Romance Is In The Air by Dan Hoyt

*Yes, I will continue my series. Tomorrow. But when Dan handed me this (right after I posted yesterday, of course) I realized I’d have to run it.- SAH*

Romance Is In The Air by Dan Hoyt

Amazon Unlimited has me figured out. Yesterday I got an email notification of my 2022 progress:

  • 51 Books
  • 1963 Hours
  • 35,682 Pages
  • 18 Authors
  • Top Genre: Romance

Most people who know me well aren’t surprised by that last bullet point. After the Sad Puppy kickers completely twisted the movement – which for the supporters was ALWAYS about recognizing well-written enjoyable fiction recommended by readers, rather than message fiction recommended by gatekeepers – my beloved SF/F field became over-saturated with books that just didn’t hold my interest. For a while, my primary reading moved to cozy mysteries and Regency romances, both of which were blissfully devoid of twenty-something authors lacking the strength of character to perform a two-minute fact-checking Google search before overlaying today’s mores onto yesterday’s reality. Somewhere along the way, cozies started preaching, too, and although I read the occasional thriller or mainstream novel, I leaned more into romances.

I read a lot of historical and contemporary romances over the past few years, and I can tell you one thing – the term “tsunami of crap” came from the romance genre, 100%.

My lovely wife, Sarah, does her research – sometimes to a degree that I wasn’t sure she’d actually have positive income from the property. Most of time, my fears were unfounded, and the novel was received well enough to warrant the research time and expense. Plain Jane is a great example of that, paying royalties for a good decade or more after its publication.

One other historical romance author that does her research is Julia Quinn. The Bridgerton books are head-and-shoulders above the “tsunami of crap” and well worth the read. [I confess that I really wanted to hate the Netflix series – not because of its unapologetic twisting of history, but that it didn’t represent itself as an alternate history from the beginning (only after several episodes), when the books clearly were not alternate, but well-researched, history – but I ended up enjoying the series, despite its occasional pulpit moments.]

But most historical romance authors only do the barest research, and often it’s based more on what other romance authors wrote or fantasized about, rather than actual history.

Which brought me to the occasional contemporary romance. It took me a while to learn the code words – “sweet” vs “spicy” being the most important for me, because I already know … well, let’s just say, today is our 37th wedding anniversary, and I’m pretty clear on the mechanics at this point. I’m more interested in the emotional development. Sadly, contemporaries can be pretty preachy, too, but frankly less adroit in the hands of inferior writers, which makes them as easy to discard mid-novel as pretty much any F/SF award-winner in the last decade.

Lately, I’ve been binging on the works of a contemporary author whose writing is head-and-shoulders above that aforementioned crap tsunami. I’m not fond of first-person present-tense, but she makes it work. She has quirky characters that remind me a lot of some of Sarah’s characters (like the Dyce books), believable real-world settings, daring topics, and even the occasional Keystone-cop-style physical gag to lighten the mood. I’ve caught out a few technological timeline problems (like Instagram before it was actually released) and other anomalies, but they’re few and far between. Overall, she has a well-grounded, rich world of organically-connected series that go beyond the “seven brides for seven brothers” trope or a “cowboy billionaire family” or whatever, and spans more than a decade, sometimes with a single storyline. When a new standalone novel in one series pops up using a character introduced in a different series, I see where there was a hint seeded for that character in the other series, even if it was published 5 years earlier. In other words, some thought was given to the entirety of the author’s novels (a la Heinlein).

Given that the author, Meghan Quinn, is represented as a lesbian mother, it’s not surprising that most of her novels have gay or lesbian side characters, but they’re believable, not just straw stereotypes, preaching on a soapbox. [Shameless plug for Sarah’s A Few Good Men, another believable gay couple, and main characters, to boot!] Since we have quite a few gay and lesbian friends, both single and couples, and none of them proselytize about their preferences, the characters’ circles are truly authentic.

So, why, you might ask, did I choose to tell you all of this today, on a random Wednesday?

Remember I said it was our 37th anniversary? The novel I’m reading right now, Untying the Knot, is an example of one of those daring topics I mentioned, with the heroine starting out the novel by serving her husband with divorce papers. [No, Sarah and I are not getting divorced; bear with me here.]

