Best Blues, Dress Whites, Fatigues. It's All Good (Melissa Robbins)

Isn't he quite the dish? More about him later.

If you ask my husband, he will tell you he's the romantic one of our twosome, so maybe Reed should be the one to write this post. I will share with you one of his favorite movie lines, “Well, there's the usual things: Flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep.” Those are the words spoken by Cogsworth in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I hope I'm not ruining the movie for you, but the Beast 'gives' Belle the library, because Lumiere noticed Belle's interest in books. I think that's the best way someone can be romantic, just by listening and knowing what the other person wants or enjoys.

For example, for Christmas one year, I received two Transformer toys from Reed. Now, you might be wondering why on earth would my husband give me those toys. Reed remembered a story I once told him about how much I wanted a Transformer when I was a kid, but I never received one because they were for boys. Reed actually tried to find the one I wanted, but couldn't find it.

Just last Christmas, a writer friend of mine told me about a present she received. She always wanted a strand of pearls, but being so short, strands are always too long. Her boyfriend bought a strand of pearls, took it to a jeweler, and had the jeweler shorten the strand for her. Is that not the sweetest thing ever?

So obviously listening skills are high on my list. :0D I'm also with Theresa with the 'helping me with things.' Ages ago, Reed and I worked on a church service project. It was the third time we had done anything remotely together in a group setting. I was struggling putting leaves into a trash bag. Reed came over and helped me by holding open the bag. It was a simple gesture, but I definitely took notice. I think we starting dating a week or two after that. First, I had to insult his truck for that date, but that's a story for another blog.

What other romantic ideals do I have? Some of my friends mock me for my obsession, I mean love of men in uniform (military). I could blame the fact that I grew up near the U.S. Naval Academy (dress whites *swoon*) or that my dad took me to see Top Gun when I was a pre-teen. I claim research purposes, but I have no idea why I start giggling when I see a sergeant in Air Force fatigues at Walmart (They're all over the place around here!) or about pass out at seeing Rupert Penry-Jones in an A-2 flight jacket. Oh lord have mercy! Shh, don't tell my husband. By the way, if I could FIND a screen shot of Rupert in that jacket, it would be right here!

**edited** Look what Rox found for me! Okay, so RPJ isn't wearing the A-2, but it's leather and it's Rupert. Do I hear any complaints? (crickets chirping) I thought so. I left the handsome guy at the top, who was a real WW2 pilot. I don't know his name and I hope he survived the war. I call him Sean Finnegan and he's one of my pilots. The sweet one, the yin to Jack's naughty yang.

Is it the hero aspect of a man in uniform we find so attractive? They are real life heroes, rescuing the damsel and everyone else. My grandfather may not have survived WW2 if one of his fellow soldiers hadn't dragged him to safety while his own arm was injured.

I'll leave you with a funny romantic story I found while researching for my WW2 stories. I am so stealing this idea. An Royal Air Force bomber pilot by the name of Moose (He was big and Canadian – go figure) who after a bombing run did what they all did and asked the controller (who happened to be a WAAF, like my Wren!) for directions home. Then, Moose proceeded to argue with Bobby over the airwaves about the directions she gave him. They married in 1946 and had five kids. Makes you wonder if they still argued over directions through the years. Images [Penny Rader]

What is romance to you?  To me, it is a combination of the following:

A Writer of Romance

Oh, how I love being a romance writer. It gives me all kinds of licenses to do and ask. What? Yup. Little ole me gets a thrill out of asking people how they knew the person they married was THE one.

I've gotten all kinds of answers and each charms me anew ever time I think of them. Oh, and I'm not exactly backward at asking anyone. Why not?

One husband assured me that he and his wife have never fought. I gave him a look. Then I asked him if he was sure his wife would have the same opinion. Weeks later, I ran into him again. He'd asked his wife and been reassured. The best part? He bothered to ask. How did he know his wife would be the one? He heard her laugh at a party and knew he could listen to that the rest of his life. They've been married over thirty five years. I haven't had the chance to ask her yet....

Then there was the woman who was blown away because of what he did when they went shoe shopping. Her man bent down and felt around on her feet and shoes and made sure they fit well. He cared enough about her to do so. The first man who ever cared about her physical comfort. They were married a few months later.

One man said he could see her soul when he looked in her eyes--and it was beautiful. They have been married over forty years. They bounced into each other at the end of a grocery aisle.

My great Uncle Jim told me that love was when he came back from a fifty mile trip with a wagon to get supplies and mail and his wife was there with a lantern to greet him when he arrived and helped unhitch the horses from the wagon. Contrary to western movies, a wagon seat will paralyze a normal person after a two day ride.

I was impressed with my husband because he could leap flat-footed over an electric fence. But more than that, he actually listened to me when I spoke. We have little in common, and don't really like the same music, movies, or activities. But, he listens to me. I listen to him. We also flirt like demons. We met by mail as adults.

Love, romance, attraction, all of it can't really be nailed down as it is different, yet oddly similar for all of us. It is the same for the Romance genre. The stories contain many similar features, but each story rolls out in its very unique voice.

