Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

whitecoast

The Living Force
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you can update the sheet.

I have a proposal. How would people feel about updating the sheet with a column containing the general emotional themes of the novels they read? (Maybe one for “tone” as well, eg light, charming, heavy, harrowing, bittersweet). I think it could help with the novel selection, if we know there is a sensitive issue for us that we need to work on and where we may read more about characters who are struggling with similar things. People could just back-fill the themes with what they’ve already read (SPOILER FREE) or I or others could start transcribing some of the key emotional themes from comments either on this thread or from the Amazon or goodly reads reviews. 🙂
 

marek760

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Balogh has quite a repertoire. Each set/series has a theme and an atmosphere of its own. One book of hers that was just shocking and horribly grim in the events described was "The Secret Pearl." I don't think it's part of a series, but it sure laid out the tragic aspects of life in a bald way and I was a bit surprised by that.

I read this book some time ago, it was very painful, I put the book aside a few times, I didn't want to read it any more, but I got over it and finished. Emotional rollercoster, fear and anxiety and relief at the end, I couldn't wait for the end and a happy ending.
 

Seamus

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I'm catching up on this thread but wanted to give a quick update. I've been continuing with this project and really enjoying it.

I read one of Scarlet Scott's books, Duke of Depravity, and I didn't like it nearly as much as Anne Gracie's Marry in Haste series. I thought Duke of Depravity had a lot more steamy imagery and a lot less character development so it didn't have the same kind of emotional impact on me.

After reading about the Duke I decided to try Mary Balogh and I like her writing much more than Scarlet Scott so far. I read Heartless and Silent Melody and I like both of them very much. I especially liked Luke Kendrick's and Emily Marlowe's characters.

From there I read The Temporary Wife and A Promise of Spring. I really enjoyed how Charity helped the other characters to stop avoiding each other and finally talk through their old conflicts. Perry and Grace had a really lovely relationship too and I was struck by the contrast between Perry and Gareth, that was different from any of the other books I've read.

A common theme that I've noticed in these books is that many of the interpersonal problems stem from the characters keeping secrets from each other, holding on to old wounds and not speaking openly and plainly with each other. They fall in love with each other but each partner is afraid to tell the other one so they spend half the book pining for one another worrying that their beloved will abandon them. They assume that they are damaged and unlovable and that their beloved will reject them if they find out the truth about them, but the secret drives a wedge between the two and the other person creates a narrative about what the terrible secret could be.

Knowing that the stories all have happy endings makes it easier for me to read these stories because I can relax and wonder how things will turn out in the end. I haven't had any more intense emotional releases but I have had many "ah-ha" moments while reading and I find myself thinking of some of the characters as role models in a way.

I'm going to keep reading Mary Balogh's books in series. Thanks to everyone for sharing your impressions, its been fun and informative to read through this thread.
 

3DStudent

The Living Force
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I have a proposal. How would people feel about updating the sheet with a column containing the general emotional themes of the novels they read? (Maybe one for “tone” as well, eg light, charming, heavy, harrowing, bittersweet).
I've thought of this too. Or the main lessons that the characters go through. I mean, they're sprinkled throughout this thread already, and they may have been forgotten unless you're keeping notes on each story.

As far as my reading goes, I instead moved on to a Balogh series and listened to Heartless. The most moving point was when
Luke found out his brother had actually made a sacrifice for him.
I took maybe 10 days' break and now am almost done the second book, Silent Melody.

There was a point where a lot of newer characters were introduced and/or I wasn't very engaged in listening, so I find myself wondering who they are. I think it might be helpful to make a legend of the characters, just as you would take notes for a non-fiction book.
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have a proposal. How would people feel about updating the sheet with a column containing the general emotional themes of the novels they read? (Maybe one for “tone” as well, eg light, charming, heavy, harrowing, bittersweet). I think it could help with the novel selection, if we know there is a sensitive issue for us that we need to work on and where we may read more about characters who are struggling with similar things. People could just back-fill the themes with what they’ve already read (SPOILER FREE) or I or others could start transcribing some of the key emotional themes from comments either on this thread or from the Amazon or goodly reads reviews. 🙂
If we are in agreement, we can use the sheet. I wonder, what triggers for one person may not be the same for others. Sometimes people express and others don't. I tend to use the search function ("this thread").
 

