Category Archives: Relationships

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Vivienne Vincent

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Vivienne Vincent, who has some things to say about the question at hand.

I’ve never been a very romantic person, and romance to me means something different from a rich brat who acts like a bad boy but retains a basic goodness of the heart, eventually, falling for an ordinary woman.

I grew up reading Harlequin and I still read those books because they provide a great escape from reality. I don’t have the patience to sit through a 600-page romance so I prefer fast-paced fiction.

But life isn’t fiction and love doesn’t happen the way it happens in books. We suffer heartbreaks and if we’re fortunate we heal, otherwise we live with the scars. Love doesn’t essentially define the art of living.

To me, the most important thing isn’t getting to know the right man or the perfect woman, but getting to know yourself and staring at your own imperfections. That’s a very difficult process and most of us go through life getting over those who broke our hearts, instead of getting over our super inflated egos.

I was very surprised when people took my first publication, Dandelions, so literally. A man breaks a woman’s heart and then forgets her. Meets her again and falls in love with her. I understand that since the story was told from the woman’s perspective, the evolution of his character isn’t obvious. There’s a sequel where he tells the story. But the bottom line is that it was only symbolic of the horrible things we do and then completely forget how much damage we caused, until one day our actions come back to bite us.  We can justify just about anything to ourselves.

If human nature is so pathetic and inherently selfish, what redeems us? The ability to love someone other than ourselves.

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I like to read literature from different parts of the world and there’s a beautiful concept in Persian mysticism about experiencing worldly love, which serves as a stairway to experiencing true love. You find a somewhat similar idea looking at the relationship between Socrates and Diotima.

Love only lasts if it’s more than momentary infatuation and lust. It requires you to give and surrender. There’s a wonderful novella Venus im Pelz by Sacher-Masoch (which is where the word masochism comes from, by the way). Another book that captures the essence of surrender is the French novel Histoire d’O. These books symbolize how much love can torture and in the end, break you. There’s no such thing as a happily ever after. There’s no element of winning or being rewarded.

To be honest, Dandelions was always the guy’s story and in the actual story, the girl killed herself in the end. But writing takes a toll on the author’s mind as well, so I decided not to take things that far. The first part of Dandelions that’s been released could be considered a very long prologue to the sequel or the actual story.

In the sequel, I want to highlight a few aspects of how men act toward women and how women respond to those things; not in an imaginary or ideal world, but in real life. I want to have a realistic approach which takes away the element of escapist fiction from my work. It will take at least two years or more to finish the sequel, because I’ve involved men in my process of research and I want some honest answers from them.

There’s a line in the book that “People love God and fancy the devil, but no one likes ordinary, flawed humans, which was what she revealed about me to everyone, myself included.” So I’ll be taking a flawed human and dealing with his flaws. He’s not going to achieve nirvana, but it’s going to be a struggle to improve and become a better person.

That’s what love, or romance if you want to call it, means to me.

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If we have the ability to love another, then we certainly have the ability to be a better human. Because life isn’t about being famous or being the best; it’s about quietly struggling to rise above our animal instincts and maintaining a balance between light and darkness.

 Nice! And how very true… 😉

Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Vivienne! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

VivVinc-png

Vivienne Vincent grew up in a fairly conservative environment which ironically sparked her interest in unconventional subjects and romance novels. As a young girl she became interested in novels from the Victorian era as well as modern day romance. She is pretty much obsessed with British and American sitcoms and crime series. Look her up on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with her. She loves to hear from readers.

lavender parfumerie

Author Links

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Vivienne-Vincent-850442295083956/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VivienneVincen8

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2abR73V

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/57734728-vivienne-vincent

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15486427.Vivienne_Vincent

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/vivienne-vincent/

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Vivienne, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Awesome! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Rachael Tamayo visits us on June 29th! Yay! 🙂

We’ll have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Guest Writer, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writers, Writing

The Relevance of Romance and Romantic Literature in Modern Society: a guest post by Inkitt

The Relevance of Romance and Romantic Literature in Modern Society

 

Romance has always been a universal theme of literary relevance. While some people today are of the belief that Romanticism has seen its day, many more would argue that it is still alive and well. In fact, one could even present the case that – given its constant presence in the media and news today – Romanticism is and likely always will be interwoven into the very fiber of modern society.

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Since the time of forlorn lovers Romeo and Juliet, literature has had a hand in shaping the societal norms and expectations of present-day romance. Often the types of romantic relationships imagined have been limited to a particular perspective, more Gone with the Wind than Twilight, though recent years have seen a shift toward the latter. This can be accredited to the current generation’s fascination with the supernatural. One needs to only peruse the latest list of best sellers to see a theme that almost exclusively involves vampires, witches and werewolves. Yet the foundation of these can almost always be traced back to some aspect of traditional Romanticism.

