#StrongRomanceHeroines, Reading, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading

Respond to Reading: All I Need Is You

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I first discovered Wendy S. Marcus when I read her The V Spot, one of Cosmo’s Red Hot Reads.  It stood out for me as it embraced its plus-sized heroine and since then I’ve had her pretty much on auto-buy.  (Plus, anyone who bases their hero on pro-wrestler John Cena has got their priorities right!!)

All I Need Is You is the second in a duo of romances that follow two friends who start writing letters to soldiers serving in Afghanistan.  The first, Loving You Is Easy, follows politician’s daughter, Brooke, but the second stars adagio dancer Neve.

Now, I like my heroines flawed – there’s nothing worse than a female character who has every virtue under the sun, and next to no personality, and that’s far from Neve.

She’s loud and brash and yet unwaveringly fragile at moments.  I love the fact that Marcus doesn’t shy away from the fact that she’s had a number of sexual partners before she meets Rory, and that there’s no judgment of her.  she is who she is, and she’s had the experiences that she’s had.  They don’t change who she is, or make her any less moral.

She also doesn’t shy away from the fact that that isn’t always the easiest thing for Rory to deal with, but Neve’s sexual history is so far from the central conflict, that it’s incredibly refreshing.

Instead, it’s the truth of Neve’s parentage, and Rory’s PTSD that take centre stage.  Both of these are difficult things to discuss, let alone explore in novelisation, and Marcus does a fantastic job.  The characterisation of these issues is thought-provoking and moving, without shying away from the issues that they can cause.

Not that it’s all dark, by any means.  There are deliciously steamy sex scenes that are tender and unbelievably hot simultaneously.  And they’re both funny.  As characters they bond well together and its well worth a read.

Mills & Boon, Reading

Tactile Understanding

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Musee Rodin – The Cathedral

We crave to be touched.

Tactile understanding is what most people need and what almost all of us want.

At least, that’s what I tell Chris whenever he complains about me hijacking all the space on the sofa.

But in all seriousness, the NHS (British National Health Service) tells mothers-to-be that “skin-to-skin contact helps you to bond with your premature baby, and it increases your milk supply.”  It’s proven to be good for babies to have time touching their parents – both mother and father – as it helps them associate touch with love and safety.

So why is this relevant on a blog that’s predominantly about romance?  I suppose it’s in part because that skin to skin contact can be an integral part of a romantic relationship, but also there’s the understanding that without interaction with others, we become isolated.  So many romance heroes and heroines find themselves isolated from others and indeed from their own feelings, and it’s when they start to crave someone else’s touch that their attitudes change.

It should come as no surprise then, that the phrase “craving [someone’s] touch” pops up again and again in romance titles:

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Wendy S. Marcus‘s Craving Her Soldier’s Touch looks at a couple who have been intimate once before, but it’s their individual battles (his with PTSD and hers with her attraction for him, as well as the emotional toll of her work with domestic abuse victims) that help them realise that losing themselves in each other may be an answer.

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Bronwyn Scott‘s Craving the Rake’s Touch – the introductory novella to her new Rakes of the Caribbean series – tells of Sarah and Benedict, two people irrevocably drawn together.  Sarah, however must marry for money and, as it argues in the blurb, Benedict must “use his powers of seduction to show her exactly what she could expect with him as a husband!”  Here, the use of intimate touch shows the heroine how much he loves her, if only because that’s the only way she’ll believe him.

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And in May 2015 comes Rachael Thomas‘ third novel, Craving Her Enemy’s Touch.  The book promises to be sizzling, with the blurb placing Sandro Roselli as the only man Charlotte Willingham hates, as well as the only man she can’t resist.  The promise of devastating secrets, as well as the dazzling world of racing, suggests conflict that will only be intensified by touch…

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So how do you feel that tactile understanding between romance heroes and heroines should manifest itself?  And do you think that touches as simple as hand holding can be as potent as more intimate touching in romance?