Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

What are the contraindications, and what are the side effects?
Serious side effect are:
1.) You are extremely endangered to forget about the global situation while reading
2.) Danger of addiction
3.) Lack of sleep
1.) You are too uptight
2.) You feel bad when in your book shelves harbour romantic novels
3.) You are allergic to loving, deep feelings, integrity and lots of silk
I finished Seven Nights recently. I really enjoyed it!

While the core of the story may be your standard fare for this genre, I think that's pretty forgivable given the insight into human relations. For example, Jonas is certainly rather Tomassi-like from the outside, but the author makes it clear why he is the way he is. Even when he goes Full Retard and sends Sidonie away, you see him clearly NOT wanting to do that. Neither he nor Sidonie do things just because they're stupid or evil - they do things for clearly explicated reasons, hurts, past events, or whatever.

You could say that, well, actions are what matter... Or results are the only thing that counts. In a sense that's true, but then it kind of ignores the fact that very often it's the process of achieving certain results - or deciding upon this action or that - which is the core of the learning experience. Emotions and the stupid things they 'make' us do are nowhere near so cut and dried.

Sure, I found it kind of disheartening that Jonas was a retard until the very last minute. He was certainly saved by Sidonie. Again, this is kind of cliché... But then such things have been known to happen in real life!

Besides, Jonas' stubborn nature and obsession with himself is IMO one of the core issues most of us face: How to put ourselves aside and think about someone else? Is it safe to do that? Can we really trust when every other time we did, we felt crushed under life's boot??

Plus, Sidonie faced a similar dilemma but from a different angle. She handled the whole thing with a bit more grace and fairness, I think. Nevertheless, she also did silly things - that are also totally understandable from the background given.

As for the sex, it didn't bother me at all. In fact, I found it to be even instructive in certain ways. Given that:
1. Relations between any 2 people are usually highly specific to those 2 particular individuals
2. Most people have deep wounds related to sexy stuff
3. Many people don’t usually want to talk about it

Then, well... It sure can be interesting to contemplate these stories and think (or re-think) our own lives and past/current loves. So, I don't think those numerous scenes took anything away from the story - they enhanced it.

Ultimately, Jonas and Sidonie don't get together (oh my god, I spoiled it! ;-D) because the bedroom antics rocked their world, but rather because who they are - with faults and all - rocked each other's world.

Finally, reading this book made me think about all the screwed up stuff in society today... like the pick-up artist crowd and MGTOW and feminists and all that. Sure, you can do all that stuff. You can "increase your sexual market value" and get it on with hordes of people... But where does that leave you without a real emotional, hard-won connection?

At the same time, I think many people tend to try to create that emotional connection, but then totally poo-poo the physical stuff because they're "so above all that" (or horribly wounded). I'm kind of just guessing here, but it seems to me that most people need both. Let's face it: We're in 3d still. Ideas of sparkly love/light/knowledge rays flowing effortlessly between the Quartz to the 4th Power crystal in my hand and the one held by my beloved may sound nice, but... I dunno...

Learn the lessons of 3d in order to graduate? Simple and karmic understandings?

Life on Earth is what it is. We may be STS, but we can learn to align with more STO principles by interacting with and participating in this 3d reality we inhabit. And we can choose how to do that.

Seems to me like these books cut right to the heart of a number of especially relevant matters - and especially at this particular point in time. We don't even need a romantic relationship to work on bettering ourselves, getting rid of old worn out thought patterns, negative thought loops, etc. And those old patterns almost always revolve around emotional connection with other people. Naturally, that includes romantic connections - but any will do, each offering us an opportunity to learn different lessons.

Well, that's just some of the stuff reading this book got me thinking about... I'm on the Sons of Sin Book 2, and then I'll read probably 2 more series at least, so I may have more (or different) things to say later! :whistle:
An update on Ark's reading and my own.

Ark is rather unhappy with Richard and Genevieve (Sons of Sin, volume 2). He thinks that they both gave in too easily to physical attraction, and even did so when it would have been better not to. I think, on the other hand, that the two of them would never have let down their emotional defenses if their physical attraction had not been so strong. And it was in the letting down of internal defenses that they were able to actually see and love each other. I would even suggest that it was the call of the inner self that made each susceptible to the other in a physical way.

