New title: Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

gottathink

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I am on the "Sons of Sins" series from Anna Campbell, I am less engrossed by her books than by Balogh or Gracies.
Yes me too @Lys. I got to the point that the sex scenes became boring by the time I finished five of the books in the Sons of Sin.
I started skipping through them. Is this a good sign in me ? I don’t know. The stirring sex scenes are the ones that have very involved emotions. I think I liked Sidonies character the most of the females.
 

Lys

Jedi
Yes me too @Lys. I got to the point that the sex scenes became boring by the time I finished five of the books in the Sons of Sin.
I started skipping through them. Is this a good sign in me ? I don’t know. The stirring sex scenes are the ones that have very involved emotions. I think I liked Sidonies character the most of the females.

I agree on that and this is why I don't skip the sex scenes. Moreover, as we go along the books I find that there are less of those but with more meaning.
In Sidonie and Jonas story I really thought that there was too much of those sex scenes and now in "What a Duke Dares" there are less of them but each of them reveals something about the characters and what they feel. It's like the scenes are not hot anymore, they are sometime disturbing because of their veracity.
So I read those scenes quickly telling to myself "well ok I know, he does this and this, bites slightly her shoulder, blablabla", and then Pow ! Something happens that is emotionally interesting. :-)
It's funny how disturbed I was when I first started reading sex scenes and how I react now.

I liked Sidonie's combativeness and I think that without this Jonas would have been too childish to let go his "principles".
But I have to say that I like Penelope too, even if there is so much suffering that could have been avoided in her story with Cam. She is adventurous, and she doesn't let people walk all over her. Also, maybe I like her because of this stubborn Cam !
He's so much in control that I don't understand how he managed not to fall sick ! :headbash:
 

Tauriel

Jedi Master
I have just finished reading A Christmas Bride by Mary Balogh. The main female character was quite different from Balogh’s main characters in the 4 Horsemen/Marriage of Convenience series (which I loved).
Helena’s self-loathing made her a really unpleasant partner to be around. I felt really sorry for Edgar, thank goodness he managed to see through all her meanness and that he had the patience to persevere. I was almost shouting at her while reading “for goodness sake just give it up already!” I didn’t really get the nice happy ending feeling that I did with the other books, it was more like a “finally!” feeling.

I’m part ways (they have just gone to the market on the frozen Thames) into A Christmas Beau, and I feel really sorry for the poor Marquess of Denbigh! I’ll be interested to see how it ends because I’m hoping there was a really good reason for Judith having run off on the poor chap. At least with Rose (Marry in Secret) Thomas was literally a slave in another continent so there was no way he could have gotten back to her, Judith better had been forced at gunpoint or something.


I felt exactly the same about "A Christmas Bride." Whew! What a mess! It was a wonder that it worked out as well as it did. But habits of behavior such as that woman had are hard to break.

As to "A Christmas Beau", responding to your spoiler comment without saying too much, yeah, that was my feeling. Wait until you finish it!

I find it interesting how different we react to the characters in the books.
When I read lainey's comment and spoiler on Helena, the heroine in 'A Christmas Bride", I was just about to finish the story myself.
And although Helena is not the nicest or most personable of all the heroines, some of my 'I's' felt connected to her and the armour she had built around her with her silly behaviour.
She suffers from a stifling conscience which blinds her to any way out of it and thus creates a whole new persona around her to shut herself off from her self-inflicted pain. She is the victim of her own behaviour and cannot love herself.
Moira Hayes in "Unforgiven", the 2nd book of the Horseman trilogy, was the one I kept shouting at, "Stop it now, you silly girl!" more than once.

The variety of characters we meet while reading these stories provides a wide range of personal triggers and possibilities of identification, more so than real life at these times with limited access to people and life itself.

