Christian Historical Romance – Straight-up
(Previously Published on http://goaheadandwearthepurple.blogspot.com/)
© 2010 by Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar
Christian historical romances, or CHRs, are as varied and textured as the food we eat. Some are more wholesome while others contain a spiciness that may or may not agree with readers. Still others might be “too mushy” for some – and then there are those novels which are so addictive that you can’t read just one.
The Christian historical with the romance served “straight-up,” then, might be compared to a fruit smoothie that’s served in a lovely, long-stemmed glass. It’s refreshing and sweet, but sometimes tart too. It’s good for the body and soul, and very classy. There are no additives so sensitive readers can enjoy it. And it comes in many different flavors (a.k.a. time periods).
For instance my latest novel “Unwilling Warrior” (Realms Fiction) takes place during the Civil War. This part of history has often been romanticized in sagas such as “Gone With The Wind” and I have to admit to watching the movie at least twenty-five times. I’ve always been intrigued with the American South’s antebellum period. While I’m aware of the inaccuracies within the Hollywood adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, I’m enthralled with the era all the same. The beautiful flared, silk gowns, the majestic plantation homes, and the gallantry of handsome beaus beneath towering oaks are the perfect ingredients for any sweet historical novel…maybe even the chocolate-raspberry smoothie of them all!
The Love of History and Romance
At the age of 4 (my granddaughter’s present age) I fell in love with the boy in Disney’s movie, “Johnny Shiloh.” My father, a Civil War enthusiast, found my crush quite amusing. As a girl in junior high school, I toured the Battlefield of Shiloh with my family. I read stories written by soldiers and preserved by their descendants. I imagined what it would be like to live in such a day – a day when a gunshot wound to the leg often meant amputation or lead poisoning. Battlefield medics oftentimes only received on-the-job training and weren’t medical personnel at all.
On the home front, women wore their bonnets and petticoats even when temperatures hit 110 degrees. Unless they were “strange women,” they didn’t unbutton their blouses or let their hair down – and especially didn’t behave in such a manner in front of a gentleman suitor. However, today’s readers wouldn’t know it from some of the bodice-ripping covers lining the bookshelves.
Despite my disparaging, these are the kinds of romances which I began reading when my sons were toddlers – and the kind I wanted to write until I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. After that, I felt called to write God-honoring stories, specifically romance.
Christian historical romances are, by contrast to their secular counterparts, as safe as most Hallmark movies. In fact, many CHRs have become Hallmark movies. Janette Oke’s “Love Comes Softly” titles come to mind. Conversely, some Christian historicals are more edgy, their stories are more plot-driven with action and suspense. The CHR – straight-up, on the other hand, focuses primarily on the relationship between the heroine and hero – and their relationships with God.
In my book “Unwilling Warrior” (Realms Fiction) which will be released in May 2010, my character Valerie Fontaine wants to be loved and accepted by her father – and then by her new husband. But it’s not until she wholeheartedly trusts the Lord that she understands what true love is all about.
The CHR – straight-up depicts healthy relationships as positive and God-honoring while pointing out the consequences of choosing anything less. This may seem fundamental, but let’s face it: A majority of today’s populace believes “The Real Housewives of New York City” are…real housewives.
The Bible instructs otherwise. Proverbs 31 praises the woman who is moral and chaste, who puts her family above her own selfish desires, and who brings honor to her husband. (Incidentally, honor is not the same as fame and fortune.)
One reader told me she thinks of my stories as “little teachings.” The comment was humbling and made me see how much responsibility I have as a writer – but more, as a Christian writer. I can show my characters stumbling so my readers don’t have to fall. I can illustrate faith in action so those who don’t believe might have a change of heart. The vehicle in which I feel called to share my spiritual gift is writing.
And, sure, the literary world can’t survive on fruit smoothies in long, tall glasses alone. I realize and accept the fact. Nevertheless, one cannot deny the power of love in the Christian historical novel with the romance served straight-up.