Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
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.


Is there any reason why you can't continue with the Survivor's Club series? It really helps to read them in order as they are all cross referenced and mutually interactive.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
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.

That's really funny. I'm almost finished The Arrangement (book 2 of the Survivor's Club Series) and I enjoyed it quite a lot more than The Proposal, which for me lagged quite a bit in the first half, but picked up eventually
once Gwen invited Trentham to court her during The Season while she introduced his sister to the Ton
. After that the sequence of events resonated with me much better and more similarly to what I found and loved about the Courting Julia series. The Arrangement I found to consistently strong from start finish (or at least where I am so far).

The Proposal seems to be about the give-and-take of relationships when it comes to getting out of one's comfort zone or learning to participate in the parts of the life of a partner one may find less relatable. And The Arrangement teaches a lot about external considering and accounting for the perceptual and self-image blind-spots we may find in a partner and ourselves. Some less-than-healthy relationships seem be about unhealthy types of dependency, whereas The Arrangement IMO shows the ideal of interdependence, and the mutual work of loving partners to free one another of each other's own limitations and shortcomings.
 

NewEngland Seeker

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I have had to switch back and forth from romancies to intellectualies to keep my balance. I call it my sweet-n-salty reading diet. I had notice after reading several romance books in a few weeks that I was getting bored. I switched to a history book and a science books then returned to Anne Gracie with enthusiasm. It seems that like my palate, my mind needs variety to stay interested. I now read two romancies and two headsies which is working much better.:thup:

I do enjoy Anne Gracie writing the best so far. I am realizing that the male & female characters resonate in parts of my psyche. I put myself into their shoes and play out the scenes in my head with surprising similarities. However, I am quite sure that I would freak out and wake myself up if in my dream a handsome duke was coming onto me and I was attracted to him! 😱 :rotfl:
 

Bobo08

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I have finished the Devil Riders series by Anne Gracie and loved it. The whole series is a depiction of gallantry, or external consideration, in man-woman relationship. The fact that such model of behaviour and thinking is so lacking in today's world makes it even more beautiful.

In all the books in the series, the main characters are strong men and women. They all thought they could live without love, and planned to do so. But the love they discovered proved how wrong they were. It also heals wounds that all of them had, and elevates them to a new level of happiness that they never thought possible.

I think the books serve as a valuable model for how to live and behave in a relationship. They do that on both intellectual and emotional levels. I got misty eyes a few times while reading through them, especially in later books.

One thing I have issues with in the series is the way it all starts with physical attraction, and too much of it at first sight. I would have liked more gradual development of attraction, both physically and emotionally, when the man and woman get to know each other more. But maybe that wouldn't make a good plot? In any case, that's only a minor gripe.
 

3DStudent

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The other day I finished Marry In Haste. Compared to Anna Campbell, Anne Gracie seems more descriptive and with more background in the story. Anna Campbell seems more moving center oriented to me. I'm on the second in the Marriage of Convenience series and it picks up right after the first book. At some point I guess you start to forget the character names after reading so many books, you know with the 150 person tribal limit? And maybe just the overall themes stick with you.
 

Rabelais

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
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.

I agree with your thinking on Balogh's writing. I just finished book 2 of the Survivor's Club last night. A superb expansion on the intertwined lives of the characters in book 1. I respect that she can deal with sexuality frankly, but without resorting to overly descriptive tawdriness.
I suspect that the remainder of the books in the series will blend the events of the other members of the Survivor's Club into a grand finale of each character finally resolving their physical, emotional and psychic wounds, to arrive at meaningful and fulfilling lives, at least that is the direction that I sensed from book 2. The lessons experienced by each of them are significant to us all.

I also agree with Laura's recommendation that the series are best when read in sequence.
 

Temperance

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I started off reading Jennifer Ashley's The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie but even up to halfway through, it was kind of feeling like a chore. I didn't want to get caught reading that at work so I got a kindle version of Balogh's The Temporary Wife to read on my phone more discretely, and I was HOOKED. Just finished it a few nights ago, and I gotta say it was much more engaging than the Mackenzie book. I was able to become emotionally attached to the characters, and the last few chapters had me in tears. So many beautiful moments, and sad ones too, and not just the romantic aspects of it but also the interactions between different family members, and the contrasting of the families. The psychology embedded into the characters, and how one facilitates the healing of others, is remarkable as well. The kindle version I bought has the sequel included, so technically I'm at 50% but finished book 1. I hope I was vague enough to not count as a spoiler. I'm glad I gave this experiment a try, since I rarely read fiction, and will continue on to the sequel tonight.
 