Now after starting "A Christmas Beau" I'm curious as for the reason Judith might have left the Marquess of Denbigh and also hope for a really good one. :lol:...something like a kidnapping or a bad case of black mail.
 

gottathink

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
T
I agree on that and this is why I don't skip the sex scenes. Moreover, as we go along the books I find that there are less of those but with more meaning.
In Sidonie and Jonas story I really thought that there was too much of those sex scenes and now in "What a Duke Dares" there are less of them but each of them reveals something about the characters and what they feel. It's like the scenes are not hot anymore, they are sometime disturbing because of their veracity.
So I read those scenes quickly telling to myself "well ok I know, he does this and this, bites slightly her shoulder, blablabla", and then Pow ! Something happens that is emotionally interesting. :-)
It's funny how disturbed I was when I first started reading sex scenes and how I react now.

I liked Sidonie's combativeness and I think that without this Jonas would have been too childish to let go his "principles".
But I have to say that I like Penelope too, even if there is so much suffering that could have been avoided in her story with Cam. She is adventurous, and she doesn't let people walk all over her. Also, maybe I like her because of this stubborn Cam !
He's so much in control that I don't understand how he managed not to fall sick ! :headbash:
That’s interesting to hear your perspective
As I felt the writing had changed rather than I had changed.
I’ll need to observe myself some more.
Yes Cam almost loses his mind.
One thing I really enjoyed about the Sons of Sins is the strong healthy male bonds that are depicted. They really warmed my heart. Whilst wanting to slap these men myself, they drove me bonkers at times, the support and rallying around whoever was troubled by the men made me feel it was going to all work out. Someone always had their backs and I loved reading that.
 

Andrian

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
In the last couple of weeks i've read the book Heartless and Silent Melody by Mary Balogh. I liked the novels very much. Currently i'm reading A Counterfeit Betrothal by the same author, i'm halfway through the book and so far i enjoy the book a lot.

What i've noticed while reading the novels is the great opportunity one has to observe from the "outside" how the predator mind manipulates us and leads us to our own suffering, to our own personal hell and sometimes even to our own destruction through our own ignorance, weaknesses, poisoning our hearts and minds through self pity and self importance making of us useful idiots through whom the entropic center injects the chaos in our lives and eventually onto our reality. Which in itself is a trial, a great opportunity for one to choose the path he wants to pursue in life thus learning some great life lessons. Another aspect i appreciated very much while reading the books is that through reading while at the same time analyzing and dissecting the personalities of the characters from the novels one learns little by little to sharpen his own senses in detecting not only the "moves" of his own predator mind when it tries to manipulate you but also to detect the presence and the behaviour of other people's predator mind, as well as learning to detect or at least to "sense" the real predators like the psychopaths or those ones that have chosen deliberately the STS path.

Though of course as the C's have said it's not so easy to detect a smart psychopath, it's a process that requires knowledge, long and very careful observation of an indivividual and by reading the following novels i think one has the opportunity to sharpen his "sixth sense" so to say, thus becoming more prepared in facing the predator within, without and ultimately in facing the unknown.

Thanks to Laura's work, to the assistance and the help of the C's, to the work done in our community all these years it has provided us the groundwork, the necessary tools that one can use in order to look deeper and see much more there is to be seen on the surface while reading the novels. It's insane, it's amazing and it's really wonderful and awesome at the same time. Don't want to sound too presumtous but i think that reading the recommended novels is like the ultimate preparing before the final exams.
 

lainey

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Now after starting "A Christmas Beau" I'm curious as for the reason Judith might have left the Marquess of Denbigh and also hope for a really good one. :lol:...something like a kidnapping or a bad case of black mail.
Oh my gosh, don't read this spoiler Tauriel.

RE: A Christmas Beau

I was almost done reading this book last night and I was seriously worried because the book was getting perilously close to the end and Judith and Max were not married and getting stronger as a couple like they were supposed to be by now. I thought to myself “this book has 11 pages to fix itself, 11 pages!” 11 pages turned to 5, which turned into 2 and then it was like the characters were left finally together, but with a broken vase and they had to pick up its pieces and tentatively try to jigsaw the pieces back together to begin to make a vase again. It was SAD. There was no outside force that told her a lie to make her afraid of him, no kidnapping or being held at gunpoint. Just her being a flawed, scared, silly human, and him being hurt and trying to make himself feel better but hurting her back again. A terrible, heartbreaking mess.

