All fans of romance novels know that readers of the genre are smart. According to The Romance Readers’ Advisory, women in full-time, executive-level jobs reported reading an average fourteen romances a month and, according to a study conducted by BBC Research and Consulting Inc., more than 3.5-million men are reading romance. Why? Because we know romances are pure escapism and good for our blood pressure, they’re often well-written, have solid plotlines and intriguing dilemmas and they introduce us to wonderful characters, particularly women who struggle but manage to win happy endings for themselves.
Romances are also where we get a lot of our ideas about love, sex and relationships.
The three romances I’ve written so far in the Untamed Safari Series have given me the opportunity to delve into some of the relationship dilemmas we all face at one time or another.
Pride and poor communication
Caro and Ben in The Alpha Match go on the defensive when feelings are hurt and instead of communicating, they pull up the proverbial drawbridge and it costs them dearly. Anyone who’s paged through a magazine knows that relationships are all about communication but such a simple concept turns into a difficulty when we feel hurt or betrayed and wonder if our trust in the person we love is misplaced. Caro and Ben’s story spotlighted again the need for good, honest communication and that straight, open channels mean allowing oneself to be vulnerable, choosing to trust and stubbornly believing the best of your partner (unless, of course, there is good reason not to).
Sophie and Reuben in Moonflower (available for pre-launch order - Moonflower) must struggle to find common ground between two very different ways of life. Can an African game farm bridge the gap between wildest Africa and corporate London? Today there is a very real possibility that two people from opposite sides of the world can meet and fall in love. What a dilemma this poses if one person isn’t able to pull up roots and move across the world to be with the person they love. Life, career, responsibility versus love and that feeling of being truly alive. What is a job or a way of life compared to what could be a lifetime spent with the person you love? It’s a question only the individual can answer. I, being a romantic, would tend to pull out all the stops to be with the love of my life.
In Wetlands, Adrian and Dani travel a near-impossible road when her property development company threaten the survival of a sensitive wetlands. While writing this book I’ve had a lot of time to reflect about the sharing of common values in a relationship. It would be boring to agree about everything, but I think it’s important to have a similar outlook when it comes to the big ones like loyalty, prejudice and whether coffee can be instant or should always be filter.
I wonder if you’ve also learned from the romances that you’ve read. Or perhaps you think the last place we should be taking advice about love and relationships is romance novels. If you’ve had any ah-hah moments lately, I’d love to hear about them.
Pride and hurt feelings, Caro realised, were a dangerous combination. But it had been more than that. There was her loyalty to her family and respect for the sacrifices they had made to put her through an expensive university degree.
Ben didn’t understand that. There had always been more than enough money and opportunity in his life. It was he who should have been far more understanding than he had been back then; the person ready to compromise for the first time in his life. But he had expected all the compromise to come from her side.
Caro thought about that word—side. That’s what had changed in their relationship. They had become two sides. Both competing for the same sought-after position; their first mistake. Ben, South African; Caro’s life and family on the other side of the world. Until it had become all about Caro’s perspective versus his side of the story.
Caro became aware of Ben calling her name. She turned towards him.
She hesitated, then nodded. ‘Just brought back some memories,’ she said, holding up the photograph.
‘Well, don’t look so sad. That was a happy holiday.’ Ben gave a wry smile. ‘We did have some good times together, didn’t we?’
Was he trying to reassure himself or her? You still have to work with him. All the hurt feelings and pride bubbled to the surface again. Just play it cool. Don’t let yourself feel anything. Block it out. You know how to do that. ‘Yes, we did.’
‘And, there are more good things to come… like ice-cream, for instance.’ He held up a tub of chocolate and vanilla and Caro made a monumental effort to smile at him.
‘Ah-hah, you see, I can still bring a smile to your face. I remembered chocolate and vanilla’s your favourite. Let’s take it outside.’ He handed her the bowls and spoons.
She slipped the photograph into her bag.
BLURB AND BUY LINKS
English conservationist, Caro Hannah, and South African, Ben Duval, must work together to introduce endangered African wild dogs to a game reserve four years after their love affair ended. The challenges of their profession pale into insignificance beside the personal obstacles they must overcome to either bring closure to the events of four years before, or reignite a passion hot enough to burn up the African bush.
AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS
Leigh writes romance novels set in her native South Africa. She has always had a love affair with Africa’s wild open spaces, the intensity of its people and sunsets. Her love of storytelling began as a child when she spent every spare moment playing barefoot in golden grass, watching wild creatures, learning to track spoor and dreaming up heroes and heroines dynamic enough to stand out in all the beauty and drama of the African landscape.
Always in search of adventure, Leigh’s journey as a writer has taken her from journalism through communications, to working as a novelist.
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