Of course, with the advent of internet publishing, other alternative modes of romance are now becoming more readily accessible to a much broader audience. The mainstream acceptance of 50 Shades of Grey, for example, only became a reality after it reached a critical mass of readership amongst the romantic fan fiction community. Erotica literature, which was once thought of as taboo, is now seen today as a popular literary genre.

The democratization of access provided by the internet is also having a profound effect on the way the publishing industry is interacting with its readers. Where once literary gatekeepers dictated societal conventions of romance or any other genre, today we are seeing more agency on readers to choose what and how to read. This therefore enables them to determine the type of books they want to see published, and even in what format. This has resulted in a fundamental shift in the way writers, publishers, agencies and their audiences engage and interact.

Another area where Romance and Romantic literature have influenced modern society is in film – and in many cases, in a quite unassuming and/or unexpected way. For instance, blockbuster movies like E.T. and Jaws exhibit the aspect of Romanticism that involves fascination with the unknown, while The Ten Commandments leverages the feature of heroism. Meanwhile, Avatar plays on the appeal of mystery and escapism. Then, of course, there are the more obvious romantic films, like The Sound of Music and Snow White, which contain many of the classic elements of centuries-old Romanticism.

In fact, it would seem to be more challenging to find examples of popular novels, movies, plays, songs or even video games that don’t display certain key elements of the Romantic literature of the past. The fact that many of these fictional works have stood the test of time indicate that Romanticism isn’t merely a genre that peaked in the 1800s, but rather a concept that continues to influence the way we live, interact with one another and are entertained today.

From a literary standpoint, while the storylines and characters may have changed and newer, more daring genres have become an accepted part of society, the inspiration of Romanticism and its many concepts is as prevalent now as ever before.

 

***Patricia Doma, Head of Communications at Inkitt

 

True! I don’t believe romance will be going out of style anytime soon… 😉

Thank you, Inkitt, for this take on the evolution of romantic literature, and how it affects us today.

Guest Blogger Bio

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.

 

Links

Website:  https://www.inkitt.com/

Blog:  https://www.inkitt.com/blog

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/inkitt/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Inkitt

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+InkittPublishing

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/inkittbooks/

 

Thanks again! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

As always, happy reading, everyone!  😉

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Filed under Blogging, Contemporary, Guest Writer, Historical, Literature, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Belinda Y. Hughes

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Belinda Y. Hughes, who has some things to say about the question at hand.

When you say ‘romance’ to me, I automatically think of romance novels to escape reality, love songs to restore hope and celebrate love found, dinner and a movie on date night, spontaneous getaways at the advent of a new relationship, lacy satin lingerie, long curly hair, soft-scented skin, candles, poetry and flowers.

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But in practice, it goes deeper than that.

Lovers and others have taught me a lot about romance in the last fifty years. Romance can be had at any price point, from cooking at home together to dressing up and going out for date night to wedding ceremonies and a renewal of vows. Romance can be as simple or complex as you care to make it. You can leave your lover a voicemail in a husky whisper, study sensual massage techniques and yoga for time together behind closed doors, or clear the family out of the house and have a weekend in the nude. It all comes down to your identity, feelings and self-expression.

Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life?

Yes, I’ve been known to drop whatever I’m doing – even house painting – and make terrible mistakes for the sake of romance. It has caught me when I wasn’t looking and been a pleasant surprise for a time. Sometimes I feel possessed by a higher force sweeping me along as I prepare for a date with a new lover, and that one turns out to last quite a while longer than the rest. Sometimes it’s going out on a limb and risking my heart when I may not even get a kiss in return, even after weeks of exploration.

How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships?

I’m both a fourth generation divorcee’ and the child pawn in my parents’ divorce, so while I always pursued the dream as a Piscean hopeless romantic, the grim prognosis for reality equally always lurked in the background. My longest relationships were 3.5 and 4.5 years. Surprisingly, some of my best relationships were often a year or less. Some might say I simply haven’t discovered that One True Love who is the reason none of the others worked out. I believe that’s possible.

Were other couples influential somehow?

Just as I watch other couples on the dance floor to learn the latest moves, like any writer, I watch others in their practice of romance and take notes, both for my own life and stories.

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And as I read, listen to music and watch TV and movies, the character couples influence me, as well.

From Mike and Carol Brady, I learned that spouses should be respectful, playful and supportive, and life can get crazy, but love can survive. From Darin and Samantha Stevens, I learned that romance involves timing: a freshly prepared martini as one partner returns home from work; a home-cooked, restaurant-quality dinner served on an attractively set table; flexibility and tolerance can save hours, even days, of dispute; and magic can strike at any moment. From Gilligan’s Island, I learned that you can make romance out of anything, wherever you are.