Dare I begin a A Counterfeit Betrothal?
 

Laura

Administrator
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FOTCM Member
Oh my gosh, don't read this spoiler Tauriel.

RE: A Christmas Beau

I was almost done reading this book last night and I was seriously worried because the book was getting perilously close to the end and Judith and Max were not married and getting stronger as a couple like they were supposed to be by now. I thought to myself “this book has 11 pages to fix itself, 11 pages!” 11 pages turned to 5, which turned into 2 and then it was like the characters were left finally together, but with a broken vase and they had to pick up its pieces and tentatively try to jigsaw the pieces back together to begin to make a vase again. It was SAD. There was no outside force that told her a lie to make her afraid of him, no kidnapping or being held at gunpoint. Just her being a flawed, scared, silly human, and him being hurt and trying to make himself feel better but hurting her back again. A terrible, heartbreaking mess.

Dare I begin a A Counterfeit Betrothal?

Re: the spoiler. Yup, that's it. Oy. It was AWFUL because of it's realism.

"Counterfeit Betrothal" is a lot lighter and even funny at the end. But, it's followed by "The Notorious Rake" (cross-over of characters) which is somewhat devastating, emotionally.
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
RE: A Christmas Beau

I was almost done reading this book last night and I was seriously worried because the book was getting perilously close to the end and Judith and Max were not married and getting stronger as a couple like they were supposed to be by now. I thought to myself “this book has 11 pages to fix itself, 11 pages!” 11 pages turned to 5, which turned into 2 and then it was like the characters were left finally together, but with a broken vase and they had to pick up its pieces and tentatively try to jigsaw the pieces back together to begin to make a vase again. It was SAD. There was no outside force that told her a lie to make her afraid of him, no kidnapping or being held at gunpoint. Just her being a flawed, scared, silly human, and him being hurt and trying to make himself feel better but hurting her back again. A terrible, heartbreaking mess.
It was a nail-biting finishing for a book that is all looked merry. I liked the last conversation
when Judith took ownership of her contribution to the mess, exposing how meaningless the toxic reaction of revenge is.
I am glad for a happing ending and they have lessons from this experience and kids to continue to their life.
 

Mari

Jedi Council Member
I‘ve finished The notorious Rake by M.Balogh.

Well I didn’t know at the beginning of the book was Edmond using Mary or what happened there.
As the story moved on, discovery of Edmund‘s past was horrible and it was clear why he was so deeply broken and I found it terrible how his family treated him. Talk about ruining a young smart person full of potential....

It took long enough for Mary for realise the mask he was wearing (but he was also to blame there, since he only played his learned behavior over and over again) and I had a mixture of feeling sorry for the guy and at the same time finding his behavior annoying....
And yes, it was emotionally tense untill the last page.


Also, talk about light read; I have a task that I first have to read one book from recommended list and then treat myself with one-two books from romance novel list.
I finish romance novel in matter of hours (in two evenings or so) while for the same amount of pages from book from mandatory reading - I need a week or more!

I choose now J.Quinn Rokesbys series (Bridgerton series prequel) based on Laura‘s saying that the Bridgerton series is adventurous and humorous.
It will probably take me months to finish them all but off to another adventure!
:read:
 

Tauriel

Jedi Master
Oh my gosh, don't read this spoiler Tauriel.
:lol::lol:
Perfect timing since I finished the book this morning after work and had exactly the same thoughts. So few pages left and the guys were still lingering in the mire.
Realism struck hard because all the reasons Judith and Max had for displaying the behaviour they did were just ordinary human weakness, no drama.
The end went well together with a male patient that checked in with suicidal thoughts because he'd asked his wife to choose between him and the horse. She chose the horse.

Started "The Counterfeit Betrothal". Some humour will do good.
 
