Tag: Contemporary Christian Romance

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week #95 | Falling for Grace by Janet W Ferguson

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Falling for Grace by Janet W Ferguson:

It was finally over. Like some kind of cruel joke, mile after mile of long rays of Florida sunlight splashed across the steering wheel of the Toyota Camry, highlighting Grace Logan's empty ring finger.

Falling for Grace is a novella in Janet W Ferguson’s Coastal Hearts series, and I will confess I couldn’t stop at this first line!

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Falling for Grace

Grace Logan has taken a lot of tumbles in life, but she works hard to bounce right back. Dreams shattered and hope for reconciliation gone, Grace needs a place where she can pick herself up now that her ex is marrying her former best friend. Her boss’s beach house in Santa Rosa seems like the perfect getaway, but stumbling into the attractive-but-damaged handyman next door isn’t part of the plan.

After losing his infant son—and his marriage—Seth Gibbs is left with smothering grief and guilt. Bad memories make it difficult to find a new normal, so he escapes to his family’s vacation home. Three years later, he’s still in Santa Rosa with no plans to leave. That is…until Grace falls into his life.

You can find Falling for Grace online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

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Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

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What’s your favourite Christian book genre?

Bookish Question #47 | What’s your favourite Christian book genre?

Asking a keen reader their favourite genre is like asking any addict about their favourite fix. Well, I assume it is. I haven’t spent a lot of time around addicts!

My favourite genre is romance, which shouldn’t come as any surpirse to anyone who reads my reviews on a regular basis. But romance is a huge genre, so what are my favourite novels within romance? I have three:

Regency Romance

Regency Romance is set in England during the period of the British Regency—when King George III was deemed mentally unfit to rule, so his son (the future King George IV) was named Prince Regent in his place. A lot of Georgette Heyer’s novels are set in the Regency period, and it’s also the time when Jane Austen was writing and publishing. Regency Romance characters are often members of the aristocracy, so the stories are complete fantasy when compared to my way of life!

My favourite Christian Regency Romance authors are Julie Klassen, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Carolyn Miller.

Romantic Suspense

I also enjoy romance with a suspense or thriller element. The mix of romance and suspense provides the classic mix of internal and external conflict, and provides plenty of opportunity for the hero and heroine to get to know each other as they work together to solve the crime (or stop one happenning).

My favourite Christian romantic suspense authors are DiAnn Mills, Lynette Eason, Terri Blackstock, and similar authors.

Contemporary Romance

My absolute favourite genre is contemporary romance. But not just any contemporary romance. I like stories that are a realistic and even a little gritty, that show life like it is but still show the hope of Jesus. And a little comedy doesn’t hurt, as a way of diffusing tension.

My favourite contemporary Christian romance authors are whichever book I’ve read most recently. Kara Isaac, Bethany Turner, Jennifer Rodewald, Brandy Bruce, Carla Laureano, Tammy L Gray, Courtney Walsh, Amy Matayo … the list goes on.

What about you? What’s your favourite Christian book genre?

Let me know in the comments, then pop over to Australasian Christian Writers and share there!

Book Review: Jaded by Varina Denman

If you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. Today I’m reviewing Jaded by Varina Denman, a debut contemporary Christian romance novel with a difference, this one set in small-town Texas. This review previously appeared on my personal review blog, Iola’s Christian Reads.

Jaded by Varina DemnanContemporary Christian Romance Book Recommendation - Jaded by Varina Denman

I passed on this book when I first saw it available for review. The cover looked boring, as though it was about the Amish, or perhaps their Mennonite cousins. The blurb didn’t attract me, although it did make it clear that the book was set in small-town Texas, with no Amish or Mennonites in sight.

It looked boring.

But then reviews started coming through, specifically a review from Andrea Grigg. She raved about Jaded … which convinced me that maybe I’d misjudged Jaded, and persuaded me I had to read it (and I’d missed the opportunity to get a review copy, so I actually had to BUY this one!)

