Romantic Reads that Will Melt Your Heart

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Even at my most bitter and cynical, I have never been able to resist a good love story. I guess I’ve just always had the ability to look at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Romance novels indulge this part of my personality or at the very least provide me a means of escape when my outlook is looking a little less rosy.

Variety is key to keeping things spicy in a relationship; I feel the same way about the books I read. The occasional bodice-ripper has found its way into my collection once or twice, but these I kind of regard as one-night stands of fiction because they’re short and satisfying, and you’ll probably never read it again.

Other books featuring romances are more like long-term relationships: as you learn more about the characters your affection for them grows, and the more you become invested in their relationship.

For example, in his novel One Day, author David Nicholls chronicles through the history of two best friends whose timing never just seems to be quite right. The more we see their lives take shape over the years, the more we want them to be together. Oh yes, we do.

Other relationship stories feature protagonists that are slightly quirkier and less likely to be so intrinsically linked, like The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (whose lovable characters have spawned a sequel). In both cases, the reader falls in love with the people more than the actual love story itself, and it’s because of our concern for their well-being that we want things to work out so badly for them. If they’re lucky and things do work out, it feels like emotional catharsis for us.

If things don’t work out, it’s a different kind of emotional catharsis. For example, Claire Calman’s Love is a Four Letter Word had me sobbing by the end, as did The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie.)

None of these books, however, moved me as deeply as The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It has got to be one of the most beautiful and devastating books that I have ever read. Every so often I found myself having to pause and look up from the page so I could soak it all in. What is it about forbidden love stories that makes them so enticing?!

It’s not hard to be enticed by romance novels, really- the desire to love and be loved is universal. All the heartache, the longing, the disappointment, the hope- we’ve all felt that way at one point or another in our lives.

No wonder Harlequin makes so much money.

Honorable Mentions

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is proof that love can exist after age 65.

This husband has a strange way of loving his wife in So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, but their relationship is still oddly touching.

If you’re looking for the kind of angsty, teenybopper romance that keeps you on your toes (will they? won’t they?) then you’ll love The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. There’s enough butt-kicking and smooching to keep you hooked through all six novels, and if that wasn’t enough for you, The Infernal Devices trilogy can be read as a prequel or as a stand-alone series (although trust me, you’ll want to read them all together).

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I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) Don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads either! Btw: These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company.

Baking with B: Rocky Road Sour Cream Brownies

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I confess I used to be one of those people that scoffed at the idea Valentine’s Day. Like those other haters, I believed it was too commercialized, and I resented feeling excluded all of those years I was single on February 14.

As I’ve gotten older and found it more difficult to keep up with all of my personal relationships, I’m starting to realize those greeting card companies might be onto something. There just aren’t a lot of opportunities for romance amidst today’s hustle and bustle unless you make the time for it. Sure, ideally you’d like to show your partner your appreciation every day, but now I think there’s something to be said for putting aside a day once a year for doing something special.

That’s why I’m starting to think Valentine’s Day is really for those in long-term relationships- those relationships that are filled with chores and kids and bills and all those other wonderful things life throws your way as an adult. Those couples need a day like this. They need a way to make things extra-special.

Kind of like these brownies. My chocolate brownies are kind of a staple in my household, and yet when do I ever get the opportunity to jazz them up a little? Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect excuse to bake this ooey-gooey, junked-up version. The result? A brownie that’s perfect for your favorite chocoholic, or for anyone that you want to feel special.

Rocky Road Sour Cream Brownies (makes 25)

Brownie Base:

1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. flour

1/3 c. cocoa

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c. sour cream

Rocky Road Topping:

1/2 c. milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. mini marshmallows

1/2 c. slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time until frothy, then use a spoon to add sour cream and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until fully combined. Bake in a greased 8-inch pan for approximately 35 minutes.

Remove brownies from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips, marshmallows and almonds (in that order) over top, taking care to distribute evenly. Return to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until marshmallows get puffy and golden. Let the brownies cool at least 10-15 minutes before cutting.

B’s Tip: The sour cream brownie base makes these treats really soft at first, so it’s based to wait until brownies are just about cool for the cleanest, neatest cuts. But who am I kidding? Chocolate is chocolate, and these taste good pretty much any which way.

Happy baking!

B

KBwB-Flower-50Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Baking with B: Chocolate Brownies

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers!

Hey. I love you guys all so much. Thank you for supporting my blog. I’m rewarding you today because it’s a) Valentine’s Day (duh); and b) because it’s coincidentally Friday, which means that this is kind of like the solar eclipse of holidays.

Chocolate Brownies (yields 12)

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1/3 c. butter

1 c. sugar

3/4 c. flour

2 eggs

pinch of salt

In a small saucepan add together cocoa and butter. Begin to melt butter at a low temperature, stirring every so often to combine the melting butter with the cocoa powder. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl add eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Don’t mix yet! When the butter and cocoa is melted, pour over ingredients into mixing bowl. Stir just enough to combine everything without any lumps, then pour batter into a 9×9-inch into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan before cutting into squares.

B’s Tip: I know it’s tempting, but wait until the brownies are completely cool before cutting them! If they’re too hot, the batter will have not set and you’ll end up with a gooey mess that will be delicious, but it won’t be a brownie.

This brownie has a cake-like texture and a chocolatey flavour that isn’t too overhwelming, so it’s perfect for add-ins. You may want to try adding some nuts to the batter, or just smearing with your favourite frosting. Delicious!

Happy baking!

B

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Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Chocolate not your thing? No worries. I’ve got a butterscotch version here. Follow a vegan diet? I’ve got you covered too.