I have started the McKenzie and McBrides series, only just....book 2 now. I love a good bodice ripper! My Mum used to read Mills and Boons and I remember reading a few of them when I was a teenager. But this series, so far, is just more refined, the emphasis on each character more nuanced...proper lose yourself reads! I'm a visual person and I suppose it was in the days of reading my Mums books that I became facinated with book cover art. It was my aim to be one of those painters, but when the time came and I was ready, everything went in-house and photographic (Jilly Cooper et al...remember those, titles like "The Bitch", lots of pouty red lips and manicured nails?) and then after, it went to digital illustration. I would buy a book, or get one out of the library, just to look at the cover! Ah well, thank you Laura for the prompt, very enjoyable!
 

Seamus

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I just finished Balogh's The Gilded Web after taking roughly a 2 month break from this project. I have vivid memories from reading A Promise of Spring and I think I needed some time to process what I learned from that book.

The Gilded Web seemed to have less of an effect on my emotions than the other books I've read so far and I found myself more involved on an intellectual level and less involved emotionally, OSIT. Days later I am still thinking about the story, but I didn't experience emotional release the way I have with some of the other stories (especially Anne Gracie's Marriage of Convenience series FWIW).

I found Edmund's character very relatable, especially in the way he hid himself behind his "kindness" and "care for others". Alexandra had a very obvious false persona and Edmund's was much more subtle, but they were both hiding their true selves. I was also impressed by the theme of "loving someone by letting them go" and how important it is to let people you care about make their own choices and adopt responsibility for their own lives. The way Balogh compares the overt domineering style of Alexandra's father and her family to the subtle and stickier style of Edmund's family was so well done and gave me a lot of food for thought. When the story ended I found myself wanting more and I remember thinking "that's it?" so I hope I get to find out what happens to Dom and Mad and James in future books.

I found the stubbornness of Alexandra's character somewhat maddening. The scene when the two of them are walking with her parents along the river and her father brings up their wedding and wants to discuss the details with Edmund was especially irritating for me. Edmund defends Alex's right to be involved in the decision and she is angry with him because they live in a male dominated society and she saw the dynamic as two men arguing over her future instead of appreciating Edmund's efforts to stand up for her. On the other hand by the end of the book I came to realize that stubbornness can be a really valuable and admirable quality if it is evoked for the right reason, in this case stubbornly staying true to oneself. In my mind stubbornness has a negative connotation and is usually cited as a fault, so maybe I was perceiving Alex's courageous stand for her true self as stubbornness because I was identifying too much with the male characters in the book. Maybe it would be better to call Alex courageous, tenacious or steadfast.

Next on my reading list is Web of Love.
 

manitoban

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
I've just finished reading two of Mary Balogh's series, the Survivor's Club and the Westcott series. All I can say is that there are profound insights about life and what is truly meaningful on practically every page of these books. Mary Balogh is a very wise lady!

I found myself often struck by some memory of pain and emotional suffering in my own life, that, while different to what the characters experienced, at the core is the same emotion. The difference is that I didn't deal with the suffering nearly as well as do Baloghs characters, who seem to model grace, dignity, and courage despite the adversity they have faced. I love how the characters actively fight self pity no matter what they are going through.

The other things that hit me during the books was the way the characters (aside from the bad guys), are so continually careful and thoughtful of others. The civility and manners common throughout the books are the basis of a caring society, and the contrast to our own couldn't be more striking. Common courtesy makes such a difference and demonstrates basic external consideration which makes interpersonal relations flow so much easier. Sometimes I kept thinking, "I want to live there!"

Of course, as in real life, there are bad guys, and the "ton" who cause many problems. I'm not sure if this is correct, but it crossed my mind when reading that a great many of the "ton" were like OP's in their behavior, while the main characters were more like souled individuals.

Also, and I noticed this as well in the Anne Gracie Devil Riders series, the enjoyment of simple pleasure like strolling in nature, gathering with family and friends, eating together, celebrating each other's joys, had such a genuineness to it all, not like the artificiality of today. These books, besides teaching I believe very important lessons about love and caring, also show so much that we have lost, and how community and family could be. The Survivor series seemed to focus on learning about true friendship, and the Westcott series about the strength of a close knit family.

