Sweet Romance Sundays

Sweet Romance Sundays: Don’t Stop Reading Romance Novels

christian romance novels

Earlier this week I read a post about how reading Christian romance novels can be harmful to us both spiritually and relationally. The idea is that it sets up “unrealistic expectations” in our minds for how our husbands should be treating us and sows seeds of discontentment. Because of this, the author of this post believes no woman should read romance novels. I respectfully disagree…sort of.

As someone who is married to a man who is better than any romance hero (as I mention in my dedication to my own Christian-themed romance novella, BELIEVE IN ME), I can honestly say I don’t struggle with this issue of comparing my husband to the romance heroes, except in such a way where he always come out on top. Now, I’m not a big fan of romance novels – even Christian ones – because they only scratch the surface (if that) of what real, true, lasting love and commitment is. That’s their main flaw, in my mind. Granted, in a book of that size, it’s hard to cover all that. It’s much easier to just put in the same old boy sees girl, boy fights with girl, girl decides she can’t live without boy for some inexplicable reason, and then they get married and go to bed with each other (in the Christian books, anyway) formula. But that’s not what real love is about.

Real love isn’t about feelings. It’s not about wearing seductive clothing to get a boy to notice you (I never have, and I won’t ever let my girls). Romance novels aren’t our problem, really. Our problem is we’ve forgotten that real love is about sacrificing our desires for the sake of another. Putting someone else above ourselves.

Romance novels may play a part in our incorrect view of love in certain situations, but really anything can be misused and abused. I find it interesting that the woman who wrote the original post says her book of choice is the Bible, yet she seems to forget that some of the most amazing love stories ever written are contained therein (Ruth and Boaz, and the entire book of the somewhat archaically pornographic [if highly allegorical] Song of Solomon, etc.). I mean, if my husband wasn’t saying a million sweet things a day to me like he does now, then I could certainly hope he might say something like Solomon said to his bride in 6:7, “As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks” (HCSB). And, in that case, I could certainly twist the holy intent of that beautiful passage to feed my own discontentment (people twist the Word to fit their own agendas all the time in proof texting).

My point is, I don’t think we can blame romance novels for that (and certainly not Christian ones). I think we should probably all steer clear of mainstream romance – and most definitely erotica. Those “stories” (and I use that term loosely) are so far skewed from God’s truth you can’t usually find ANYTHING really good or helpful about them. But still. The problem’s not usually with the BOOK (“Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial,” 1 Corinthians 6:12, AMP). The problem is usually something in US.

Honestly, for most women who find themselves dissatisfied in their own marriages because of something they read about a male character in a book, I would suggest not that they are not in the right place spiritually – although this sort of thinking can soon lead down the road to discontentment, which is a sin. No, I simply think they are not getting their needs met – some need or other…and it may very well be something their husbands are not providing for them. That could open up a topic for discussion – a dialogue in which they could express (in a non-confrontational, non-blaming way) what they need their husbands to do for them that’s not happening at the moment. We all need things from other people from time to time – especially in the husband-wife relationship.

Then again, as I mentioned before, it could just be something within US that needs to be set before God and repented of. For example, I recently became interested in watching When Calls the Heart on Netflix. And I found myself (after 8.5 years of marital bliss and 3 years of solidly happy dating before that) pining away for the excitement and joy of “first falling in love” – that stage that is now long past for me. In the middle of those “woe is me” feelings, I heard that still, small voice whisper, “What about the strong relationship you currently have with your husband, who loves you more than life itself and would do anything for you?” And I immediately answered, “Oh yeah. Right. I should be thrilled with what I have (I am). So, who cares if I may never experience ‘young, new love’ again?” The love my husband and I share is, honestly, WAY better than that.

So, in some ways, I think these sweet romantic stories can actually be GOOD for us. They can open our eyes to our OWN flaws and sins, if we let them. And they can actually point us back to righteous ways of thinking.

That being said, I am a firm believer in abstaining from something – anything – that might cause another believer to stumble. So, if I find that my continued interest in Christian romance causes problems for another believer, I may well have to stop reading and talking about them. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.

christian romance novels
Sweet Romance Sundays

Sweet Romance Sundays: LOVE INSPIRED Book Review and Giveaway

Sweet Romance Sundays (3)

I had so much fun reading the Love Inspired Suspense books last month, when FlyBy Promotions said I had the opportunity to read and review SIX NEW Love Inspired books, I gladly decided to take them up on the offer. I’m going to talk a little about my experience with a couple of them, and then I’m going to give a brief overview of each one because YOU WILL HAVE THE CHANCE TO WIN ALL SIX OF THESE FOR YOURSELF! This is a tremendous gift for any sweet romance fan, and would be just perfect for a Mother’s Day present.

