Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

NewEngland Seeker

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1602630800100.png My reaction to Marry in Haste was how often I have downplayed my inner voice, like the Cal did with his inner voice about how strong his attraction was for Emmaline. It is an avoidance and shielding technique used to protect the heart from painful possibilities that if share the demonic opposition would destroy the preferred outcome. ‘Loose lips, sinks ships,’ approach to tenuous situations.

I enjoyed this story because the main characters were strong and loving individuals that bumbled their way to happiness. Much like an awkward couple that stumbles in the beginning but ends with a harmonious waltz.

In Marry in Scandal I hurt for Lily’s mistreatment by her father and fellow students due to inability to read. As a child, I too had difficulty with reading and was humiliated by classmates and a few teachers, so it rang those old bells. This issue was use against her by a very disturbed and jealous former classmate. Lily was rescued from a cruel kidnapping plot by Edward that just has been in the right place at the right time. His inner voice was telling him the opposite of what he wanted to feel so he too avoided revealing his real feelings because he believed he was not worthy of them.

I found myself relating to both Lily and Edward, they both sang love songs that also resonates true for me.
 

Rabelais

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Yeah, I was thinking if you think Balogh is too racy, don't read the other one's! I would suggest switching to Balogh next. Seems to me Balogh fits the bill for what this exercise is about without the probably, unnecessarily explicit sex scenes.

Thanks for the tip. I think Scarlett Scott's overly explicit and drawn out sexual encounters are possibly a request from her publisher for hard core pot boilers to titillate the bored housewife market. The 50 Shades of Grey marketing ploy. If I am to read Victorian porn, I'd rather it be from the actual writers of the era. That's not to say that Scott's work is without redeeming qualities, its just that the long journeys through the graphically descriptive scenes becomes tedious.

I'll head straight to Balogh next. Any recommendations for a starting point with her work?... its frightfully extensive. I've no idea where to begin.
 

motherofrsd

The Force is Strong With This One
I have begun reading The Gilded Web from Web Trilogy by Mary Balogh. The book influenced me so that I wanted to write before finishing.
Alexandra's standing upright against the foolish values of the society, ignoring the reality of people which makes her unwillingly to do necessity of belonging to this society and her desperation, offence, resignation for her father's untrue accusations on the other hand her covering up or making excuse for her father's violence prompted my sensation.She felt as if she was trapped.
This situation remmembered me my teenage times and at that time a sorrow raised in me I couldnt stop tears. It was like an abreaction. I hug myself, send my love and compassion to this teenage girl then feel a relief. It seems to me these books are triggers for us. They trigger our emotional center. There are accumulated or stored feelings in our muscular tissues. Some circular events or case studies fire them to appear. With the awereness we can get better. We are all the same as Alexandra, she remembered me my friends that I can understand their desperation now. I also realized I have taken my anger, desperation and guilt occured at teenage times to whole my life. In my relationship I have sabotaged myself, put barriers with these teenage things, I didnt realized it even once. Actually they are all lessons. Seeing this made a dramatic, striking effect. I now think and want to see and live as I am. I wish love, sensibility, mercy and grace accompany me.
 

Redrock12

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Thanks for the tip. I think Scarlett Scott's overly explicit and drawn out sexual encounters are possibly a request from her publisher for hard core pot boilers to titillate the bored housewife market. The 50 Shades of Grey marketing ploy. If I am to read Victorian porn, I'd rather it be from the actual writers of the era. That's not to say that Scott's work is without redeeming qualities, its just that the long journeys through the graphically descriptive scenes becomes tedious.

