Day 14 Laura Florand – Believing in Love

Love Drives the World

I met my husband in Paris. He was waiting tables to support the end of his studies. I was surviving on a graduate stipend, to pursue mine. I asked him out. I thought he was far too cute and sexy for me and bound to be a womanizing jerk, given how hot he was, but my friends egged me on. I was very shy, but sometimes you just have to take a risk. So I did.

We changed our lives. We moved countries. We quit studies, and found new jobs, and were poor, and fought, and kept at it. Laura Florand book coverIn the six months after our baby was born, I threatened to divorce him more times than I can count. I think now I might have been dealing with some undiagnosed postpartum depression, but maybe it was just sleep-deprivation and a very short fuse. He kept at it.

And I’m here to tell you that I know about the power of love — of romantic love and of that grit-your-teeth-and-keep-going love — and I believe in celebrating it. I believe in believing in it. What you believe in makes a big difference to what you can do.

I don’t have any problem with fantasy, and I don’t care how unrealistic the buoyancy that’s holding up your boat: whether it be a dominant billionaire, or the five millionth duke in Regency England, or being the best Seeker in Quidditch at the age of eleven, or able to take out terrorists single-handedly, or always track down the villain and bring him to justice. I think fantasies help us be: they help us find balance and courage, and they help us take a breath and fall asleep dreaming instead of stressed. They teach us empathy, and that includes empathy for ourselves.

But I also don’t think that a love that surmounts all problems is a fantasy, anymore than I think stubborn courage is a fantasy. Whatever fantastical structure a story might take (shapechanger dragons? angels? yes, yes, even sparkly vampires?), the heart of that story is what refreshes our own heart.

Love truly does drive the world. (So do courage, laughter, persistence, and the willingness to take risks, all of which are messages communicated in romances over and over.) Just take a look at history or biology and you can see this. Love is a powerful and intimate force and plays a vital role in the happiness of both individuals and their family groups (suggesting that we might be able to formulate some hypotheses about implications for broader societal happiness, too).

It’s okay to believe in it. It’s essential to believe in it.

And I have to say, having studied somewhat the history of the development of love stories in literature, that we are lucky, truly, truly fortunate, to be living in a time that is so rich with wonderful, fulfilling romances of every shape and description. If you are my age, not only have you grown up with an amazing selection of romance authors to choose from, but you are, with me, witnessing this incredible blossoming of everything that a love story can be, via authors who are continually exploring and expanding the genre.

We might even have to stop calling it genre and just call it the most powerful and fundamental story to human existence.

I could work with that.

Recommendations:

I could recommend so many authors here, so I am going to stick with contemporary and recommend the last three fantastic books I’ve read as I write this post (in April).

First, Virginia Kantra’s Carolina Man, which is such a sweet and powerful story about love, family, and the Carolina islands, all focused around Luke, as he returns from Afghanistan to meet the daughter he never knew he had, and Kate, the lawyer in charge of her case. (Virginia RARM 8/17)

And the other two are both from Pennies: Penny Watson’s Apples Should Be Red, an irresistible and hilarious story about a 63-year-old curmudgeon and the pearl-wearing widow in whom he meets his match, and Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series (Neanderthal Meets Human, etc.), with its quirky, individual heroines and heroes and delightful wit and yet depth of emotion.

I could go on and on from there so have to stop myself with, literally, the last three contemporary books I’ve read and loved.

Penny Watson has written a Read-a-Romance Month post on her own blog. You can read her essay here. And you can read Penny Reid’s RARM post here.


Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

Had a child! But before that, I will say: asking out the man who became my husband and falling in love with him. I had always been an adventurer — I backpacked around Greece by myself when I was seventeen, I went to live in Tahiti for a year, I traveled all over Europe alone, things that were definitely outside the norm for a girl from my small hometown in Georgia. But asking out that super cute waiter in Paris took all my nerve, and then came the hard part: being willing to believe in love enough for each of us to risk all our lives on it. That’s tough. But it’s been a great adventure.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

When I was nine years old, in the third grade, we were assigned a short story to write. I and my rival for teacher’s pet kept calling each other all evening. I would say, “Mine is four pages long!” She would say smugly, “Mine is six.” I’d scramble madly for ideas and call back: “Seven!” “Eight.”

The next day mine was nine whole pages.

And hers was twelve.

To this day, I have never stopped writing, and all I can say is: I’m pretty sure mine are longer now.

It would be absolutely hilarious, however, if she was busy scribbling away under the pseudonym of Diana Gabaldon or something and still beating me.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

Oh, wow. All books change my life, to a certain extent. I could never pick one. But I think when we are young, we fall in love with stories in a way it’s hard to replicate later, and thus books like The Lord of the Rings and Sally Watson’s books still have a huge power over me. The only problem with those books was that they never had nearly enough romance for me, so I had to write my own. Which was, obviously, life-changing, too.

Laura is generously giving away three autographed copies of The Chocolate Touch to U.S. readers (entry below), and one unsigned copy of The Chocolate Thief to international readers (enter here).


