Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work


FOTCM Member
Regarding the second book of the Bevelstoke series (What Happens in London), which included another sitting through the Smythe-Smith Quartet, as mentioned above, and although I've finished the third and last book in the series, here is a look back to the second book below. As with other book series that offer up good humour, this one was simply - well very odd with a kind of slapstick silliness to it.

Now to borrow and corrupt Julia's style to explain it:

Sir Harry Valentine moves next door to Olivia Bevelstoke, and they One: dislike each other immensely on account of fabricated rumours, however Two: they both must confront each other in society, wherein Three: Harry has a special assignment that requires him to be close to Four: Olivia Bevelstoke at all times - this is tricky.

For Harry, this also would not be so bad until a rather enamoured Russian Prince shows Olivia specific (and unwanted) attention. This attention results in further explosive tensions between the Prince and Harry (vodka and punches are thrown sometime later). In the meantime, there is Five: accusations and a tenuous courtship taking place between open windows, which then moves to Six: Olivia's parlour, that includes not only Harry, but Harry's cousin Sebastian, and his younger brother Edward, along with the Russian Prince (much to the dismay of Harry), Olivia herself, who would like nothing better then to be elsewhere, and wherein Sebastian suddenly takes it upon himself to Seven: voraciously read from a copy of Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron (by renown author Sarah Gorely - more on her in book III) while Eight: standing atop a table reading, not only to the aforementioned persons, but to Nine: three maids with tear in their eyes huddled together on a settee, along with the house butler, who is intensely arguing with the noble Russian Prince. And all the while that this is taking place, there is Ten: Olivia's mother upstairs in the house, completely unaware of what is going on within her own parlour (with her own house staff and daughter), until that is that there is a mighty crash.

Eleven: forgot to mention that there is the body guard to the Russian Prince in the parlour, Vladimir (or Vlad the Impaler as he is also referred to in the book).

This book is crazy (somewhat in alignment with the Anton Chekhov story above :lol:), and gets more silly as it goes along, and yet fun relief from some of the more serious stories.

Coming back to the Smythe-Smith Quartet, here is a scene from Just Like Heaven:



FOTCM Member
Hi guys,

I have finished Simply Magic, by Mary Balogh and it was an interesting read to get through. I will post a few of the thoughts that occurred to me while reading it in the spoiler section below. As far as the book goes, it felt a bit forced at times, not as compelling as the second one in the quartet, but rather enjoyable nonetheless.

The story begins in the middle of the previous story, Susanna is invited by her friend to spend a few weeks with her and during her visit she meets Peter, a charming viscount, she recognizes him as someone with the name Edgeworth, who is connected to her past, which makes her reject him instinctively.

As their time passes, they get to know one another, like one another, spend an intimate afternoon together and say good bye, despite being in love, they meet again, he offers marriage, she refuses, they say goodbye again. As destiny would have it, they meet once more, and this time they confess their love after each of them goes through a transformation, and they decide to get married.

There's obviously a lot more detail to their story, and it's well worth the read. First, Peter comes across as an immature boy, running away from his home because he is unable to face his narcissistic mother and take charge of his life. He is however, kind and speaks from the heart, something that aids Sussanna eventually.

She is joyful and happy, but orderly and practical, very literal in her dealings, guards her emotions and has been running away from her painful past for years.

The first contrast that one notices is her literal mindedness to his passionate way to speak (or think). Despite it sounding as if they'd be incompatible, it actually works quite well. It's as if his presence in her life, and his poetic soul gave speech to the voice of her heart. This matters because she's a logical person for whom choices need to be made because of reasons, coldly and calculated, he is more of a dreamer. She needed him to hear her dreams, not him hearing her, her hearing her own dreams.

It made me think of this limbic resonance idea, when in the presence of others, we can resonate with their beings which allows us to hear ourselves, to realize who we are or could be, and what we may not know about ourselves. It was lovely, that was his role in her life, to give her heart a voice, whether it was the search for joy and love, or it was the hurts and wounds of the past.

Without him, she was unable to accept love, she had grown too literal and cold, she had grown to expectant of hurt, her father having committed suicide and her interpreting this as him choosing death over her, so she hardened, but with that refusal of love, she was also unable to receive it. She needed to hear her heart speak so that she would be able to receive and give love.

How many of us have been there? hurts and wounds in the past inform our personality, in ways that has us living as if we were being cheated on constantly, or betrayed, or hurt or abandoned, or lied to. There's something to be said about not being naive in our dealings with the world, most certainly, however, our reaction to life should not be as unconscious as the naïveté that got us there in the first place.

Her role in his life was to reflect back upon him his own childishness and cowardice, she literally tells him that he needs a dragon to slay, to stop running away from responsibility and adulthood, and take charge of his life and estate. He truly needed to hear those words, he already knew what he waned out of life, he simply was too kind to go get it, but it was cowardice disguising itself as kindness and supposed consideration.