I'll head straight to Balogh next. Any recommendations for a starting point with her work?... its frightfully extensive. I've no idea where to begin.
Ditto that. Two chapters into The Proposal. Imo miles above The Dukes Disaster, My One and Only Duke, Seven Nights in a Rogues Bed (best to read under a cold shower).
Balogh's writing is more realistic, humorous with erotic overtones. Eg: Hugo's directness with Gwendoline and her response to his "I would like to kiss you at the very least." "What is more than the very least?" His reply: "to bed you."
As well, her description of the members of the Survivors Club and their indominable spirit to overcome their physical and mental war injuries struck something deep inside of me. A real page turner.
 

thorbiorn

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The book by Elisa Braden, Every Yours Annabelle, a prequel to the Rescued from Ruin series is quite a read. Here is what others have commented already:
Right now I'm reading "Rescued from Ruin" series (10 books) by Elisa Braden and its prequel - "Ever Yours, Anabelle" was also totally captivating.
"Ever Yours, Annabelle" was haunting and deeply moving.
I had a small emotional breakthrough last night after reading Elisa Braden's Ever Yours, Annabelle.
I finished Ever Yours, Annabelle book. I really enjoyed the lovely games kids play, sweet parents, ever chasing bumble bee, her intense attraction to her knight, since she was a small child. I felt a lot of anxiety when Bumblebee making up system 2 narrations of her knights hidden motivations for the marriage proposal and continue to push him away (Heck, I want a happy ending sooner!:lol:). I liked the discipline, maturity of the knight, and his dedication in protecting his careless lady, though he has a hard time expressing himself.
I can agree with most of the above, except I did not find the games they played to be that much fun considering the danger that resulted, but again one could say that was part of who they were, and what they did, and without that element there would be no story.

The first observation for me was the language. Braden bends the tradition for a complete sentence to include both a subject and a verb to be much less important than the need of an author to put action, emotion, and intensity into a short space. After a few pages, I decided I had no choice but to read it as occasionally being more a mix of prose and poetry, and in this book, the style fits and underlines the intensity of the two main characters.

Like in My Sweet Folly by Laura Kinsale, correspondence by letters play a role. In this book, the author elegantly puts away postmodern hesitations by letting one of the minor characters, presumably born before 1750, express fragments of their philosophy of managing a family and setting up a suitable marriage. Some of those passages made me wonder if the inspiration was a serious reading of Sun Tzu and his treatise, The Art of War, but applied to the topic at hand. And when one elsewhere reads the reaction of the male protagonist on seeing the female protagonist, then the impression of battle spirit is not lessened.
He was a Conrad. He had the steel of Saxon warlords, Norman invaders, and Prussian crusaders running through his veins. Warriors might sacrifice for a cause of sufficient importance. But, in time, their true nature would always rise.
Warriors did not go hungry.
Warriors saw what they wanted. And fought to claim it.

Emotionally the effect of the book was as different from others as the style of the writing, at least the dream activity and reflections following reading were unlike previous books and authors. Perhaps what triggered me was the hurt the protagonists had to deal with, but also an underlying spirit of conquest in the male protagonist, which I found slightly disturbing, but maybe only because it was unfamiliar compared to what I was brought up with and dared to consciously consider.

Notes about horses
In all the books we read, there are horses, and by the time I had finished this book, it was time to take a serious look at this topic, as some of the characters in the books on the list are reflected by how they relate to their horses.

In Ever Yours Annabelle, the protagonist is very careful with the horses he rides and chooses a gelding or a castrated male horse. He has a reason for this choice. The Wiki on this topic is extensive, but even the history behind it will explain such a choice.

The Scythians are thought to have been the first people to geld their horses.[3][4] They valued geldings as war horses because they were quiet, lacked mating urges, were less prone to call out to other horses, were easier to keep in groups, and were less likely to fight with one another.
The dangers of riding and being around horses
To give an idea of the dangers of horse riding, here are two Wiki pages: Death by horse-riding accident and List of horse accidents. See this video for interesting facts about the horses including dangers, and this for some ugly kicks, spooked horses, and accidents of which several could have been avoided. There are videos about how to train horses not to kick see this, this or a video about how not to get kicked, which is too long, but he is at his wits ends to make it clear that one should avoid getting close to the hind legs. This is good advice as even a powerful stallion can lose its life behind an unwilling mare. To avoid a kick when shoeing a horse some farriers take precautions, as can be seen in this video where the hoof being shoed is tied. Or
this where the farrier takes a royal amount of time to allow the horse to be comfortable. I also saw one who in contrast was very quick. His idea was less time behind is good for the longevity and health of a farrier. Because horses are dangerous, they need training, and there are different ways to go about it.

