Monday, February 16, 2009

Does Inspirational Romance Equal Emotional Satisfaction?

I read something troubling this week. It was from someone who doesn’t normally read Inspirational. To get a feel for the genre, she ordered three random Inspy books. I don’t know who she read or what stories but her response was that she was surprised to find how totally distant the books were from any real spiritual angst. There's no struggle, no doubt and no fear. Consequently, there's no emotional satisfaction at the end.”

I assume she was reading Inspirational romance and some of them like any other genre of romance can be filled with ‘fluff’ stories. Fun reads without any real depth. BUT there are some great Inspirational authors out there who touch you deep down to the core. I’m right aren’t I? Who are some of the authors you’ve read and never forgotten—stories or characters that stirred you in an incomprehensible way?

I’ll give a couple examples of Inspirationals that have affected me that way. Blind Promises by Diana Palmer from Steeple Hill. Now Diana is a well loved author in many genres. She wrote a story that reminded me very much of Jane Eyre. The passion was there, the characters, the angst. And even now a year later, I still think about that book. Another favorite author is Lori Wick. Her book, The Princess, is another that truly affected me. It included more desire on the parts of the characters than I would have thought in a mainstream Inspy romance. There was depth to her characters and plot. A great book and one of my ultimate favorite Inspirational romances. Another author I would encourage this reader to pick up is Francine Rivers. Her books take you to a deeper level in so many ways. You will be changed after reading one of her books. Several of The Wild Rose Press White Rose books affected me in similar ways: Nicola Beaumont’s Forever from Paris, Kara Lynn Russell’s Until Summer Ends, and recently First I’m Nobody by Kassandra Elaine. There are so many more as well.

I know you all have favorite Inspirational authors and books. Share some today. What would you say to someone who read a couple Inspy’s and was now turned off to the genre as lacking in spiritual angst and struggle while missing emotional satisfaction? I want to know. The world awaits your response.

In the meantime, here is an emotional excerpt from my short Inspirational, Relationship Rescue:

Robynn folded her hands in her lap, rolled her shoulders back and held her head straight, waiting for what he thought they needed to talk about. But if she really started talking about what had been on her mind all this time, she might have to ask for forgiveness afterward. She released a breath through close lips in an attempt to calm herself.

Mitch looked out at the playground equipment in the distance, the bright street lamps illuminating his profile. He was definitely not comfortable with whatever it was he was about to say and she was glad of it. It was time he felt a little distress over this whole situation.

He turned abruptly to her with bright eyes. There might have even been some moisture there. “Robynn, I messed up. I’m sorry. In all this time, I never asked for your forgiveness but I should have. I’m sorry.”

Robynn felt her heart melt several degrees. She crossed her arms in an attempt to keep her courage up. “What are you sorry about exactly, Mitch? About the fact that you asked me to marry you and then a year later you still wouldn’t let me plan the wedding or set the date. Or is it because I wasted three years of my life believing that you loved me?”

He slid across the bench and moved as if he might take her hand but refrained and instead rested against the back of the bench. “I was crazy to think you could wait indefinitely. Things don’t stand still. They’re always moving, always changing. The bottom line is that I was afraid and then when you gave me that ultimatum, I got angry at you.”

You were angry at me?” she replied, bristling from the inside out.

“You didn’t seem to understand that some people need more time.”

“Some people seemed like they were never going to be ready.”

“It wouldn’t have been never. I was just being careful, making sure it was right.”

“Sometimes you just have to have faith.”

“You’re right.” He tipped his eyes down to his lap and smiled. What was he smiling about? Nothing about this was funny.

His eyes moved back up to hers. The expression was serious again…well, more like intense. It made her pulse trip. “Honestly, Robynn, I didn’t even understand what love really was. I was blinded by my own selfishness and what I wanted. I didn’t appreciate what a blessing your love and even more your very presence was to me. Do you know what torture it has been for me to see your face each Sunday morning or at a single’s activity and not be able to tell you how much I love you, not even be able to look at you like I want to?”

An icy chill raced down Robynn’s spine, causing her to shiver. Her stomach seemed to drop down to her knees as her equilibrium fell off. She reached out and held the bottom of the bench to steady herself. “You still love me?” She almost choked on the words. It was what she had been hoping to hear from him for the past six months.

“Yes, of course, I still love you. How could I stop?” He reached his hand out this time and took hers captive, bringing it back to his lap.

Tears sprung to her eyes and she knew she was about to start blubbering and she couldn’t allow that to happen in front of him. She sucked in a calming breath and exhaled, hoping to find the strength as two renegade tears slipped down her cheek. “Tell me why then, Mitch. Why? You broke my heart.”

Now Available at The Wild Rose Press


Kara Lynn Russell said...

That's funny because I think the inspy romances are often the books I get the most emotional satisfaction from. Of course there is a lot fluff out there, too. That's all right. I love fluff, too.

My favorite books are those that make me laugh but also make me think. For that I recommend authors Allie Pleiter, Janet Tronstad (esp. Going to the Chapel), Judy Baehr, and Susan May Warren. (S.M.W. also does romantic suspense)

Also in the laugh/think category from the Wild Rose Press, try: Table for One by Georgiana Daniels, The Valentine Edition by Robin Lee Shopes, and Pi and the Fabulosa (Slightly Married) Twenty Four Hour Man by Dana Mentink.

