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COMMENTARY: The great Valentine’s Day gift dilemma

Valentine’s Day is Thursday, and for those who are not headed to the shooting range, with exes’ mug shots for targets, there are plentiful options for gift giving. The trick is to determine the right gift.

A heart-shaped box of chocolates might do the trick. Except that they offer only short-term pleasure and long-lasting dismay upon discovering at the end of only one half-hour sitcom that every last chocolate-covered calorie is devoured—and the object of your affection snored through the whole thing.

Maybe your honey would prefer flowers. Although, unless you pluck them from your garden, good luck finding any that are not genetically modified and dyed to match the unrealistic expectations of modern-day consumers—and still the blossoms bear the seeds of sinusitis.

If you find the traditional options uninspiring, you could go for that contemporary classic, edible underthings—available for him and her. Or print online coupons for rolls in the hay upon presentation.

Or, perhaps riskiest of all, try your hand at a bit of romantic verse. But beware the muddled metaphor—

My love for you is a graceful cast
the flick of a fly line
its inviolate knot
hooked in the lip of a largemouth bass…

Hmmm, probably not.

Then how about this? If you appreciate kitsch, consider a personalized romance novel by BookByYou.com, available in hardcover, paperback or e-book. The online company publishes an array of novels that can be personalized for adults and children, including mysteries and classics, and their Valentine’s Day promotion includes adult novels for straight and same-sex couples.

There is a variety of subgenres represented in the company’s romance repertoire, each eagerly awaiting personalization with such details as your loved one’s name and physical characteristics, the same for the story’s love interest and a best friend, a favorite coffee drink, a beloved pet, and an optional personalized cover photo.

Is your significant other an urban fantasy fan? Then check out Vampire Kisses, in which “a college researcher lives a secret life: when night falls, he’s a vampire! Can our heroine, a vivacious beauty with a penchant for research of her own, kickstart his non-beating heart?” There’s also Hot Blooded, a gay romance about “a down-to-earth college professor and a mysterious, exotic stranger in the shadowy aisles of a library, where their instant attraction catches them both by surprise.”

Seduction Games is a contemporary lesbian romance that sets up some sexy women to compete against—and for—each other in a reality TV show.

Prefer a straight period romance? Then Pirates of Desire might be just the thing. According to the BookByYou website, “Our heroine is a stunning aristocrat who yearns to be a swashbuckling buccaneer—until she’s captured by our hero, a handsome pirate rogue with a price on his head. Is our leading lady his willing prisoner of passion?”

It just so happens that I can answer that question for you, because BookByYou founder Mike Pocock personalized the e-book version for me, and I was transported into the land of Lady K-B and Brad Pitt, privateer and captain of the Corazon de Oro. …

His eyes narrowing, he sighed, then grabbed K-B by her bodice string, which, unbeknownst to K-B, was still untied and loose. The lace tightened as he pulled her toward him like a dog on a leash. She winced in surprise and embarrassment. He leaned close to her, breathing softly in her ear, making her almost lose her balance and certainly some sense. He paused just long enough to catch her off-guard in anticipation, then said, “You might want to keep the girls tied up,” and tightening her laces, he made a knot.

It’s certainly not literary fiction—and I’m no fan of leashes—but there’s a certain narcissistic pleasure in reading about that bodice-ripping romance that I, the ardent feminist, will never have. And I laughed hard enough to pee on myself when Brad Pitt made reference to my “girls.”

Love,

K-B

Note: There’s still time to order a BookByYou paperback (deadline is Tuesday at 10 p.m. PST) or e-book (available upon purchase), and the website also has downloadable gift certificates.

Kit-Bacon Gressitt's commentary and political fiction can be read on her blog Excuse Me, I'm Writing and have been published by San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, The Ocean Beach Rag, The Progressive Post and San Diego Free Press. She formerly worked for the North County Times. She is also host of Fallbrook's monthly Writers Read open mic and can be reached at kbgressitt@gmail.com.