Monday, February 25, 2013

Nickel Nasties Series #17: A Lopsided Grin by Jenny Twist


Welcome to the Nickel Nasties series! In celebration of my first scathing Amazon review for A Ranger's Tale (1 in 58 ain't bad), I've decided to devote February to the stories that garner so much stereotype and ridicule, but still comprise one of the world's best-selling genres: ROMANCE! I hope you'll enjoy this series. Please leave comments for the wonderful contributors. And...don't forget to check out their books!


A Lopsided Grin

by
Jenny Twist

As a child I had a very clear idea of romance, gleaned from Hollywood and my mother’s women’s magazines.

This is what happened, right. One day you would meet a devastatingly handsome man with a lopsided grin. (I don’t know why they all had lopsided grins. Maybe they’d all had strokes?) He would kiss you and you would know straight away that he was Mr Right because all these fireworks would go off and the kiss would be so exciting that you would find yourself standing on tiptoe on one leg, whilst the other leg was raised in the air (behind you, obviously. If you raised it in front the kiss would come to an abrupt end). Then you would get married and live happily ever after.

Real life romance was a bitter disappointment to me. The first boy who kissed me was not only not particularly handsome and lacking a lopsided grin, but he had buck teeth! I could feel them through his lips! The second one, who later became my first husband, attempted to seduce me with statistics. No, really! He said even the majority of Catholic girls were no longer virgins when they got married. He knew the percentages and everything. On reflection, I think he probably made them up.

Anyway, his idea of a romantic venue was a ploughed field in the middle of February. It wasn’t actually snowing, but it was bloody cold!

“Why did you marry him?” I hear you ask. Well he DID kiss nicely and his grin was very slightly lopsided.

The marriage was a disaster, by the way. I soon realised that a nice kiss and even a lopsided grin was simply not enough.

I should have known. The fireworks never happened and my leg did not automatically rise up.

Come to think of it, it never has. I’m beginning to suspect that it was invented by Hollywood.

BUY IT HERE! 
I’ve read loads of romance books since then and have noticed that a lot of them focus, if not on the lopsided grin, then on the handsome appearance of the hero and the effect he has on the heroine’s equilibrium. There is a distinct impression that when it comes to choosing a mate the most important thing is what he looks like, followed closely by how much he disturbs you.

 I ask myself is this really what we want people to expect? Should we be defining love as what basically boils down to sexual attraction?

I wonder whether I might have made better choices if romance had been represented to me as companionship, affection and respect, which is surely what most of us REALLY want from a relationship.

And as for 50 Shades, don’t start me off. That’s all I need, someone telling me that love is all about being tortured and dominated.

I try to write the kind of romance that really happens and which lasts. Several of my stories are about people who have been happily married for years or who find love late in life and know what to appreciate. It might not be spicy but I’d like to think it’s a rather better recipe for happiness. 

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Bio: Jenny Twist left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and an escapologist's assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.

In 2001 she and her husband moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JennyTwist1

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for putting up with me yet again, Mysti
    Love you lots
    Jenny
    xx

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  2. Hardships showed through beautiful humor - no wonder I love your stories so much!

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    1. Hello, you. What a lovely thing to say. Thank you, Sweetie
      Love
      Jenny
      xx

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  3. Jenny,
    Your recipe makes sense. Lots of bad marriages (sorry, I don't have the statistics...might as well, otherwise I'll seduce you LOL) are based on wrong impressions or expectations because of our preconceived ideas of what love is.
    The following paragraph is spot on: "There is a distinct impression that when it comes to choosing a mate the most important thing is what he looks like, followed closely by how much he disturbs you."
    Discounting your books, I can't come up with a romance book that didn't start with a mixed feeling of attraction and loathing.
    Great post.

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    1. I might have known you would feel the same way. We are, after all, twin souls.
      I once read a Mills & Boon book at the instigation of a friend who said, "Don't knock it till you've tried it," and was shocked that the hero virtually raped the heroine - and she liked it! Later I read another, on the grounds that one book wasn't a very good sample. It was more or less an identical plot. No wonder we don't understand what love is!

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  4. I agree, Jenny. Attraction and fireworks are only a part of love. Tenderness, knowing each other, appreciating each other, being able to share and laugh together... being kind to each other and to others. To me that's more about love.

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  5. Gotta love those lopsided grins!

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    1. Steady on, Dale. Try to keep a cool head!
      xxx

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  6. I agree that most romance books are fantasies/fairy tales where lopsided grins and fireworks are concerned.

    I do believe in instant attraction though. I met my guy on August 11 and married him November 18, on my nineteenth birthday. Our marriage lasted until his death forty-four years later. He did have a lopsided grin. lol

    My pet peeve in romance books is the constant bickering and misunderstandings between the two people who are supposed to be falling in love. Some, yes, but when you feel like slapping some sense into them, it has gone too far.

    Thank you for an interesting post, Jenny.

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    1. Hi Leona. Of course it can happen like that and you DO need the attraction. How lovely that you had that experience.
      And, yes, the bickerings irritate the hell out of me. There is nearly always some misunderstanding, brought about in the first place by not communicating properly. They break it off and sulk, then eventually the misunderstanding is cleared up and instantly everything's all right. How utterly unconvincing!
      So nice to meet you.
      xxx

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  7. Excellent points, Jenny…I wasn't instantly attracted to my husband, nor did he have the lopsided grin. We were good friends for the better part of a year before we finally went out as a couple, and things moved fairly quickly after that. Still, he was very much -- and still is -- my ideal narrative hero: capable, funny, passionate (in more ways than one), generous, caring, good in a crisis, a problem-solver, a tease, impulsive but also a planner… It is definitely unfortunate that some authors seem to find it acceptable to present women with such terrible options as would-be abusers. No accounting for some tastes.

