Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Voyageur

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Meant to take the time last year to make a list - not of books, however related to some of the places read in these books; the periods, and much much earlier periods; castles, estates, "kings, queens, rogues, rebels, victims and villains" etc. Much of it was pretty awful, and some quite interesting. Some may also know all this history very well (as much as can be made of it), and may have even been to these places or live near them. There may be surprises for some, or there may be other sides of the history to tell that is not told.

The guy who put together these less than an hour long documentaries, is a historian by the name of Dan Jones (popular in the UK?) This is a two season series called Secrets of Great British Castles. Here is the Netflix link, and the rest are split between YouTube and daily motion (not all were full versions on YouTube (trailers), so went to daily motion, too - there are three below in bold that I can't seem to find full versions) if interested:
1657511773892.jpegSecrets of Great British Castles - Historian Dan Jones explores the turbulent history behind twelve of Britain’s most famous castles. Behind the walls of these celebrated strongholds are stories of intrigue, drama, romance, rebellion, and murder. Dan Jones recounts some of the many classic tales from 1000 years of British history, featuring a stellar cast of kings, queens, rogues, rebels, victims and villains.
Series 1: Dover, the Tower of London, Warwick, Caernarfon, Stirling and Carrickfergus. Series 2: Edinburgh Castle, CARDIFF, York, Leeds, Lancaster, Arundel.

Secrets Of Great British Castles:

Carrickfergus


Caernarfon


Edinburgh


Tower of London


Dover


Warwick (dailymotion)

Secrets Of Great British Castles S1E3 – Warwick (S1E3) - Dailymotion Video

Leeds (dailymotion)

Secrets of Great British Castles S02E05 - Dailymotion Video

Sterling (dailymotion)

Secrets Of Great British Castles Series 1 5of5 Stirling Castle 720p - Dailymotion Video
 

jess

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Especial so connecting them with other works read offered here on the forum - kind of all combine to make one reflect and think. Past memories of self and others can really open up.
Hi Voyageur, if you have a chance of time, could you mention some of the readings you mention? i.e., if I understood correctly, you mean readings related to past memories and others.
Yes, I still have a lot to read, I have a lot books pending to read, among others the recommended novels of this thread, I would like to go back to the novels of Mary Balog, but if you tell me about these other readings it would be very good to have them in tentative for the best opportunity to review them.
thanks
 

Deliverance

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Hello,
After the plunge into the sweet, supportive Bridgerton family (Julia Quinn), I went from being comfortable to uncomfortable with the Merridew series (Anna Gracie).
The reinforced reality of the need to free myself.

I stayed with Anna Gracie for 2 Devil Riders, to see how much and how I am triggered on my need for trust and my injuries of humiliation.
Then I met with the osteopath who gave me feedback on the latter -related to the pancreas.

I needed a break and turned to Madeline Hunter's Rothwell Brothers.
Perhaps the ease of adapting and navigating in harmony, even in my discomfort?

I had previously enjoyed the in-between as an unstable but searchable place. It's still relevant today.
And it goes with Current Events in disarray: truth seems a conquest that makes one vulnerable, but faith then is an added shine.
Laura had mentioned, I think, about accumulating romances, I can see better how the mosaic settles here in the inner movements
Thanks for reading ;-)

Bonjour,
Après le plongeon dans la douce famille solidaire Bridgerton (Julia Quinn), je suis passée de l’aise au malaise avec la série Merridew (Anna Gracie).
La réalité appuyée du besoin de me libérer.

Je suis restée avec Anna Gracie pour 2 Devil Riders, pour voir combien et comment je suis déclenchée sur mon besoin de confiance et mes blessures d’humiliation.
Puis j’ai rencontré l’ostéopathe qui m’a fait un retour sur ce dernier -en lien avec le pancréas.

J’avais besoin d’une pause et j’ai abordé les Rothwell Brothers de Madeline Hunter.
Peut-être l’aisance à s’adapter et naviguer en harmonie, même dans mon malaise ?

