Tag Archives: reality

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.

Created by Freepik

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.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

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

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 Tina Donahue

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 Tina Donahue, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

From the time I first read Gone with the Wind in high school, I was hooked on historical tales. To me, the interaction between the heroines and heroes gives romance emotional weight rather than simply being plot driven. If I care about the people who populate a novel, I read on. If not, I’ll look elsewhere. Romance, to me, is a deeply personal connection between the world the author has created and the reader. It’s like growing to like and love someone, and inviting that person into your life as a trusted friend or lover. It doesn’t get more personal than that.

I’ve often heard that writing romance is easy. You know the old phrase: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. Generally speaking, that covers the plot but not the emotions. Romance, more than any other genre, is driven by feelings. Getting those emotions down on paper is exceedingly difficult. There are visceral reactions (palms sweating, heart pounding) and personal ones (If I give my heart will s/he treat it well or will s/he disappoint me as others have done in the past?).

Created by Freepik

Romance is about trust and taking chances. For example, in my historical series Pirate’s Prize, nothing is as it seems, at least to the heroines. In the initial book, First Comes Desire, Diana is convinced Tristen Kent is a murderous pirate. In truth, circumstances beyond his control drove him to where he is. Whether he’ll be able to convince Diana of that remains in question until he proves himself and their emotional bond grows. In a plot-driven book, narration would tell you that they’ve connected. That’s not enough, at least for me. I want to feel their burning need for each other. That comes from shared experiences, friendship, and loyalty. An easy matter to plot, but quite difficult to get on the page. Watching these two connect and fall in love is what romance means to me. That moment when a woman knows this is the man who’ll stay by her side for a lifetime, no matter the difficulties he’ll face. And when he understands what a woman truly needs: fidelity and respect.

In Days of Desire, the second book in the series, I upped the ante between the heroine and hero: Simone and Royce. He’s a disgraced noble on a mission to destroy the island paradise where she lives. She’s an islander, considered less by those who live in the so-called civilized world. In this instance, romance is about cultural problems that don’t need to exist and about giving your heart to someone no matter what the rest of the world thinks. Heritage and ideology have no hold where love is involved, nor should they. To witness Royce forsaking everything he’s been taught to embrace a life with Simone is what romance means to me. It’s risking everything for the one person you simply have to have and defending that individual against anyone who dares try to ruin the connection.

Far beyond being an entertainment vehicle, romance means showing the world that we’re all simply people with the same needs and dreams. Once we dismiss the unnecessary obstacles society puts in our way, we can find that one person who makes our heart sing, brings passion to our days, and secures our future.

Unsplash, Alejandra Quiroz, Creative Commons license.

Days of Desire is available for pre-order. Ready to read July 4th.

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

Guest Bio

Tina Donahue is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary, and historical romance for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times, and numerous online sites have praised her work. She’s won Readers’ Choice Awards, RWA awards – Holt Medallion and NEC, and won a Book of the Year award. She’s featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company. You can find her online at:

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, Tina, 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 Carole McKee visits us on May 25th! Yay! 🙂

We’ll have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, 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 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

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by K.C. Sprayberry

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 to the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback.

Without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author K.C. Sprayberry, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

Romance with Gray Hair and Saggy Skin

 

What images come to mind when you hear about a new romance book? Are the couple young, beautiful, and out to set the world on fire? Does the cover entice you with in-shape people who look as if they have their lives ahead of them? Does the story promise a long courtship or short period of getting to know each other before they settle into creating a family and living out their lives in what most assume must be boredom?

Most think a book where one of the characters decides on career over marriage and children wouldn’t be a romance. They’d decry that book if it was the woman making this decision. Yet, in our modern world, more and more women are putting aside romance and marriage to focus on a career. Yet, once that career is over and they’re facing retirement, they see their friends have something they lost along the way and they wonder… what if I’d taken the shot at a family?

Two Hearts One Soul is about such a couple. Beginning in the 1970s, Mel receives a proposal from Joe. She’s so focused on making a career in the Air Force she doesn’t think twice about telling him no. In her mind, he’s her best friend and had held that honor for years. Joe is lost and angry when she turns him down, so much so that he doesn’t reenlist, instead returning home to marry another girl on the rebound and raise a family.

