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Most romantic cities in America

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Recently Amazon put out a list of romantic cities based on sales of romance novels and relationship books. Not only is the list kind of a shock to most people but the cities named seem to be the antithesis of romance (hence the high rate of romance novel and relationship book purchases I guess). I mean of all the cities in Florida alone when I think of romance Orlando, Miami and Clearwater don’t exactly spring to mind. So, just in time for Valentine’s Day, here is my top 5 favorite romantic cities in America in no particular order.

1. St. Augustine, Florida

This is one of my most favorite places in the US. As the oldest city in the state (possibly even the country) St. Augustine has old world charm of cobblestoned streets, quaint shops, and great restaurants.

Visit the fabled Fountain of Youth or the local winery, San Sebastian. Take a historic tour via horse drawn carriage or ride across a beautiful sandy beach on horseback!

2. Seattle, Washington

Probably the one selection on Amazon’s list that I agree with. Located in a valley surrounded by beautiful snowcapped mountains, Seattle is ideally located for those who like to hike, go berry picking, swim, sail and like a bit of night life.

Pike Place Market is a must see but so is the sweet little Waterfall Garden in Pioneer Square. There are plenty of great places to stay in the city but if you want to snuggle by a cozy fire in the mountains head to the Salish Lodge and Spa in beautiful Snoqualmie.

3. Savannah, Georgia

You just can’t have a romantic city list without Savannah, the most beautiful city in Georgia. Visit old cathedrals, quaint markets, ride on an old fashioned riverboat and take part in the annual Valentine’s Day vow renewal ceremony.

4. Charleston, South Carolina

Again, no list would be complete without Charleston. History fanatics can stroll through plantations or take a pirate tour.

Culture buffs will enjoy the various wine, art and music festivals that occur throughout the year while foodies have their pick from an array of dining choices.

5. Poconos, Pennsylvania

Adventure seeking outdoorsy types will love it here. There’s skiing, tubing and snowboarding in winter and boating, rafting and horseback riding during the warmer months. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Poconos as it’s home to my favorite cheesetastic romantic getaway Caesar’s Cove Haven.

Flush with 70s style decor, heart shaped and champagne glass tubs and private swimming pools and starlight ceilings, this all inclusive romantic resort is great for a long weekend. You’ll feel like you’ve been there for a week.. in a good way!

Whatever your price range, whether you’re in a high priced resort or feeding each other strawberries and sparkling wine at home, your romantic adventure is what you and your significant other make of it.

 

Body Image and the Romance Novel

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It never fails. When reading a romance novel, the men are always well built and muscular with enormous genitalia while the women are gorgeous and well proportioned with smooth skin and smell of either some type of flower or confection. Some say this sets the reader up for unrealistic expectations and the beautiful characters can’t be related to. I agree however, there are a few things to consider.

 #1 A large majority of women hate how they look

It doesn’t matter how beautiful, thin or curvy a woman is, most of us absolutely hate how we look. I won’t get into the whole debate about body image in society, impossible expectations portrayed by the media etc. because we’ll be here all day. The fact of the matter is women are our own worst critics. Personally, I look in the mirror at least twice a week and frown at my graying hair and extra flab. Meanwhile my husband can’t seem able to keep his hands off me and I have friends who tell me I’m gorgeous. This brings me to my second point.

 #2 The hero will always find the heroine attractive 

That’s just the way the formula goes or at least that’s how I use it. If you notice, in many novels the heroine hates her body or doesn’t feel she measures up to the goddesses who surround her yet the hero absolutely adores her. The same traits she might hate seem to drive him crazy with desire. Even if she appears homely to the hero at first, it isn’t long before he takes a good look at her and realizes, wait a minute, this woman is beautiful! In my opinion this is where fantasy and reality meet. No matter what any of us looks like the person who makes your heart skip, your pulse race and causes butterflies to flutter in your stomach with a simple touch or look is the loveliest person you will ever meet.

