Is there anything more powerful than a redemption story?
This month I’ve been writing my next Christian hockey book, The Love Penalty (out January next year), and because I like to give my readers different types of stories so they don’t all sound the same, I figured it was time to explore some aspects of the ‘bad girl’ trope. As readers, we may be more used to reading about ‘bad boy’ books, where the male protagonist, who is often an outcast with a troubled background with a reputation of corrupting others, finds the right woman who draws him from that scene and he finds redemption through the power of love (and God). I’ve written some ‘bad boy’ books, including Big Apple Atonement, and I love seeing how characters can find their way back to God.
A ‘bad girl’ book can be a little different though. Perhaps because most of Christian romance is written by women for women, a ‘bad girl’ as the heroine can be a little harder for some readers to relate to (and some of us writers, too). What counts as ‘bad’ can vary a lot, especially in Christian circles, as so much depends on one’s understanding of Scripture, church background, and lived experience. I’ve written a ‘bad girl’ in my Independence Islands book (Refining Josie), and some readers didn’t like her. But others totally understood why a broken person would make the choices she had.
For The Love Penalty‘s heroine, Sylvie, I wanted her quest to belong to be something readers would identify with more than the external stuff, like what she wears or has inked in her skin. It always feels like a risk that readers will be turned off by someone ‘not like them’, but I hope that understanding these longings that drive her to make the choices she has helps people understand that Sylvie is not that different to many of us, after all. I think it’s important to explore this as an author, what can happen when someone feels rejected and abandoned, but then what happens when they find true healing and wholeness through the hope that’s found in Jesus.
Writing salvation or recommitment to God scenes like these make me cry. I’ve written a few over the years, in both contemporary and historical books, and I always love trying to reflect just a drop of what this most significant of life moments is like. When a person turns from death to life. When the scales fall from their eyes and they realize God’s love is for them. For us. For us all. I love the power and amazing grace of God that transforms people’s lives, and love it when we see God’s truths reflected in fiction. Sylvie has a long way to go (hey, don’t we all?) but she embarks on the faith journey, which transforms how she acts and feels.
A bad girl, just like a bad boy, doesn’t have to stay bad, especially when they encounter the amazing love and grace of God. And when I write these kinds of books, and realise afresh just how amazingly kind our Heavenly Father is, yes, it makes me cry. I might’ve actually sobbed a little in this one, because these characters may not be real, as in they actually live and breathe, but in some ways they actually are, as fictionalised representations of real people, real people who need Jesus, who are loved by God, who need God’s love and hope, and who are getting saved around the world every day. That’s something to think about, the next time we meet a ‘bad’ girl – in real life, or in fiction.
Want to read some other ‘bad girl’ Christian contemporary romance with redemptive arcs that just might make you cry? Then why not check out Jaycee Weaver’s What Makes a Home, where we see a bad girl looking for love in all the wrong places, before she finally meets the One. In Emily Conrad’s To Begin Again we see Michaela leverage her looks to reach her goals, until she finds a better way. And in Deb Kastner’s And Cowboy Makes Three find out what happens when a reformed bad girl return to her judgmental town, baby in tow.
Lots of good redemption reading to delve into, including The Love Penalty, coming soon. Here’s some more about the story: Sometimes there’s a hefty price to pay when two opposites attract…
With her fondness for tattoos and spider jewelry Sylvie Miles is used to being pre-judged and misunderstood. She has friends and connections but she still feels alone, and works several jobs while daydreaming about finding a guy who sees further than skin deep and won’t shy away from her battered heart. So when a hot pro hockey player with a smile as vast as his skills takes a shine to her what’s a poor girl to do but fall in love?
Ryan Guillemette sure wasn’t looking for romance in a bookstore in his hometown but quickly becomes intrigued by the sassy Goth-like assistant with a snarky way with words. When an accidental kiss proves dangerously addictive she soon becomes embedded in his heart. But even as the romance heats up he’s torn as she’s not following God. Can these two opposites make a match or should he call a permanent time out?
These two are about to learn that those who play with fire get burned, and there’s a hefty price to pay for forbidden attraction. Preorder now.
Now let’s chat: What are some of your favorite redemption books or books that made you cry? I’ve got an ebook of Big Apple Atonement for one commentator today, open internationally, until 5pm AEST Saturday 30th September.