Lots of folks make fairly spur-of-the-moment decisions that lead them to happily ever after.  I know a woman who dated her soldier husband exactly three months before they tied the knot and embarked on 40-plus years of marriage that ended only when her man passed on recently.  

So it's not so unrealistic to read a romance in which the hyper real-time nature of the beast speeds up a trip to the alter to include about a week of courtship, like the one between pretty model Diana Palmer and rodeo star/rancher Lije Masters.  Diana and Lije learn the meaning of a slightly altered version of the old adage, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure," in Janet Dailey's very sweet, home-and-hearth warming "Santa in a Stetson."

Diana Palmer's a successful model on a Southwestern "rodeo" photo shoot when she meets the plain speaking, intensely commanding cowboy who turns her head like no guy she's met.  A survivor who was abandoned as an infant and grew up without parents or family, Lije Masters feels like home and seems like family. So rather than leave after the shoot - and after Lije blows her off because he doesn't want to treat her like a buckle bunny - Diana stays, stakes her claim, and tells Lije she loves him.

For his part, Lije realizes Diana's looking like love,too, as well as a reason to quit the rodeo and head back to make a go of his ranch. But when they marry and Diana becomes depressed by the isolation of his mountain home - and the trials of housewifery - Lije realizes he's more worker than communicator, and he's not doing a great job of working out this "marriage thing."

Once Diana figures out a few things on her own - like how much strength she owns and how much she deserves from life and those around her - she takes charge of her destiny.  But does she get a handle on things too late to save her marriage? And is a life with a man she barely knows really worth the fight?

Do you find the hyper real-time nature of romance timelines a believable necessity? Or does it get in the way of your suspending disbelief?  How do you feel about a heroine who's not strong throughout an entire novel, and who's strength may only be subtly changed by the end?

by Moderator Melanie_Murray on ‎11-11-2009 10:40 AM

Gosh, I love this season. All these holiday books - I wish I had time to read all of them, back-to-back.


I don't mind an accelerated romance, because they do happen in real life (my grandparents dated for six weeks before getting married. Their marriage lasted almost fifty years.) And I think it's really interesting when the "what comes after the happy ending" question is explored.

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎11-11-2009 11:40 AM

Again Michelle, great article. Personally I like all types of heroines except wimps, whiny, bratty etc, unless they learn and change during the novel. I'm a big story gal more than the types of characters that are presented, give a good story by a great storyteller and you've got me.

As far as an accelerated romance, I'm living proof of it, I met my husband in May, moved in with him in June and was married before the end of the year. And even though right at this particular moment he's in the dog house, he'll rise to the occasion somehow and drag his behind back into the house, he's the love of my life, my best friend and confident.


by 1AnneB on ‎11-11-2009 12:45 PM

Hi Michelle - AnneB here - Good topic (as usual). I agree that if the story is good and the characters are well drawn, I like it. Although seeing what happens after is usually really interesting.  I think that is why I really like series books - 'cause I guess I'm just nosy ! I want the WHOLE story, warts and all. Of course, in this wonderful world of books that we live in, the warts are always removed (or celebrated !).



by PrincessBumblebee on ‎11-11-2009 02:25 PM

To me, the timeline seems to be pretty real. I mean, one of my friends married her husband two weeks after they met and seem to be doing wonderful, hehe. Of course, they haven't been married all that long, but they seem totally committed to one another!

As for the heroine, all I can think of is (and please don't smack me for bringing it up for like the billionth time, hehe) is Kresley Cole's Emma from "A Hunger Like No Other". I mean, the poor girl was pretty much afraid of her own shadow when Lachlain "kidnapped" her, hehe. Then, by the end of the book, here she is, basically the same sweet, gentle girl, but having vanquished one of the most evil beings in existence! Loved her journey toward being a stronger woman (and those steamy love scenes. All that biting and marking!). So, there's nothing wrong with it as long as she does grow stronger at the end and learn from her mistakes.


by 1lovealways on ‎11-12-2009 12:08 AM

Hi Everyone!


Janet Dailey is one of my all time favorite authors.  I still have her first Silhouette Romance entitled For The Love of God.  I think that was in the 80's when Silhouette Romance first started.  She always wrote about those strong heroes you couldn't help but fall in love with.  Sounds like another good one from her.  So many Christmas stories, so little time!


I have no problem with the accelerated romance.  I've read lots of them.  As long as they give a satisfactory epilogue, it's great.  I always like to see children in the epi.  It seems to complete the hero & heroine and shows how their lives have progressed.  Sometimes it ties the story up and sometimes it even leaves you hanging with spoilers, which my lead to another book.  I like the idea of another book, but don't like the ending left hanging.


