On Romance Novels

I read a lot of books, that surprises no one. If you browse my lists each month, you probably have a good idea of what I read. I used to read anything. Everything. If you put it in front of me, I’d read it. I don’t do that anymore. Now I know what I like and I only read those books. Why waste my time if I don’t like it? I figure there are millions of books I will never have time to read, so I should never bother with a book I don’t want to read or do not like.

I read a lot of teen books these days. Teen fiction, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, romance, thriller. Pretty much anything teen, I’ll try it out. I also read adult sci-fi, but not a ton. And I’ll read adult fiction. I do read some adult fantasy. My bread and butter, however, is romance. I was around 11 years old when I read my first romance (no, I don’t remember what it was) and I loved it. Love the genre.

Romance really comes in so many styles. There are historical romances. Then sub-genres of Scottish, Medieval, Regency, Victorian, Gothic, literary, and old West. Then there are category romances. These are the Harlequin and Silhouette romances, the slimmer books, the ones with the “join for a penny and we’ll send you a book a month” adverts in them. The ones classified as “trashy” by most non-romance readers. And contemporary romance, which has sub-genres of thriller, mystery, humor, sweet, erotic, Western, Amish (I’m sure these have a name, but they are stories that are pure. No sex, no kissing. The characters are frequently Amish, so I call them Amish romance, but I bet they have a real name) and probably more I’m not thinking of right now. Then there are sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal romance novels. And time travel romance is a genre all to itself.

First, I bet you had no idea romance was such a hugely vast genre. I have read books in every singe one of these categories. I’ve tried every type of romance that exists. I’ve got my favorites, and those I don’t like much (Amish, Gothic, Regency, Victorian, contemporary mystery, I really don’t read these any more.) My favorites tend to be subject to trends and change. I was heavy into historical romance for years. Like, most of my 20s. Then I did paranormal for a while. I still read paranormals, but they are now restricted to my favorite authors (Kresley Cole). I will, of course, still read an historical, but I don’t search them out. But if an author I like puts out a new book (Julia Quinn), I’ll snatch it right up. However, these days I mostly read contemporary romance. It’s a tougher genre for me, because it is so wide and encompassing, which means there is a lot of garbage. I read as many bad romance books as I do good ones it sometimes seems.

I have no idea how many books I’ve read in my life, the number would be very, very high. But I can conservatively estimate that I have read thousandS of romance novels in my life. Literally more than one thousand romance novels, honestly, probably more than double that.

The reason a lot of people don’t like romance is because they think it is trite or formulaic, and it is. No doubt. Romance novels follow a pattern, use tropes, have similar threads. And, let’s face it, they all end with a happily ever after, so there’s not really a surprise. But, that is exactly what I like about them. You know what to expect, so it falls to the author to find a way to engage me with the story, a story, that I’ve read a thousand times before. It’s a challenge. Sometimes it’s the writing, or a strong character, or a unique bent to the story, but if it’s a good one, it will capture me and suck me in, until I don’t mind the fact that I’ve read variations before.

Now, as I said, I know what I don’t like. I am generally not a huge fan of erotic romances. I have no problem with sex in a book, but I like it to be part of the story. Enhancing the love story of the characters, or causing them trouble or something. Not big on gratuitous sex, and every erotic romance I’ve ever read has felt that way, like the author is just showing off how clever he or she can be and how graphic they can make it. So, when I read a recommendation of an erotic romance, by an author I was unfamiliar with, I nearly dismissed it. But the recommendation was written so strongly in favor of this book, I found myself reluctantly intrigued.

The book is called Broken and it is by Megan Hart. I downloaded it from the library when I got home from work yesterday and started it. I was in the middle of another book that I wasn’t particularly enjoying, so I picked this up. It’s very sexual, and very graphic, but it was the story that truly caught my attention.

Quite simply, I had never read another book like this one. Try to imagine that. With all the romance books I’ve read, that I can still find a book that is unlike any other? I was astonished by this. The story was completely original, it didn’t follow the typical pattern for romances. In fact, it was so far off book, I actually did not know how it would end. Yes, there was a lot of sex, but it was used to tell the story, to the point that it became entertaining and moved the story forward.

