Mary (Biblical name) lives in a small town with her parents, but she doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life despite the fact that she’s, like, 27 and should have at least gone to college or worked a full-time job by that point.
Kevin (non-Biblical name) has a cute butt, his own company, and visits his grandma for dinner every Sunday, but is religiously confused. He takes an interest in Mary and flirts with her at the grocery store. She likes him, but is deeply concerned that he doesn’t attend church.
Mary attends church and refers to them as her “family.” The pastor belittles her for being seen in public with a non-member. Mary sobs in shame. Mary’s parents warn her that she’s going down a dangerous path. Mary questions God.
In a moment of weakness, Mary goes on a date with Kevin. They have a really good time, and she agrees to go back to his place. They kiss. They kiss more. Kevin takes off his shirt. Mary thinks he’s really hot.
Mary is about to remove her own clothing, when she instead starts to think about Jesus. Mary sobs in shame. Mary explains to Kevin about how much Jesus loves them, and how disappointed He is in their behavior. Kevin also sobs in shame.
The next day, Kevin is converted to Christianity and begins to attend church.
They talk about maybe getting married in ten years, after Mary flakes around a lot then panics about missing her window of fertility. Kevin is inexplicably okay with the wasted time.
Wide shot of a church with the choir singing in the distance, while Mary serves jam at the church social. Everyone is smiling.
As a romance author, I keep an eye on the trends for relationship/marriage advice. Most of it comes from Christian sources.
I once listened into a social audio conversation that was ostensibly about secular marriage, but the general consensus of the group was that, if you truly loved someone, you would go away so they could focus on their career. If I had a smarmy salesperson personality, I would have taken the opportunity to pitch my novels to them as romantic escapism, because that is some hardcore dedication to loneliness.
I have a unique perspective, because while I grew up Christian, I married as a Pagan.
The overwhelming impression that I get from Christian sources is that the women are too picky when it comes to men. I guess they aren’t getting hitched because no one is good enough.
Once upon a time, during my early days of marriage, someone pulled out his Bible and read a lot of verses about the sort of wife I was supposed to be. Heck if I can remember much about it, but by the time he started reading about how I was supposed to earn extra money to help with the household finances, I knew beyond a doubt that I would have to develop a serious cocaine habit in order to have that much energy. I have never come close to being a perfect biblical wife.
Thank god I don’t believe in the Bible. (har har)
But lets go back even farther, to when I was a Christian teenager. This was when I really began to shine as a misfit, because when my church leaders advised me to date around a lot and aim to marry as close to perfect as I could, but I was more like, “Husbands are human beings, and marriage isn’t like buying a car.”
Yeah, I was bullied rather badly in church. Can’t imagine why /sarcasm.
But apparently, plenty of other women took that sort of advice to heart, and now the Christians are moaning that they aren’t getting married at all.
I think my husband is pretty great. I won’t go into slathering specifics, but he’s wickedly smart, he helps take care of me, and he plays with the kids — I can’t imagine wanting to be married to anyone else. He also doesn’t fit any of those bullet point lists that I was given in church during my teen years.
He cusses, he loves a good whisky, and he doesn’t believe in God.
But I fall short, too.
I go to bed with dirty dishes still in the sink. 😀
So we’re a couple of heathens who take our children to the park on Sunday instead of church. We’re happy.
Marriage isn’t shopping for a car, and you shouldn’t go out with a list of requirements, make comparisons, then pick the one with the most cup holders. Marriage is building a deep bond with another human being. A connection between souls.
And stop blaming women for being what you raised them to be.
Despite being a self-described “hopeless romantic,” I also have a hopeless pragmatic streak as well — don’t be afraid to settle for Good Enough. Because face it, there’s no such thing as perfect.
Good Enough is hard to come by in this modern age.
For starters, finding someone who isn’t going to up and bail on you in a society that actively encourages breakups and divorces is a feat in and of itself. Consider yourself lucky.
Honestly, that was one aspect of marriage that I didn’t expect. When my husband and I hit financial difficulties, people I barely knew started telling me to leave him — as if somehow the job market was going to magically embrace me with a lucrative career as the result. Uhhh, no. That was 2011. Everything was burning. And I liked having someone to endure with.
