Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Art of Courtly Love and Modern Day Storytelling

Andrew Capellanus wrote his rules of Courtly Love in the late twelfth century. Do they still apply today?

1. Marriage is no excuse for not loving.

The concept of a loveless marriage is a potent one in fiction. Why would two characters be together if they didn’t love? The reasons are numerous, but they are almost always catalysts for getting the real couple together. Most loveless marriage examples I can think of are on soap operas, but if you have others be sure to share them.

2. He who is not jealous cannot love.

Jealousy is a also a very strong plot device. It is the motivator to propel a story forward or to throw an obstacle in its path. In many instances, the jealousy is something that causes character flaws to appear or for a relationship to be tested. J.D. Robb actually tackled this one in a new and intriguing way when an old flame of Eve's showed up early on in the series. It peeled back more layers to Roarke, deepening both Eve's and our understanding of the character.

3. No one can be bound by two loves.

The love triangle is a particularly strong plot device. But the concept of passionate love for two different individuals is one that modern romantic sensibilities struggle with. Even in a ménage storyline, one expects that there is always a ‘favorite’ or one who was meant to be.

4. Love is always growing or diminishing.

This rule is simple yet has a complex effect on story lines and characters. Feelings can be nurtured or neglected. Personal perceptions can be overcome and who two people are at the beginning of a journey may not be who they are at the middle or near the end.  Look at Jeremy and Bonnie on The Vampire Diaries. In the first season, Jeremy was not remotely a possibility as a romantic interest for Bonnie. That relationship had to grow, the feelings of the two had to increase. It took time on the journey to achieve even those first baby steps on the way to a real relationship.

5. It is not good for one lover to take anything against the will of the other.

This rule seems to be more a code of behavior rather than of love itself and the most recent example of this was once again The Vampire Diaries (yes, I love my show), but when Damon forced Elena to drink his blood to assure himself that she could die permanently, it took from Elena the right to make her own choice.

6. A male cannot love until he has fully reached puberty.

Self-explanatory, yes?

7. Two years of mourning for a dead lover are prescribed for the surviving lovers.

For Damon on The Vampire Diaries this was a journey that took 145 years, not only to mourn the loss of “Katherine,” but also to foster the hope that he could save her. Katherine’s betrayal, by not being in the tomb, was a brutal moment in Damon’s grief. It laid bare the ideal that he had mourned a liar, it also opened him up to new possibilities.

8. No one should be deprived of love without a valid reason.

On television, a successful relationship often means back burner storylines and no front burner scenes. I.E. a happy couple without conflict is considered a boring entertainment. This argument created severe tension between fans of the television show Bones and the writers as they saw missed opportunities for Booth and Brennan to be together. I think the challenge needs to be met that the onus against that option is as constricting as worrying about lack of storyline if the characters are together.

9. No one can love who is not driven to do so by the power of love.

True love can redeem even the most villainous of characters. They might complain every step of the journey, but they will be driven to do the things they do because of the love they feel. Several characters are representative of this on television and in books:
  • Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries
  • Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Eric, Southern Vampire Mysteries
  • Cara, Legend of the Seeker

10. Love always departs from the dwelling place of avarice.

Couples break up over the heinous acts or choices of a partner. Matt, for example, chose to leave Caroline because he couldn’t handle her supernatural life and existence as a vampire.

11. It is not proper to love one whom one would be ashamed to marry.

Moral and ethical crises can be a great source of storyline material. Elena on The Vampire Diaries is struggling with her feelings for Damon because she doesn’t always like him, similarly Sheriff Forbes has struggled with the concept that her daughter was a vampire, something she has been taught to hate her whole life. But how can she hate her own child?

12. The true lover never desires the embraces of any save his lover.

It’s hard to imagine someone moving on from the person they “love” but sometimes, when you can’t be with the one you love, you love the one you’re with, particularly if you are trying to stay away from your true love as Angel did on Buffy and as Booth tried to do for Brennan when she said she couldn’t handle a relationship on Bones.

13. Love rarely lasts when it is revealed.

Unrequited love provides a powerful and provocative romantic inducement for readers and audiences alike. Damon on The Vampire Diaries actually “revealed” his love to Elena in the episode Rose and then made her forget. He loved her enough to let her go, but only to his brother. His later declaration that “I will always choose you,” was enough to make even the most cynical of hearts swoon.

