posted by Nancy
Remember when you had time to lounge around in the summer? To hang with your friends, slather on suntan oil, and maybe, just maybe, meet a new crush you knew you'd never see after vacation? Today, author Kathleen O'Reilly joins us to talk about the days of summer love.
Summer Lovin'... had me a blast!!
One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was Grease. The music was catchy. I liked the spin on the romance: the bad boy gets tamed, yet in a nice twist, the good girl also undergoes a vampy transformation. The story opens in summer, when Danny and Sandy fall in love, but then school starts, the reality of their identities kicks in, and the real romantic hijinks begin (accompanied by much singing, dancing, and the trademarked John Travolta strut.)
There is something very freeing about summer romance. Everyone can abandon their traditional roles and identities and take on the person that they want to be. In a summer romance, no one assumes that it will last, so if you want to be a vamp, hey, go for it. If you want to be an intelligentsia, or a geek, or a shy person or a jokester, all are possible because summer lasts three months, which is just long enough to fall in love, but not long enough to deal with any of the messy realities that come later.
Summer, when done right, is slow dancing under the stars, listening to the water lap on the shore, watching the fire flies at dusk, and sipping cold beer on a weather-beaten porch. Time slows down a bit and you can spend more time *chatting* about whatever strikes your fancy, as opposed to having to deal with schedules and alarm clocks, neither of which do much for me (both literally and emotionally as well).
My latest book opens in the summer. Our hero and heroine meet. She falls for him, but then, when she has to leave, he finally reveals his secret, and in a very Gregory House move, gives her the ammunition to salvage her career, but ruin his life in the process. I've included a short teaser:
"Who are you?" she asked, thinking that if he was going to break her heart, she wanted to know his name.
"Really?" she drawled, not bothering to hide the sarcasm.
"It's actually Jenkins-Smith, but that seemed pretentious, so I just use Aaron Smith."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Smith. I'm Jennifer Dade, and from now on, I'll try to stay out of your way."
It was a desperate hint that she wasn't in his way, that he was sitting on her rock, and if he truly wanted all that solitude and privacy that he kept blustering about, then he'd have to act a little less - stimulated. Not that she was complaining. Much.
"I should go," he repeated, but he moved closer, and his eyes were on her mouth, and Jenn felt herself go hot, then cold. "Normally, I like to ignore everyone else. It makes my life much more comfortable."
"Why can't you ignore me?" she asked, because she needed him to ignore her. She did not need this, but she couldn't ignore it. She couldn't ignore him.
He brushed a gentle finger across her brows. "You look at me with those busy eyes, always digging for your version of the truth, but grasping for the first clichéd insights into the psyche because it's easy and it makes your deadline, and it doesn't matter that there isn't always some three-point paragraph that explains who we are. You think there's always an answer, always a reason, but sometimes people are simply the way they are."
Not what she wanted to hear, not what she had hoped to hear, and all those roiling emotions finally erupted. "And that's why you can't ignore me, because you just can't? The Twinkie defense? I had to be me. I was born to be bad. No, there's always a reason. You just don't want to tell me."
She thought he was going to leave. Thought she'd finally done it. Finally chased him away, but instead he looked with all the wretched want in his eyes. All the lonely hunger, combined with the same painful recklessness that she felt in herself.
"I wrote about you. This afternoon, I came home and spewed out reams of pages about someone with your face, your eyes, your hair."
"How did it end?" she asked breathlessly tempted by the drama of it.
"You threw yourself in front of a train."
"You are the mariner's albatross, Ahab's white whale, the magnificent obsession. In the end, there was no alternative. You had to die," he said, sounding miserable and baffled.
But then his fingers reached out, touched her hand, such a small gesture, such a telling gestured. Sometimes sex was scratching an itch, and sometimes sex was the very human need to touch someone. All the phones, all the gadgets, all the machines in the world that mimicked human contact, and yet nothing came close to the absoluteness of sex.
"You like me, don't you?" she asked, twining her fingers through his, locking them there.
"I don't want to like you," he admitted. "You're very happy and sure of yourself and you like machines without souls."
"I don't want to like you either," she admitted as well.
"But you do?" he asked, his eyes met hers, uncertain and unhappy and still hoping that she would say yes.
"Women don't like men like you," she said, because she knew that unhappily hopeful was bad. Very, very bad. It spoke of vulnerabilities, and wounds, and manly suffering that had plagued women for thousands of years.
"What sort of man is that?"
If he were any other man, she'd have thought he was fishing, needing a stroke to his ego, but he didn't have those insecurities. He was both clueless and clever, and yet still unable to resist her. Tragically, like every other woman before her, she was falling for it in spades. "You want some three-point analysis that sums you up in fifty words or less?"
She chose the less dangerous answer. "You're brilliant and hurt and your writing draws you into humanity, but humanity repels you at the same time, and you can't reconcile those two aspects and it frustrates you."
"Do you know what frustrates me?" he asked.
"How badly I want to kiss you. I hate your mouth. I love your mouth. When you talk all that blather, it's the sexiest thing I've ever heard."
"Why don't you kiss me?"
"Because it won't stop."
"I know," she said with a smile.
There's a longer excerpt on my website.
Summer time is a great time for having romance or just kicking back and reading romance. I love to dive into my Pile O'Books and find something that's slow and sizzling and reminds me that sometimes I need to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, read more romance!) Since we're now at the first blush of summer, I'm looking for books to read. I've just started Rachel Gibson's latest (she always cracks me up!) and I'm waiting for Nora's third book in her wedding trilogy to come out for the Kindle. I love all her stuff, but her straight romance is the Bomb. So, since I have a huge audience of romance readers, now's the time to shout out, and let me know what else I should be diving into!
Did you ever have a summer romance? What's your favorite summer reading? What book on your TBR stack would you consider perfect for a lazy summer day? Kathleen's giving books to two commenters today!