment of innocence, and what brought Claudia and Joseph together, it was what gave them a chance to fight for themselves individually and for one another. And it gave them the bases for what their future life together would bring, as after their marriage they sought to open up a school for disabled children.

But, it was another way to show the betrayal of something pure and innocent, or rather, something authentic. Lizzie, could be understood too perhaps, as the light trapped by our obstinate adherence to rules not of our making. Be it pride, guilt, resentment or whatever other programs. Not only do we close ourselves to ourselves, but to the love/knowledge that may come from that relationship. if that makes sense.

In the end, Lizzie was enough for Joseph to escape a marriage to a truly coldhearted creature.

Claudia was such an endearing character, strong and mature, and I truly love stories about older characters, there's a maturity that is very enjoyable. She is thoughtful and careful with her words and very wise. Her entire character was build upon the idea of going for our goals/dreams with faith in life or the universe.

At some point she says something along the lines of: Life is a collection of dreams, and the trick is to know when to let some of them go, without growing bitter at life’s disappointments, and when to stop chasing them, so as to actually live life. Life is generous once one has decided to take a positive course, and will continue to open new doors in that direction, provided one is brave enough to keep on walking through them instead of choosing to remain on familiar wrong side of a door. Life will continue to provide opportunities for us should we have the will to carry on a positive path

That was brilliant, put another way, once you choose a direction in life that you know in your heart and mind to be positive, life will continue to open doors for you, and it's up to you to walk through them, despite how scary and how certain disappointment is, and our progress is truly limited by our choices and our capacity to continue to accept the path drawn before us by the choices we've made thus far.

Another interesting idea, was on one occasion when Claudia and Joseph were walking in silence, she said something along the lines of: We're afraid of silence, of our potential. There’s a lot of things surrounded by silence and darkness, truly our fears and the things we wish we never had to look at, however, our potential also lies in that place... and that is more difficult to behold. What we don’t wish to admit is simply scary and painful, though sometimes enough to freeze us from action and send us seeking busy oblivion, as if that were possible. But our bright and beautiful parts, hidden in the silence, those are truly terrifying, because it’s a reflection of who we could be but choose not to be.

And that's true, sometimes we seek oblivion of busywork because we don't wish to hurt, but sometimes this hurt isn't from a wound, sometimes is from unexplored potential. And she discussed this several times during the book, the need to take a leap of faith into the unknown, not as a reckless and immature way to not settle down, but as a way to continue to become who you choose to be.

But, this caused in her a bit, if not a lot, of pride. Her defining feature in life was how proud she was of her independence, and she lived her life as a defiant act against the aristocracy, she became identified with it. But as she discovered that it was Freyja Bedwyn, who had been the benefactor of her school (unbeknownst to Claudia), which allowed her to become independent, that she realized that there's really no way to live disconnected from other human beings, we need each other.

Though she had done enough work on herself, through helping her girls, that she handled the realization of Freyja's involvement in her life with grace and maturity. Closing the cycle initiated in Slightly Scandalous in a very rewarding manner.

The book also explores moments, and how every moment represents a choice in our lives, but there are forks in the road that are crucial. Also of love and parenting, Claudia decided to sacrifice her early wishes for a family by becoming a teacher, pouring that love onto her girls. Interestingly enough, if she hadn't chosen to do so, she would not have become who she was all along, and as such her life would have been entirely different. Several aspects of her character would not be there, compassion, understanding and patience, humility and a certain level of pride, things she gave her students and that formed her into someone capable of navigating a reinventing of herself once again after meeting and marrying Joseph.

Doing what it doesn't like works much the same way, but Claudia did not do it in an self adversarial way, she did it in a self daring manner. And she found herself in the process.

In the end, Joseph and Claudia found love in one another by recognizing the brilliant parts of the other. By encouraging each other to strive for more conscious self awareness, but... it was never imposing or rash, their relationship grew quite nicely, their story was very well paced. They always respected the other's destiny, until they found a way to make their lives align and work.

Overall, it was a great story and an end tot he quartet, I truly enjoyed getting through it.

Thanks for reading, the series as a whole was very nice, the last one was particularly moving for me. This series takes place After Bedwyn and before Survivor's.

