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Reader Valentines: Because Sometimes Your Stories Are Just Better Than Mine

February 1, 2017
love-cloudSeveral weeks ago, I received an email from a woman who’d joined my Cold Readers Club. I receive emails from readers pretty much every day, and most people just write to say thanks, which I love.
But every once in a while, someone spontaneously writes to tell me their love story. Maybe it’s because love is a thru-line in almost everything I write – whether it’s a personal essay or a historical thriller. Even when I seem to be writing about something else – faith, parenting, war, literature – somehow, someway, readers will often link the theme to a love story in their own lives.
This touches me immensely, and has actually changed the way I look at my characters and how their lives unfold. Truth be told, it changes me as well. I find myself reflecting on the love stories in my own life, feeling grateful for every tender kiss, heartache, poetic romanticism and burst of goodwill that has ever graced my journey.
So starting today, and going all through February on Cold, I’d like to feature some of the love stories readers have been kind enough and brave enough to let me share.
And I’d like to start with the brief but passionate and hopeful story of the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’ll call her Larissa.
For those of you who are Cold readers or members of my email newsletter, Cold Readers Club, you might remember an essay I wrote about why men must start reading fiction again. In it, I lamented that 80% of all fiction readers are women and how over the course of a generation, men have all but abandoned the novel.
My essay was a call to action! It was a dare. I wanted it to light a fire in the hearts of people in our Cold universe, and urge them to start pestering the men folk in their lives to pick up a damned book and read a story that’s not about work, or politics or how to build a bookshelf.
What I got was a love story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
“When I was 41 years old, Mac, a young man I’d known for some time came to my house looking for a friend of his. Mac’s buddy, you see, was renting a room in my house and Mac had come over to hang out.
Mac, I should tell you, was twenty-one years old and far too young for me.
I had first noticed him at a party some months before and I can honestly say he took my breath away. Six feet four inches tall, wide-shouldered with slightly long golden hair and piercing blue eyes. I mean they are BLUE! It’s the first thing most people notice about him.  He’s a construction worker so he had the strong body to go with the gorgeous face. But, alas, he was way too young for me as I said, so I didn’t give it a second thought.
Then he showed up at my door.
As his friend was nowhere to be found, I pretty much shrugged my shoulders and asked if Mac wanted to join me and my roommate for a quiet movie night. Ours was a fun, casual home, where friends were always welcome to drink a beer and eat chips while lounging on the couch, so this was nothing out of the ordinary.
It was my roommate’s turn to choose the movie, and he chose “Alien vs Predator,” a movie he knew terrified me. I said there was no way I was watching that film unless somebody sat with me and held my hand. But before I could even finish the request, Mac jumped up and plopped down next to me. He not only took my hand, but put his arms around me, holding me to his chest. I WAS SHOCKED! And nervous, and didn’t know what to do. But I went with it. I was powerless not to.
Long story short, my roommate ended up skipping out to visit some friends, leaving me and Mac alone to watch the rest of the movie.
Only we didn’t.
As soon as my roommate left, Mac bent down and kissed me.
‘We’re not going to watch any aliens and predators, are we?’ I asked.
‘He looked down at me and simply replied, ‘no.”
At first, it was a casual thing and I didn’t allow myself to take it too seriously. But as we spent more time together, I came to see that Mac was a wonderful conversationalist, deep and complex for so young a man.
He impressed me by his knowledge and love of Bob Dillon and other musicians from my era. And as he spent more time in my house, I started to notice that he tended to disappear quite often. When I went looking for him, I usually found him in my library.
As a voracious reader and true bibliophile, I was intrigued.
Mac would have several stacks of books out on the library desk trying to decide which book he wanted to read next. And he almost always had a book with him wherever he went. So, over time, we got in the habit of getting up early on Sunday mornings to have coffee and read companionably on the loveseat on my front porch. He told me about his favorite authors – Tolkein and Pat Conroy. How much he loved “Prince of Tides,” and thought one of the best quotes to ever grace a page is, “My wound is my geography.”
I told him I loved George RR Martin, but that my favorite quote did not come from his books. He said, “One who reads lives a thousand lives, one who doesn’t lives one.”

Well, naturally I agreed to marry Mac despite our twenty year age difference.

And so you know, eight years later, we are still happily married and spend our evenings reading and listening to great music.

Our book collection has grown considerably over the years and the only time he has ever complained about all the books was when we had to move. Books are very heavy.  We still don’t have a TV. Haven’t had one since we got together. Our nights are spent reading with our cats curled up in our laps or talking, or talking about what we are reading.  Mac is reading the Sovereign of the Seven Isles series by David A Wells and is on the second book titled “Sovereign Stone.” He loves the series and we talk about the books and characters a lot since I read the series previously and recommended it to him. 

I’m reading some books by Scott A Combs – Galactic Guild Comedies titled “The Kili Wanna Affair” and “The Feel Good Affair.”  They are so much fun and I keep laughing out loud while Mac just looks at me over his book with his eyebrows raised. We know if there’s a book that that can do that to one of us, then the other is sure to want to read it next. 

Mac usually tells people he fell in love with me for my library, and my cooking. Since he’s a great cook himself, I think the former was probably what did it for him.

As for me, I can tell you there are not many men like him these days. Especially in the younger generations.  I am so blessed to have found him. He is still the best husband any woman could ask for. And I think I truly am the luckiest woman on the planet.”

Please join me next week for more reader love stories. And if you haven’t already, join my Cold Readers Club. You might just get lucky.



  1. Amen, Christoph!

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