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My parents didn’t define romance as seen on TV. What I witnessed of their everyday romance consisted of kissing, back scratching, splitting chores by gender and sharing meals. Once, when Dad came in the door asking how he could help, and Mom asked him to check on the baby (me) so she could finish dinner, it didn’t end well. Dad was impressed with my crib-Houdini and highboy-climbing talents and insisted she see it to believe it. Mom, on the other hand, was floored – literally. Not terribly romantic.

My late aunt, famous among our family for her natural beauty and lengthy primping, used to say, “Always remember, your next husband could be right outside that door.” She and my great-grandmother were married at least four times each, and even as a grandmother, that aunt could still attract college boys in California.

My older sister was my most influential role model for romance via her Cosmo-girl sophistication. She taught me how to shop big-city lingerie sales and shared her “trashy paperbacks”, which were quite educational. One of the few romantic yet not-trashy paperbacks she put me onto was Aromatherapy for Women by Maggie Tisserand (ex-wife of Robert, the noted herbalist), which includes aphrodisiacs and recipes for letting go of the cares of the day and getting oneself and one’s partner in the mood for love. Handy stuff, that. When I called home from Dallas in a fit of disappointment over a home-cooked dating disaster, it was my sister who informed me traditional pasta, not spaghetti squash, was the way to a guy’s heart.

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I learned much more about romance from my lovers than anyone else. I started to detail their decadent nuances here, but that would give away my stories before you’ve read them, and we can’t have that now, can we?

How has all this fed into your romance writing process or career?

In my writing process, I often fancy a particular personality or memorable moment (see nuances, above) and somehow work it into a story.

Career-wise, I’ve eschewed traditional publishers, preferring possessive, monogamous relationships with my books. However, since passing the mid-century mark, I’ve become more open-minded and might now consider an indie-trad ménage. Maybe. Watch this space.

Nice! I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Belinda! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Belinda Y. Hughes wears many hats: author, editor, proofreader, blogger, beta reader, author coach, press release and synopsis writer and events coordinator. Her books include Living Proof, Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2, Blues in the Night, Blues 2: The Colonel and Unit Study: DERELICT by Lisa Cohen. She is currently working on the next in the Confessions, Blues and Unit Study series, as well as a Mail Order Bride trilogy and a poetry collection.

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Belinda, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Vivienne Vincent visits us on June 22nd! Yay! 🙂

We’ll have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writers, Writing

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Cleo Scornavacca, plus giveaway…

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Cleo Scornavacca, who has some things to say about the question at hand.

You would think that because I love all that is romance…books, movies, songs, real life events and because I’m an author of adult romance; that this title and question it poses would be easy to answer.

Sure, to list everything down on a page in a single line it would, but to honor romance the way it should be honored is a labored task…a labor of love, that is.

As an author, I’d like to think that although my novels are fictional, they try to hold the true essence of reality. The reality when two people who barely know one another develop feelings for each other that can only be explained as a romance in bloom.

Though it goes beyond all of that.

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Ah…those new feelings that bubble up inside one’s self; making you feel playful…alive. Maybe it’s something that the person experienced before and over time it drifted away, until the “right” person finally came along. Maybe it’s something they never experienced, like young love…when you always remember your first.

In a novel, romance can be slightly exaggerated or the story that ensues can be a bit more creative than real life. Yet the old saying of art imitating life and vice versa still holds true. When writing any story, the author builds worlds; some being elaborate windows back in time, for others, small doorways into a more modern and everyday life, yet far from the mundane.

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Where does it all come from?

Imagination?

Without a doubt!

But…

Life…living is the real romance.

Romance isn’t just about the sexy alpha that you may reach for in books. It’s not just about the woman of your dreams…no really, it’s not.

For me it’s about so much more; and it’s that more that makes writing so much better.

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More is about a memory box full of “firsts”…visible or invisible…tangible or intangible…but things that made you feel, things you hold close and never want to forget.

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A first kiss, a walk along the beach as the summer sun sets in the distance, a proposal, a birth of a child; their first cries and their first words.  The comfort from a parent when things aren’t going exactly the way you wanted them to and that same comfort you give to someone who cared for you, that in the end you will care for them.

Perhaps it’s a hug from a friend or a letter from a someone you’re close to, but is a million miles away. Maybe it’s romance in a song that you hadn’t heard in ages, but still can sing along to today.

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Maybe it’s a movie that you remember all of the best lines to.

Or…

Maybe it’s all of these experiences wrapped up in one. Something that is settled deep within you soul, that puts a smile on your face and when it betrays you… it guts you to your core.

Because…it is you.

Romance is the connection…the love, the passion, the whimsy, the fight. It’s the heart that feels full, that beats loudly and keeps beating even when you hold your breath. It’s the heart that breaks, yet by some invisible thread is sewn back together…a bit tarnished, a bit scarred, but ready to love again.

It’s the we, the us, the them, the they, the me and the you.

Romance…it’s the indescribable, describable everything.

