Let’s Talk About Love: Part Two
by Donna Soluri
As a romance reader, we must be expected to love a good love story, no? I know I sure do. In fact, asking people about their most memorable love story is one of my favorite dinner party conversation topics…you remember dinner parties, right? Back in the “before times,” as I like to call it, when we could safely share a meal, laugh from our bellies, and fill our souls with intriguing stories from friends and strangers alike over a meal or drinks at a bar — carefree dinner parties. Since dinner parties are somewhat off the table for a little while longer, I thought I’d bring some of the fascinating conversations to you, socially distanced and cootie-free! I asked some romance author friends about their favorite love stories, and boy, did they come through with the entertaining content!
So much content, in fact, that we needed to split our post into not two, but THREE parts! Today is day two, and we have four stories for you to enjoy. Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, glass of wine — your drink of choice — and settle in for a while, okay?
Author of Lost, Found, and Forever
One of my favorite real life love stories is so cinematic that it’s hard for me to believe it’s part of my family folklore. Packed with tropes like a picture-perfect setting, a weird meet-cute and of course a happily ever after, the story of how my paternal grandparents were introduced is worthy of a big screen adaption. (Or at least a mention in one of my books!)
The tale begins in Berlin with a decidedly anti-rom com opening: a motorcycle accident. Young Hans Walter Schade had a terrible crash and wound up in the hospital near death. In a proactive but macabre move, his Aunt Gisela decided to order a funeral wreath for him before he passed. (Gotta love that German efficiency!) Family legend has it that the pretty florist named Hertha Lange wasn’t sure what to make of the fact that the arrangement she created for a certain Hans Schade was paid in full but never picked up.
Cut to months later when Aunt Gisela walked back into Hertha’s flower shop trailed by a handsome man with a slight limp. Yup, you guessed it, the reason she never came back for the wreath was because Hans pulled through! She introduced them to one another by saying, “Du hast den kranz gemacht fur diesen mann.” (“You made the wreath for this man.”) Can’t you just picture the music swelling and sparks flying as they said hello for the first time, standing in a flower shop filled with roses and lilies?
The details of their early courtship are lost to time, but I have to wonder if the Hertha’s wedding bouquet contained a little nod to the matchmaking wreath that kicked off their happily ever after. (Which included my father, Hans II!)
CAN’T YOU JUST PICTURE THE MUSIC SWELLING AND SPARKS FLYING AS THEY SAID HELLO FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Author of Meet Me In Paradise
My all-time favorite love story happened during the making of the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. I’ve always adored Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, with its themes of sisterly affection and finding real love when hope seems lost. And the real-life story of its adaptation is the most beautiful parallel.
Emma Thompson, who wrote the screenplay and also played Elinor Dashwood, had more in common with her character than people may have realized. Like Elinor, she was nursing a secret heartbreak. Writing helped her through the painful aftermath of the end of her marriage. On the set, Emma Thompson bonded with Kate Winslet, who played her sister Marianne Dashwood. The women supported each other. Enter Greg Wise, aka Willoughby (the man of my 17-year-old dreams).
Thompson wrote in her filming diary:
Shooting Willoughby carrying Marianne up the path … I’d love someone to pick me up and carry me off.
Though Wise went out on one date with Winslet, it was evident that he and Thompson were a better match. So, Winslet did what any loving sister would — she told him exactly that. Thompson and Wise fell in love during the filming. Not only did her screenplay earn her an Oscar, it brought her a lifelong love. She and Wise are still married today.
I think this story is my favorite because it is the perfect example of joy coming from sorrow and the kind of magic that can happen when you have a “sister” looking out for you. It’s such a hopeful story, and that’s what love is to me—the ultimate act of hope.
Author of Back in the Texan’s Bed
The world is filled with great love stories, and I’m blessed enough to be a part of one of the greatest. Oh yes, I do not say that lightly.
Greensboro, North Carolina.
*said in my best Sophia Petrillo voice* A beautiful Lucille Troxler leaves her hometown headed to Hollywood, California, determined to make her fortune as an actress by way of becoming Joan Crawford’s maid — she’d even dyed her hair Lucille Ball-red. This is the family lore. So, on her travels, she found her way to Plainfield, New Jersey. How, I have no idea, because this is totally out of the way, but again — family lore. *cough* Anyhoo, she ends up in Jersey and attends church one night with friends, and lo and behold, who does she bump into?
I’m glad you asked!
William J. Alston was a local boxer with a couple of Golden Gloves under his belt. He’d trained and taught other boxers at the neighborhood YMCA, had fought in professional matches, and had even gone to the state championship, though he hadn’t won. All this and he sang, too. Is it any wonder he caught Lucille’s eye?
Or that William took one look at Lucy and thought, “She’s niiiice.” Some would say it was fate that brought them together. But I would say it was Faith. Because Billy, as Lucy called him, would go on to become a preacher, and they would go forth to beget five children, one who would also become a preacher. Who would then go on to beget yours truly. Who would then go on to write some pretty great romance books. So truly, how was the love story of The Hottie and the Roughneck not one of the greatest ever told?
THAT’S WHAT LOVE IS TO ME — THE ULTIMATE ACT OF HOPE.
Author of Gray Hair Don’t Care
My favorite love story is my own. It has twists and turns! It has epic longing! It features a somewhat clueless hero (my husband) and a heroine in utter agony (me).
My husband and I met via a phone call. We both worked in the music industry, each working for different record labels. He was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One day, he calls to ask a question about one of our bands. Before this, I knew who he was, but we’d never talked. We immediately hit it off and found a reason to talk every few days. We joked around. We talked about music. It was so much fun.
Six months later, we met in person in New York at a music conference. I was head-over-freaking-heels. I have always had a thing for super tall lanky guys and he was exactly that. But reader, he had a girlfriend. Sob!
For TWO years, we talked on the phone and saw each other at conferences. There were so many nights when we were at a club and we’d spent hours together and I was happy to be with him, but heartbroken. I knew we were perfect for each other, but he was taken.
Yes, I needed to stop pining for this guy who lived many states away and was not on the market.
But I couldn’t do it. Then we saw each other at a conference in San Francisco. The first night, after several beers, he kissed me! The angels sang. He said, “I’ve been wanting to do that for a really long time.” I replied, “I’ve been wanting you to do that for a really long time.” Poetry, I know. Turned out the girlfriend was gone. The stars had aligned. Eight months later, I moved to North Carolina. We celebrated 25 years of marriage last fall.
Donna should be an empty nester, but she’s not, thanks COVID-19. She’s a voracious reader of all books; she can’t pick just one sub-genre. A staunch supporter of seasoned romance and a lover of cupcakes, you’ll often find her with a cup of tea and a mountainous TBR pile close at hand. Follow her @DonnaSoluri on B+M Bites.
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