Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

I finished Anne Gracie's Marry in Scandal (book 2). Between the 2 books, I've gotten misty eyed here and there, but my strongest emotion so far has been when Lily was abducted for basically sex trafficking. I didn't want to continue with the book, though after a short pause I did. There's happily ever after awaiting at the end.

I thought it was funny when the newly married Cal was surprised that he had a lust for his wife. I thought shouldn't every husband lust after his new wife?

There should be a large amount of sexual attraction between husband and wife, maybe an obvious point. If there isn't, that's a sign not to get married. Cal and Em did, and Ned and Lily did, before getting married.

But Ned really should've taken off his clothes before giving Lily her first time with sex.

My wife is on the waitlist for the Merridew Sisters, and I'm wishing there's an audiobook version. It's probably not a coincidence that our previously good marital relations has gotten a turbocharge.
How about reading these novels as a husband and man instead of a healthcare professional, while being aware that your training may have primed you in a certain way? Just observe your reactions and keep reading?

These novels also teach us about ourselves, our buffers, our unwillingness to 'go there' where the going is difficult, the narratives we tell ourselves and so on.

Thanks Mariama for this wise advice. I hope over time I can clear the professional motif towards sexual interactions however, It is well entrenched and may take months of reading to wear it down. :-)

What I have notice since starting this exercise is that my dream encounters with enticing females has evolved toward conversations about what they want which is a very interesting evolution of my dreamself. The dreams are now very wholesome! 🥰
I know everybody is busy reading, and that is good; but don't forget to check in here on the forum, follow the threads that interest you, and put your reading observations here. This is not a totally solitary activity! Staying "in tune" with one another is important!
I'm still skimming the posts in this thread, it's too easy to see someone referring to a book I haven't listened to yet, and although many have been good about disguising the spoilers, just reading a offhand comment about when X did Y with Z is like BOOM! ;-) But I guess you can't have a proper discussion with vague generalities, and there really are too many books to have a thread for each one, so I'll come back and read more closely when I've finished all the ones available on audiobooks.

I prefer reading text though, the emotions that characters are going through just shine way more than just listening to narration. I think I'm a lot more lazy when it comes to comprehending spoken word than written, which is a danger because of subconscious effects of the information that is delivered to the brain without any critical distance, so more psychic hygiene also required on that front.
I, on the other hand, prefer the narration. It's so much more lifelike and engaging to hear the words of dialogue spoken/acted aloud with the accents and emotions of the characters, as if you are in the room with them, hiding unseen behind a curtain, caught up in the story. Although so far I think the narrator of the two Mackenzie books I've finished has done the best job of it. Black text on paper seems so flat and lifeless in comparison. The only drawback to audiobooks is it takes so much longer to get through them, I think Marry In Haste was over 12 hours long!!!
The difference with regard to the quote is that in the book, this love does change the circumstances while in the situation Etty Hillesum found herself, much less could be done, though she still managed to make peace with her parents in a concentration camp.
From her "Letters from Westerbork" a concentration camp where people from there were ship to death camps, she helped, really helped people specially kids. In little gestures and with her attitude she specially helped with love in those days. That did not change anything in the material plan but in another realm, the realm of compassion. Many critics say that she was a sort of saint, and her diary and letters can be read as if you read Saint Augustin or any Stoic. Few of us can be like her, a really STO. I am always astounded when I read her.

There is compassion in the romantic books also, and help to others. The concentration camps and Etty is really without comparaison with the books we read. But what Cesar said in the C's session reminded me this extraordinary girl.
jhonny said:
[...] I felt somenthing "weird", sort of serotonin boost; I had been puting off a change I wanted to do in my house, and suddenly I knew what I wanted, this happened right after I finished the book. I didn't dare to share it here, because I thought this was a bit silly or simply wishfull thinking, but after reading other posts, this started to make sense.

I experienced something like this after finishing 7 Nights in a Rogue's Bed. An emotional reset or restore that feels like a serotonin boost. And I had been wondering what colours to repaint my room for some time, and the answer came to me while reading this book. I knew the instance I saw the shade - or shades rather as there are 2 colours involved.

jhonny said:
In other words this reading has been very "refreshing" in these times of (postmodern) madness

Yes, this reading has been refreshing. It is definitely helping to process, resolve and move or integrate on emotional and possibly deeper levels.
I can't remember the exact session, but it had something to do with westernized men completely quitting relationships with women because it just wasn't worth the trouble. (Something along those lines).

I've actually seen women slapping other women down in social media for being "unrealistic" and they laughed at them for being single because of their long list of demands, which, if reversed, they couldn't satisfy themselves. It's obviously a western disease.

But these are not real thinking women (or men for that matter). It's definitely emotional.
For confirmation of this check out most of the womens' profiles and what they are looking for in a male partner in any dating site.
Hi Everyone,

Thank you Laura for starting this thread ... I haven't read it in its entirety yet ... only 2 or 3 pages in at this point but am really enjoying it.

