Tagged: Romance

Romance, wine and Daniel-san

I’ve posted before about how Mr Sleep and Salami and I met, but I’ve never posted about our very first “adult” date.

We decided to get together, have some dinner and hang out in the spa. We were both still living at home at the time and he was expecting people to be out.

As it turned out, his step-father was very ill that evening so we were asked to avoid using the spa bath as it was right next to his bedroom and he needed some rest. Not put off in the least, he picked me up, we grabbed some wine and settled in with some dinner and a movie. I was so nervous!

I don’t drink very much, but I thought a glass or two wouldn’t go amiss – I ended up not drinking any wine at all. Unfortunately, he was so nervous that he managed to drink all the wine. Both bottles.

So for our first date, there we were watching Karate Kid and making awkward, jittery conversation.

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Ahhhh, romance – you’re all jealous, I know it.

I didn’t realise how much he was drinking until he he stood up and tried to recreate a fight scene 🙂 Now, over the years it has become apparent that he just cannot do a reproduction crane kick like I can (Hiiii-yaaaah!), but he tried. With the glass of wine and his mum’s china cabinet on the receiving end. At that moment, I looked down to find the second bottle of wine was almost empty…

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I started to wonder how I was supposed to be getting home if he was driving me? Forethought was not a strong point for either of us back then. We’re better now, I swear (Swearsies. No matter what you heard, it’s all lies).

After about another 5 minutes, he started to go quiet – I thought he might be falling asleep – when suddenly he stood up, managing to be both wobbly and nonchalant, and just casually sidled out the balcony door, shutting it quietly behind him.

I just sat there, slightly embarrassed, confused and no longer concentrating on the movie. This balcony was tiny and lead nowhere so it’s not like he was going anywhere, checking out the non-existent view or fetching something.

After about 5 minutes I ventured outside to find him spewing sheepishly and unattractively all over the garage roof. I realised then that I would need to call a taxi (too cheap) or stay over (I felt safe enough).

So I stayed, he slept the deep sleep of the intoxicated and the rest is, as they cheesily say, history.

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The big little city

I have lived in the city all my life. I love the countryside, love the big views, the clear starry nights but there’s something about the city that will always appeal to me.

When I was younger and living at home (high school!) I was consistently driven around by my parents. Johannesburg was not considered safe by them and public transport was not an option for me. I travelled quite a bit, and experienced other cities in my teens, took public transport there, but the city I called home was strictly a driven experience for me.

Eight days before my 18th birthday I moved to New Zealand to spend time with my brother, to go to university and (I thought) to finally start living!

On my very first day there, my brother drove me to the city centre (Queen St) and dropped me off to spend the day looking around while he was at work. I don’t remember many details about this day, but two things stand out in my memory.

It was the first day that I felt like I was no longer a child (how wrong that turned out to be!) and there was a moment when I looked out into the street and realised that that was exactly where I was meant to be. I was in the right place, at the right time.The view I had at that moment was from this exact angle, from Albert Park looking down onto the Victoria and Queen intersection:

I went on to live on that street for a few years, which was just a spectacular time.

I’ve realised, in my subsequent travels, that I feel that way in every large city. I used to think it was just an Auckland thing but while I love the place, it turns out I’m geographically promiscuous. My relationships with the cities I’m in thrive even if only for a few days. The feeling is the same in each one, for a few seconds, sometimes more, I look around and feel a conflicting sense of excitement (almost nerves) and a sense of peace. Sydney, Krakow, NYC, Washington DC, London, Lisboa – they’ve all done it for me at one time or another.

I’m hoping that in the next couple of years we can manage a major move overseas into a big, big city. There are commitments that need to be fulfilled here, but in 18 months I want to be across the world with butterflies in my tummy as I look up at the huge buildings and make another city my mistress. I want to get all my senses going, I want to laugh, cry and love somewhere completely different.

I’m sorry, Auckland, but just the thought of a different concrete jungle is getting me all excited to leave you. I can’t stop googling the place I want to go. I can’t stop talking about it.

It’s going to be a hard break up, but one day I’ll come back. You’ll be different but you’ll be just the same.

I’m not sure what I’ll be but I know what feeling I’ll get when I see you again – that won’t change.