Different ways to train horses
When Horses Choose The channel explains the handling of horses based largely on knowing the psychology of horses. The lady spent eight to nine hours a day for more than three years following a heard of 360 wild horses, her job was to count them. From this experience, she learned about their behavior when they are in a herd.

Monty Roberts has videos about training horses without using violence.
Another trainer is Clinton Anderson/ his videos are filled with self-promotion and on top, there are the Youtube advertisements, but he knows what he is doing and can explain it.
Tristan Tucker has still another way, which combines knowledge and very close reading of the muscle reactions in the horse, see The TRT method Series Episode #7 - The explosive gelding (part 1) and (part 2) In Episode 12 he says at the end. "And remember it is all about self-knowledge, self-improvement better understanding yourself to better understand your horse."
Jimmy Anderson in How to make a horse a friend. One cowboy's partnership with horses has a different approach again, though there are similarities. It is mentioned in the description of the video that horses use up to 17 different signs to communicate with each other.

ListenToYourHorse is what the name implies. This is more about the interpretation of the signals from horses based on inner feeling, intuition, psychic talent, and the symbolism in the behavior of the horses.

The HIGHLANDS - WILDERNESS | ADVENTURE | Unbroken Horses This video has pictures from the Scottish Highland, in case anyone is reading novels situated in that area. What the author of this video did initially, before setting out was to put trackers on the horses. Then when she walked across Scotland, she followed the routine of the horses, as she had gleaned from her data, including getting up early in the morning, which was the time the horses appeared to be most active.

One observation in the last video is that the bond with the horse improves as the owner is with them 24/7. At the time of the Regency Era, people were using the horses more, there were plenty of grooms and stable hands. For this reason, I suspect that there relatively speaking are more accidents today, also because some accidents happen because horses are not understood by the people who don't work with horses at all.

Links to pages about how to ride a horse, shoeing horses, and descriptions of the horse breeds
The Wikihow on how to ride a horse has links to many other pages including how to avoid injuries when falling off or how to recover after a fall.
An explanation of hot shoeing and cold shoeing. Some argue against horseshoes. The Wiki on horseshoes gives some history and also discusses when and why they developed.
A presentation of many horse breeds of which often are divided according to temperament and characteristics as being either hot, warm, or cold-blooded.
A video about the horses they used in medieval times and what highly trained warhorses might have been able to do. In the last video, Jason Kingsley mentions the relationship between rider and horse, see also the last minutes of this video. This relates to the book I'm reading now, where the male protagonist has returned from war but finds communication difficult. His confidant or the one he talks with about what troubles him in the beginning after returning home is not his family, but the horse that he has been together with as a soldier in foreign lands.

If the horse is a symbol - what does it traditionally represent?
Finally, there is the horse as a symbol. I don't know how important it is, but having looked up some of the authors of the romance novels, it is clear that several of them do have horses, which means that they write about horses from the perspective of knowing them. The horse may have various symbolic meanings, but do some authors use them, and if they do, which ones do they select? That is difficult as some meanings in the following description seem to contradict each other across time and culture. For this reason, one may have to see if any school of symbolism can add meaning to the interpretation of a novel. Below are a few websites, beginning with a quote from a page found on the website of the University of Michigan :


The horse is quite often a solar symbol, and in the Bible it is one of intelligence. According to its color, a horse may symbolize either destruction or victory (fiery-red and white, respectively). It is a maternal archetype, and it might also symbolize "impulsiveness, impetuosity of desire, the instinctive impulses that motivate man. This association of the horse with darker human drives, such as virility and sexuality, has been resented by numerous writers [(Nietzsche)]. In dreams, the black horse of death and destruction is synonmous with misery" (Julien, 207). Is connected in many ways with aspects of the earth, specifically the SUN, MOON, and WATER. In addition, it is related to air and wind, acting as the mediator between heaven and earth; Centaurs are wind gods. A highly sacred animal, considered a taboo to eat its meat.

