Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished Anne Gracie's The Rake's Daughter, book 2 of The Brides of Bellaire Gardens. I think this series might be a good one for beginners or people who don't like subtle hints, as the characters' thought processes are clearly spelled out.

On the other hand, there are 2 aspects on my mind.
The book made a fuss about Leo being Isabel's guardian and therefore how inappropriate it would be for Leo to get together with her, and I think this is correct. But when Isabel agreed to marry Leo, nary a peep about how inappropriate it was. While some may say Leo was not in fact Isabel's guardian, Leo to society pretended to be her guardian, to the point of almost starting a duel as her guardian. With many other books taking care to break up a relationship so that people can then get involved in a different relationship without cheating, I was disappointed that there wasn't a resolution to the guardian relationship before the start of the romantic relationship. It reminded me of Woody Allen.

I also didn't feel good about Isabel's chaperone not letting Leo talk to Isabel in private because that would increase his desire for her, and didn't feel good about Aunt Olive making her husband propose to her several times before she accepted him. I don't like the game playing.
 

Keit

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Thank you for sharing @Keit. While reading up on the thread, I noticed the video posted in 2021 is gone. Do you have a title, maybe also in Russian?

It's called "The Gift". Here's the text in Russian, and here's the translation:

A young man who wanted to give a gift to his bride decided, after much deliberation, to buy a pair of kid gloves. He went with his sister to a women's accessories store and bought one pair of kid gloves. At the same time, his sister bought ladies' knickers.

On delivery home, the packages were mixed up, and the package with the knickers was delivered to his bride along with the following letter:

"My darling! I send you my little gift to prove that I have not forgotten your birthday. I picked them out believing you needed them! The saleswoman I bought them from showed me the same ones she's been wearing for three weeks, and they haven't even gotten dirty.

How I wish I could put them on you personally! Of course, many will touch them before I see you. I asked the salesgirl to try them on - they look exquisite on her! I don't know your size, but in time I will be able to judge them better than anyone else.

They will be easier to take off after you wear them, but when you take them off, be sure to blow them off, as they can get damp from wearing them. Wash them more often without taking them off or they may shrink.

I hope you will accept the gift with the sentiment with which I am giving it. Wear them to the dance on Friday. How I long to see you passionately in them! The number of kisses I have imprinted on them from the back is incalculable....
 

trytofly

Jedi Master
Although I consider Mary Balogh to be the best romance writer, these books are generally not as humorous as some of Julia Quinn's or sometimes those of Anne Gracie. In any case, among those that I read. So I was very pleasantly surprised with "An Unlikely Duchess" which amused me from start to finish. And this, despite the seriousness of certain situations of real danger. The heroine's recklessness, even her unconsciousness, makes her adventure as perilous as it is amusing through the narration. Like a tornado, it drags the wise duke with it to make ill-considered decisions.
This book is a welcome breath of fresh air. If I often find it difficult to bear the lies in stories, as much as in real life, this story that accumulates them is the exception that proves the rule.
Mary Balogh of course plunges us once again into the heads of the protagonists to help us better understand the depth of their personalities and let us glimpse their way of thinking... or what leads them to thoughtless actions.
An extremely pleasant story to read in these difficult times!
 

Alejo

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hi everyone!

I have finished The Wicked Deeds of Daniel McKenzie, and it was my favorite book so far in the entire series, Daniel was such a present character in all the stories that I felt it was very rewarding to see his finally, a few ideas on the spoiler section:

This was one of those stories where the main character doesn't really go through a massive transformation, but rather assists his loved one to undergo hers. Daniel meets Violet in not very nice circumstances, and her mind captivates him. Her programs get in the way, she knocks him down and leaves him for dead, but he enlists the aid of Ian, finds her and pursues a relationship.

Through their exploration of one another, they find how much they have in common, he helps her live and be free of everything that had been haunting her up until that point. As with most of Ashley's novels, there's a tragic tension that is overcome, and they marry.

Daniel struck me as a "genius" a fearless one, at some point he describes to his enemy how he learned all the qualities that he possessed, the ones that allowed him to go through life. He picked them up form all his uncles and his father, he found the way towards assertiveness, cleverness, love and devotion, from seeing those around him stumble and learn. A genius indeed.

