Yesterday I finished reading The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae by Stephanie Laurens. The finely-wrought romance, set in 1820 England and Scotland, is full of rich descriptions of people, dress, scenery and customs, but I had a hard time relating to any of the characters. In other words, I didn’t fall in love.
Angelica, the female lead, lives in her head even in matters of the heart. Wearing an heirloom necklace which allows her to recognize her true love, she sets out to make the chosen man, Dominic Earl of Glencrae, fall in love with her. Dominic fully intends to marry Angelica. He needs her in order to get back another heirloom, the coronation cup which he must hand over to bankers by a certain date. As far as he’s concerned, love need not come into it.
Angelica agrees to help Dominic but refuses to give him an answer about their marriage. Her plan: to make him fall in love with her before she accepts him. Slowly she leads Dominic through the intricacies of falling in love. She shows him that she can manage a household and a skittering horse and that she’s interested in learning about Scotland, but each of her actions smacks just a little too much of over-thinking for me.
For Angelica, love is a carefully-planned campaign, the purpose of which is to bring Dominic to admit his love for her. For Dominic love equals a loss of control, a potentially life-long insanity. I’m not surprised that it takes the two of them over four hundred pages to fall in love. And even then I was not convinced that Angelica learned to love Dominic apart from the necklace which proclaimed him her hero.
In so many novels I find characters struggling with the fear of falling in love, afraid of losing control over their life. Yet I remember how much I wanted to fall in love as a young girl, the longing to feel the butterflies, the excitement. I fell in love with the idea of love, the sensations of love.
For a while I loved Haggai, then Avi, then Mitchell and Topaz. I remember being head over heels in love with Oron in seventh grade and later with Ze’ev, who I never realized liked me back. A first boyfriend, Tamir, when I was in tenth grade. And in the U.S. there was a red-haired teenager who I mooned over. And Yoni, the first boy I kisses. He was young!
I don’t think I ever resisted love or was afraid that it will disrupt life somehow. Over the years, my one most sincere, innermost and most often expressed wish was to be in love, to love, to be loved back. What is life without love but a desert of sorts? I always wanted to live it up a little. Fall in love. Sing and dance in the pouring rain.
And today, lucky me! I’m in love.