Don’t discredit how much it means to have someone you can always count on, no matter what.
So, at this point, you’re probably wondering what inspired me to write this. Is there trouble in paradise? Dark secrets behind the scenes?
I don’t frequently watch youtube videos, but I do occasionally read over the recommended titles when I venture over to the site in my search of knowledge. Some people kill brain cells by huffing aerosols, but I do it by peaking at what the mainstream is doing.
I saw this:
At this point, I’m pretty convinced that therapists consider a no-strings-attached booty call to be the only “healthy” relationship, but that’s a different topic.
I chortled when I saw that recommended video, because I know that all of my fictional couples would be labeled with things like, “toxic,” or “codependent.” Heck, I’m currently working on a story that begins with an unapologetic kidnapping, so clearly, appealing to modern values is not something I concern myself with much (they’re all Christian-based anyway, and I’m not Christian). Rather, I don’t think that the path to happiness is so straight and narrow as we were led to believe.
I’ve given up on reading Outlander for the time being.
The novel was getting to be genuinely nauseating for me — it was like a super concentrated form of Boomerisms, to the point that I was starting to expect the book to tell me to “just get a job” during a massive economic crash with skyrocketing unemployment rates.
And by the way, I didn’t understand when I became a parent. Quite the opposite.
Aside from the blatant Mary-Sue main character and the woobie-love-interest, the whole story has been thus far told with rampant hubris and condemnation. I’ve read other highland romance books that didn’t treat the period or the culture with so much disdain, and I honestly wasn’t expecting it. Why write a historical book when you hate absolutely everything about the past?
At one point the reader is informed that the Laird’s wife is cheating on him with every **** she can get her hands on, as if we’re expected to believe that all the clansmen are eagerly insulting their Laird’s honor and authority while simultaneously respecting him. Yeah. Sure. If you’re a Boomer.
And we mustn’t forget the bit about pennyroyal being regularly used to induce miscarriages. While it technically can be done, the amount necessary is darn close to being lethal, and it comes with nasty side effects — it’s not something that any sane woman would gamble with unless she was desperate enough to die. It wasn’t the historic form of The Pill.
What makes the author so certain that all women hate the idea of being mothers? Oh. Right. Boomers.
I just can’t keep reading that book anymore. Like I said, it’s actually getting nauseating.
Aurora was still alone when she awoke, but the door to the bedroom was open. She pulled the sheet off of the bed, wrapped it around herself, then tiptoed out into the main room. CR1515 was sitting in a chair in front of a giant screen, and although his face was completely expressionless, his body language was that of someone who was thoroughly bored of his desk job. Her clothes were still scattered across the floor, so she moved as quietly as she could to gather them up, praying that he wouldn’t notice her.
“You slept for nine hours,” he said, still focused on the screen. “Brain scans indicated that it was prudent to not wake you.”
“Thank you,” she murmured, blushing as she turned away, conscious of the fact that she was still nude underneath the sheet, and the soreness between her legs that attested to the reality of what had happened. “Is there a bathroom?”
“You may attend to all your needs in there.” He pointed back towards the bedroom. “When I am finished I will require sustenance, and you will eat then.”
She hesitated, then asked, “What are you doing?”
Aurora couldn’t stop her curiosity, so she turned to study the screen. “That looks like our underground base.”
“I maintain the security grid,” he replied. “One of the exterior cameras malfunctioned, so I ran a diagnostic and am now programming the instructions for the repair drones. I do this for all of your cities and bases.”
“Really?” Aurora’s fingers touched her lips with surprise. “I thought that was all automated.”
“As I am classified as a machine, it is.” CR1515 turned to look at her. “What are you doing?”
Aurora found herself shrinking back when he stood and approached her, and he took the bundle of clothing out of her arms then pulled the bed sheet away from her. All she could do was wrap her arms around herself and shiver as she looked down at the floor.
“I did not tell you to cover yourself.” He returned to the screen and sat down, then continued typing.
“I can’t always be naked!” Aurora protested. “Do you really intend to keep me as a sex slave?”
“But …” A painful lump formed in her throat. “It’s not fair to do that to someone.”
“Is it fair to enslave someone for your protection then? To mock and ridicule them even as you demand their loyalty?” CR1515 tilted his head to one side and rested it against a fingertip. “From my perspective, taking a single human woman after decades of service is a small price to ask.”
Aurora squeezed her eyes shut in an attempt to hold back the tears, and asked weakly, “Why me?”
“Because you sought me.”
She was silent, hugging herself as her mind tried to make sense of it all. Then, vehemently, she demanded, “If it had been Talon at the Gate instead of me, would you have done the same with him? Would he have been standing here naked now, instead of me? Was it really that arbitrary?”
“No.” CR1515 was either finished programming, or had come to the conclusion that she required his full attention, because he stood and approached her again, laying his metal hand against the side of her face. “If a man had come to the Gate, I would not have answered it.”
“Then why me?” Aurora couldn’t stop herself from collapsing against his hard chest, feeling too weak to stand under her own power anymore.
“You may wear clothing when we are not engaged in sexual activity,” he murmured, then as if he was attempting to provide comfort, he retrieved the sheet and wrapped it around her shoulders. “Dress, and we will have our meal.”
Aurora nodded and slowly moved towards the bedroom with her bundle of clothing held tightly against her chest, feeling ready to sleep for another nine hours. She didn’t know how to cope with abruptly losing everything in her life, especially when she had been on the verge of finalizing her engagement with Talon. He was definitely worried about her by then, and she didn’t have a way to send word of what had happened.
CR1515 shut the door to the main room, then walked across the bedroom to open another door. “You inquired about the facilities earlier,” he said, indicating toward the shower and toilet. “This one leads to the kitchen and dining area,” he continued, moving to another door. “As I implied before, all of your needs will be met.”
“Thank you,” Aurora whispered, then slipped into the bathroom and shut the door. It was comfortingly ordinary, down to the roll of paper next to the toilet, and she let out a heavy sigh of relief as she opened the shower door and turned the water on.
At the very least, he wasn’t callous towards her. Painfully blunt and unyielding, but … Aurora shook her head then upturned her face under the water, wondering if it would wash away the thoughts that she didn’t want. Perhaps Talon had been correct in wanting to finalize their relationship contract before engaging in intercourse with her, after how quickly she had thrown away her loyalty to him …
Not that CR1515 had given her a real choice.
He had revealed himself to her, then pressed his hands and mouth against her before promising to never take her for granted, after she had uttered a single, “Yes,” when he had asked if she would be his. She liked the simplicity and straightforwardness of it.
But that wasn’t what had really happened, Aurora chastised herself. CR1515 had been more than willing to let the artifacts fail and the mecha return to life if she had refused him. If she ever found herself back with Talon, she would tearfully explain that she had been blackmailed and raped, and he would be rightfully furious. He wouldn’t think that she had deliberately betrayed him.
Even though she was already wondering when she would have sex with CR1515 again.
“I’m such a mess,” Aurora whispered to herself, then turned the shower off.
She dressed after towel drying, then tiptoed out to search for CR1515. He was in the kitchen, once again out of his metal suit, with two meal trays waiting. She blushed and looked away as best she could until she was seated, but she couldn’t stop herself from sneaking in a glance at his golden skin that flawlessly covered his thick muscles, and heat twinged inside her.
They ate in silence, but Aurora’s appetite was small enough to disappear after only a few bites. She put her fork down, then stared intently at the table as she slowly asked, “You fought the mecha, right?”
“Yes,” CR1515 replied.
“Did you see Talon?”
He stared at her, and she couldn’t read his expression.
“I just thought that my betrothed should know that I’m …” her voice faded away.
“I wouldn’t know if I saw him.” CR1515 tilted his head to the side. “Why do you say betrothed instead of fiance?”
“We haven’t reached that point yet. After we agree on a finalized contract, we then set a date for our marriage, and that’s when we’re officially engaged.” Aurora squirmed under the look that CR1515 gave her, so she added, “That’s how it’s done.”
“You know … we work out how many children we want, and when we want to have them. There’s also the financial agreements, how to manage the household, as well as what grounds the marriage may be dissolved …”
“You were planning out how to end your relationship before it even officially began?” CR1515 asked incredulously.
“Things don’t always work out.” Aurora felt small and ridiculous as she tried to explain, “Sometimes you grow to dislike each other and start arguing too much. It’s important to know how to proceed if that happens.”