And this is exactly what Violet needed, someone daring enough to trust her true self and courageous enough to invite her to walk out of her shell and face her own demons head on. But this wasn't out of simple infatuation, this was possible only through the knowledge the reader knows Daniel possesses, from watching his family go through their own transformations and from the ones that he himself underwent.

I think there's a key moment in their story that is very small, but it is very key to understand Daniel's vision of Violet. At some point Violet and her mother, who would host seances, were in the middle of one that Daniel attended, during the seance Violet's mother channels Daniel's mother, who had attempted to murder him when he was a baby still.

Her words to him were something like: "please forgive me, my mind wasn't my own", he shrugs it off as pure show, but it was really his understanding that unless we put in some work, most of who we are on a daily basis, is someone who is operating with a mind not their own.

That reminded me of so many topics discussed in here, demonic possession, spirit attachment and even the predator's mind. And it not only shows in Daniel's drive to know and invite Violet out in the open, it also shows in the first time they tried to be intimate. Her insane drive to simply get it over with, was an attempt to reenact her rape experience, Daniel understood this and instead offered her something new, something different, slow goodness, despite her pleas.

Sometimes, getting what we want, or giving someone what they are clamoring for, is actually feeding their programs, their predator's mind, the one that was born out of injury perhaps. It takes a lot to recognize that in someone else, but also in ourselves, our wish to please someone else is self serving ultimately, sometimes what people need and what they want are completely opposite.

And not that what someone needs has to be unpleasant or harsh, I think the distinction is closer to pleasure and joy, of the body and of the soul. Daniel gave her something greater than immediate gratification, which would've lead to further confusion on her end, Daniel gave Violet the freedom to be her true self, and she repaid him in return with life long devotion.

Thank you for reading, overall I really liked this book, perhaps because I knew a lot more about Daniel's character from having spent so much time with him. On to the next one now.
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm in middle of Mary Balogh's Remember Love, book 1 of the Ravenwood series.
I was a little bored in the beginning and then I started to get interested in the dull dog. Then I was happy when Devlin and Gwyneth declared their love and planned to marry. I had to stop right there and I couldn't bear to continue with the story. They were happy and I knew bad things were going to ruin their happiness and keep them apart.

After a few days, I told myself this isn't a fairytale and it's time to grow up and face the pain. So I continued with the book and the story went to disaster immediately. However, instead of instant pain, I found myself as bewildered as Devlin, everyone blaming him as if he was the one who did wrong. And the hurtful words of Gwyneth, saying them automatically and only coming back to herself when Devlin was gone.

It's not fair.
IT'S NOT FAIR!

Well, there's a happy ending to look forward to. But what of real life? Holding on and enduring until the happy ending, when a happy ending is not promised, that is the difficult task completed and/or to complete.
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm in middle of Mary Balogh's Remember Love, book 1 of the Ravenwood series.
I was a little bored in the beginning and then I started to get interested in the dull dog. Then I was happy when Devlin and Gwyneth declared their love and planned to marry. I had to stop right there and I couldn't bear to continue with the story. They were happy and I knew bad things were going to ruin their happiness and keep them apart.

After a few days, I told myself this isn't a fairytale and it's time to grow up and face the pain. So I continued with the book and the story went to disaster immediately. However, instead of instant pain, I found myself as bewildered as Devlin, everyone blaming him as if he was the one who did wrong. And the hurtful words of Gwyneth, saying them automatically and only coming back to herself when Devlin was gone.

It's not fair.
IT'S NOT FAIR!

Well, there's a happy ending to look forward to. But what of real life? Holding on and enduring until the happy ending, when a happy ending is not promised, that is the difficult task completed and/or to complete.
I liked the book a lot and it hit home. There was a happy ending. There was also a reminder of duty and responsibility, persevering through the darkness, and the man being rescued by the woman who loves him. Being book 1 of the series, there are a lot of unresolved issues, and I look forward to the rest of the series resolving many of them.
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just been released:


The handsome and charismatic Earl of Stratton, Caleb Ware, has been exposed to the ton for his clandestine affairs—by his own son.

