Welcome to the blog tour for 'The Christmas Diary' by Elyse Douglas. Today, the writing team is sharing thoughts on the value of reading a romance novel.
Stop Reading That Romance Novel
That’s what my high school English teacher told me many years ago, when she found me reading Promise at Midnight, by Lilian Peake. Ms. T. was outraged. She made me put the sizzling sex-drenched book away. She threatened to snatch it from me. “Read something that will improve your mind, young lady!” she said, glaring down at me with her tight lips, tight hair and very tight blouse and skirt. It suddenly occurred to me that, with her sexy body and wide blue eyes, she could have played the heroine, Shona Carroll, in the movie.
I sat listening to Ms. T’s subject and verb orgy, while dreaming of lip-mashing, heart-pumping, polyester pant suit-ripping sex. While Ms T. worked on the coupling of subject and predicate, I worked on recalling how Mr. Faraday’s mouth hit Ms. T’s—no Shona’s lips—“with a force which ground her lips against her teeth.”
When Ms. T asked us to write all this down, I did. I wrote, “...force which ground her lips against her teeth.” Hey, wasn’t there a verb in there somewhere?
Over the years, many romance novels’ plots and characters have been hard-wired into my brain—no doubt altering my already confused and carelessly romantic DNA. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been turned into a romance novel Borg (from Star Trek). Some days I channel Jane Austen; other days I’m a giddy wench in a Nora Robert’s novel. In Starbucks, I might be reading a paranormal romance novel, while occasionally studying some rather paranormal activities going on next to me, as two sticky lovers sip Frappucinos, make half-hooded-eye romance, and pretend to study an obese law book.
People pass me as I read and they glance down, disapprovingly, at my romance novel cover—a hard-jawed, dark-haired hero on horseback, muscles chunky and glistening; a worshipping heroine in a ripped, lacy wedding dress, clutching the hero’s arm, obviously begging him not to go. What’s the title? Something like, Take Me Home to Love.
I can read people’s minds as they pass. “Huh! Romance novel,” they say, with a supercilious sniff. “She should stop reading that stuff and read something more intellectual like, The Old Man and the Sea.” I would read it, if the old man wasn’t so old, had lots of money, and if he had a fetching girlfriend who fawned on him with a simpering adulation. But I can’t get excited about a poor old man who blathers on about trying to catch a big fish.
Which brings us back to English class and Ms. T. “Your assignment this week is to read Ernest Hemmingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea,” she said. “Then write a two-page book report.”
I drooped, shut my eyes and recalled a few lines from Promise at Midnight. “You felt like a woman who's been wandering in the desert for months, devoid of all male contact - and do I mean contact!”
I sighed and thought, “Well, I guess I’ll have to stop reading my romance novel and go fishing with that old man this weekend.”
Copyright © 2012 Elyse Douglas
Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse's mother was a painter and her father a textile consultant. Elyse began writing poems and short stories at an early age, and graduated from Columbia University with a Master's Degree in English Literature. Douglas grew up in a family of musicians, astrologers and avid readers. His grandfather was a gifted humorist and storyteller from Kentucky.
Elyse Douglas' four novels include: The Astrologer's Daughter, Wanting Rita, The Christmas Diary and Christmas Ever After. They live in New York City.
Title: The Christmas Diary
Author: Elyse Douglas
Date Published: 9/12/12
A young woman, traveling to meet her wealthy fiancé for a Christmas wedding, loses her way in a snowstorm and is stranded at a bed and breakfast. In her room, she finds an old diary written by a man who had once owned the house. Moved by what she reads, she sets off on a journey to learn what happened to him.