 

#3 How do you write a “realistic body”?

She stood framed in the doorway, her satin robe caressing her figure. He approached her, a goofy look on his face as he undid the sash and slipped the robe down to her feet. He smiled, noting how the corn pads drew his attention to the shimmering polish on her toenails. The varicose veins, born from hours of standing on her feet as a waitress, fanned out like a roadmap on her legs. He massaged her cellulite dimpled behind as he kissed his way up and around her panis. He relished in the feel of her swollen nipples brushing his forehead as he kissed his way up to her bare breasts. As he stood upright, his soft belly jiggled and slid against her body. She groaned, caressing his bald spot and running her hands through the thick hair of his back. She squeezed the extra cushioning along his waist.

“Your love handles drive me crazy!” she murmured.

****

Not too sexy is it? At least, not as sexy as a scene describing a more perfectly formed couple anyway. Reading in general is a form of escapism and the romance genre especially so. While the hero and heroine don’t have to be underwear models, I think there is a growing tendency to make these couples to be a little more realistic while still maintaining artistic license. There’s not as much call for washboard abs and perky breasts and I can’t remember the last time I’d read of a virginal heroine gasping when her hero unleashes an appendage the size of a tree trunk. There are writers who specialize in BBW romances which feature plus sized women and men and I applaud those writers. I understand they’re doing very well and I intend to study those books as I’m curious how they handle the descriptive scenes. There’s also the growing trend of books featuring men who are physically or emotionally damaged and so far the books I’ve come across in this trend are very well written. I’ll encourage anyone to seek out and pick up books featuring these types of characters if you haven’t already.

Some day we may see romance novels featuring people who look just like you and me but to be honest, wouldn’t it be more fun to pretend to be a beautiful enchantress who is driving some gorgeous hunk absolutely wild, even for a little while?

Things I Think About: Movies whose happy endings are bogus

When I’m not working on my novels my brain tends to go in odd directions in an attempt to keep itself occupied so I figured I’d share these thoughts from time to time in a segment I call Things I Think About. Today, I post about how the happy endings of some movies just don’t sit right with me. Bear in mind these aren’t necessarily movies I hate, it’s just that sometimes even your favorite movies can have holes big enough to drive a truck through.

The Running Man

Loosely (as in copied the title of the book before tossing it into the shredder) based on the Stephen King novel, this movie covers the story of Ben Richards, a cop who goes against orders to fire on a crowd of hungry unarmed civilians and is sent to prison for insubordination. He manages to escape and comes across some old friends who are planning to overthrow the corrupt government but all he wants to do is spend the rest of his life basking on a beach in Hawaii. Because when you’re an escaped convict with the knowledge that the government gave you orders to kill thousands of innocent people, moving to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no where else to go is an excellent idea.

Anyway, he goes to his brother’s house (because again, the government would never think to find him there) where he finds the man has been taken away to be brainwashed/killed and a hot Latin chick who writes jingles for ICS is living there now. Knowing Amber believes what she sees on TV (like the rest of the country) and isn’t about to help him, he decides to kidnap her and drag her to the airport to board a plane to Hawaii with him. It’s at this point Ben Richards confirms he’s a moron.

She blows the whistle on him at the airport, he’s recaptured and the news broadcasts about how he went on a bloody rampage before getting caught which has Amber wondering if she made a mistake in not helping him since she realizes officials are lying about the incident. He ends up being a contestant on The Running Man where he meets up with two of his rebel friends who tells him they can get to the station’s satellite from the playing field and jam the signal to broadcast the truth to the public and STILL Ben wants nothing to do with it because not only is he a moron but possibly even a coward. Meanwhile Amber starts snooping in the company files where she finds the real video of the massacre Ben was blamed for, and subsequently shoves said videocassette up her snooch for future use, before getting busted and thrown into the game with Ben and his friends.