So please, as you write romance, remember to enjoy it, play with it, and be struck with awe that it happens at all. It is a very human thing we do.

Single Woman Seeking... Or Not

When I went looking for a photo for today's blog, the one on the left caught my eye.  I really didn't have an idea of what I'd blog about, but having seen that single glass and heart, I now know.

After having been married for 24 years and now divorced for nearly half as many, I have the chance to look back as a single woman with a clearer view of what romance is.  Well, clearer than I did 40 or so years ago, that is. :)  What I see isn't bad, in spite of the title of this blog post.

I enjoyed reading Pat's list of 20 things that, for her, make a hero.  While reading Reese's list of romantic traits, I felt envy, and we won't even go into what Joan's roses evoked deep within me.  ;)  With that envy came a feeling of joy for them.

As Reese pointed out, it's the small things that make the difference.  Love is putting someone else's wants and desires--and comfort--ahead of your own.  Love is being happy that someone else is happy, even if whatever caused it isn't something you agree with or like.  Love is sharing the things you enjoy and the things the person you love cares about.  Love is giving someone space and time to be themselves, and then being there when needed, whether to wipe away a tear or to share joy.  Love is making another person happy, just by being you.

All of the above comes down to one, simple thing:  To love someone else, you must first love yourself.  And while a sense of humor sits at the top of my list of what makes a hero, I know, deep down, that those of us who write romance in this particular place in time are creating not only heroes in our stories, but the kind of women who love themselves first and find the type of hero who loves them, too.
Love sought is good, but given unsought is better. ~ William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night - Act 3, Scene 1
Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!! 

"ROMANCE" by J Vincent

A couple of definitions for romantic:
a) displaying or expressing love or strong affection
b) the pleasurable feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love

I believe both are true. Romantic, for me, is not the grand gesture but the subtle touch or gift that becomes a mutually shared and understood symbol. A gift that sticks in the memory, a permanent reminder of the love shown. I’ll let my work demonstrate this. In The Promise Rose (2005) there is a scene early in the book:

“Barry! Barry? Why are you hiding here?” Glenna scolded, entering an arbor she and her friend frequented. “Mother’s seamstress wishes to give your gown for my wedding a fitting.” She paused. “Have you--are you crying?” Glenna hurried to her.
Barry wiped away her tears with her kerchief and stood. “It is--nothing.” An object fell from the folds of her skirt.
“What a beautiful rose,” Glenna said, retrieving it. “A red rose, la rose d’amour.” She arched a brow teasingly. “Prideau?” A squeal of delight escaped at Barry’s nod. “Oh, do tell me what has happened.”
“Four days ago--the night of the ball, we went for a walk in the garden. He asked if we might exchange missives while he is in America,” Barry reluctantly told her. Her color rose. “He repeated his request when you left us alone on the picnic yesterday.”
“Is he to call on your father before he leaves?”
“He spoke of visiting my home but we did not speak of marriage--not directly. There has been so little time.” Barry blinked back tears, reached out, and gently took the rose from Glenna’s hand, cradling it tenderly.
“A walk in the garden,” Barry murmured. “A magic moment during a picnic. And now there is no time.” Her face began to crumble. “He has been summoned home--departed this morning.” A tear fell on the fragile rose petals. “A maid brought this to me,” she caressed the rose, “with a note that he would come the next time I was given such a rose. That he would then be free to speak its--message.”

The lovers are of course, parted for many years, each tricked into thinking it the others fault. At the end of the book with the misunderstandings resolved comes this scene:

“Lady Gromley. Mrs. McDowell.” Tafte interrupted their conversation. “The messenger who brought this and said you alone, my lady, were to open it.” He held out a long, slim box.
Barry accepted it. “Thank you.” She turned to Glenna as he departed. “I wonder what--”
“Open it,” Glenna urged her excitedly. “Are you not curious?”
“It is probably some memento of appreciation from one of my guests.” Barry lifted the lid. Gazing down, her heart skipped a beat. The lid tumbled to the floor and she drew back the soft, damp ferns with a trembling hand. Within lay a blood red rose.
His words rang faintly over the years. This pledge shall not be broken by neither time nor by distance. Cradling the rose tenderly, she asked, “Did the messenger bring anything else?”
But Tafte and Glenna had disappeared.
A deep voice sounded at the door. “Only himself.”
“Prideau.” She leaped to her feet.
He walked slowly to her, his hands joining hers on the promise rose. “It has been a lifetime since the pledge was given,” Prideau said, his voice raw with emotion. “Can you believe I mean it as sincerely today, no, ten times more, than I did long ago?”
Nodding, Barry placed her free hand over his.
He gripped it tightly. “You are even more beautiful this day,” he breathed. Then, “Your letters were never deliv--”
She placed a finger on his lips. “Glenna told me a little. You may tell me all of it someday.”
He bent his head to hers and they kissed.
Prideau then raised a finger and gently traced the line of her jaw. “When can we be wed?”
A sudden frown appeared on her face with practicality’s return. “There are Pamela and Patrick to consider.”
“Her aunt is to arrive on the morrow. She has agreed to keep both of them for a month,” Prideau informed her with a smile.
“There is the matter of Pamela and Lieutenant Horne.”
“They have just agreed to a year’s courtship. Horne shall be free to call whenever he has time from his duty.” His smile deepened. Mischief danced in his eyes. “You should be delivered from your confinement in time for their nuptials.”
Barry arched a brow. “I am not yet breeding.”
“I know.” He kissed her forehead, the tip of her nose, then her lips. “I have come armed with a special license and Canon Portman, an old friend of the cleric bent. I mean to remedy all obstacles, my dear, dear Barry,” he said kissing her again. Prideau drew back reluctantly. “Find a gown you think suitable for your wedding. We marry this evening.”
“Shall this suit, my lord?” She teasingly motioned at her plain Watteau gown, her features radiant with joy.
“By God, it shall.” Prideau drew her to him once again. “If we can but find a moment to send for the cleric.”
Barry demonstrated her agreement by drawing his head to hers. Her eye caught a glimpse of the promise rose still in her hand above his shoulder. Their lips met, sweeping twelve years into the past, the promise fulfilled.