Wow! Very nice and romantic. I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉

Win a FREE BOOK, readers (details below)…

 

♥♥♥ GIVEAWAY! ♥♥♥

Head on over to this Instafreebie promo, and have a chance of winning a copy of MISS TAKEN! It’s only for a limited time, so jump on the offer! 🙂

 

Woo hoo! Sounds great!

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book! And check out the rest of the series too! 😉

Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Cleo! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Cleo Scornavacca is an author of Adult Romance, a wife, a mom & a true “Jersey Girl”. She was born and raised in NJ and still resides in the Garden State.

In 2012, Cleo began writing Miss Taken, her debut novel and book one in the Miss Taken Identity Series. Identity, book two, was published in 2014 and The Ties That Bind followed in 2016, which completed the series. In addition, Cleo is currently working on several other titles. Two of which are Within Six Months, one of four standalones in her new Wild Roses Series, which will feature secondary characters from Miss Taken Identity; and The House On Leighton Avenue, which is an adult romance with a haunting twist, an unusual departure from her other books.

Cleo was honored to be a part of two anthologies. This Beautiful Escape, Volume One, contains her personal short story called “Small Gestures”. All of the proceeds to This Beautiful Escape go to the fund for Ataxia Awareness. The second anthology, yet to be released; is for Project Semi-Colon. Cleo’s story is called “A Letter to My Younger Self”.

Cleo is the senior columnist for Lust Bites Magazine and a proud member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the New Jersey Romance Writers (NJRW) organizations. When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her family, friends and her Dobie, Brayden. Cleo enjoys reading all types romance, books on Italy, listening to 80’s metal bands, watching movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age, indulging in pink Prosecco and of course, squishing her feet in the sand down at the Jersey Shore every chance she gets.

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Cleo, for giving us your perspective on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Belinda Y. Hughes visits us on June 15th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great week, everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writers, Writing

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Tanya W. Newman

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Tanya W. Newman, who has some things to say about the question at hand.

When I made the decision to write about what romance means to me, I immediately thought back on one of my favorite moments from The Golden Girls.  A character, Blanche (the most promiscuous), has been dating a man who has never made a move on her.  When she asks him why, he says any two people can just sleep together, but what he believes in is romance.  He explains what that means by walking over to Blanche, slowly stroking the side of her face, and kissing her, just once.  He smiles but leaves without a word and as Blanche looks after him long after he has gone, she finally smiles to herself, folds her arms over her chest, and we know that she understands what he means.

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The moment is a small one, but it is one that we know will last in Blanche’s memory.  It is also a moment that illustrates what romance means to me.  Small moments such as this can actually be quite lasting and powerful, and when they occur, mostly in the form of a kiss or even an exchange of looks or smiles, they show a quiet understanding or connection between two people.  Those are the moments that catch my heart and send it racing.  And wow, is it romantic!

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There are many places where I have come across these small moments of connection.  One of the most recent is in the music video for “Don’t Mean Nothing” by Richard Marx.  In the video, an aspiring actress moves into an apartment complex and is increasingly disillusioned by the industry as well as being hit on by her landlord.  Marx plays a musician living in the complex.  They have several encounters where their eyes meet, but she always looks away.  Finally, near the end, she leaves the complex one morning, looks Marx’s way as he is coming outside with coffee, radiates a beautiful smile, and says, “Hi.”  He nods in return and a moment later, she turns back to smile at him once again and he stares after her.  We don’t know what made her change in this moment, but it doesn’t really matter.  It’s lovely and romantic because there seems to be a knowledge in each character’s smile, showing how they understand what the other goes through day after day trying to “make it” in show business.  They know one another without knowing one another in a sense, and therefore a connection is formed that will probably last—not unlike La La Land, I suppose.

I came to realize how much I value small moments of connection in my own work as well.  In my second novel, Winter Rain, there is a moment when my character, Spencer, offers his hand to another character Isabel, asking her to dance with him.  They are at a party but have found themselves on a balcony, just the two of them.  They’ve barely met or said a word to one another, but as Isabel looks into his eyes, she sees something she hasn’t seen in anyone and Spencer, an otherwise womanizer, sees the same in Isabel.  They come together, dancing slowly and intimately out on that balcony, but never kiss or say another word to one another.  Nonetheless, a connection is felt and it’s one that lasts beyond his friend trying to come between them and have Isabel for himself.  I came to realize here, how romantic I find dancing as well because of its connection without words.  This is not the only instance in which Spencer and Isabel dance instead of talking to one another, how these brief moments of contact replace conversation.

It happens in my other novel, The Good Thief, as well.  In that story, my character, James, asks Scotlyn to dance on their first date and she agrees with heart-pounding nervousness.  But once she is next to him, the panic fades and all she sees or feels is him.  The dance ends in a kiss that lasts in her memory for long after and it is a memory she frequently revisits when she finds herself in danger.