And how many of us have been there? hiding our true selves, and denying our destinies behind kindness, behind be nice, how many of us have held on to our self image and have sacrificed so much for the fear of being perceived as unkind? This does not mean to be a chronic honest person by any means, or become rude, but as with Susanna and being naive, being kind should proceed with the same level of consciousness and awareness, much like distrust, kindness should not proceed as a by default reaction, because we risk much by it.

His dragon to slay was his mother, who was a perfect narcissist, very nicely depicted too by the way, who controlled and smoldered him to no end. It was very interesting how this took place, his weapon of choice against his dragon was the truth about her bitterness when Susanna's father ended an affair they had started, a bitterness that lead her to threaten Sussanna's father with ruin, and thus lead to his death.

With this truth, he not only regained control of his life, and mastery over his existence, but he also demolished the idea he had within himself of who his mother was, now that is a great way to describe fighting our dragons. We not only attack something out there, we also attack that something's presence within us. That's how you fight a dragon, with truth towards yourself first and foremost.

In short, this was a story about being wrong, Susanna had to admit that her father did not choose death over her, he chose to sacrifice his life to ensure her wellbeing, to the best of his ability, wrong perhaps, but it was all he had to offer her and that's how far he was willing to go. She was wrong about being unworthy and incapable of love, or about being unloved all her life. She was wrong and once she allowed this truth within, she became who she was. Truth is transformative.

Peter was wrong, about himself and his mother, he thought that his kindness was all he needed to be who he was, being liked by others was enough, so he lavished everyone with compliments, but he had not done anything about himself that emanated from within and as such, he did not like himself. He had to do something that went against his personality in order to find something solid and permanent that he could like, and not only like and feel proud of, but also offer to her and the rest of the world.

He gave her heart a voice and she opened his eyes to his destiny, and with the truth that she felt and heard from within and the one that he saw and acted upon, the found themselves reinventing their lives and one another, as friends, lovers, and husband and wife.

Thank you for reading.
Now, I will get on to Simply Perfect before finishing Westcott with the recently launched Someone Perfect... but it might be a while as I want to get through RFK Jr.'s book as well.


Jedi Master
For French-speaking readers, some upgrades may be necessary for book translations. In fact, some books that have already been translated are reissued under another title.
I indicate them so as not to buy back books that have already been read, or to find those that may not be found.

For Anne Gracie:
Gallant waif = "Un bonheur si fragile" is again translated as "Une impétueuse gouvernante"
Tallie's knight = "Les charmes du mariage" = "Chevalier et parieur"
The virtuous widow = "L'inconnu du château" = "Un mystérieux étranger"
The virtuous widow = "L'inconnu du château" is part of a book bringing together two other authors
{Gifts of the season = Trois mariages au château}:
(Anne Gracie, Lyn Stone & Miranda Jarrett / Gifts of the Season: A Gift Most Rare / Christmas Charade / The Virtuous Widow)

The virtuous widow = "Un mystérieux étranger" is reissued in a same book with the title of
Mary Balogh: Almost Persuaded = "Dans les bras du capitaine"

Note that "Seducing a Stranger" by Kerrigan Byrne will be released in French on January 5, 2022 under the title "L'amant d'une nuit". It is indicated as volume 7 of the VICTORIAN REBELS series and the translation of "A Dark and Stormy Knight", which was the former name of "Seducing a Stranger" before its reissue in English.
Why make it simple when you can make it complicated ?!!!


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished Someone Perfect, the last book currently available in Mary Balogh's Westcott series. I kept thinking, Let's Go Brandon! and for our Canadian friends, Let's Go Justin! The book is definitely on the darker side when compared to the rest of the series.
The previous book Someone to Cherish still seems like the natural conclusion to the Westcotts. This book is more of a spin off of the Westcotts, with many new families and a new Great Disaster. It did hit many emotional buttons, as may be expected when the villain is a narcissistic psychopathic mother along with a father who made bad choices.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Note that "Seducing a Stranger" by Kerrigan Byrne will be released in French on January 5, 2022 under the title "L'amant d'une nuit". It is indicated as volume 7 of the VICTORIAN REBELS series and the translation of "A Dark and Stormy Knight", which was the former name of "Seducing a Stranger" before its reissue in English.
Why make it simple when you can make it complicated ?!!!
:lol: You know the reasons why it happens. We are a unique group suddenly jumped on to this genre and started binge reading multiple authors.. So, we have to look at all the history of authors/series/books/ distribution packaging/book formats & so on at once. For other readers, it's not a big deal as they following certain authors or series over the time.

Any way, I will have to do some redesign and coding to support same book under multiple series with different language names. For now, you can submit translate book name if you want to update the translated name.