One of my treasures is a note scrawled at the end of this scene which ends the book. It was written by the “reader” hired to evaluate it before it was contracted. It said simply, “Well done, my friend.” I think that same phrase every year when my husband gives me white and pink roses for our anniversary like the ones in my bridal bouquet. He’s brought them home for me to arrange and had beautiful arrangements of them waiting in hotel rooms, and had the same delivered to me at work and at home. No matter where or how the roses touch my heart, each year a little more deeply. That is romantic.

Get that will ya, sugar? By Reese Mobley

While Pat gave a wonderful, thought provoking list of her ideal man, my idea of romance tilts more to the service side of a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I love roses and Russell—Stover not so much Crowe, but I raised three kids, carted them, their friends and all their paraphernalia to their activities. Every day of their young lives. My kitchen functioned like a full-service cafeteria and my door was always open. While my husband slaved away at his job, I was the stay-at-home mom on the block and I loved it, but let’s be honest, at the end of the day, I was exhausted.

So here, in no specific order, is my list of romantic traits:

1. Getting up with the baby in the middle of the night.

2. Taking that last batch of cookies out of the oven while I finally managed a shower.

3. Unloading the dishwasher without being asked seventeen times.

4. Fixing dinner while I sewed together another Ninja Turtle costume.

5. Dragging the dumpster to the curb. Without being reminded tomorrow is trash day.

6. Killing any and all spiders.

7. Cleaning up the sticky red popsicle trail from the kitchen to the patio.

8. Putting his extra change in my pocket so I could buy a lifesaving Diet Dr. Pepper.

9. Using his Christmas bonus to buy new tires for my car instead of a new rod & reel.

10. Teaching the kids how to throw a football because their mom throws like a girl. :-)

11. Stepping on bugs after I leave the room so I don't have to hear the crunch.

12. Applying Calamine Lotion after a pack of wild chiggers made me the blue plate special.

13. Painting my toenails pink when my pregnant belly got too big for me to see them.

14. Filling my car up with gas when the red needle flirted with empty.

15. Running my car through a wash and spin cycle to remove the bird doo.

16. Inviting my widowed mother to dine out with us.

17. And then picking up the tab.

18. Sharing his slot machine winnings so I could play just a little bit longer.

19. Killing any and all spiders. (Repeat, I know-but so worth a second nod.)

20. Always opening my car door for me.

So there you have it. Any others you'd like to add to the list?

Hugs, Reese

Top 20 List

Patricia Davids here. Happy Feburary!
The month dedicated to ROMANCE.
The question of the month for this blog is, what does romance mean to me, or what do I find romantic?

I’ve come up with a list of 20 things I find romantic about a guy, fictional hero or otherwise. They are in no particular order. This is my list. You can agree or disagree. Feel free to post your feelings about any of the items that made my list or post your own list so I can see what I missed. Here goes.

1. Nice abs.
2. Nice arms.
3. Likes dogs, tolerates cats.
4. Like kids a lot.
5. He can sing. Doesn’t have to be great, just so he can carry a tune.
6. Loves horses, rides like he was born on one.
7. Likes fishing of any kind.
8. Drives a nice car or a great truck.
9. He opens a door for a woman.
10. He’s willing to share the cost of a meal with a woman.
11. He goes to church.
12. He’s not afraid to admit he is wrong.
13. Likes to wear boots. (cowboy, hiking, construction, any kind of boot)
14. He can fly a plane or a chopper.
15. Has an understated sense of humor.
16 Has an overblown sense of duty.
17. Likes to grill a steak.
18. Can start a fire with two sticks, neither of which is a match.
19. His smile makes the corners of his eyes crinkle and makes my heart skip a beat.
20. He knows how to kiss well enough to curl my toes.

That’s my top 20 list for a romantic man. I’m pretty sure he’s fictional, but if he isn’t, gee, I’d love to meet him.

I don't know the guy in the photo. I snatched it off the web, but he's close to perfect hero status. I wonder if he knows how to make fire with two sticks?