J’avais déjà apprécié l’entre-deux comme un endroit instable mais à rechercher. C’est encore d’actualité.
Et cela va avec l’Actualité en désorganisation : la vérité semble une conquête qui rend vulnérable, mais la foi alors est une brillance ajoutée.
Laura avait mentionné, je crois, qu’il fallait accumuler les romances, je vois mieux comment la mosaïque s’installe ici dans les mouvements intérieurs
Merci pour la lecture ;-)
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
 

cassandra

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Just been released:


The handsome and charismatic Earl of Stratton, Caleb Ware, has been exposed to the ton for his clandestine affairs—by his own son.

As a child, Devlin Ware thought his family stood for all that was right and good in the world. They were kind, gracious, and shared the beauty of Ravenwood, their grand country estate, by hosting lavish parties for the entire countryside. But at twenty-two, he discovered his whole world was an elaborate illusion, and when Devlin publicly called his family to account for it, he was exiled as a traitor.

So be it. He enlisted in the fight against Napoleon and didn’t look back for six years. But now his father is dead, the Ware family is broken, and as the heir he is being called home. It’s only when Gwyneth Rhys—the woman he loved and then lost after his family banished him—holds out her hand to help him that he is able make the difficult journey and try to piece together his fractured family.

It is Gwyneth’s loyalty, patience, and love that he needs. But is Devlin’s war-hardened heart even capable of offering her love in return?
 

Voyageur

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Hi@ Voyageur, if you have a chance of time, could you mention some of the readings you mention? i.e., if I understood correctly, you mean readings related to past memories and others.

Hi jess. It would be a big list (much found in the Forums recommended book list), however anything to do with cognitive sciences - the what makes a person tick and why they may do things or not do things, or what one sees others doing (take for instance The Narcissistic Family - by the Pressman's) - what may compel them. Not limited to these books, would even be books that Laura has written herself, or even something like The Life Beyond the Veil may offer something. So many possibilities. With the Romance books, cross referencing as you read can help look at triggers, linking them with all sorts of childhood and adulthood thinking and experiences.

Yes, I still have a lot to read...

Yeah, going back to what Laura originally said, it can take a great deal of reading to uncover what there is to be revealed to self, in self - and in others. And I think I've referenced this before - take Balogh's vast writings (and others), so a hundred books introduces you to two hundred main characters (at odds, in love), and with other characters in the books it becomes a thousands etc. All the characters and their individual thoughts and actions are bound to spotlight memories, fears, joys - experiences in similar emotional ways, perhaps subconsciously or even past life possibilities may influence. With the latter, and I don't know; take stories of war and the great suffering that results from them, these may be burned deep inside the reader from experience outside of time, from another time.

More recently, while reading T. C. Lethbridge, he makes the point of things (could be objects, certainly sounds) that can powerfully hit a person in an instance (some sort of energy-magnetism), and seem to evoke some sort of transportation of mind from outside time and space, as he says, linking to what might be collectively known and felt from long ago. Sounds will be different for each individual (even reading words put together have their effect), and in this sense, these stories may also seem to transport, even momentarily, to some place or understanding that an individual may not be aware had been deeply buried inside.

Hope this helps to answer, if understood what you were getting at.
 

Alejo

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Hi guys,

I have just finished making my way through The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley, this is book 4 in the McKenzie series. The book itself followed the McKenzie's template, there's a story that is transversed with a heavy crisis that is overcome and a new chapter begins for the main characters. I will be including some ideas that caught my attention in the spoiler section.

Jennifer Ashley teases her next story in her books, and so in the last book she mentioned the title characters for this one. The McKenzie's oldest Hart, Duke of Killmorgen, and Elenor are the central characters of this story.

They had been an item before, but Harts arrogant desire for control, and inability to be honest, ended up causing her to push him away, he never really got over her and spent years trying to move on from having lost her. After Ian, the mad Ian McKezie, sets up a scheme to bring them together, they team up to uncover a "blackmail attempt" on Hart, who is going for the office of prime minister, and their love re ignites.

