Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

Happily Ever After

by Karla Brandenburg

My son just got married! As the mother of the groom, I have the easy job this time around, and his wife is a charming, lovely woman. I couldn’t be happier for the both of them as I wish them their happily ever after.

To get into the proper mindset, I’ve been sticking with the romance novels on my TBR list. One of the messages a romance novel should send is that life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. Happily ever after isn’t a state to be achieved, it’s a work in progress that must be worked toward each and every day, a conscious choice we make as we struggle together through tough times and hard choices and obstacles. It’s knowing that the person you choose to stand beside you for the rest of your life has your back, that you have their back, even when you might want to throttle said person. You might be familiar with the “black moment” in a romance, when all is lost and it looks as though the hero and the heroine are doomed to break up and go their separate ways, but what would a romance novel be if you had invested all that time only to watch them break up? By definition, a romance novel is required to provide you with a happily ever after. No surprises that they come together. As in “real life,” it’s the journey that makes the ending worthwhile.

Romance novels come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from the fun comedies of Jennifer Cruisie or Linda O’Connor to action-packed adventures filled with suspense like you’ll find with Terry Odell or HelenKay Dimon, to the sexy shenanigans of Jill Shalvis. I picked up a historical last month, a time travel that took a Highlander who re-enacted Highland games back to medieval times where he needed the skills he’d refined to playact in order to save the day. Sounded like such a fun book, a la Diana Gabaldon, but I only got a quarter of the way into the book before I lost interest. The character was not engaging, and despite the swordplay, I couldn’t seem to connect with him. I can’t even tell you why. I set it aside in favor of a Kristan Higgins book – an author guaranteed to please (at least on my bookshelves). I very rarely set a book aside. I hate not finishing after an author has put so much work into the process. I may yet go back to the Highlander, but no regrets about picking up Kristan Higgins.

What are you reading this summer? Have you encountered any books you just couldn’t finish? Any that left you craving more?

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Comments

  1. I’m reading a variety of escapist fiction such as SciFi novels, historical romance, YA, plus mysteries or romantic suspense by authors I know. Usually I juggle three or four books at the same time. The more serious or contemporary fiction I’ll read for a break in the afternoon and the lighter fare in the evening. Congratulations on the nuptials! We have our own at the end of October with our daughter’s wedding.

  2. Sadly, I have gotten to the point where if I’m not enjoying a book I won’t finish it. Sometimes I’ve read books where the story was strong but I didn’t respect the characters. I never leave bad reviews for those books. They just weren’t to my taste. That’s not the author’s fault. I haven’t read a Julie Garwood book in years, and I recently picked one up because it started with a scene about kids. She really writes great kids. It was fun to reconnect with her in that way. I enjoy romances by Karla Brandenburg, Terry Odell, Nancy J Cohen, Jayne Ann Krentz, Lea Kirk, Diana Cosby, and Ellen Dye, to name a few.

  3. tinawhittle says:

    Congrats to everyone! And now that I am moving into a new places, my TBR stack has tripled. Too bad I have no time to read it all!

  4. ROSEMARY FORSTROM says:

    I recently discovered Kristen Ashley’s books. The romance and the stories are what I need at this time in my life.

    • I do think that books have a certain “time” in your life. When I’m sad, I prefer to read “happy” books. With that being said, as much as I’ve enjoyed a couple of Nicholas Sparks books, I do NOT like the way he makes me cry! (and for that reason, he doesn’t hit my TBR very often). Books can really set my mood.

  5. I have learned that I’m not obligated to “clean my plate” when it comes to reading. I recently DID finish a book I was tempted to set aside. A thriller, a best-selling author, but from the James Bond, purple-prose-filled opening gambit that had my eyebrows lifted. The protagonist had bazillions of dollars, contacts who could get him anything he needed at a moment’s notice. He was, to me, just plain boring. Nothing was hard for him, or if he had a setback, it was easily resolved.
    On a positive note, I discovered a new to me romantic suspense author, Melinda Leigh, and I’m enjoying reading two of her series at the moment.

    • I have a hard time putting down a book, even when I don’t like it. I always think “this is going to get better, I just know it.” The book I set aside this time might be the first. Just couldn’t do it. It’s still on my currently reading, but I’m not sure how long before I move it to DNF.

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