Tag Archives: Christian romance

A Romance Book You Can Read

Romance novels regularly get pummeled. Sometimes with good reason.

I’ve written about the myths of romance novels, aware they often convey wrong messages about love and sexuality. Plus, I feel bad for husbands who are trying, but the standard women seem to want, based on romance novels, is unrealistic and impossible. (We ladies know how unrealistic and impossible feels based on visual images, so you can understand my compassion. It sucks being compared to a fictitious fantasy.)

And then there’s the “cheese factor.” As in some romance novels — including some Christian fiction — are just cheesy. I don’t even know how to say this better. These are stories in which the characters don’t seem at all like ourselves or any real people we know. Sure, that could be fun for an escape, but I don’t read many of those novels. I know some of you don’t either.

Still, I believe in the importance of story. God’s Word is filled with stories teaching principles to live by, and Jesus taught many of his lessons in parables.

Bestselling author Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So I decided to leap in with both feet and write the kind of stories I’d like to read about love, marriage, and sexual intimacy.

Final Book Cover - smallerBehind Closed Doors is a collection of inspirational short stories addressing marriage and sexual intimacy. Following are previews of the five stories:

“The Rose Club.” Wendy and her two best friends are still mourning the death of Aunt Rose, as they sort through her treasured belongings and their childhood memories. When a discovery in the Aunt Rose’s bedroom sheds light on an unexpected side of their straight-laced “aunt,” the revelation unleashes confessions among lifelong friends.

“After the Baby.” Jack knows the exact number of days since he and his wife made love. With a newborn baby and an overwhelmed mommy in the house, how much longer must he wait? More importantly, how can they reconnect not simply as parents, but also as married lovers?

“Shotgun.” Tina and Josh are newlyweds, thanks to a surprise! teen pregnancy. But when a pregnancy complication knocks Tina onto her back for bed rest, it’s even more grown-up problems and less, or rather no, sex. Are the doctor’s orders for abstinence in their marriage a case of divine payback?

“The House the Densons Built.” Candace is a wife, homemaker, and mother of two, devoted to her family—until the arrival of a mysterious package shatters everything she believed about her marriage. How could her husband destroy their trust? Now they must confront the truth and decide if their marriage can be saved.

“Suite Nothings.” Nadine has dreamed of her wedding since childhood, determined to transform herself from tongue-tied klutz to fairytale princess for at least one day. After finding Mr. Right and setting the date, she realizes her preparations don’t include anything post-nuptials. Add another tab to the notebook! What can she do to make their wedding night unforgettable?

What can you expect with my romance book, Behind Closed Doors?

No sex on the page. Thus, the title Behind Closed Doors — since I believe what happens between a specific couple in their marriage bed is a private matter. So while many romance books include steamy sex scenes, they are not in my book.

References to sex. That said, there is definitely sexual desire, tension, and hints at intimacy between married couples. Nothing is written in an effort to titillate, but rather to be authentic about marriage and intimacy.

Real characters. Of course these are fictitious people, and I didn’t base them specifically on anyone I know. However, I tried to give them real skin, so to speak. I wanted these characters to feel authentic and experience real problems, real emotions, and real hope.

Specific scenarios. These are stories about these particular people, so don’t read too much into the specifics of their situation. For instance, the couple who marry young following a teen pregnancy does not mean I condone premarital sex, teen pregnancy, or marrying that young — but I know it happens and I used that specific setup to tell a story.

Universal themes. Although these stories and characters are specific, there are definitely takeaways. Themes of godly sexual intimacy, grace and generosity in marriage, and redemptive hope run through all of them. I believe stories can teach us something about life and ourselves, and I hope Behind Closed Doors achieves that goal.

I also hope a series of short stories revolving around biblical love, marriage, and intimacy will appeal to people who wouldn’t normally pick up a book about biblical sexuality. Maybe this is the kind of thing you could share with someone who won’t read a “self-help book,” but who does enjoy a good romance.

Behind Closed Doors is available through ebook, and it’s available with several vendors:

Amazon / Kindle | Barnes & Noble / Nook | Kobo Books | Scribd | iBooks

Many blessings to your marriage and what goes on behind your closed doors!

Common Myths of Romance Novels

Jane Eyre book cover

I like romance novels. At least some of them. Hey, one of my favorite novels ever is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Lately, romance novels have taken a beating from some Christian writers and speakers and, in many cases, rightly so. It’s a very bad idea to base expectations about relationships and marriage on happily-ever-after fiction. You see, falling in love isn’t the same as staying in love or making a commitment or fostering a long-term marriage. And romance novels are mostly about that falling-in-love stuff.