Now, I wish to finish the Westcott series with the book that just came out, Someone Perfect :) I'll report back.
Thanks for highlighting these parts that I had forgotten about. Worthwhile to read your recap.
Also I got a sense of what Claudia was to achieve with helping Lizzies education. I felt there was a
Vision and progression of how the lives of other blind people and children would begin to improve as Claudia pioneered education of the young blind Lizzie. So it struck me that her sacrifice to not have children would lead her to Joseph and Lizzie and then the whole world would benefit.
 

Yas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished the book Only Enchanting, fourth in the Survivors' Club series. I loved it. I found it a bit more intense than the previous books in the series, but nothing like the The Devils Web in that regard.

It was really beautiful to see how the both characters tried to make up for a marriage that was made quite impulsively and without much understanding on both parts. And it was also a very interesting story touching on how blanks in memory can prevent people from understanding their past better and letting go of the pain entangled with that past because they aren't really sure of what really happened and how. It touches upon the importance of knowledge and how it can help us understand, heal and move on, I think.

It's also a book about how a decision made in a moment can have a huge impact not only in our own lives but also the lives of others around us. And how our experiences in life can greatly shape how we behave, what we fear and the choices we make in the future. Related to that is what I said above, that knowing and understanding our past can release us (at least somewhat) of such influence from the past, opening us more to something new and different.

Agnes' attitude of making her marriage work despite the bad circumstances that surrounded it was inspiring, as was Flavian's willingness to do something for her and them in order to save their marriage. After this they became friends and that opened their hearts to the healing they still needed from what they had gone through before, and to love.


The series really is a great one, and it's also good to have part of this book happening during one of the Survivors' meeting, so we get to 'see' them all again and learn a bit more about each of them and how they interact with each other, giving feedback in a loving way and supporting each other without actually doing for the other what needs to be done by each member of the club in his/her own life.

Moving on to the next one now: Only a Promise.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The following idea, "she cannot free herself from the tangles of her life if you cannot and thereby transmit the strength to her" can perhaps be found in the plots of some romance novels. If not, the book needs to be written.
(Breton) Anybody else have...? Well, only one that I have was kind of the wrap-up question if that's okay. Do the C's have any message for the Finnish group, or something that we haven't asked about that maybe we should know?

A: If you have a strong bond, and one of you comes to this locator, it will ensure that the others have a magnetic connection. Tomiro, there is someone for you, but she cannot free herself from the tangles of her life if you cannot and thereby transmit the strength to her.
 

Ennio

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
The series really is a great one, and it's also good to have part of this book happening during one of the Survivors' meeting, so we get to 'see' them all again and learn a bit more about each of them and how they interact with each other, giving feedback in a loving way and supporting each other without actually doing for the other what needs to be done by each member of the club in his/her own life.
The following idea, "she cannot free herself from the tangles of her life if you cannot and thereby transmit the strength to her" can perhaps be found in the plots of some romance novels. If not, the book needs to be written.

Some good insights here that remind me of some things I've been noticing as well. And that is, while these stories are ostensibly about romantic relationships between men and women, and the challenging work involved in coming together in a deep and meaningful way, there is also quite a lot of support and strength that not only women give other women (which may seem like a given - given the nature of many women), but that men give other men; few if none of the romantic relationships forming in total isolation. Its yet another interesting feature of a lot of these stories that one just does not expect in a 'Romance Novel' (at least I didn't).

So we see that men not only lend a very helpful hand to their male relatives, but also to guys they share a history with, or have been long-time friends with. In many cases these secondary male characters (who often become the leads in other stories) lend some crucial aid or advice at critical points of the narratives - driving home, in my opinion, that even many of the most self-sufficient, worldly, wiley and clever (and albeit wounded) of the male protagonists we meet - greatly benefit from a helpful hand; greatly benefit from True Friends.

In a number of the series (and I could be, I admit, reading a bit too much into it) there even seems to be a thread of "putting others on the step behind you". Where the new-found strength forged from the romantic love of a couple in the first novel - has a kind of ripple or cascading effect on others (men too) in their family or sphere. Not that it's always that causal, or linear, but to be sure, those initial two love interests do seem to 'make waves' - and quite often have a part in opening things up for others. All of this by way of saying that all or some of the sexy parts that are enjoyable in these novels - come with a certain amount of work and journeying from others, giving the romantic love relationship a more holistic or realistic existence (however fictional).

