Is there any child, by which I really mean girl (in the privileged western world), who has not hated going into school on Valentine’s Day?
I dreaded it. Listening to all the smug girls with boyfriends, or the lying ones without, who were all inundated with cards. Or even just one card. Anything was better then admitting to none. Where were all my love-sick suitors?
Standard excuse: ‘The post hadn’t come before I left home.’ Thin though. Because all the smug types never forgot to ask on the day after. The late post excuse didn’t work on the next day.
Nor was it like Spain or Gibraltar when your street gets a delivery one day, and then you wait a day or two for the next. In fact domestic deliveries in our pueblo are relatively new. When we first arrived, the postie stood at the central crossroads in the village, halted all drivers as though he were on point duty, and pedestrians were accosted: ‘Roughseas! Ven aquí.’
It didn’t take long to learn to dutifully catch his eye, or slow down in the vehicle to ask if there was any mail, for us to deliver it home to ourselves.
But 40 years or more ago, the post was delivered unfailingly to little Roughseas’ house every day (except Sunday) by Alfie Apple (he had red cheeks) or Ronnie. They would hand the post over, giving us a summary of who the mail was from, and if there were any postcards, telling us how the sender was enjoying their holiday. As I grew older, I managed to find plenty of nude art postcards to send to my parents, knowing how embarrassed they would be.
But before that, the ghastly Valentine endurance test.
I can’t remember if I got one, two, or three cards in my school years. I was convinced at least one was from my grandmother who lived with us. I played it cool when I opened it. What mortified me was thinking she had bought it at the local paper shop. Everyone would know that no one fancied me, I was so undesirable that my grandmother had to buy me a card. Please earth. Open up and swallow me.
University was no better. I lived in hall of residence for two years. Did I get a load of cards shoved under my room door? Or even one? Or were there any in my slot in the post room?
Fast forward some years and I’m at Tullamarine airport, (Melbourne, Australia) with my rather new husband of slightly less than six months (our marriage, not his age). We had made the decision to leave home for selfish Roughseas to resume her career in the UK. I’d already turned down one decent job in Sydney to edit a magazine, thinking I could do better in the UK.
Out of nowhere, at the airport, Partner handed me an envelope, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day,’ he said cheerily.
Stunned comes nowhere near it. Not to mention the fact I’d never expected one (learned experience) so of course, I hadn’t bought one for him. And where on earth had he bought it? We’d been camping before we left and we spent all our time together. He’d had no chance to sneak off to a card shop. A quick scurry into an airport newsagency at Tullamarine maybe when he was going to the toilet and I was on rucksack guard duty? And asked to borrow a pen to write it? Whatever, it was nice.
Do we still give cards to each other? No. That stopped a long time ago. Whether or not couples consider themselves ‘romantic’ or not, we all show our appreciation in different ways. One woman at work always had a huge bunch of flowers from her husband delivered to the office. Me, I either took the day or half-day off. ‘I’m leaving at lunchtime,’ I told my secretary one year. ‘He’s picking me up with the dogs and we’re going to the beach because it’s Valentine’s Day.’ All three secretaries stopped typing, and just looked at me, speechless. And it was one of those days when I actually left on time, and not one, two, or three hours later.
But, it seems none of you like reading (about) romance. Which, so far on my poll, is lingering on the bottom shelf with one sad vote. Only under-voted by the category I described as ‘Boy’s Own’ eg Clive Cussler.
Nope, my blog readers are a highbrow lot, preferring (to date), classics, memoirs/bios, and humour/satire. More on this in another post.
However, as my theme today is broadly romance (because I’ll be busy on Valentine’s Day) here are a couple of romance books.
Climax by Christina George
And … the publishing saga continues …
Our Heroine, Kate, from The Publisher and Shelf Life, is still vacillating between two men. Honestly sweetheart, either go for good sex or a good man. If you are lucky, go for both?
Kate is now running her own successful publishing house, where, naturally she gets to choose good books, rather than commercial tat. She is of course, reunited with her irresistible lover Mac, the best editor ever in the publishing industry, who is now conveniently divorced, so the pair are engaged.
