All of us as readers and writers fall into ruts, I think. As a new published author, I haven’t been around quite long enough yet to fall into a rut. Instead, I’m searching for my niche, as I bounce from romantic suspense to historical to contemporary crime caper. But as a reader, I have my favorite romance sub-genres and can be wary of stepping outside of them. One genre I had not explored is the inspirational or Christian romance. Although I’m always open to a good book, I’m not very religious personally and knew nothing about the genre. It can be intimidating to start out from zero in a genre, studying a bookshelf full of unfamiliar names and wondering where to begin.
So I began, as I often do, with an award-winner. I picked up a heavily honored Christian romance at my local library, and although I found the writing skilled, I was turned off by its preachy tone. The author’s habit of interrupting her story every few pages to proselytize with a heavy hand was too distracting, and I ultimately couldn’t finish the story. I thought for a while that perhaps the Christian genre just wasn’t for me, but I tried again, and I’m glad I did. I picked up Deeanne Gist’s “A Bride Most Begrudging” recently and flew through it. Published in trade paperback, Gist’s historical novels are well-researched and historically accurate, often in settings that you don’t see often. (Don’t get me started on this. I simply do not understand why many mainstream romance publishers seem to want to flog the same dead horse — uh, I mean, re-use the same overused settings — again and again to the exclusion of all others.) The two Gist novels I’ve read so far were set in Gold Rush San Francisco and Seattle during its timber/lumberjack days.
In any case, Gist’s books contain characters striving to become better Christians, but aren’t preachy. Her tales often poke holes in religious hypocrisy and stress forgiveness and humility as core Christian values. Although the tales don’t contain any explicit love scenes, Gist is good at subtly building sexual tension and romance. All in all, I would recommend any lovers of historical romance give her a try.
What am I missing? Any books you’ve enjoyed recently that were a bit of a departure for you? Leave a comment and tell me about it!
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