Stacy's Place on Earth
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Sunday, July 02, 2006:
Let's get serious for a moment....
I just finished a book with a more serious theme than you normally find in a romance, and it got me thinking whether or not it affects the way I read, or what topics I do or don't enjoy reading about in my books. Here is what triggered this line of thought:
The book I finished is "The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain" by Lucy Monroe, and I absolutely loved it, for many reasons. I enjoy how Lucy can make me hate a character, in this case the hero, yet by the end of the book redeem him so much that I end up falling in love just like the heroine does. In TSMB, she discusses a topic that affects many women: endometriosis, a painful condition that can leave 30% to 40% of women infertile. I have a friend who suffers from this - if not for her, I would never have heard of this condition. She's been through many surgeries and has suffered with a lot of pain. There is no cure for endometriosis; the cause is unknown, but there are treatments that can make it more bearable. Reading about it in a romance really was an amazing discovery for me because it affects such a large part of a woman's life. In Therese's situation, so much so that she came to a life-altering decision because of it. It was a very emotional story, one that wouldn't have affected me as strongly if the subject matter had been less serious.
Another book she wrote, "Blackmailed Into Marriage", delves into the issue of vaginismus. Vaginismus can be defined as an involuntary contraction of the muscles surrounding the entrance to the vagina, making penetration painful and/or impossible. The predominant muscle group involved is called the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group. It is a condition that is treatable, actually self-treatable. But also one that can be extremely embarrassing, and without understanding, can have a woman withdraw from her partner in shame. Lia believed that she couldn't be a true wife to her husband Damian, but with his compassion and understanding, they were both able to find fulfillment in the marriage bed, but also to find a love that would never have been possible without the care and consideration of both Lia and Damian. It was a beautiful story that still stays with me.
These are serious and valid conditions that affect millions of women, yet not a lot of them talk about it. I think talking about them is rather taboo, especially when it comes to any aspect of a woman's sexuality. It's recently become more acceptable to talk about women's fantasies, but people still aren't ready to hear about possible sexual problems or dysfunctions. These conditions can potentially lead a woman to feel inferior, or feel at fault, when that really isn't the case at all. I commend Lucy for bringing these issues to light, and my personal feeling is that I have had a stronger connection to the characters because of how they are handled: with care and sensitivity, but also an awareness that these conditions exist and do not miraculously disappear at the end of the book, because that's not always how it happens in real life. Fortunately there are support groups for each of these conditions that hopefully will provide answers and help women lead a more positive and fulfilling life.
My belief is that reading romances which discuss these topics do offer an important benefit to readers, and I, for one, do not have a problem if an author decides to delve into these serious and sensitive subjects, especially if they pertain to a woman's health. Some people feel that they want to escape when they read a romance, and I agree that I do that sometimes, too. But I also think romances are a wonderful format to bring these subject out into the open, where women may be suffering from these conditions and not even be aware of it. These specific books did not come across as preachy or condescending, but rather offer answers, and provide hope.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever read about a condition in a book that you've never heard of before but discover you know someone who has it? How has it affected your reading?


  1. Don't you Just LOVE Lucy Monroe!
    Her stories always grip me, make me cry, make me smile and make me sigh.
    I read the book from the trilogy you refer to. In fact, I've read all the books of hers I can get my hands on. Even in ebook format.

    I think she touches a chord and brings out the humanity in her characters. Even though a woman suffers these debilitating conditions, Lucy shows that they are STILL desirable, most definitely sexually functionable and beautiful women, who, with the right man, find their HEA.

    Lucy is a sweet person anyway and that caring and sensitivity that she personally possesses comes through in her stories.

    From your post, it sounds like you agree.

  2. Stacy, you are great and a terrible influence. *g* Your reviews make me want to just go out and spend my paycheck on books...OK I was going to do that anyways but you have give me direction. :o)
    I have not read any of Lucy's books, yet, but I have read her posts here and Romance by the blog and she seems so sweet and I know that that must come through in her books. I can't imagine it not.

    Between your and Michelle's reviews, I have no resistance...Barnes & Noble here I come. :o)

  3. Again, Stacy you have done a great job of bringing awareness to things that we read or maybe should read.

    It is great when you come upon an author, like Lucy, that is willing and does delve into something that as you say is often misunderstood and not talked about. She has a great way of bringing things to light. And even though it is a romance it is also a great learning tool.

  4. I agree with both you and Michele about Lucy's books. She is amazing. I was extremely touched by TSMB. Terese gripped my heart and didnt let go. I've heard of endometriosis but didnt know a lot about it before reading this book. I didnt realize all the pain it caused or the infertility. Great review, Stacy.

  5. Thanx guys. I know some people don't like such serious subjects in their books, but I think it makes the stories even better. Plus it makes men and women aware of these conditions, and that's the important thing - the education.

    Lucy is a special person for getting to the heart of them. Though I think we all agree we'd love her no matter what - she's just that kinda person :)

    Michele, your post is very touching - loved it. And totally agree with everything you said.

  6. Thanks, Stacy!!!!

  7. As someone who suffers from endometriosis (and was diagnosed when I was 17), Lucy's book sounds really interesting to me...I will have to try and read it. Endometriosis is a VERY painful condition and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I have had the surgeries and some treatments, but still have pain.

  8. Jennifer Y.

  9. Jennifer, I'm also sending hugs your way. I know from what my friend Sandy has gone through that it's been very painful. And you were so young when you got it. I hope one day you can live without the pain.

  10. Thanks Michele and Stacy. It is something that I have just learned to live with for the past 6 years. One doctor suggested a hysterectomy, but because of my age he didn't want to do it.

    My sister also has it and has been able to have children. I hope that I don't have the infertility problem that many who suffer from it have.

  11. I don't know what to say. Stacy mentioned on my blog that she'd posted about this, so I had to come over and read. But I'm near *all* are just so incredibly nice. I believe very strongly that you get out of a book what you bring to it. That means that each book will read differently for different types of people. The fact that you are moved by books like these means that your hearts are filled know compassion to begin with. *That* touches *me*.

    In fact, this whole blog post and its comments have moved me so much I'm going to dig a little deeper and answer the question I get so often "Why do you write those issues books?" on my blog in a couple of days.

    Just know that I'm more grateful than I can say that there are readers who get my heart and love my characters despite their imperfections as much as I do.

    Much love and blessings,

  12. I'd forgotten that you were going to post this until today, sorry for my delay in reading it.

    You are so right. LM is amazing at bringing to awareness things that seem rather taboo.

    One of my (many) aunts suffers from endemetriotris. Over the years, I've seen her struggle to conceive, to function, to care for herself and her children despite her pain and reading TSMB brought all of that back to me. It was very touching, and very emotional as well.

    Lucy is an amazing person, and her writing inspires a wealth of emotion in her readers. This was a great post!

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