Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Mari

Jedi Council Member
I´ve finished with Mackenzies & McBrides Series by Jennifer Ashley.
Mackenzies & McBrides Series by Jennifer Ashley

I started the series sometime around Christmas and after more than a month with this family, I can say I´ll really miss them.

I loved them! I enjoyed the stories very much: plots, mysteries and the characters.
I laugh and cried, worry and despair.
Such horrible destinies that all of them had to face and still remain human - the books are a display of survival of the spirit and love.

Each of the 16 books deals with different persons' personalities and I loved how Ashley managed to get the right bride personality for each of the brothers - strong women for strong men.

The story of Malcolm "The Stolen Mackenzie Bride" was for me the best in the series.
I´ve read around 70 of these romance books and there were watery eyes and some running nose, but full blown sobbing happened only 2 times so far: when reading "Devil's Web" and now when reading "The Stolen Mackenzie Bride" - more about that in spoiler.

Malcolm is my overall favorite character - his courage, compassion, sense of responsibility, strong will and intelligence mixed with his romantic soul.

From other male characters I liked most:
- Mac for his commitment to actually change himself in order to become a better person for himself and Isabella. I also liked his bright and witty nature.
- Daniel for his intelligence and non-conventional way of thinking, blended with his kind soul and his bright persona

From female characters I liked most Eleonor and Isabella for their strong will and courage to follow the path they´ve chosen.
I also liked Mary and Bertie for their intelligence in dealing with a very difficult life and all done with humor, strength and care.
And I especially enjoyed how Eleonor and Bertie were handling Hart and Sinclair - both men so crude and serious.

"The Seduction Of Elliot McBride'' was the heaviest book dealing with the heavy case of PTSP and my heart ached for Eliot.

Usually I see characters in the books as playing in my head, but it happened many times, especially with Malcolm, like I was actually looking through their eyes.

...now to the spoilers...

"The Stolen Mackenzie Bride" was a mess of love caught in the middle of a war and heavy casualties.
As from the beginning of the book it was clear that Malcolm was the youngest son, in a long line to inherit, and I was preparing to see his brothers die as the story will go on.
And yes, first Agnus died but then I was reading about the death of Duncan and how their father was forced to shoot his beloved son, I was sobbing through that entire part of the book. It was just a horrible thing to read, and so real in my head that I couldn´t hold back the sobs.
And then to think that after 3-4 generations Hart was also forced to kill his psychopathic father, it just colds the blood - the terrible destinies and stories...
What a weird mixture of genetics occurred in Hart's father, heaven knows.... When his ancestors and sons are actually decent human beings.


I admired both Eleonor and Isabella for walking away from the love of their lives. Each had her reasons, and were right about them, and I find them strong and brave for doing that.

I also understood Will, feeling as a "spare", how low he valued his life, and that pushed him to risk his life for family. It was also a nice touch in the final book, when came his great-...-granddaughter, also quite brave of her to cross the ocean alone to find her long lost roots.


Now I´m moving to highly recommended books from Balogh:
A Christmas Bride / Christmas Beau
A Counterfeit Betrothal / The Notorious Rake

Tangled is not available in Kindle format so I'll skip it for now.....
Also I don't get why on Amazon.com book is 25,40$ while on Amazon.de is 79€!!!!
 

Tauriel

Jedi Master
I hear you! Just finished Balogh's Web series, and boy... I had read 10 or so Baloghs before, but these, I found SO much better! Deeper, the stories all related, the struggles depicted with such complexity, pain and beauty... They brought a lot of emotions up and almost forgotten memories, etc. I caught myself feeling "raw" a few times, for lack of a better word.
Same here...

Before I've read the Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn including the prequels and had some good laughs, more than tears at least.
I liked Penelope's and Colin's story 'Romancing Mr. Bridgerton' best. It was very heart warming with great characters. The last 4 books of the series I thought to be weaker and not so compelling.

I procrastinated for a while to read Balogh's webs series because it has been said here that the series provides quite some emotional rollercoaster and I found that to be true.
In the last one, 'The Devil's Web', Madeline and James gave me a really hard time and I often found myself angry or eye rolling. The suspense was kept up right until the end with only short descriptions of the happily-ever-after.
Anyway the web series stirred a lot of emotions and I feel as if I've been able to hold some of them near, to accept them and to let them go.... The future will show how deep this release goes.