Flash forward nearly thirty years and this is when the story of romance for those over fifty begins. There are no nursing homes, no couple that is less than healthy living out their last days. Mel and Joe rediscover what they lost. Can they make it as a couple?

This short story examines the difficulties of restarting a relationship and how they are overcome when both parties realize how much they still mean to each other. Has their love cooled? Or has it been simmering in the background, only to be revived once they’re in the same room? Is their romance one of the hot, passionate whirlwind associated with love for the twenty or thirty year old set? Or do they have a cautious approach, one where both are afraid they might never have this chance again?

Created by Freepik

For that, you’ll have to read the book and discover how a woman without children can reconnect with a man who has a passel of them. Perhaps along the way you’ll learn that gray in the hair and saggy skin doesn’t mean the heart doesn’t beat a little faster when that special person walks into the room. There are still discoveries to be made for those of retirement age; it only takes people with the desire to find them to be willing to accept they may or may not reconnect with an old love.

Two Hearts One Soul is available on Amazon, a short read that will confirm that those of us over fifty still have romantic hearts.

Wow! Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, K.C.! Lovely to have you here! ♥
And, of course, age has no bearing on a good romance…
Guest Bio

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.

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, K.C., for giving us a peak into romance for the retirement set, and how you’ve incorporated your own romantic beliefs into your books. Awesome! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Dianne Hartsock visits us on May 11th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great week, everyone!

18 Comments

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

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Ricardo Mejías

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 Ricardo Mejías, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

Romance in a relationship is a lot like dancing. Not the spontaneous kind, but one that requires practice. There’s an art to it, and when it comes to art there is always an ideal form one aspires to; dancers appear surreal to those watching; elegant in motion, graceful, years of hard work made to look effortless. But no one can be perfect. They can have moments, beautiful and brief moments that take our breath away, but even perfect moments are only meant to be remembered, not lived. And this can be disheartening, always trying to be at your best, straining to get it right.

This is only one point of view. Just as there are many ways to dance, there are many ways to interact with love. But for me, romance is a passionate exercise in living outside yourself. It is learning to dance with your partner. Discovering how they move, the beauty in their steps so refreshingly new and yet complementary to your own; figuring out ways to glide and sashay across the floor, together; knowing you are only as strong as your partner, savoring in the ache of your muscles, relishing in the many mistakes that will follow because that means there is still work to be done.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

Ineffable, tinged in sadness, made to look elegant and is in constant motion, forever practicing with the one you love on a vast stage. It is hard and never truly ends. It is sweat and tears. It is earned.

I find the more beautiful an idea or object, the greater the weight of sorrow it carries. It can be easy to fall into the fantasy of pure romance, with stories ending on a note of warmth and comfort because they, by nature, necessitate a beginning and end. But we do not live in chapters, and because we inherently know this we can be pulled even more towards that ideal—ironically adding to the pain we seek to avoid.

My writing has always been infused with this sentiment. Romanticizing love’s other half, celebrating the elegant figure of Imperfection but always keeping the bigger picture in mind; you may trip and hurt yourself in the process, but it is worth it. There are very few happy endings to my stories. My prose is never settled, never really content with itself. It can always be better, and a lot of times I hate it. But I keep writing, and when I edit my work I am flirting, knowing I will always come back for more even if it is not exactly how I want it, that sometimes I may have writer’s block and sometimes I will have so much to say but no words to write them down, yet the page will always be waiting for me, whispering gently: there will be moments…brief, perfect moments to remember.

And how incredibly romantic is that? I fall for it every time.

So true! Life is a lot like writing; there are often hurdles to overcome, but in the end it is a worthy endeavor. I believe the same about romance. Those very real, normal moments and struggles combine with the small, beautiful, perfect ones to create a canvas. And from that you can build a future with the person that calls to your soul. 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Ricardo! A pleasure to have you here! ♥
Guest Bio

Ricardo Mejías discovered his love for prose in his senior year of high school while taking a creative writing course. He majored in Creative Writing at SUNY New Paltz with a double minor in philosophy. Wanting to learn more about the publishing industry, he pursued an editorial career and worked at Disney Hyperion as an Assistant Editor. Currently residing in New York with his wife, he’s now looking to explore new careers as well as develop his writing and poetry crafts.