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These men love these women, more than they thought they were capable of loving anyone, and if I do my job right as a writer, then readers are able to see that as the small moments between the characters continue.

There are countless other facets I find romantic but in the end, the moments where two people connect and understand one another are what I find the most romantic. They’re the moments that catch my heart and send it flying.  They’re the moments remind me of what matters most in life.

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And that is what romance means to me, why I write it, and why I love it!

Wow! How incredibly romantic. I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Tanya! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Tanya W. Newman was born and raised in the upstate of South Carolina, where she discovered her love of writing and storytelling, a love that led to a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of South Carolina Upstate, and a Master of Arts in English from Clemson University.

Now married to her wonderful husband, Mark, for twelve years, Newman still resides in the upstate of South Carolina, where she sets many of her stories. When not writing or reading, she enjoys coffee, movies (usually an action/adventure with a love story added in), long jogs, and spending time with her adorable son and daughter.

For more information, visit her website at www.tanyawnewman.com or like her page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authortanyanewman/.

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Tanya, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Cleo Scornavacca visits us on June 13th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writers, Writing

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Dating Connections

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to the company Dating Connections, and see what they have to say about the question at hand.

What Does Romance Mean to Me? You’ve probably asked yourself this once or twice, at least, but the answer is not that simple, is it? It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship, a hot fling or even some kind of gothic romance, it always comes to this question – what does romance actually mean to you? In order to help you answer this bewildering and everlasting question, I decided to share some of the crucial things that I believe make romance so unique and wonderful. If you want to know what being romantic really means, stick around and check out my personal “romance guide.”

The Littlest Things Are The Most Important

Those littlest things truly are crucial and that’s exactly why Lily Allen devoted the whole song to them. All joking aside, being spontaneous, charming, and generous without any special cause is how you keep the fire burning in the relationship. Small, warm gestures and displays of affection are the two quickest ways to romance town! A spontaneous massage for your significant other or a cooked meal after a long day will get you far in this romance game.

Created by Freepik

These things don’t require much effort, but I bet your partner will know how to appreciate them.

Giving Thoughtful Gifts

What is romance without gift-giving, right? However, simply buying something for your lover won’t actually do the trick. Anyone can save up some money and purchase a shiny piece of jewelry at the local shop, but if you really want to surprise and swoon your “partner in crime”, you should definitely consider giving them those so-called thoughtful gifts. Instead of just buying something fancy from the store, try creating something with your own hands, or at least buy a gift with a special theme. Pay attention to the things your partner loves and surprise him/her with an awesome and thoughtful gift.

Created by Freepik

An old school vinyl of their favorite band or a book from their beloved writer are always good choices.

Write Letters

This form of communication is, unfortunately, completely forgotten, at least when it comes to younger generations. However, you can use that to your advantage and revive this lovely tradition of sending love letters to your significant other. Sharing feelings with your partner is extremely important, and writing down your thoughts and sending them to your loved one makes it more romantic. Letters are intimate and more honest than text messages; therefore use that fact to melt your partner’s heart.

Created by Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com

Short, Thoughtful Notes And Messages

Don’t get me wrong, letters are more romantic than text messages, for sure, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to write letters every day. We live in a busy fast-paced world where no one has time for that. However, anyone can find time for a quick and thoughtful text message or a lovely note. These seemingly little and “less important” things can sometimes mean more to your partner than some grand romantic gesture. Little shows of affection like these on a daily basis are more effective and definitely more romantic.

Always Try To Impress And Seduce Your Loved One

People often think that once they get into a relationship with someone all the playfulness, seducing and flirting has to stop. This is a big mistake. Yes, hooking up with someone is your first and primary goal, but once that goal is completed, you need to keep the fire going or else you risk losing the essential chemistry and passion. Without those two, a relationship simply can’t last very long. Try learning new stuff like playing a guitar, dancing, singing, or cooking and use those new skills to surprise your significant other.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

This kind of effort and hard work is extremely romantic. Of course, you don’t have to be the next Jimmy Page on the guitar or Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen, but you’ll still get an A for effort. Your partner will know how much you care!

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

There you go, folks. Romance isn’t always about big gestures and epic improvements; it’s about those little, everyday things. Use this guide to master the art of romance and show your loved ones how much you actually care about them.

 

Lovely! I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Dating Connections! Awesome to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Dating Connections is a site that offers the opportunity for you to explore a variety of dating tips, previous relationship experiences and interact with other people!

