fashion, hat
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Return of the Sunday Hat: Untouchable Grace

I can’t believe that it’ been nearly a year since I last did a Sunday Hat post.  I promise to try to post more often on this site, but honestly, if you want to get regular updates on all the goodness that I’m up to, you’re best bet is to visit my main site (JocelynnDrake.com).  However, this hat picture instantly caught my attention.

It’s not just the elongated style of the hat with its sweeping feather and flower accents.  It’s the stance of the model, the cut of the dress, the pale line of vulnerable bare flesh that all combine to create a type of untouchable grace and haunting allure.  The woman and the hat possess a kind of delicacy that almost hide an inner strength,  a will of steel.

I think I might tuck this picture away and write  a story about this woman.  I think she needs her own story.

beach

Romantic Getaways for Adorable Couples

It’s hard to believe, but today is my three-year wedding anniversary. There are moments when it feels like we’ve always been together and there are times when it feels as if we’ve been married only the blink of an eye.  While we were unable to get away for a special vacation this year, I’m hoping that we can do a second honeymoon-type getaway when we have our five- year anniversary.

So, I asked my husband, where he’d like to go for a romantic honeymoon in a couple years.  His reply?  “I’m happy wherever we are so long as I’m with you.”  Yep, that’s why we work so well together, my friends.  But after a little prodding, I did get a few suggestions from him.

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

Mr. and Mrs. Jocelynn Drake’s Top 5 Romantic Getaways

5. Paris, FranceParis

Personally, I’d rather this be a little closer to the top of the list, but my husband isn’t ecstatic about the idea of going to Paris. I visited while I was in high school as part of an exchange program. It was beautiful but we were on this insane, busy itinerary.  I’d love for us to go and spend a week wandering around the city, eating amazing food, and enjoy being in the old City of Light and the City of Love.  I’d love to stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower with my husband,  have our portraits drawn at Montmartre, and stroll along the Seine.

4. ScotlandScotland

Sorry, I can’t be more specific than the entire country, but come on… it’s SCOTLAND.  I’m talking ancient castles, rolling green hills, bagpipes, kilts, amazing accents, and rich history. (And yes, my husband has said that he would be happy to wear a kilt. And yes, he does have the legs for it.) I have never been to Scotland but every picture I’ve seen and every person I’ve talked to has convinced me that I need to visit this lovely land.

3. TahitiTahiti-Beach-Wallpaper

It’s a gorgeous island surrounded by crystal blue water and white beaches.  And do you know what’s even better?  It’s in the middle of nowhere.  I can’t imagine being able to get farther from the world we know.  In a perfect little vacation, we’d lock up laptops and smart phones in a safe and wouldn’t touch them until we were packing to leave.  It would be time where we were completely out of contact from the world.  It would be time of swimming, snorkeling, boating, lounging on the beach, and just enjoying being together in an exquisite setting.  No social media. No deadlines. Yeah, that sounds like a nice slice of heaven to me.

Florence2. Florence, Italy

Okay, so there are a lot of places that I’d love to go in Italy, but Florence is at the top of both my list and my husband’s.  Why?  Well, we’ve got to lay the blame at the feet of Ezio Auditorre de Firenze. Who?  The charming, devilish Italian who appears in three Assassin’s Creed games.  My husband played the games and then promptly introduced them to his lovely wife, who became addicted as well.  We’ve both wandered the streets and rooftops of Renaissance Italy in the video game.  We’ve swapped stories and marveled over images that have become ingrained in our brains. This is one of those magical places where we will wander hand in hand, staring in quiet awe at the history that has seeped into every building and work of art.  Of course, since it’s Italy, so we will eat and eat and eat. Heaven!

1. HawaiiHawaii

We vacationed in Hawaii. We got married in Hawaii. And it’s currently our #1 choice to go to spend our five-year anniversary. The people were wonderfully nice and polite.  The scenery was beautiful. The food was excellent.  I’d love to go back and wander around the island some more in a rented car.  I’d love to have our vows renewed one morning on the beach before heading out for a day of snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins.  In the evening, we’ll enjoy a luau and dancing under the stars while listening to the waves washing in against the beach.

Those are our top 5 Romantic Getaways for Adorable Couples.  Is there anything we’ve missed?  Where would like like to go for a romantic getaway?

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Best Day of My Life

Do you have that one song that instantly conjures up good feelings and good memories when you hear it?  The song itself might not necessarily be a happy song but it always seems to make you feel better when it comes on the radio.  You wiggle a little in your seat, you tap your fingers on the steering wheel, and you bob your head in time to the rhythm.

Yeah, this is one of those songs for me.  My brother and his new wife chose this song to make their entrance to their wedding reception.  When I hear it now, not only do I instantly think of that moment but also my entire family — smiling, laughing and cheering.  It’s a perfect moment in time and I hope it stays with me for many years to come.  I think this song is going to help.  Enjoy.