 

30 Days of Blogging Honesty: Day 5

Day 05 — This is embarrassing but on average I cause the toilet to overflow about this many times a year because of deposits I made…

I haven’t been looking forward to this quesion very much, this is mortifying, but I’m going to be honest. This doesn’t happen to me, but it has on one occasion and it was the most embarrassing experience ever. Ever. I have two “most embarrassing experiences” and this one is right up there.

I was a young, impressionable (I thought) lady in a fledgling relationship with a gentleman who had no awareness of my bodily functions (Women don’t poop! Or sweat (they glooooooow)! Or fart (they’re love puffs, I swear)!).

I was forced one day (after much panicking, hand wringing and agonising) to go fetch said gentleman and admit that I had blocked his parents’ loo and flooded their bathroom.

His whole family got involved in the subsequent unblocking and cleaning. I had to stand there while his dad wrapped his hand in plastic and got right in there.

I’m going to stop there because I actually can’t talk about it anymore. I’m cringing too much.

Spam

I’m still getting a hang of this whole Word Press thing! I managed to clear my spam folder with some legitimate comments in it. Apparently, if you tick the boxes then “Empty Folder” it does just that. I’m a numpty.

To answer the question that two people posed of what book I’m reading right now, I have a stack of things on my nightstand that are at varying stages of completion which I’m working on, I read different ones depending on my mood 🙂

The Third Twin by Ken Follett

Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay

Statistics without Tears by Derek Rowntree (this title is a lie, by the way)

The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst by Louise Allen (Go Mills and Boon!)

and for the days when I can’t be bothered holding up a book (sooo heavy!) I have Black Hills by Nora Roberts playing on my iPod right now.

I’m sorry! I feel very rude not replying to comments!

Book Review: To catch a husband

Here, I (slightly apprehensively) present the first romance novel review! I’m not sure if this is how book reviews are meant to be done but as I said before, I’m hoping this does something to improve my writing so please don’t review the review – that would be too scathing for my fragile ego.

Author Sarah Mallory, Mills and Boon 2011

Kitty Wythenshawe is off to London for her first Season with her Godmother, the start of a slightly desperate search for a husband to help pay the bills. After her father’s death 10 years earlier, her mother and aunt were forced to work for a living (Oh the humanity!). Now, she’s after a rich husband to make sure that she can improve their station in their old age. She becomes loosely acquainted with the infuriating Mr Daniel Blackwood, an industrialist with whom she is at odds from the beginning. Their first meeting involves him being in a crap mood (standard) and her being snotty (also standard). It also involves a man in a horse-drawn cart refusing to ask for directions – I’m still not sure how I feel about that bit.The plot follows the standard “regency historical romance novel” blueprint of parties, suppers, picnics and walks in Hyde Park. At each social occasion, shockingly, she runs into the belligerent Mr Blackwood. While she tries to find her footing in society, she meets a number of youngsters, making friends her own age for the first time, and develops a promising attachment to her Godmother’s nephew, Lord Harworth. All this time, she’s also constantly having run-ins with good old Dan.

The book takes an interesting turn when Kitty is dragged by her friend Ann to a slavery abolition meeting and her liberal leanings (and background) come out. There she sees Dan and it becomes an ongoing plot-point that the two share a social conscience (unlike all the Un! Prin! Cip! Led! people in their immediate society). This does give them common ground and some depth to the development of their relationship instead of just falling in love at first sight. These extra details about slavery (and industrialism) also sent me into a Wiki-hole. This is a good sign, but I’m not going to get those hours back *shakes fist at sky*.  The two characters had a  lot in common personality-wise. I know I’m one of those people who finds it too easy to throw herself into the story so every disagreement or argument they had was so very frustrating! How can they not tell they like each other? How does she miss that fact that he’s frowning out of jealousy and not because he doesn’t like her? Can’t he see she’s just doing it to help her mother? You’re in lurrrrrve come oooooooooooooooooooooooooon (I am such a sucker.). It was doubly obvious with this novel for some reason, I feel like they were at odds more than usual perhaps? So when he ends up being the only person she tells her true feelings and situation to it felt a little strange that they werestill always arguing. Push-pull, love-hate, I like you, No I changed my mind now I don’t. I did enjoy their fights though, when I wasn’t yelling at them in my head.