I've just re-read one book that I read before but did not mention or recommend: "The Duke's Disaster" by Grace Burrowes. The reason I re-read it was because I came to think, as I read it the first time, that the character of the Duke - Noah Winters - was very much like Ark. Obviously, the situation, the plot, all that is totally fiction, but the way this man acted and reacted seemed so much like Ark that I was quite amazed. So, I re-read it more slowly to try to see if that was really the case. And yes, it really was/is. Well, I'm nothing like the heroine of this story - Thea - but when Ark and I first married, I was certainly as prickly as she is though for different reasons. And much of the dynamics of the relationship depicted here are rather similar, though the situations are quite different. I often tell people I was a basket case and Ark put me back together again. Well, that's what the duke does for Thea in this story, though her specific issues were different.

However, I do NOT like the writing style of Grace Burrowes very much. It's too full of anachronisms of thought and language and it's too breezy, staccato, snappy, and that sort of thing. Perhaps someone who is better at critiquing fiction will be better able to describe it than I am. Nevertheless, I did really like the story and the characters (especially the Ark-like duke) and wish someone with a more subtle hand had written it.

I had read another Burrowes book that I did not recommend for all of the above reasons of style, etc, however, I'm going to mention it now because some of you may actually like that style of writing and it was a darn good story. It's called "Tremaine's True Love". Another entitled "The Laird." These last two deal with issues that are represented in way too modern a way to be considered good historical fiction. Nevertheless, the issues are important and reading about them in a historical, romance setting, might be helpful to some.

I also want to mention Laura Kinsale's book, "My Sweet Folly". Boy, that one is harrowing!
Ark is rather unhappy with Richard and Genevieve (Sons of Sin, volume 2). He thinks that they both gave in too easily to physical attraction, and even did so when it would have been better not to. I think, on the other hand, that the two of them would never have let down their emotional defenses if their physical attraction had not been so strong. And it was in the letting down of internal defenses that they were able to actually see and love each other. I would even suggest that it was the call of the inner self that made each susceptible to the other in a physical way.
I'm having more trouble with Leath and Eleanor in the fourth book, and what happened in Cam's library didn't make much sense to me. Maybe I'm not getting the point but if I were in Eleanor's shoes, I would wait for a proof of Leath's innocence before deciding that he's innocent, not the "it feels nice therefore he's innocent".
Ark is rather unhappy with Richard and Genevieve (Sons of Sin, volume 2). He thinks that they both gave in too easily to physical attraction, and even did so when it would have been better not to. I think, on the other hand, that the two of them would never have let down their emotional defenses if their physical attraction had not been so strong. And it was in the letting down of internal defenses that they were able to actually see and love each other. I would even suggest that it was the call of the inner self that made each susceptible to the other in a physical way.

That seems to be what's going on in the Sins and Scoundrels series so far, too (by Scarlett Scott). In the first two books, the main characters each have an agenda with regard to the other that they are not open and honest about, which leads to some conflict and temporary roadblocks. But it is their attraction that is so strong that they can either open up, or forgive each other - seeing why the other did the things that they did. And I think we can take that as a lesson from the books, without necessarily trying to reenact the precise details of such an abbreviated courtship in our own lives: love breeding understanding and forgiveness. Another lesson is that our plans and motivations are often founded on mistaken assumptions, and certain events (in these cases, a passionate love) can prompt a radical revaluation of our convictions and decisions up until that moment. These characters see that something was missing in their lives, and what had been important is revealed to be not that important. Or, their fears and assumptions were misplaced or misguided, and with a little faith could have been overcome (luckily their significant others are there to help them realize this, even if they didn't tell the truth early on when it would've been best said).

