Tag Archives: keeping the spark alive

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Rachael Tamayo

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 Rachael, who has some things to say about the question at hand.

Love. Romance. Togetherness. Are they the same thing? I’d say it depends. Depends on the person and the situation. Love is what makes the world go round. Love for family, parents and children, a spouse, unrequited love from afar, broken love that shatters the heart.

I watched my parents as a child. I was one of the few kids I knew that didn’t come from a broken home. There wasn’t any time for them for dates, no money for anything special. No expensive gifts shared between them. But I never really doubted that they loved one another. Somehow, I think they shared private moments that we never saw as kids. What I did see, was my mom get up every morning and make my dad coffee and breakfast before he went to work. I saw her sew us kids clothes, knowing that my dad was working as hard as he could, and this was her way to help out so he didn’t have to work more in order to buy us clothes. We were broke. I remember most summers here in the Houston area without air conditioning, my mom taking us to the library just to have a cool place to be outside our sweltering home.

Now that I’m an adult with kids of my own, I realize there is a difference between romance and love. My parents did all that and showed us that they loved us in their sacrifices to make sure we had what we needed. (Except A/C, ha ha). When I think of romance, I think of one thing.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

Falling.

I think it’s that feeling of need when you look at him or her. When we are at a party and my husband whispers to me that he wants to go home because he doesn’t want to share me with anyone.

It’s that feeling of falling. Some say love becomes stale, mundane, a day to day drudgery. That may be true, but you get those random moments when you feel that feeling as if it’s new. It hits you when you least expect it.

Created by Freepik

You’re falling over and over again.

When he looks at you just the right way and winks.

When she holds your baby for the first time in her arms.

When he tells you that he wants to just stay home with you and eat takeout in bed and watch movies.

A random text out of the blue.

An ‘I’m sorry’ after a fight.

Created by Freepik

Whatever it may be, you feel it over and over again during the course of the relationship. That out of control feeling that creates a desire to be alone, the warmth you get in your bones when someone else looks at you “like that” and tells you that they want you.

Unsplash, Alejandra Quiroz, Creative Commons license.

I think that’s why we all love to read romance. The tale of one couple finding each other and falling in love, the mad desire that seems to always lie just beneath the surface.

It reminds us of those feelings, or the hope we have to find them for ourselves one day.

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

Guest Bio

Rachael Tamayo is a multi-genre best selling author. Her titles include Chase Me, Claim Me, Gretyl and the Witch, Reach for Me, and The Stones. Her newest book, a psychological thriller, Crazy Love, is due to come out later this summer. She’s living happily in the Houston area with her husband of thirteen years, their four year old son and infant daughter. A part-time writer and full-time 911 dispatcher that spends all her spare time with family.

 

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, Rachael, 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 Leah Hamrick visits us on August 22nd! Yay! 🙂

We’ll definitely 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

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.

Created by Freepik

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.

Created by Freepik

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.

Created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

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.

Created by Freepik

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 Susanne Matthews

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 Susanne Matthews, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

What does romance mean to me?

Hello, Marie, and thank you for the opportunity to participate in your latest venture. Since I consider myself a romance author this should be an easy question to answer, but it really isn’t. Old-school as I am, I opted to check the online dictionary definition for ‘romance’.

Noun: 1. A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. “In search of romance”

Synonyms: amorousness, love, passion, ardor, sex, desire, eroticism

  1. A quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life. “The beauty and romance of the night”

Synonyms: mystery, glamour, excitement, exoticism, mystique

Verb:1. Court; woo. “The wealthy estate owner romanced her”

Synonyms: woo, chase, pursue

  1. Another term for romanticize. “To a certain degree I am romancing the past”

Synonyms: idealize, glamorize, exaggerate

Wow! Talk about extremes. What’s a person supposed to take away from such a definition? I once had an editor tell me that her company published romances, not love stories—love stories came after the romance. Confusing? I thought so until I realized that while love may be a synonym of romance, it really doesn’t mean the same thing.

To me, romance is a complex and complicated word denoting several different aspects of human relationships. Person A meets person B, and they both live happily ever after, is a simplistic explanation for one of life’s most difficult challenges.

Regardless of who is involved, I see romance as the initial stage in a relationship between individuals, but one that may not necessarily end as the relationship progresses. This early stage can occur at different times and in hundreds of different ways and can certainly be a time of mystery and excitement. I had a friend at university who loved the romance aspect of a relationship. She saw it as the time when people went out of their way to impress the other person. As she put it, it’s the chocolate and flowers season. It’s a time to get to know one another, warts and all. Personally, I grew up when romance didn’t involve sex the way it does in many cases today. People dated, walked hand in hand, kissed, fell in love and went steady, and while someone might get to “first or even second base,” rarely did they “get to third and score a home run.” Not having that level of physical involvement made it easier in some ways for people who didn’t fall in love to let the relationship fizzle and die. Maybe that’s why marriage and relationships lasted longer than they do today.

The most common route to romance starts with attraction, a kind of undefined magnetism that draws individuals together. In a perfect world, that attraction becomes infatuation, which grows into desire. In some cases, the desire will grow into love. In others, the flames will burn hot and heavy, eventually extinguishing themselves. Not every romance leads to happily ever after.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

There are times when the initial attraction doesn’t ramp up to infatuation right away and develops into a deep friendship instead. For some, that friendship stays as is and endures a lifetime. My first real boyfriend is still a cherished friend and married to my best girlfriend. I even introduced them, and they’ve been together 44 years.

Sometimes, romance develops when people are thrown together by circumstances, which is often the case in my books. Initially, they may not feel that instantaneous magnetic appeal, but there is something about the person they admire. Often, that admiration will grow into respect and that respect into love. Since I frequently put my characters in danger, there is a protective instinct that often comes into play.