In short (ha! that’s probably the wrong choice of words in a 1,000 word post), I absolutely loved this book. I was blown away by its originality. And I loved how it ended. If you recall, endings are somewhat of a sticking point for me, but not this one. I loved the way this book ended. It was perfect for the story.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I’m not, really. I’m telling me. This book made me feel so great after reading it that I wanted to remember, and to remind myself that while I have a great understanding of genre fiction, it never hurts to take a risk and try something new. It can pay off with a new favorite book. And, I suppose, for anyone out there who was wondering what an erotic romance my be like, try this one. Because it’s also a terrific story. But mostly, because I wanted to write a love letter to the romance novel. That’s why.

Sunday No Fun Day

Allow me to tell you a story.

I had previously told my mother that I was not stopping by to visit on Sunday because I had a busy weekend and needed to stay home and get things done. Well, that changed when a gift I ordered my sister showed up. I decided to pop over and deliver the gift and then visit for a bit and head home.

3:00pm

I get in my car and start driving home. I have low fuel, but the light just went on that morning, so I have quite a bit of time before I truly need gas.

3:10 pm

I exit onto Century and stop at the red light. While sitting at the light, my car shudders. I thought that was weird, it hasn’t been acting strange at all. But, still, I think nothing.

The light turns green, I press the gas, the car goes about 15 feet and then…..nothing. It just dies. I coast around the corner, swinging wide to be in the right lane, but I am stranded. I can’t get it started, and there is no shoulder or anything. I am stuck, IN THE ROAD, on a busy street. I am also under the overpass for I-94. Turns out, it is super loud under there…
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 It’s hard to tell where I am, but you can clearly see I am IN the road.

I call my dad.

I don’t know what is wrong, but I ask him if it could possibly be that I ran out of gas? I kept telling him it didn’t seem right because I only drove about 10 miles after the light came on, but I guess anything is possible. He said it was possible that the car would act that way if I ran out of gas. Just to be clear, I was about two miles from home when this happened. Dad suggested I call Chad and ask him to bring me some gas, because he lives just up the road and has a gas can for his lawn mower.

I did.

3:40 pm

Chad arrives. We both get out and stand by my car. As previously mentioned it is very loud, so we’re shouting to talk while standing in front of one another. He puts gas in my car and I tried to start it. My dad had warned me it could take a while. I tried and tried and tried and nothing would happen. Knowing something was wrong, I told Chad he could go. No sense in ruining both of our Sundays.

3:50pm

I call my dad back and he tells me he’ll call his friend Al, who also lives nearby and send him to check out the car.

During the wait for Al, I text Kelly who offered to come pick me up and take me to lunch, which was sweet, but Al lives so close there was no way she’d beat him there.

4:00pm

I’ve now been trying to get home for an hour. Al shows up. He drops off his son Ryan and then drives away to park his truck at a nearby car dealer. His son looks through my manual, trying to find a shut off valve for the fuel pump or some such thing. The son has to get in my car a couple times to look for things and, this may have been the worst part of the day, he had BO so bad that I was gagging and my eyes were watering. I was trying so hard not to let him know, because he was there to help me, but it was horrible.

4:10pm

The state patrol arrives.

He spoke to Al, who explained that I broke down. Then Al told me that I should just call a wrecker because there is nothing he can do. A wrecker is evidently slang for tow truck. I ask him where I can call. I had already tried the auto shop that I use and they were closed. Everything was closed. It was a Sunday afternoon. Al said he didn’t know and asked the statie. He said that he’d be happy to call it into dispatch for me and they’d send someone. Yes, PLEASE! At this point I just want it done. I don’t want this to be on me anymore.

4:15pm

Al and Ryan leave.

The state patrol crouched down to talk to me through the window of my car. He told me that fuel pumps break without warning and that is probably what it is, and I shouldn’t worry, it’s not a big deal. Then he told me that he didn’t think I was very safe where I was. I agreed. I didn’t feel safe. People had been going around me, but there was a lot of traffic and all it takes is one person not paying attention and I get creamed.