I think we can read romance novels (of the PG/PG-13 kind; I’m not talking 50 Shades here), as long as we filter through them and don’t pull comparisons to real life. Don’t expect your husband to be as lovey-dovey as the heroine of the romance novel or your sex scenes to be quite so seamless as they are on the page.

The real danger, though, is the underlying themes that we may accept hook, line, and sinker without even realizing. Think of theme as the lesson or moral of the story. For instance, the theme of Red Riding Hood? Be careful with strangers. The theme of The Wizard of Oz? “There’s no place like home.”

But some themes are myths, especially in romance novels. Let’s take a look at a few:

The Time Traveler's Wife book cover

Love conquers all. So what if the guy you love is a time traveler and bounces in and out of your life at various ages? So what if your love interest is a vampire who desperately wants to suck your blood dry? These are minor challenges in the face of Invincible Love! So say most romance novels. Sure, there may be 200-300 pages of figuring out how to make it work, but they always do. Somehow or other, their love makes all of the obstacles surmountable.

The thing is, I believe this one to an extent — in that active love, practiced by both spouses as described in Scripture — can indeed conquer obstacles. But romance and “chemistry” can’t. In the real world, you need someone who shares godly values with you and who will put elbow-grease effort into your relationship.

Real love happens at first sight. One of the hackneyed exchanges in romance novels is a single person asking an attached person: “How do you know when you’re in love?” And the wiser, more experienced person answers, “When you meet that right person, you just know.”

Balderdash! Real chemistry happens at first sight. Real love takes time and care to develop. Sure, you want to have chemistry with your spouse, but if you no longer feel your tongue hanging and your toes curling at the sight of your beloved, no worries. In a long, successful marriage, you will likely have at least once that you wonder, Why did I marry this person? Did I mistake stomach butterflies for true love? Those rushing feelings of being in love can energize you to work on a relationship with someone, but nobody knows for sure that someone is perfect for them on first sight. You have to work for perfect … or at least amazing.

Wuthering Heights book cover

(Romantic) Love makes bad people good. You know this one: Good girl meets bad boy. Because of her overwhelming love, bad boy leaves his bad life and embraces a new life — full of light and love and laughter. *cue music* Romance novels often assert that people can change, practically overnight, for the sake of romantic love. They will happily leave behind their wayward ways and fulfill all of their potential because of the love of a good woman.

Now let’s poll all of the women who married men with severe addictions. Did those scenarios all work out … easily? As much as we love a good conversion story (yay, Apostle Paul!), changing your character takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of commitment. Few people overcome their inner demons in the time it takes to court a mate. I’m not saying that people don’t change; they do. But don’t count on your romantic love to suddenly yank someone out of a nasty mess. What really changes people is their own determination to turn over a new leaf, the support of others around, and God’s working in their life. Romantic love can inspire, but it’s not enough.

Great sex is key to falling in love. It’s practically a given these days that a fictional couple will have sex, and then decide that they are truly meant to be. Perhaps they suspected, but the way their bodies melded together was so perfect in their lovemaking that it sealed their destiny. *swoon*

Blah, blah, blah. Give me a couple who’s willing to work on their marital intimacy, and I’ll give you a couple with a successful sex life. I don’t care if their first time functioned like a Rube Goldberg machine. I’ve known plenty of couples who had fabulous sex with someone, and the marriage didn’t work. But a working marriage — with two committed, understanding, desiring-to-honor-God spouses — will eventually produce fabulous sex. Romance novels, and our society as a whole frankly, has the cart before the horse.

The Mountain Between Us book cover

Romance novel from a Christian author

So can you read romance novels?

As I said, I read romance novels — although I tend toward romantic comedies where things don’t always go right and that’s funny — but I don’t swallow these themes. I’m careful about what I read and how I read. I make sure that my Christian world view informs the way I see novels, not the other way around.

After all, we’re generally okay with our daughters seeing Disney princess movies, but at some point, we expect them to grow up and realize that their future hubby won’t be riding up on a horse or on a magic carpet singing love songs. We know that fiction is a pretend world. It may be entertaining, delightful, and perhaps realistic about some aspects of life, but it isn’t a manual for how to get or be married.

If someone wrote my marriage as a novel, you would fall asleep by page 12. Because much of making my marriage work is the small, seemingly mundane stuff of basic courtesy, carrying out household tasks together, honoring each other in how we spend time and money, hugs and pecks, and tickling and giggling with our children. Who wants to read that? (Although our sex scenes might be steamy … 😉 )

So my marriage isn’t like a romance novel. I’m fine with that. After all, things didn’t end so well for Romeo and Juliet.

Do you read romance novels? What are your standards for what you read? What other themes have you seen in romance novels (or TV or movies) that you believe are myths?