Valentine’s Day is upon us again and whether you celebrate it or not, it would be difficult to miss the references pasted everywhere for the last month! No one seems to agree on the true origins or meaning of Valentine’s day, but as with so many popular celebrations nowadays we can all add our own meaning to the day and make it special on a personal level, regardless of your relationship status. For me Valentine’s Day is yet another excuse to curl up with a good book and escape. But what is the perfect Valentine’s Day read?
We’ve enlisted the help of a few of our favourite authors in an effort to find out and throughout the day we’ll be posting their Top 5 romance books (and ours of course!). If you are outraged that any have been missed out, please comment and let us know!
Pauline Wiles, author of the Saffron Sweeting novels.
Sheryl Browne, author of After She’s Gone.
Linn B. Halton, author of A Little Luck, A Lot of Fate.
Eliza Watson, author of The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw series.
In the meantime, we have a very special romantic treat. As lovers of writing, reading and all things bookish, we will take any opportunity to do a little writing of our own. So as a thank you for supporting our site, Nikki and I (Lizzie) have written a Valentine’s story each to begin and end the day.
The Tea Cup by Nikki Ford
It fell through my trembling fingers and smashed dramatically on the floor. I wept.
It had been a tough day and I’d been ready for a strong cup of Assam tea in my favourite teacup – the last thing I had that reminded me of you, but now it was gone. I had been so in need of warming comfort, to be lost in the memories of you. And every time I raised the cup to my mouth, it felt like I was kissing where your lip had touched it before, when you had drank your peppermint tea.
“Peppermint? Are you sure that’s what you want?” I’d asked the first time you’d come over.
“Erm… yeah. Is that not OK?”
I’d snorted, rudely. “A bit feminine, isn’t it?” And you’d laughed and grasped my waist in your large hands, making me feel petite and showed me with your mouth just how manly you were.
The cup was as dainty as your choice of tea – I’d given you it to use as a laugh – white china decorated with sprays of blue flowers, very English in style but with a hint of a Japanese design (you later took me to a Japanese art shop, thinking I had a taste for it, but I more enjoyed watching you gaze enthralled at the pieces – I knew little about design, loving only what made me feel). The cup had a delicate lip but swelled fully at the belly, obscuring your beautiful jaw as you drank. Your jaw was my favourite place to kiss.
Where had it come from? I’m not sure I remember – it gave me the sense of a London flea market – only I’d never been to one. The saucer had long since disappeared during the move to my current flat but the cup, like a bad penny, always turned up. A beautiful anomaly in my cupboard full of heavy ceramic mugs and coffee cups. Like you were to me – surprisingly sensitive where other men had been so clumsy with my feelings. For years you were my strength, you carried me when I fell, you kissed me when I hurt and I drank from you so thirstily.
How many cups of tea (peppermint, Assam, English breakfast, Earl Grey) did you drink from that cup before you left me? You’d chosen Darjeeling to have in it when you told me, running a rough finger along the smooth handle. I’d become too much, too difficult and I didn’t give you the grace you needed in your life. You didn’t mean to: a thoughtless stray caused another belly to swell, leaving me thin and alone – bitter as tea left too long to mash.
And now all those warm kisses lie in pieces on the cold tiles of my kitchen floor.