Follow-Up on Christian Romance, In Whence I Eat My Words

I realize that in my previous post, http://bookinamonthmom.blogspot.com/2011/09/christian-romance-like-it-or-leave-it.html, I majorly dissed Christian romance. As you may recall, I took issue with the unreality of the convenient widower-seeking-babysitter who meets his feisty yet loving soul-mate scenario…or the girl who’s dropped into the ranch at JUST the right moment to meet the perfect guy (emphasis on PERFECT).

While you will probably never catch me reading Amish fiction for fun, I did recently win my own copy of Montana Marriages by Mary Connealy. I have to say, I was planning on giving this to someone in my family who likes Christian romance. But I decided to read the first few pages and see what the big deal was…

Just like that, I was HOOKED.

Yes, it might have something to do with the fact that the male main character had red hair. I will admit that. But it really had more to do with the WAY Mary writes–it’s very tight writing with a quick plot. Is there a widow? Why, yes, there is. Does the male MC say things a real guy might not say? I believe he does. Is it possible that the bad guy will turn his life around and become a Christian? Yes, there is.

However, I can tell Mary knows what she’s talking about when she describes life on the ranch. I appreciate this. I love the idea that they built their house into a cave. She also uses rich details and words from that time period.

I will have to eat my words on Christian romance. It can be a good read. The characters can have believable psychological depth (this MC in the first part of the book lived with a domineering/abusive husband). I love it when Christian romance takes on the big issues. I also appreciate that the MC in Montana Rose is married.

The marriage is not 100% realistic to me, because I suspect most husbands do NOT always say the right thing at any given moment (WHAT?!!). Nor do they always act as protective as we might want, or as deeply spiritual. And we wives don’t always look gorgeous, cook beautifully or welcome romantic overtures (WHAT!??).

But I think that if we, as readers, recognize that in a romance the MC would by necessity know the right things to say, just like Jacob or Edward (hee, you Meyer fans know who I’m talking about), we can overlook that. As long as we don’t expect OUR SPOUSES to perpetually say the right things or innately divine the secrets of our female minds, we can read without repercussions on our own marriages. Although I will add that I will always find MC guys with major flaws (like Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester and ESPECIALLY Gabriel Oak in Far from the Madding Crowd) more intrinsically interesting than extremely verbal and emotive guys. However, maybe that’s just me.

BUT I’ll apologize for throwing the baby out with the bath-water (what a horrid visual picture, sorry!). And thank you, Mary Connealy, for repairing my views of Christian romance.

please CHIME in with comments below:

*Do you enjoy Christian romance? Why or why not?
*If you’re a writer, what kinds of male MCs do you write?

15 thoughts on “Follow-Up on Christian Romance, In Whence I Eat My Words

  1. I just realized that, were I using correct grammar, I would've labeled this post "In WHICH…". However, I just really wanted to use "whence." I may look stupid, but at least I used that cool word, however incorrectly.

  2. Great review! I do not usually read Christian romance books but this trilogy sounds fun. By the way I am a huge Gabriel Oak fan, loved him in Far From the Madding Crowd. I actually wanted to name my son Gabriel but the hubbie didn't like it.

  3. I cannot tell you how much it warms my heart to know someone else knows who Gabriel Oak is! I keep wanting to write a movie screenplay..can totally see Russell Crowe as Oak, but have no idea who could capture Bathsheba. The whole book somehow reads like a movie script in my head!

  4. Hi, Heather. thank you for the great review.Red is sort of an exception in my heroes because he is extraordinarily faithful and wise. Most of my heroes are clueless about women. Have you read the whole series? The Husband Tree is my favorite of the three because Belle Tanner is such a pill. She's a secondary character in Montana Rose so you've met her. The hero in that book, Silas Harden is possibly my favorite hero ever. (that I've written I mean)Read Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, too. A mountain man who's never been around women finds himself married to a feisty lady rancher with four daughters. No two people have ever been so confused about how the other thinks.My 22nd book, In Too Deep, releases in February so if you like my books I can keep you busy for a long, long time.

  5. Thank you so much, Mary! I really like Red (my husband has red hair). Yes, I haven't gotten to The Husband Tree but I KNOW I'm going to like it–Belle resonates w/me a little more than Cassie does. You are so prolific! Thanks for stopping by my blog and I'm so glad to know there are Christian romance writers like you out there!

  6. How funny! I'm more a "great story" girl myself, so I'm not so quick to dismiss Christian (or other)-specific books. The biggest problem I find is that often when books are targeted to specific market, like the Christian market, they feel forced. Like they have to follow specific guidelines, so the story gets stifled. Yuck.But! That isn't always the case (e.g., Jenny B. Jones's YA books are really great.) So thanks for the rec, and I'll add this one to my TBR pile! :o) ❤

  7. Let me add here that my goal when I start a book is to be as entertaining as I can be. before a 'message'…before some 'lesson' I want anyone to learn. I just love to read. That's my form of entertainment and if I'm not having fun with a book then I'm not going to read it. Entertainment is fundamental. So that's my goal. Two people sassing each other and falling in love while they're running for their lives.

  8. Heather, what a fun review! Mary's my buddy and I rarely say as many nice things about her OR her work as you did. You may have moved me down a notch or two.I loved Montana Rose. It was the first (long before we were published) Mary Connealy story I read, and I was captivated by the characters. So fun.The Husband Tree… my favorite until her newest one "Out of Control" was released.Just hysterical. And that's odd because Mary's not really all that funny in person. Do you think she uses a ghost writer?I suspect she might. ;)Awesome review. You rock.

  9. Well, thank you, Ruth, that's high praise indeed! I knew I had to review it because I'd previously said rather disparaging things about Christian romance in general, and Mary's book changed my views. Yes, sometimes writers can be kind of quiet in person, with unknown depths of hilarity just waiting to hit the page!And Mary, I totally understand what you're saying about writing the story/entertainment first. The message will come, as you get more and more into the book. Sometimes multiple messages! I also liked what was going on in Belle's heart–sort of a pre-feminist mental struggle.

  10. Ruthy is just trying to make a joke. I've told her and told her she needs to label them, otherwise no one notices.I am adorable in person. Quite hilareous….and anyone who says different is going to make me cry!

  11. I used to love romance books when I was younger but to be honest most of them were secular. I'm not saying I liked 'dirty' books, and here are plenty of those out there, but I liked classics like Gone with the Wind. I think there are probably some really good Christian Romance writers, it just doesn't happen to be an area I read much of. I will keep this author on my radar though, there are times I need a good light hearted book to read.

  12. LOL!!! Heather! I know what you mean! Actually, Mary's heroes are not usually like Red at all!!! They really DON'T do or say the right thing! Almost never!!! I am addicted to Mary's books. But I do understand what you mean about Christian romance. And you will NOT catch me reading Amish fiction!!! 🙂

  13. Actually, Mary is hysterically funny in person. I hope you get to meet her some day. She is one of my favorite people in the whole world!!! And all of her books are great, and I don't say that about many authors! (Maybe no others!)

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