Love lessons from women wrohmoawnrciete novels
“Romance that’s filled with laughter is super sexy.”– Joss Wood
There’s nothing like curling up with a romance novel and disappearing into a world of love, passion and dashing strangers. And when it comes to romance novels, Mills & Boon has dominated the field for over a century, with book genres ranging from erotica and non fiction to paranormal and fantasy. So we were thrilled to discover that three Mills & Boon authors live right here, in SA, and eagerly asked them our top love-related questions. Want to learn from the women who have sold more than 29 000 novels between them? Read on! Joss Wood wrote her first book when she was eight – and hasn’t stopped since. After placing in a short story writing competition in 2011, she landed a book deal with Harlequin publishers and is now lucky enough to write full-time. She lives in Ladysmith, Kwazulu-natal with her husband Vaughan, son Rourke, 15, and daughter Tess, 13.
What’s your favourite love story? In 1812, army captain Harry Smith came across two wounded women in the war-torn city of Badajoz, Spain. Shocked at their state, he took them under his wing and within hours, he had proposed to one of them – Juana María de los Dolores de León. Juana was only 14, but she was made of strong stuff and accompanied Harry everywhere. Eventually they came to SA, where he became governor and commander in chief of the Cape. Harrismith and Ladysmith are named after them. Top real-life couples? My parents have been married for over 50 years and my parents-in-law for over 60. Making a marriage work that long is romance in action. Or stubbornness! Most romantic extract from one of your books? From Flirting With the Forbidden (Harlequin; R385): “‘You are my home, Morgan. You’re the place where I want to be.’ Noah touched her hand with his fingers. ‘I’ve spent the last week trying to convince myself that I’m better on my own, that I can live without you, that I’m independent and a hard-ass and I don’t need anyone. And I don’t need
anyone, Morgs. I just need you. I love you. More than I can express and much more than you will ever know.’” Best love tips? Humour is powerful because romance that’s filled with laughter is super sexy. Besides, if you’re going to be with someone for a long time, you’ve got to be able to laugh with and at each other. Biggest romance mistakes? “I love you” said before or during sex is best ignored. I believe that you can’t force someone to love you. There’s no rule that says, “I love you so you have to love me back.” Relationship deal-breakers? Cheating. Don’t say it “just happened”. Getting up close and personal (and naked) involves a series of choices. What should we know about men? Men don’t do subtleties or hints. Ask directly for what you want – if necessary, use small words and pictures. What should men know about us? We’re always right. We’re better drivers. We cry for no reason. And if you’re not Gerard Butler, don’t expect your woman to look like a supermodel. How can you spot ‘The One’? This is difficult for me to answer because I had a premonition about my husband and knew that I was going to marry him as soon as I heard his name. I thought, ‘So, you’ve arrived. Good thing you’re hot.’ I might also have spilt my drink and acted like a dork. It was over 20 years ago – my memory is fuzzy. Should you ever give up on love? On finding love? Never. But if love is consistently ugly, rude [or] abusive, or it makes you miserable, it’s not worth it.
started her blog, For the Love of Love, in 2014. A year later, she entered a Harlequin competition. Her story didn’t make the cut, but the publishers requested a manuscript. The result is The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella (Harlequin; price TBC), out in January 2017. She lives in Cape Town with her husband, Grant.
What’s your favourite love story? Eve and Roarke Dallas from In Death are a great example of how love can heal. As their relationship deepens, they face what threatened to keep them apart in the first place. Top real-life couples? Emily Blunt and John Krasinski seem to genuinely love and respect each other. And, at the risk of sounding conceited, my husband, Grant, and I. Meet him and you’ll understand! Most romantic extract from one of your books From The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella ( Harlequin; price TBC): “‘ What are you doing?’ she asked, when there was barely any space between them. ‘ I’m apologising,’ he said, and placed his hands on either side of her. ‘ It’s OK. It’s fine.’ She didn’t care that she hadn’t been ready to accept his apology a few minutes ago. ‘Good. But now I’m saying sorry in advance… for doing this.’ And he kissed her.” Best love tips? Traditional gestures: a surprise supper, flowers or biltong. And doing things your partner doesn’t like doing. Does he hate cooking? Then cook! Thoughtfulness is romantic. Biggest romance mistakes? Staying with someone you know is wrong for you is a common one.
