Once upon a time, back when I read romance novels (like, a lot) there was one period romance author I particularly liked for her interesting plot lines, and fascinating, psychologically complex heroes. And by psychologically complex I don’t mean the typical Byronically sulky romance hero, but men who were struggling with actual clinical problems. In one her hero has a major stroke, the side effects of which convince his family that he has gone mad. The Quaker heroine discovers him in an insane asylum where she learns that he isn’t crazy, he’s just lost the ability to speak. This leads to his reinstatement in his former privileged life (he is, of course, a Duke), him falling in love with her, and lots of fun romantic drama, etc.
A few years back I stopped reading romance novels for various reasons (available upon request, but too lengthy to go into here), but every once in a while I can’t resist picking up one of my old favorites. The other day I saw a copy of an early novel by this author, first published in 1989, and I had to check it out. This time the hero was a reluctant war hero, suffering from PTSD which has left him devastated, and the heroine is the incredibly naive princess-in-exile of a small European monarchy (think Luxembourg) on the verge of revolution. Unfortunately, things got infinitely more complicated from there. There’s various villainous relatives on both sides, schemes so Byzantinely convoluted that after a while you’re not sure which way is up (and not in a good way), the British navy circumnavigating the globe, Arabian sheiks, and international politics. There is so much wildly improbable stuff going on that when our heroes are stranded on an island for months, and then get kidnapped by Arabian slave traders you don’t even blink. It’s enough to give you a headache, and remind me of part of the reason why I don’t read this stuff anymore!
In other news (yes, I know I use that phrase too much), on Saturday Ani and I had our first ever ‘Stache Bash (aka The Mustache Party). We had the Eating With Mustache competition (competitors had to eat soup, ice cream and peanut butter crackers – Johnsy won), awarded a prize for the Best ‘Stache (Rosie took the honors for that one), and had everyone create original works of art dedicated to The Honor And Glory Of The Mustache, which they then presented to the entire group. We had an original limerick rhyming “mustache” and “panache”, a sculpture using grapes, toothpicks, and a strategic smear of mustard, a magazine collage presented with an interpretive dance, and many other memorable presentations. In the end the Grand Prize went to the magazine collage. It was a good time.
It was mostly Ani’s friends at the party. Usually when I throw a party my standard procedure is to invite the world, half or a third of the world shows up, and we’re good. However, Ani wasn’t quite comfortable with that, so we both agreed to invite only a limited number of friends. The problem was that I just… didn’t know what to do with that. How do I invite some of my friends and not others? Do I decide based on who I feel closer to? Who I think would enjoy the party more? And then what do I do about my family? If I invite one or two of my sisters I really ought to invite them all, and then that’s my entire guest list. In the end I figured out a few people to invite, but I felt so conflicted about the whole thing that I didn’t promote the party much, and in the end only Rose and her friend Cinder showed up for my side. That worked out pretty well in the end – I think Ani’s friends felt much more able to be silly with less strangers there, but next time I’d like to have a few more of my own friends present. I’ll just have to figure out how to invite them…