As a child, Devlin Ware thought his family stood for all that was right and good in the world. They were kind, gracious, and shared the beauty of Ravenwood, their grand country estate, by hosting lavish parties for the entire countryside. But at twenty-two, he discovered his whole world was an elaborate illusion, and when Devlin publicly called his family to account for it, he was exiled as a traitor.

So be it. He enlisted in the fight against Napoleon and didn’t look back for six years. But now his father is dead, the Ware family is broken, and as the heir he is being called home. It’s only when Gwyneth Rhys—the woman he loved and then lost after his family banished him—holds out her hand to help him that he is able make the difficult journey and try to piece together his fractured family.

It is Gwyneth’s loyalty, patience, and love that he needs. But is Devlin’s war-hardened heart even capable of offering her love in return?
Can someone please put the preview in spoiler quotes so it's not ruined for people who haven't read the book yet. I'm so glad I skipped over this preview because it would've detracted from my reading enjoyment. In a movie theater, I'll close my eyes and say lalala if there's a preview for a movie I want to see.
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I have finished The Wicked Deeds of Daniel McKenzie, and it was my favorite book so far in the entire series...

Only read the first 4 books in the series, and after noticing your post realize there are 12 books in the series with a few .5's intermixed. Did not peak at your spoiler, so will T up a few more this fall.

Have read a few books more recently:

Balogh's - Thief of Dreams (noted previously)
Quinn's - To Catch An Heir and How to Marry A Marquis
James's - With this Kiss and now on Once Upon A Tower

I'm in middle of Mary Balogh's Remember Love, book 1 of the Ravenwood series.
undefined

Yes, also thought it very good.

Edit: Forgot to mention, the second book mentioned above by James, sees the character Edie (who is an exceptional Cellist) attending a dinner on the eve of Quinn's (Just Like Heaven) character, Honoria Smythe-Smith's marriage. Kind of surprised me. The usual talk of just how horrible the Smythe-Smith's musical abilities comes up (with the exception of Iris, also a Cellist).
 
Last edited:

Alejo

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Only read the first 4 books in the series, and after noticing your post realize there are 12 books in the series with a few .5's intermixed. Did not peak at your spoiler, so will T up a few more this fall.
I took a break at Daniel's story and decided to pick up Mary Balogh's latest one... Remember Love.. and I love it so far! :D

Might go back to the. Mckenzies afterwards or head in a different direction, I haven't decided yet.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Can someone please put the preview in spoiler quotes so it's not ruined for people who haven't read the book yet. I'm so glad I skipped over this preview because it would've detracted from my reading enjoyment. In a movie theater, I'll close my eyes and say lalala if there's a preview for a movie I want to see.

That wasn't a spoiler, it's the blurb from the back of the book.
 

Anthony

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Mary Balogh's The Secret Pearl is really excellent; it starts out with a low and dark point in the lives of both protagonists, and it's hard to see how they'll be able to get through all the barriers that stand in the way, like entering a dark tunnel and being unable to see the light at the end of it. You get taken for a ride that expands your view of what's possible, despite the circumstances you find yourself in. I think this is one of the lessons that these novels teach, even when everything seems hopeless, you continue staying true to yourself and higher values, and in that regard both the heroine and the hero are exemplars of a proper mode of being, or come to be so as they learn and change their ways. And as usual, Balogh does an excellent job in describing narcissism and character disturbance in some of her characters. Other themes are also touched upon such as the difference between intellectual and emotional understanding, lying to oneself, false personality and more. A pearl of a book.
 

