From Julie Arduini:
There is no way I could write without critique groups. I’m in two of them, and one includes Laura V. Hilton. Laura challenges me as an author, digging deeper for character, details, and plot points. She’s helped so many with her great eye and skills. As a reader, I’m constantly drawn in by her romances. When it comes to Amish Romance, Laura is my absolute favorite. I think you’ll agree, too.
Laura is sharing today, and she is offering a print or eBook book of your choice. However, if winner chooses The Second Chance Brides Romance Collection or Christmas Admirer, they’ll have to wait for author copies. USA only for print. Ebook anywhere. Thanks, Laura, for sharing and offering the giveaway!
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places by Laura V. Hilton
Romance. Ah, I love it.
Years ago when I was a teenager, there was a shortage of Christian romance novels. This was before Janette Oke burst on the scene, saddles blazing, and threw wide open the doors for romance writers. The only writer back then that I knew of was Grace Livingstone Hill. Mom had her entire collection and I read them and reread them so many times I had them memorized.
And then I got a part-time summer job at the library in town. And they had these twirly paperback stands stuffed full of romances. Harlequin, both regular and super. American. Regencies. And more. Oh, bliss to the romance lover’s heart. I checked out a huge stack of them. Being used to Grace Livingstone Hill, I expected a clean, sweet romance. What was inside the pages of the book didn’t match my imagination. But, oh. My. Goodness. Wow. I’m sure my teenaged eyes popped.
Sadly, or maybe fortunately, my dad decided to check out what I was reading. And then he sat me down to discuss the book with me. How embarrassing! I about died. He even talked to my English teacher at school who talked with me about my bad reading choices. And then she singled me out to not read what any of the other kids in my class read, but she assigned the classics: Wuthering Heights, Call of the Wild, To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and more. She was careful to steer away from romance so Gone with the Wind and Jane Eyre was not included. And the books were good. I enjoyed them. Inhaled them, but it didn’t fuel my need for romance. I got very good at smuggling a book or two in and reading it under the covers at night.
When I was about eighteen years old, Janette Oke came on the scene. And yes, I devoured her books. I stopped reading the paperbacks in the library and read Dad-approved novels with a strong faith message. I didn’t have to sneak around with them.
When I read Robin Jones Gunn I had a new favorite author. I remember reading in either an author interview or a letter by the author where she made a comment that “God is the ultimate lover. He is a relentless pursuer. He loves you so incredibly much that He gave it all for you.”
Yes. True, that. But one doesn’t think of God as being a lover when you are a teenager or young adult. Still, that quote stuck with me. Through the years when I dreamed of being a published writer. Someone like Janette Oke or Robin Jones Gunn. I didn’t want to write something Mom would be embarrassed to read and I knew Dad would discuss anything I wrote with me. So that meant clean. But while I’d given my life to Jesus by then, I wasn’t sold out to God. That came much later.
Now, there are an abundance of Christian romance novels on the market. Great authors who I collect every book they ever wrote. Historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, Amish… I can read my fill. And thanks to God, He allows me to write it too. My daughters are able to read any book on my shelves without worry. And they learn what a true godly man is. They get a strong faith message.
When I was older with young children, I heard Tracie Peterson speak at a conference. And she gave her testimony, sharing how she grew up—like me—smuggling books home from the library and how she made some bad decisions as a result. I am blessed I had parents and teachers who cared and didn’t want me to go down that road.
Thank you, Grace Livingstone Hill for coming first. Thank you, Janette Oke, for throwing the doors wide open for other authors. And thank you, Robin Jones Gunn, for writing words that stayed with me for decades. And last, but not least, thank you God for blessing so many other romance writers with the ability to share Your love and faithfulness to other romance readers.
The Christmas Admirer
Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for as long as he can remember, but other than a lone summer filled with romantic buggy rides, marrying her remains an elusive dream. When his parents died in an accident a year ago, he broke up with her—for her own good. After all, they left him as the sole caregiver for his three younger sisters and his grandparents. What woman wants to step into a ready-made family like his? Still, he leaves her monthly gifts from “A Secret Admirer,” hoping she’ll know that someone loves her, even though he isn’t free to step forward.
Susanna has never gotten over losing Benaiah, and hopes he’s her secret admirer, but now the clock is ticking. Susanna’s father is remarrying in January and his wife-to-be doesn’t want to leave her Amish community and family in Iowa. So when Susanna’s daed sells his glass-blowing business to his right-hand man, Benaiah, she’s left with three options: 1) Go with Daed to his new home with a new frau and step-kinner, 2) Flush out her mysterious secret admirer, or 3) Resign herself to life as an old maid. She doesn’t want to follow Daed where his new frau is leading him. And number three isn’t happening. Marrying Benaiah is her greatest desire—but he broke her heart, and now he treats her like a pesky younger sister. Can she make him see her as a woman, one who could stand by his side as he cares for his family?
As Christmas approaches, Susanna and her friends start making gingerbread houses for select members of the community. Susanna plans for hers to go to Benaiah’s family. But while her gingerbread may find a home—will her heart?
Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.
Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.
When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.
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Leave a comment on who your first Christian romance author was that you enjoyed for a chance to be in Laura’s giveaway, details above. Eligible comments will be those published before August 1, 12am Eastern.