 

romantic hero

What Makes a Romantic Hero

Through my multiple flights as I crisscrossed the country, I read a historical romance novel by an author I hadn’t tried before.  I thought it was an okay book, not quite strong enough for me to recommend to other readers.  I thought the premise was an interesting twist, but what had me the most frustrated was that every character other than the heroine was absolutely despicable.  No one had any redeeming qualities.  They were greedy, manipulative, lazy, spineless, feckless liars.  Rather than get with the romantic hero, I wanted the heroine to flip them off and say, “Screw you all. I’ll take my chances on the street.”  But in the end, the romantic hero redeemed himself — sort of — and they lived happily ever after.  While I didn’t love the book, it did get me thinking.  What makes a romantic hero?

When you open a romance novel, particularly a historical romance novel, you come to expect certain things.  Now, I’ll happily admit that there are some wonderful authors out there who are breaking this mold on a regular basis to surprise and titillate readers and that’s fantastic.  But even with all that mold breaking, there are things that we the reader come to expect.  Here’s a quick list of what I’ve come to expect.

Recipe for a Romantic Hero

Strong – I’m not talking physical strength like I’d expect this man to bench press a  Mini Cooper.  I’m talking about mental strength and a strong will.  Sure, people make mistakes and might get manipulated once, but I don’t want to see it on a repeated basis.  I want the person to have a sharp mind, whether he’s book smarts or street smarts.  I want a hero to have a strong will.  He’s not the type to just float along and let people just guide him along on his purposeless course.  The heroine can help add some direction and renewed purpose, but that inner strength has to be there before she steps into the scene.

Honor – This is a touchy one.  Historical romances are filled with rakes who operate in some less than honorable ways.  Seducing a married woman is not exactly honorable.  I can let this one go a little because it’s painted as the norm for the era.  In most books, it’s also shown as a two-way street.  He’s not the only one who’s engaged in less-than-honorable acts.  However, I think where the rubber hits the road for me is that while the romantic hero might be a disreputable rake, he will genuinely help a woman in danger — even at the risk of his own safety and reputation.  Now, I’m all for a woman handling a situation herself, but this is a different time period if we’re talking a historical romance.  Women had few options and little power.  I’m also not looking for a knight on a white charger.  I’m happy with a guy with a little moral fortitude who stands up and say, “Dude, that’s not right. I’m not going to allow this.”

Vulnerable – Okay, I can already hear the men groaning at this one, but hear me out.  I’m not talking the weepy, sulky, mopey vulnerable.  I’m not talking the sensitive poets who are sighing and fawning.  I love the tough, silent, brooding, cold, distant types.  Those are the hardest nuts to crack, which just makes them so much fun.  But the key to those nuts is finding a little hole, a chink in the armor.  No matter how strong, brave, reticent, distant, they all need to have one vulnerability.  Maybe it’s a younger sister the romantic hero unexpectedly protects and dotes on.  Maybe he’s a secret lover of horrid novels.  Maybe he grows hybrid roses but doesn’t want the world to know.  Whatever it is, it’s not only proof that he uses his heart but it’s often a way into his heart.  The truth is that we, as human beings, can bond over the most mundane topics, but until we take a risk and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with another human being, we can never get close to that person.  That precious moment of risk and trust is what allows us to form stronger, closer ties.  It’s the difference between acquaintances and best friends.  It’s the difference between a one-night stand and a partner.

Well, I think that’s a good start.  As you’ll notice, I didn’t say anything about a title, looks, or wealth.  Any person could possess these key traits.  But I’m sure that’s not all that makes a romantic hero. What suggestions do you have for me?  What do you need your romantic hero to have to fall in love with him?

romantic

5 Most Romantic Lines

There are moments in a TV show or a movie where your heart is swelling, swooning, and maybe even breaking all at the same time.  It’s that perfect, crystalline moment — the culmination of all looks, touches, and hints where one character finally puts it all on the line for the man or woman they love.  Only a hard, cold soul can’t be touched by these moment.  The rest of us are cheering, bouncing in our seats, and wiping tears away  It’s the height of romance and love and tenderness.  Today I want to celebrate the art behind crafting those perfect moments with my top 5 most romantic lines from movies or TV.

As they are only 5, I know that there are many, many lines I’ve leaving out, but here are some of my favorites.

5.  As you wish. — The Princess Bride.  Wesley looks at Buttercup and murmurs those sweet words to her dozens of times.  It took so long for her to realize the real meaning of those three words, but they so perfectly captured the feelings filling his heart.

4.  The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings. — You’ve Got Mail.  I love this one because it captures the importance of the little things that we so easily overlook and take for granted.  We focus on the big moments to define our lives and our great loves, but so often, the deepest, truest love is developed slowly over time.

