What’s So Great About Christian Romance . . . Even If You’re Not the Religious Type?

the bride's broken bondGreetings!  Lee Tobin McClain here, urging you to give inspirational romance a try, even if it’s not your usual fare. Why? Here are six reasons.

  1. Without the sex, there’s more room for other aspects of romance. “Hey, Christian romance, that’s like a contradiction in terms!” is a line that at least eight men have used on me, each thinking himself supremely clever. But actually, most women don’t think that romance happens only between the sheets. There can be lots of conversation and roses and, well, feelings in Christian romance, and that’s the part a lot of women crave more of.
  2. Without the sex, there’s room for more story depth. One of the Love Inspired editors told me that, because the line doesn’t have love scenes, they need more backstory and conflict and angst. That can make for some compelling stories . . . about things like abuse and class conflict and serious illness, to name three difficult topics I’ve covered in recent books.
  3. Sometimes, you want heartwarming. Especially around the holidays, most of us get nostalgic for a simpler time, for a sense of community, for small towns and big hearts and neighbors that care. Real life can fall pretty short, but an inspirational romance never does. These stories are sweet and will make you feel good on an otherwise stressful or dark day.
  4. You’ll get a better feeling about Christians. There are extremists in every faith, and the rants of Christian extremists can be off-putting., focused more on what the extremists are against (gay marriage! evolution!) than on what Christianity is supposed to be for (loving God and loving your neighbor). But Christian fiction tends to be warm and loving.  You’re not likely to find families with two mommies or lessons on evolutionary biology in a Christian romance novel, but you won’t find any bashing, either.  I’d argue that Christian authors, as creatives, are some of the most open-minded Christians out there.
  5. Anticipation can be very sexy. Did you ever notice how, when you’re reading a red-hot romance, the intensity can drop off after the first love scene? Despite the requisite fight that follows the consummation, the buildup to the second love scene isn’t usually as exciting as the buildup to the first. In Christian romance, the anticipation continues throughout the novel and the final consummation is left to your imagination—a pretty colorful place, if the cliché about the most important sex organ being between the ears holds true.
  6. Sometimes, you need a little spirituality. Even if you’re not a churchgoer nor the type of person who’d hang a cross-stitched bible verse on the living room wall, most of us hunger for faith in something outside ourselves. When a parent dies or a job falls through or a teenager drives you crazy, it can help to watch characters with similar struggles find a solution in their faith. In Christian fiction, some kind of relationship with God—be it outspoken or bubbling gently under the surface—forms part of the answer to life’s problems. That can be a huge comfort.

Whether you read Christian romance frequently or never, I’d be honored if you’d try  my Sacred Bond series of romance novels. No risk: Book one in the series, His Baby Bond, is free on all platforms!

Lee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. When she not writing emotional, faith-infused love stories with happy endings, she’s probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.

Connect with Lee: 

Website/Newsletter: http://www.leetobinmcclain.com

Blog:  Flawed. Christian. Woman. http://www.leetobinmcclain.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Tobin-McClain/309202065934619

a christmas bondA Christmas Bond (prequel novella)

Romance between enemies  . . .

War hero John Moretti sees the delinquent boys he mentors as the sons he never had, and he wants to give them every opportunity to reform. Crime victim Annie Bauer views them as dangerous threats to her elderly grandma, who lives next door to the boys’ residential school. When the Baby Jesus is stolen from Grandma’s yard nativity scene, the boys’ potential involvement may send them straight to hard-core juvie, and break the fragile connection that’s building between Annie and John. Until the so-called delinquents join together to make a sacred bond . . .

his baby bondHis Baby Bond (Book 1)

Battle for a Baby . . .

Poor-but-proud Kendra Forrester doesn’t need an arrogant millionaire to tell her how to raise her sister’s baby. But when handsome Zeke King arrives at her Colorado cabin demanding custody of his brother’s child, strategy dictates that she let him stick around. Battling mountain weather and the baby’s illness brings these two opposites together, but their own insecurities, their dead siblings’ secrets, and a jealous former boyfriend threaten their tentative bond. Only the Lord and the Sacred Bond Brotherhood can help Kendra and Zeke form a family for their baby.

The Bride’s Broken Bond (Book 2)

A Runaway Bride . . .

As the wedding music starts playing, poor little rich girl Hope DeMille learns that her husband-to-be loves someone else, but her domineering, high-society father won’t let her back out of the expensive wedding he’s funded. Enter Rock Anderson, a former inner-city kid mentored by Hope’s parents, who’s always wanted Hope. After helping Hope escape, Rock gets her a job at his urban mission and helps her find meaning in her life. But when Hope’s powerful father seeks revenge and one of the inner-city kids goes missing, it’ll take the best efforts of the Sacred Bond brotherhood to help this opposite-sides-of-the-tracks couple overcome their differences and commit to love.