Voyageur

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Switched back from Balogh to catch Anne Gracie's The Devil Riders series.

The second book feathering Nell & Harry (and some other good characters') contained a heavy issue of unwanted or taken babies. Will not say more than that, however in keeping with that sad reality, it made me keep in context the history of those times; more than half the population with no work, little to no education, food scarcity (nothing to buy it with), violence prevalent and early death always a factor in the wealthy and more so in the poor (starvation, cold, violence, disease).

There were also the endless wars with no objectives other than slaughter (nothing changed since), and the Lords of parliament either doing what they do to help promote the status quo, or a few working as sane voices. The main characters of these books take the latter view - and move against their established conflicts of home/family, inner character state, along with the problems of political state et cetera.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
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Just finished book six of The Survivors Club Series Only A Kiss.
This one differs from the others in that Imogen is the only woman of the club. She has suffered seemingly irreparable psychological and emotional damage at the hands of the French. Balogh never really explains what it is until close to the end, when Imogen finally tells her lover Percy, what transpired. My heart really went out to her, and I was brought to tears. It was emotionally heart rendering. I felt actual compassion for her. Balogh really knows how to influence her readers' responses to her characters.
As well, there was a sub-plot which brought out the true character of the Hero in Percy, notwithstanding his aimless and dissolute lifestyle, what some toďay would call a trust fund baby. Overall, I would say this one brought a lot of subconscious feelings to the surface.
Without really getting into it, I've also noticed that the romance genre-Balogh's contribution anyway-bears a lot of resemblance to the detective genre, specifically Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, of which I happen to be a big fan. So there's some personal bias there. :cool:
 

beetlemaniac

The Living Force
A common theme that I've noticed in these books is that many of the interpersonal problems stem from the characters keeping secrets from each other, holding on to old wounds and not speaking openly and plainly with each other. They fall in love with each other but each partner is afraid to tell the other one so they spend half the book pining for one another worrying that their beloved will abandon them. They assume that they are damaged and unlovable and that their beloved will reject them if they find out the truth about them, but the secret drives a wedge between the two and the other person creates a narrative about what the terrible secret could be.
Thanks Seamas. It's really a good reminder about how as simple as the saying is, most of the time honesty is the best policy, or so I think. If we find some things we have done or thought about distasteful or liable to bring ire on our heads from another (significant or otherwise), it could be looked at as a chance to learn something about ourselves and the other, rather than one more skeleton to leave in the closet. It's giving the darkness what it asks for, the light, within yourself. If others want to keep that darkness within them, it's their prerogative and we can't do anything about but only be a kind and compassionate presence as required.

Don't know if what I'm saying is relevant, but it also reminds me of the experience of 'impostor syndrome' in the context of work where one is fearful of being outed as a charlatan or a fraud due to an excessively low esteem of one's skills, knowledge and abilities. It's like hiding your talents for too long tends to create this effect, perhaps? It reminds me of the Bible's parable of the Talents, where one who uses his talents, multiples them, and one who buries them, even loses what he has. So that would practically mean in a work environment: share knowledge and experience whenever you can?

Just some thoughts, listening to Anne Gracie's Marry in Haste, noticing that I blank out on sentences and have to double back. I need to be more attentive. Also reading the preview of the second book on the back pages of the 1st book in the Courting Julia series.
 

987baz

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Just finished the first book of the Merridew series (The Perfect Rake) by Anne Gracie after reading Courting Julia by Balogh.

I prefer Balogh over Anne Campbell and I like Gracie's style of writing so far, I haven't had any major epiphanies with any of the material, but there does seem to be some subtleties going on subconsciously. I kind of look at this project like a blueprint for what is possible if two people decide to allow them selves to be vulnerable and honest with each other, as well a lesson in how the other sex's mind works.