14. An easy attainment makes love contemptible: a difficult one makes it more dear.

The more obstacles a couple must overcome, the more vital they are to the audience. The trick here is to not create so many obstacles that people believe the couple will never, ever get together (ala Bones). On Smallville, Clark and Lana finally managed it and later, so did Clark and Lois. The obstacles should strengthen the couple’s feelings, not leave the reader (or audience) feeling jerked around.

Skipping ahead to rule 31. Nothing prevents a woman from being loved by two men or a man from being loved by two women.

The romantic triangle is at the heart of many stories whether it’s Damon/Katherine/Stefan, Stefan/Elena/Damon, Hannah/Booth/Bones, Motorcycle Boy/Beckett/Castle, Jacob/Bella/Edward, Bill/Sookie/Eric, Jace/Faythe/Marc – it’s the love story that compels readers and viewers.

Have our views of romance and romantic actions truly changed that much in the last eight centuries? Not really. We believe in love, in fighting for love and in lovers being united against all odds. At the end of the day, it’s that happily ever after that we want for our favorite couples and ourselves.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thank You Smallville!

10 years was an amazing ride.  Thank you to Smallville's cast and crew and to the publicists at the CW who shared the amazing clips seen above.

Smallville: The Complete Series
Smallville: The Complete Series

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dukes, Earls and Villains Oh My...

As some of you know, I’ve been on a mission to work on my own writing and editing lately so I haven’t had the luxury of time to read anyone else’s work but my own.  This makes for one unhappy lover of romance books. Recently, I was lucky enough to meet a very sweet and funny author at the Dreamin’ In Dallas book signing in March. Vicky Dreiling, was sitting next to fellow bloody pen sister, Nikki Duncan. She was signing her debut book,  How to Marry a Duke, a regency historical. I had to pick it up. The blurb on the back had a great hook and even if it hadn’t I would have bought Vicki’s book just based on her. She was that endearing.

I love, love, love a great regency but have not read one in a long time. It sat for a while and one day I’d had enough of looking at my own stuff and picked it up. I couldn’t put it down. It had everything I love in a regency historical. An irresistible chemistry between two seemingly unsuitable main characters, (In this case a Duke and his matchmaker) humor, sexual chemistry and a fairy tale like story of shucking society’s rules and letting love conquer all that you know will end with a Grande happily ever after.
Dreiling delivered on all those and she even managed to give it a twist that just made it that much better. Her next is coming out in June, How to Seduce a Scoundrel, I’ll be pre-ordering it!

This one did whet my appetite for more regencies and I was ready to dig through my box of oldies for my worn copies of Amanda Quick’s and Johanna Lindsay’s but I decided to wait. Those are tried and true, but I’m hoping you, dear readers, will help me discover some new authors to try. Who are your favorite historical authors, why and what time period do they write?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hot Top Tuesday: The Wicked, The Wild and The Warriors

Sorry for the late post today! It's all my fault, Ruthie and Jaimie turned in some really wicked and wild recommendations for your reading pleasure this week. It's the first week of May and despite a brisk 46 degree morning, summer movies and books are hot, hot, hot. By the way, if you haven't seen Fast Five, be sure to head to the theater soon.

Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 4)
Hard Bitten
I hope everyone is excited for the next installment in the Chicagoland Vampire Series, Hard Bitten. If you have not heard about this series, I think you are truly missing out. The Chicagoland Vampire Series is an Urban Fantasy that follows Chicago graduate student, Merit, through the trials and tribulations of being introduced in to the underworld of Chicago after being bit by a rogue vampire. The series is filled with love, war, and all the little things inbetween. All the books in the series hold an impressive 4 star or higher ratings on If you are looking for a new nail bitting series to dive into or are already a fan of the Chicagoland Vampires, I highly suggest picking up Hard Bitten on your next trip to your favorite bookstore.

Blurb from

Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.

Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem too ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands...

Darkfire Kiss by Deborah Cooke

Darkfire Kiss: A Dragonfire Novel
Darkfire Kiss
Oh boy... Can you say Dragons!! And not just any dragons, but some of my favorite dragons currently roaming Paranormal Romance at the moment. It is time for the Dragonfire boys to draw us into the next step of their story. Darkfire Kiss is a story focusing on Rafferty Powell, the lovable elder who has been waiting for centuries for his firestorm. In the middle of a war with Magnus and the Slayers, the last thing Rafferty was expecting was to feel his firestorm ignite. This series is filled with wonderful love stories, heart-wrenching battles, and steamy dragon love making. If you are a lover of PNR and feel the need to branch away from vampires, I highly suggest giving the boys of the Dragonfire Series a try. I do not think you will be disappointed!