I will just add that book one also has a very well-placed Cassiopeia constellation. Signs and portents! ;-D
Ark is rather unhappy with Richard and Genevieve (Sons of Sin, volume 2). He thinks that they both gave in too easily to physical attraction, and even did so when it would have been better not to. I think, on the other hand, that the two of them would never have let down their emotional defenses if their physical attraction had not been so strong. And it was in the letting down of internal defenses that they were able to actually see and love each other. I would even suggest that it was the call of the inner self that made each susceptible to the other in a physical way.
Genevieve being a village motherless girl who spent most of her time in the house, her interest in sex reminded me of small kids(I mean less than 3) touching opposite kids' gender parts with curiosity without any trace of sex component. In a way, Genevieve has everything to lose, if Richard didn't marry her and she even seems to consider the possibility of Richard not returning. It looked Richard has seen something more in her than his usual temporary partners. Richard's mother expressing her approval of the marriage choice saying 'if he had married another high society blond, he would have got bored in a week' is another indication of a need of different temperaments to compensate each other's weaknesses. Knowing and healing the wounds of his bastardy origin is the happy ending to close the book.
I'm having more trouble with Leath and Eleanor in the fourth book, and what happened in Cam's library didn't make much sense to me. Maybe I'm not getting the point but if I were in Eleanor's shoes, I would wait for a proof of Leath's innocence before deciding that he's innocent, not the "it feels nice therefore he's innocent".
I think she made that leap of faith based on months they’ve spend together.
If she hadn’t, Leath wouldn’t later so openly declared his love and wouldn’t be pushing marriage.

as much I understand Nell‘s point of view, se really was getting on my nerves rejecting Leath, even when she saw other couples being happy never mind the class they come from.
I came upon this article today, and I thought it belonged here. It is written by a romance novel writer and she makes some points already discussed in this thread.

Never Read a Romance Novel? Grow Up

By Kristan Higgins | Aug 14, 2015

A few years ago, I was invited to a writing conference at Mount Holyoke College. There were romance writers there—me, Judith Arnold, and Linda Cardillo. The other writers were mostly poets and memoirists, and there were a few well-known novelists. The keynote speaker was Andre Dubus III. In his address, he described the typical romance reader as “some woman reading a schlocky romance novel while simultaneously watching soap operas and eating.”

During the q&a period, Judith (a friend of mine) asked Dubus about his knowledge of romance books. He admitted he’d never read one. Most people who criticize romance haven’t, she countered. Dubus said he was put off by “those cheesy covers with Fabio” and went on to apologize—and change the subject.

Judith was valiant that day. I’ve been valiant, too, during more conversations and interviews than I can count. But here’s the thing: I’m tired of defending romance. I’m tired of giving a good-natured, tolerant you-should-try-it answer for the thousandth time. I’m tired of the media using the words bodice ripper and mommy porn. I’m tired of explaining that, yes, I too have read the great works of literature, and that, yes, I continue to read them today. I’m tired of being told I have the talent to write a “real” book.

Instead of defending romance books to those who’ve never read one, I’d like to say this instead: grow up. The categorical dismissal of the most-read genre in the world reveals ignorance, not intellectual superiority. This is a billion-dollar industry, and it’s not built on vapidity and cliché. It exists and thrives because romance authors offer readers an emotional experience that mirrors an elemental desire in life: to find a constant and loving companion; to become our best selves; to forgive our mistakes of the past and learn from them.

Romance encompasses fantasy, suspense, comedy, history, mystery, coming-of-age, and crime. The only difference between romance and just about any other kind of fiction is the promise of an emotionally satisfying ending. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t think readers are lazy or stupid because they want to feel uplifted at the end of a book.

There are some very poorly written romances out there, it’s true, just as there are lackluster mysteries, self-indulgent literary works, and rambling memoirs. But most romance novels depict women and men who believe in their strength and convictions, who are willing to learn from their mistakes, and who take on issues and conflicts that stand in the way of a better life. Heroines are not rescued by a hero; instead, they save themselves. A typical female protagonist is not incomplete until marriage. Her journey is not about getting to the altar—it’s about growing as a person so that she can create a full life for herself, and yes, find happiness with a decent, kind partner who deserves her and whom she deserves.

To those who, like Dubus, would dismiss an entire genre without ever cracking a cover, I say, hang out with us romance writers. You might be surprised. Our community is filled with brilliant women (and a few men)—professors, doctors, lawyers, people with stellar educations and experiences. Some of the most successful writers balance a day job with family and a writing career on top of that. Our books are real, filled with the entire range of human emotions. They speak of the strongest and most universal yearning there is—to belong. To be accepted. To be loved.