As I was mulling over some these things recently, I wondered how many men, compared to women, actually read this genre. My guess was about 10% men, 90% women. But, if the following article is correct, its actually close to double that for men. The article also has quite a bit to say about why these novels are better for men than watching porn. Well, nothing new there, but for all you guys out there who have yet to take the plunge (no pun intended), the following gives some pretty good reasons why you might consider reading the novels recommended here. And note that not everything in the article may be constructive necessarily.

Better for You Than Porn: Why Men Are Reading Romance Novels - By Adrienne Westenfeld Jul 27, 2021

If I offered you something that enriched your sex life, deepened your connection with your partner, and made you more emotionally literate, you would, I assume, think you'd stumbled onto a questionable supplements website. Well, I'm not selling pills, I'm talking about romance novels. For guys. Which is not as strange as it might sound.

According to the nonprofit Romance Writers of America, 18 percent of romance fiction readers are men. Fully one-third of erotic audiobooks are downloaded by guys, another report says. In a billion-dollar industry comprising 23 percent of the adult fiction market, that’s a lot of dudes. Overall, romance is the second-most-popular genre in American fiction, below only thrillers, yet there’s still archaic stigma about romance novels and the people who read them, rooted in sexism and snobbery. I’m here to tell you that romance novels are for guys—in fact, they’re for anyone who wants to live a more emotionally rich life.

If romance novels conjure images of drugstore paperbacks, the ones with Fabio's oiled-up abs on the cover and nothing but florid writing on love making, let me bring you up to speed. Today’s romance novels offer more than sex (though, don't worry, they do contain plenty of it). Unlike previous generations, these books dig deep into the emotional lives of characters. They center smart, strong, frequently stubborn men and women who are putting in the work to live authentic and meaningful lives. Want to read a story about people breaking free of tradition to find modern love? Figuring out their careers? Committing sexy espionage? There's a romance novel for that. The genre is packed with sports, spaceships, superheroes, and again, really fantastic sex.

The magic these novels can work on men is profound. Romance novels open doors to important conversations many men aren’t having about partnership, pleasure, and consent. In a culture that teaches men to conceal or suppress their emotions, romance novels model a more emotionally available form of masculinity—one where a willingness to be vulnerable is the key to intimacy with a partner. Take Jasmine Guillory's While We Were Dating for example, in which we see a man working out his baggage in therapy to become the best partner he can be.

Jason Rogers, a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of the Bromantics Book Club, a group of guys who read and discuss romance novels together, started reading the genre more than a year ago, and he’s not looking back.

“Romance novels gave me a more precise appreciation of intimacy,” Rogers said. “It helped me unpack what intimacy actually is. Obviously there’s a lot of sex in romance novels, but the books helped crystallize that sex is an antecedent to real intimacy. Sex is an expression of intimacy, but real emotional intimacy is so much more important.”

Transformative emotional intimacy can't be built in a day, so romance novel newcomers may want to start in the bedroom. Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and host of the Sex and Psychology podcast, pitches romance novels as a tool for men to diversify their ideas about sex, fantasies, and what turns them on.

“Sometimes we don’t know what we like until we see it or read about it,” Lehmiller said. “Men have a lot of emotionality in their sexual fantasies. That’s an element often missing from pornography, but present in romance novels. Men can find these novels arousing and appealing in a different way, because they offer something different than mainstream porn.”

[...]
 

France

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
After the RFK book, I dove back in to the Simply Quarted, I must say I was truly looking forward to see how that series ended, and I wasn't disappointed. First off, I will say that being a big fan of the Bedwyns, it was truly rewarding to see them being an active part of these stories. Freyja Bedwyn is somewhat central to the series, and she was always one of my favorite characters, and seeing it all go around was a treat. A few thoughts on the spoiler section.
I like a lot that series too (Bedwyns). I also got attached to some of the characters but Freyja's was exceptional.

I finished the Mckenzie's series. Each of the personalities had anger.From generation to generation it was passed on to the children except when they managed to love and especially to let themselves be loved and not to be ashamed of their darkness.

On the other hand, Ian was my favorite character who was in several books of this series. A very intuitive man, he memorized everything, and despite his suffering, he knew how to recognize the woman who could love him as he was.