I've written a song, which is due to be released in a few days, called complementarity, which is based on how I think a partnership will last and prove to be immensely rewarding and help both partners grow. I started writing this song before we began this experiment, and, uncannily it's sentiments are very similar. I wrote the second half of the lyrics (it's a 10 minute song) after being inspired by the comments and feedback on this thread, so many thanks to everyone for the inspiration.
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I just finished "Potent Pleasure", and damn it ...! this guy would have deserved slaps. It would not have been "suitable" of course, nor even allowed for a bride in the aristocracy of that time. But still...
I too finished Potent pleasures. What these guys are doing was impulsive, arrogant, violent, and repeated screwup's.:headbash: It is a miracle that women are patient and understanding to let it go.
It is ridiculous that charlotte has to recreate the original scene to remind him of the screwup of his memory to close the episode
Eloisa james seem to give more importance to the story, than other authors (in our list )who gives more importance to healing and internal dialog.
 

Laura

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I too finished Potent pleasures. What these guys are doing was impulsive, arrogant, violent, and repeated screwup's.:headbash: It is a miracle that women are patient and understanding to let it go.
It is ridiculous that charlotte has to recreate the original scene to remind him of the screwup of his memory to close the episode
Eloisa james seem to give more importance to the story, than other authors (in our list )who gives more importance to healing and internal dialog.

What just staggered me was that, once he realized - or was shown - what a complete horrible person he had been, he didn't see fit to really feel the horror of what he had done to her. Impulsive, arrogant and violent is right and he deserved to have to suffer the realization of his meanness and the errors of his assumptions in a more graphic way. I don't mind that she forgave him, but darn, he should have had to beg for it.
 

KTC

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I’ve just finished The Huxtable Family series by Balogh. I preferred these books to Anne Gracies The Marriage of Convenience series because they were more empowering For the female characters.

This is the second series I’ve completed and I’m finding these books a great end of day read instead of my usual more conventional choices.

I’ve got other books on the go - Gurdjieff and Polyvagal Nerve Theory so I read them during the day and save the romance novels for the evening - often saying to myself “just one more chapter” 😂 a few times over.

I’ll read another Balogh series starting tonight, The Survivors Club and then move on to a new author.

The Huxtable Family series depicts to me the strength in family support and the importance of being true to yourself. Each book has a similar theme of the main characters falling in love unexpectedly, marrying under unusual circumstances and pulling through with the support of family. It all reads like a bed of roses when I reflect but when I’m reading the story it makes perfect sense that families would support one another despite what society judges as the norm.
 
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Alana

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I finished Mary Balogh's The Gilded Web last night, and what can I say... I don't feel like reading another book for a long time. It is my favorite so far, by far. The way Balogh describes her characters and their internal world, what they were going through, their programs and introjects, helped me sympathize and identify so much with their struggles. I really loved Alexandra and Edmund, and their growing connection, which at times felt so very fragile. Their shedding of fears and programming to bring them to see reality, themselves and each other was a worthwhile journey, imo.

All other stories and characters I read before them in these romance novels just went puff... they disappeared in the background as 2-dimensional characters, only these two remained real in my mind.

And though I did get focused on the two main characters, Balogh didn't. She gave a lot of time and depth to her secondary characters as well, which was also refreshing compared to the other novels.

What a writer, what a story! I highly recommend it. With the warning that one might experience tears of pain and tears of joy, and lose some precious sleep.
 

Seamus

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I finished Mary Balogh's The Gilded Web last night, and what can I say... I don't feel like reading another book for a long time. It is my favorite so far, by far. The way Balogh describes her characters and their internal world, what they were going through, their programs and introjects, helped me sympathize and identify so much with their struggles. I really loved Alexandra and Edmund, and their growing connection, which at times felt so very fragile. Their shedding of fears and programming to bring them to see reality, themselves and each other was a worthwhile journey, imo.

All other stories and characters I read before them in these romance novels just went puff... they disappeared in the background as 2-dimensional characters, only these two remained real in my mind.

And though I did get focused on the two main characters, Balogh didn't. She gave a lot of time and depth to her secondary characters as well, which was also refreshing compared to the other novels.

What a writer, what a story! I highly recommend it. With the warning that one might experience tears of pain and tears of joy, and lose some precious sleep.
That's the next book on my reading list and now I'm really looking forward to it!
 
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