Links

Website:  http://datingconnections.org/

Blog:  http://datingconnections.org/category/blog/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/datingconnections/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DatingConnect

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101423157749445118069

 

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author, or even from a romantic themed organization. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Dating Connections, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you, plus, of course, a few tips we can all use in our romantic lives. Perfect! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Devika Fernando visits us on June 6th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Blogging, Dating Tips, Event, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writing

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Nikki Ashton

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Nikki Ashton, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

I’ve seen many articles and musings from scholars and writers that say romance novels can’t possibly qualify as books and that if you read such ‘escapist trash’, it’s pretty sad. Well, that is their opinion and they are entitled to give it; after all, we live in a free world. I, for one, disagree, mainly because I’m a romantic and a writer of romance, but also because I believe it’s a matter of taste. For example, I don’t like Jazz music. I simply don’t enjoy it or feel any sort of emotion from listening to it – I just don’t ‘get it’. However, I would never suggest those that do listen to it are sad; we simply have different tastes and they have poor hearing (sorry…poor excuse for a joke).

Created by Freepik

Romance, however, does evoke lots of emotion in me. Romance actually makes me a little giddy, to be honest, and because I believe in fairy tales and happy ever afters, there really wasn’t anything else I could end up doing but becoming a writer of that genre. Even as a child, I had a crush on Prince Charming and desperately wanted Troy Tempest and Marina from Stingray to get married and have lots of babies (anyone younger than 45 probably won’t get that). I even believe that the celebrity ‘love affairs’ that are publicized in magazines are going to last forever. Yes, I am a true romantic, because for me romance and love means a happy ending.

I have often wondered why I’m a romantic and did consider it was because of my parent’s broken marriage. Instead of their divorce making me distrust love, I desperately wanted the two most important people in my life, at that time, to regain those feelings for each other. When they didn’t, I craved it for everyone else instead, if only to prove that true love really does exist. Alternatively, I might be a romantic because I’m a Pisces. Who knows? What I do know is that life should have a happy ending and if the best way to do that is to create it myself, then I’m all in.

Created by Freepik

It’s true to say that due to my idealistic disposition, my characters are people that I wouldn’t mind spending time with or, in an ideal world, I would love to be like. Yes, they veer towards the more romantic version of a human being. The women tend to be pretty and feisty with killer bodies and beautiful hair, while the men…well the men just tend to be hot and sometimes a little domineering, in the best possible way.

Created by Pressfoto – Freepik.com

Some may say that is a failing in my writing. After all, life isn’t like that – not everyone has the perfect body or a beautiful face and I know that, believe me I do. But I write romance and if you look up a synonym for romance, you would possibly find the following:

Invention, concoction, trumped up story or fantasy

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m proud to be a romance writer and proud of the characters and stories that I create. My books will never send you a life-changing message, or be thought-provoking, or even win a literary prize, but they might just make you smile and put a little flutter in your heart. So, if you too are a romantic, or even if you’re not, why not give them a go? You might just like them.

So, what does romance mean to me – well, it’s everything good and happy and props to it, I say.

 

Nice! I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Nikki! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Nikki lives in Cheshire with her husband, two dogs and lovely mother-in-law who supplies her with endless cups of tea. She writes romance with a touch of humor and lots of love, and hopes that she puts a smile on her reader’s faces.
Her ambitions of becoming a writer started at the age of 10 when she started writing poetry at school, and was given the honor of reading one of her poems to the rest of her year group (a truly embarrassing experience that she will never forget).
Nikki is grateful for the wide variety of strange and wonderful people in her life, otherwise she’d never know what to write about! She is currently talking to family and friends, finding out their innermost secrets in readiness for her next book.
Although all Nikki’s books are stand alone stories characters do make ‘guest appearances’. So, the best order to read them is:

Guess Who I Pulled Last Night
No Bra Required
Get Your Kit Off
Rock Stars Don’t Like Big Knickers
Rock Stars Don’t Like Ugly Bras
Rock Stars Do Like Christmas
Cheese Tarts & Fluffy Socks

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Nikki, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when the company Dating Connections visits us on June 1st! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great week, everyone!

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic comedy, Writers, Writing

Teaser from CHASING GINGER, a work in progress…

Recently, I’ve been working on something that is a little different from what I usually write. Chasing Ginger is a BBW romantic comedy, as well as book one of The Misfits Series. I am eager to share this snippet with you. In the post, I’ve included some character pictures (Colin Egglesfield is the closest celebrity image I can compare Lance to, so just deal with his hotness…LOL).

Anyway, let’s bring on the romance, right? 😉

Here is the teaser:

A scream tore out of her as someone snagged at her hair, and she yanked away. The pull on her scalp was nothing compared to the panic she felt now. She doubled her efforts as she raced down the sidewalk, her feet pounding in her matching green heels.

Please, please, God. I’ll never use a dating site again if you just get me out of this right now.

A hand shot out, grabbing her arm, and she screamed again.

“Sweetheart, come on,” a male voice coaxed. “There’s no time.”

The voice was soothing. Ginger instantly calmed and found she was led up a set of brief stairs into a large building. Inside, she backed away from the glass a little, breathing a sigh of relief as she saw the group of men pass by.

