The Hart Home│Why I Didn’t Marry Until My 30’s

I think the simplest reason why I put off marriage and even getting engaged until I was almost 30 was that I wanted to keep my 20’s for myself.

At my core, I am very artistic and I am a dreamer. I have so many dreams of what I want to do and where I want to go. I saw my 20’s as a time for me to enact those dreams before I settled down. I have said before how I have always wanted to be a wife and a mother, but I always knew that there would be a time for that and that was sometime after I had done everything I had wanted to do in my 20’s. Now, that’s not the say I didn’t want love in my 20’s, I definitely wanted to have a boyfriend that was my person, but I was nowhere near ready or in the mindset to settle down.

I wanted to travel with or without a boyfriend. I wanted to finish my education and get into a doctoral program. I wanted to live on my own with a couple cats and enjoy living on my own without roommates or a live-in boyfriend. I also wanted to buy my first house by myself. In many ways, I wanted to live my life as my own person before I became someone’s wife and someone’s mom. And your 20’s really is the absolute best time to do that because that decade of your life is such a transition time from being a college kid to a working adult with real-world responsibilities. I also wanted to know that if I had to go through life on my own, that I could do it by myself and that I was a solid, financially secure person outside of any relationship or entanglement.

I also wanted to make sure that I was with the right person when my time did come to marry. Without getting too into it here, I grew up in a marriage that was between two people that were not meant for each other and it was hard growing up in that space. And then when it finally exploded, my brother and I took the brunt of the fallout. In many ways, it was more me than my brother because I was the older one. We both have very different memories from that time in our lives.

What I took from that time in my life is that when I did have children, I wanted to make sure that they had a secure and loving relationship modeled for them so that when it became their turn to get married and start their own families, that they would know what it was supposed to be and look like. I was thankful to have found that love in my mid-20’s and that my husband got to be a part of my travels and my first time being out fully on my own and then joined me when I bought a house and together, we started a life together because, at that point, we were both ready for the next step in our lives.

In keeping my 20’s for myself, I think it made me a better wife and it definitely made me a better mother. It also gave my husband and I time to do so much stuff together. We backpacked through Europe, went to Disney World twice, got our first home together, had a lot of date nights and hangouts– we just enjoyed being together for several years. And now we’re an old married couple with a baby who spends their days watching Simple Songs of YouTube and we wouldn’t change any of it because we love having Logan and are enjoying family life.

I think everyone should wait until their 30’s or even late 20’s before they get married. Your 20’s are the best decade you’re going to have to be young, stupid and on an endless search of finding yourself. You’ll experience love and heartbreak, new jobs and opportunities and hopefully, a lot of adventure. Your 20’s are your time and I think if more people kept it like that, more people wouldn’t be getting divorced within the first few years of marriage because they will know who they truly are and what works and doesn’t work for them. You will become the most honest you have ever been when it comes to relationships and what you’re looking for. And you will be an accomplished person in your own right, outside of your marriage and your family.

And if you’re lucky you’ll meet your person and you’ll get to go home from your crazy days of responsibilities and dance to acoustic songs in your kitchen while your baby is asleep in the other room. I am excited to see where my settled self goes in this latest decade of my life and what I am writing about my 30’s when I hit my 40’s…ahhh!

dancing
From our engagement photos at Asbury Park Convention Hall. November 2016.

BOOK REVIEW │WINDOW ON THE BAY BY DEBBIE MACOMBER

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Debbie Macomber books are the kinds of books that you go back to when you want something that is comfortable and consistent. Her books are “cozy” books for me because they often are about female friendship throughout the years that span time and love and loss. Window on the Bay is no different.

Female Friendship

Window on the Bay brings us Jenna and Maureen, two women who have raised families and are at a good point in their lives and in their friendship with one another. Jenna has been divorced for 20-something years and has focused her energy on raising her children. Her ex-husband has left a bad taste in her mouth and now, even years later, she still struggles with trusting someone again. With both of her children off at college, she is also struggling with being single and being a new empty nester. Maureen has also had her share of heartache as her marriage ended early as well. Together, the two women have come together over the years and have been each other’s support systems as they figured out motherhood and raising their children without the help of their ex-husbands.

Maureen is happy for her friend and wants her to embrace her newfound independence despite Jenna’s reservations. She pushes for them to take the trip to Paris that they had planned on taking in college together when Jenna became pregnant and canceled those plans.

A Love Affair

As Jenna is finding herself again in her new life as a mom to adult children and a single woman, her mother is in need of hip surgery after she breaks it. Dr. Rowan Lancaster is there to help save her mother and soon, Jenna finds herself being drawn to the handsome surgeon, but at the same time remains extremely guarded because of her past. As handsome as Dr. Rowan is, he is also a surgeon just like her philandering ex-husband who had broken her heart so many years ago.

Jenna must find the strength within herself through her friendship with Maureen and the love she has for her children to break free of her past in order to create her future. Jenna’s children also have their own bits of drama that they come to their mother with and Jenna must find ways to manage the shocking news that they bring her without losing everything that she has newly found.

Book Information

Window on the Bay: A Novel by Debbie Macomber will be released on July 16, 2019, from Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing with ISBN 9780399181337. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review │ Unleashed by Diana Palmer

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I was probably a little too young when I first read a Diana Plamer book. I had to have been about 13 or 14 when I fished Magnolia out of a bag of books my grandmother had given to my mom. At that point, I had just started to write and I loved romances. I would just get lost in them and Palmer’s Magnolia did not disappoint. I fell in love with her writing and the steamy romances she whipped up with brooding, handsome men and the strong women they all always seemed to fall in love with. I went on to read all of her mercenary books and dove right into her Long, Tall Texan series of which, Unleashed is number 47 in the series.

Palmer does not disappoint us with her reserved, brooding and strong characters that she is known for. We meet Colter, a man that has been spending his time with women that he knows will never be much of anything. No woman really encapsulates him until he notices his assistant, Clancy who is battling a dark past of her own. Her brother is in jail for having hurt her in his attack on their younger brother. She is terrified that he will be released. She is also pretty smitten with Colter even though he’s not completely into her yet, as he has lingering feelings for his best friend’s former fiancee.

However, the chemistry and drama begin to burn between Colter and Clancy in a way that only Diana Palmer can deliver. The loves scenes are steamy and built with a sensuality that is exclusive to Diana Palmer novels wherein Colter is the older, experienced man while Clancy is blossoming into her own. Paralleled with the few violent scenes that are also present in the novel, Unleashed delivers to its readers a sultry read filled with drama and violence that leave you rooting for Colter and Clancy as the novel works towards its fitting end.

Unleashed (Long, Tall Texans Book 47) by Diana Palmer will be available for purchase on June 25, 2019, with ISBN 9781335659989 from Harlequin. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review: The Botticelli Secret

secretSteeped in the turmoil of the non-unified Italy of the 1400’s, Marina Fiorato skillfully weaves a detailed and evasive mystery around one of Botticelli’s more famous paintings, Primavera or Allegory of Spring. The painting is packed with meaning alone, but Fiorato takes the painting to an entirely new level in her book, The Botticelli Secret.

Primavera

Painted in 1482, the Primavera was created by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. He was of the Florentine school and worked during the Early Renaissance or Qauttrocento. It is suggested that the allegory had been petitioned by the Medici family.

The work is largely accepted as an allegory of springtime, however, other themes and meanings have been explored, including the idea that the painting illustrates the ideal of Neoplatonic love. For Fiorato, the painting serves as the basis for her art history mystery in her novel.

The Plot

Fiorato opens her novel with the introduction of her heroine- common whore by the name of Luciana Vetra. She is described as a classical beauty, with long flowing ringlets and a sharp tongue from the four years that she spent on the streets of Florence. She is aptly named for how she arrived in Florence. Her origins for much of the novel are unknown, but from the beginning Luciana speaks of her uncommon arrival in the city- as a baby washedup on the shores of the city in a glass bottle.

The reader is quickly drawn to her, despite her abrasiveness and crassness that are abundant in the earlier part of the novel, but softens as she finds herself and finds love during the course of the story. Her flaws make Luciana realistic and easy to relate too, despite the over-the-top mystery and life that she eventually gets swept up in to.

Fiorato’s story of Luciana, Primavera and the mystery that engulfs everything is skillfully rendered and so lush that the reader easily gets immersed in the world of what Italy was like during the early part of the Renaissance. Fiorato leaves nothing to the imagination and stays away from romanticizing the period, leaving the reader with a raw and detailed depiction of what life was like during the time that Botticelli lived and worked.

The Botticell Secret by Marina Fiorato was originally published in April of 2010. It is available for purchase through St. Martin’s Griffin, New York with ISBN 978-0-312-60636-7.

Book Review: The Women

womenMany creative geniuses have a torrid past with the women that loved them. Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock are just two examples. However, in T.C. Boyle’s The Women, he focuses on the madness and the passion that engulfed much of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s life.

The Four Women

T.C. Boyle brings to life Frank Lloyd Wright’s life by telling it through the four women who loved him in life. He begins with the failure of Wright’s marriage to his wife, Miriam, an older, passionate southern woman who had a heavily hidden addiction to morphine.

Boyle goes on to infuse the the novel with heat and passion when Wright meets the woman that would take him away from his wife. Exotic and fiery, Olgivanna Milanoff became dubbed the “Dragon Lady” by Lloyd’s apprentices. She lived with him at his famed estate, Taliesan first under the lie that she was his maid, but her pregnancy quickly gave away their affair.

More sweetly, Boyle also recounts Wright’s relationship with his first wife, Kitty Tobin with whom he had had six children with. More idealized and poignant, the passages on this relationship humanize Wright while the other women seem to make him more tortured and lost.

What is most tragic about the novel is the inclusion of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, Wright’s mistress who was tragically murdered at the Taliesan estate in 1914 along with her two children.