I admit that at first I wondered what Andrea was so excited by. Ruthie Turner hates church and works two jobs to support herself and her depressed mother and desperately wants to escape the tiny Texas town of Trapp (although I didn’t pick up on that obvious pun while I was reading). Dodd Turner is the new high school maths teacher, and the new town preacher. The teaching job puts him in regular contact with Ruthie, who he is attracted to but who will barely give him the time of day.

It all seemed a bit mundane and annoying. Ruthie annoyed me because I couldn’t see why she didn’t just up and leave (if she can get two jobs in a town as small as Trapp, surely she can get a job anywhere). The people of the town of Trapp annoyed me because of their small-minded attitudes. And the people of the Trapp church especially annoyed me, for their judgemental and ignorant attitudes (they probably believe King James wrote the Bible).

Excellent contemporary CHristian Romance

But I persevered because the writing was excellent. It mixed first person (Ruthie) and third person (Dodd), which is something I’ve seen more novels fail at than succeed at. Once I got past the initial glitch that Jaded was written in both first and third person, both points of view flowed well. Ruthie was a particularly strong viewpoint character: I didn’t necessarily like her, but she had an engaging way with words:

“My uncle was pushing seventy and moved slower than a horned lizard on a cold day.”

Great image.

“I thought how nice it would be to keep inching back, crawling to a place where memories couldn’t meet me.”

That evokes an emotional response, a feeling of recognition. It’s strong writing.

“Loneliness floated over me like a snowdrift. Loneliness so thick I could smell it. Taste it. Hear it. Not even why my daddy left had I felt anything like it. Not even when the church shunned us. Not even when Momma became a ghost.”

Wow. One paragraph manages to pack in Ruthie’s entire backstory as well as several rounds of emotional punches. If only every novel I read had such good lines.

But it’s one thing to say the writing was strong. Great writing is nothing without a good story and engaging characters. And it took a while, but I did eventually connect with Ruthie and the other characters, perhaps a quarter of the way through. After that, I didn’t want to put the book down. It was that good. The writing may have pulled me in, but it was the characters who kept me there. I’ve since read the sequel, Justified, and it was just as good. Now I’m waiting for the third book in the trilogy.

Thanks, Andrea. I really needed more books on my to-read pile.

Book Recommendation: Making Marion by Beth Moran

Making Marion by Beth Moran

 

An Outstanding Contemporary Christian Romance Novel

If you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. Today I’m reviewing Making Marion by Beth Moran, a contemporary Christian romance novel I enjoyed for the characters, the writing, and the memories of living in England. This review previously appeared on my reviewing blog, Iola’s Christian Reads.

Book Description

(from the back cover, as there doesn’t seem to be a description on Amazon)Contemporary Christian Romance Book Recommendation - Making Marion by Beth Moran

Where’s Robin Hood when you need him?

Marion Miller comes to Sherwood Forest to uncover her father’s mysterious past. She is looking for somewhere to stay, but instead finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campsite. Despite her horrible shyness, she promptly lands herself a job working for the big-hearted and irrepressible Scarlett.

It takes all of Marion’s determination to come out of her shell and get to grips with life on a busy campsite, where even the chickens seem determined to thwart her. Then an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben.

Can Marion discover her father’s secret? And will she find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?

My Review

Making Marion isn’t a novel for the ultra-conservative Christian reader. It has a distinctly British flavour in terms of language, content, and plot. Marion has a lot of issues in her past, and these are addressed through humour (like Bridget Jones) rather than angst (as used by, say, Karen Kingsbury). I found the sometimes irreverent humour made the hard parts easier to read, but some readers might find that same humour to be disrespectful or offensive.

The plot was good, and the characters, especially Marion and Scarlett were excellent, and the writing was probably the best I’ve come across from a British author, with a subtle theme of love and forgiveness. The present story was regularly interspersed with flashbacks to Marion’s past, which showed us something of the events which had shaped her, and how much she had to forgive.

Recommended for those looking for the depth of Sally Bradley and Varina Denman with the humour of Bridget Jones.