Mariama

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
It's interesting, one can't really 'Mr. Spock' it through life. The mental life is very important. One must learn how to think, think about how one thinks, (introspection) think with a "hammer." (discipline of thought) But we get stuck because of the emotional component and can't get unstuck without it. We have traumas, perceived trauma's, heartache, rejections. And we come up with some strategy to deal with it and remain there unless we can find a way to let it go. That can happen through 'defeat' (positive disintegration) or it seems through reconnecting with the 'heart.' In these romance novels, the connection and love for the woman stirs things up which ideally get resolved through communication. Through the 'safety' of that bond, old patterns of personality designed to cope with hurt or trauma, dissolve to release from their mental and emotional constriction.
I think the above is very well put. While finishing Jess Michael's The Duke Who Lied this concept of positive disintegration became clear to me through the quote underneath. Perhaps this is the first time that I really understand what happens to the main characters when this positive disintegration is taking place. I was just thinking that this can also occur in a therapeutic relationship when the client comes clean and the therapist is able to hear and see in the true sense of the word.
"And do you love me?", she asked, that little smile lifting her lips again.
He laughed. "Have I not said it? I swear, I've screamed it out a thousand times in my head since we got to London. I love you, Amelia. I love you with a power that frightens me. I thought I was fine and that my life was balanced. You came in, crashed in, and I realized I'd been in the dark all this time. I told you in Brighthollow that you were my light. I meant it."
It's interesting that Hugh, the duke who lied, uses the words 'crashed in', because his disintegrating (he is the one who crashes, actually) must have felt like that to him. Amelia, the duchess, administered him a real shock and he took it upon himself to change. That said, she also needed to change and overcome her past which coloured her perceptions and led to a lot of internal considering which could have led to her demise.

BTW, I thought Jess Michael's describing a psychopath (the dark character in the novel and seductor of naive and vulnerable young ladies) and how he adopts his strategy of seduction based on the girl in question, using his predator instincts and what happens when he drops his mask was nicely done.
 

Jefferson

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Dancing with Clara – Mary Balogh:

The hardcover book came to me without an illustrated dustjacket as a discarded well-used copy from an English public library – it felt good in my hands, something personal, as it if was somehow picked out just for me. After reading the story, however, I could see why the Cs recommended it – I also felt that this particular story was clearly meant for me. I read the story probably two years ago, and again in the Spring of last year, taking notes, but have not posted until now. I decided to read about 25 other romantic stories in the meantime, but this one still rises to the top.

It is story of redemption, of the seemingly irredeemable becoming redeemed, a story of willpower and the desire, willingness, opportunity, and ability to change. A story of wallowing in the depth of debauchery, filth, and self-loathing, and finding the forbearance to rise up and change with the gradual awakening of conscience.

The book provides various examples of self-deception of the characters and how not only did they relish in their suffering of self-loathing, but how they realized at some point that they were telling lies to themselves. The book also shows how various emotions of the characters were stirred up and expressed.

As a reader stepping into the characters’ shoes, I could feel these emotions myself and I often felt touched somehow, with various passages evoking tears and even outright crying (which I don’t do often).

All of this had a profound impact on me emotionally. Particularly the visceral understanding that I myself have conducted myself as a rake, a wannabe womanizer, and that I too can also change and I am not beyond redemption! The difference between my own life story and that of this book was that Frederick was a real rake and womanizer, handsome, skilled, and a real man of charm. Unlike myself, who only had illusions of rakish grandiosity. However the impact of this story is that I know that I can change, and I even have changed! I am not unredeemable, and I’ve also experienced how faking it until you make it does also work to an extent (or as a start), as more honorable and healthy habits do result from consciously changing behaviors. These initial steps lead to good habits, and eventually become incorporated when one’s being begins to change.

Dancing with Clara book1.jpg
 
Anne Grace’s Marry in Haste and Marry in Scandal,

My wife and I did something that I never thought we’d do in my life: read books to her 😂.

It has been a pleasant experience and we are in love with the books. More than that, I feel much more connected to her than I ever have. As precious as
Cal and Edward to finally see that what they have is irreplaceable, and a woman like Emm and Lily’s sweetness can change such a stubborn man with their feminine nourishing nature.

It’s amazing, really. We finished marry in scandal in two days, and find the highlight of our day is to drown ourselves in a book, and she couldn’t be happier. I find myself feeling like the men,
just to be happy that their woman loves them and that their affection, support and protection are enough for them.
It makes me feel like I need to do more as a man. There is never enough to do.

On to Marry in Secret!
 
Top Bottom