Not what you expect from a romance, right? Isn’t it supposed to be happily-ever-after? The characters didn’t communicate (typical of romances) and fell back on a dangerous trap: “if you don’t know what’s wrong, I can’t tell you.” Hint: yes, you can. None of us are mind-readers, and sometimes we miss important cues. It doesn’t mean you’ve grown apart irrevocably, just that you’ve strayed a bit and need to find your pathway again. Another hint: if you see your partner drifting out of hearing range, you might consider saying something about it sooner than later.

Minor spoiler alert here. Don’t read any more if you can’t handle it.

There’s a flashback scene mid-way through the book where we see the first time the heroine takes the hero home to meet her parents, and it’s brutal the way her mother treats her. I’ve seen this kind of behavior firsthand and secondhand too many times for it not to affect me when a parent has nothing good or kind to say about his or her child, and always assumes the worst. It’s bad enough to think such things about your offspring, but to voice them to strangers is unforgivable.

It was one of those scenes that hurt, physically, to read.

But reading it made me thankful that Sarah and I found each other. A little over thirty-eight years ago, as I was about to walk out the door to go to work, I got an unexpected overseas phone call. Two hours later, I knew that my life was going to change; I knew I’d been incomplete until then, and I was certain of the inevitability of our future together. [This was baffling to virtually everyone that knew me, nearly all of whom tried to talk me out of proposing – which I did just four months later.] Why? Because Sarah got me, and I got her. We talked about anything – fears, deep and dark secrets, desires, everything big or small.

I thought I’d been in love before, but this was different, and I knew it was the same for her. I could hear it in her voice. For the first time, I recognized a new life pathway had just opened up, and it was for both of us. I understood deep down that this new pathway could be brighter and better than the pathway I had anticipated for myself alone; all I had to do was open my heart and believe Sarah saw as much value in me as I did in her; that she’d see the wonderful possibilities in a future together.

I never doubted she would, and when a natural time came for those three words, “I love you,” I didn’t hesitate or second-guess myself. And we’ve grown together since then, in ways I could never have imagined, but always together.

Sure, there were hard times, and times when we argued fiercely, but eventually one of us reminded the other that we promised to have each other’s backs, even if it felt like it was us against the world, and that we don’t have to endure the hard times alone.

Sarah, Happy Anniversary. I love you more each year, and I’m glad we have each other. Always.

47 thoughts on “Romance Is In The Air by Dan Hoyt

  1. The Reader believes true stories are the best romance.

    Happy Anniversary, Sarah and Dan!

  2. Long Distance phone calls can be life-changing… My story doesn’t have as effective a writer nor as many years (in spite of me being older than Sarah and Dan); but I know the melody…

    May the time the LORD gives you together grow ever more blessed and bright.

  3. Awww. Love it. Happy Anniversary to you two.

    And as a beneficiary of the BBESP Matching Agency, may i just say thank you, Sarah, for bringing me and my Bugbear together. May we have the same things to say in 35 years.

  4. Happy Anniversary!
    Back in 1981 I called the seneschal of the local SCA group, having been transferred from Alabama to New Jersey, to ask about the group. An hour and a half later…
    Well, it took us a lot longer to figure it out, but we managed. Our 36th anniversary was in November.

  5. Happy Anniversary Indeed! And Many More! Better Half and i just celebrated our …mumblemumble… anniversary last week. We also were gobsmacked at finding the perfect match to talk about anything at all … no one else i knew could have handled that. So I get you there. We also had resistance from parents who both thought we were gold-digger/bum types, but were just wrong on that. To be fair, toward the end of his life, my f-i-l apologized to me for having thought ill of me, which action and the resulting changes thereafter taught me a big life lesson. May your blessings continue to flow, Sarah and Dan!

  6. Awww – you kids are so cute! I am happy for you both and wish you many, many more years of life and marriage. I made an error or two as I marched through life but by a huge ‘glitch’ in the universe I found the woman for me and she found me at just over 34 years ago and we’re still plugging along.