After this series, a take an other author, I choose Eloisa James "Pleasures" (3 tomes). It's different than the other
I liked how she keeps us with a parallel intrigue to the plot of the seduction to find a husband or wife. And with this intrigue, the two future spouses will discover each other, hate each other, lie to each other, appreciate each other but will not love each other until the "shock" in the parallel intrigue has happened.

This series relaxed me from the Mckenzie series.

I think I will continue with Julia Quinn'séries.
 

Alejo

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hi guys,

I just finished Someone Perfect, by Mary Balogh, this is the one that was recently published as an addition to the Westcott series. It was a very interesting story for sure, it picked up the theme from Westcott about family, I enjoyed the story, tough it wasn't as good as some others I've read from her. I will share a few thoughts on the spoiler section.

Well, as a tiny recap, the story follows Estelle and Justin, Estelle is Viola Kingsley's step daughter, Viola is the widow of the former head of the Westcott family, who had found out that her marriage was bigamous and as such, her kids were illegitimate, and that's how this story connects back to the Westcott series.

Last time we saw Estelle and her twin brother, they were young kids, now they're past their twenties. The love story in itself wasn't the most compelling one, and I suppose since she picked the series up again, this book had more of the rhythm and pace of the first one in one of her series.

The story itself deals with reconciliation, and in this story, which I don't think I have found anywhere else there were several central characters, not just the two main ones. There's Justin and Estelle, but also Justin's sister Maria. And all have semi independent arcs that coalesce at the end

Justin had been pretty much exiled by his father after he caught him in his second wife's room kissing her and with his hands all over her, something she had staged in order to save face. Justin did not try to defend himself and simply left, hating his father and breaking his young step sister's heart, who was lied to by her mother (the one that was caught with Justin) which lead to ultimately her hating him.

After Justin father dies, Justin becomes the new earl of Brandon and as such he's now in charge of his sister, who had spend years with her mother as she was convalescing and eventually passed away. When Justin goes to get his sister and bring her home, the relationship is beyond strained, and as a way to do his duty and reconect her to the world and her family he invites both branches of their families to spend some time at his beautiful property.

That is the crux of their story. Several concepts are nicely explored in the story, specially reconciliation and the effort it takes. Forgiveness, is something that requires our active participation.

For instance, Maria embodied one aspect of reconciliation and integration, she represented the path towards discovery with her incessant quest for the truth of the matter, but she also did it openly and that's a crucial aspect of it. Sometimes we get caught up in our grudges, so much so that not even the truth will make us yield.

I think that's something we all ought to be aware of, how much have our grudges become part of our identity, how much do we use them to remain inconsiderate and mean, or self righteous. The path to reconciliation, be it with someone else's actions or with ourselves and our past mistakes or shortsighted choices, begins with an inquiry for the facts, and beyond the facts, the motives. But is not complete until we're able to accept them, and move on.

Because a lot of the times, we will not set ourselves, or others, free from our anger and hate or resentment, and that's because we are getting something from it, so long as we're able to hold someone in contempt and refuse to accept the truth, we get to remain selfish. So letting go of that power, requires the humility to admit being wrong, or right. Maria transformed herself from someone who had nothing in life, cold and quiet, to a living person who belonged to her past, but wasn't controlled by it, who belonged with her family and who had now accepted the love that she refused because of holding on to that grudge. Because she couldn't reconsolidate. And that, was a beautiful transformation.

Justin goes through a similar process, he always resented his father for choosing such a sociopath for a wife, and sacrificing him over her. But it wasn't until he found his father's last letter, that he understood the rationale for his father's choice. This allowed him to forgive him and it opened up the gates of his true self to shine, which is what Estelle saw in him and drew her to Justin.

We cannot be ourselves if we're ruled by grudges. We cannot shine, we have no light if there are walls preventing us from being who we choose to be.

Now, on both cases for Maria and Justin, the answer wasn't a forgiveness that justified the acts, it rather came from understanding and accepting, rather than from justifying. I think there's something to be said, about growth particularly, when one thinks of the idea of forgiving but not forgetting. And I think it means that, it means acceptance without going fully to the other side and agreeing with the way things happened.

Neither Maria nor Justin would have behaved in the same way their parent's did, and as such they will forever disagree with them, but that did not mean that they would allow the hurt, or that fact of disagreement, to rule their lives any longer.