Diane Craver said...

I didn't realize that Diana Palmer wrote an inspirational romance. I love her books so thanks for the information. I'm glad you shared what Wild Rose Press books you enjoyed from the inspirational line. I want to read those, too.

I've enjoyed reading Lori Wick's books. I liked Shelley Gray Shepherd's inspirational stories about modern day Amish characters.

And I love your cover for your "Relationship Rescue" and I know it's a great emotional read. I haven't had a chance to read it but have enjoyed reading your other stories.

I definitely enjoy reading inspirational romances and they have a lot of struggle, mounting tension, and you feel great satisfaction at the end. Like any genre, there are some you can relate to more than others.

Great post, Cindy!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Cindy. Great post and excerpt. Some of my favorite authors who have inspired me over the years are:
Danielle Steel, too many to list. Some are:
His Bright Light
The Ring
My Best Friend Martha

Barbar Freethy
Ask Moria
Daniel's Gift

Eileen Goudge
Carson Springs Trilogy

Many Fern Michaels about family pulling together in crisis

Touched by an Angel was my first attempt at inspirational. To my delight, I received fan mail stating my story gave hope for a brighter tomorrow and a second chance of romance through God's plan. There are times when I need words of wisdom and encouragement and find peace and tranquility through an inspi.

Cindy K. Green said...

Hi Kara! Yes,you know I too love the humorous stories. They always end up touching us all the more. In the Inspy especially.

Thanks for stopping by Diane.Yes, RR has a terrific cover!

Hello Sharon. I know what you mean about your Inspy. It was after A Funny Thing...released (and the fan mail started)that I realized how much we touch and affect our readers--maybe even more than in other genre's.

Nicola said...

I've ready many inspy's that are emotionally satisfying, both "regular" emotionally, and "spiritually." But, just like any genre, there's the good, the bad, and the ugly--what are you going to do?

When Hyacinths in Winter came out, I didn't even think about what reader reaction would be, but it tackles a controversial subject, and readers really liked that.

When Forever from Paris was releasing, I really wondered if readers would like it. Again, it tackles a difficult topic. But the reader response was overwhelmingly positive--even though the story made a lot of people cry.

When it all comes down to it, I think reading is just so subjective.

Table for One is definitely one that will make you laugh. I loved it from the very first paragraph.

And Kara Lynn's Nick & Noelle is a great one, too...and Limited Light...and...OK somebody stop me. :)

Teri Wilson, Romancing the pet lover's soul said...

Wow, great post Cindy. I have to agree with Kara. I get way more emotional fulfillment out of reading inspy romances. And I think the amount of spiritual struggle or angst in the book really depends on the author and the line (if the book is part of a series).

Some inspirational lines are written according to the CBA standards and, as such, are very limited as to which subject matters they can tackle. I'm thinking specifically of lines like the Harlequin Love Inspired line (which I do enjoy very, very much) which will not allow divored heroes/heroines, no dancing, no controversial topics, etc.

My goal this year is to sign a contract with TWRP for a White Rose title. Since Christmas I have been going through and reading the entire White Rose backlist. The fact that the White Rose line is not limited with specific taboo topics really makes so many of these books especially compelling from an emotional and spiritual standpoint. I really enjoyed Preacher Man a lot. The heroine's concerns about dating a preacher were great. And she was a divorced heroine (as was the heroine of Almost Home) - these heroines deserve to find love and God's grace, too.

It's funny you are all talking about Table for One. I just read it last week and told my husband it was one of the best books I have read in a really, really long time. I savored every word.

I think the inspy titles are the most satisfying because they deal with faith and hope. And really, isn't Jesus the best romantic hero of them all?

Teri Wilson, Romancing the pet lover's soul said...

Oops. I forgot to list some of my fav inspy authors. I adore Judy Baer (esp. the books Nora's Ark and Sleeping Beauty), Janet Tronstad (love her Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches series) and Tamara Leigh.

And I will read anything Kristen Billerbeck every writes, even if she scribbled her next book on the back of a cocktail napkin.

I have yet to read a White Rose book I did not enjoy. Some of my favs have been Table for One, Preacher Man and Almost Home. And I really enjoyed The Valentine Edition, which came as no surprise. I've always had a thing for veterinarians. :)


Diane Craver said...

I loved what you said about TWRP not having all the taboo topics for inspirational romance. I sent a query letter to Steeple Hill about my inspirational romance. The heroine is divorced. SH sent me a form rejection letter.

I'm hoping to hear good news from TWRP. I hope you get a contract for your inspirational romance too.

Teri Wilson, Romancing the pet lover's soul said...

Good luck with your submission Diane. I'm waiting on mine, too.

If you haven't seen the LI taboo list, you should take a peek. I read it aloud at one of my critique group meetings and everyone's jaw hit the table.

Diane Craver said...

Thanks, Teri.

I remember reading their list but must have missed a few things. LOL

Julie Robinson said...

Great post, Cindy.
Diane, I'm sorry about that rejection. That is one reason some inspirationals don't sit well with me. They're too limited and don't take into account many real life situations involving good people and, as a result, are too limited in scope.

I do like the work of Lenora Worth, Debbie Giusti, and Cheryl Wolverton, having met them personally.

Cindy, I had loved your story, The Spirit of Christmas,' so I'll add your name to the list.