JUST FOR READERS OF LOVE. ROMANCE. PASSION:  I’LL GIVE A FREE E-COPY OF MY SEXIEST INSPIRATIONAL—THE BRIDE’S BROKEN BOND– TO A RANDOM COMMENTER. SO TELL ME WHY YOU LOVE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE—OR WHY YOU DON’T!

Review: Michael’s Angel (Friendship Heirlooms, Book 2) by Karen Weisner

michael's angelReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: The angel in this story is Michael’s next door neighbour, LeeAnn Wagner. Since he was a child, he has been told that he is will never amount to anything in his life, and certainly not when he grows up, but how long can a man who was originally unwanted by his mother go on believing in what she said – surely it can’t control a man’s life. LeeAnn can understand what Michael is going through as she has had a similar childhood where she was at the mercy of parents who were always fighting around her. LeeAnn can soothe his worried heart and help heal his past, but only if he lets her inside.

Review: Michael has been pushed round almost every foster home in the land, and hates the feeling of being with a family, yet also being alone as they will never understand him or make him feel as though he belongs with them as part of a family. His life with his foster sister, Eliza has gone beyond what he thinks is tolerable, and feels it is time for him to move on with LeeAnn in order to make a life for himself, one he will be comfortable with. Though he is given the chance of living a good enough life with her, he does the one thing no one expects and leaves her for the armed forces, as he can’t control the love he feels for her, and finds it might consume her. Although he has found Christ, and felt better about his decision, he still feels like a coward for not giving himself the life he should have had with her.

Michael has been manipulated most of his life since he has been with Eliza, and now he has a life of his own, but he still feels incomplete without the woman he loves. In this novel he is constantly torn between his love for her, and his own need to be apart from her. This is enough to cause anyone to be unsure of their life, and as he has had the worst possible life as a young man, he believes he has done the right thing, even though his heart tells him otherwise. Readers will spend most of the novel wondering whether they will get back together at all, and if they do whether it will be a fairytale ending, or only an amicable one. Karen Wiesner is a true romantic whatever she writes, so I couldn’t imagine she would disappoint readers by giving it an okay ending.

Juicy bits:

  • Michael leaving his blackmailing foster sister.
  • The story is well paced.
  • Readers can get into the minds of the characters.
  • If you are a Christian and a romantic at heart – this is the book for you.
  • Readers will like the reference to why the Heirlooms series is called that.

Bad bits:

  • Michael leaving LeeAnn for a long time – it’s not good, dammit!

Why we liked it: Karen Wiesner always puts plenty of soul and heart into her novels and stories, and she has excelled with this one about two people who should be together – but aren’t.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Michael’s Angel

Review: In the Garden of Thoughts by Dodinsky

In the Garden of Thoughts by dodinsky

Reviewed by Karin

Illustrations by Amanda Cass.

It was given to me by LRP for review.

I’m not quite sure who Dodinsky is, but his Facebook page is popular.

A friend saw me reading this book, picked it up and read it herself and thought she might buy several copies for gifts. It has a very eye catching cover design that is bright and cheery.

Each page is a light, but is full of deep inspiration, some deeper than others:

Consider your heart a cocoon from which dreams emerge like butterflies to wander in the garden.

I hope that when you count the stars, you begin with yourself.

Do not let your shadow walk you. You are not a slave of the past.

This is a very sweet book, which charming illustrations, very suitable for gifts.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: In the Garden of Thoughts

Self-publishing: Have a Game Plan

Alejandro 500x750 Guest blog by K. Victoria Chase, author of Alejandro

When I was ready to publish my fifth novel, I knew I had to do it myself. There are a host of reasons why authors should self-publish, but many still believe it’s an impossible undertaking. Let me make a molehill out of that mountain.

As with just about anything, especially major decisions, you need to have a game plan; and self-publishing is a major decision. You’re offering your work to the praise and derision of the world. This shouldn’t be taken lightly.

But the weight of the decision can be lightened by knowing exactly what steps to take next. So, after writing that epic book, you need to do a few things before the world is ready for it’s awesomeness. Now, plans can vary, but this is essentially what I’ve learned (and followed) from indie author pioneers.

1. Hire and editor. ‘Nuff said.

2. Hire a formatter. Unless you want to do it yourself. I can tell you from experience (formatting for print using Createspace) the money I spent on both the ebook and print formats was well worth it. Plus, you’ll receive several formats to upload to a variety of places.

