I have to admit that Mr. Darcy was my first book boyfriend. I know, he was everyone’s first book boyfriend. But he was just so sassy! And let’s not pretend that all of us ladies haven’t fantasized about Christian Grey and his naughty handcuffs. Books are wonderful devices that transform us into a fantasy place … and sometimes that place is shared with a fantasy boyfriend. Author Renee Carlino, whose newest book Sweet Thing will be released on April 16, stops by Julie’s Chick Lit with an entertaining take on book boyfriends and how these made-up men can help us ladies through the grind of everyday life.
As I watch the third round of orange and blue hippo battle it out for the little red balls, I’m briefly transported to an island in the Maldives where T.J. Callahan, from the book On The Island is soaping up my naked body in the warm, waist-high water. He seems apprehensive; it’s sweet. I look into his innocent eyes and nod, urging him on. His hand moves up and down, under my arm to my hip, lower and lower again. Just then I am pelted with Captain America’s flying shield. My three-year-old announces, “Avengers unite!” And that is my five-year-old’s cue to fly from the back of the couch onto my lap, his elbow piercing my shinbone. “Owww!” I am back. I am in my living room once again with my two pre-school aged children. There is a fruit snack stuck to the back of my arm and I am wearing the same yoga pants I’ve had on for two days.
The redundant and annoying game of my two boys running in a circle through the front room, kitchen and dining room while yelling, “You chicken butt!” has begun. I stay on the couch and gaze out the window. Travis Maddox from the book Beautiful Disaster pulls up in front of my house on his Harley. He wants to take me on a slow, meandering ride into the wee hours of the night. I’m staring fixedly at his tattoos when Christian (no introduction needed) Grey comes screeching into the driveway in his Audi R3. He hops out. Oh no, he’s pissed. He’s glaring at Travis. My heart races; there’s going to be a fight. He turns his attention toward me, eyes piercing through my skin as he walks purposefully past Travis to stand directly in front of me. Through gritted teeth he seethes, “Get in the car, Renee.” Oh boy.
Reading and writing books and maintaining the sordid affairs with my many book boyfriends, while cutting the crust off a peanut butter sandwich and singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is the ultimate multi-tasking that us women are so good at. But it begs the question…is partaking in this type of fantasy bad for my marriage or yours? Hell no! Just ask my husband … or yours. During the 50 Shades hype, was there not at least one guy your husband or boyfriend knew who came to work and announced that his innocent wife begged to be spanked in the throes of passion the night before? Really, if I weren’t actually writing books like this, I would think the men were behind it.
When I finished writing Sweet Thing, my characters were so real to me. I could not let Will Ryan go. I imagined that I would see him on the street, in the mall or at a restaurant. He would always spot me right away. His eyes would kiss mine and then he’d slowly walk toward me, wearing a crooked and confident half smile. He’d grab my shoulders and whisper, “Baby, I read what you wrote about me.” His smile would grow wider, “You like me, huh?”
Look, our men are stoked, because what actually happens is that when my real Prince Charming slowly and quietly rolls his ninety-miles-to-the-gallon plug-in Prius into our driveway (green is so sexy), the kids go crazy and run out to greet him and I can finally relax. My heart is warm and my mind is relieved that I am no longer solo-parent. Everything is in order. He gives them a bath after dinner and reads them a story (hands-on dads are so sexy). After the kids are asleep, I stop him in the hallway with a soft, lingering, quiet kiss.
“Whoa baby, have you been reading?” He sighs.
“Yes, and writing.” I lean up on my toes, my mouth to his ear. “And I need to do some research.”
He bends to kiss me as he backs me toward our bedroom, “I love your job.”