What’s the story this month?
This month’s post is partly a follow on from last month’s where the topic was the age of the characters which you can read here. This time though I’m taking a bit of a wider view of contemporary romantic fiction.
Also last month I featured a novel from this genre – So Many ways of Loving by Christine Webber – where the leading characters were three women either in or approaching their sixties. And this month, once again, I feature another excellent novel where the central couple are no longer young.
And to round things of there are, of course, my favourite reads for this month – all of which are cracking good stories.
Variety is the spice
So, as I said in the intro, last month I was talking about the age of the main characters in contemporary romantic fiction. My point being that having an ‘older’ lead couple can lead to just as satisfying a read as you’d expect from novels where the pair are in their twenties. And in the end it’s not as if it’s that ages of the characters alone that are going to make for a romantic read – there’s their life stories to date, the places they live in or visit and then there’s the story.
My first novel Change of Life is set in East Lothian and Edinburgh and features a couple in their late forties while my trilogy of novels set on the Isle of Skye – Displacement, Settlement, Fulfilment – has a couple in their fifties at its heart. While in the novel I’m currently writing I’ve changed decades again and the main couple are in their thirties. And this latest book is set in the Scottish Borders. Why have I gone for a younger pair? Why have I chosen this location? Because that’s what the story demanded.
The story’s the thing
As both a reader and writer of romantic fiction I find it’s good to keep an open mind when approaching a story. I like reading and writing stories set in a variety of places and equally I like to read and write about different age groups at various stages in life. But much as the characters and the setting are important so too is the story. The novel can be set in the most beautiful, most challenging or most familiar or unfamiliar of places. The pair who are falling in love can be twenty-five or sixty-five, they can be the most beguiling, most handsome, most infuriating types. But it’s what happens to those characters in those places as the romance plays out that matters, that’s what will keep me hooked both as I write and as I read.
All of which would suggest that the age of the main characters is just one detail and not something that on its own should attract or repel us.
And now, I’ll step down from my soapbox and it’s over to you. What makes a story – romantic or otherwise – work for you. Is character age a deal breaker? Please do leave comments below.
The Life She Dreams by Maggie Christensen
Sadly, this is the last story of the wonderful Granite Springs series but the good news is it ends on a high.
The Life She Dreams is the story of Granite Springs bookshop owner, Liz, and the new editor of the local newspaper, Sam. And as with the other books in the series both Liz and Sam are in the more mature age range.
When they first meet she is still grieving for her late husband and he is looking for peace and quiet after the stresses of his previous job. Both have plenty emotional baggage and neither is looking to fall in love.
But fate has other plans.
This is another great read from this prolific author. The story has its fair share of conflict and doubt but it also has so many heart-warming moments too. The strength of friendships, family (by blood and not) and community also feature strongly. And, of course at its heart there is a slow-burning and wonderful romance.
Yes, safe to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely, satisfying and enchanting romantic story. It is available as a paperback and as an ebook. Here is the link to buying it online.
From the back cover:
Can the past ever really be left behind?
Liz Pender has lived alone since her dreams for the future were shattered by the death of her husband. She retreated to Granite Springs where her life now revolves around her bookshop, The Reading Corner, and her cat, Marmaduke.
Newly appointed editor of The Granite Springs Advertiser, Sam Walker, recently moved to the small country town to seek a quieter life.
When Liz’s bookshop comes under threat, Sam and Liz are brought together causing sparks to fly. But a summons for help from overseas threatens to ruin Sam’s country idyll and reignites the past for Liz.
Can Liz put the past behind her and face a future with Sam, or are her dreams destined to remain just that?
Another feel good second chance romance set in the small country town of Granite Springs where it’s never too late to fall in love.
Books of the Month for July – lots of variety and all of them fab stories …
Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove by Marie Laval
From the back cover:
From the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye … When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams …
However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.
Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?
Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Sue McDonagh
From the back cover:
Can “Dozy Rosie” spice up her life and prove she’s not boring?
Rosie Bunting has spent her life caring for others, often at the expense of her own hopes and dreams. But when she overhears somebody describing her as “boring”, she decides it’s time for a change.
Little does she realise that the outdoor pursuits weekend brochure handed to her at the local Art Café will kick start a summer that will see her abseiling down a Welsh cliff face in “eye watering” leggings, rediscovering her artistic side and unexpectedly inheriting an old fire engine. It also involves meeting hunky outdoor instructor, Gareth Merwyn-Jones – although of course he’d never be interested in Dozy Rosie Bunting … would he?
One thing’s for certain: Rosie’s path to achieving her hopes and dreams might not be smooth, but it’s definitely not boring.
Unbreak Your Heart by Katie Marsh
From the back cover:
Seven-year-old Jake’s heart is failing and he doesn’t want to leave his dad, Simon, alone. So he makes a decision: to find Simon someone to love before he goes.
Beth is determined to forget the past. But even when she leaves New York to start afresh in a Lake District village, she can’t shake the secrets that haunt her.
Single dad Simon still holds a candle for the woman who left him years ago. Every day is a struggle to earn a living while caring for his beloved son. He has no time for finding someone new.
But Jake is determined his plan will succeed – and what unfolds will change all three of them forever.
So another great month of reading. have you read and enjoyed any of the above? What has been your favourite book from your July reads? Feel free to share in the comments below.
5 thoughts on “Reading and Writing Romantic Fiction Part 2: the story’s the thing. Plus Books of the Month for July 2021 #reading #writing #romantic fiction @MarieLaval1 @SueMcDonaghLit @marshisms @MaggieChriste33”
Sounds like you read some good books in July. I just finished Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I loved it as it featured the packhorse librarians of Kentucky in the 1930s. I like stories featuring strong women, at any age. My 82-year-old aunt just went on a motorcycle ride. You are never too old.
Your aunt sounds amazing! Yes, never too old 🙂 I agree – got to love stories with strong women. Yes, Jojo Moyes is a fab writer. Thanks, Darlene. All the best.
Wasn’t the Sue McDonagh book just brilliant? I loved it too!
It was, Joanne. Great read.