Writing about these subjects tends to make romance writers happy, optimistic people. We’re a very tight-knit group, by and large. We’re—dare I say it?—fun. Some in the business are extremely prolific, but we don’t churn out books. We work as hard as any writer in any genre, and we write of the vagaries and hopes of the human heart, of faith and tenacity, independence, strength, and forgiveness. The best romance novels depict characters that are flawed and complex, characters who struggle to create the life they want and who succeed in doing so.

There’s nothing simplistic or formulaic or schlocky about that. Our books have happy endings, yes. Our books affirm faith in humanity and preach the goodness and courage of the ordinary heart. We make our readers laugh, we make them cry, and we affirm our belief in the enduring, uplifting power of love. I fail to see the problem here.

To view with contempt the entire romance genre—and the hundreds of millions of people who read these books—is simply ignorant and narrow-minded. So if you’re one of those who’s never read a romance novel, pick one up. Yes, there’s kissing. You can handle it. You might even like it.

Kristan Higgins is a bestselling author whose 14 novels have been translated into more than 20 languages and are sold worldwide. Her latest book, If You Only Knew, is coming out Aug. 25, 2015, from Mira.

Personally, I have loved every minute of this reading assignment so far, even if it has been costing me my sleep. Like some of you mentioned, I just can't put the books down.

I started with the Marriage of Convenience series by Anne Gracie, and I am soon to be done with book II. I can relate to my characters (both male and female), and their struggles shed light on situations I have encountered in my life. It's amazing how a simple sentence in a book can unleash the remembrance of events in life that happened almost 3 decades ago. It's a form of reading therapy.

From what I read about other series shared here, I feel a bit left out regarding the sex scenes :halo:, because this one is kind of conservative. There is sex and love-making in it, but it is only a small part of the story - although an important part, it's what eventually "merges" the couples together physically and emotionally - and it is very romantically described. Where emotionally stunted human beings learn to give and express their emotions through the language of physicality at first, long before their emotions reach their conscious awareness.

Since I am very prone to living in a fantasy land where I see things and people as I want them to be instead of as they truly are, I have to keep reminding myself that this is fiction, these stories represent ideal outcomes and solutions, life and real people are way more complicated than that. But I appreciate a story told completely to its "emotionally satisfying ending". It's cathartic and inspiring. And goodness, we need as much inspiration as we can get right now.

Anyway, I 'll leave it at that for now, my thoughts are not yet fully formed and I want to read many more of the romance books before I attempt to even understand the deeper implications of their lessons. Way way more! The other day while reading I was thinking: Finally, a reward for all the hours of reading through Collingwood's Idea of History and Speculus Mentis! :lol:
I finished "Married in Scandal" (vol 2. of Annie Griece's series "Marriage of convenience"), and like it even more than volume 1.

Lily is kindness impersonated, but she has a super strong core, and even learns how to set boundaries with very manipulative people. Her kind nature allows her to see things in Edward that he has buried long ago, and give him space, yet solid help in times of need. She never gives up hope, yet can be realistic when she needs to.

Edward is super kind too, but he has built a carapace due to guilt (and neuroticism) from the past. Little by little, he opens up and learns that some of his fears were unjustified. He finds happiness with Lilly that he thought he would never deserve. He is also strong, and his drive to protect her (not babying her but doing right by her) is impressive.

I found it very moving at times, reading how what to each of them felt "terrible and unforgivable", to the other was just one part that needed nurturing, support and help. Not indulgence, just compassion and understanding.

Their physical attraction had something to do with it. Without it, perhaps it would have been more difficult for them both to let some defenses down. She went into it without knowing what to expect, and found something special. He went into it thinking it was just "bedsport", and also found something special.

The contrast between her innocence and his disillusionment with life was quite complementary, even if in the beginning they (and especially Edward) thought it would be the contrary.

An interesting thing too was that, although he was as honest with her as possible in the beginning, and didn't promise anything he didn't feel he was capable of giving her, she could see that he was a man of his word, and that he had to have a big heart. He was as honest as he could be with the (harsh) view he had of himself, yet little did he know that he would be able to heal from deep wounds, and that that would make him flourish into a really honest man. It was a good example of how difficult it is to be REALLY honest when we are "strangers to ourselves", yet how others can see things in us that we don't see. And of how, when there is a Will, there is a way.