The story itself hinges upon honesty, control, and intimacy. There are also the repeating theme of inheriting the traits of their father, and. how truth liberates them from such a destiny.

In all the four cases for the McKenzie brothers, there's an underlying fear that they will turn as their father, or at least embody one of his character traits, and it is always through their daring to push past the fear, with the help of their objects of devotion in the shape of their wives, that they realize that their fears were real, but unfounded, that is, they weren't reality.

And that's an interesting idea I think, our fears, whatever they may be are real. We really feel how we feel, but their reality is another question entirely. And I think it's something to navigate carefully, the real vs reality of our feelings, it doesn't have to be a fear, it could also be an illusion, infatuation, jealousy, excitement.

We may feel a certain way, positive or negative, and that ought to be acknowledge if we hope to face it, but it may not correspond to reality. And it takes a lot of will power to get to that point. All of the McKenzies had to undergo that very transformation.

In Hart's case, it was very clearly depicted as a descent into hell, almost quite literally. After an attempt on his life tears a whole in the ground beneath him, he falls into a dark pit of the sewers of London. He had to face himself there, he had to face his father, he had to face an existence with none of the power of one looking to become prime minister.

As in some of the shamanic visions described elsewhere, he was quite literally stripped to the bone, no power or influence, no riches, not even his sight was there to help him out. He was alone against himself, surrounded by filth, with only one saving grace.. honesty, in the same of his brother Ian, more on that later.

That was quite an effective way to depict what life throws at us sometimes, these disintegrative proceses that have the power to level our lives, where we realize there's nothing we can do to stop the onslaught of events, no matter how much we want to, or how unfair it may seem.

For Hart, it was the realization of the world carrying on spinning despite his absence. Destiny force his had to let loose of the reins that he constantly held on anything he had influence over.

And how many of us have that tendency, maybe self important tendency, to believe that without us the world would cease to exist, or maybe not the world, but... life. Or that without our controlling designs on events, things would fall apart.

Now, the need for control in Hart, as in most of us I daresay, comes from a wound that taught him that without it, the uncertainty of life would be too overwhelming. He had placed upon his shoulders the task of protecting not only his family, but his business, his estate, his country and the world if he could have.

As explained elsewhere, these drives for control and manipulation, may come from an unfair wound, and hurt and trauma, but if left unchecked, it'll simply turn us into whatever caused us such pain. Ironically, giving up our agency to choose, in the name of wanting to feel like we can choose over everything.

Now Ian, has one of the most interesting roles in his brother's stories. He represents honesty, truth even. He's appeared in all their stories to encourage them to bare themselves to their love interest, as the only way to create a real opportunity. Ian was the only one that was down there with Hart, and that's an interesting idea, it's as if, the only thing you may carry in your disintegration processes, or the only thing that will help you, is truth.

After Hart is found, he finally relaxes the control he taught he had on the word and his life, he bares himself to his wife Elenor, and he discovers something else. Once he let go of the attempt to control everything, he became a whole being and was accepted by his wife as the whole person that he was, not as the bright creature he portrayed.

Not as the split persons that he kept at bay form one another, the controlling cold powerful man on the one hand, and the passionate, playful and kind man on the other, never touching. After his descent into hell, he came back resembled as someone who had integrated the betters aspects of both, and built himself anew.

Elenor, was always his catalyst for change, her personality is quite lovely, always curious as the daughter of a scholar, inquisitive and daring. Someone unafraid of Hart, someone who had the way to make both of his personalities mix and merge. Someone who was able to care for him, in a way only she could.

Having access to both sides of Hart, Elenor was able to care of him by not letting him forget who he actually was. And sometimes that's all care is, not an affectionate protective act, although there was some of that for sure in their story, but a reminder of who the other is.

And this was lovely shown when Hart finally admitted to Elenor, that he wasn't able to face his monsters without her, specially his father, she reminded him that his fears were real, but not a reality, and that was enough for him to anchor himself in that reality and push through those fears.