Blurb from

Rafferty Powell has exchanged challenge coins with his arch-nemesis Magnus Montmorency, and their next battle will be their last. But Rafferty never expected to meet a woman whose desire for Magnus’ downfall matches his own—and whose presence sparks Rafferty’s long-awaited firestorm.
Since facing her own mortality, investigative reporter Melissa Smith has resolved to live without fear. She’s determined to make the seemingly untouchable Magnus pay for his role in ending her friend’s life – no matter the price to herself.

When her quest entwines with Rafferty’s, Melissa finds herself risking more than she ever thought possible. Because the heat between them unleashes the darkfire—an awesome force of Pyr legend, one that won’t be sated until everything they know has been tested and remade.

One Whisper Away: Ladies in Waiting by Emma Wildes
One Whisper Away: Ladies in Waiting
One Whisper Away
The latest release from the talented Emma Wildes is a historical romance that takes place in England but has a lovable twist. The lead male character may be an earl but he is also half Native American. One Whisper Away promises readers a new look at the English nobility and the prejudices within while giving you an erotic love story.

Blurb from

Lady Cecily Francis is resigned to become the wife of Lord Drury, the man she suspects her sister is pining for. But upon her first scandalous encounter with the exotic Earl of Augustine--the American everyone is whispering about--Cecily is intrigued by the possibility of a more exciting life. If only she could contrive some way to marry the unconventional earl instead...

Around town he's known as Earl Savage. Although he inherited his title legitimately--and with it the responsibility for his three half-sisters--Augustine is half American and part Iroquois. He can't wait to settle his father's estate, marry his sisters off, and return to his native soil. Until charming Lady Cecily has him considering a prolonged stay in England...

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11)
Dead Reckoning
Hellooooo tall, blonde, and Viking! True Blood definitely increased the following for the Sookie Stackhouse series, but Eric Northman makes it yummy! In case you haven’t read the series...okay I can’t tell you anything without giving it all away, but I love, love, love Sookie. This series follows Sookie Stackhouse, a southern bell with a fiesty side and little secret. The characters in this series are rich and colorful. I cannot wait to see what Harris has in store for Sookie and Eric in this book. So if you’re not excited about this book, please check your pulse. Hope you enjoy!

Blurb from

With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit - and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can't 'read' vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his 'child' Pam well - and she realizes that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human - and that there is a new Queen on the board . . .

Jace by Sarah McCarty

Jace (Shadow Wranglers)
I read Caine’s Reckoning a year ago and I was hooked on McCarty’s books ever since. Her writing A+ hotness! If you love western romances and don’t mind kicking up the steamy factor then McCarty is for you. Her Shadow Wrangler series combine two of my favorite subjects...cowboys and vampires. Who couldn’t love that combination? These vamps are HOT! She has great plots and the steamy scenes are smoking hot. These are fun and quick reads that won’t leave you disappointed. She is the western Lora Leigh in my opinion. Hope you enjoy!

Blurb from

He had one need.
She had one hope.
Together they have one chance...

Vampire Jace Johnson was not a family man until he met Miri. But their forbidden relationship ended when she disappeared. After a year of searching, Jace finds Miri in a Sanctuary enclave.

After a year of cruel experimentation by the Sanctuary on her werewolf form, Miri is no longer the passionate wife Jace remembers. She only lives to rescue the daughter Jace never knew they had.

Now, they must overcome the tragedy of their pasts if they are to reclaim the future they both desire...

Warrior Betrayed by Addison Fox

Warrior Betrayed: The Sons of the Zodiac
Warrior Betrayed
After meeting this lovely author at Dreamin in Dallas I picked up her first book in the Sons of the Zodiac series. I loved Fox’s mythos with the Greek gods. Her story lines are face paced and exciting. I was entertained the entire book. I look forward to catching up on her series to find out about the other warriors. The romance is extremely well done and very complimentary to the plot. I look forward to reading this new installment.

Blurb from

As Montana Grant struggles to lead her late father's company, her estranged mother suddenly reappears, spouting nonsense about Mount Olympus, immortal warriors, and curses. But after an event that puts the company's future-and Montana's life-at risk, she decides to take her mother's last but of advice.

Quinn Tanner is Montana's security specialist-and a Taurus Warrior. With worldwide peace hanging in the balance, it's up to Quinn to help Montana rise to her destiny-even as they're falling in love.

What are you reading?