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…
Touchstone (noun): a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated.
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 miraculous; and 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.”
“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.”
“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!
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.”
“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…
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.