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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thoughts on Valentines Day with Jane Beckenham

The year is well underway and February 14th, known worldwide as Valentines Day, is fast approaching. As a writer of romance, anything to do with lovers and Valentine is definitely romantic food for thought. How appropriate when it is candy and chocolates that our Valentines are meant to indulge us in. That and a few dozen roses too. St Valentine could, according to history in fact be one of three saints all named Valentine and who became martyrs.
During the third century in Rome, Claudius II required soldiers and deemed that unwed men far better prospects so outlawed marriage to young men. Valentine (version 1) decided love should overrule the Emperor’s rule and continued to perform marriage in secret, only to be put to death for his efforts.

Because these were the days when Christians were treated harshly by the Romans, our Valentine version 2 it is said was also martyred because he helped the Christians escape Roman prisons. And lastly, our Valentine version 3 is believed sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.

Others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'Christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival, a pre-Roman pastoral festival, observed from February 13 – 15 to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, but heck, who cares, love rules!

Now I have a confession to make and for a romance author, it’s very unromantic! For my first Valentine’s Day after I married – well I had been reminding my DH for days, and woke to find a single silk rose on my pillow. And for him...shamefully, I forgot! But even after 25 years of marriage, the man is still my hero.

So why do we love our heroes. What is it about them in our books that make these men heroic, someone we can love forever, that changes everything in our lives.

For me, it is a man that stands by his woman, no matter what hardships and forks in the road life throws. That when life gets tough, he doesn’t take off, but stand beside you. If he could look like George Clooney, well heck, all the better!

I asked a few authors what is heroic for them:

Betty Ann Harris: I think a hero is one who puts his own needs, safety, and desires aside while he looks after the needs, safety, and desires of another.

For author Anita Davison a Valentine hero is one who drives into the next county to send his daughter an anonymous card every year since she was old enough to understand what Valentine meant, and still does, even though she now receives plenty of her own.

Kim Smith wrote … To me a hero is someone I can look up to, in all ways. He is forgiving, understanding, faithful, and strong. Valentines day is the day I look forward to going off my diet and enjoying being married to the right man because he always spoils me with diet-busting goodies and showers me with attention.

Author and owner of the Aussie Authors web site, Cheryl Wright, says...A hero doesn’t have to be rich or handsome or even well muscled. Instead he is someone who looks out for his lady; he protects her, nurtures her, and appreciates her. Valentine’s Day is the perfect day for every woman’s hero to show his true romantic side, while across the other side of the world, author Charlie Cochrane says for her Valentine’s Day is the time to remember that a man who's less-than-perfect might still be more-than-acceptable! And for her, a hero is someone who does the right thing, simply because it's right and for no hope of reward.

Samantha Sommersby often tells people that there is a little bit of her husband in every hero that she writes. It's absolutely true, she says. This year they’ll be celebrating our twenty-fifth Valentine's Day together. What makes a hero heroic? For Samantha it's things like honor and integrity, and striving to do the right thing. Oh, and putting up with her.

Multi-published author Melody Knight who also writes as ND Hansen-Hill says that for her a hero has an edge, be it in intelligence, paranormal talent, physical prowess, or noble attitude, that he is willing to utilize on behalf of others, no matter what the risk to himself.

I sometimes think in the scheme of things we forget about these magnificently strong men we give birth to in our books, we simply torture them to shake up their inbred resolve and decisiveness, make them wake up and smell the roses. This was exactly what my hero Tariq had to go through in my novel THE SHEIKH’S PROPOSAL (ebook and coming soon in print)...But how could I forget Tariq...


The constant paperwork and never-ending meetings soured Tariq's mood as his brain filled with visions of Callie. If he closed his eyes he could see her, feel her next to him, her kisses as they trailed across his skin, remember the taste of her mouth against his.

He bit back a barely suppressed groan and ignored the ceaseless counsel of his advisers. He needed Callie. She made him forget. Her presence simply let him be. Tariq knew he played a dangerous game when he needed to concentrate. Instead, dark passion-filed eyes swam before him, enticing, calling to him like a siren from the sea.

Guilt gnawed at him that he used her, assuaged his need for her, but the moment he gave in to the games his mind played, it would be over and he wasn't sure he wanted that.

It was too final. Too hard.

He wanted Callie at his side, in his bed. For now. And that had to be enough. Didn't it?

He struggled to focus on the information in front of him. It didn't work. Nothing worked and for the first time in his existence, his job wasn't enough.

He needed to get out of his suddenly claustrophobic office.

He needed space.

He needed Callie.

Perfume...Paradise...and Passion
Author: Jane Beckenham
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60435-080-7
ISBN: 1-60435-080-6

So as Valentine’s Day approaches, don’t forget like I did. If you have to, put post-its all over the house. That way, there’ll be 2 roses on the pillows when you wake up on February 14th.

And as an aside… my hubby did this for me 13 years ago… I had just flown back from Russia after adopting our 2 daughters. I was exhausted, no sleep for days (just like any new mother). The next day I awoke to find a beautiful sapphire ring on my pillow and he says, “There are four sapphires, one for each of us.”

Now it may not have been Valentine’s day but heck who cares, that as far as I am concerned topped the romantic gestures for an eternity.

Happy reading and lots of loving everyone.
Jane Beckenham

Bio: Jane Beckenham is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary novels. She tries to infuse a sense of fun into her heroes, while making them work hard for the woman of their dreams. You can check out Jane’s website www.janebeckenham.com or email Jane at neiljane@ihug.co.nz


Tami said...

Thanks for blogging with us today, your book sounds great!

ND Hansen-Hill said...

Great blog, Jane! I love your husband's romantic gesture when you came back from Russia with your daughters. Far more romantic and loving than any Valentine's gesture. Beautiful!