If you’re curious about my new newsletter The Bookworm Is In, here’s last month’s edition about handfasting and romance.
The Bookworm Is In (Love)
Hello! Welcome to the second ever Bookworm newsletter, where we… well I talk books, magic, and media. This edition is a pure cop out to the month of February: love and romance. I’m going to talk handfasting and get book-heavy with a heat-level separated list of some romances I love.
I would love any and all feedback so feel free to reply to this email or contact me at my preferred internet lurking places down at the bottom.
(or Getting Married in the Woods Without All the Paperwork)
Handfasting originally came from the British Isles as a sort of common-law marriage for peasants who didn’t have enough wealth to need all the legal wrangling of an “official” marriage, according to Handfasting and Wedding Rituals by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein. The ritual fell out of favor due to the prevalence of church weddings but was revived in the 1950s after England’s anti-witchcraft laws were repealed and the “occultists came out of the broom closet.” Pagans and Wiccans, especially Gardnerians, (a Wiccan sect founded by Gerald Gardner) reclaimed the term, though it didn’t always equal a romantic partnership. Hardcore Gardnerians were supposed to handfast with their magical partner of the opposite sex (regardless of sexual preference) for “this life and all future lives to come.”
These days, handfasting is pretty much equivalent to a pagan wedding, with the amount of pagan ritual and legal binding up to the couple. The basic element of a handfasting is binding the couple’s hands together, usually in figure eight pattern with symbolically colored ribbons. The great thing about handfastings is they are much more flexible than an actual wedding. They’re not bound by legal restrictions on bigamy or same-sex couplings. Of course, this means they don’t give you any of the legal protections of an actual marriage but they can be used as a commitment ceremony to affirm your love in the eyes of your community just as well.
Handfasting and Wedding Rituals has sample vows and rituals for ceremonies bringing together polyamorous groups, couples of different religions, or couples not wanting to alienate their non-pagan friends/family. I would suggest the book for anyone considering a handfasting or adding handfasting elements to your wedding. That’s why I bought it and though we haven’t had our ceremony yet, this book has been really helpful for narrowing down what we want when we do.
(Oh you know, books and stuff)
Here a few of my favorite romances, divided by sexiness level, so you know what you’re getting into.
(Little to no sex)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion– Funny and charming, this novel follows a male narrator (rare in straight romance) who’s probably on the autism spectrum but doesn’t know it and his quest for the “perfect wife.” And of course, the imperfect woman who fall in his lap.
Crosstalk by Connie Willis– A sci-fi near future opposites attract romance about the future of communication, and how it can both isolate us and bring us together. It’s a long book but a quick and engrossing read.
Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole– An uplifting historical romance novella set during the Civil Rights Movement featuring a black woman who’s trying to find her place in the Movement and a white Jewish boxer who’s loved her since they were kids. Really, everything I’ve read by Alyssa Cole is great, though.
(Definite sex, but not super erotic)
The Edge Series by Ilona Andrews– A series of pretty much standalone urban fantasy romances set in a swampy pocket universe in the rural South where there’s magic but you still have to cross over to our world to go shop at Walmart. Badass heroes and heroines abound.
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer– Grumpy cook/columnist meets a mafia hitman sent to protect her and beans him with a frying pan in a case of mistaken identity. Add in a Southern mob wedding, a mystery, the hilarious insanity of a good Crusie/Mayer book and… hold that thought, I’m going to go order that book from the library.
Riveted by Meljean Brook– Though it’s technically the third book in the Iron Seas Trilogy, this steampunk romance adventure can stand alone. It’s my favorite in the series and explores mechanical replacement limbs, homophobia, and a secret women-only town in Iceland.
(Not Safe For Work. Sexy times ahoy!)
Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai– Say you have a hot artist neighbor who never keeps his curtains drawn. Say you’re lonely and he’s not exactly shy. You know where this is going, every voyeur does. Now say he’s watching you right back.
Telling Tales by Charlotte Stein– I am a little bit in love with the way Charlotte Stein writes. It’s beautiful yet blunt. This erotic tale about four old college buddies who have to spend a month living together in their dead professor’s house for a vaguely believable reason is no exception. This is probably got the highest sexy times per page ratio of anything on this list.
Hot Head by Damon Suede– Two male best friends and New York Firefighters, one of whom has been nursing his unrequited love for the other since the Twin Towers came down. It’s angsty and sexy and damn hard to put down.
Smart Podcast Trashy Books– Speaking of the Smart Bitches, here’s Wendell’s awesome podcast where she interviews romance writers, readers, and reviewers as well as recommends books and media. Not at all safe for work.
Authorized: Love and Romance– Hosted by Faith Salie, this season of the Audible podcast (available on Itunes) talks about the sex, love, and romance in literature. It’s lots of fun even though Salie sometimes talks over the guests.
(movies and things found around the internet)
Post Secret– This isn’t a new blog, but it’s always worth mentioning. Post Secret started as an art project where people mailed their secrets to founder Frank Warren and he’d publish them. Now it’s turned into a show, a TED talk, an exhibit and the Smithsonian and a series of books. But I still love seeing a new selection of secrets show up on my WordPress every Sunday.
Bawdy Bookworms– Take a quarterly book, base it around a romance book and add sex toys and tips and you get the brainchild of founder Thien-Kim Lam. It’s like a toy party and a book club in a box. I haven’t tried it, but it just looks like so much fun that I may have to.