Downfall of The Women

As scandalous and impetuous much of the historical basis for the novel is, what is the downfall of Boyle’s novel is the narrator. The story is told from the viewpoint of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Japanese apprentice which just does not fit the novel. Moreover, the over-usage of footnotes to ensure that all information even parts that do not seem to matter take the reader away from the meat of the story. They often are confusing and stuck in places that would be better suited without them. It becomes rather difficult to get through the story in some parts.

All in all, T.C. Boyle does a great job of making The Women seem more of an actual biography than a historical fiction novel. It would have been better served if Boyle had reserved himself with regards to the amount of information he felt necessary to include with the text and with the foot notes.

The Women by T.C. Boyle was first published in 2009 by Viking Publishing with ISBN 978-0-670-02041-6.

Book Review: The Sidewalk Artist

sidewalkA blocked writer, unhappy with her life and relationship takes off for a Parisian vacation. It is there that Tulia Rose encounters beautiful chalk drawings of some of Raphael’s most beautiful and famous creations of cherubs and light. The chalk drawings’ artist Raffaello, intrigues Tulia. She quickly finds herself asking if she loves him? Or is he a stalker? Or could he even be the reincarnation of the Renaissance artist Raphael?

Dreamy Settings

Tulia’s story and eventual love-affair takes her across Europe to lush settings that are both dreamy and romantic. Readers are indulged in sensual Paris, dream-like Tuscany and beautiful Venice as Tulia navigates herself through her budding affair and eventual break-up with her New York boyfriend, Ethan.

The settings are beautifully described and detailed by an author with a keen eye for the intricacies that the romance of Europe offers its visitors. Buonaguro writes, “What truly moves Tulia is not the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame Cathedral or any of the wonderful sights. It is the little things. A windowsill with a pot of geraniums and a glimpse of lace curtain, the way the sun glances off a puddle, the echo of her heels as she walks down a narrow cobblestone street, the taste of coffee at an outdoor cafe, the sound of children calling out to each other in French,” making it easy for the reader to fall in love with Paris even if they haven’t had a chance to make it there yet.

The Failing Hero

The downfall of The Sidewalk Artist, in my opinion was Raffaello – Buonaguro’s hero. Instead of being the romantic artist that was meant to sweep readers off their feet as they read, I found Raffaello to be more creepy than to be someone with whom I would want to disappear into the European countryside with. I kept waiting for a plot twist wherein the entire story line became something sinister and it was with that thought that kept me from completely falling in love with the story though I did find the idea of the parallel plot and romance to be creative and intriguing.

The Sidewalk Artist makes for a quick read and is great if you’re looking for a sweet story to spend a day at the beach with.

The Sidewalk Artist by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk is available for purchase through St. Martin’s Griffin with ISBN 031237805X. It was released on April 1, 2008.

Molly Bags

Back in the tumult of my 20’s, I remember looking at happy couples and thinking, how do those people get like that? How, in this crazy world do you possibly find someone that compliments you so completely that it almost becomes like you exist in your own world with them? It really was something that was so foreign to me. In my 20’s, my relationships were often drama-fueled and with men that I never felt comfortable with. They didn’t get me and largely, I didn’t get them. I actually really hated dating and I went through large spans of time where I just didn’t.

I met Phil 3 years ago on a blind date, and pretty much ever since, we have been together. It was almost like that date was only a formality too as we had been talking continuously for days before we actually met. It was an effortless click.

Digital Camera

Since then, we have become the sort of people I used to people watch in my 20’s. The sort of couples that would move around the world in their own time, in sync with one another. I hadn’t realized that we had in fact become those people over time.

It started out innocently enough. We came up with silly names for one another, and then pretty soon, names for other things. Before we realized it, there was the voice. Do you the voice? If you don’t, I firmly believe you have not found the right person yet. What is the voice? It is quite simply, the voice you use only with your person. It’s probably softer, more high-pitched and your person will usually respond back to you in the same voice. It’s the beginning of the language used only between the two of you.

From there you begin to name other things. Of course, these things already have common names like phone, remote, bag, etc. However, the two of you will begin to rename them and again, these things will only really make sense in the world that you are currently in.

For us, I realized we had reached this point when Phil had come home from his mom’s house. He was so excited, she had given him all of these plastic shopping bags. Now, in our house these are all “Molly Bags.” So, when she had given them to him, he exclaimed something like, “Oh thank god, there are SO MANY Molly bags now,” without so much as a thought as to the fact that his mom would have no idea what a Molly Bag was. I imagine there followed the confused face from his mom along with a “what the heck are you talking about?” Phil then explaining that we call them Molly Bags because we use them to pick up her giant poops when we walk her.

I would put money on the fact, that now, whenever Phil’s mom sees plastic shopping bags, MOLLY BAGS will forever be popping into her head. Phil was a little embarrassed after this exchange, when he came home, he told me “I forgot. I was just so excited that we have so many know! I forgot that not everyone speaks us. My mom probably thinks we’re nuts now.”

I smiled to myself, I think everyone should speak “us.”