Thanks for reading, now I will get to The Seduction of Elliot McBride
 

Voyageur

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Hi everyone,

I had finished the second book of the McKenzie series by Jennifer Ashley a little while ago, but did not get around to post about it, then weeks went by and I realized I wanted to re read it so that I may have some fresh concepts, so I picked it up once again and I am glad I did.

I had missed a few things the first time around, I will be sharing a few things on the spoiler section that I think are key to the story and that caught my attention.


So, this story was actually refreshing in the genre, usually these stories depict two strangers who meet one another, fall in love, find themselves and end up together. In the first book of the series, we met Isabella in passing, who is already married to Mac Mackenzie, but they're separated. In this book we explore their marriage, and their reconciliation.

This book was greatly about redemption, not one achieved from outside forgiveness, even though there's some of that for sure, but the redemption that one drives at by sheer will and determination. Isabella and Mac had a toxic, poorly constructed and awful dynamic as husband and wife, they went from completely besotted with one another, to distant and hurt where Mac would simply take off and leave her alone.

The entire book we see them talk things through, recognize their mistakes, recognize their hurt and the hurt of the other, express anger at the wounds received, regret at the ones conveyed and move on to the next step. And despite having been separated for three years, they're far from being completely done with working things through.

And it was interesting to see that dynamic of growing back together, because it showed that forgiveness comes from two places that dispense the same thing, honesty. It's the honesty with the other about the wounds one has, it's the honesty with the self about those same wounds, it's the honesty with the self about being the cause or the receiver of such wounds. Truth is the only thing that will get you through to redemption.

As such, forgiveness isn't really an entirely pleasant journey, but once one gets past that difficult portion of bearing one's soul, and depending on how the other responds, joy may be found, joy and peace. But it's a lot of work. I remember hearing a song years ago that said something along the lines of "Don't forget that forgiveness is a divine thing.." and it really takes a lot to forgive, and seek forgiveness, mostly because you have to get over your self.

Now, Mac had a very interesting arc in this story, he experienced the most drastic transformation of the two, and indeed he needed to. He was immature, afraid and hurtful towards Isabella, even if his feelings for her were sincere and his loyalty was solid. He had no idea who she was, and it wasn't until he lost her that he realize that she was the outlet for the beauty and creativity of his life.

He cleaned up his act, stopped drinking, and changed his friends. He even decided to learn to court his lady. He willed himself towards redemption. He lived his apology, he wasn't merely sorry... he was better than he had been before.

And there was a very interesting depiction of what it takes to really change oneself with Mac and his doppelgänger. There's a guy who is obsessed with Mac and Isabella, he impersonates him and goes around pretending to be Mac, he even resembles him physically and is a great painter, like Mac.

For some reason it made me think that a lot of the personal work that we may undertake is akin to dealing with a doppelgänger who is obsessed with stealing our lives. It's our false personalities who fight for attention and for the prime position in our existence, they look like us, talk like us and even possess some of our great qualities, our looks, our charms and talents... but they are not us, not the us that we choose to become.

And like in the story, they may come very close to actually succeeding, and killing our real selves and replacing us with a fake double. And like in the story, they may reflect back to us the rotten aspects of ourselves, aspects we ignore or refuse to see, aspects we're regretful of, aspects we're ashamed to admit.

It was a very interesting image, what if we conceived of our false selves, or aspects we are trying to master, as a doppelgänger who is attempting to steal our lives and take over the reins of our existence? I bet it could be a useful way to navigate through some of these aspects of ourselves.

Because that is how it feels like sometimes, like a stranger has taken over the reins, but the resemblance is so uncanny, that it becomes almost impossible to distinguish and determine that it isn't us. Not until we choose to change, which is also shown in the story, Mac had already changed enough and put enough effort to become someone else, that the doppelgänger, despite his following and obsession over Mac, could not be anything but a caricature of the real one.

And it works like that sometimes, when looking back and the person we used to be, it does feel like that person was such a caricature, of who we have become. So, the only way to distinguish between ourselves, and our false personalities, is to... well.. make sure that there's a distinction, and that begins by choosing who to become.

But I am extending myself I feel, In summary, it was a very nice story about redemption and what it actually takes from us to create it (and I do think it is created and not found), it's an incredible amount of effort, mostly because sometimes it means we must get rid of aspects we're deeply fond of, aspects that are deeply ingrained in our psyches. In Mac's case, it was Isabella who provided the inspiration to find himself and get rid of the false Mac, the doppelgänger, and be whole again.

Thanks for reading.
Now, on to The May Sins of Lord Cameron.

Regarding the doppelgänger - "I bet it could be a useful way to navigate through some of these aspects of ourselves."

Had not though of that at the time, yet now looking back at the story, one can see what you mean. Interesting.

Think you hit well on most all aspect of this story, and a couple of comments to add could be:

Aside from their relationship redefining itself - knowing through their turbulences that each still had deep love for the other without the other knowing, Isabella had a dynamic at her back of her family, estranged for 6 years. She had the dynamic of a constant press writing about her life and her marriage for all to see. Mac, like his other brothers (he was in the middle and an artist with a certain erotic leaning at times), suffered under his father before he had died, and he thought he could be like his father towards Isabella.
 

jess

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
Hi jess. It would be a big list (much found in the Forums recommended book list), however anything to do with cognitive sciences - the what makes a person tick and why they may do things or not do things, or what one sees others doing (take for instance The Narcissistic Family - by the Pressman's) - what may compel them. Not limited to these books, would even be books that Laura has written herself, or even something like The Life Beyond the Veil may offer something. So many possibilities. With the Romance books, cross referencing as you read can help look at triggers, linking them with all sorts of childhood and adulthood thinking and experiences.



Yeah, going back to what Laura originally said, it can take a great deal of reading to uncover what there is to be revealed to self, in self - and in others. And I think I've referenced this before - take Balogh's vast writings (and others), so a hundred books introduces you to two hundred main characters (at odds, in love), and with other characters in the books it becomes a thousands etc. All the characters and their individual thoughts and actions are bound to spotlight memories, fears, joys - experiences in similar emotional ways, perhaps subconsciously or even past life possibilities may influence. With the latter, and I don't know; take stories of war and the great suffering that results from them, these may be burned deep inside the reader from experience outside of time, from another time.

More recently, while reading T. C. Lethbridge, he makes the point of things (could be objects, certainly sounds) that can powerfully hit a person in an instance (some sort of energy-magnetism), and seem to evoke some sort of transportation of mind from outside time and space, as he says, linking to what might be collectively known and felt from long ago. Sounds will be different for each individual (even reading words put together have their effect), and in this sense, these stories may also seem to transport, even momentarily, to some place or understanding that an individual may not be aware had been deeply buried inside.

Hope this helps to answer, if understood what you were getting at.
Yes, thanks Voyageur for your comments, of course it helps, I will check it out.
It seems that there are always things to work on in oneself and everything is interconnected, and of course the knowledge of new things or information personally I have seen that it helps to remove the erroneous programs or information and ignorance that one accumulates since childhood.
Several days ago I reread the first posts of this thread, and of course it refreshes more to have clear the intention of the novels and other very interesting information.
I hope this post does not make too much noise, it's just that personally about the novels, I have not read many, maybe just a little less than 10, have made me reflect a lot about the emotional impact and the mark left inside, interpersonal relationships, couple or biological family, about how long they can stay with ourselves as a scar, not as something external that you just read, but as part of a landscape of our interior that lives in different mental times, it is complex and interesting and can also be painful or distressing, but either way it seems that it is always comforting to discover the truth, in the discovery of oneself, the complexity of which we can be conformed.
 

Alejo

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Regarding the doppelgänger - "I bet it could be a useful way to navigate through some of these aspects of ourselves."

Had not though of that at the time, yet now looking back at the story, one can see what you mean. Interesting.

