Hot Summer News ~ Fifty Shades and More…

Movie Poster for Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the erotic romance novel by author E.L.James

This week’s “big reveal” of the movie trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey has set social media on fire (and caused more than a few incidents of spontaneous combustion among FSOG fans worldwide)!  This inspired me to write a few posts for the weekend about current and coming attractions for Passionate Readers – those who have read Fifty Shades of Grey and are waiting for (or haven’t yet discovered) their next “big thing”.

The Inspiration (Official FSOG Worldwide Trailer from Universal Pictures)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfZWFDs0LxA

The Suggestion ~

Of course, between now and February 15, 2015, hundreds of thousands of women around the world will re-read the FSOG trilogy – probably more than once. I know that’s MY plan. But in the meantime, while you wait for Mr. Grey to hit the big screen, I suggest you check out the one and only Ayden Stone, the playboy-turned-prince-charming, devastatingly handsome and seductive hero in The Story of Us trilogy by Sydney Jamesson.

Photo depiction of Christian Grey, portrayed by actor Jamie Dornan; and Ayden Stone, portrayed by Henry Cavill

Turn your Grey day into a “Play” day!

If you love to play with Mr. Grey – you’ll love Mr. Stone in

TouchStone for play, by indie author Sydney Jamesson

If you like your “play” sensually ‘masterful’ with a Touch of Grey…

Try TouchStone TODAY with One-Click (just click on the cover)!

Print version from Amazon.com

Kindle/Kindle app version from Amazon.com

Tomorrow – Check Curl Up and Read for “Coming Attractions” (pun intended)  

Our American Book Boyfriends

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the women who love them!

Why TouchStone? Revisiting the Original Question

 

Introduction…

Several months ago, I interviewed Sydney Jamesson; it was shortly after TouchStone for giving was published, and I was curious about her inspiration for using a variation on the term “touchstone” in her trilogy. Let’s face it: it’s not a word we use every day – so it intrigued me, knowing that everything Sydney does is meaningful.

Today, I’m going back to that interview for “new” and future readers; and next week I am going to expand on it again – now that the trilogy has come full circle.  I’ve discovered so much more, looking into the nuances that weave this compelling love story together – that I want to delve even further into what makes The Story of Us – and the “TouchStone” brand – so very unique. So off we go…

Photo image capturing concepts from The Story of Us trilogy by indie author Sydney Jamesson

Touchstone (noun): a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated.

Photo of review quotes from The Story of Us trilogy by author Sydney Jamesson

Everyone knows that I love this trilogy. It defies categorization. It is not a formulaic romance novel. Although there are stunningly erotic scenes, to classify it as erotica clearly misses the mark. In my opinion, The Story of Us is a beautiful work of women’s fiction, a genuine love story that captures the full range of human emotion: loneliness and longing; attraction; excitement; gentle humor; gut-wrenching heartache; heart-stopping suspense; elements of magic and the miraculousand intensely passionate, intimately and beautifully portrayed sensual encounters that leave the reader longing for more.

Foreshadowed in the preface, the trilogy weaves a captivating tale of two lovers, each hiding from their past, yet searching for something lost. Wishes are made, granted, then ripped away. Trust is innocently granted and then brutally violated. There is a handsome, seemingly invincible hero and a beautiful, determined heroine. Inevitably there are also villains and co-conspirators who are determined to separate if not destroy them. Despite it all, as the story unfolds the reader is slowly, steadily convinced that Ayden Stone and Beth Parker are inextricably bound by a force that can only be described as destiny; this aspect of the story comes together with the equivalent of “the big bang” (in the sense of worlds colliding) as the trilogy builds to an epic ending in TouchStone for ever.

Why does that theme feel so exciting, so comforting, so familiar; and what makes it resonate so deeply with female readers? It’s simple: The Story of Us is a 21st-century fairy tale, evocative of the stories that captivated us as children, re-invented for those of us who still want to believe that true love conquers all. Unfortunately, each of the first two books ends with a cliff-hanger that makes us wonder if it will ever be possible for them to truly find their “happily-ever-after” ending. The third is a literal struggle of life and death, every step of the way – truly legendary, as you can see from the series of articles published here last week.

So, in this re-visit of the TouchStone concept, let’s look back on other aspects of the trilogy that make it stand out from the rest of its genre (in fact, make it stand out across several genres!), creating a compelling and unforgettably immersive experience for its fans; and a must-read for future readers.