And for her, years of feeling inferior were turned around by him loving her true qualities, and not mocking her failures like society had done in the past.

Some of the secondary characters were really good, both those who were kind people, and those who were evil. Both kinds well depicted, IMO.

The characters in both books so far are quite different, and yet, I'm always finding things I can relate to. Parts of me I had forgotten, others I wish I had nurtured more when I was younger. Others yet to conquer. Yet others to emulate. Even removing all the "fluffy stuff", and the things that in real life may be even harder, I'm always left with things to process, with feelings I thought were "numb", with something to work with, and with a sense of just having been bathed in good impressions that do something to the real Me, if that makes sense. I think the author that Alana quote above described it very well. :flowers:
I'm halfway through Dancing with Clara. If you want to experience a full blow of hyper-hyperkinetic sensate, this book is the right one and I'm still not recovered from it.:-D But read Courting Julia first. They are related.

Just wait until you read "Heartless" and "Silent Melody"... in that order!!! Those two will knock your socks off!
I'm glad I'm not only one who doesn't get enough sleep:lol:. Sorry for personal data but I fell asleep today after work in a bathtub and was late to got to the bank to put money on my bank account so I can order books online, so I'm still dependent on my town library. What I read from there : Seven Nights, A Rake's Midnight Kiss and What Duke Dares from Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell. The last one with Cam and Pen was kind of a soul crushing for me becuse of my personal issues. I can't stand people who hide their emotions or don't have one. Cam is very courageous guy, he went to the Alps in winter to rescue his girl, he wouldn't do it if he wasn't in love, but at the beginning he only allowed passion to represent his emotional state. The first two books had some dialoges that showed it is more deeper than passion.
Than I read the two available books by Mary Balogh The Proposal and The Arrangement. They are the first from her series of people who are wounded in a war and summon together to heal their wounds. Similar to those three guys from Eton from Campbell's Sons of Sin. But the idea Balogh's books represent is we need other people arround us, family friends and a soulmate that will help us achieve our dreams, self actualisation that benefits the whole community. It also represents the idea of internity of love and possibility of love metempsychosis. So by now ( I've read every book twice, but although they are very striking, I think I should ponder more) I like the most The Proposal. Vincent and Sophie getting married less then a week since they meet, very couragious! What they, a complete strangers done for each other is what a meaning of marriage is all about (imo).🥰 I'm kind of like this Sophie character, probably why I loved the dynamics in their relationship the most and how it transformed their whole world. Beautiful.
I´ve finished Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell.
I´ve already written about the books here so I´ll just repeat - It was wonderful! :love:

In book 4, the story of Leath and Eleanor was also very good. And very exciting especially when the villain from book 2 returned!
IMO, Leath turned to be a real gentleman (in book 3 he sounded like a power-hungry snob), while by the end of the book, I really wanted to punch Nell for torturing the guy. It was heartbreaking seeing him so desperate over Nell's body at the end...

In short; I´ve enjoyed the series. I liked the characters, the stories, love, betrail, all ups and downs - all of it.

I´m am only sorry that this poor guy Lord Desborough didn´t get his happy ending as the rest of the gang, so I´m looking forward to a new book from Ms. Campbell to clear his story.
He really didn´t strike me as a villain and yet he lost 2 (!!) potential brides - first in books 3 and then second in 4.5. :-(

I´ll switch to a different author now.
I don´t think I will start with the "Mackenzie" series just now, only because I would be with the same author for another 2 months (16 books in the series!).
By the reviews posted here, "The Courting Julia Trilogy" and "Marriage of Convenience" series sound very interesting; both have great reviews here, both are short (3-4 books) and each has a different author.