The two I’ve read so far are THE RANCHER TAKES A BRIDE by Brenda Minton and BACHELOR TO THE RESCUE by Lorraine Beatty. I enjoyed both of them immensely, except I think I connected a little better to the characters in THE RANCHER TAKES A BRIDE, right from the start. Still, I thought both stories were written very well. The characters were likable (except for Oregon’s – MC in RANCHER – dislike of cats). And the romances were sweet and believable. I have every confidence that the other books are just as good.

Now here’s a little more about the books and the promotion:

Love Inspired book cover screen shot

Love Inspired® books offer wholesome, faith-based entertainment for women that nourishes the soul as it affirms the values of devotion, hope and love. Books are available online and in-store.

Love Inspired readers believe hearts can heal. Love Inspired stories show that faith, forgiveness and hope have the power to lift spirits and change lives – always.

In THE RANCHER TAKES A BRIDE, Duke Martin, former Army medic is stunned when old love Oregon Jeffries tells him he is the father of her child. Given his troubled past, the hardworking rancher and diner owner understands why Oregon kept his daughter a secret for twelve years. But now Duke desperately wants to make up for lost time. As he sets out to be a true father to Lilly, he soon realizes his feelings for Oregon are growing stronger. When Oregon’s health falters, he’s ready to care for her and prove that he’s worthy of her love. Could this be Duke’s second chance with the woman he never should have let get away?

In THE BACHELOR’S BABY, Jake West’s troubled cousin leaves him with a most unusual parting gift – her newborn baby girl! And now the small-town contractor is forced to seek help from the very woman he resents – the new big-city pediatrician who practically stole his uncle’s practice, Violet Crenshaw. Violet knows she shouldn’t be consorting with the enemy. But she can’t resist the adorable baby and her handsome new caretaker. Violet traded her chance at motherhood for her career years ago. But raising a family with Jake could be everything she’s ever wanted.

In THE SINGLE DAD FINDS A WIFE, Doctor Spring Darling has everything she needs. A wonderful family and a busy job helping the children of Cedar Springs, North Carolina. She’s given up on adding love to that mix. Until the moment David Camden and his adorable son appear in her exam room. Spring assumes David is another down-on-his-luck single parent at the free clinic – but looks can be deceiving. Because David has a job – he’s the architect proposing a new development in the middle of Spring’s land! When the truth is revealed, can Spring find a way to keep both her home and the blessing of new love?

In WINNING THE TEACHER’S HEART, single mom Becca Norton is surprised to discover her high school crush Jared Donnelly is back in town. The motocross champion hasn’t been home in years, but the former bad boy is as gorgeous as she remembers. And his kindness toward her kids melts her heart. But when she learns his true purpose in town is to build a motocross school on land near her home, she has to put on the brakes. Her children’s welfare is her priority, and her former in-laws have made it clear they don’t approve of Jared or his plans. Soon Becca may have to choose between her heart…and her home.

In BACHELOR TO THE RESCUE, young widow Lainie Hollings will do anything to protect her daughters – even if it means accepting help from Shaw McKinney. Though she blames Shaw for her husband’s death, he’s the only one she can turn to when a robbery forces her to take shelter in his home. Soon she’s surprised by the handsome contractor. He’s kind, charming, and determined to protect her and her girls. Being with Lainie makes Shaw want to give up his bachelor life and become a family man. But he’ll need to win over the pretty librarian and prove to her he’s the right man for her future.

In A FIREFIGHTER’S PROMISE, when the baby he rescued seven years ago returns – with his widowed adoptive mom – Deputy Fire Chief Matt Bailey can’t turn them away. Desperate to escape the reminders of his failure in the line of duty, Matt is close to leaving town. But one look at Rachel Carter and her son, Christopher, has him second-guessing his plans. Rachel is a mom in need of a hero for her son. But as much as she wants the two to bond, she’s determined to keep her distance from Matt. After losing her husband on the job, she promised never to love another fireman. Yet somehow she finds herself drawn to the one man she should avoid.

S O C I A L • C O R N E R
 
Check out Love Inspired on FACEBOOK and TWITTER
I’ve got a great prize this week for one lucky commenter on this blog post. Just leave some sort of message here before 11:59 PM on May 3, 2015, and you’ll be entered to win a paperback copy of ALL SIX OF THESE BOOKS.

But you all can enjoy this $1 OFF COUPON for ANY Love Inspired book. Just download it and print it out. Or, if you prefer, here’s the printable PDF version.

$1 Coupon

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sweet Romance Sundays

Sweet Romance Sundays: Texas K-9 Unit Series Books 1-3: Tracking Justice\Detection Mission\Guard Duty – Review and Giveaway

Sweet Romance Sundays (3)

I was recently given the opportunity to download and review a collection of romantic suspense books from Love Inspired. As soon as I read the words “romantic suspense,” I was all over this promotion. I’ve always loved a good romantic suspense book (or movie).