It carries many characteristics of the person as well, such as fertility, fidelity, sensitivity, strength, selfishness, anger, stubborness, stupidity and vanity. In psychology it can be the unconscious, subhuman side. A figure highly associated with many aspects of war, especially in the Greek tradition. Colors: white - omen of death but also innocence and divinity; black - famine; red - war; grey - devil. Types of horses: two - intellect, especially when harnessed together; winged - poetic relations; grazing - peace.
There is are other interpretations and descriptions of the horse as a symbol on this page, found on Pure-spirit.com and this form Spiritanimal.info Another page has in German these meanings.

I don't know how I will look back upon the experience of reading this book in a year or two, but for now, I'm happy it was suggested.
 

Mariama

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One of the main contrasts is that of being raised in a loving home versus being raised in a home dominated by harsh and unforgiving, even violent, parents. But, woah, I don't think I've ever seen a character so tied up in knots as a result of his father's harsh nature than James, the protagonist in Devil's Web. That poor guy was a MESS. It was utterly painful to read. But I'm pretty sure I've known people like that.

So, anyway, read Promise of Spring first and pay attention to the side characters and the setting. Then start with Web of Gold. This is a SUPER rich set of characters and dynamics. A LOT to learn there.
I am currently reading Jennifer Ashley's The Seduction of Elliot McBride and I was thinking of the fine job Ashley does in describing severe trauma and what it does to a person. I used to read a lot of fiction before I joined the forum, amongst others Black American fiction that did not shy away from maternal abuse or child sex abuse, but I can't recall ever having read such a detailed description of severe wounding until now.

So, after finishing Ashley's novel I will start reading Promise of Spring. Thank you so much Laura for this recommendation.
 

Gaby

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I don't know how I will look back upon the experience of reading this book in a year or two, but for now, I'm happy it was suggested.
When Elisa Braden is inspired, she can write so creatively that is hard not to be touched and transported into abstract realms, if that makes any sense!

"Ever Yours, Anabelle" was deeply touching. I'm in the 7th book of the series and I found books 4 and 5 ("The Devil is a Marquess" and "When a Girl Loves an Earl") also nearly as good. The Devil is a Marquess is actually at times pretty comical.

I'm taking a little break and reading Mary Balogh. Just read "The Proposal" and now understand why she is so highly recommended ♥️ . I might continue the Survivor's Club later when I get the other books and read instead another of her series that I now have available. :lkj:
 

Laura

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I'm making my way through the Westcott series by Balogh right now. Again, highly recommended and deals with all kinds of issues. Her psychological insights are just amazing, and her philosophical remarks, put into the mouths of her characters are such a pleasure to read.

The first book of this series, "Someone to Love", was such a treat for me. The main male character appears to be modeled on Georgette Heyer's "The Quiet Gentleman", but Balogh's Avery Archer is much more developed as a character and just nearly divine! He's also very, very funny at times.
 

Voyageur

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I'm taking a little break and reading Mary Balogh. Just read "The Proposal" and now understand why she is so highly recommended
I'm making my way through the Westcott series by Balogh right now. Again, highly recommended and deals with all kinds of issues.
Had finished the the one series from Gracie, and had next indented to read Balogh, and see Westcott is a 8 book series. There is also Survivors, Huxtable, Simply, Mistress - as shown here on Goodreads (no The Proposal on seek10's list I copied). What would be recommended for me to dive into first?
 