The idea that there can be learning from this type of experience ... reading ... and then knowledge application/utilization from the inspired vicariously lived experience gained from the novel makes perfect sense to me. I am a slow and intense reader but am inspired to get with this program and read some of these books .... which are totally not the kinds of books I would normally read.

I wanted to share a recent experience with forum members that is in alignment with this topic. I recently made notes to myself after watching Divergent with my wife. At the time, the movie experience inspired me to seek to imagine my own journey in a new way.

I wrote:

Remember Divergent

Imagine being brave and carrying the knowledge/faith of what I am so that I may be courageous and steadfast in my work endeavors/disciplines .... where I'm unafraid of death and failure. Knowing that I am eternal can be one and the same with knowing God and thereby allowing the fear to drop away. It minimizes the second guessing/wallowing and discouragement that life should be anything other than what it is. See my work/life/how I spend my time/ ... as my life’s mission and see it as heroic as in the movies, as in the dreams I have had where I rely on my resourcefulness to find a solution or the right path. Like when I improvise with what I have and find bits and bobs laying around to do some job. Or how I know it will work out and yet I don’t know how. That excited knowing/feeling that guides me out of a tight spot and simultaneously makes me feel accomplished and good about myself.

See myself and my actions as similar to the brave actions in "Divergent" where I act powerfully and decisively towards my calling. Pray for guidance so I remember to stay conscious such that I demand of myself smart usage of my time but see it as a fun adventure where one gets excited about the tight spots one will have to figure out.

This little writing to myself has helped me in my rather mundane day to day actions as it's fun for me to practice living in this way. It helps me bring a new energy to what I am doing.
The more of these books I read, the more St. Paul comes to mind, especially "The Model" summerized here, and some of things from the book Paul's Necessary Sin, although St. Paul obviously goes much deeper than the romantic literature.

Specifically, when looking at the main protagonists in the Mackenzie series, at first we find them in a state of selfishness, deadness, sin (separate assertivness in the individual). They are then eventually brought out of this state by being "struck" by something they see in the person they are attracted to.

As Engberg-Pedersen puts it, this process is "a move away FROM an identification of the self with itself as a bodily, individual being, VIA an identification with something outside the self, and TO a perspective shared with and also directed towards others, a perspective that will then also issue immediately in practice."

It's not exactly clear what the thing that they are "struck" with is. There is mention of longing, love, desire, bonding, connection. But whatever the case, it obviously serves as an impetus for a serious change of being. In the Mackenzie series the male heroes carry a lot of baggage (one has Asperger's, the other is a recovering alcoholic, yet another is a manipulative person bent on attaining political power, and all of them were abused by their father, and so on...). I mean, that's a lot of baggage to give up, and a big chunk of their personality has to be sacrificed.

So what is that thing which can so fundamentally change how I see myself? "X".

The "X" pole is something higher and external to "I". For Paul, this is Christ and God. For the Stoics, it is reason and God (keeping in mind that the Stoic God didn't have much in common with the Jewish God). But even though it is external to us from our perspective at the "I" pole, it's related to us in some fundamental way as well, because we can come to identify with it. These relationships and interactions are represented by the arrows between "I" and "X". In "X->I", the individual at "I" is somehow "struck" by "X". In "I->X", we stretch up toward "X", to the extent that we come to identify with it and see our "self" as belonging to it, and it as belonging to us. We cease to see ourselves as "I", and become "X" instead.
Good morning,
I just finished 'The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie'.... what an adventure! Old fashioned and up-to-date at the same time.
It really holds suspense although Violet with her PTBS made me a lil' inpatient towards the end because it took her sooo long to fully trust Daniel. But it was wonderful to see how Daniel restrained himself to give her all the time in the world. Wonderful!

I still feel highly energetic, still have time off and now will be back to oiling the wood floor, get more paint for the walls and I changed some furniture arrangements at 1am at night. So the boost must be lived and off I am. ;-D
I´m on the 8th book of "The 1797 Series". Oh boy, they are excellent!!!

The books are not very big, kindle says around 3:30-4:00 hours reading time.
For me it takes a bit longer but I manage to read one book in cca 1-2 days - whenever I have a brake I can´t help but to read a few pages more, until I relax in the evening and sink in the book. I cuddle in a blanket and travel to England after day of work and I´m totally enjoying this....
Weekends are my prime time when I read almost a book pro day since kids are either visiting some friends or some of their friends are at our place and they don´t look twice in my direction. 😅 I have a place at my balcony, enjoy fresh air and read.

I´ve also noticed that less and less I´m worried about current world events. The only problem is that when I read, I forget to pay attention to myself and my emotions. I get so carried away by the events and the characters so I feel "their" feelings and not paying attention to my own.

Books are page turners, every one has totally different story and plot; so far my favorites are: "The Broken Duke", "The Undercover Duke" and "The Duke of Hearts".
Since these are not mystery/detective novels, it is pretty easy to guess who are the villains in the story, but I´m always interested in how it will roll out in the end.