By now, she could barely breathe and her forehead, upper chest and lower back were sweaty. Her feet and legs ached. She felt like she did at the gym, exhausted, practically passed out, draped over the handlebars of the treadmill. Her breaths hitched in her chest. And she really wasn’t kidding about the boob pain. She winced, passed a hand over her face, and then turned to confront the new threat.

He was a looker, for sure, with dark, spiky hair and really nice blue eyes. He had handsome features and somewhat full lips that were made to be kissed. Get ahold of yourself, Ginger. The man wore a gray business suit. He’d obviously just come from work. And Jesus, he was tall and muscled.

His eyes widened as he took in her appearance.

“Not you too,” she moaned. But hell, for all she knew, maybe he’d never seen a perspiring green marshmallow before.

“Are you all right? Why were those men chasing you?”

She nodded and managed, “I don’t know.”

Because she didn’t. They hadn’t warned that InstaSin would be like this. And it was only day one. Extreme sexiness? Check, if the response she’d received was any indication. Grounds for a restraining order? Nope. They certainly hadn’t covered that in the description of the drug.

“Well, you’re safe now. I think they’re gone.”

His eyes were kind, she decided. And he didn’t look like he was sizing her up for a kink room or a coffin at all. Maybe InstaSin wasn’t supposed to work on every male. Duh, Ginger. If that was the case, there would really be a problem. Thank God. She could breathe a little better now.

“Thank you for the rescue,” she offered.

He smiled. “Anytime. Are you sure you’re okay?”

She nodded. “I think so. I…I mean, yeah. I’m good.”

“Honey, I’d be surprised if you were okay after that.”

“A little shaken at first.”

“Understandable.”

She detected a slight twang in his speech, and realized he was the consummate Southern gentleman. As the image of her as a Southern belle, trussed up in one of those huge, ruffled gowns, came to mind, she burst out laughing. Then she sobered as she caught his frown. “Ah…uh, sorry. Private joke.”

“I wish I knew the punchline.”

She couldn’t contain a smile, and knew she was blushing. The redhead’s curse. God, he was just too damned cute. Like one of those hot movie stars she couldn’t help fanning herself over. Maybe Henry Cavill? There was one fine man. And Chris Pratt wasn’t too bad either, at least in a rugged space cowboy kind of way. She cleared her throat.

“Right. I should let you get on with the rest of your evening.”

Yeah. First stop? Visiting her doctor friend, Laura Preston, whom she knew would still be at work this late. She wanted her take on that red pill. “I really appreciate your help. And you’re right. I should go.” She began to push open the swinging door.

“Wait.”

She tensed, then slowly turned back, measuring his steady gaze. He certainly didn’t look crazed, like those other men had been. “Yes?”

“Will you let me drive you home?”

 

“Oh. I…I’m not going home.”

“Then to the destination where you’re heading. Look, after what happened, I’m really worried about you. It’s not safe to be alone. And even if you insist, I’d rather make sure you got there in one piece.”

“Well, I suppose that would be all right.”

He nodded. “We can go out the back exit.” He reached in his suit pocket and used his cell phone. “Yeah, Frank? Pull the car in the parking garage, will you? We have a guest.” He nodded. “Thank you. See you in a few.” Then he pressed a button and shoved the phone back in his pocket.

Her eyebrows rose. Car? Guest? The man was speaking a different language. Maybe he’d just been talking to security or his valet, for all she knew.

“Come.” He offered his hand once more, this time waiting on her.

She glanced at it, considering. Geez, she was about to accept an offer from a complete stranger. This was what people warned you against. What if he was secretly a serial killer, or was a closet Dom or something? She shuddered. No way would she ever let someone Fifty Shades her to death.

“You can call me Lance. I promise you can trust me…ah, I don’t know your name, Miss.”

She nodded. “Maybe it’s better that way.”

A look of disappointment crossed his face. At least, that’s what she thought it was. “Very well. I respect your wishes. I’d still like to see you safely to your destination.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Of course.”

She took his hand then, knowing full well she was putting her life in his hands. But, there was something about him that made her trust him completely. It was his eyes, she thought. Everything in that gaze was genuine, full of concern for her circumstances. His grasp was firm, yet not harmful as he tugged her down the corridor to an elevator, pressing the button.

She glanced at him warily and he offered a reassuring smile.

“It’s all right. We’re just going down to the garage, where my driver is.”

“Oh.” She glanced at the elevator. It was a shiny gold, maybe made of brass or gold-plated. It couldn’t be real gold, right? But, it was still fancy. And he had a driver. How odd. Maybe he was an important man? She glanced down at his reddish brown dress shoes. Damn, were they Italian leather? More to cover the silence than anything, she ventured, “A driver, hmm? You must be special.” When the elevator dinged, they climbed in separately and she waited while he pressed ‘B’. The doors closed and the car shifted.

The man named Lance shook his head. “No, not really. I have my own company, nothing more.”

“So humble,” she murmured. “You realize that’s no small thing.”