Think you hit well on most all aspect of this story, and a couple of comments to add could be:

Aside from their relationship redefining itself - knowing through their turbulences that each still had deep love for the other without the other knowing, Isabella had a dynamic at her back of her family, estranged for 6 years. She had the dynamic of a constant press writing about her life and her marriage for all to see. Mac, like his other brothers (he was in the middle and an artist with a certain erotic leaning at times), suffered under his father before he had died, and he thought he could be like his father towards Isabella.

Yes, good point.. I think Jennifer Ashley ties it together on the next one in the series, specially that last point on your spoiler,
 

Windmill knight

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Several novels later I feel compelled to comment on a particular one that touched me more than the rest. It's 'Only a Kiss', book 6 of the Survivor's Club series, by Mary Balogh. The whole series is very good, actually. I have particularly enjoyed books 1 (Hugo's story) and 3 (Benedict's). But none has touched me as the 6th, which is Imogen's, and there's a massive spoiler coming, so do not click on the button unless you've already read it...

Those of you who have read it know that Imogen's particular war injury was probably the most insidious of the whole lot, as she witnessed her husband Dicky being tortured and dying. In the final chapter of the book she explains what really happened to her lover Percy, who has asked her to marry him, but she has refused due to the burden of guilt she has been carrying.

It turns out that she herself shot her husband while they were in captivity. The French soldiers had been torturing him for days, and since he wasn't 'spilling the beans', they took her into the room and threatend to rape her in his presence. She managed to grab a pistol that was lying around, but having only one bullet to make use of, she realized that the only way out for both of them was to shoot Dicky. Then she would surely be killed as well. She read in his eyes his agreement of her decision, so she killed him. But instead of killing her, the French officers took her back to the English side, and (in her words) she was punished by being allowed to live through her own personal hell. The situation is horrifying, if you think of it, it's kind of like when we read about war crimes in any of the major conflicts of the 20th century - and that's one reason it moved me so much, I think. I don't usually cry with movies or novels, but the ones I've cried the most have been war themed.

And she did live her hell. She became the 'marble lady', as Percy thought of the cold version of herself, guarding the terrible secret, guilt and pain of having killed her husband herself. For this reason, she would not allow herself to live again - except for what she thought of as a short 'vacation' by having an affair with Percy. But marry him and live happily ever after? No, she couldn't.

Well, as you can imagine, Percy finally convinces her that she is entitled to live again and be happy, that Dicky himself would have wanted her to do so, so they do marry. One common theme that these romantic novels have is that love redeems and heals. Even for people who seem hopeless, there is the possibility of the gift of redemption through love. What was particularly touching in this story was the fact that the wounds were so terrible, and in spite of that, life offered her love, and yes, she chose it too! I thought she would still carry some of that shadow inside anyway, for how could she completely forget and let go? But! she could now carry it with the help and care of someone who loved her, and that makes the whole difference. It's the miracle of love, really, that someone can be so deeply hurt, and yet be granted this gift.

One book to go - George's story. I hear it's intense too, so we'll see! :)
 

Voyageur

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But none has touched me as the 6th, which is Imogen's, and there's a massive spoiler coming, so do not click on the button unless you've already read it...

It was many books ago, yet the series was always building to Imogen's story, and you have the right of it in describing. Of all the authors and books, this story will always stand out and can understand how it touched you.
I think Jennifer Ashley ties it together on the next one in the series, specially that last point on your spoiler,

Oh boy, yes, Cameron. God good, such a very sad beginning - how could one even begin to over come.
 

Alana

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Several novels later I feel compelled to comment on a particular one that touched me more than the rest. It's 'Only a Kiss', book 6 of the Survivor's Club series, by Mary Balogh. The whole series is very good, actually. I have particularly enjoyed books 1 (Hugo's story) and 3 (Benedict's). But none has touched me as the 6th, which is Imogen's, and there's a massive spoiler coming, so do not click on the button unless you've already read it...
I'll never forget the story of Imogen either, from her perspective as you well described, but also from the perspective of her late husband. During the description of what actually happened, just recalling that one word,
"Courage!"
and all that it encompasses for both of them at that moment, I am like :cry:

And such a beautiful contrast to all the tragic tears, the character of Percy, and the people and animals that made up his household, that Balogh created, who all made me laugh to tears at times.
 

