If you’ve read my Haunting Danielle series, you’ll know they’re G-rated. I like to say they’re books you can comfortably share with your teenage daughter or grandmother. Whatever Ian and Lily might be doing behind closed doors, I leave to the imagination of the readers.
But I also write books under the pen name Anna J. McIntyre, and they tend to be R-rated. Coulson’s Lessons is the first book I ever published under Anna J. McIntyre—yet it is actually the third book in the Coulson Family Saga (formally The Coulson Series.) How is that possible?
The Coulson Family Saga includes five books. I first wrote Lessons over twenty years ago. At the time, I never intended to write a saga, that came later, after my characters came to life for me, and I wanted to go back in time and explore their history.
My mother has always said Lessons (now Coulson’s Lessons) is her favorite book of mine. She has read it at least a half a dozen times. But she read it the other night—it had been a couple years since she last read it—and she told me she needed to stop telling people it’s her favorite.
After questioning her, I discovered it was still her favorite, but she had forgotten how much sex was in the book. Mom is 89 by the way. She claims it is still her favorite, but would prefer to keep it to herself. Umm…please don’t mention this blog post to her.
But she is correct, of all my books, Coulson’s Lessons is the heaviest on the sex. Recently I read a review from one of my Haunting Danielle readers who mentioned they enjoyed Coulson’s Lessons, but might have liked a little less sex.
It’s a valid point. If I were to write the same story now, it would probably be less explicit. However, I don’t believe any of the sex scenes were gratuitous. After all, the story is about a married woman who has an affair—and the lessons she learns and the choices she makes for her family. It is a story about a woman the world has on a pedestal as the perfect wife and mother, who has a secret she keeps for a decade—and it is only after the death of her husband does the world learn of her infidelity. So perhaps I wouldn’t tone it down, if I wrote it today.
The Coulson Family Saga touches on a myriad of topics—homosexuality, infidelity, loss, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, rape, family values, loyalty, marriage, forgiveness, and hope.
It wasn’t until I finished the last book in that series did I realize it was ultimately about the women—and how they persevered.
Many readers who read just Coulson’s Wife, the official first book of the series, find the bittersweet ending of Mary Ellen’s story unsatisfying. They want the happy ending. I don’t think the ending is necessarily sad. Mary Ellen, in her own way—for her time—found contentment and fulfilment in her life.
But sometimes that true happy ending takes several generations. I believe it did for the people of Coulson.
(We have given Coulson Family Saga a facelift, with another round of editing, fresh covers, and it’s now available in a book bundle for one price. The books in this series are also in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, so if you are a member, you can read for free.)