He said that he was going to sit in his cruiser, behind me, with his lights on, until the tow truck arrived, to keep me safe. He warned me that if he got a call, he might have to leave, but as long as he didn’t, he’d just sit there and protect me.

It was so nice I wanted to cry.

So there I sat, waiting on my tow truck, with my own personal protection.
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I called my dad back to let him know what was happening. He asked how I was going to get home. I said I’d just ride in the tow truck, right? He said no. When my mom and I broke my dad’s truck, that guy gave us a lift in his tow truck. When my Saturn broke down on the interstate, that guy gave me a lift. I honestly thought that is what happened. Now, when I tell people this story they all say that is crazy. Apparently, no one EVER gets a ride in the tow truck. Must be just me, then.
So, my dad decides to call my brother Nick to come and pick me up. Nick was driving right by. So Nick arrives, but my dad didn’t tell him that the State Patrol was my own personal guard. This made him nervous for reasons I won’t go into here. At any rate, the tow truck showed up moments later and wanted to follow us back. We had him bring the car to my dad’s house, because it was Sunday and nothing was open.
We got back and $150 later, my broken car was at my parents’ house. Now, I had cleaned out my car of all the things I might need. I set a pile of stuff on the table in the garage. I paid the tow truck driver and it took him FOREVER to process the payment. While waiting, it was growing steadily colder outside. I didn’t have a coat on or anything. When he finally left, I went in to put on my sweatshirt. I snatched it up off the table, but unbeknownst to me, half of it was tucked underneath my iPad. When I picked it up, my iPad flew threw the air, the cover came open and it landed, face down on the floor of the garage. I heard the sound. Before I even picked it up, I just knew. I knew beyond a doubt, that in addition to a broken car, I had a broken iPad.
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It actually looks way worse than that in person, but even that looks pretty bad. And you can see my silhouette reflected on the screen. Not the tear tracks on my face, though….
It was just too much. I borrowed a car from my parents and drove home, as soon as I got in the car, I started to cry. I just drove and drove while crying my way home. Eventually, I called Elena and she talked me down.
Once I got home, I called Kelly. Mark answered and I told him the story. He said, “think of it this way. Sunday starts the week. You’ve used up all your bad karma today, so you are in for an awesome week!” It was the perfect thing to say to me just then. I really needed to hear that.
I called my sister and told her the story and then Kelly called me back and I talked to her. After talking it out, I was feeling calmer. I ate dinner and watched some tv and did some laundry, trying my best not to think about it.
At 10:30 I went to bed. I unplugged my iPhone from its charger (because I use it as my alarm clock, so it needs to be in my room). And as I unplugged it, the cord caught on something and I pulled and it knocked over a decorative vase holding glass roses that I’ve had since I moved in.
Shatter.
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That’s just what was on the counter. The floor had broken bits of glass on BOTH SIDES of the counter. So, before I could sleep this horrible day away, I had to sweep my kitchen and vacuum my dining room. Just what I want to be doing at almost 11 at night. It was just too much.
I held on to Mark’s words as I went to sleep, believing this would be a terrific week.

Deja Vu

Remember this? Last year, end of June, I broke my toe. I think. I never officially had it checked, but the photos speak for themselves.

One year later, practically to the day, I’ve got this going on….
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Same foot, same toe.

This was a few hours after it happened. Last year, it was stubbed on a cabinet in the bathroom. The cabinet has since been moved. This time? On the toilet, in the same bathroom. Unfortunately, I can’t remove the toilet, so I don’t know what I’m going to do.

The photo above was Saturday, right after it happened.

This photo
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Was taken minutes ago. As you can see, still a little swollen and the bruising is spreading, but it’s not nearly as bad as last year.
However, the difference could be in elevation and ice. Last year I was working 80 hours a week with zero down time. I walked on it and worked nonstop. This year, it happened on a weekend and I rested it. Elevation and ice, so that could be why it isn’t as bad.
Who knows?
Either way, it hurts like hell. And it’s a little creepy that this happened exactly the same, two years in a row. If it happens next year, I will probably freak out.
There’s your fun “Livlife is a klutz” story for the day.