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, Ricardo, 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 K.C. Sprayberry visits us on May 9th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

1 Comment

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

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Lashanta Charles

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 Lashanta Charles, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

For me, romance means life and insanity. It’s said that insanity is constantly doing the same things over and over, hoping that you’ll get a different outcome. Isn’t that what we do in our never-ending quest to find that perfect romance? In life, we search and we search and then we search just a little bit more, always trying to find that one person who completes us. That one person who will make us feel cherished. Appreciated. Needed. We want someone or something that will give us purpose, other than living, other than existing. And what could be better than that feeling of surprise and wonder that we get when we’re presented with just because gifts? Or when we’ve had the day from hell and our significant other makes it an all about you night?

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

We spend so much time vying for that moment where we can have that goofy smile and starry-eyed look, yet we fail to realize that it isn’t always perfect, nor is it always easy. Romance is just as much work as love, and what’s that old saying – love is never easy. Well, my friends, neither is romance. I’ve centered my writing career on the highs and lows of romance, and even in the fictional words and characters I create, it isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. I absolutely live for my next book boyfriend, no matter if it’s one I create or if it’s one that another author creates. Yet, knowing they aren’t real and neither are those scenes where they go all in and confess their undying love in the most amazing way possible, I still yearn for it. I swoon. I cheer them on. I laugh with them and I cry with them and when it’s all said and done, I do it all over again – INSANITY!!

I began writing romance novels because, at the time, I was missing that aspect in my life. I saw romance as the elusive and dangerous creature that I wanted to hunt down and make my tame little pet. I wanted so badly to feel the romance that I’d read about in countless books or saw in the plethora of movies I’ve watched. I wanted my very own hero to come and save me (who cares if I wasn’t in danger), my very own bad boy who reformed his ways just to make me happy, my very own prince to whisk me off to his castle where I would eventually become a queen and rule by his side.

I never got that! Insane, right?? Because I totally deserve that! What I did get was my husband who I’ve been married to for nearly a decade, and I love that man like it’s nobody’s business. Is he as romantic as I had hoped? Not a chance in hell! Would I trade him for that hero, bad boy, or prince? You bet your sweet bottom I wouldn’t! He is mine and I am his and we are perfectly flawed, but together we are perfectly phenomenal. He makes me laugh, yet he makes me cry. He makes me feel appreciated, but manages to forget things that I think are important (news flash, I’m so much worse at this than he is – guess who forgot our anniversary last year . . . not him). He tests my patience even more than our kids do, but his soul is beautiful and he chose to share that astounding soul with little old me. How romantic is that, right?!

Adapted from vector created by Freepik

I still read just about any romance novel I can get my hands on, no matter how cheesy (I’m a sucker for insta-love and paranormal romances with the whole one true mate – le sigh) and I still watch the movies with perfect romantically nice endings, getting lost in those fictional worlds, but once they’re over I’m right back to my reality, my husband. And I always realize that romance isn’t something that’s set in stone. It isn’t a written rule that everyone has to follow. It’s just you and your relationship, regardless of if that’s with a real person, one you’ve read about, or one you saw in a movie. It’s all yours and it’s what you have, so enjoy it to the fullest. And, in the meantime, if you’re in desperate need of a book boyfriend, I encourage you to meet Nico…

So true! I happen to believe that those very normal moments are exactly what help to encourage and strengthen a romantic bond. If you can get through that, while slowing down occasionally to appreciate the little things we often take for granted, then you can handle anything. 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Lashanta! Lovely to have you here! ♥
Guest Bio

Lashanta Charles was born and raised in the small town of Orangeburg, SC. She has always been an avid reader of all genres, but Romance has always been her true love and is what inspired her to pursue a writing career. In high school, she began letting her classmates read the short stories that she would write and based off their feedback, her passion for writing pushed her to become a published author. She published her debut novel, Lovely Lies, in 2013 and released the sequel, Lovely Lies 2, in February 2014. Her third novel, Splitting Karma, was released in October 2014. She lives in Tacoma, WA, with her husband and three children and also serves in the US Army. She’s a home body who enjoys SLEEPING, reading, eating, SLEEPING, white chocolate mochas, sexy alien romances, SLEEPING, and of course, writing. Oh, and she hates spiders; they’re extremely creepy…why do they need eight legs?!

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, Lashanta, for giving us your take on what romance itself has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Ricardo Mejías visits us on May 4th! Yay! 🙂

We’ll have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

4 Comments

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

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!

4 Comments

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