3. Hire a cover artist. Why, oh why do people create their own covers? Unless you do it for a living, spare us the cut and paste/drawings/sketches/whatever and let us want to buy your book because of the great cover you’ll be hiring someone to do.

4. Copyright. You don’t have to do this right away, but at least you’ll be covered if ever you need to prove you’re the original creator of that masterpiece.

5. Buy ISBNs. Again, this is optional as many distribution sites allow you to buy/use their free ISBNs (Smashwords, Amazon…)

6. Open Accounts with Distributors. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords (which will populate a host of others), All Romance Ebooks, etc. Unless you’re participating in Amazon’s KDP Select program, where your book will be sold by Amazon exclusively, have your work sold everywhere so people don’t have to search for it.

Don’t forget to set a price for success=sales. Too high (regardless of what you believe it’s worth) won’t generate sales and too low won’t attract the readers who’ll remember you and buy your next book.

After you upload your edited, formatted, brilliantly-covered, copyrighted, ISBN-tagged work, press publish! You’re officially an indie author. Congratulations. Now, the hard part begins: marketing. But that’s another post.

7. Start writing the next book!

My first self-published title:

Buy: Alejandro (The Santiago Brothers Book Two)

orig_41406_026gtAbout the Author: From childhood, K. Victoria Chase enjoyed writing stories and plays and reading Christian romance. She received degrees in Criminal Justice and Diplomacy and worked as a federal law enforcement officer for several years before deciding to try her hand at writing a complete novel. Today, K. Victoria Chase is an Amazon bestselling author both in the US and the UK. She writes both clean and Christian interracial romance.

Visit K. Victoria Chase at http://www.kvictoriachase.com

Buy: Alejandro

Review: Home by Karen Wiesner

Home by Karen WiesnerReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Noted for her Christian Romance titles, Karen tells the tale of Della Flynn who hates being in the same city, Chicago for so long and wants to get out. It doesn’t help that it’s a dangerous place to live, but when her husband dies, she is left to figure out her life on her own with her son, River, and discover what her husband left her behind.

He promised her they wouldn’t have to live there long, but she is annoyed that he seemed to have settled where they were and didn’t want to move on even though it was a dangerous place to bring up a child in. He thinks they have to stay put where they are for good reason; they don’t have enough money to leave. Her mother is in a nursing home, and that seems to take up most of the cash they have, and she needs to work until her husband gets a better job. They are both unhappy, but his death makes things worse in a way.

Her husband had always thought of home as being where the family is, but Della, annoyed at what he originally said, thinks of their home town as being further from the reality. She hates the place, and no one can change her mind. His death leaves her unhappy, but makes her realize that she doesn’t have to stay. Della has plenty of pent up emotions clouding her judgement, and most of them are about her husband. She hates that he left their marital bed over a triviality, and went off with another woman, lied cheated so many times and hurt her so badly.

Readers will get the impression he might have done it all on purpose to make her feel bad for asking to leave Chicago so many times before, but it depends on how you read into it. This novel, like most of her others starts out disastrous, but as the story moves on, the circumstances of the main female character get better, and usually with time.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Home

Review: Accused (Pacific Coast Justice Series, Book 1) by Janice Cantore

Reviewed by Susan S.

Accused is a powerhouse of suspense!

Summary: Pacific Coast Justice Series-Book One As a law enforcement officer, C. Edwards, has always upheld the law and followed her agency’s protocols. And prior to becoming a divorcée, she was also the faithful wife. No one would categorize Carly’s life as perfect, but at least it has a semblance of stability. Now all that’s about to change!

As Carly searches for answers regarding who murdered Mayor Teresa Burke, she’ll uncover deeply protected secrets. Secrets those in power would kill to keep. With body counts rising, Carly will find herself in a race to stay alive! She never would’ve guessed it, but she’ll have to rely on the two people she’s been avoiding the most. Her ex-husband (Nick) and God.

Review: Janice Cantore is a new-to-me author. And the first thing that impressed me was the flow of the story. Everything flowed perfectly! There were no abrupt and jarring scene changes. It was one continuous smooth storytelling. Secondly, the suspense is top-notch. Furthermore, as a former police officer, Cantore’s uniform dispatch signals were accurate. As a civilian, I also found her descriptions of police procedures insightful.

Recommendations: Recommended for readers who enjoy police stories and inspirational tales of faith and hope.

What I Enjoyed:

Element: I liked the police officers’ sobriquets: Carly is Crash, Joe is Control, and Nick is Face.

Scene: There’s a scene where an officer risks his life for another. I wept copiously! I wouldn’t say I used an entire box of tissues, but it was close!

