That whole sentence left me scratching my head. I guess if you are Christian (as was stated earlier in the review) you can't be intimate without "going all the way"? I guess you also can't be friends with a gay person? In fact the gay reference was not at all "out of place". The character, Lax, is Kade's best friend, and he's gay. How is that out of place? It, in fact, was very relevant to the conversation that was occurring between Kade and Lax at that point in the story. So, that said, below is the blog post I wrote about what spicy Christian romance is to me, at least in the respect of how I write it. I write about real people with real problems trying to find a way to happiness in the real world with the right person. None of us live in a world of rainbows and daises, and I was awfully tired of reading Christian romance novels that never addressed anything other than that. Christians have sex and Christians have gay friends in the real world, so why can't they in fiction? It's really a good thinking point, so with that, the blog post originally posted on Forget The Housework I'm Reading.
"Having just released my fourth Christian romance novel, I’m no novice to the question, “Oh, you’re an author? What do you write?” I usually grimace a little before answering with my hand giving them the so-so motion, “Christian romance.” They give me a bit of a questioning look and then I’d be sure to inform them it’s not “your typical Christian romance.” Usually that garners the question, “What is your typical Christian romance?”
Ahhhhhh……that is the question! As an author in this genre, I had to look to the modern day reader to answer it for me. In the past the ‘typical Christian romance’ was love and light and happiness, where the couple meets and then goes through what we would imagine was a typical dating relationship when our parents grew up, before the story ends in a happily ever after. Said relationship, of course, involved all PDA to be untold of in the story.
As a matter of fact, I had this discussion with a friend of mine the other day. She writes mainstream romance and has read my first series and is reading the first book in my next series. She asked me, “Can you really call this Christian romance when there is sex in it.” (I’m sorry; take a minute to breathe deep if you have to. I know I said S-E-X and Christian romance together in one sentence). Okay, now that we are all breathing normally again, I’ll answer her question. “Yes. Yes, I think I can call it Christian romance if there is s-e-x in it.” She paused and then said, “Right, but I mean, you know Christian romance should have friendly, loving patting and lots of displays of friendly PDA, and even some lead up kissing is probably okay, but it better stop when the door closes. You shouldn’t actually describe the s-e-x.” Oh boy, I knew I was in trouble for a couple of reasons. First, because I don’t look at what I write as s-e-x, and second because when my couples make love, it’s not always behind closed doors. I responded with, “That’s a problem, because my characters usually aren’t always doing THAT in a bed behind a door.” BAM! I officially stunned her silent for a moment. She stuttered about and finally said, “Well, you know what I mean!”
Oh yeah, I did know what she meant and I want to say something right now:
WE CAN BE IN A LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, AND A SPICY RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE ELSE, AT THE SAME TIME!
Why did I just yell that? Because I want you to remember it.
Before my books, my friend’s only experience with Christian romance was exactly what she described to me above. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some really wonderful books out there that are written in this most traditional, typical Christian romance way. I read them and I love them, but they aren’t mine. My stories tend to sit on the outside of the Christian ring where the hero or heroine is questioning their beliefs, are angry with God, are trying to cope with some tragedy in their life or, in some cases, all three. That doesn’t mean the hero or heroine doesn’t love God, they are just in their darkest valley at the moment, and they are looking for the greener pasture HE promises them. The person they meet in that valley is the one HE trusts to be that pasture, and my stories are the journey to that realization.
Since I’m already sitting on the outside of the ring of “typical” Christian romance I decided to push the ring back a little bit further and let the reader experience these two people’s love for each other firsthand. Does it touch what you read in mainstream romance? No. But there is always that one scene that is pinnacle in the couple’s relationship, and it’s been my experience that the reader wants to experience it, all of it. Is it the thrill they are looking for? No, they are looking for the connection two people make when they make love for the first time, as a couple in love. They are looking for the commitment, the love and the surrender you give the other person when you give yourself to them, and they want me to show them, not tell them. Note, I said make love, because that is what it is in my stories. Remember up there when I said, “I don’t look at what I write as s-e-x”? That’s because I look at it as committing, expressing and receiving love. Love, which generally speaking, the hero or heroine isn’t even looking for when the story opens. Rather they are faced with it when they are least equipped to deal with it, because when we are at our weakest is often when we see God the most.
I recently got a review on my short story ‘Snow Daze’ that I released this past Christmas. The reviewer said “Snow and Dully have a chance encounter that piques both interest and hope. The rest was a giant leap of faith. I enjoyed reading about adults going about having an adult romance. And I wasn't expecting the steamy scenes! I recommend reading more about the author because she has a wonderful mission.” I happened to be reading that review on the way home with my husband and my response was, “Wow.” Just kind of breathed out into the air. He asked me what it said and I read it to him. He said, “This is a surprise to you? I guess your mission is obvious to everyone but you.” He was right, because I was just writing the stories that came to me while I was working, sleeping and generally going about living. I didn’t see it as a mission, I often saw it as a frustration. A frustration dealing with what I wanted to write, while trying to squish inside this ring that was supposed to be my ‘genre’.
Some days, like the day I had that discussion with my friend about what ‘typical’ Christian romance is, I find myself asking the Lord why I’m writing these stories. When that evil do-gooder shows up, I open the document on my desktop titled “WHY” and read that review. Sometimes I have to read it three or four times before I can go back to the story HE has put on my heart to tell. Those are the days where I feel my little corner of this ‘genre’ of readers is too far outside the ring of what is socially accepted in Christian romance. Those are my ‘devil’ days. I know those are the days the devil is busy trying to undermine my faith in the words and stories that readers have already told me they love and want more of! So, is spicy Christian romance a thing?
YES! YES, IT IS, BECAUSE WE CAN BE IN A LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, AND A SPICY RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE ELSE, AT THE SAME TIME!
1 Peter 4:8: Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
I couldn’t have said it better myself, Peter. Thanks for stopping by today. I will leave you with what I always tell my kids at the library, “Don’t judge a book by its cover (or in this case, its genre), you just might miss the great story inside.”