Welcome to Inspy Romance, Noel Kenzie! Our readers love romantic heroes, so I thought I’d invite you over to meet them.
Noel: Uh, I guess that romantic hero thing is a compliment, right? I’m not so big on crowds of women, though. Unless they’re planting trees. Then they’re just a hard-working part of my crew.
Valerie: So you don’t think of yourself as a romantic? Interesting. What has your relationship with women been like over the years?
Noel: My dad hiked off when I was a little kid, so my younger sister and I were raised by our mom. She worked really hard to take care of us and taught me women could do pretty much anything a guy could do…and often better. I found that confirmed when I worked as a forest fire fighter and tree planter so, when I eventually started Enterprising Reforestation, having a lot of women on the crew seemed natural to me.
Valerie: You’re right. That doesn’t sound very romantic. Did you never fall in love?
Noel: I hate to admit it, but I haven’t lived a squeaky clean life. A few years ago I turned over a new leaf. I could see my choices in women and booze were taking a toll on my business. I felt like I’d started following my dad’s footsteps and man, that’s a bad place. He used to be a traveling salesman. Now he’s just a bum who wanders from one city to the next, trying to find happiness at the bottom of a bottle. So I cleaned up my act. Some people say God changed them but, honestly, I changed myself.
Valerie: Congratulations. So you have no need of God, then? You’re pretty self-sufficient?
Noel: That’s what I’ve always figured. My mother took my sister and me to church. It’s not that I don’t believe in God. I work out in the forest and man, I can see evidence of God everywhere. I’m good with that. But seems those Jesus-people let God interfere in all kinds of stuff every day. I figure I’m young only once. I’ll enjoy the awesome life I’ve created for myself and someday, when I’m old, I’ll do the God thing. You know? Lots of time yet.
Valerie: Interesting idea, and I’m sure you’re not the only person to embrace that philosophy. What would it take to change your mind?
Noel: I can’t really think of anything. Yeah, I guess it’s a gamble, but if God hasn’t struck my father down for his lifestyle, I should be okay. I live an honest life, treat my employees with respect, and enjoy nature. I’m a good guy.
Valerie: So you’ve recently brought your crew to Galena Landing, Idaho. I hear your regular chef needed time off. How do you go about finding a temporary chef way out here in the middle of nowhere?
Noel: It’s been a challenge. I advertised in all the usual places but only had three applicants worth interviewing. Then the one guy didn’t even show up for his interview. One woman seems okay, if unimaginative, and one…
Valerie: Yes? What about the third applicant?
Noel: Doesn’t matter. I can’t hire her. She’s certainly qualified and has innovative menu plans, but she’s so stinkin’ cute she’d distract all the guys.
Valerie: I thought your crew was half women. Who are you really worried might get distracted?
Noel: Okay, okay. I admit it. She caught my attention from the get-go. But there are a few problems. One, she’s organic crazy. I’m all for great food. I poke around in the kitchen myself from time to time, but she takes things to a whole new level. Two, she’s super-glued to her farm and Galena Landing. There’s no point thinking, you know, those kinds of thoughts about a gal like her. Besides, she’s into God, and you know how I feel about that.
Valerie: Yes, you’ve mentioned the God issue. But as your author, I went to a lot of trouble to set you up with the need for a chef here in Galena Landing. Claire Halford is perfect for you…uh…in more ways than one. How can you turn down the obvious best choice?
Noel: I don’t like people meddling in my life, thanks anyway. And I’m not sure what you mean about being my “author.” Sounds a bit high and mighty, if you ask me. I’ll hire whom I please. You may think Claire is the best choice, and she probably is. You doubtless went out of your way to fix things that way. Which is all the more reason for me to make my own decision. I’m quite sure I won’t be attracted to the other cook, who’s old enough to be my mother. So, she’s my hiring choice.
Valerie: You do make my life challenging…and interesting. Let’s go ahead and find out where this story will take us. You, me — and Claire. You up for it?
Noel: Bring it. I can handle your type.
Valerie: Famous last words…
Wild Mint Tea
She’s rooted deep. He flies free.
Local-foods chef Claire Halford envisions turning Green Acres Farm into an event destination. Weddings prove trickier than she imagined when the first one comes with a ruggedly handsome brother-of-the-bride, who has everything but a fixed address. Oh, and faith in God.
Noel Kenzie loves the freedom his reforestation company affords him. Why worry about deep stuff like God and commitment when he’s in his prime? Except there’s a woman who might make it worth giving up his wings…and digging in some roots. If he dares.
Most inspirational romance novels show one or both of the characters struggling in their Christian walk. Many times, authors use those struggles as part of the conflict between the couple to keep them from seamlessly moving forward together.
What are some of the spiritual struggles you’ve seen in romance novels that you thought were well done? Have you read any you enjoyed where the hero and heroine were both focused on their walk with God? Share!
One commenter will win a copy of Noel and Claire’s story, Wild Mint Tea, in your choice of digital format.