Girls Write Out
Monday, December 06, 2010

I've been reading romance ever since I became a teenager. I think the first love story I ever read was Green Mansions when I was about 13. I still remember crying as Rima fell to her death from the tree. Now we go for happy endings in romance, thank goodness! I hate sad endings.

But a friend is writing an article about how romance is growing in the Christian market and how it is different from what's available in the general market. These two pictures are a prime example of the differences, I think. In a Christian romance, it's not the physical that is emphasized. Of course it's an element, but there is no graphic sex and character is more important. The hero's physical appearance is mentioned, but the heroine grows to love the man because he possesses attractive internal attributes.

I remember reading my first Christian romance. It was Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series. Then I read Redeeming Love. All of those books let me see God and His love in the shadows of those stories. And that's one big difference for me between Christian romance and general market novels. I see Christian romance as a great way to reveal how love is a choice. When we're upset about towels left on the floor, we might be snappish, but the books can be a reminder that love overlooks the unimportant. We need the reminder when we're tired and the honeymoon was over ten years ago. :)

Christian romance is booming. I think even non Christians appreciate a great story that doesn't have graphic sex and bad language. But are there other elements? I think there are. I mentioned the difference for me but what about you?

If you read romance, WHY do you read it? Has it given you unrealistic expectations of a relationship or has it helped you be more patient, loving and kind? What is the draw for you? Escapism only? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:17 PM  
  Comments (8)
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At 7:45 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

You're right, Colleen. When I was a teenager, looks meant so much more to me than they do now. I've learned the hard way that what might look good on the outside may be--and often is--rotten inside. I would see a cute guy and decide in my heart that he must be a wonderful person because he had friendly-looking eyes. I was often disappointed.

I don't think Christian romance novels should preach, but I think a good romance can show that the inner person can be the most attractive thing--that strong character that has endured pain in life, or maybe even taunting for not going along with the crowd--is something that will stand the test of time. I understand that as romance writers we almost have to show pretty packages for the reader, but we can dig more deeply, show spiritual depth, strength, goodness, kindness, and that is so much more lasting that skin-deep beauty.

At 1:46 AM, Blogger Ruthie said...

Remember the Barbara Cartland romances that were so popular about 30-40 years ago? (Mercy, that sure dated me!!) The stories were always about a young, fragile waif who ends up in trouble only to have the most gorgeous hunk of a guy rescue her and they would experience ecstacies of love. Not only were these stories syrupy-sweet, but they were unrealistic. Obviously there were no references to God and yet the very perfect life of love awaited them. No problems, no dirty socks/underwear strewn about, no impatience; nothing human was implied.

The Christian romances that I have read not only show the flawed, sinful side of people, but also demonstrated how God's love can influence human love and forgiveness. It is so much easier to identify to Christian protagonists than the non-Christian ones...perhaps that's because I'm a Christian and therefore can identify with the Christian stories. But the realism draws me, forcing me to look at my own life to see how I measure up and what I need to fix.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading romance for the depth of emotion, which I find is missing in most other genres.

At 7:19 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Well Colleen, you have hit upon a topic my mom and I recently discussed. We both absolutely love Francine Rivers, in fact the first Christian fiction book my mom ever read was The Atonement Child. She was hooked. She thought they would all be fluff, but realized they had more substance. Neither my mom nor I like it when a Christian fiction book is preachy, we both tend to appreciate the books that are more subtle, but share the salvation message. I really love it when romance is combined with mystery and suspense. I prefer to read Christian fiction because it is clean, but also, its an escape from reality. Its like a mini vacation on a rough day. I also love that so many are now available in audio form. I can listen to them while I work, even if my 2 year old is around. Even my hubby will listen to them, though he often complains that they are not realistic, he appreciates the message, and the lack of sex and language.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Courtney Walsh said...

Oh, I LOVE romance and just for the reason you said. I don't know many women who are attracted to a man only because of his physical appearance. Of course, that's a part of it, but the character and what's inside are so much more important.

I'm interested in the article your friend is writing...sounds like one that will be eye-opening!

PS... beautiful cover!!

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

I read those too, Ruthie! :)

Great stuff here, friends! Thanks!

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

I started with Jane Peart, and I still love that Montclair Bride series. But I usually like a bit more to my stories than straight romance. But not death. Sorry, C. LOL

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit to being a bit of an "escapist" reader myself. I enjoy a good story--I like happy endings. There's enough pain and sorrow in the world without me having to spend hours reading about sadness and pain and horror. And truthfully, I love romance novels. But lately I've been finding myself annoyed with what I've been reading. I think because so many of the female characters come across as weak, only finding happiness in a partner. They're not all like this of course. And don't get me wrong, I like reading the romance. I just also like strong female characters who find their value and worth outside of Prince Charming.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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