Laura FlorandInternational bestselling author Laura Florand was born in a small town in Georgia, but the travel bug bit her early. After a Fulbright year in Tahiti, a semester in Spain, and backpacking everywhere from New Zealand to Greece, she ended up living in Paris, where she met and married her own handsome Frenchman. She is now a lecturer at Duke University and very dedicated to her research into French chocolate. For some behind the scenes glimpses of that research, please visit her website at www.lauraflorand.com or join her on Facebook.

 

Buy Laura’s books:

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  • Anna

    What an adventurous life! I feel slightly envious, but then there’s still time for me to add those to my list. 🙂

  • Beautiful words, and amazing life-story! Thanks a lot for your essay and recommendations!! And for the international giveaway too…

  • Debbie Oxier

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Deb Hinshaw

    I am so happy you took the risk to ask Mr. Hot Frenchman out on a date. Good for you! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your post today, Laura; a great reminder that love is always a must in anyone’s life.

    • Deb Hinshaw

      I would love to win a copy of your book, but the icons aren’t showing up today for me to do so.

  • Sue G.

    Nice write up! I love sparkly vampires! Those books are what got me back to reading all the time.

    What an awesome story about how you met your hubby! Sounds like it could be a romance story in itself!

  • cheryl c.

    Wishing you continuing love and adventures!

  • Martha B

    A great post – not only how you met your husband but your honest transparency after the birth of your child. Staying through the tough times makes us appreciate each other. The fact you survived is worth celebrating. LOVE the Chocolate series! Side bar: I totally agree with your recommendation for Carolina Man. Seeing the transforming power of Lucas’ love for Kate and his gradual shift in priorities was soooo satisfying.

  • Ellie

    I love your books. Great post on love 🙂

  • Stephanie M.

    I am new to your books and can’t wait to read them. Thanks for your post.

  • Brenda E

    Great post. I will be looking for your books.

  • M Kuxhaus

    I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries, and I always wanted the romance between Nancy and Ned to blossom!

  • Debbie Fuller

    Love your outlook!

  • Tammy H

    I love your 3rd grade writing competition!

  • Quinn Fforde

    Yes, it is essential to believe in love. Good essay. And Penny Reid is so excellent!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I’m very, very impressed with the strength of your love and courage. I just read Carolina Home at Suze Brockmann’s suggestion. I really enjoyed it. I especially liked how Matt and Allison got their HEA, but the story arc continues into the next books. I’ll definitely read to Luke’s story.

  • Emmel

    How great to find love in the City of Love!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Hi Laura – Not entering to win, as I already own the book! My favorite! How did I not know the story of how you met your husband? That was really daring & romantic!

  • Sheila M

    I agree with you that as readers we are blessed to live in this time when so much of such a variety is available.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    Love your essay and I definitely want to check out your books….especially after reading some of your website content. And I believe I saw a post on macarons so you have my full attention now. I appreciate your 3rd grade competition story…seems like you might have it in the bag now though! Thanks for your great words on romance and I really am looking forward to checking out your books (especially the chocolate ones).

  • Glenda

    Your story of meeting your husband is very romantic — but more so is the fact that you guys kept working at your marriage. That is a sign of true love. 🙂

  • Marcy Shuler

    I loved hearing how you met your hubby and how you both just…kept at it.

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you for sharing your view of love and romance.

  • mariannewestrich

    I love Virginia Kantra, too! 😎

  • Laura Florand was the first “Romance” genre novel I ever read and her writing moved me so much that I have now read all she had written and (almost) all her recommended authors. I moved to Paris last year, and what she calls grit-your-teeth-and-keep-going-love, is exactly how I feel about this city that I have always loved, and all the adjustments to weather and bureaucracy I’ve made to live here. All love is worth is what you are willing to put into it. Laura’s books are always worth putting the time in to read them because they will always take you to warm heartfelt places.

  • Beverly Rae Letsche

    I loved her story about third grade. Writers have the best beginnings.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I loved your school story!!! That is classic. I enjoyed your journey to becoming a writer & to your own happiness. Thank you.

  • Judy Goodnight

    After almost 38 years of marriage, I have to agree that grit-your-teeth-and-keep-going love can be necessary sometimes to weather life’s storms. but how sweet it is once you’ve made it through.

  • Jen C

    Balance…I think that’s an important word to add to the conversation about “why romance”. I think one of the reasons I gravitate towards the genre is the equilibrium I find in the pages. Even if horrible, tragic events happen, I know that good things will help balance that out.

  • LSUReader

    What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

  • rebecca moe

    What an awesome post! I loved reading about your own personal “meet cute” and how you both survived the not-so-cute parts afterwards. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    (I read Carolina Man this spring as well. Loved it, and immediately had to read the other two books in the series too. I have a bad habit of finding later series books first and having to go back–oh well, there are much worse vices!)

  • Ann Mettert

    Loved her post.

  • Chelsea B.

    Awww! Loved reading this!

  • Pamby50

    What a post. I admire that you traveled all over & by yourself. I love that you asked the “cute guy” out.