So Why TouchStone?

Even though the term “touchstone” is defined in the very beginning of Book 1 (TouchStone for play), I initially found the concept difficult to grasp, both in terms of how the storyline relates to that definition, and how the concept carries over from book to book. Thinking that others may have the same questions, I asked author Sydney Jamesson to describe in her own words what inspired her to frame The Story of Us in that context, and how each book in the trilogy then builds on and ultimately exemplifies the premise. Here is her response.

“As defined, a touchstone is a reference point against which other things can be evaluated. In other words, Ayden Stone, by definition, is the best.”

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“As you read TouchStone for play, you can not only touch Ayden Stone but come to the conclusion that he is superior to other men out there in every way: looks, drive, intelligence, business acumen, sexuality, etc. As the story is told in first person present tense, the reader comes to that conclusion the same time that Beth does. That’s what makes the cliffhanger ending so upsetting. Beth and the reader know what they have lost and the magnitude of her/their mistake.”

Quote-Ive Walked Away-2.4.14

“Likewise, TouchStone becomes the ‘brand’ ~ implying impeccable quality and emphasizing Ayden’s last name, with a capital ‘S’ in the title so it stays with each book.”

“That leads to the add-on for each book. ‘For play’ is naturally a play on the word foreplay…however, it characterizes the content of the book. Initially it’s all about having fun ~ he is a ‘player’ after all; but also he is, once again, the touchstone ‘for play’ ~ the best lover!

A spell broken quote

Accordingly, ‘for giving‘ links with the content of the second book. Ayden remains static, again representing the touchstone and throughout the book he gives her everything… his wealth, his hand in marriage and his secrets.”

HeartFullOfLoveQuote

“The final book, TouchStone for ever, seems self-explanatory, but has much bigger implications that require much more than this one article to review – so take a look back at last week’s posts and see…

Quote-What is right to be done

One of the things I most enjoy about the trilogy is that each cover is designed to reveal clues to pivotal points – often crucial turning points – in the story. Discovering those clues makes reading the book all the more meaningful. Now, understanding the relationship of these critical moments to the overall TouchStone theme makes this trilogy uniquely memorable, well worth reading over and over again.

 

A collage featuring images of Henry Cavill as Ayden Stone and Mischa Barton as Beth Parker in The Story of Us trilogy by Sydney Jamesson

TouchStone for ever, by Sydney Jamesson: What Would You Give to Save the One You Love?

Photo depiction of the cover of TouchStone for ever by Sydney Jamesson, overlaid with quotes from reviewers

“Classic fairy tales do not deny the existence of heartache and sorrow, but they do deny universal defeat.”

~ Greenhaven ~

Photo and quote from TouchStone for ever, book 3 of The Story of Us trilogy by Sydney Jamesson

In my teaser post for this exploration of TouchStone for ever, I asked, “Where do I begin?” That wasn’t a rhetorical question! The biggest challenge was to avoid saying too much and giving too much away. As new readers – and “re-readers” – embark upon their adventure with Beth, they need to be able to experience the enjoyment of gathering and piecing together clues, cleverly laid out like stepping stones, leading to the unforgettable conclusion. That’s the joy that comes from being a discerning and observant reader.

TouchStone for ever is too beautiful a story – too powerful an experience – to spoil it for future readers, because so much of its power comes from the element of the unexpected and the breath-taking, heart-stopping anticipation that builds to its epic, explosive finale.  At the end, readers are left with questions – questions they must answer for themselves. That was the author’s intention.  I don’t know the answers. I’m still finding new questions – and therein lies the power of TouchStone for ever.

This series of posts isn’t intended to give you any answers. It is intended to demonstrate the extraordinary power and originality of The Story of Us; to convince new readers that this is a journey well worth taking; to help past, present and future readers follow the proverbial breadcrumb trail through the entire trilogy. And, hopefully, it will help you truly experience The Story of Us as it was conceived and so beautifully developed by its author.

So…where do we begin? With TouchStone, the fairy tale.

Every fairy tale describes a journey.  Why? Because life is a journey, and the lessons we learn along the way equip us to deal with the universal truths of human existence: the shared knowledge and experience of good, evil, love, hate, fear, joy, sorrow, anger, success, defeat ~ and often the most frightening of all, our own mortality.