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I´ve finished Mary Balogh´s "The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring".

As much as I´ve enjoyed "The Temporary Wife"´s Charity and Duke´s dance around the feelings they both share, I liked better "A Promise of Spring" - because of Perry and Gareth characters´ dynamic.

I saw Perry as a real Adamic man with his pure and real feelings of love towards Grace, while Gareth was a pure narcissist person and I found this novel as a textbook on how to recognize a narcissist person.

To Perry, love was freedom, openness and a choice freely done by both sides, respect, care and devotion.
To Gareth, love was possession, personal victory, something to win and conquer, without respect for the other side and self-centered "I want/think/need" mindset.

I found the book brilliant.
 

Tuatha de Danaan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've read all the Huxtable Quintet books and am now on the last of the Survivors Club and I've got to say I feel drained. Maybe it's because I read them in quick succession or maybe not. I lived their trials, traumas insecurities, their battles with tight social restrictions and so much more that was hidden under the surface which left me feeling kinda raw.

I knew that the happy ever after was coming but that didn't seem to help. It hurt me to see how I was not as aware as most of them were with regards their inner feelings when I was as young as them and how I really did hurt people unknowingly at the time.. These books showed me I saw selfish as a young person.

I shall now finish the last book and spend some time coming to grips with the unpleasant learning.
 

gnosisxsophia

Jedi Council Member
...managed to finish 'Seven Nights' which was rather bittersweet (without touching on the excruciating formulaic) and a bit of a letdown tbh. As unfortunately by about night 5 the character of Sidonie had reminded me so strongly of my first love, that I then spent the rest of the novella picturing her as a leggy, blonde valkyrie - which sort of blew the 'dream girl / positive use of imagination' concept out the window.

Well, as if 'Seven Nights' hadn't stirred up enough old memories - I'd only gotten to chapter 2 of 'A Rakes Midnight Kiss', when the prospect of reading anymore involving the endearingly spirited female protagonist, ALREADY had me grimacing...

...Instead of a dried-up old maid, he'd encountered a glorious Amazon. Tall. Blond...the prospect of plundering Genevieve Barrett's Viking charms dazzled Richard...

Never previously having cause to curse my spectacularly vivid memory and vivider imagination... :whistle:

But other than stirring the melancholic fluttering's of long ago youth, it was only part way into 'What a Duke Dares' that I began to really wonder a bit more on the reluctance / resistance that accompanies reading what 'intellectually' strike as rather shallow, cookie stories (As Neil has mentioned previously, perhaps Mary Balogh might be next on the list) that however unpalatable the genre / generic the characters etc. - 'should' still be a quick painless diversion amongst reading other topics of interest.

Then funnily enough on following a link that Arwenn posted in the 'Reading group' thread - think I finally found the sore point?

All the dreams of “Him” came flooding back and I wondered if He was somewhere on the planet wondering if I was somewhere on the planet. Again, for the millionth time I sternly reminded myself that all such thoughts were nonsense. There was no such thing as “The One.” It was only romantic fairy tales at best; pathological delusions at worst...


Laura's comment resonating profoundly and by default pin-pointing (for the moment anyway) what appears to be sticking in my craw and that being the colourful 'Duke' characters polygamous histories (prior to being rewarded with finding 'The One') coming across as some kind of pre-requisite?

Something, from a technician's point of view anyway, that makes all the sense in the world to me as a 'lover', however from a 'lived' experience, is being intuited as quite galling!

As with having been loved and lusted almost to the point of suffocation before the end of my teens, the decision was pretty well made for me (through some kind of fairy-tale sense of love / honour or misguided righteousness, I'm not sure) then and there, that without a 'connection', then all the 'maiden dew' in the world didn't really count for much.

And therefore 'this' was all bullshit etc. in a lovely long nihilistic evolution...


I was sure God or Nature was going to fix it.


Which I now find very interesting as looking back, there was and IS that idea that by being 'noble', faithful, always saying no to the delicacies being proffered etc. that I would eventually be rewarded (by finding my 'dream' girl).

But I also don't think I've ever actually believed it (certainly not it in this life-time). Some deep rooted 'life suck's then you die', conditioning that was picked up at far too early an age I guess?

