Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

After the Happily Ever-After

Romance is the only genre that guarantees a happily-ever-after. That warm fuzzy feeling that everything will be alright is baked in. If that premise isn’t met, then the book is not a romance, despite the multitude of lists that routinely tout non-happily ever afters as the “Greatest Romance.” Looking at you, Wuthering Heights and Great Gatsby!

What we never really get to see is the “after” story. Sure, we may get a brief epilogue a few months or a few years later. Usually, it’s a snapshot showing that the couple is still happy and often starting or growing their family. But then what?

The truth is that what happens next looks a lot less exciting to the outside world. It doesn’t have the tension of will they or won’t they to keep the story going. If I included it in my novels, I know my lovely editor would tell me that it might be better on the cutting room floor.

But it’s the simple bits after the grand declarations that make a great love story. On Tuesday, my husband and I will celebrate thirteen years of marriage. Our day to day life is routine now. We’re raising two girls, going to the office, making dinner, and binge-watching Netflix. He’s on his tablet as I type these words. It is not the stuff that lands between the covers of my books.

But it is what my books are based on. That feeling that love can last forever. That years into the future, two people can look past the gray hairs and smile lines and wonder how did I get so lucky?

My husband still gets up and shovels the snow off my car, even when he doesn’t have to be at work until much later than me. He always starts the electric kettle so I can pour hot water over my coffee grounds as soon as I come downstairs. Though that may be self-preservation – I am a nightmare before caffeine! And he’s shouldered more than his fair share of housework, homework, and carpooling when I am on a tight deadline.

These are the moments that make a real happily ever after. And I want my readers to believe my characters are still doing these things for their partner long after the epilogue has ended. Because no matter who you are or who you love, we are all worthy of someone who treasures us – years after the vows have been said.

Happy early anniversary to my hero. Thanks for the inspiration.

Juliette Hyland_Wedding

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

Moving and Cornfields and…Snakes? Oh My!

We are in the process of moving into a new house in the country. On five glorious acres. Okay, so it’s not a vast estate by most standards, but when your old house has a garden the size of a postage stamp, it seems huge. And exciting. And like a scene out of The Sound of Music.

So a funny thing happened on my way to the country. This girl didn’t think things through completely. I mean, I am so thrilled to be able to have real egg-laying chickens. But then a friend cautioned me to make sure the chicken coop was secure against predators.

Okay sure. Predators. Like foxes and raccoons and other poultry-loving critters, right? No big deal.

But there are a few other creatures that evidently like to munch on eggs. I mean, they really like eggs. So if you know me, you know that I am not afraid of most animals and insects. I mean a grizzly bear might stop me in my tracks, but spiders? Or bees? Nope. Not afraid.

Until someone said the word sssssssssssnnnnnaaaa… <clears throat> Okay, let’s try that again. Until someone said the word sn…sn…sna… Snake! There, I said it.

I am terrified of things that squirm around on their bellies and lie in wait behind logs. Our new house has a huge barn (for the horses, right?). And it’s surrounded by acres and acres of the most beautiful cornfields imaginable. When this friend first used the dreaded “s” word (which I won’t attempt to say again), it was in reference to those cornfields. Because my husband mentioned wanting a pool. And this dear friend warned him that we might find things floating in the pool. Because of the cornfields, which you can see in the picture below.

back of house
The back of the house with its adjacent cornfield

Snakes. Why didn’t I think of this possibility before we signed on the dotted line? Because the place is beautiful and private, with a long gravel lane leading to the house. And green pastures on either side of it. So I will do my best to remember that those belly surfers are more afraid of me than I am of them. Oh wait. That’s not true. Because the very thought of them paralyzes me.

So that’s my sad tale. Don’t get me wrong, this house is a dream come true. Really, I can’t wait to move in and make it home. Every dream has its hiccup, right? So that’s my hiccup. Is there something that scares the bejeebers out of you? Sharks? Slugs? Things that go bump in the night? I’d love to hear what makes you squirm and shudder. Just so I know I’m not alone!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Make Them Laugh by Amy Andrews

For those who read my books, you might have guessed I like I bit of humour amidst the hectic gore of hospital life. I know from personal experience that sometimes an off colour, in-poor-taste, joke is the only way to get through a truly heinous shift. In fact I think nurses have a knack of cracking jokes of the blackest humour at the most inappropriate times because it’s a coping mechanism and other nurses… well they just get it.

I know this isn’t the way the public view nurses. They like to think we’re “angels” and somehow sacred and pure – but let me tell you, every time a patient dies or something awful happens to a really nice person, it takes a little piece of you and any nurse that sticks around for a while has developed some way of deflecting the moments that cut them to the core. We can be a cynical bunch beneath our halo and wings.

So it’s probably no surprise then that I’m a huge romcom movie fan. I love them all, even the bad ones and believe me, there are sooo many bad ones which is frustrating as hell for me when a tweak here and a polish there could have made all the difference. A lot of them seem to rely on the big star names rather than the content which is just such a crying shame!

So it’s a thing of beauty when they get it right. I thought I’d list my fav romcoms and see what yours are so I can go watch then too if I haven’t already. Strictly speaking they’re not all romcoms but any movie that makes me laugh and sigh I’m willing to label romcom and it’s my blog so I’m setting the rules  🙂

For many years I’ve had five staples. And I would have watched each of these films easily 20 times each!

Notting Hill – best ending ever!!!

Love Actually – laughed, cried, held my breath, got turned on and just loved, loved, loved.

Bridget Jones’s Diary – best last line ever!

Four Weddings and A Funeral – some of you are now saying, hold on, she has a thing for Hugh Grant. And I have to say – not necessarily. But he has chosen his films wisely and I love the English “fop” he plays so well. My Big Fat Greek Wedding – just love this film. In many ways it was an “old fashioned” romance because of the heroine’s inexperience – love the pashing in the car scenes, love how great the hero is with her, love how sweet her brother is with her.

And then the last few years I’ve added some more to my regular go-to’s.

PS I love you – what’s not to love about an Irish Gerard Butler and a love-cut-short-by-death story?

The Holiday – never got the Jude Law thing until this movie! Now totally get it!

Raising Helen – another John Corbett film. Have loved him since Northern Exposure and he does not disappoint in this romcom as a priest!

Dan in Real Life – you can cut the yearning and heartbreak of the hero in this film with a knife. I never ever thought of Steve Carrel as a sexy man until this film. Now I have a very unnatural crush….

Stranger Than Fiction – another “out there” addition but I defy anyone to watch this film and witness the growing relationship between Will Ferrel and Maggie Gyllenhaal and not be sucked in. Will has never crossed my radar as a romantic lead but in this film I could have easily done him on the couch after that guitar solo – hubba hubba!

So, please share – what are your fav romantic films? Anybody seen Ruby Sparks? It looks like it’s going to be next on my list!