I consider myself extremely lucky. I met my husband at university. The first time we met, there were sparks of interest, and when he asked me out, I accepted. On our first date, we talked for hours, getting to know one another. The following week, he sent me a funny card, something he did quite often. Over the course of two years, we dated exclusively and married shortly after he started his first job. We’ll celebrate 46 years together in September and he is still my best friend. Time changes relationships, especially marriages, but we both worked hard to keep the romance in ours. Even when the children were young, we had date night. It might only have been a romantic candlelight dinner after all the kids were in bed, but we made time for one another.

Today, now that we are in our so-called golden years, we still have date night and romance in our lives. We travel just the two of us, enjoying the things we’ve come to love together, understanding the limitations age has put on both of us. We have time with the children and grandchildren, but when it comes right down to it, we are a couple and the romance is still very much alive.

Getting to know one another, sharing and caring, doing whatever it takes to make the other person feel loved and cherished, to me, that’s what romance is all about.

When I create my characters, I try to give them the time to get to know one another. I make sure the reasons they don’t commit to one another are logical and understandable. I don’t have perfect people in my books, but flawed characters who have to overcome both physical and emotional issues before they can admit to themselves how they feel and commit to the other. In my novel, The Price of Honor, I have two old friends who are reunited by circumstances, but the past is as much what draws them together as it is what keeps them apart. The romance is there as they get to know one another all over again, searching for the truth and maybe saving the colony in the process.

For me romance is a journey of discovery that hopefully ends in a happily ever after.

Wow! I couldn’t have said it better myself…
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Susanne! Lovely to have you here! ♥
And gosh, I love that cover!

Guest Bio

Amazon bestselling author Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She is of French-Canadian descent. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Not content with one subgenre, Susanne writes romance that ranges from contemporary to sci-fi and everything in between. She is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, or traveling to interesting places she can use as settings in her future books. In summer she enjoys camping with her grandchildren and attending various outdoor concerts and fairs. In winter, she likes to cuddle by the fire and watch television.

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, Susanne, 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 Tina Donahue visits us on May 18th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great week, everyone!

2 Comments

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

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Dianne Hartsock

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 Dianne Hartsock, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

What does romance mean to me? You’d be surprised how many times the answer has changed over the course of my life!

Created by Jcomp – Freepik.com

When I was fifteen reading Jane Eyre, Little Women, and the sweet romances of Gene Stratton-Porter, I would have sworn it was the glorious pain of separation, the unrequited love which left me in the depths of despair, and the unequaled joy of reunion. My lover on his knees pledging undying hopelessness if I didn’t return his love would be the ultimate happy ending.

In my twenties it was dinner and dancing at a favorite club and drinks by a fire afterwards, or watching the moon set over the mountains and a very early breakfast before tumbling into bed together, tired and happy.

When my kids were little, it was the height of romance when my husband would come home from work and kick me out of the house to have dinner or watch a movie with friends. Or those precious hours on a Saturday afternoon when he would take over, leaving me free to do whatever I wanted. That usually meant antique shopping and used book stores and a coffee shop afterwards without little hands touching everything. I loved my kids, still do! But those hours saved my sanity.

As they grew older it was the stolen weekend at the beach or mountains with my husband while Grandma watched the kids. We’d get a room and order room service, sleep, make love, sleep some more, hardly leaving the hotel except for the occasional walk or trip to a nearby coffee shop.

Nowadays, things are different. The kids are grown, but thank goodness they both live an hour’s drive from my front door, so we get to see them often. Romance means quiet evenings by the fire while we cuddle on the couch with a favorite glass of wine. It’s my husband walking downtown with me to my favorite coffee shop, even though he doesn’t drink coffee. It’s out to dinner for no other reason than I’ve worked hard and come home tired.

It’s putting in the new kitchen sink we’d been talking about as a surprise for Valentine’s Day and the million little things he does around the house that shows his love.

So, what does romance mean to me in my writing? Why, all of the above! And all the sex I don’t talk about in my personal life. Because yes, we can have romance without sex, but I think it’s the funnest part.

My men meet and there’s that spark of something between them, the racing pulse, anticipation and exquisite attraction. Who is this person? They have to get to know them. Maybe one has that delicious self-confidence I love and buys the other guy a drink. Like the beginning of most relationships, everything is wonderful—at first, even the way he smiles at everyone.

Wait. Did he just flirt with that other guy? Weren’t they going to be exclusive?

The doubts we all have rush in. I try to keep the angst to a minimum, but sometimes it’s hard when you see the person you love with someone else, even if you’ve misinterpreted the situation.

But with my characters, as in my own life, I have them sit down and discuss what is wrong, work through the problem, and listen to each other.

It’s the little things they do that shows their love. A phone call when they’re going to be late. Surprise dinner at a favorite restaurant. A flower or—my personal favorite—a cup of coffee in the morning, just because.

And then there’s the sex. I do write m/m erotic romance, after all, and my stories not only have some hot sex, but they show the emotion behind the act. All the feels. Because romance, at the end of the day, is how that special someone makes us feel. And I believe this is when we fall in love. Love at first sight? I believe in lust at first sight, that overwhelming need to be with someone. But love comes gradually, whether we want it or not. And romance is how we express this most delicious, consuming feeling. Hopefully it is returned in full.

Wow! So true…
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Dianne! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, M/M romance, and anything else that comes to mind. She lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

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, Dianne, 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 Susanne Matthews visits us on May 16th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

3 Comments

Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Guest Writer, Hope, LGBT, Love, Message, New Adult, Readers, Romance, Writers, Writing