Relationship deal-breakers? Disrespect and lack of consideration. What should we know about men? Men enjoy romance, too! What should men know about us? That women love thoughtful men. How can you spot ‘The One’? If you can be yourself and feel happy around them, it’s a good sign. And if you can close your eyes and easily picture a life with them, they’re probably The One. Should you ever give up on love? On true love? Never! Lucy Ryder has written six books and teaches English and communication at a community college in Benoni, Joburg, where she lives with her daughters, Caitlin, 20, and Ashleigh, 18, and her Boerboel Daisy.
What’s your favourite love story? Maddie and Jax from Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis ( Little, Brown & Company; R143). Although she’s determined not to get involved with Jax, she just can’t stop herself. Top real-life couples? Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson. I can’t think of anything more romantic than a man giving up everything to be with me. Most romantic extract from one of your books Overly romantic scenes make me gag. For me, romance is about setting a scene in which two very different people are out of their element, and turning up the heat. The romance lies in their reactions to each other. Best love tips? Everyday things, like writing “I love you” in the steamed-up bathroom mirror or making me breakfast. Biggest romance mistakes? Stalking a guy and coming across as desperate. Guys like to think that they’re doing the chasing! Relationship deal-breakers? Cheating, because I should be enough. Also, stalker dudes. A guy you’ve just met declaring undying love. Seriously? What should we know about men? You know when your man is quiet and you ask what’s wrong? It’s best to leave him alone if he says, ‘Nothing.’ Women tend to think we’ve done something wrong in that situation, but it’s usually unrelated and he just needs space. What should men know about us? When a man tells another man about something worrying him, he expects logical advice. When a woman tells a man about something worrying her, she wants sympathy, not logical solutions. How can you spot ‘The One’? For me, it’s knowing their flaws and still wanting to be with them. And humour. If you can laugh at the same things, you have a good chance of staying together. Should you ever give up on love? Definitely not! There really are great guys out there and, if you both work at it, romance can be the best thing ever.
See how model Ashley Graham rocks plus-size fashion on her Instagram feed (@theashleygraham).
All of the women we interviewed had one suggestion in common: whatever you do, don’t believe in the old ‘shoulds’ about what curvy women should wear. “Plus-size women have been told for so long, ‘You can’t wear this, you don’t look good in that, stripes are not for you,’” says Ashley. “Honestly, it’s a bunch of bull! Plus-size fashion options aren’t plenty, so the more rules you can break and the more fun you have with it, the better you’re going to look.”
Model Precious Lee, a size 14, agrees: “Pieces like printed pyjamas are so different from what you’re supposed to wear if you’re plus-size, but don’t be afraid of bold prints because you think they may make you look bigger.”
And Melissa Mccarthy has personal proof that writing your own fashion rules pays off. “People would tell me that the clothes I wanted weren’t made because ‘no plus-size woman wants patterned trousers,’” she recalls. “Meanwhile, I was making them for myself and was constantly being asked where I got them.”
So now the comedienne has a message for everyone: “Wear the damn leopard print – I beg you!”
Because I enjoy sex.” “Because of how I look.” “Because I like to flirt.” Why does a woman get labelled a ‘slut’? I asked this question at a recent Slutwalk in Los Angeles, US, and these are some of the reasons that women told me they had been slammed with the S-word. The women I met were there to celebrate their female sexuality, and to protest the idea that it’s somehow dirty or shameful.
The event was organised by actress and model Amber Rose in response to negative public comments by both her exes – Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa – about her past work as a stripper. I was there in solidarity, encouraging people to share their experiences through my organisation The Unslut Project.
While Amber Rose and the other proponents of Slutwalks