It all began in Scotland, really. Or at least, that’s where I discovered their true power.
All through my teens, I had been an avid reader of crime fiction, making my way through all of Mary Higgins Clark’s and Agatha Christie’s bibliography, feeding off those few action-packed pages when all the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fall into place and the heroes rush to stop the murderer and save everyone. And when I wasn’t buried into fictional murders, rereading books over and over again looking for the clues I had missed, I was devouring classic novels with troubled souls and intense relationships and love as passionate as it was destructive: Jane Eyre (which, as of today, remains one of my favorite books ever), Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, to name but a few.
And then, one summer, as a sophomore, I went to Scotland to work as an au pair. And one fine day, as the children I was taking care of were otherwise occupied with their parents, I watched a film. A romantic comedy. It was While you were sleeping. That’s when I felt… them. The butterflies. They started quivering their wings in my stomach as soon as Jack appeared on the screen, and never stopped until the last image faded away with a radiant Sandra Bullock marrying the man of her dreams and riding away to her happy ending. By the time the credits were done, I had a goofy smile on my face, and I was feeling cozy, warm and really really happy. As if I was the one getting a beautiful HEA.
That day, my life changed, totally. I started reading romances, feel-good romances, watching every romcom that I could get my hands on, all for the sole purpose of feeling those butterflies again. And then, many years later, it hit me. I needed to write feel-good romances, and I needed to write them now. Reading wasn’t enough anymore. I too wanted to make people feel good. I too wanted to make people all gooey on the inside, and put a goofy smile on their lips. I too wanted to bring a little more light, a little more joy, and a little more happiness to the world. So I started writing. M first attempts were not that good, but nevertheless, I persisted, with the encouragement of my best friend. One day, as I was stuck on a novel that didn’t want to be written, two things happened. I saw Letters to Juliet, and heard about a postcard that made its way to its addressee quite a few decades after being mailed. Those two otherwise unrelated events made me start thinking… what if it was a love letter that got lost in the mail? What if in that love letter, a man asked a woman to elope with him, but she never received it? What if life kept them apart after that? What if… what if… Cheeks burning hot with excitement, my heart beating hard against my ribcage, I sat down with a pen and a notebook and started jotting down ideas, plots, character profiles, and that love letter that would be at the center of my story.
A few months later, Stolen Time was born. And it was everything that I had ever wanted to write. It was a story that put its arms around me, right from the beginning, filling me with warmth and kindness and telling me, on days when everything seemed dark, “It’s gonna be alright. You are not alone. Everything’s going to work out in the end.”
And that’s why I love feel-good romances, to read and to write. Because it’s a little spot of light in the dark, and it’s a bottomless pit of emotions in the tiny organ that is our heart.
Stolen Time by Chloé Duval
In a rural French village, a letter is delivered decades late, inspiring a young woman to try to reunite two star-crossed lovers …
Middle school teacher by day, romance writer by night, and group knitter on Tuesday evenings, Flavie Richalet leads a fairly uneventful life-until she receives a long delayed letter meant for a total stranger. Postmarked 1971, the yellowed envelope, addressed to an Amelie Lacombe, holds a fervent message of love and a marriage proposal, signed only with the initial E. Given her own fractured family history, Flavie is dreamily determined to learn what became of the couple …
Flavie’s inquiries lead her to a French seaside inn-and to E. himself, a true romantic who never forgot the girl who got away so many years ago. But his protective nephew, B&B owner Romaric, isn’t sure that trying to find Amelie after all these years is good for his uncle. At odds with the tall, dark, and impossibly passionate Romaric, Flavie must show him, and perhaps herself, that true love is timeless-and always worth waiting for …
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