  7. I met She Who Would Become My Wife almost 29 years ago, and we finally tied the knot 21 years ago. Looking at the comments, we’re in the short-to-midrange among the Huns and Hoydens. 🙂

    Congratulations on 37 years!

  8. Happy anniversary! I’m sure you’ve noticed Things Are Different, but still Very Nice, now that fledglings are (at least mostly) out of the nest.

    We did our 50th in Paris last summer. That was just luck; no other connection to Paris.

    1. yeah, Dan had his 55th birthday there, sheer luck.
      We should have younger fledgeling fully transitioned off our inner sphere by end of next year, G-d willing, etc.

  9. “It was always easy.” That’s how my wife describes our courtship.
    Since we are both Odds, interacting with others is frequently not an enjoyable time. I was unemployed and she was between semesters at college, so, not a lot of money.
    But it was always easy; being together.
    That’s how we knew.
    Still ecstatically happy after 19 years.

  10. Happy Anniversary.

    As you already know, we just had our 44th. Our courtship was a little longer, first date in January. He brought me home after our casual date to a very sick German Shepard. He stayed to help clean her up and stay up with her all night (keeper!) We were engaged in August, married in December. Sounds more dramatic than it is (still she had salmon poison, she was one sick dog). We’d been friends, part of a group that were in various stages of the same degree program, for over 3 years, by then.

  11. Happy Anniversary! We just had our 57th on 30 October, and believe me, it just keeps getting better. Enjoy!

  12. Dan, that is a truly lovely tribute to Sarah and to your marriage. Thank you for posting it. Happy Anniversary to both of you, and may you enjoy many more!

  13. Congratulations on your 37th anniversary (our 38th was Dec 29th) and do keep writing SF. Yes, the romance stuff has a vast audience, but 60+ years of SF consumption shall not be swayed. Wishing you ever more success in all endeavours.

  14. Happily Ever After* does happen in the real world too, not just the fairy tales. Those who claim its just a stupid childish illusion are the ones who have fallen for the illusion, believing that their cynicism is what defines reality.

    = Usual stipulation here that “Living happily ever after” doesn’t mean that you don’t occasionally throw the furniture at one another.

  15. Happy anniversary!! Our 37th is this year, but our kiddos have been out longer. The grandchildren are coming and nothing beats that! Best wishes for many more!
    I love that you are so open about your marriage being good. Sometimes it feels like all we hear about are the terrible marriages. Kids need to hear there are many of us happily married. Apparently well represented in the Huns!

  16. After the Sad Puppy kickers completely twisted the movement

    “Need brooks no delay, but late is better than never” I hope not “day late, dollar short” which admittedly is more my speed.

    We helped it on. We were “The Campaign to end Puppy-Related Sadness”, remember? That was fantastic. Because “You care about puppies don’t you? Do it for the puppies.” Grey-goo makes puppies cry.

    In other words, WE weren’t the puppies, we were their Campaigners (OWTTE). “Sad Puppies” was the puppy-kickers (good one, btw! On target); was their name for us. Which I guarantee Vox Day spotted instinctively and returned with “Rabid Puppies”. The which, while more energising for the Campaigners, was also a mistake, albeit a very human one. We do these false either/ors, hoomans. My husband calls it the coke-v-pepsi (or diet, or fruit drinks) when what we need is more water and real food, and anyone pointing it out gets lost in the hullaballo.

    I keep letting them define the words that define us and our battle-grounds, and spotting it too late to do any good. So whenever you spot this push back, and listen when someone else spots it. First they come for our language, you know. All the time.

    This is why our movement was so very dangerous, and our stories ditto*. It’s not just the power of stories, its that the space in which we can tell the stories we want (and need) is also the one where are free to use the words we want (and need).

    God speed everyone, and happy anniversary to the Hoyts (and any other fellow huns, hoydens, & h-adjacents celebrating wedded bliss)

    (P.S. Bless you, Mrs. Hoyt. You took all the pain and the terror and the loss of being uprooted from our home-places and turned them into tales of hope for Christmas.

    P.P.S. And for all of you with kinder I pray they find their Hoyt. God bless!

Comments are closed.