Have you ever been to an escape room? You know, one of those puzzle places where you pay to find clues to get out of a maze or room? You’d have to do it within a certain period of time or you lose the game. No refund!
I kid you not, I was so stressed out the entire time I was in the escape room, hunting for sequential clues that drove me nuts. You’d think that a Computer Science major who loves mathematics would devour this sort of thing.
But not always.
Don’t get me wrong. I do love puzzles. Back in the days, I did quite a few jigsaw puzzles. I like to solve puzzles, including riddles and complicated enigmas. Paradoxes are intriguing to me. So are mysteries.
These days, though, I prefer puzzles in books. Puzzles of the heart. Puzzles of love. Puzzles of life. After all, I explore all these things in the three genres I write. Today, on National Puzzle Day (January 29), I thought I’d chat a little about romantic puzzles.
But first, did you know that the etymology of puzzle is unknown? The word was first used in the sixteenth century, but that’s all we really know about it.
Hmm… That means it could have originated from anything and anywhere. That’s a puzzle we may never be able to solve. Only God knows where that word came from.
I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I love reading Christian romance is the happy ending, which is a mandatory requirement for the story to be classified as a true romance. To me, the puzzle is solved by the end of the novella or novel.
Non-romance readers might not understand this at all. They might ask why we bother to read such a book if we already know there’s going to be a happy ending. Why don’t the two main characters part in the end, or why doesn’t one of them die? If they ask that sort of questions, it means they don’t understand what a romance novel really is.
Before we get to The End, our two main characters have to go through all sorts of puzzling situations and problematic strife. Their enduring love is tested and tried, sometimes by fire. We readers cheer them on. We want them to succeed, to live, to love.
In a way, it’s like our main characters enter an escape room, and they have to get out of it victorious. They have to cross the finish line and win.
We know that the human heart can be a puzzle indeed. When two hearts come together, the puzzle is multiplied. Add to that, the dilemmas of life, and we have the recipe for daily struggles on earth. At the end of the day, without God, we would not expect to have a happy ending.
In my beach romance series, Seaside Chapel, I often put my lovebirds through the wringer before they can walk down the aisle together. They have to solve puzzles in love and life. Their trials by fire purify them and draw them closer to God.
In His Longing Heart (Seaside Chapel Book 1), twenty-something heiress Brinley Brooks has everything but love, while struggling violinist Ivan McMillan has nothing but love. When the two cross paths again, Brinley is puzzled by Ivan and his Grandma Yun, both living in poverty, but having something she doesn’t have: Jesus Christ. In a way, this novel is Brinley’s journey to discovering the ultimate Answer to life’s puzzles.
In His Wake-Up Call (Seaside Chapel Book 2), restaurateur Sebastian Langston is puzzled that his ex-fiancée would leave him, a handsome dude who would sacrifice the world for her. Apparently none of that is enough. To win her back, Sebastian rents a girlfriend, harpist Emmeline O’Hanlon. Together, they try to untangle the enigma surrounding Sebastian’s relationship with his runaway ex. Will they be able to solve Sebastian’s heartache?
In His Morning Kiss (Seaside Chapel Book 3), burned-out single father and widower Diehl Brooks returns to St. Simon’s Island with all his unresolved problems. He comes to the end of his own ability to fix life’s sorrow and struggles. Where is the God he thinks he once knew? Compared to him, personal chef Skye Langston seems to have it all together, or does she? When a crisis hits Diehl’s family, will the God of the universe solve the puzzle for him?
The next book in my Seaside Chapel series, His Quiet Serenade, has new puzzles for my two main characters to solve, when quiet novelist Devon Hu finds himself living next door to loud trumpet teacher Avery Chung. Without giving away the plot, let me just say that sometimes we see solutions that may not be the best or even the right way to go. At the end of the day, God is sovereign and He always prevails. Preorder this novel on Amazon.
What types of puzzles do you like to solve? What about crossword puzzles? Sudoku? Or other types? Which book puzzles do you like to read in your romance? Have you read a romantic novel recently that has intrigue in it so fascinating that you couldn’t wait to read the end of the book to find out how the puzzle was solved and how the two main characters won each other’s love? I guess that’s one of the ways a novel becomes a page turner.
Until next time, happy reading!
Joyfully in Jesus,