Romance Written Right

It’s been a season of transitioning at the Proctor house. We’ve transitioned into our new life in Charleston, SC, thanks to a work promotion for my husband (Hooray for the beach!) and me? I’ve transitioned into . . . SOLITUDE. For the first time in sixteen years all of my children are in school. I admit, it was a day I thought I would celebrate, but in truth, I spent several weeks feeling weepy, not knowing exactly what to do with myself. It wasn’t so much that I missed my kids. The youngest was ready for Kindergarten. He’s thriving. I know he’s where he needs to be. I just didn’t know how to be alone. How to make choices when the only person I had to consider was ME. How to spend my time effectively.  So I didn’t. I watched hours of Netflix. And took really long naps. And of course, I read stacks and stacks of books.

And so, in an effort to dust off this, an infrequently used writing space, I’m here to recommend a few of those reads to you. We’re focusing on Romance for today–romance that in my estimation is written just as it should be.

The Fall of Lord Drayson (Tanglewood, #1)The Fall of Lord Drayson, by Rachael Anderson

When Colin Cavendish, the new earl of Drayson, informs Lucy Beresford that she and her mother need to vacate the house they’ve called home for the past two years, Lucy is fit to be tied. They have no money, no relations they can turn to for help, and nowhere to go. How dare the earl break the promise his father had made to the Beresfords without so much as a twinge of conscience?

Fate plays her hand when Lucy discovers the earl unconscious and injured in the middle of the road. When he awakens with no recollection of who he is, Lucy seizes the opportunity to teach the earl a much-needed lesson in humility and tells him that he is nothing more than a mere servant. Her servant, in fact. 

And thus begins the charming tale of a pompous lord and an impetuous young woman, caught together in a web so tangled that it begs the question: Will they ever get out?

Guys, I loved this book so much. I often complain that Regency novels all feel the same. You can only tell a Regency Romance so many ways when limited by the social constraints and customs of the time. But this novel felt fresh and entertaining and funny, which is something you don’t always see in this genre. I can’t wait to read more of Anderson’s work. FIVE out of FIVE STARS.

Buy The Fall of Lord Drayson on Amazon

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The Start of Me and You, by Emery Lord

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? 

This one is an adorable Young Adult Contemporary romance that was nerdy and sweet and pretty much perfect in every way. The chemistry was so good, the characters felt authentic and oh, so real, and the writing was effortless. I wouldn’t call this one fluffy–it has some depth because of the personal struggles the main character faces, but it’s not heavy either. It’ll make you swoon in all the right places and leave you smiling and happy. A sweet feel good love story perfect for fans of contemp YA. FIVE out of FIVE STARS.

Buy The Start of Me and You on Amazon

Pride and Politics, by Brittany Larsen (and a Giveaway!)

One of the things I love most about being an author is having author friends that I love and admire. It’s so fun to walk this path with writers I can learn from and have fun with. My dear friend, and fellow Covenant author, Brittany Larsen is no exception. Her debut novel, Pride and Politics, just hit the shelves and I’m totally stoked to tell you about it.

Pride and PoliticsAs the daughter of a well-known senator, Summer Knight is all too familiar with the nasty side of politics. She’s always stayed out of the drama, until an incident involving her fellow Mormons drives her out of her hometown—and out of the Church. What she needs is a change of scene, and sunny California seems like just the place.

Enter Benson Hardy. He’s just her type—until she finds out who he is. Not only is Benson a nephew to her father’s political rival, he’s also a devout member of the Church. The last thing Summer wants is to be mixed up in politics—or religion. But Benson challenges her like no one else, asking the tough questions about her inactivity. Though their incompatibility is clear, their connection is undeniable, and soon Summer finds the embers of her faith reigniting. Just as it seems that the pair might be on the road to romance, a series of embarrassing misunderstandings—and the appearance of a handsome charmer determined to sweep Summer off her feet—knock the couple completely off course. As Summer finds herself at a crossroads, she must decide if she’s willing to set her pride aside for a shot at true love.

Brittany’s writing is clever and witty and so fun. If you’re a Jane Austen fan, it’s fun to see 12657436_797790563687230_806852708837214012_othis modern day version of a classic story. If you don’t know Jane Austen, I still think you’ll love the political bantering and great character development. I highly recommend this novel for fans of LDS romance. Also, I’d love to give you a copy! Signed by Brittany, no less. I’d also love to include a signed copy of Love at First Note, by yours truly. (If you already have this one, I’ve heard it makes an EXCELLENT gift.) If you want an additional chance to win, Brittany is currently giving away a similar prize on her Facebook Author Page. Go visit here!

Enter below, and please do share the word. Authors rely so much on reviews (especially Amazon) as well as positive recommendations shared among friends and family. As always, thanks for your support and your reading time.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE

Do You Have a Strong-Willed Child?

I do. Oh my, do I ever.