There has been a lot of ideas in her novels about letting go of hurt and guilt, but not so much about forgiveness and resentment. So this was an interesting story to read in that sense.

Lastly, they said something at some point that caught my eye, and I think it was beautiful so I will mention it here. They said something like, the people that are central to our lives, are with us all the time. Through connection and worry, and wondering and through their teaching and influence. If we're connected to a family or network, their mere presence on the other side of the world, is enough to change the way we make choices I think.

I believe that is one of the biggest reasons why being isolated from human contact is so detrimental to one's overall health, not just physical and mental but also, our choices are made differently if we don't know that there's someone out there who cares about our well being. It was an interesting idea.

Thanks for reading, I think next up is Heartless
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
...I enjoyed the story, tough it wasn't as good as some others I've read from her. I will share a few thoughts on the spoiler section.

Thanks for the review of Someone Perfect.

Had read this story when it was first published, and indeed it is tied the Westcott series Someone to Care, and that was the story of Viola Kingsley and Marcel Lamarr. This book features Marcel's children, children who had gone through a lot with their dad, and had had to accept their dad's new marriage to Viola (and accept their own father). Here in this story they are tempered from the past, however that was in the past (although Marcel and Viola factor in the new book), and now these two grown children are tied to those mentioned in your spoiler. On this last aspect, thought the book interesting as the characters, although individuals, are connected alone similar lines and struggles.

Also worth mentioning of this particular new story, was that it was the works at the time of the MindMatters interview with Mary - so tried to pay attention to how she wrote it with that interview in mind.
 
Ennio I think you said it wonderfully. I finished reading Balogh's The Escape a few days ago and I have to say the novels are beginning to rub off on me. The characters in the books are understanding and accepting of others, and not just their romantic partners but also their friends/family that they might have previously quarreled with.
I find myself remembering how the different characters reacted to situations and comparing it to my own. It's like these fictional characters give me an ideal to strive for; how I can learn to forgive, ask for forgiveness, value the time I spend with others, strive to accept people for who they are, behave in a (gentlemanly) polite way, and also be assertive when necessary. It's much more than a romance between two people, but a story on how the two come together and strive to be the best that they can be in what life gives them.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Since I began reading the novels, I have begun to read the biographies of people with differently. Did the people have character traits worthy of a protagonist in a romance novel? In this post I will mention one couple from ancient history, and two sisters in 17th century Britain and Ireland, each of whom had qualities that would qualify for a novel if a protagonist borrowed a bit from both.

The ancient couple was Caesar and Cornelia. It must have been a strong match, Caesar certainly proved his love. From the Wiki about Cornelia, wife of Caesar, there is:
Suetonius reports that Caesar and Cornelia were married in the consulate occurring after Caesar lost his father, which occurred in his sixteenth year.[1] In Suetonius' chronology, Caesar was born in 100 BC, placing the death of his father in 85 or 84. Thus, he probably married Cornelia in 83, when he was about seventeen years old, and she perhaps a little younger.[ii][1][7][8] Their daughter, Julia, was Caesar's only legitimate child, and the only one he acknowledged.[iii][4]

The young Caesar was one of those to whom Sulla turned his attention after returning to Rome. Although he had taken no part in the government of Marius and Cinna, and done nothing to oppose Sulla's return, Caesar's aunt, Julia, was the wife of Marius; his cousin was the younger Marius, who as consul in 82 was defeated by Sulla, and had taken his own life as the city fell. Marius and Cinna had appointed the young Caesar to an important priesthood, and by marrying Cinna's daughter, Caesar gained control of a substantial dowry. Sulla regarded Caesar as a potential rival, and commanded him to divorce Cornelia.[1][2][3]

However, neither the deprivation of his priesthood, Cornelia's dowry, and his own inheritance, nor the threat of violence, would induce Caesar to forsake his wife. He was proscribed, and escaped Rome in disguise, evading capture by regularly changing his place of concealment, and on at least one occasion by bribing the commander of a patrol sent to search for Sulla's enemies. Eventually Sulla relented, following the intercession of Caesar's numerous friends and kinsmen, and Caesar returned home to Cornelia.[1][2][3][4]
Cornelia died early, when Caesar was only in his early 30ies and she in her late twenties, but Caesar honored Cornelia beyond what was the custom at the time.
After about thirteen years of marriage, Cornelia died early in her husband's quaestorship, which occurred in BC 69 or 68.[iv][9] Caesar was due to depart for Spain, and had already pronounced the funeral oration of his aunt, Julia, from the rostra, as was customary for elderly Roman matrons. He then gave an oration in honour of Cornelia, which was extraordinary in the case of a young woman, although it later became commonplace.[1][2][4][10][11] Historically, Cornelia is often stated to have died in childbirth, but this is not confirmed.[12]