“Perhaps. I try not to flaunt it as some people do.”

“That’s admirable really. I work for the owner of a company.” When she realized how stupid that sounded, she laughed and found herself blushing once more. “So foolish. I meant that I’m his assistant.” Little more than a secretary really, she didn’t add.

“Oh, well, that is important. A CEO is nothing without his assistant.”

She glanced away, nodding.

“That’s not what you want to do, though, is it?”

Ginger looked back at him. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I can see it in your eyes. You respect your boss, but he probably doesn’t treat you well or you’d be more content.”

She frowned.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to press.”

“No, he’s, ah…a good man.”

“But, you want more than that position?”

She shrugged. “I always wanted to sing.”

“On stage?”

Ginger didn’t answer.

“Why didn’t you?”

She shook her head. It wasn’t like she was going to tell him her dark truths, even though her shortcomings were obvious.

“Well, maybe it’s possible now,” he commented as if she hadn’t ignored his question.

“I wish that it was more than anything,” she murmured.

“Do you really?”

She avoided his gaze, pinning her eyes to the floor. It was marked in a black and white Harlequin pattern. God, she thought. It was pure marble. This really was a ritzy building. She hadn’t even paid much attention to where she’d ended up. He really was lowering himself to help her out.

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Filed under Authors, BBW or Curvy, Contemporary, Fiction, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic comedy, Writing

My Romantic Thought of the Day 50

The person who’s right for you may not come in the package you’re expecting, so keep an open heart and an open mind.

Created by Whatwolf – Freepik.com

https://twitter.com/marielavender1/status/865283970656849923

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Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Isobelle Cate

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is our second post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Isobelle Cate, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

Romance can come in many forms. For many romance authors, romance might be equivalent to lust. It is after all, the first stage of getting to know each other in books. The words that flow from pens or computers are aimed at titillating the reader, coaxing a basic need to be swept away by their imaginations of being made loved to by an alpha male.

Is romance erotica? There is only so much a writer can do when incorporating sex in every chapter of a book. The dictum ‘less is more’ may come to the fore to keep a reader’s attention. There should also be a story that draws the reader in to want to turn the page. It may be good for the first book of a series or even a standalone. But if the basic writing formula is not tweaked or – heaven forbid – becomes predictable with the same words and almost similar descriptions of previous works, at the very least your possible fan will just close the book or tap on their kindle to find another book to read. And your novel will be relegated to their own ‘slush’ pile of forgettable books, never to be seen again.

 

Is sweetness and light ‘romance’? Probably to some; but definitely not by a long stretch. Readers might call it cute. Others can consider it ‘saccharine enough to develop diabetes just by reading the book. Is romance a knight in shining armor or a shiny Harley or Ducati, sweeping a damsel in distress to safety? Not really. Damsels in stories nowadays are strong women who do not scream (think Janet Leigh in Psycho) at the first sight of the big bad handsome antagonist. Damsels are kick-ass women who have the wherewithal to put the opposition down. She becomes a partner of the alpha protagonist and saves the day.

Then, what is romance? To me romance is about souls and hearts. It’s where two souls know that their hearts will meet. It’s when two hearts know that whatever the odds, they will come out of it as better individuals.

Even if the end game is the end of the relationship.

A sucker for pain? No, not really. But romance isn’t happily ever after all the time, is it? It’s the journey of figuratively a thousand deaths, souls forged in fire, tempered in strength, and knowing in the end that either two people were meant to be or it just isn’t the right time. Maybe soon…

Romance squeezes the hearts that keep coming back to be burned in love’s furnace. Romance is that moment when one feels hollow when the other heart isn’t around. Heck, it is also missing that heart even when s/he’s around just because they can’t get enough of each other. Romance is when hearts say what mouths can’t because there is this fear of being rejected. So the hearts dance around the flame, tasting it, being singed by it, until both are willingly consumed as an offering. Romance is what so many songs’ lyrics say – sacrifice.

Still romance? Yes. But this time, romance has been transformed into love.

Wow! You made some great points there.
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Isobelle! Lovely to have you here! ♥
Guest Bio

Isobelle Cate is a woman who wears different masks.  Mother-writer, wife-professional, scholar-novelist.  Currently living in Manchester, she has been drawn to the little known, the secret stories, about the people and the nations:  the English, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh, and those who are now part of these nations whatever their origins.  Her vision and passion are fuelled by her interest and background in history and paradoxically, shaped by growing up in a clan steeped in lore, loyalty, and legend. Isobelle is intrigued by forces that simmer beneath the surface of these cultures, the hidden passions, unsaid desires, and yearnings unfulfilled.

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

 

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

 

Thanks again, Isobelle, for giving us your take on the romance genre, and what romance itself has come to mean to you. Awesome! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Debbie White visits us on April 18th! Yay! 🙂

We’ll have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writing