I’m honored to have pub sister Elle Rush visit with me today. She’s written a powerful post on romance as escape, in particular for readers who are going through a tough time. She has a hot new release, Leading Man, and I think we can all escape quite easily into her romantic stories.
Glad to have you, Elle!
THE GREAT ESCAPE
I’m just back from a training session on how to hook my mother up to a ventilator. She has a degenerative medical condition and we’re at the ventilator stage so I’m learning how to assist my father in her care. I’ve spent the last two hours learning about exactly how weak my mother’s lungs are and how vital this machine is to her continued survival.
My brain is full. My heart is sore. And I need a romance. STAT.
There is no worse feeling in the world than being helpless while somebody you love is hurting. Yelling at the medical staff to do more doesn’t help when you know you’ve got the best people possible working for you. Sometimes there’s nobody you can be mad at. There’s nothing you can do to make your spouse/parent/child/sibling/friend better or to take away the pain. All you can do is be there. And, sometimes, even simply being present is absolutely physically, mentally, and spiritually draining.
If you are taking care of somebody else, it’s important to take care of yourself as well. Make sure you eat real food (not just vending machine and fast food crap). Sleep. Get some exercise and fresh air. A walk around the block can work wonders.
Equally important to all the bodily concerns, is recharging your non-physical batteries. It is so easy to get overwhelmed in situations like these. You need to find a way to get a few minutes to yourself to do something for yourself and get your head together. Some people bake or play Frisbee with their dogs or garden. I read.
Specifically, I read romance because I need to know somebody’s life is working out, even if that somebody is fictional. Even more specifically, I read light, fun, happy romances, not “dark” romances where there is a lot of suffering by the hero and heroine before they get to their own happy endings. I know the world can be unfair. I know it can be painful. I already live with that.
I want minimal angst, sexy, witty flirting, and a world where the perfect date outfit is only a quick shopping spree away. I want to remember there are people whose entire lives don’t revolve around trips to the doctor or sleepless nights listening to machines beep or wondering how they’re going to pay the next medical bill that comes in. I want to pretend for just a little while.
That’s why I read romances. They are escapism in the truest sense of the word. A one hundred page novella or a five hundred page epic transports me to a temporary safe haven. They occupy my mind while all my problems get shoved to the backburner for a little while. Romances give me time to catch my breath, find my balance, and restore my faith. That kind of escape can never be a bad thing.
Mini-blurb for LEADING MAN
Nick needs a dance instructor to help him with his new role and Ashleigh seems perfect. Their relationship quickly heats up … on the dance floor and between the sheets. But when Nick learns about Ashleigh’s connection with his ex-girlfriend, he wonders if their relationship is real or staged.
“Naked is better.” Nick Thurston was deadly serious in his declaration. “I would rather have a scene with full-frontal nudity on an outdoor stage in January in Alaska than go to one more dance class with that—” Damn his parents for teaching him not to curse when referring to a lady, although the lady in question didn’t meet the moral definition of one.
“Woman,” his salt-and-pepper haired lawyer suggested.
“She is not a woman. She’s some kind of handsy, tap-dancing nightmare. The world may know I have two left feet but I swear she has at least four arms because one of them is pinching my ass while the other is picking my pocket.” He glanced over at the man who had shepherded both him and his parents from their first-roles to superstardom and was not impressed to find him laughing. “Brian, I mean it. This isn’t a little mutually fun flirting. It’s sexual harassment and regular harassment and I am done with it.”
“Nick, I believe you.”
“Then fix it. I’m one of the producers for ‘The Last Bachelor.’ I should have the ability to fire her for harassment, shouldn’t I? At this point I’d be willing to buy out her contract in order to be rid of her and take the financial hit to replace her. Find me a loophole, please. Or some Kevlar slacks if you can’t—my backside is one big bruise.” Nick ran his hands through his lightly gelled hair, which reminded him he needed to refresh the sun-streaked blond highlights he added for the summer. He leaned against the bookshelf along the wall. He winced and stood up straight again. He wasn’t kidding about the bruise.
As much as he griped, Nick wasn’t certain there was much the man could do. Brian had done his best to talk Nick out of hiring his then-girlfriend Sandrine Gold as their choreographer, insisting Nick had enough on his plate with his role and financial contribution in the production. Nick brushed aside Brian’s concerns, insisting he wanted to be involved in all aspects of the play, including hiring the stage hands and specialists. He wasn’t going to miss any part of the next phase of his career.
Nick loved playing Ares on Olympus and was thrilled the hit drama was heading into its fourth season. The Spartactus/Game of Thrones/Hercules mash-up was a lot of work and a lot of fun and he wouldn’t trade it for the world but the simple truth was he wanted a change from togas. The hiatus after the show’s thirteen-episode third season offered him the perfect opportunity to try something new. In this case, Colby Sinclair, one of his former co-stars from his Paradise Point days, had moved into directing and had called Nick with the offer of a lifetime—the title role in a revival of a Richie Washington play. Actors were fans too, and Nick was a huge admirer of the unfortunately short-lived playwright.
“You realize this wouldn’t even be an issue if you hadn’t signed up for a role which required dancing. You know I love you, Nick, but…”
Nick sighed. “But I’m lucky I don’t trip over my own feet. I know. Everybody knows.” It was a joke at this point. He could do many things. He could put on a passable Australian accent, and had for “The Year It Rained.” He could decorate a cake with bakery precision after “Sugar on Top.” He was an admirable tenor. But absolutely, in no way, shape, or form, could he dance. His brain and his feet had a feud which began at birth. They’d eventually hit a détente. His feet conceded on walking and running, but refused to cooperate beyond that. Nick had driven Russ Vukovich, Olympus’s former fight coordinator, to tears when it came to sword fighting footwork.
Elle Rush is a romance author from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. When she’s not travelling, she’s hard at work writing her contemporary romances which are set all over the world. Elle has studied half a dozen languages and has flunked poetry in every single one of them. She also has mild addictions to tea, cookbooks and the sci-fi channel. Follow her at www.ellerush.com or on Pinterest , Facebook and Twitter, and keep up with her free newsletter.