I often say that Ivy rewrote the book on parenting. She’s number five, so I should pretty much know what I’m doing, right? Ha. Ha ha! Ha ha ha!!

Ivy is 3 years old. 3 has a reputation anyway, doesn’t it? Preschoolers can be tough. TOUGH I tell you! But Ivy has managed to take the requirements of parenting preschoolers to a level I’ve never experienced, in 12 years of parenting preschoolers. what worked with my first four children doesn’t work with Ivy. She doesn’t sleep like her siblings. She doesn’t react to punishment like her siblings. She very frequently cannot be coaxed, cajoled, persuaded or distracted. If she makes a decision to do something, (like, say, NOT go to sleep, or put her shoes on by herself or buckle her own car seat buckles) she is unrelenting, fiercely determined and completely affronted if you get anywhere near her with an alternative. Sometimes compromise works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Screaming is often involved. She has an iron will, a firm, unrelenting spirit and (lets be real) she is utterly and completely exhausting. Now, she is also out of this world fun, always entertaining and so very funny.

My favorite Ivy story lately is a perfect representation of her strong will working in her favor. Her baby dolls were upstairs in her bedroom. The lights were off, and as she looked up the stairs, she told me she was scared. She didn’t want to go upstairs by herself. Well, I was right in the middle of cooking dinner, had a baby on my hip and couldn’t walk upstairs with her. “Ivy,” I said, “You can do it. Just turn the light on in the hallway. You’ll be fine.” She walked back to the stairs, took a deep breath, and started up the stairs. The whole way, she sang: “I-veee, you can do it. I-veee, you can do it.” And she did. It only took  her a moment to muster up the courage to do something that was frightening. Similar scenarios are pretty common. She’s one tough cookie, and I LOVE her for it. But I’ve had to realize some important things about her personality in my quest to recognize those good qualities. I’ve had to accept that parenting strong-willed children is DIFFERENT. She is DIFFERENT.

I like to give my kids choices. I like to empower them to have control when it’s appropriate for them to have control. I like to teach them what is expected, what is good and right and true and then seek opportunities for them to make choices on their own, to learn and grow by their own experience. (All age appropriately, of course.) But my strong-willed daughter has little care for age appropriateness. Every day, every moment, she fights to be in control. Power struggles? Yeah. We’ve been around the block a few times with those. In my weakest mothering moments, I’ve felt tempted to break Ivy into submission. I will be in control. You will do what I say. You will answer/comply/stop right NOW. But over and over again, this sort of authoritative “Because I said so” approach just doesn’t work with Ivy. I’ve watched her eyes change as she’s made a decision, her little arms crossing across her chest. “Go ahead and make me,” her little attitude seems to say.

Now I’m not saying I think it’s okay for Ivy to stomp all over my authority as her Mama. But I am saying, because of her personality type, the getting there — to that place where we get along and make it through the day still smiling and loving each other at the end — has to be a different process.

ImageI’ve just read this book: You can’t Make me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child, by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. I nodded through the first few pages. Yes, that’s my kid. Oh, yep. That’s my kid too. OH MY WORD the author has been in my house watching my daughter because THAT. IS. MY. KID. My favorite section of the book talks about how strong-willed children are wired. Tobias shares these three points:

1. Strong-willed children don’t have trouble with authority, but with how authority is communicated.

2. Strong-willed children don’t need to control you; they just can’t let you take all control away from them.

3. The quality of the relationships you have with strong-willed children determines the effectiveness of your parenting strategies.

These points gave me much to think about, particularly number 2. It was a process for me to realize that inherent in Ivy’s little personality is a desire to do things on her own, to feel in control. Funny, I really hate feeling out of control myself. If I recognize that, can I also recognize Ivy’s defiance not as a personal affront to ME and my requests as her Mom, but as an expression of herself, her desire to do things in her own way? It’s hard! I’m the Mom! I’m in charge! Well, yeah. But this little girl has a spirit in her that cannot be broken and if I can’t work with that, I have a feeling we will fight through her entire childhood.

Tobias goes on to outline suggestions for making it easier to communicate with strong-willed children, from toddler years, all the way through to teenagers, and adult children. Much of what she shared felt pretty intuitive to me, but I had many “ah-hah” moments where I thought, “Okay, I can do better with this one.”

I think the most important lesson of the book, with preschoolers in particular, is that we cannot take their defiance or misbehavior personally. We might say, “WHY are you doing this to me? Why are you making things so difficult? You’re going to make me late.” And on, and on. We make it about us. We think only about how their behavior affects US. This book reminded me to take a step back and recognize that Ivy, though in miniature form at the moment, has a personality and spirit that might very well be different than me. She has her own way of seeing things, her own way of experiencing the world. It’s up to me whether or not I make that a good thing or a bad thing.

I won’t lie. It is HARD WORK being her Mom. But I’m of the mind that every kid deserves to be championed, celebrated and encouraged. So I’ll take the hard. She’s totally worth it.

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