3.  You make me want to be a better man.  — As Good As It Gets. It’s an unexpectedly sweet line that get to the core of how much we value another person.  We want to be worthy of them and reach the same heights we see in that person.

2.  Stay alive. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you. — The Last of the Mohicans. The world is going to hell around you and you are scared.  Is there nothing more heart-warming to know that there is one person who will fight no matter the odds to find you, to save you, to protect you?  

1. I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye to you. — Doctor Who.  I cried and cried and cried at this episode.  This sweet love affair was slowly built and it was only at the end when you realized how intense and close it had become.  How utterly hopeless. And at the end of things, what would you do to have one last moment with the person you loved more than anything in this world? Sacrifice you time, reputation, career, life, … a star?

Do you agree with my list?  What lines from movies or TV shows would you include?

If you hadn’t guessed, I’m feeling romantic today.  To celebrate, I’ve got a special deal running on my historical romance novella, Stolen Kisses at Midnight.  The story is the first in the Hidden London series. It’s listed under my alter-ego Joy Douglass.  The book is free for Kindle until July 10.  Pick it up now!

Here is the description for Stolen Kisses at Midnight:

1824 –London, England 

Drake was dark temptation. 

After the death of her fiancé, Cathryn Bradford was sure she would never love again, but Lord Drake Ashburn was luring her back into world of the living with the excitement of midnight meetings and secret parties. The devilish rake proved that she could love again, but could she trust him with her fragile heart? 

Cathryn was his heart. 

Drake had nearly lost Cathryn once to another man. He wasn’t going to let her waste her life pining for a man who didn’t deserve her. But would a few stolen kisses and the thrill of exploring London’s darker side finally free his beloved Cathryn from the ghost of a life that could have been?

 

Take a chance.  Fall in love with Drake and Cathryn.

5 Reason I Love Writing Historical Romance

Since I started writing stories, poetry, and eventually books, I have tried writing fantasy, contemporary romance, thriller, science-fiction, urban fantasy, speculative fiction, paranormal romance, and stories I haven’t even a clue as to how I would categorize them.  However, I find that I keep coming back to writing historical romance.  Today, I thought I’d list some of the reasons why I find myself drawn to this genre.

1.  The Social Rules and Etiquette

One of my favorite time periods tends to be Regency and Victorian, particularly in London but I’m starting to expand my gaze to consider France and Italy.  I haven’t looked at the U.S. during that same time period, but I think it’s because I get too many painful flashbacks of junior high American History class and I can’t write through the draining boredom and nausea.  As an American, I know that horrible of me to say, but we can only hope that changes one day.  But anyway…. I like the strict rules of the time period — the expectations of both the men and the women.  Sure, a lot of my female characters like to break, or at least bend, those rules, but as I writer I like boundaries.  When I’m given a limited space in which to work, I find it exciting because then I must find interesting and unexpected ways to surprise the reader.  It’s like the old locked room murder.  A dead body is discovered inside a room locked from the inside.  How did the killer do it?  I approach stories in which the characters live within a narrow, rule-strict society with the same enthusiasm.

 

2. The Slower Flow of Information Creates Opportunity

In our current society, everyone is armed with a smartphone.  If we have a question about something, we grab our phones and in a matter of seconds we can look it up on the internet, call someone, or text someone.  There’s no delay for anything any more.  We don’t have to wait.  We don’t have to come up with alternatives if we can’t get the information in time to make a decision.  Say you’re trying to research something but you think some violent thugs are possibly trailing you.  However, you can’t make a quick phone call to verify this information.  You don’t have a smartphone that can save you … but you could quickly duck into a closet in the middle of the British Museum while you formulate a plan to escape. (Just ask Hunter and Charlotte.)  The lack of quick, easy information means my characters have to be more creative and have several plans of attack if they are going to survive.

 

3. Horse and carriage

Don’t get me wrong.  I love fast cars.  I love sleek machines of steel and carbon fiber that growl when you press on the gas.  But I love putting my characters on horseback to go careening through the woods at a breakneck pace.  The thundering of the hooves on the earth, the pounding of the rider’s heart in time for his mount. There’s something about this chase that harkens back to our animal instincts of hunting and pursuit.  And it goes without saying that there’s so much fun that can happen in the back of a close carriage on a dark night.  (Just ask Drake and Cathryn.)  But I think there’s also something regal in the elegant horse-drawn carriage.

 

4. The Parties

Speaking for myself, I’m not a party person.  Actually, I live in cripple fear and dread of parties.  I’m not social. I’m horrible at small talk and just generally awkward. But when I’m writing about the ton in London during the Regency or Victorian era, it’s all about  the parties.  People are constantly going to balls, dinners, soirees, the opera, masked balls, garden parties, house parties in the country, and more.  These people are constantly finding a reason to get together, dress up, dance and drink.  And all the interesting things happen at these parties.  People are dancing with the wrong people, people are sneaking off into gardens to do naughty things, and people are being murdered when other people aren’t looking.