Extras: After the story there’s an author interview; that was a novel element.

Disclaimer: I requested this novel from NetGalley because of my interest in police stories.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Accused (Pacific Coast Justice)

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Copyright 2012, Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, Religion & Spirituality, Romance, ISBN-13# 978-1-4143-5847-5, Pages 416.

Review: Shards of Ashley (Family Heirlooms Series, Book 5) by Karen Wiesner

By Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

No one likes to compete with anyone in their household, do they? Ashley has to, and she doesn’t like it one bit, as she has been doing it since she was a young girl. Her sister was always treated differently to her, and given everything she wanted in return for doing nothing. Ashley, on the other hand, is a born giver who receives nothing for what she does.

As an adult, Ashley is determined to make a go of her life despite her past woes, but is it as easy as that?

And, it wasn’t just her sister who hurt her all those years ago when she was a kid – her mother pretended to care for her, and be the perfect Christian when she wanted something from them or other people. And as usual, others think highly of her as a mother, when in actual fact only Ashley knows what she was really like. In order for her to have a decent future, she must leave the past behind her, and make a fresh start, find a man, and some friends who will compliment her.

There is one man who can help her see sense and break the hold the past has on her, and he is Jay Samuels. They had a deep and meaningful love before, but even when she meets him again, she can’t feel the same way about him as he does her – so there’s a problem of communication between them. The question is, will she string him along and use him to make her feel better about herself, or will she eventually tell him that she doesn’t feel the same about him.

Somewhere deep inside she wants to be happy, even though she puts up impenetrable defenses against other men. He can help her, but she has to be ready to be helped. Her troubled emotions in this novel only lead her to more heartache. It is a rather dark read as her emotions can rub off on the reader, as she continually makes the mistake of not letting Jay into her mind, and helping her with her troubles.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Shards of Ashley [Family Heirlooms Series Book 5]

Review: Glass Angels (Family Heirloom Series, Book 4) by Karen Wiesner

by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

In the fourth of her Family Heirlooms Series, Karen has brought us Samantha Samuels under a difficult set of circumstances where she has had a bad run in with Ryder Feldmann, a young man troubled and cruel who had decided not to take her father’s counselling seriously enough to listen to him. Instead he has done the worst thing imaginable, he has offered physical violence in return, and more than that, mental hurt from him when she thought he was doing him some good.

Realizing that she could do some good to others instead of dwelling on the past hurts she had suffered, she decides to undergo training for counselling those who are victims of violence such as rapes, beatings and random violence in the home. Setting up at the Wisconsin counselling centre, but she doesn’t expect to find the man she had fallen for before her ordeal with the troubled teen many years ago. She doesn’t know how she will feel if she does meet him, and there will be a time when he does, as he shares the same building as the clinic, and he appears at services at their local church, so to be honest she can’t miss him.

Kyle is the brother of Ryder Feldmann, the one who had hurt her before, and ended their relationship. He has felt bad ever since, even though Ryder has been incarcerated for his sins. He can’t do anything to anyone, but it doesn’t stop the guilt Kyle feels after. He still loves Samantha deeply, but doesn’t want to be seen the same way as his brother – and so feels troubled when he first meets her. He wants more than anything else to get their relationship back to the way it was, but she is still so sad and unhappy, and who can blame her after what his brother put her through. He wants to love her and hold her, even marry her, but what happened to her has tarnished that part of her that had been open to his love.

How can he make her see him as different from his brother, and have her love him again? It’s a lot to ask a woman, especially after what she has been through, but if she has a little faith, she can see that he is a better man.

This book is all about forgiving, but it takes Samantha a lot to get over what she has endured for years, and after a brutal rape as she has suffered, no one could ask her to just get over it so easily. It takes time, and lots of it to forgive someone for doing so cruel a thing as that. Who can blame her for making Kyle wait for her answer as to whether she will be his and love him again just as she did before. She knows it isn’t his fault, or hers, and the man responsible is in jail, but if time heals all, what can she do with Kyle, but try and patch their relationship together so they can make a new start. He knows forgiving is hard, and it will even take a long time for him to forgive what his brother did to her. This isn’t all about forgiveness though, there is also the injustice aspect as her attacker is due to be out after three years in prison, while Samantha still bears the scars. The reader will wonder how bad Kyle will be feeling after he comes out – and the worry will be whether he will try to come back and see him even if he doesn’t want to know him.

There are lots of emotions in this novel, love, hate, but the forgiving, as I said takes time, and it does in this.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Glass Angels (Family Heirlooms Series Book 4), Glass Angels (UK)