Voyageur

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So, anyway, read Promise of Spring first and pay attention to the side characters and the setting. Then start with Web of Gold. This is a SUPER rich set of characters and dynamics. A LOT to learn there.
Missed this, will start there and move along.
- Do not hold grudges against people, even if they acted in a hurtful manner. Learn to forgive. Some people are so self-absorbed that they don't even notice how their behaviour is affecting others, and they are not necessarily consciously trying to hurt you. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, "The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury."
Well said.
Its kind of scary how we are able to drag that old baggage around for decades.
Indeed, and heavy - work to lighten the load. This also made me think of the C's nod, via Laura, to this Romantic avenue (considering they are future-selves who can see the outcomes and understand the weight and how it can be lightened in the heart and soul). Reading peoples comments throughout; the effects - getting to know their feelings and those of others better, seems to bear this out.
Notes about horses
In all the books we read, there are horses, and by the time I had finished this book, it was time to take a serious look at this topic, as some of the characters in the books on the list are reflected by how they relate to their horses.
Thanks for the review @thorbiorn. Yes, the horse is such an influence; have spent some time around them and marveled at them (fallen off them and have taken some wonderful rides). They have been around with us for so many thousands of years (like our dogs) and are a complement, while some are just darn magnificent, too - and smart.
 

Rabelais

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Ditto that. Two chapters into The Proposal. Imo miles above The Dukes Disaster, My One and Only Duke, Seven Nights in a Rogues Bed (best to read under a cold shower).
Balogh's writing is more realistic, humorous with erotic overtones. Eg: Hugo's directness with Gwendoline and her response to his "I would like to kiss you at the very least." "What is more than the very least?" His reply: "to bed you."
As well, her description of the members of the Survivors Club and their indominable spirit to overcome their physical and mental war injuries struck something deep inside of me. A real page turner.

I followed your lead and started on The Proposal. Excellent choice. I am thoroughly enjoying Balough's writing style, and much prefer it to Scott's.
 

Jones

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I was able to see some aspects of my younger self in this story... and some that I am still working through. Its kind of scary how we are able to drag that old baggage around for decades.

Yeah. I'm on the third book of the Son's of Sin series and was surprised to get teary eyed over an ancient dynamic that was much more applicable when I was very young in regards to broken families and/or dubious parentage. Since the world has changed lots since then and the dynamic isn't as much of a social no-no these days - or at least it seems much more common with greater acceptance than back then, I didn't expect the reaction that I had. It answered a few questions that I'd asked myself along the lines of 'why do I [fill in the blank] under certain circumstances? I mean it's stuff that I was aware that I was doing, but didn't have any real explanation for it.

Kaching! The penny dropped by the second book - there it is!
 

Tauriel

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I'm into the 2nd book of Mary Balogh's Horsemen trilogy titled 'Unforgiven' and I cannot remember a character driving me as mad with indignation as Moira is doing. She acts so stubborn and childish that at times I catch myself wincing and cussing at her words and actions.
Sighs*....so I realize I have to take a closer look at what exactly makes me cringe so hard...... no escape... I'm all in. :whistle: ;-)
 

Redrock12

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I followed your lead and started on The Proposal. Excellent choice. I am thoroughly enjoying Balough's writing style, and much prefer it to Scott's.
Finished Proposal late last night. I couldn't put it down. Balogh's ability to get inside the reader's head and, in my case anyway, the heart, through her characters makes her, imo, a master of her craft.
Next on my list is her Slightly Dangerous, followed by Simply Love.
Who woulda thought, even two months ago, I would get hooked on romantic fiction, a guy who couldn't get enough of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch. Go figure.
As an aside, I live only a 45 minute drive from Mary Balogh's home in Regina, Saskatchewan, and she has a granddaughter attending the technical institute in my hometown of Moose Jaw. Also, I didn't know how well known she is in Saskatchewan literary circles until I started searching out her books.
 
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