Long story short they manage to get to the satellite and the rebels take over the station with the help (FINALLY) of Ben Richards. The people are disillusioned, the game show host is killed and Ben and Amber walk off into the sunset and all is right with the world. Right?

Erm. No.

As we’ve witnessed throughout the movie, the government is seriously corrupt, crime and the economy are really bad and the people aren’t happy. Rather than actually trying to solve these issues the government decides to distract the public with a series of super violent and malicious tv shows on the ICS station which apparently the people lap up like mother’s milk because their mindset is in Jerry Spring on Steroids mode. Yes, there is every possibility that this little uprising set off many others as many people wake up from their fog and realize they’ve been deceived and over the coming years society rights itself again. However, there’s also the possibility that in the meantime while the group of teenagers and the old man who led them as well as Ben and Amber are mowed down the instant they leave the building by the leagues of Swat teams waiting for them outside and/or storm the building since it never occurred to anyone to put the damn building on lockdown!

Wall-E

Another futuristic movie this time brought to you by Disney and Pixar. A Walmart type company essentially destroys earth and ships the inhabitants into deep space for several hundred years while they attempt to fix the damage only to give up when it got too hard and leaves everyone out there for generations. The last working robot on the planet is apparently little Wall-E who happily works to clean up the planet while jamming to the movie Hello Dolly until he meets the sleek and sexy Eve who’s sent to Earth periodically to find any sign of biological life. She slowly warms up to Wall-E and they zip back to the ship when he shows her the plant he rescued from the broken refrigerator. On the ship we discover mankind has evolved into a bunch of puffy boneless couch potatoes who drink their meals while staring at TV screens all day. When the captain gets news of the plant he’s ecstatic to be going back home, especially when he realizes that the Earth needs some TLC to help it come back to life. Unfortunately the main computer has other orders and gets downright mean in its attempt to prevent the ship from returning to Earth. In the end though, they make it back, Wall-E gets the crap kicked out of him but survives and all is right with the world. Right?

Erm. No.

During the end credits we discover that the ship’s computer didn’t actually go into full-blown Hal mode and decide to murder everyone onboard because they wouldn’t follow its prime directive and the people manage to kick start the planet into a clean and livable place again. However, I doubt everyone was as excited to climb off their chairs for the first time in their lives in order to not just take care of themselves but to start the labor intensive farming and clearing activities necessary to get Earth back on track.

As we saw in the film, exposure to artificial gravity has caused everyone’s bones to shrink, which made them more reliable on the floaty chairs. This coupled with the fact that none of them have actually done anything physical in at least a century and it’s virtually impossible that these people would have been able to walk very far on the planet never mind doing anything else without a great deal of pain and bruising. Add this to the level of fear and uncertainty many of the passengers would have felt at this sudden change in lifestyle and mix with the very nature of some humans to just be outright lazy and we have a problem.

You can’t tell me there wasn’t a faction of people on that ship or any of the others floating around that said “To hell with this! Why should I bust my ass to save a planet I know nothing about? This life was good enough for my parents and their parents before them etc. and it’s good enough for me!” And assuming this faction didn’t just up and fly away with the ship while everyone else was toiling in the fields leaving them to fend for themselves and probably succumb to all kinds of injuries and illnesses as their bodies get used to life on Earth, how did they procreate? Did they keep using the lab or did John and Mary discover that inserting Slot A into Slot B = Baby and were put in charge of Sex Ed by their fellow Weebles?

Um well, that’s not exactly how it… oh hell knock yourself out!

Of course I never really expected the movie to cover this last bit since Disney’s idea of a sex talk is this:

This seems to be a common issue with futuristic movies involving the overthrow of a Dystopian society/lifestyle change and is the same beef I have with movies like Logan’s Run and V for Vendetta. They end with the celebration of freedom for the people but in reality the societies in these stories are in for years, perhaps decades of unrest and hard times as new ways are established and civilization is rebuilt. It’d be nice to see at least one Sci-fi story address this.