Moving forward many years to the 17th century, there is a case of extraordinary independence for a young woman. Mary Rich, born Boyle, a brother of the famous Anglo-Irish scientist Robert Boyle, defied her powerful father when she was just 13. About her, the Wiki has:
Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick (8 November 1625 – 12 April 1678) was the seventh daughter of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, and his second wife, Catherine Fenton, only daughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton, Principal Secretary of State for Ireland, and Alice Weston.[1]
[...]
Mary was noted from childhood onwards for her exceptional stubbornness and independence. Her father, who was probably the most formidable figure in Irish politics at the time, called her "my unruly daughter" and was unable to control her.[4] He arranged a marriage for her with Lord Clanbrassil but Mary, who was only 13, refused to marry Clanbrassil on grounds of an "incurable aversion" to him, and no threat or argument would change her mind.[5] Her father cut off her allowance, leaving her without any money to buy new clothes, but to no avail.[6] Two years later, having been banished from her father's house to another abode near Hampton Court, she made a secret love marriage with Charles Rich, 4th Earl of Warwick, who was then a penniless younger son with no financial prospects, who had frequently visited her when she was recovering from an attack of measles.[6]

Her father, who was clearly fond of her despite their differences, relented sufficiently to provide quite a generous dowry. Though Mary may have been known as Richard Boyle's "unruly daughter", she expressed in her writings great respect and gratitude for him.
Regarding the mentioned refusal of Mary to marry Lord Clanbrassil, one reads in his Wiki:
In 1638 he was betrothed to Lady Mary Boyle, the 13-year-old daughter of The 1st Earl of Cork. The marriage, however, never took place, as Mary, despite intense pressure from her formidable father, absolutely refused to marry him, on the unflattering ground that she found him physically repulsive. This defiance of a father's wishes, particularly in such a young girl, was almost unprecedented. Mary, however, was noted from an early age for her extraordinary strength of character. Even her father ruefully admitted that he was unable to control "my unruly daughter", and since he was genuinely fond of her he let the betrothal lapse.[5]
The marriage between Mary Boyle and Charles Rich was not always easy. Both his and her Wiki mention that in different words, but his ends with:
Despite their quarrels, he left all his property to his widow for her life, an unusual step at the time. The love of his life died five years later.
Mary Rich had a sister, Katherine Jones, Viscountess Ranelagh. While Mary had a difficult but deep marriage, her sister Katherine, married at 15, ended up being estranged from her husband, and brought up their four children alone. Katherine was skillful in medicine, open-minded, diplomatic and looked for peace when there was political tension and trouble, of which there was a lot in her lifetime. She had a scientific mind, supported her brother's experiments, and was always ready to help her many friends and contacts if she could.

The above were two examples of appreciating biographies with a different mind after having been exposed to a good number of romance novels. Maybe it is easier to understand the minds of historical characters, if one has read a lot of realistic internal dialogue in fiction. Perhaps it is also easier to understand the characters of the novels.
 

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A small update of my reading. :-)

Well, sometime beginning of December, I choose to read the two books on the list from Grace Burrowes´ "True Gentlemen" series.
Grace Burrowes True Gentlemen 1 Tremaine's True Love
Grace Burrowes True Gentlemen 5 The Duke's Disaster

Well, I had a really hard time finishing those. I cannot exactly pinpoint what exactly is the problem with Burrowes´ writing, but those books weren´t that interesting, and also the characters were somehow off.

Somehow I started with "The Duke's Disaster" first and TBH - now I have no idea what was going on in that book (even when I go to GoodReads and Amazon to refresh my memory). :-[
That´s the first time that I cannot remember the story even with the help of the summary!

"Tremaine's True Love" was a bit better (and I do remember this story :-D) but still not that impressive.

Hopefully, the other series in the list - Captive Hearts series - will be better...