Wimpy and whiney heroines are totally boring, so when they take too long to break out of their slumber, I get disinterested.  Princess, ditto on Emma.  She became so strong and able to assert herself losing none of what made her Emma.  The strength and assertiveness just brought out what was already there.  Of course, Lachlain gets some credit too!  With someone as strong as him, she could have easily been overtaken.  Thank goodness it turned out with her being sweet and sassy brassy!  Oh ... loved the biting and marking too (smiling)!  :smileyhappy:

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎11-12-2009 12:01 PM

Six weeks,Melanie! Holy cow. God. Bless. Them.  What stories they could tell, though I'm guessing they'd talk more about simply loyalty and commitment and the way things were done in those days?  Who knows.  With your background as an editor, maybe you can speak to this more fully. But when I first read romance and started disecting the form, I was fascinated by the accelorated time frames and what appeared to me to be requirements set up so the reader would feel comfortable with a commitment being made in a short amount of time.  H/hn knew ea other years before; had earlier relationship; had strong connection through family, friends, former spouse.  I learned later that romance readers also simply accept the time frames because we understand it's a novel,not a saga, and momentum needs to be acheived. Anywy, I could write all day about the topic, I'm so into it.


This book is so sweet in the way Diana realizes her feelings, but, especially if one is married or in a commited, live-in relationship, you can i.d. w/the emotions she goes through.  Dailey is really wise, and she's got a really accessible way of communicating w/readers.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎11-12-2009 12:05 PM

Deb, since you wrote Wed and it's Thrs, I'm wondering  whether he's in or out?   wild story.  And I've seen you speak w/great respect about your husband.  You might id a lot w/ Diana and Lije and their experiences.  I think we really can recognize strong attraction adn potential commitment very soon after we've met someone. But we still are gonna fall prey to the same stuff all couples do when they forge a life together, no?  It's interesting, this book's in Diana's pov only, so we see Lije through her eyes.  While hn-only pov isn't my fave -- love me those mens -- I did enjoy how this let me watch diana's growth.  Her story reveals her vulnerability, and it's cool to see how she realizes why she was/is attracted to Lije, and how that affects her decisions.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎11-12-2009 12:16 PM

principessa, we could listen to you talk about KC all year! And you're right, she's inspiring because she's like a lot of us who need to come out of our shells. And we don't always grow to the extent of Emma, but sometimes just learning to ask for what we want in a relationship is huge growth. Maybe that's not so hard for women these days, but it definitely was something I had to learn and lots of chicks my age struggle with,even though we came through the big Women's 'find your voice' movement. We found our voices, but guys didn't necessarily understand the language we were speaking; they hadn't heard it before. Talk about lost in translation.  You know, sometimes when couples meet and take ages to marry, it can mean one of them doesn't think it's the right thing to do. My husband's theory about long engagements is that the guy doesn't want to tie the knot, or the woman's more interested in planning the wedding than the actual commitment. For what it's worth.


I just read a good non-fict book called "How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy," which talks about women who knew they were making mistakes and why they ignored their instincts. It's pretty amazing how their reasons fall into pretty basic categories.  The book is really positive and I think pretty useful.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎11-12-2009 12:26 PM

Ah,thanks for the biting/marking reminder, 1la!  sigh. we should make a point to bring that up at least bi-weekly just for the heck of it.    have you read Dailey's series w/the Calders? They look really good. I keep meaning to pick them up.  And you remind me -- another one, thanks -- that I'd love to do a post about epilogues. I'm a HUGE fan of them, too, as well as the pregnant heroine.  Now, pregnancy's not a total treat, least to me, but as part of the HEA, especially in an historical, I'm such a goofball for the happiness involved in the heroine's being w/child at novel's end.  I totally idealize the sitch, of course.  But like you, if there are kids in the epilogue, I love reading about it, wondering whether their stories'll be told someday.  And sometimes, the h/hn have, like, a passel of six or 8 bratlings, and the hero's still chasing her around the settee like before they were married.


Like Melanie says, it's fun to know what happens 'the day after happily ever after,' as someone once called it, whether in the epilogue, or a book like this Dailey.

by 1lovealways on ‎11-13-2009 02:13 AM



I have read some of the Calders, but not all of them.  I lost track, but I did enjoy the ones that I read.  Yes, I love the pregnant heroine too.  Several with that theme are on my Keeper Shelf.  The Silken Web, Words of Silk and A Treasure Worth Seeking are 3 favs by Sandra Brown writing as Laura Jordan, Erin St. Claire and Rachel Ryan.  Also love Gambler's Love by Amii Lorin and Strange Enchantment by Annette Broderick. All are contemporaries.  :smileyhappy: