Author Karen Witemeyer talks about the definition of Inspirational romance, a term that is often used interchangeably with Christian romance. Learn why Witemeyer considers this romance "entertainment for the heart" in this special guest blog post.
As an inspirational romance author, I often get asked, "What exactly is Christian romance?" It seems like such a simple question, yet the answer is often hard to articulate succinctly. One could describe it by what it isn't—no sex scenes, no foul language, no overly graphic violence. But to do so would be like describing Christianity with a list of "thou shalt nots" and omitting all the wonders of grace, love, and joy inherent in a relationship with Christ. Such a definition fails to capture the richness of what the genre truly is.
At its core, an inspirational romance novel is a romance—a love story with twists and turns that ultimately leads to a happily ever after. The key difference is that the hero and/or heroine are Christians, and as such, their faith is an essential part of their characterization, equally as important in defining them as their occupation or family background. It shapes the decisions they make and can create turbulent inner conflict when their values are tested. These characters can vary greatly in their levels of spiritual maturity from those who have fallen away, to those who are seeking, to new converts, to devoted disciples. However, like all of us, they are far from perfect, and it is often their flawed state that allows readers to see themselves in their journey.
The inspirational nature of this genre can also be felt in the novel's theme. It may be a subtle thread that whispers gently to the reader without her conscious awareness or a more overt message that weaves throughout the story in a more recognizable pattern. It is not a preachy sermon, but an arc of character growth essential to the plot. For example, in my first book, A Tailor-Made Bride, a theme of spiritual unity emerged, emphasizing the importance of treating one another with love even in the face of disagreement. This played out naturally in the story since my heroine was a seamstress who valued beauty while my hero was a livery owner who condemned vanity.
Themes that emerge in an author's writing often reflect her personal faith as well as struggles she's faced. At the time I wrote the manuscript that would become my second release, Head in the Clouds, I was an unpublished author longing to see my dream become reality. Yet as I endured rejection and disappointment, I questioned God's calling and direction. My heroine, Adelaide Proctor, experienced many of the same doubts, questions, and frustrations when God seemed to answer her prayers with silence. Through the course of her story, she learned to trust God with her dreams and wait on his timing. I learned the same lesson. And four months after I finished writing that manuscript, I signed a three-book contract with Bethany House.
So what is inspirational romance? It is entertainment for the heart and nourishment for the soul.
- Karen Witemeyer
You can read two example of Karen Witemeyer's "entertainment for the heart", A Tailor-Made Bride and Head in the Clouds, on shelves now. And then keep your eyes open for To Win Her Heart, coming soon!
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