Between those two books (so after I FINALLY finished "The Duke's Disaster", for which I can safely say that this was the most unimpressive book I´ve read so far in this project) - I switched to M. Balogh during the Christmas season. :-D:love:

As I took a vacation from 23.12. until 6.1., I had over two weeks to prepare for Christmas, had fun with the kids and immerse myself into M. Balogh´s Christmas world that was so beautiful and enchanting.
I´ve read "The first snowdrop", "Christmas Belle" and a book that is in fact 5 short Christmas novels "Under the Mistletoe"

Basically, all of those stories are heartwarming, cuddle-under-the-blanket-with-a-tea good books that made my Christmas season warmer.

Opening GoodReads and Amazon, I recalled how in "The first snowdrop" I wished I could smack that Viscount Merrick if Anne didn´t do that first. :-)
Together with "Christmas Belle", the two books belong to the "Stewart-Frazer" series, both books deal with how a lot of assumptions darken the mind of people.

"Under the Mistletoe" is a set of 5 short novels, that were absolutely brilliant. And again, a Christmas was in the center as a time for healing and forgiveness, estranged married couples coming together...
The book was a perfect Christmas gift that I gave to myself. :-)

I´ve just finished the other day Caroline Linden´s "The Wagers of Sin" series.
Well, after finishing that second book from Burrowes - this was quite an awesome read!

The main plot of the series deals with the characters we meet in the notorious gambling Vega Club.

The characters are so interesting and out of time, especially the lady in the first novel, and each lady has her own strengths.
The men are discovering that they are more than they thought and the plot of each book is a real page-turner.

I highly recommend the series :-)

The series helped me to lift my spirits up because I was doing serious reading + I fell into some depression/melancholy lately and I really need those few hours in the evening with these stories to detach myself from the world and the problems.

With the state of the world and the state in my life, I don´t have the strength lately to do more serious readings, except for the Wave.

After each romance book, I say "now to continue where I left off with mandatory reading", but after a few days, I´m in such a mood that I came back to romance novels again.

Maybe it´s also the weather - it´s so gray and wet ALL THE TIME.
I saw maybe a few hours of sun in the last months!!!
It´s terrible - like I´m in a twilight zone...

Enough of ranting here, and I´m sorry for being off-topic! :-[

😘
 

Anthony

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I´ve just finished the other day Caroline Linden´s "The Wagers of Sin" series.
Well, after finishing that second book from Burrowes - this was quite an awesome read!

The main plot of the series deals with the characters we meet in the notorious gambling Vega Club.

The characters are so interesting and out of time, especially the lady in the first novel, and each lady has her own strengths.
The men are discovering that they are more than they thought and the plot of each book is a real page-turner.

I highly recommend the series :-)

I agree, and there are some great examples of noble behavior. It's been a while since I've read the series, but I think that in the second book, the heroine has to deal with her husband's cold family members, and she handles the situation by placing the responsibility of improving relations with them fully on her self. She was externally considerate and she didn't whine or moan about her situation, but did what she had to do. Being thoughtful, kind and respectful. That's an approach taken straight out of Stoic philosophy.

In terms of basic life lessons, I think the series showcase how lies, cowardice, hiding and so on just lead to more problems in the end, we always end up paying the price. Then there's leaping to conclusions about people, and even ourselves, which seems to be a common theme of these novels.
 

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I agree, and there are some great examples of noble behavior. It's been a while since I've read the series, but I think that in the second book, the heroine has to deal with her husband's cold family members, and she handles the situation by placing the responsibility of improving relations with them fully on her self. She was externally considerate and she didn't whine or moan about her situation, but did what she had to do. Being thoughtful, kind and respectful. That's an approach taken straight out of Stoic philosophy.

In terms of basic life lessons, I think the series showcase how lies, cowardice, hiding and so on just lead to more problems in the end, we always end up paying the price. Then there's leaping to conclusions about people, and even ourselves, which seems to be a common theme of these novels.
Beautifully said! 😍

Yes, she was judged by the family, but she kept her spirit and didn’t push them to like her and she was simply herself and they saw her for what she really was.

I have to check the list if there’s more novels from C.Linden and come back to her in a while.

Now I bought Anna Harington‘s Secret Life of Scoundrels series and first book was really good.

Again pride and assumptions, suppressed feelings and how hard is for a child to blindly love an undeserving parent. 😕
 
Top Bottom