Alejo

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Several novels later I feel compelled to comment on a particular one that touched me more than the rest. It's 'Only a Kiss', book 6 of the Survivor's Club series, by Mary Balogh. The whole series is very good, actually. I have particularly enjoyed books 1 (Hugo's story) and 3 (Benedict's). But none has touched me as the 6th, which is Imogen's, and there's a massive spoiler coming, so do not click on the button unless you've already read it...

Those of you who have read it know that Imogen's particular war injury was probably the most insidious of the whole lot, as she witnessed her husband Dicky being tortured and dying. In the final chapter of the book she explains what really happened to her lover Percy, who has asked her to marry him, but she has refused due to the burden of guilt she has been carrying.

It turns out that she herself shot her husband while they were in captivity. The French soldiers had been torturing him for days, and since he wasn't 'spilling the beans', they took her into the room and threatend to rape her in his presence. She managed to grab a pistol that was lying around, but having only one bullet to make use of, she realized that the only way out for both of them was to shoot Dicky. Then she would surely be killed as well. She read in his eyes his agreement of her decision, so she killed him. But instead of killing her, the French officers took her back to the English side, and (in her words) she was punished by being allowed to live through her own personal hell. The situation is horrifying, if you think of it, it's kind of like when we read about war crimes in any of the major conflicts of the 20th century - and that's one reason it moved me so much, I think. I don't usually cry with movies or novels, but the ones I've cried the most have been war themed.

And she did live her hell. She became the 'marble lady', as Percy thought of the cold version of herself, guarding the terrible secret, guilt and pain of having killed her husband herself. For this reason, she would not allow herself to live again - except for what she thought of as a short 'vacation' by having an affair with Percy. But marry him and live happily ever after? No, she couldn't.

Well, as you can imagine, Percy finally convinces her that she is entitled to live again and be happy, that Dicky himself would have wanted her to do so, so they do marry. One common theme that these romantic novels have is that love redeems and heals. Even for people who seem hopeless, there is the possibility of the gift of redemption through love. What was particularly touching in this story was the fact that the wounds were so terrible, and in spite of that, life offered her love, and yes, she chose it too! I thought she would still carry some of that shadow inside anyway, for how could she completely forget and let go? But! she could now carry it with the help and care of someone who loved her, and that makes the whole difference. It's the miracle of love, really, that someone can be so deeply hurt, and yet be granted this gift.

One book to go - George's story. I hear it's intense too, so we'll see! :)
Oh Imogen... that was one story that will stay with me forever.

I remember something that devastated me a few years ago, putting my dog to sleep, I still remember it as the most painful night of my life, so far. And the reason was that, he trusted me with his life and I had to end it.

There were reasons for it, Medical and understandable and kind ones, even selfless ones. But the idea of betraying someone's trust, someone innocent, is incredibly difficult to accept.

I think Dante reserved the deepest level of hell for people who had betrayed another, because he considered it the worst of sins, and it seems to me that Imogen was forced into that very place, for love... that is torture that no amount of physical pain can match. That's why I think that her story was so devastatingly touching.

I daresay you're going to love Geroge's story.
 

Alejo

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Hi guys,

I have finished The Seduction of Elliot McBride by Jennifer Ashley.

It was an interesting story to get through, specially a few of the descriptions that Ashley gives on Elliot, I will be discussing a few ideas on the spoiler section below.

So, this story follows Elliot, who is Ainsley's brother, who married Cameron McKenzie, and Julianna.

Julianna is left at the altar by her fiancé because he fell in love with his piano teacher, and Elliot was there to take over, they end up marrying the same day and move in together. Through their story, several concepts are explored, some of the familiar to those who might've read the Survivor's club series by Balogh, but there were a few details that caught my attention.