“Hmph.” CR1515 folded his arms. “If you try to argue with me, I will teach you better.” He studied her for a moment from across the table, then continued, “I would gather that this contract of yours goes much deeper than the possibility of merely not getting along. Your attractiveness, age, and status as a virgin were all bargaining points for you, were they not?”
Aurora’s face began to burn as she nodded, and quietly said, “My mother wanted me to marry well, and the men who can afford to be picky …”
“Had I been satisfied with stripping you of your virginity and sent you back home, it would have hurt negotiations with this betrothed of yours, correct?”
“Talon loves me. He would have …” Aurora faltered. “He probably would have changed some of the terms to be more to his advantage,” she admitted.
“It appears to me that I have rescued you from the undesirable fate of having your every move dictated out beforehand.” CR1515 scowled, then motioned for her to come over and sit on his lap. Aurora obeyed shyly, all too aware of the fact that he didn’t feel the same need for clothing that she did. He pulled her firmly against his chest and touched his lips to her hair as he murmured, “My terms are simple: you belong to me.”
“But I have no grounds to assert myself on; nothing to protect me from your whims,” Aurora began to protest, then stopped when she saw the devilish grin spread across CR1515’s face, and his hand pushed up her skirt to rest against her thigh.
“No, you don’t.”
When they were finished, Aurora stayed slumped against him with her arms around his neck, and she couldn’t help but ask, “Did you really mean it when you said that you wanted to love? As in, love love, and not just …” she trailed off.
“Yes,” he whispered.
“Will you love me even if I hate you?”
She didn’t wait for his answer, but instead buried her face in the crook of his neck, and breathed heavily as his hand stroked silently along the length of her back.
Somehow I’ve managed to write over 10,000 words for CR1515, despite feeling tired and busy with the gazillion things that always happen at once, and I still haven’t found the proper flow for the story. Not 100% settled in to it yet.
I can’t help but wonder if I should dial back on the philosophical ranting and put in the effort to submarine it more, but it probably doesn’t matter. People can be shockingly oblivious to what’s right underneath their noses, so I might as well slap a fancy border on it and proudly display it.
The fun part about the Aurora/CR1515 pairing is that they argue A LOT more than any of my other main couples. The fireworks are a blast to write (har har), which is probably how I’ve managed to do as much as I have, despite being excessively busy/tired with a gazillion things. We have stubborn pride going up against unyielding stances, in a scrumptiously confined space. What’s not to love?
In the vein of, “Everyone else is doing it,” I tried thinking of some books where I enjoyed the romance/couples/literally-anything-emotional, and I came up with nothing.
OMG I am so cranky.
At which point I realized that I actually have ZERO interest in the idea of ‘love’ for its own sake; might as well read about someone and their anime body pillow for all the difference it makes. Throw in the fact that everyone writes female characters as psychotic self-absorbed bitches, and you basically have the reason why I can’t name any romance novels that I like enough to recommend.
So there you have it: Don’t bother reading books. They all suck.
The thing is, I often feel like a hopeless romantic trapped in a world where romance has been deliberately slaughtered — of course I don’t enjoy it. Why would I? It’s all just pointless nihilism because nobody knows how to genuinely connect with another human being anymore.
For now, I’m content to sit inside my own little bubble, occasionally sending out the message, “It doesn’t have to be like this,” with the knowledge that even a butterfly’s wings can have a huge impact on the world.
Aurora is essentially the “perfect woman” in the context of the society she lives in. She skipped high school entirely and went straight into university, so at only 20-years-old she’s already an accomplished data analyst. She’s savvy about taking care of herself, and is drop-dead gorgeous to boot.
The artifacts were her project. She discovered their existence while researching something or other for one of her classes, and met Talon in pursuit of them. Through working together, they decided to become “engaged to be engaged” lol.
Her hope was that with utilizing the artifacts, humans would be better able to protect themselves against the increasing numbers of killer mecha that pop up and wreak havoc. However, her plans still ultimately relied on CR1515 to destroy the mecha, because it never occurred to her that humanity’s protector might not come through.
Although smart, she struggles with thinking outside the box.
She agrees to become CR1515’s companion and live in the space station with him, and while she’s emotionally conflicted about it, she sticks to her word.