But first to re-read ch.22 of the Wave for tomorrow.... hope I make it.... 🙈
I've just finished reading 'Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed'. You know, it would never have occurred to me (a male) up to two weeks ago that reading such romantic novels, which are primarily read by women, would ever offer an opportunity for learning. One look at the book cover was enough to put me off. But after reading Laura's posts I admit I was intrigued, if not yet fully convinced. But it caught my attention for one particular reason. I already had a feeling from life experience that women were more tuned in to the joys and sufferings around romance, relationships and sex and, if I really wanted to understand these basic human experiences as a man, then I simply had to listen and learn from women (well.. not from the psychopathic ones!), and doing so partly by reading romantic books written by women seemed like a really good suggestion. So I downloaded it from Amazon and started reading..
I'm not a literary critic but to my mind Anna Campbell's writing style is one I found I enjoyed. The proof was I was increasingly engaged with and engrossed in the relationship between the two main characters, Sidonie and Jonas. So much so that I had burned the midnight oil on a couple of nights in anything but a rogue's bed.:-) From the outset I made a mental note to observe those passages which really struck me emotionally. And, usually, these were moments when each character reaches in and understands the other's inner turmoil born of bitter life experiences and well as awakenings to self awareness. Moments like this:
'But hearing he'd been set to grow up a completely different man made her heart contract with pity. Even more as she knew that the boy's generous, affectionate spirit still lived inside him, much as he struggled against acknowledging its existence.'
And this:
'Where on earth did she find the courage to say these things? She'd never spoken like this to anyone. She'd been so busy bolstering her defenses, she hadn't let Jonas glimpse her soul.'
I found it fascinating to follow how both of them chipped away at the other's wall of certainty. Sidonie, that she would never marry because what she saw previously of men could only mean certain misery for her; and Jonas, convinced that his physical and reputational hideousness would never allow him to feel joy, kindness and love. Although the walls were falling, the process was not at all smooth. For Jonas it lingered right up to the final chapter.
And so..a happy ending. But we all knew that because it is romantic fiction after all. In life, as we know, it doesn't always end that way. Nevertheless, that didn't put me off. It was HOW they got there that really struck a chord inside.
And, as for the explicit description of their lovemaking, sure, I admit I didn't remain unmoved. (pun unintended:-)) At a time when my libido is as low as it's ever been the stirrings of the sexual centre were funnily encouraging. But I took my emotional and physical reaction for what it was and didn't dwell on it. We are, after all, existing in the most physical of all densities. Sexuality is a very strong physical craving in our existence. It's the context of deep mutual love and trust, without desire for control and exploitation of the other, that makes the difference. I observed my reaction and moved on. But what I also took note of was that the passionate sex between Sidonie and Jonas didn't occur from the beginning, as I expected from the title, (very clever Ms. Campbell) but only after three days of growing awareness of self and the other. To a point that both were deeply in love with the other, warts and all. The physical expression of their mutual deep love, which they had awoken to, seemed like an understandable human progression.
(On a side note, something else struck me too about the physical love. The realisation that we are, in this world and at this moment in human history, been deprived of even the basic expression of human physical touch due to the Covid Lie. As someone who was recently at the funeral of a relative it was painful to watch as mourners, many of them elderly, were discouraged from offering a hand or a hug in sympathy for my family (My aunt did not have a family of her own). It's a stark reminder of the depressing dystopian future which our 'leaders' have in store for us if they realise the reality they want to create. When human beings are denied their natural desire to express their respect, affection and love for each other through physical contact, that ranges from a simple handshake to passionate lovemaking, they're much easier to control, and 'they' know it.)
Yeah.. despite my previous prejudice towards romantic fiction I'm discovering there is a potential lesson in this experience already but the reading has just started and I'm looking forward to the other books. I'm going to continue this series by Anne Campbell and then go on to the others, as suggested. I've lots of other recommended reading to do to catch up but it's good that I can turn to this less intensive reading knowing that there is learning for me there too.
Thanks Laura.
I came across this article about Fyodor Dostoyevsky's real life story - his wounds, debts, troubles, and circumstances under which he found his 25 years younger future wife etc. I thought this story is interesting in the present context of this thread - wounds, survival, love, marriage and so on.

“No one, not even a ‘friend,’ can make us better. But it is a great happiness in life to meet a person of quite different construction, different bent, completely dissimilar views who, while always remaining himself and in no wise echoing us nor currying favor with us (as sometimes happens) and not trying to insinuate his soul (and an insincere soul at that!) into our psyche, into our muddle, into our tangle, would stand as a firm wall, as a check to our follies and our irrationalities, which every human being has. Friendship lies in contradiction and not in agreement! Verily, God granted me Strakhov as a teacher and my friendship with him, my feelings for him were ever a kind of firm wall on which I felt I could always lean, or rather rest. And it won’t let you fall, and it gives warmth.”
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