 

5. Stiff, Reserved Grumpy Men Falling in Love

Sure, we’ve got stiff, reserved grumpy men in present day, but these men are different.  Men in present day don’t have to marry if they don’t want to.  Men from the past were titled and they were expected to marry someone else who came from a titled family.  They were not looking for love.  In fact, they didn’t want to fall in love.  They just wanted to have a legitimate heir and a wife that stayed out of his hair so he could go back to his mistress to have the kinky fun.  And then it happens… She surprises him.  She gets under his skin and he just can’t let her go.  These men are so often cold, spoiled, and cruel, but when they fall in love… sigh … it’s a beautiful thing.

 

What are some reasons why you like historical romance novels?

If you’re in the mood for something new to read, check out my novel, What A Lady Treasures.  It’s currently on sale for $0.99 on Kindle.  You can also try my novella, Stolen Kisses at Midnight.

10 Favorite Romantic Couples

Whether we’re watching a movie or reading a book, we find ourselves drawn back to the same couples over and over again.  We love their story, their trials and their triumphs.    Today I thought I would list my 10 favorite romantic couples.  These are the ones that I’m drawn to again and again because they make my heart sing.

2 Beatrice-and-Benedick-much-ado-about-nothing10. Benedict and Beatrice — Much Ado About Nothing

Thank you , William Shakespeare.  They are the original, snarky couple.  I love their smart alec remarks, their egos, and the wonderful intervention of their friends.  I read the play for the first time when I was in junior high school and I fell in love.

 

cupid and psyche9. Cupid and Psyche

A Classic Greek myth about a god falling in love with a beautiful woman.  It’s a wonderful tale of trust and violation, love and what we will do to be worthy of that love. If you’d like to read more about Cupid and Psyche, click here.

 

mickey and minnie8. Mickey and Minnie

Is there any cuter couple than Mickey and Minnie Mouse?  They’ve been together forever and their love is still as strong as it ever was.  As a princess, she’s loved him as a brave little tailor.  As a little shop girl, she’s loved him as a lowly delivery boy.

 

bruce wayne7. Bruce Wayne and Andrea Beaumont — Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Ahh…. this one is reaching back quite a bit into my childhood. Released in 1993, this movie showed a glimpse of a young Bruce Wayne and the one shot he’d taken at falling in love, in finding happiness after the death of his parents.  This is a tragic love story that still makes me cry whenever I watch the movie.

 

Westley and Buttercup6. Westley and Buttercup — The Princess Bride

As you wish.  It’s a classic tale of true love, action, fencing, danger, sports.  It has the most romantic kiss of all time. Sometimes, you just can’t give up on the thing your heart wants most.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice to protect it.  And sometimes you have to risk everything to hold it close.

 

han and leai5. Han Solo and Princess Leia — Star Wars

They appear to be a wonderfully mismatched pair.  She’s a princess and he’s a scoundrel.  But it just so happens that she likes scoundrels. The leader of a rebellion, Leia doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. And well… Han… yeah. You understand.

 

 

Rapunzel-Flynn-in-Tangled4. Rapunzel and Flynn/Eugene Rider — Tangled

They are such a wonderfully fun couple.  Rapunzel is a sheltered girl who is eager to experience everything she can about the world around her.  Flynn is a good-hearted scoundrel who is trying to live a life of adventure while making a better life for himself.  Sure, he’s a little bit of a thief, but he’s got a heart of gold.

 

Joker and Harley3. Joker and Harley Quinn

You can’t find a more sinister or dysfunctional couple than Joker and Harley.  He’s evil to his core, but he somehow manages to love his poo.  And no matter how much abuse he dishes out, Harley will always stand by her Mister J.

 

2. Morticia and Gomez Addamsgomezmorticiakiss

They’re creepy and their cookey.  And all together ookey.  But Morticia and Gomez know how to keep the romance alive.  They are always there for each other, showing each other how much they love each other.  Sure, their expressions of love are a little strange, but it’s still a deep, beautiful love.

 

prideprejudice1. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett — Pride and Prejudice

Ahh…. my all-time favorite couple. They are almost cliche at this point, but something about Elizabeth and Darcy make my heart sing.  They are stubborn and proud, but so wonderfully matched. I could read the book and watch the movie constantly and never get enough of Darcy and Elizabeth.

So they are my favorite romantic couple. Who are your favorites?  Who would you add to my list?

If you’d like to meet some new romantic couples, you can give Drake and Cathryn a try from my Stolen Kisses at Midnight novella. Or you could spend some time with Hunter and Charlotte from my What a Lady Treasures novel. It is currently on sale for $0.99 on Kindle.