This third and final book in the series is more about personal relationships, even in the publishing part of the story. Kate signs a wonderful new author with a pen name, who is, surprise, surprise, only the younger sister of the other love interest in her life, the jilted fiancé, Nick. Not only is Nick’s sister an unknown, unpublished author, she was also unmentioned in books one and two, but clearly the introduction of a younger sister, returning from travelling, with a brilliant manuscript, is the sort of thing that happens when you want to fiddle with your plot and spice up your heroine’s
sex love life once more in book three. Which is, of course, what happens.
In theory, Kate is all set to marry hot sex-on-legs Mac, but for some reason she hasn’t got round to it. Presumably she was waiting to bump into Nick again in the streets of New York (Nick lives in California), which of course she does, so that she can spend another book messing both men about in her usual indecisive way.
There seemed to be a slight shift in the portrayal of the two male characters or maybe that was just selfish Kate always wanting the greener grass on the other side of the road. Or maybe the author was influenced by the negative comments she got on the earlier books for writing about a single woman having sex with a married man, so needed to make him less attractive and change the dynamics. I can’t speak for other industries, but media people do shag around and have affairs. I doubt it is the only industry where this happens.
This book, like the others in the trilogy, got loads of good reviews. But it seemed an unnecessary third book. The second book in the series (Shelf Life) ended quite clearly, so this book basically had to undo the atmosphere and feelings of that book’s ending. It didn’t really work for me. I did find the snippet about considering book bloggers for publicity interesting though. And as with the first books, there are too many errors, including two glaring inconsistencies in plot between this book and the two previous ones.
Note to authors: Keep those dinky little cards with notes about your key characters and what they do throughout your series. Don’t have them doing one thing in one book and recall differently later.
Note to editors: When editing a series, either keep the same dinky little cards, or re-read the earlier books when editing later ones.
Verdict: It’s a good enough light read if you don’t mind errors. As the ‘climax’ to the series, I don’t think it quite came off.
For an interesting idea, read the author’s blog post about who to cast in the film.
Book provided by iRead Book Tours.
From one publishing story to another.
Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah
In this case, Our Heroine is an author. As with Kate in The Publisher, Anna is also caught between two men, and although confused, she isn’t exactly Ms Innocence. Having a boyfriend doesn’t seem to preclude a few kisses with her other suitor even when she’s already told her boyfriend she loves him.
This book opens with OH chucking out her partner of three years when she discovers he has been cheating, and then going to a school reunion, held some 15 years after she left. There, she is reconciled with a couple of girlfriends but also meets two former (male) bullies who made her school years hell by abusing her and shoving food in her face because she was fat.
In a throw-away line about half-way through the book, OH tells us she was suicidal and bulimic because of the bullying. I think the author could have made more of this.
And of course, one of her would-be boyfriends is no less than one of her teenage tormentors. With the wisdom of hindsight, her girlfriends, all now aged 31 like OH, assure her that said bully always really liked her anyway, he was just trying to gain her attention. Shame no-one worked that out at the time instead of waiting 15 years to tell OH.
Luckily OH’s new literary agent has the hots for her, so sensibly she mixes work and sex, a bit like OH in The Publicist having an affair with a work colleague.
There is less about the book world in this one and more about OH’s indecision and inner turmoil so it’s more of a pure romance story. I found Anna somewhat grating, or in her sister’s words, ‘Miss Goody Two Shoes’, although snogging someone else in Paris while her boyfriend is in the UK is hardly pristine behaviour. The sister was a good character though, as was Anna’s best friend. Both were straight-speaking yet supportive. The ideal friend/sister who is incredibly hard to find, yet the loveable (?) Anna is blessed with both.
It’s another typical easy-read romance with few errors, although the formatting was adrift. The author assured me it had been fixed. However, it would be really nice if authors could send the latest published version to reviewers.
Book provided by the author.
With which, I will endeavour to close the door on romance and in future try to review books that seem to be popular on my polls.
Except to say here is where my heart is …