Julianna and Elliot had a former story, they had feelings for one another growing up and that is the key to the resolution of their history together. However, they were separated as Elliot left for India with the army, and then stayed to make a fortune, upon his return, he finds Julianna and was determined to marry her, they do, overcome several difficulties, and their story concludes.

Elliot is someone who is deeply traumatized, in a terrible way really. The difference between the survivor's club, and Elliot McBride, is that he was forced to murder via torture, they had turned him into a weapon, they had killed almost all of his humanity, something that quite literally tore him off of his reality.

The reality that he had created, in which he was a certain kind of person, was completely swallowed by the darkness they forced upon him. Funny enough, it reminded me a bit of Star Wars, and I know.. but bare with me. Just like with Anakin and the younglings at the temple. ( I know I am going full fanboy), Elliot was forced to commit an atrocity in order for him to give up control of his being to his captors. And he was turned to the dark side, quite literally as it is explored in the novel, his condition is depicted as being unable to control the darkness that surrounded him.

And that really sunk in for me, sometimes it's beatings, sometimes it's gaslighting, sometimes it's lies and manipulation, but the most insidious way to gain control over someone's soul, is by forcing them to commit an act that goes so much against their principles, an act of such cruelty and darkness, that shame, guilt and regret overwhelm them, and their identity is completely broken.

He was unable to escape that place, and thoughts of being back there would overcome him, and he was transported there in an instant, completely disconnected from reality.

But, and this is where his history with Julianna came into play, she was the only one who could bring him out of it.. seduce him out of it, and the reason for this was that while in captivity, he kept her constantly present, never revealing her existence to anyone, as his inner light. They could destroy every other aspect of his sanity, but the light that she brought into his life, was unbreakable.

And that was a lovely idea, he even calls her at some point "life and heat" she was the warmth inside of him that would remind him of who he was before all the tragedy befell upon him. Sometimes we all need a muse, an inspiration, a source of light to carry on in the darkness of the world. Sometimes this is someone external to ourselves, sometimes it's a group of people, sometimes it's something inside of us, like the North Star. And every now and then, I think it would be a good idea to identify it.

The idea of forgiveness is also explored, Stacey, the person who betrayed Elliot and thus lead to his capture, makes an appearance, he asks for forgiveness, and Elliot initially refuses, but it's not until he realizes what it feels to have found peace with Julianna, that he didn't make the decision to forgive Stacey, part of overcoming the wounds of our past, however traumatic, is to let go of the guilt we bestow upon someone else.

Releasing someone of guilt, is also releasing ourselves.

Now, Julianna goes through an interesting process, which reminded me of the book by McGillchirst, she is shown as someone deeply organized, constantly making lists, taking over the fixing of the old house that Elliot purchased, and even takes a similar approach with Elliot, making a list of steps to "fix" him.

She discovers that she can't, she discovers that sometimes the best help isn't to fix someone, but to be there for them, it has a lot more impact. Fixing someone is a self centered act that places a judgement on someone else for not living up to our standards or wishes.

And not that she had any ill feelings towards Elliot, she was simply that organized in her way to see the world, or rather, the world she created through her mental relationship with it, was one that simply needed to be organized and categorized. The trouble was that she could run the risk of missing her actual impact on his life, and becoming cold and hell bent on results.

The last scene of the book is the one that reminded me of McGillchrist, Elliot decides to take Julianna out in an unplanned, unstructured walk through their property, something that she protests about, but once they reach the place that Elliot took her to, she realizes that he actually had planned it all along.

And that's a good way to look at our mentation and behavior, it's not that we ought to be completely spontaneous and flexible, or completely rigid and organized, but a proper balancing of both approaches is the best way to use all of the resources at our disposal to navigate life successfully, specially the difficult times.

It's the best way to combine both the disciplined growth and organic flow of life, you can't grow from your current position without determination, or discipline, but you will only grow in a single direction if you don't allow yourself to be flexible, and without this flexibility, life events are more likely to make you tumble and break you.

Thanks a bunch for reading!
I will be taking a bit of a break from romance while I get through The Master and his Emissary, I just picked it up and it's a very interesting read.
 
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