And I really like the male characters, The Dukes. All broken by difficult childhood, all torn between their love and duty.
Even if their behavior is sometimes borderline at the beginning, they all have that big sense of duty, respect and honor that is just astonishing.
I really like this description of men, gentlemen to be correct, because that is exactly what they are.

I can´t wait to see what author has prepared for Richard and if Lizzie will get her happy ending as well.... :read:
After finishing the excellent series "Sons of Sin", then "Heartless" by Mary Balogh which made me tear a few tears in my eyes during some moving joyful passages, I have just finished "The Perfect Rake" by Anne Gracie.
A real breath of fresh air!
It's a smile on my face during the most of the book, and with plenty of laughs that I happily devoured the book. And it feels good !!
The character of Jules (I think it's Gideon in English?) who spends his time joking, but remains serious and admirable in his actions, is exemplary and a model to follow in my eyes.

My emotions have never been so heightened since I am reading these books.
I have never read so much in such a short time. It reads so easily, and it's ultimately so captivating that I abandon the movies and tv series I had planned to see.

I am going immediately to find the Merridew sisters again!
I'm not up to date here and have mostly read pockets of the thread pages. I don't mind the spoilers, since I am likely to forget them by the time I come to the books, and can only realistically listen to about 3 a month.

I finished 7 Nights in a Rogue's Bed the other week. I only really started getting interested in the story and characters maybe in the last third of the book. I resonate more with Jonas, as he was more clearly wounded. Couldn't really relate to Sidonie. I wonder when/if I will feel more for the female character and what that will be like.

There were some brief instances of emotional activation when I would think about my past as relating to the dynamic in the book. Sort of like when you read a personal thread on the forum and see how you have similar aspects of someone's issue.

Also wanted to mention maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago I was catching up on this thread and read a few pages one night. I was able to, even before having listened to the first book, look at my past and see how and why I have developed my attitudes to relationships. And some early programming and that sort of thing. It was an "a-ha" period of reflection that helped to understand myself. Without going into details, I understand more why I tend to think the Universe is a dangerous place and it's not good to get close to people because they may hurt you.
I have finally hopped on this fast moving train. Lord Ian Mackenzie book done and dusted in short order. Got hooked like my teenager son on Instagram. Like most male here i was a little hesitant at first,however, i found out how importtant these books were for us so i dashed to Amazon.

What we are going through appears as if we have graduated from university but have to return in order to complete some new courses so our qualification can be brought up to date or be more recognizable.

Jennifer Ashley is an award winning arthur this first book is fantastic.If you need know how to grow in love dont let this book pass.
You are right. Today sex is vulgar, gratuitus. In the novels is different. First of all the scenes are not vulgar at all but view from respect not just of the characters but of the bodies also. The bodies express emotion, warm, confort. The erotic scenes are also part of a relation, a relation with understanding, a moment of intimacy, something that lacks these days. And we can see a woman and a man doing something that is natural in harmony and pleasure. It is not ugly and it is not bestial. It is mental and physical at the same time.
What more can i add,you hit the nail fully in the head. Happy reading.
Quick check-in. I am on book three in Sons of Sins series and finding these stories to be getting better and better. I am liking how Richard is treating Genevieve and how she is responding back to him - strong healthy chemistry. Only 100 pages remain and with Covid lockdown extending by another 6 weeks, I should be able to finish the series and get started on others. Thank you very much for these books recommendation - they have been proving very good distractions in building up the mental reserves because I have been under a lot of attack recently from dealing with people at work.
I finished reading Grace Burrowses'sThe Duke's Disaster. I had to get used to her writing style TBH, it wasn't as captivating as the "Marriage of Convenience" series, so it took me a while to warm up to the story.
As others have said before me these romantic novels are not just about relationships and romance, for instance they deal with the loss of parents at an early age, taking care of one's siblings, while making sacrifices, dysfunctional families, alcoholism, sexual assault on women who find themselves in an inferior position, in other words real life suffering. The author doesn't shy away from the topic of rape and its aftermath, either. The main character has serious trust issues and assumes the worst in many a situation, because she hasn't been able to process her traumas, but with the help of her husband she learns to break down her barriers. It is interesting that her husband gifts her a knife and teaches Thea how to use it, engaging her in physical exercise and thereby unleashing her stuck energies caused by trauma the way Peter Levine described In An Unspoken Voice. So, it's not so much about her feeling safe, because she carries a knife at all times, but rather her becoming proactive and learning how to wield it, giving her a sense of autonomy and strength. Or as Jordan Peterson would say: she's developing her inner monster in a constructive manner. :-) That's how I see it anyway.
I have now started reading Anna Campbell's Untouched. The main characters find themselves in circumstances that are pretty extreme, but I can see where the author is going with this. I can't say much about the novel ATM, but it seems to be centred on learning to trust one another, despite the trauma and the serious crimes that are being committed against the man and woman in the story. So, instead of being divided they have to learn how to unite and bundle their strengths in order to get out of that situation, which is as Arwenn mentioned a hero's journey and could be archetypal as Chu said.
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