The books also stirred hope within me, you see how one single momentary decision can change the course of one's life. How it is possible to really, truly change, and that there can be a happy ending if one can open their heart to give and receive love.

When Laura first suggested this exercise, I admit I was a bit surprised. Over the years I've read probably dozens or more recommended books, and usually they were heavy, dense, complex material and this seemed to be quite the opposite. But I know from long experience that when Laura suggests something it always turns out to be of mega importance and not always in the way you might expect. This has turned out to be just exactly that, something that seemed a light read, is actually a kind of a manual of life lessons concerning all interpersonal relations. And somehow, being in the state while reading can carry over into our real lives, in ways that really make a difference. In short, we are learning about true love and caring from these books.
 

Laura

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When Laura first suggested this exercise, I admit I was a bit surprised. Over the years I've read probably dozens or more recommended books, and usually they were heavy, dense, complex material and this seemed to be quite the opposite. But I know from long experience that when Laura suggests something it always turns out to be of mega importance and not always in the way you might expect. This has turned out to be just exactly that, something that seemed a light read, is actually a kind of a manual of life lessons concerning all interpersonal relations. And somehow, being in the state while reading can carry over into our real lives, in ways that really make a difference. In short, we are learning about true love and caring from these books.

I also realized recently, while discussing the current situation on our planet, that this reading exercise is a big part of learning to RIDE the Wave instead of being sucked under and drowned.
 

Alejo

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I found myself often struck by some memory of pain and emotional suffering in my own life, that, while different to what the characters experienced, at the core is the same emotion. The difference is that I didn't deal with the suffering nearly as well as do Baloghs characters, who seem to model grace, dignity, and courage despite the adversity they have faced. I love how the characters actively fight self pity no matter what they are going through.
It's funny you mentioned this, I have been slow on this reading exercise as I took a few diversions to read on other topics, but I've recently started the Horsemen trilogy and the Bedwyn Saga by Mary Balogh, and I have noticed a similar feeling of sadness and a sort of regret mixed in together, but it wasn't as a negative feedback loop of dissociative thought, it hasn't been an overwhelming anxiety causing feeling, it's more of a conscious and present feeling, like a realization of sad events that seem distant enough to not overwhelm the senses, but close enough to hold me in that mindset noticeably but without interfering with my daily life, if that makes any sense.

The idea of love lost, has been particularly present in my mind lately, but also the idea of an emerging solid being under the wounds caused by lifetimes of hurt and ignorance and mistakes, and victories and joy and love.

I think once you dig deeper than the story itself, and some of the superficial ideals that are present, what you find is rather interesting, I am still working through some of it but, it's not entirely pleasant but it also isn't evil. It's like these simple stories can work as a mirror and if you're honest, you'll see that you have been manipulative, jealous, vengeful, lying, proud and so on, but also loving and trusting and gentle and sweet and honest and brave. And the question seems to be what's left once you remove all these layers? I hope I am making sense with this.

Lastly, and to further illustrate the wisdom in the works, as I work my way through Slightly Tempted, a phrase really caught my attention today, the protagonists are having a conversation about forgiveness, and it seems like such a simple concept, but articulated as such it left a very positive impression on me. One of them says to the other (paraphrasing) that forgiveness is really for the one who forgives, it's not for the person being forgiven, not always at least. Living without that forgiveness it's like being in a place where hate constantly leaks poison into your heart, and if you have the opportunity, you should attempt to do so, because you're ultimately hurting yourself.

And that was a brilliant idea I must say, sometimes we really purposefully avoid forgiving someone else, we invest our own personal energy into maintaining these slights alive, or the wounds caused by others on us alive, and there are several complex reasons for it, maybe we identify as a victim and have drawn a personality out of it, or benefits, or maybe we're scared of what the world would be if we didn't behave in a certain manner. But ultimately, we're limiting our own being, and hurting ourselves.

I hope the above makes sense, I am honestly surprised at the effect these stories have had on me.
 
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