“I have fallen in love with you,” begins a letter 68-year-old Eshel Travis wrote to Marie. “Let me diagnose my condition.”
Mr. Travis goes on to explain that he used to watch four or five movies a day. During his 46 years of marriage, including several years or retirement, his wife, Pam, has unsuccessfully attempted to encourage him to read a book. “Any book,” as he says. Prior to falling in love (with Marie), it had been more than 30 years since he read a book. When he did read, as a teen, however, he recalled he didn’t want to stop.
In December of last year it all changed. Mr. Travis opened up the e-book application on his computer for the first time.
“I picked your book, Maid for Love, out of all the ‘free’ books out there, and my life changed…I fell in love with your writing and the characters in the book, and I could hardly put the book down.”
Mr. Travis worked for the majority of his life as a construction inspector, examining things like roads, bridges, highways and sewer mains before retiring. He also owned and operated two locksmith shops. So what would some of those brawny co-workers say if they know of Mr. Travis’s book choices today?
“They’d probably just laugh. They’d think it was hilarious.” But clearly he doesn’t care. He just keeps devouring the books.
Mr. Travis is so pleased with the books and the way Marie brings you into the lives of the characters that he’s shared them with his daughter and daughter-in-law, forewarning them that there were some steamy scenes. He said they were just fine with that caveat.
“She’s got a real talent and a brain that astounds me,” Mr. Travis says of Marie.
Mr. Travis speaks of his wife’s reaction to his new habit—which has, by the way, resulted in his giving up his movie channels—in the conclusion of his letter to Marie.
“You, young lady, have made a major impact on my life, and I love it…my wife loves it because the home is now quiet almost all day long! She works from home on her computer and loves the silence…so you have made a fantastic blessing for us both.”
Seeing the World Through Marie’s Words: David Minton
Normally it wouldn’t be odd to hear someone say that by reading Marie’s books, “I could see everything so clearly [it] made me feel like I was living the lives in the book.” However, for 38-year-old David Minton, the statement is very telling.
Mr. Minton is blind.
A 1998 accident cost Mr. Minton his sight. Prior to the accident, he had been fascinated with reading. Since he was a child he liked to read a variety of books, including romance, horror, mystery and suspense. When he became blind, he was able to find books that used various technologies such as a digital talking book player from the National Library Services for the Blind, the iPhone and iPad mini, audio books and digital downloads to allow him to read them. A co-worker at his place of employment, where Mr. Minton is a customer service representative, told him about Marie’s books. He started with Maid for Love. That’s when he noticed he could see what she was writing about.
“The writing is described in a way to help me visualize the surroundings, and I get so involved that I can almost smell the breeze off the water’s edge.”
Mr. Minton says he likes Marie’s books because “They are so down to earth. Mrs. Force’s writings are things that could really happen in this lifetime, not in a fantasy.”
"My friends think it's cool that I would rather pick up a romantic book than any other book,” he says. “A man needs to put the macho side down and show his soft side.”
He advises other men interested in reading these books not to be afraid, to open their heart and see how love can really be.
“Hats off to Marie Force,” he says. “The men in her books are superb. I hope [Marie] never retires from writing.”
A Sentimental Reader: Ray Schulte
“My wife [Katherine] laughs at me while I read romance novels,” says Ray Schulte. “She thinks it’s funny when I start crying from happiness. Just yesterday, I was reading Chance for Love and my eyes were watering and she asked me if I was reading Marie’s new book. She knew because I am a sentimental guy and I will laugh and cry while reading, especially Marie’s books.”
The world of words was essentially lost to Mr. Schulte until last year when he turned 59 . He rarely read prior to that and when he did (mostly for work), he didn’t enjoy it because he would skip lines after finishing sentences. This necessitated him having to read things twice, a cumbersome and frustrating endeavor.
Then Mr. Schulte got a tablet and downloaded the Kindle app, allowing him to adjust the font size of books. Voila! His reading problem was gone. And in the past 18 months he’s read about 150 books, including all of Marie’s.
“There is just something about Marie’s writing that gets me into the story from the first page. It’s hard to explain, it’s almost like a dream and seeing and watching the story in person. The whole world stops around me while I am reading her stories. No other writer has the ability to get me that deep into the story. I really love reading about all the family and friends from past books that show up in the new books.”
Transitioning from Westerns to Romance: Dale Brooks
Eighty-year-old retired machinist Dale Brooks needs to keep warm during the cold Wisconsin winter, which he says tongue-in-cheek is not a problem when reading Marie’s books.
Mr. Brooks says he’s read every book of Marie’s he can get a hold of.
“They are all good. They have good stories to them. That’s mostly what I look for—entertainment and a little steam here and there.”
Mr. Brooks has been married to wife, Dianna, for 32 years. He used to read lots of westerns, including those of Louis L’Amour. Later he would branch out to other authors of westerns, some who added romantic stories to the mix.
And then—he can’t even recall how it happened—he found Marie’s books and was hooked.
What would the more manly men say of his book selection?
“I really don’t worry about what they say. I’m not that macho. I’m 80. I got over that.”
A Writer Learns: Greg Davis
Greg Davis wants to move to Gansett Island. Sure, he knows it’s a fictional island inspired by Block Island, Rhode Island, Marie’s home state. But the way she describes the scenes and the characters is just so darned REAL.
“I told her in an email that she breathes so much life into her characters I wondered if they spoke to her, saying, ‘Thanks, Marie. We’ll take it from here. Just try to keep up.’,” Mr. Davis says.
Mr. Davis knows a bit about writing. He’s been a technical writer for more than 25 years, specializing in end user computer user documentation. While that may not be fertile training ground for contemporary romance, he’s also an aspiring writer working on stories in a number of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, and science fiction romance. Mr. Davis is an avid reader, as well. He has nearly 400 books on his Nook and previously had six copier paper boxes full of paperbacks. He’s a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance and he loves books with high page counts (more than 500 pages will do). He says he’s a fast reader and anything less than 500 pages leaves him feeling cheated.
Mr. Davis first learned of Marie’s books when he received an email notification from Bookbub.com, a site that sends readers notifications of free and discounted ebooks that match their interests. He received a bundle of the first three McCarthys of Gansett Island books: Maid for Love, Fool for Love and Ready for Love.
“…After Book 1, I was hooked,” he recalls. “I am now reading Book 9.”
“Even though the books are a high page count, the pacing of the story and the plot itself breezed along. I didn’t want the books to end and couldn’t wait to start on the next one.”
Mr. Davis has written to Marie on several occasions to tell her how he’s been wowed, yet again, by her writing.
“There were a couple of times specific scenes in the books caught me by surprise and evoked a strong emotional response,” he says. “I have never had that before while reading ANY book. It surprised and shocked me. I wasn’t embarrassed as a guy that it happened, just awed and dumbstruck at the mastery to pull that off. "
Marie’s writing, he says, has made him aspire to higher levels of mastery in his own.
He has also told Marie he can envision the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series becoming a movie, a TV miniseries or a television series, although he worries they wouldn’t meet the high standards Marie has set and reached in her books.
Asked if his friends or family are surprised about his reading contemporary romance, Mr. Davis simply says, “They don’t seem to mind. My wife is surprised at how much I am reading lately.”
Cheryl L. Serra is director of public relations for Marie Force.