Seducing a Stranger: Goode Girls, Book 1 and Victorian Rebels, Book 7



Jedi Master
:lol: You know the reasons why it happens. We are a unique group suddenly jumped on to this genre and started binge reading multiple authors.. So, we have to look at all the history of authors/series/books/ distribution packaging/book formats & so on at once. For other readers, it's not a big deal as they following certain authors or series over the time.
I understand. However, I have just found two other re-edited books on Anna Campbell. the first comment read on Amazon is negative, commenting on having already read it and naming the series from which it came. The problem I am seeing is that this is a different editor than the original one. It does not indicate the original title in English (except inside the book once purchased I guess) or the title translated previously, or even the series from which it came. And the books come out in the wrong order (the third then the second).
Of course, they are looking to make more money easily. But I think even regular readers outside of our group are likely to get ripped off under these conditions.


Jedi Master
Excuse this post if it is a bit off-topic, but I just finished listening a classic children's book, "The Secret Garden," published in 1911 by Francis Hodgson Burnett. Having just finished all of Elisa Braden's "Rescued from Ruin" and the first two books from her "Highlander" series I was feeling like I was going into a bit of withdrawal in not seeing the characters again or having to wait for more of the "Highlander" series to be churned out. All of Braden's series I've listened to on Audible. With the membership, Audible throws a few freebee books your way that's how I found my way to the book, remembering watching the film as a kid.

I mention it in this thread because it seemed to have the same sort of healing effect on my emotional center that the romance novels have been having (without the sex).
It was written in the Edwardian era and the darkness of adults and children does not get glossed. The heroine is an neglected child, Mary Lennox, whose parents die while living the colonial life in India. Mary is homely, jaundiced, sickly and entitled. She is seriously on her way to becoming a sociopath. She is sent to live with her uncle after her parents die. Back in Yorkshire with the absent uncle who is a "hunchback", she is shut up in an estate with no toys to play with, but with a loving servant, Martha, who makes her do things for herself and, most importantly, get outside. Healing occurs in nature. And through the auspices of Marthha's brother Dickon who spends his time communicating and rescuing animals on the Moor. He sort of the epitome of an STO being who gives and heals those around him while having no material goods. Then there's Mary's cousin, Colin, whom she hears howling in tantrum down the long hallways a la "Jane Eyre." All the adults in Colin's life have either convinced him that he shall end up a hunchback and die an early death or have enabled this thinking. Colin gets the verbal smack down from Mary then Mary entrusts him to be outside with her and Dickon in the secret garden that Mary has found a way into via a Robin showing her the key. The garden was shut up after her uncle, Archibald Craven, had it sealed after his beloved wife died in freak tree limb accident in said garden.

I haven't finished it, but so far it seems a beautiful parable into healing the selfish, hurt and downright neurotic parts of our child/adult selves through nature and friendship.


Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
Having just finished all of Elisa Braden's "Rescued from Ruin" and the first two books from her "Highlander" series I was feeling like I was going into a bit of withdrawal in not seeing the characters again or having to wait for more of the "Highlander" series to be churned out.
I had that too, just loved those series by Elisa Braden. You'll be happy to know 'The Temptation of A Highlander', the story of Clarissa and Campbell McPherson, will be out on Kindle on the 28th December 2021!



The Living Force
FOTCM Member
O dear Lord!

I‘ve just finished reading M.Balogh The First Snowdrop and here are my first impressions.

This was almost like reading about James and Medeline again.
Alex and Anna were „unlucky“ couple this time.

He offered marriage out of honor, and, to his horror, she - accepted!

And there we have a book of blindness and blaming on one side, and jung dreams and hopes being shuttered on the other side.

It was emotionally exhausting and at the end quite tearful miscommunication, two people refusing to open up and to speak up, each thinking about what they think is best for the other.

Alex was quite childish most of the book, assuming and patronizing.

Anna was simply naive I would say.

But overall it was really exhausting and this happy ending was most welcome.


Next is Christmas Belle!


Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
The theme of 'money', or the lack of it, came up in a number of novels i recently read, and how different characters dealt with it differently within their respective circumstances, which stirred up some observations and memories.

In the series by Lorraine Heath, 'A Duke Of Her Own' and 'Just Wicked Enough',
we see three titled best friends, all fallen onto hard times financially, show their true colors when faced with the prospect of getting their hands on a truck load of money without any hard work from their side. In the first book, the force of love is proving much more powerful for the protagonist than money, while in the second book Lord Falconridge, by selling himself to the highest bidder, lost the last tiny grain that remained of his self respect. But the story shows that even when he did have all the money in the world, it was pretty useless for him to realize any positive growth unless he could find a way to regain his self respect and self love. The story beautifully describes how eventually both partners in the marriage are able to bring out the very best in each other so that self respect was gained, which freed up the ability to receive love and then give and share it freely. Interestingly, in this book also, the fabulously rich heiress Jenny, sees it almost as her duty to spread money around when one has such an abundance of it, she is able to enjoy it.

In Elisa Braden's Rescued from Ruin series 'The Devil is A Marquess',
we see that Benedict Chatham, after years of wallowing in self pity, misery and self loathing, hits rock bottom, whereafter he actually rolls up his sleeves and seriously gets to work. And the sweat on his brow, the getting down and dirty, causes him to lose false personaes and gains him not only hard earned self respect and self love but also money. On his journey from useless rake to honorable, strong and pleasant man, he touches something in the soul of his wife and, like the hero and heroine in 'Just Wicked Enough', the love dynamic between the two is positively reinforced and augmented by both their developments into their true selves. Beautiful story.

Something similar happened to West Ravenel in Lisa Kleypas' 'Devil's Daughter' (Ravenel series),
only his decision to get down to hard physical work in a humble manner and work on betterment of himself simultaneously, was set into motion long before he met his future wife. I noticed as well how his behavior with his staff showed to the Universe his attitude that he was no worse or better than any of them (and i've seen for myself many times that many wealthy people have major issues with this). He was touched by the way his brother answered and embraced life's wake up call. This brother stood up to the test and then some. West was truly inspired by that and stopped wallowing and nagging, got up and did something useful for a change in the service of others. And after having been active to serve others, the time came to regain his own self respect and rekindle the flame of self love, in order to be able to really feel deserving of the love of others and receive it. Also a really beautiful and inspiring story/series.

And in 'The Making Of A Highlander' and 'The Taming Of A Highlander' by Elisa Braden,
there is one true psychopath using his money for ill by running around and spending it to make others suffer horribly, especially poor Broderick McPherson.

Interestingly, all characters had suffered in their childhood at the hands of carers and parents. I have known quite a few people in my life who found themselves in similar situations. In a way, i feel this theme also played out before my eyes when growing up. My dear, long departed father was just not able to pick himself up after sustaining trauma in his youth and use the experiences of adversity to develop a strong backbone to take back power over his destiny. Fwiw, he was the first in his family who had to work for money and had to swallow a lot of pride in the process. Eventually, i think he decided to just give up fighting his demons and slipped into depression and alcoholism. Of course this is a choice but I also started to think that perhaps it just wasn't in his nature to do otherwise. When in my teens, i would sometimes get angry about this lack of resilience and vowed early on to really see what was going on and learn from it in order not to have to repeat something similar at one point, and, thank Goodness, so far i never have. He was a very sweet and gentle man though, and i have always respected his choice, even then. He did teach me to have respect for money though and treat it with care and diligence. So far, i've only known a few people like the characters in the books, and they are truly inspiring persons to be around. But i've also seen up close that when the drive proves mostly monetary, something dark can come in play, like the sickness of greed (see the session of 30th January 2021), which for many proves too slippery a slope (as we now get to see on daily basis in our world).

So now I purchased the Westcott series by the one and only Mary Balogh, and am 25% into Book 1 (and btw notice that Avery was also of the type who used adversity and turned it around into strength of character and backbone). Absolutely love it, there is truly something about the Mary Balogh books! I recently heard that she has a new series coming out in May 2022, Remember Love!!


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've been reading the Survivors series by Mary Balogh and finished The Escape yesterday. The three books so far where wonderful, with such profound characters who are all wounded but manage to overcome it and become whole.

The Escape is so far the one I liked the most in this series. I really enjoyed both characters a lot and I guess what touched me deeply in this book is that it is a story of reconciliation. Well, there are elements of that in almost all of this books, but I guess the particular story in this one touched me more. I think of it as a story in which you meet well-intentioned characters who messed up in one way or another because they were in pain and couldn't handle it, or because they were angry and stubborn, etc, creating ripples of effect in other people's lives that lasted through generations. And how sometimes it is possible to learn the truth about the past and get to a place of understanding that brings reconciliation.

There are other interesting bits of the story, some if which I'll put below as spoilers:

How Ben finally decides to use a wheelchair because he no longer needs to demonstrate that he can walk, after he finds his own strength and value. And how he mentions that he is actually stronger now that he can use wheelchair because of that.

How Mr. Bevan tells Samantha that one needs to love from a place of strength and that's why she and Ben still needed to be apart so that they could have time to be in that place before they decided to marry.

The courage that Samantha shows in at least hearing her grandfather story, although it shattered her own understanding of the story she had been led to believe and how, in the end, she can forgive and understand how complex life can be and how there's no evil person to blame in her particular story, as all of them seemed to have acted from a place of wanting the best, even if it wasn't really the best way.

Well, now it's time to move on to the next book in the series. :-)
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