In the Land of Milk and Honey
by Nell E.S. Douglas
Publication date: January 17th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
When Gabrielle “Bree” Valentine awoke in a hospital bed with a newborn baby, she centered herself and rebuilt. Bree didn’t think about her mental breakdown, lost memories, or the features of a stranger emerging daily in the face of the son she is raising alone. Five years later, on a weekend in the Hamptons, a chance encounter with a man unlike any other jars her—bone deep. Daniel Hawthorne Baird II, wealthy, dangerous, British aristocrat, gravitates to Bree like caviar on crostini. In his relentless obsession with Bree, their lives entwine despite Bree’s resistance. With the unconditional support of friends she calls ‘family’, Bree confronts the most difficult questions of her life. Unearthing the painful mysteries behind who fathered her child, who the real Daniel Baird is, and the irrepressible desire driving her towards a man destined to be the end of them both.
Guest Post: The Lace Empire: How Romance Empowers Women
by Nell E.S. Douglas
The New York Times book review has just this month included a romance category. The Gray Lady now reviews “bodice rippers” on its prestigious pages alongside Pulitzer Prize contenders. What a thought. This is wonderful news and begs the question: what took so long? Why has romance been relegated to the lower “guilty pleasure” class of literature for so long?
Written primarily for women and by women, romance is the best selling genre in all of fiction and multi-billion dollar industry. There is no other genre as varied, in my opinion. From flirty STEM based rom-coms, like Penny Reid, to rich well-researched historical romance, to books that manage to tow the line between love-centric and painful yet deftly deal with heavy issues like neglect and abuse, such as Kennedy Ryan and Amy Harmon, this genre is far from shallow, far from trite. Women have managed a way to entertain ourselves in a fantastical way without ignoring the systemic conditions of being a woman. Romance is a world where we turn cautionary tales of news, friends, aunts, mothers and grandmothers into OUR entertainment. Our stories to share. And we end them as women so often do in life—with an HEA.
What Beyonce (yes, I am invoking THE Beyonce in a romance article) did with her iconic album Lemonade is what romance writers have done for ages. Since a semi-poor genteel Jane Austen sat in her family home in Bath and imagined a girl marrying above her station and managed to include a host of issues facing a woman in her era, socially and politically, to modern women writers who’ve made romance writing their business and lucrative way to support their families, granting themselves independence that other outlets wouldn’t have allowed, talented writers that for that for whatever reason were overlooked by an English teacher or mentor that could have guided them into their calling earlier on, there is a commonality in all these women. They turned lemons into lemonade.
Often sidelined as a lesser art, you could surmise the powers that be (if there is such a thing) for ages have overlooked the interests of women. Despite (or perhaps because of) enormous popularity, no works have been more picked on than the juggernauts of romance, especially once they make their way to Hollywood. Not taking into account exposure and resources, one thing in all business is true–the market decides. Enter the Internet; the great equalizer. The democratic marketplace. Women convened and created for each other, and the audience was there rooting them on, and a magical thing happened; we validated each others art and craft in a way those powers that be never had before.
I envision that those powers historically set aside a certain number of seats for romance, and once filled, that was it. Denied a seat at the table, the internet age became the tool with which an untold number of women did something remarkable with only their talent and the support of other woman—they built their own damn table and covered it in lace.
Nell E. S. Douglas has possessed a deep, abiding love for written words since childhood. The transition from reader, to writer, was a natural one. Her first stories, penned on the lined pages of class notebooks, were inspired by her mother’s poetry and epic tales of travel, and a professorial inquisitiveness inherited from her father. Following college in Florida, Nell exited the world of pure imagination, and entered the one of business, successfully establishing a career in sales, and developing a cup-a-day habit (of coffee). Today, Nell writes everything from story ideas to essays during the spaces in-between domestic goddessing, and contributing as a managing partner to a thriving small business. Nell resides in Florida, with her husband and their children, passing on the traditions of her mother, and sinking her feet in the sand whenever possible.
Her favorite books are Pride and Prejudice, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Her favorite movies are Gladiator, anything by Scorcese, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and Bridesmaids.