Here’s some information about this collection:Texas K-9 Unit Series, 1-3

Love Inspired Suspense authors Shirlee McCoy, Margaret Daley and Sharon Dunn will get your pulse racing with tales of Texas cops and their loyal K-9 dogs tracking down a crime ring. Enjoy three action-packed Texas K-9 Unit romantic suspense novels in one box set! When a boy goes missing from his bedroom, a police detective must assure a desperate single mother that he and his trusty bloodhound will find her son. A woman with amnesia has to rely on an officer and his border collie to stay alive when she can’t remember who tried to kill her. An FBI agent is called in to protect a single mother when the rookie K-9 officer witnesses a murder and becomes the killer’s target.

About the authors:
Shirlee McCoy

Shirlee McCoy has always loved making up stories. As a child she daydreamed elaborate tales in which she was the heroine — gutsy, strong and invincible. Though she soon grew out of her superhero fantasies, her love for storytelling never diminished. Shirlee knew early that she wanted to write inspirational fiction and began writing her first novel when she was a teenager. Still, it wasn’t until her third son was born that she truly began pursuing her dream of being published. Three years later she sold her first book. Now a busy mother of four, Shirlee is a homeschool mom by day and an inspirational author by night. She and her husband and children live in Maryland and share their home with a dog and a guinea pig.

Margaret Daley

Margaret has been writing for over 35 years. She started writing in the late 1970s because she wanted to see if she could put a whole story down on paper. That book is still in the drawer and will never see the light of day. But she was able to finish a book, which was her goal. She loved teaching and working with students with special needs, and recently retired from teaching to write full-time. When she isn’t working, she loves to read, travel, and go to lunch and a movie with a friend. She and her husband, Mike, to whom she has been married for over 40 years live in Tulsa. Besides teaching and writing, she is also a mother of one. Her son, Shaun, is married with four daughters.

Sharon Dunn

Sharon Dunn first fell in love with mystery and suspense about the time she read Nancy Drew mysteries in the fifth grade. Her first book in the Ruby Taylor mysteries Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves was a finalist for the Romantic Times Inspirational Book of the Year. The second book in that series Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante was voted Book of the Year by American Christian Fiction Writers. Her hobbies include reading, working out, hiking, trying to find things around the house and making pets out of the dust bunnies under the furniture. Before she started writing, she used to sew. Now she just collects fabric and patterns and fantasizes about projects. After nearly twenty seven years of marriage, Sharon lost her beloved husband in 2014. She lives with her three nearly grown children, two cats and a nervous border collie named Bart.

Time constraints being what they were (and my crazy schedule being such as it is), I was only able to read the first book in the series, TRACKING JUSTICE. Here are my thoughts on it:

This was an engrossing, quick read. I didn’t want to put it down and actually stayed up all night reading it to the (mostly) satisfying conclusion. The romance is sweet – no graphic sex. Really, there’s no sex at all – just kissing, and even that comes well after we get to know the characters and they get to know each other better. Not anything like what happens in so many romance novels, where the main characters meet and end up in bed together the same day without really getting to know each other. I can’t stand books like that, so I was more than relieved that this one wasn’t like that.

The suspense part was well done. The character development was good. I found a few typos and one instance of a character name being misused, but overall the editing was as clean as the romance. Plus, there’s a dog, and dogs are awesome! This is one book you won’t want to miss if you’re a fan of romantic suspense. I can’t wait to read the other books in the series, and I encourage you all to rush over to Amazon and download this set today!

And now for the giveaway…

Love Inspired is offering up a paperback copy of the latest book from Shirlee McCoy, PROTECTION DETAIL (released March 3, 2015), to one lucky commenter on this blog post.

Here’s the scoop on PROTECTION DETAIL:

LAWMAN ON A MISSION

After a prominent senator’s son is murdered, Capitol K-9 Unit captain Gavin McCord wants answers. The senator was a mentor to Gavin, and he’ll stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice. With his team of elite K-9 cops and his loyal dog, Glory, at his side, Gavin discovers that a child at Cassie Danvers’s nearby foster home may have witnessed the murder. He’s drawn to the determined and beautiful woman, but she doesn’t want him interviewing her traumatized charges. Yet trusting Gavin is the only way to stay one step ahead of the deadly gunman when Cassie becomes a target.

Capitol K-9 Unit: These lawmen solve the toughest cases with the help of their brave canine partners

Shirlee McCoy wrote the first book in Texas K-9 Unit Series (which is the only one I’ve read so far), and I can safely say the lady knows how to weave a good romantic suspense story. Want to see for yourself? Just leave a comment here, telling me you want to win this book, by 11:59 PM EST on March 22, 2015, and you’ll be entered into the giveaway (open to US and Canada residents only).

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”