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    1. I would say the same of my own dear Mr Twist. My liking for him began to change to love when I found out what a fabulous cook he is. Friendship is definitely the right way to go when you're looking for a permanent relationship rather than a one-night stand.

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  8. I have to add: I was thinking about a time when I happened to be at a staff luncheon and there was a handsome teacher present who was so very good-looking that I couldn't look at him for fear I would spend the whole meeting staring rudely at him, my mouth hanging agape…Seriously, it was embarrassing. And then, another time, I saw a minor Canadian celebrity on whom I had had a bit of a crush when I was a teenager, and despite his paunch and balding pate, I couldn't go near him without breaking into a fit of the giggles…Thus, I must conclude that I would not make a terrifically typical romance novel heroine. Anywhere within arm's reach of a sexy manly man, and I turn right back into an adolescent, it seems! That's another reason to enjoy romance novels, then -- vicarious enjoyment of fantasy encounters, without the risk of utter humiliation and potentially peeing one's self in excitement. :D

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    1. LOL, Tori--I'd have to tease you mercilessly if I was in your presence :)

      I've read books all over the spectrum, even the rape turned love ones (not a big fan--seemed more prominent in the 80's). Anywho, I love to play with the unconventional attractions. In my current book, the first time my hero actually gets a good look at the heroine (as adolescents), he thinks she's kind of ugly. I thought that was a nice change from the usual knees knocking thing.

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    2. Tori
      I find your tendency to crack up in front of handsome men rather endearing. I haven't had that problem for years. Maybe I never meet any handsome men? Most of the men round her are toothless centenarians, smelling faintly of goat.

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  9. Hi Jenny,

    I enjoyed your take on the Big Romance allusion foisted on us unsuspecting women by Hollywood and the media. Personally, I remember wondering why all the fuss about kissing, until the Right Guy kissed me. Then kaboom. I got it.

    Not quite Hollywood, but not too shabby either.

    Enjoyed your post.

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    1. How right you are, Maggie! It certainly begins to make sense once you find the right guy. Did he have a lopsided grin?
      xxxxx

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  10. Great post, Jenny. Makes me want to write an off the wall romance. Maybe I'll do that one of these days. I watched the same movies and had the same ideas. Took me back!

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    1. I knew we were twin souls, Brenda.
      xxxx

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  12. :-) Yeah! Romance novels have a lot to answer for. I enjoyed your post Jenny.

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  13. Love this personal look at how you see romance and what you write about.

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  14. Hello Alyce,
    How nice to meet you.
    Thanks for your kind words
    xxxxxx

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  15. I'm waiting for my hubby to come downstairs and grin. Maybe there was a detail I missed when I first saw him smile more than 35 years ago. I'm guessing it's lopsided. Cute post Jenny.
    :)
    Rose

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    1. Tell me if it is! I still sometimes look at Mr T (who, come to think of it DOES have a slightly lopsided grin) and really see him and get a bit misty-eyed.

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  16. I enjoyed all the posts and Jenny's replies. It does seem like Hollywood and Romance Writers do foist a "sky-rockets-at-night" immage of love on unsuspecting young audiences (ditto with the ladies' leg lift - perhaps all would do better lifting it forward?) My wife and I have been married over 45 years and she saw me through a 20+ years of military service and two now grown children (she is the one who should have been given all the medals). To me, the fact that women put up with men is amazing (it must be love or mania). My respect for ladies hopefully shows in my "Immortal Relations" series (Amazon & Kindle).

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    1. Hello, Vamp Writer. What a lovely response. I think the forward leg lift should only be used in extreme circumstances. Clearly you two got it right. That's what romance is really all about.
      So nice to meet you
      xx

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  17. Remember the old movie where the hero kissed her and her shoes came off? LOL

    A friend's daughter is a romance writer and she told me to write romance. I told her she was nuts. I wasn't about to write that crap. They take two people who truly do not belong together and make it work because he was able to prove his love for her. The premise is the guy is a bad boy/jerk and he does something really stupid which ticks the heroine off. Then he stands on his head to show he's not a jerk, but then something happens, which is never his fault, and he does the jerk routine again, but she forgives him and they live happily ever after.

    No way! No wonder so many marriages fail. You can smooth the coat of the tiger but you'll never change his stripes. But the romance novels make it seem as if the stripes can be repainted into a wonderful husband/father material.

    So my friend's daughter laughed and said then write them they way that they should be. So I did. LOL

    I believe in true love. I believe it can hit like a thunderbolt. The best marriages are where both openly communicate and they are the best of friends. I know because it happened to me. My husband swore he took one look at me and that was it. He wanted me. It took me a few hours to fall in love. (I always was a little slow with the uptake. LOL) Less than five weeks later, we were married. Happily married and very much in love to the day he died. (I'll always love him.)

    Can we start a campaign for NO MORE JERKS in romance?

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  18. What a great response! I agree with every word! I am putting you in charge of the NO MORE JERKS campaign.
    xxxxx

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  19. I just loved this. Can;t believe I missed it the first time! ARGH. I do have to share that my hubby grins seldom, it is not lopsided...but our first kiss was just like in the best romance novels...and I knew I was going to marry him then and there. :)

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    1. He's rather dishy though, isn't he?
      Intelligent and thoughtful can be even better than grinning!
      xxxx

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