On I went with Balogh's 'Heartless' which provides a formidable psychopath/villain and describes wonderfully the devastating effects of such people in the life of another.
Right now I'm reading 'Silent Melody' with a deaf-mute heroine which makes the story very compelling because Balogh has to show the inner workings of the person in another way than usual.

I still must complain about a lack of sleep though. About 45 of these novels took its toll on sleep and still it feels like a huge cleansing. As if these stories act like a broom in the dark and forgotten recesses of the mind, stirr the dust up so one can get a hold of it.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just finished Balogh's Web of Love. Overall, a complex story with a variety of relationships in different levels of development, the introduction set against the backdrop of the battle of Waterloo with all of war's violence, destruction, and heightened passions, putting the reader through the emotional wringer. (Well, I can only speak for myself.)
All the elements of human relational dynamics : Dominic's commitment and determination to provide a family for the new life forming in Ellen, Jennifer's maturation, Penworth's determination to overcome his war wounds, and Madeline's new-found sense of meaning for her life. As well, Balogh's description of Dominic and Ellen's intimacy: "He made love not to her, but with her" make for a compelling narrative.
As an aside, Balogh uses the horrors of war to show how it can mobilize and energize women to utilize their nurturing instincts to tend to and care for the victims, ie, take on the role of nurses out of necessity.(Personally, my recent hospitalizations gave me a whole new level of respect for the nursing profession.)
But that's just my take on it.
Well, on to the rest of the Web Trilogy:cool:


 

PERLOU

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
J'ai terminé "Le temps du Maraige" de la série "La famillle Huxtable" - Tome 1 de Mary Balogh
Gentil roman...
J'ai commencé "Le temps de l'Amour" de la même série et du même auteur - Tome 3

I finished "Le temps du Maraige" from the series "La famillle Huxtable" - Volume 1 of Mary Balogh
Nice novel...
I started "Le temps de l'Amour" from the same series and by the same author - Tome 3
 

genero81

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
OMG, this woman is too much! I'm speaking of the author, Anna Harrington. I'm on the second book, 'Along Came a Rogue.' She's outrageous! I don't know how these people write such good fiction. Entertainment on steroids! Sweet Lucifer! LOL
 

Tauriel

Jedi Master
While reading"Silent Melody" I often wondered how much esoteric knowledge Mary Baloch might have.
The book is not only an enjoyable read but provides some pretty deep insights.
The deaf-mute heroine has a very vivid inner life due to her handicap which gives her access to things unseen. She has a finely tuned awareness of nature itself and of people's characters. Her right hemisphere is not cut off, osit.
I took a photo from a passage that reminded me of all the spiraling patterns and symbols so well described in Laura's "Secret History of the World".
 

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thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The most difficult aspect of this project is dealing with these emotional scenes in public. How does a 60++ man stifle tears in public while reading about the emotional pain of a grandson due to his beloved grandfather's death in Only a Promise by Mary Balough?
I understand your embarrassment, it is not always easy, but might a golf cap, a suitable pair of sunglasses, and one of these fashionable Covid masks cover up the symptoms?
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Tangled is not available in Kindle format so I'll skip it for now.....
Also I don't get why on Amazon.com book is 25,40$ while on Amazon.de is 79€!!!!
Second-hand copies on Amazon or Abe books are as low as 4-10 USD - plus postage. Abe books shipped to Denmark required USD 75 in shipping. On Balogh's site there are many retailers, but no good offers. Fantastic Fiction will quickly give prices for a book on different Amazon platforms. Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and then Spain are cheapest. Amazon.de is apparently now 88 €. ThriftBooks had at the time of this post an affordable copy.

Maybe there are formats other than paper and Kindle, like epub?
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just finished The Gilded Web.
Wow, it never ceases to amaze me how Balogh can infuse her characters with so many feelings and emotion.
And through the narrative, causes the reader-this reader anyway-to react viscerally to those characters.
Although, having read the Survivors Club series and the first two of the Web trilogy, Imho, the Web has more of an emotional impact than Survivors, probably owing to its more intensive and complex
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Continued from #1333. Sorry, accidentally hit the above "reply" button.

...owing to its more intensive and complex narrative and characters. But in any case, I enjoyed both series (yet to read The Devil's Web.) And both drew out long-buried feelings and emotions.
 

Adaryn

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Just finished The Gilded Web.
Wow, it never ceases to amaze me how Balogh can infuse her characters with so many feelings and emotion.
It seems you read the series out of order? As you read Web of Love before Gilded Web (?), which is the first of the series.
Anyways, I've completed the series myself, and am now reading A Temporary Wife / Promise of Spring.