What is worth living for? What is worth dying for? These are universal questions that define who we are as individuals, even as distinct cultures within civilizations – past and present. They are questions we must all ask ourselves at one time or another, questions that drive the most important choices we make in our earthly lifetime.

Another universal question is “what do we believe?”  For instance, do we believe in an afterlife? Do we believe in destiny, fate, divine intervention? Or is all of life based on luck alone, the “cards we are dealt”, leaving us powerless to change our hand?  Fairy tales do not attempt to tell us that. Cultures do, religions do, even some governments do. Fairy tales pose the questions; we decide what we believe as we journey through life, and those beliefs inevitably change over time, based on the soul-searching that accompanies our sentinel life experiences.

So how does all this relate to the tale of Beth Parker and Ayden Stone? The Story of Us tells the tale of an ultimate journey that concludes with the answer to the first two questions, from the point of view of its heroine, Beth Parker Stone; and it challenges us to question our own beliefs along the way. It isn’t a solitary journey; that’s why the trilogy is called The Story of Us.  In TouchStone for play, the concept of destiny – of a love written in the stars – is introduced. In TouchStone for giving we learn that the story of Ayden and Beth is not one of a whirlwind romance, from a casual meeting to a fairy tale wedding in a matter of weeks. Rather, it is a shared journey – over 22 years – of two people who never gave up, even as their paths diverged; a journey that culminates in both characters finding what was lost, and fulfilling promises made in the innocence of childhood.

Fairy Tale Wedding

“Frannie. We did it, baby.”

“It only took me 22 years. But I found you.”

“I made you a promise and I kept that promise today.”

“…I have always loved you and the promise of you, Ayden.”

The Quest for a Happy-Ever-After…

The prologue of TouchStone for ever paints a vivid description of the epic battle to come – but also assures us of its conclusion:

“Ayden and I wear our scars like medals of honour; matching memories of a time when we did what had to be done and lived to tell the tale; each new chapter bringing us closer to the point when our love transcends even the powers of the universe. He is and always will be my saviour and my soul mate. Our bond cannot and will not be broken.”

“I cannot outrun it, defeat it or deny my destinySelf-sacrifice is my only weapon; I must wield it with care, for every deadly blow to the heart strikes deep, deeper than an ocean, wider than the sky. Only my knight in shining armour can save me…or, perhaps, we will have to save each other once again.”

TouchStone for ever begins where the cliff-hanger ending of TouchStone for giving left us: hoping against hope that these two destined lovers, now husband and wife, will find their happy-ever-after. The story details the tragic aftermath of their most recent life-or-death battle – one in which Ayden is prepared to sacrifice his life to save Beth. Both bear physical and emotional scars from their brutal experience at the hands of villain Dan Rizler. Lives have been lost, and with them, each character has been transformed yet again.

As the story unfolds, new enemies emerge: a vengeful former friend and lover, Elise Richards, and another character – darker still – who literally holds their fate in his hands. Delivering an unthinkable ultimatum – one that defines Beth’s agonizing journey forward – he forces her to betray all that she holds sacred for a higher purpose: to save their shared destiny from what on the surface appears to be certain defeat.

Galvanized by three words spoken by her beloved husband, “Be bold, baby,” Beth has no choice but to accept the ultimatum, holding fast to her belief that they will experience the happy-ever-after they dreamed of. While keeping her memory of their life together fully alive in her heart, soul, mind, and spirit, she plots an elaborate deception to “act the part” she has been forced to play.  Ultimately, when the true intent of her enemy is made clear, Beth makes the ultimate choice: to bend destiny to her will through an unthinkable act of self-sacrifice.

And where is Ayden while this new struggle unfolds? You’ll have to read the story to find out. But you also will have to believe that the power of their love for each other is so strong that each one fights, in his or her own way to save it; to hold fast to their cosmic connection – literally moving heaven and earth, transcending time and space to do so.

The Reason to Believe in the “Impossible”…

What reads as a soulful, other-worldly, unforgettably passionate love scene in TouchStone for giving foreshadows events in TouchStone for everscenes that give readers reason to believe that a happy-ever-after is within their grasp.

“I close my eyes and I see only blinding light. Our cosmic union transcends the expected and falls into the realms of the fantastical. Our fateful love manifests itself as a supernova. I open my eyes as our bodies approach detonation. When I look into Ayden’s eyes, I see a universe streaked with coloured light. I see eternity.