So, as I already have a crush on 'Pen' (by Chapter 6), am going to try and pay more attention to this 'pathological delusion'.
 

Rabelais

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
For those going to read Balogh's Survivor's Club, which I highly recommend, I can perhaps clear up a bit of confusion for those acquiring the books from Amazon. The first series book is The Proposal, but when one seeks the second book, which Balogh states as The Arrangement, but Amazon insists is The Suitor, which is a short story. If you wish to stay in sequence, read The Suitor next. The second book, The Arrangement, is also listed as book 2 - the #2 book #2, which I just finished. Another rewarding read.

I just acquired for Kindle, The Escape, which Amazon claims at its listing as both book 4 - and the 3rd book in the series. Confusing. The Suitor, which follows The Proposal, is pretty essential to the continuity of the series, but some may skip over it, since Balogh claims, at the end of The Proposal, that the next book is The Arrangement.

Although its just a quibble, Balogh's people should probably get this sorted out at Amazon. After the actual book #4, the rest of the series listings appear to be in proper order.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
For those going to read Balogh's Survivor's Club, which I highly recommend, I can perhaps clear up a bit of confusion for those acquiring the books from Amazon. The first series book is The Proposal, but when one seeks the second book, which Balogh states as The Arrangement, but Amazon insists is The Suitor, which is a short story. If you wish to stay in sequence, read The Suitor next. The second book, The Arrangement, is also listed as book 2 - the #2 book #2, which I just finished. Another rewarding read.

I just acquired for Kindle, The Escape, which Amazon claims at its listing as both book 4 - and the 3rd book in the series. Confusing. The Suitor, which follows The Proposal, is pretty essential to the continuity of the series, but some may skip over it, since Balogh claims, at the end of The Proposal, that the next book is The Arrangement.

Although its just a quibble, Balogh's people should probably get this sorted out at Amazon. After the actual book #4, the rest of the series listings appear to be in proper order.
The Suitor was listed as book 1.5 by Goodreads, but the public library did not have it listed. They carry all of her books, so I guess there's a glitch somewhere. Just started on the Arrangement. IMO, seems to have consistent continuity from The Proposal.
 

Rabelais

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
The Suitor was listed as book 1.5 by Goodreads, but the public library did not have it listed. They carry all of her books, so I guess there's a glitch somewhere. Just started on the Arrangement. IMO, seems to have consistent continuity from The Proposal.

If you read the suitor first you'll see the bridge that it makes between The Proposal and The Arrangement.

I just started The Escape (#4) and it starts out a bit earlier, time wise, than the end of The Arrangement, which at first seemed illogical, but Balogh is filling some gaps from The Arrangement with a bit of story why Benedict wasn't in attendance at Hugo's wedding, or Vincent's marriage ball.
 
Last edited:

ryu

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I've read the 3 first books of the Survivors series of Mrs Balogh (The proposal, The arrangement, Only enchanting). I liked the Mackenzie series and will come back to it, but to me the Survivors series is superior in quality.

All the stories are interwoven, Balogh is really a master at making us feel what the character feels, at understanding how and why they react like this. Also the sex scenes are less descriptive but there is the same depht to it, sometime I thought it was better, because it reinforced this notion of intimacy between the couple, that only they shared.

The friendship the members of the Survivor club have is heart-warming and the affection they hold for one another brought tears to my eyes more than once. Also, what I found beautiful is how human all these characters are. They are just men and women, most have been seriously wounded by life, some of them are not particulary wealthy, good looking, witty or what-have-you, but they will themselves to be as authentic as they can be. That's admirable.

As cheezy as I will probably make it sound, I came to be thankful for all the people who endeavor themselves to be the best they can be for their family, their spouses, themselves... And also for those humans who live in 4D STO, even if we don't see them. They show the beautiful faces of God and of mankind. Knowing that in other realms people do things better makes me hopeful for our humanity. Even if little, we have a escape door, there's a way out the Valley of tears.

Also, the fact that there is the Napoleonic wars in the background made me think of the war on peoples that rages on in our reality. Like these characters, we are all going to discover of what wood we are made of in the coming years, already many of us feel our inner being is a battleground, with the hyperkinetic effect of the Wave. Those that manage it in 4D will probably be traumatised by the sheer destruction they had witnessed. These books are a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. It's good to know that before hell breaks lose.
 
Top Bottom