Tag Archives: romance

Romance Novels, Truth and Why I’m Pro-Choice

I was raised Catholic and taught from an early age and in the wake of Roe v. Wade, that life begins at conception. Naturally this meant that abortion was murder so of course it should be illegal. This belief influenced how I voted for the first time at 18 and later in my early 20s. I once attended a NOW meeting for a college class and found the experience extremely distasteful as the entire 2 hours was focused on pro-choice issues. To me “pro-choice” was just a euphemism for “pro-abortion” and an excuse for women to be selfish.

When I was 27 I read Heartbeat by Danielle Steel. The heroine, Adrian, is married to Steven. They are a successful couple, each with a fulfilling career, a beautiful home and a happy life. Despite the fact that they have decided to not have children, Adrian finds herself unexpectedly pregnant one day. She tells Steven and he insists that she terminate the pregnancy. She refuses so Steven leaves her. Adrian then meets Bill, the hero of the story, and the romance proceeds much in the way you would expect.

Many reading this book might see it has having a pro-life message, and a pretty common troupe for a romance novel. Danielle Steel describes her writing process as being highly focused. She spends hours each day, doing little else, and becomes hyper focused on each book she writes. I like to think this is because she pours her truth into each book. Sharing your truth with the world in a truly authentic way helps others see their own truth. However, each person’s truth looks different on the outside. The key, and this is the struggle the world faces, is learning to live with the various different faces of truth.

Danielle Steel poured her truth into Heartbeat and by doing so she helped me see mine. Instead of seeing Adrian’s husband Steven as an evil monster who wants to kill babies, I saw him as the pentacle of choice. He insisted that Adrian do what he wanted while Adrian realized she had a choice. Adrian was the one who was pregnant. Adrian was the one who felt life in her body. Adrian was the one in charge and Adrian chose to have her baby, husband or not. It was this book, Heartbeat, this book that contained Danielle Steel’s truth which on its face was saying “abortion is wrong,” this book helped me understand that being pro-choice means exactly that: choice.

I felt like I had a burden lifted when I came to this realization. It was one of the first times I can remember seeing things click together in my mind and having clarity. Helping others clear things up in their own minds is why I need to continue to write. I need to write my truth because truth makes the world a better place.

Educating Caroline by Patricia Cabot

Choice number two of the Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Little Miss Drama Queen, a book that had been sitting on your shelf for over a year, was one of the more difficult choices for me since it described most of the books on my bookshelf. I narrowed the choice down by choosing a Meg Cabot novel and then narrowed those down by choosing one of Cabot’s old regency romance novels written under her pen name, Patricia Cabot. TheEducating Caroline result was Educating Caroline.

Taking place in 1870 London, Lady Caroline Linford is engaged to Hurst Devenmore Slater, the Marquis of Winchilsea. She’s pretty happy about it until she catches him cheating on her with another aristocrat, Lady Jacquelyn Seldon. Not wanting to disgrace her family by calling off the wedding Caroline decides to instead engage the services of notorious lady’s man Braden Granville to teach her how to entice her betrothed away from the slutty Lady Jacquelyn. It sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? Not to mention scandalous. But Caroline’s own mother plants the seed for the idea when she says that in order to hold on to a man Caroline should use her body…

“…which, if I do say so myself, is the spitting image of the one I had at your age, and which I used to excellent advantage…”

Braden Granville is not only a womanizer with a horrible reputation, he is not even titled (gasp!) and has made his fortune on his new fangled gun company. His appearance is secondary, possessing the self-made confidence and logic we all love in Cabot’s leading men. (In fact, based on his dominant traits I would not be surprised if he is an ancestor if Michael Moscovitz.) Caroline shocks him with her unusual request for lessons but seeing as it is a romance novel, passionate sparks fly throughout.  (Code for: there’s a lot of sex.)

In addition to the love triangle Caroline finds herself in, there is also a mystery involving the Marquis and Caroline’s brother which is quite intriguing.

While I did enjoy Educating Caroline, I did have a hard time getting into it mostly because I’m getting a little bored with the regency romance genre. That said, the novel is still quite delightful especially given Cabot’s humor which is the basis for this story. She even throws in a few references to the always pregnant Lady Rawlings who hardcore and keen eyed Meg Cabot fans know is in fact Pegeen MacDougal who married Lord Edward Rawlings in her first published book, Where Roses Grow Wild.

If you are looking for an old school regency romance with humor and a fun storyline I highly recommend Educating Caroline. I give it a Classic Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating classic

Priceless by Christina Dodd

When it comes to romance novels, Christina Dodd is a household name. I’ve enjoyed herPriceless Facebook feed and blog for years. I also see her books everywhere and finally got around to reading one last month. I decided to start with one of her earlier novels, Priceless which was published in 1992.

The heroine is feisty little Bronwyn Edana, daughter of a respected but penniless nobleman and the seventh of eight sisters. In addition to being the ugly duckling (apparently petite, curly haired blonds were not desired in 18th century England) she also has the misfortune of being rather intelligent and outspoken. Despite all this her parents manage to have her betrothed to the hot hunky hero, Adam Kean, the Lord Rawson of Boudasea Manor.

Adam is arrogant, walks with a limp and has a questionable reputation. Unfortunately these are qualities Bronwyn must accept as this is as good a husband she can expect. Luckily for her family, Lord Rawson is also rich and accepts a marriage contract with Bronwyn sight unseen. He is sadly disappointed when they first meet as Bronwyn is awkwardly dressed in a dark haired wig and ridiculous clothing in an attempt to mimic the look of her sisters.

It isn’t long before the two strong personalities of Adam and Bronwyn clash and passionate sparks begin to fly. They develop a fervent and very physical relationship plagued by a misunderstanding that eventually sends Bronwyn to the solace of a London salon where she attempts to hide from Adam and her family and vows to never marry.

I had a vague understanding of salons from Renaissance history class but this book was the first time I was exposed to the concept in more depth. When Bronwyn first enters the salon of Madame Rachelle I just assumed it was a high class brothel. The salon in Priceless is nothing of the sort with no hanky panky going on – aside from the romantic antics of Dodd’s characters that is. Rather, Madame Rachelle describes her own salon as follows:

“…a place where men and women of the intellectual, social, and artistic elites can converse freely.”

It is of course a place where Bronwyn can shine and is also ordered to shed her wig forever. When Adam finds her there he is, of course, won over by her beauty and vows to get her back at any price. The rest of the book tells the story of their romance, peppered with a dangerous criminal element and a twist at the end.

I have to admit it. I was not thrilled by this book and had a hard time getting through it. The elements for interest were certainly there but for some reason they did not grab me. I claim some responsibility as these type of regency romances are usually hit or miss for me.

The other part that threw me was the structure of the story. It was all over the place. The first half took place at Lord Rawson’s estate and focused on both Adam and Bronwyn’s family dynamics. The second half took place in the salon in London and focused on the shady criminal conspiracy that entangles Adam, Bronwyn and a whole new batch of characters. It was almost like two books smashed together.

Priceless is from very early in Dodd’s writing career, her second or third book I think, so I’m not ready to write her work off entirely. I look forward to exploring more. I was glad to see this one end though. I’m going to have to give Priceless a Cautious Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating cautious