Saturday’s Woes

I was going to write a long story about this, but let’s just brief it out instead.

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That enough? Ok, a bit more. My battery died. I couldn’t find it to jump it. Turns out, that’s because my battery is under the backseat of the car. Yep, sure is.

I even

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text my dad a photo of the engine to see if he could find it. I’m not a stupid girl. When I couldn’t find the battery, something had to be going on.

Unfortunately, I was quite a ways away from my house. It was a long jaunt for my dad to come and get me. He jumped the car, after I figured out where the battery was located – using the manual, thank God for print resources, and it has been fine ever since. FINE. Nothing is wrong with it. The battery tests perfectly. So, here’s to hoping it was a fluke. And furthermore, here’s to hoping if it does break down again, it’s at my day job, instead of one of my far off weekend jobs…

Day After Day

Friday:
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Close up…
photo (7)

Later that night:
photo (9)

 

Saturday:

photo (10)

Close up…

photo (11)

Sunday:

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Close up…

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(please note after two full days of icing and elevating, it is STILL so swollen)

Monday:

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Oh yeah…at my desk.

Close up…

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Out of focus, but you get the gist.

 

I broke my toe. Or jammed it. It’s impossible to tell. It hurts, it’s swollen, it bruised up very nicely, and I can’t wear shoes (only flip flops don’t hurt). Thank goodness it’s summer.

I caught the edge of a cabinet in my bathroom on Friday morning. I assumed I stubbed it. I cursed, no doubt about it, and I saw stars when it happened, it really hurt, but I figured I’d be fine. I shook it off.

Then, I went to work and about six hours later as it was still throbbing, I glanced down and saw that it was bright purple (see photos 1 and 2). That was when I realized I really hurt it. I’ve had it elevated as much as possible. I taped it for work on Saturday. I ice it all the time. Yet, four days later it is still extremely swollen and bruised and painful. Superfun.

Also, my plumbing backed up and sewage from the toilet is now in my bathtub. Awesome. I couldn’t do anything this weekend (except gag from the smell) so a plumber is coming today and my awesome dad will meet them and get it fixed.

And how was YOUR weekend?

 

Layla, You’ve Got Me on My Knees

On Sunday, my sister and husband brought my niece over for a swim. The also brought their friend Tarah, and Tarah’s daughter, Layla.

We were hanging out and having fun, then the little girls (Arionna is 16 months and Layla is 21 months) wanted to get out and walk around. I let the parents get out and chase the kiddos, I stayed in the pool. However, I was swimming along the edges, playing peek-a-boo and entertaining the girls.

Once I hit the deep end, I was playing catch with Layla and a beach ball. Suddenly, she decided she wanted to jump off the edge into the pool for the first time in her life. We were all surprised, but none more than me, the one she jumped on. I caught her, but I was in the deep end. I couldn’t stay afloat. I ended up going under and sinking down, with my arms thrust straight upward, keeping Layla from going under. I hadn’t had a chance to take a breath and I didn’t have my arms free to help me, so I was wildly kicking with my feet,trying to force myself upward.

Somehow, I drifted over to the incline, where the pool starts to get shallower. My left foot struck out, and managed to slam into the concrete, right in the spot where I broke my foot last fall. Even underwater, tears sprang to my eyes. I gritted through the pain and used the bad foot to push off and get myself out of the water.

All three adults were watching this and laughing. None of them thought to grab the little girl from me to let me get free.

When I finally got out of the pool later, I could barely walk. I’m worried that I might have rebroken my foot–cause that’s all I need right now. I’ve been elevating and icing and I had a CMA wrap me up in an ACE bandage today. I can walk on it, but it hurts…lots.

I hope it’s not broken, but there isn’t anything that can be done. Last time, it was just the air cast–which I still have. If it gets any worse, I might, but right now, we’re seriously hoping for just a bone bruise. Are you all with me? Cross your fingers, cross your toes, but start meditating on the words “bone bruise”, with any luck our collective karma will keep me from having another six weeks in my Frankenstein boot.

At least Layla thought it was fun and is no longer afraid of jumping into the pool.