After a dramatic ride through another (ill-fated) abolition meeting Kitty and Dan have a cold night riding back to the Harworths’ alone where they once again miscommunicate and miss the chance to roll around in the grass and lock themselves to each other. She ends up accepting Lord Harworth and her ‘best friend’ Ann nabs Dan (after discovering he’s loaded!). Kitty and Dan confess their love for each other (a smidge too late). Finally, Kitty grows some ovaries and tells Lord Harworth she can’t marry him – his mother loves that, since they discovered she was poor post-engagement, she’s barely managed to control her disappointment – and is promptly shipped back to her cottage, to spend out her days in poverty with her mother and aunt.

She’s depressed, he’s depressed. They’re all depressed. Somehow his mother works out who she is and that they love each other and sets up a fund for them to live comfortably while her son marries another woman. They, predictably, end up breaking up in a scene where it is hinted at that Ann knew that Dan and Kitty were in love all along (bitch! Or did she work it out after? I don’t know, it’s a bit fuzzy) and she gives him an out. This scene also has a nice touch where the Harworth’s are given a chance to be somewhat nice. It falls flat for me, unfortunately. Throughout the book the Blackwoods and Kitty are made out to be shining beacons of goodness, deep special snowflakes. The rest of them are quite shallow, selfish people. Even the Godmother starts out well-meaning and soon descends into a rather frightening money-grubber.  All snark aside, this was really the only sticking point for me. I mean, why are all these people so awful? Surely they must know nicer people with a bit more depth. Those characters needed some love and attention.

They get together, they get it on and they get married. And! It turns out he’s going to be a Lord anyway… Nice touch. This last bit was nicely developed – sometimes the happy ending is a bit rushed in romance novels but this flowed well.

Overall: I loved it. Isn’t it obvious? There were little issues – no novel is perfect – but I really enjoyed this read. My favourite scene was actually the Godmother’s first experience with her drunk son. He passes out at her feet after spewing on himself. Her insistence that it must be due to oyster poisoning is worth a giggle. Good job Sarah, you made me laugh and you made me mad. I like it.

 

In defence of Mills and Boon

I can’t remember when I began my romance (ha!) with the romance novel but for many years, serious and geeky occupation notwithstanding, I have been addicted to them. Many mock, but I’m very open about this and I will defend them as decent reading material to the death (or at least to the cliffhanger before a hero rides to my rescue). I’ve heard (I wish I could remember where so I could cite it!) them referred to as vitamins – a shot to the arm. They revitalise me, I feel relaxed and energised after a stint with a respectable bodice ripper (the heroine is always respectable. She would most likely never refer to her butt cheeks on a blog). I still clearly remember the day I submitted my MSc thesis – exhausted and euphoric I drove to a TradeMe seller’s house and picked up a box of 25 Mills and Boon’s from the 70s, at 50c a book. I spent a week at home in bed reading until I was ready to face the world again. It cemented what I anticipate will be a lifelong relationship.

Unfairly maligned on a regular basis by people who feel that such frivolous reading matter is beneath them, they are easy prey for reading snobs.

I love the very specific tone of the genre. The writers tread a thin line of trying to make the heroine both relatable and aspirational – they have to make her stand out in a genre where heroines are a dime a dozen. You want to be her, but you also feel like you have a shot at being her (if only), so rather than a twinge of jealousy, readers are supportive. As I am not restricted in my romance reading material to the past few decades, I’ve noticed that the heroines have moved with the times – the female leads are stronger, the heroes have a gentle side (one often only we are privy to). A romance novel provides the comfort of the fact that I know how it will end but the enjoyment of the twists and turns the plot can take along the way. Criticise if you will, but there’s something to be said for that!

All the sub-genres are worth a try – medical, sexy, historical are but a few – I guarantee that after a couple of trials, most people would find one that they enjoy.

I’m going to run a feature (primarily for myself, seeing as I have no readers!) where I do a book review for each romance novel I read. I read quite a few so it feels like an opportunity to hone my critiquing skills and my writing skills. They won’t be particularly new on the market, most will definitely be several years old, but the process is the same for all of them so I may as well! I’d love to know one day I managed to convert at least one person to loving them as much as I do!