Photo of a nude couple in an embrace, representing the cosmic union of Ayden Stone and Beth Parker in The Story of Us trilogy by Sydney Jamesson

“Do you feel it Beth?” he gasps, close to oblivion.

“Yes, yes. I feel it Ayden.”

“I think we experienced something spiritual Beth … It was like we really found each other finally.”

~ TouchStone for giving, Chapter 22 ~

In TouchStone for ever, the forces against them are more powerful than anything a mere mortal – no matter how desperate or cruel – can impose. Only a love more powerful than those forces, with the bravest and boldest of heroines – and the power of the hero’s steadfast determination to hold on – can overcome it.  When all hope seems lost, readers are given reason to believe that this fated love can truly conquer all – revealed, once again, in Ayden’s eyes.

“Beth … Beth …” Hearing my name whispered so softly I open my eyes. What I see causes my insides to clinch and tighten. Gone are the grey tints of the universe I have come to expect; instead I’m looking up and into a midnight sky sprinkled with flecks of starlight.“Ayden,” I whisper, letting go, not wanting to look away. “Stay with me.”

“I feel my heart sinking but turn to face him, remembering to scatter my thoughts into a thousand pieces. Only one remains…Ayden is alive.

The “Loose Ends” fall into place…

As expected in any story’s conclusion, missing pieces of the puzzle come together in TouchStone for ever, bringing the reader full circle in The Story of Us. Looking back, it’s apparent that the only certainty in the trilogy is that of the cosmic, pre-destined, perfect love that Ayden and Beth share – a love that began in an age of innocence and goes on to survive the unthinkable. In many other respects, things are never “black and white.”

For those of you who usually favour the “black and white” in your romantic story lines, and especially in your “happy ever afters,” you will be asked to embrace every colour in the spectrum as it unfolds in this unforgettable story. The boundaries between reality and fantasy intersect at every level, in every book. Every character – with the exception of Dan – has an impact well beyond what the reader expects, especially Alenka and Elise.  Both of these desperate women are – ultimately, tragically – pawns in this supernatural struggle of life and death; both are, for reasons we come to realize in TouchStone for ever,  vulnerable to the influence of evil; and both become instruments of dark intent wielded by none other than Death himself.

This is why I say – again – that The Story of Us is no ordinary love story with a typical formula and the stereotypical characters so common in the contemporary romance genre. Sydney Jamesson has taken fictional archetypes to a new level – a level that has defined the TouchStone series as more than a set of books – it has achieved the status of a Brand, as they say,“often imitated, but never duplicated.” Only an independent author destined for greatness could achieve this distinction.

The Synopsis Tells the Story…

“Ayden Stone and Elizabeth Parker are soul mates. They have played at love, succumbed to the magnetic pull of destiny, and forgiven themselves and each other for misadventures in life and love. Now they must look to the future and forever, bearing the scars of battles they have fought and won, together.  To keep a promise, one of these fateful lovers must make an agonizing choice and commit to an impossible task; to embark upon an adventure filled with magical moments and unforgettable acts of personal sacrifice. But…with great self-sacrifice comes betrayal. TouchStone for ever is the culmination of an epic love story written in the stars, involving a contemporary Princess and her charming Prince…”

“…Sleeping Beauty has awakened from a great sleep but, sadly, not all fairy tales have a happy ending…not even when you belong together for ever, and you’re prepared to give… Everything!

And in conclusion…

How could readers expect anything from TouchStone for ever except a journey like no other?  It would have been an injustice to TouchStone fans to deliver a predictable, traditional happy-ever-after with a few little twists and turns along the way. Why deliver the expected when you can achieve the extraordinary by challenging readers to think beyond traditional genre classifications and experience the  journey of a lifetime?

As Sydney Jamesson has often said, “For as long as I can remember, I have lived with The Story of Us  in my head.” It takes a labor of love to reach deeply into your soul to create a timeless trilogy such as this, to believe in the power of the story and share it with the world. Speaking for myself, Team TouchStone, and thousands of devoted fans, it is truly a 5-star fairy tale of a journey we have been honored to share.

Photo of review quotes from The Story of Us trilogy by author Sydney Jamesson

Photo depicting the comparison of characters Joe Black and Ayden Stone, fictional characters

 Are you ready to take the journey?

Buying Links:

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TouchStone for play (Book 1)

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TouchStone for giving (Book 2)

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