Devil's Web: another very compelling read, and often excruciatingly painful (and very irritating) though for different reasons than Gilded Web (Web of Love was good, but I found it weaker than the other two - a bif far-fetched, too, in terms of the characters' behaviour and reactions). Like others have commented, I wanted to shout at Mad and James more than once: "stop that nonsense and just talk to each other, dammit!" They came sooo close to admitting their feelings and showing their true selves so many times, only for James (or Madeline, but more often James) to ruin everything at the last moment, and then you see the rift between them growing wider after each bickering and lack of communication and misunderstanding what the other said/meant. Balogh really played with the readers' nerves with this one!
And they came so close to not making it and separating forever. Imagine if Madeline hadn't been pregnant, or hadn't told him just as he was leaving the room, he'd have just left for good and they both would have been miserable for the rest of their lives.
James' false personality/nasty behaviour reminded me of an ex-bf. Right down to some of his hurtful comments about Mad being empty-headed, stupid and shallow. And he was morose, brooding and cold. Except the comparison ends here as there was nothing deeper in that guy (it was just an act, he was very manipulative), whereas James used it as a mask to protect himself, really did suffer from a harsh upbringing and was horribly abused and deceived in his youth which had dire consequences for him for years and which made him torture himself and wrongly believe that he was evil and incapable of love.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Regarding A Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh there was:
I didn't like Charity's behaviour at times as she put herself in an impossible situation (for the right reasons, yes!) by marrying him while she didn't know him at all and therefore invited disaster (ignorance endangers), didn't network (and let her family know where she was), told fibs, but what made me realise she was not completely selfless in all of this was when she left him on
My reading is that Charity does not claim to be selfless, at least not in chapter 16, which also explains much about her motivations for leaving.
"I would have applauded her, had she been abused, but that was clearly not the case."
I agree, she did not leave because she had been abused. And yes, thank you for pointing out Charity's shortcomings Mariama.
The funny thing is that Charity lost her previous job because she spoke up against abuse, see chapter one, but I guess the point you make is in regard to her leaving after her inner struggle in chapter 16. One could also
that she had been (ab)used by Anthony's father as a tool in his battle with his son, just as his treatment of her in the early phases was quite rude; see chapter nine for instance.
Although I was surprised at the turn of events at the beginning of chapter 17, it also made sense, since Charity had left so much behind that needed to be resolved for the two of them to achieve anything resembling a happy ever after. Her two lives, the present and the former, were in desperate need of reconciliation and integration, just as Anthony also could benefit from an opportunity to help Charity sort out the odd ends in relation to the life of which he knew nothing and prove himself a defender an in fact worthy of her. If that is a rational kind of reasoning, imagine being in her place and having the mind and heart full of memories and love for her family, of which she was the oldest and add to that her role as a teacher and the responsibility she shared with her friend for the pupils in the village school. Wouldn't a character like Charity be drawn by these relations too? After all she decided for a job in order to protect her family and close friends? Besides, I did not have the impression that Anthony really began with a dream about a happy ever either, he hired her.

If the copyright laws were not so rigid one could imagine other authors trying to give the story a different development. Imagine for instance being in chapter 15 of A Temporary Wife and then having to finish the story. What happens? To help the imagination, one could play with an idea of literary characters being a bit like abstract mathematical functions. If one knows the characters well, one may be able to come up with ideas as to how they would behave in different circumstances, while being exposed to different variables, and taking into account what has already happened to them.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Tangled is not available in Kindle format so I'll skip it for now.....
Also I don't get why on Amazon.com book is 25,40$ while on Amazon.de is 79€!!!!
Yesterday I wrote:
Maybe there are formats other than paper and Kindle, like epub?
Assuming one has an epub file, would like it in Kindle and the file quality allows one to work with it, one might be able to convert it, then epub files can be accessed with ebook managers like Adobe Digital Editions or Calibre. Calibre and Sigil have built-in editors that allows one to edit an epub file. Apparently epub files are like zipped HTML files. Of course one can also convert the HTML format to epub format and Kindle, at least with Calibre.

In practical terms... assuming the availability of physical books only, one solution for Tangled might be to exchange within smaller groups, if one eventually gets hold of a copy and share the cost. Or since the market sometimes follows the demand, maybe the book will be issued on Kindle.
 
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