Do you remember the first time you fell in love… with a fictional hero?
Back in the 1970s, when I was about fourteen and growing up in the Missouri Ozarks, a family friend named Bessie gave me a stack of Grace Livingston Hill books that she said she thought I’d enjoy.
An avid reader, I read and reread the stories, swept away by the sweet tales of romance that always included the story of salvation.
The author, Mrs. Hill, was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and wrote more than 100 novels between 1887 and 1948. I haven’t read them all, but my favorite was The Enchanted Barn, written in 1918. It told the story of a desperate young woman named Shirley Hollister, who was willing to move with her mother and siblings to a barn, and the rich, handsome barn owner, Sidney Graham, who renovated the structure to help her.
What a great guy. Sigh…
When I first read these books in the 1970s, they seemed like historical fiction, but they were written as contemporary stories, dealing with issues of the day. Today we’d call them inspirational romance or contemporary Christian romance.
My hometown didn’t have a huge bookstore, and I guess there weren’t any of Mrs. Hill’s books in the local library, because I don’t remember seeing stories by her again until I’d finished college and was working far from home in North Carolina. I was a copy editor, working nights, with Tuesday and Wednesday as my days off. It was exciting, being out there on my own, but also a little lonely. I’d often visit the local bookstore, where I found more of Mrs. Hill’s books. I’m pretty sure that I eventually bought every single one they stocked.
And then, perhaps because of all those Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books I read as a kid, I began reading mysteries. Years and years of nothing but mysteries while I moved from North Carolina to Missouri to Illinois to Ohio, leaving copy editing to work in public relations and then, in 1996, to be a stay-at-home mom.
That year, one night a week, my husband and I had a college girl named Melissa watch our son so we could go out to dinner. One week, Melissa offered to loan me a book she thought I might enjoy, Montana Sky by Nora Roberts.
I’d never heard of Nora Roberts.
I guess that’s what happens when you only read mysteries and you live (once again) in a town without a major bookstore.
Soon I began wandering through the library shelves, looking for romance books.
Nora Roberts was a good storyteller. And so were several other romance authors I found. But then I discovered Lori Wick.
She wrote stories that reminded me of the books by Grace Livingston Hill, stories that combined faith and falling in love, stories that resonated with my heart so much that I eventually decided to write one. Or two. Or… well, now I’m working on number six.
And it all started with Grace Livingston Hill. And that handsome young barn owner, Sidney Graham.
What about you? What’s the first Christian romance you remember reading?
I’d love to hear about!
I’m giving away a free copy of the first book I published, Christmas in Abundance (one Kindle copy, available worldwide) to someone who comments.
If you’d like to be included in the drawing, please comment by Monday evening, Sept. 30, 2019. One person who comments on this post will be chosen at random, notified by email, and announced in a Sunday edition.
*Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.*
About Christmas in Abundance
An art teacher avoiding Christmas. A single dad planning a holiday light show extravaganza. A yuletide clash between neighbors that might spark a dazzling romance.
Lanie Phillips has a quiet holiday planned. So quiet, in fact, that the only sounds in the house where she’s staying should be the clicks of her computer keyboard and the occasional bark from a chocolate Labrador retriever. No joyous choirs of angels, no jolly laughs from Santa, and no jingle bells—nothing to distract her from her master’s thesis or bring up painful Christmas memories.
But for the single dad who’s her closest neighbor, simple holiday decorations just won’t do. Kyle Mattox is determined to give his five-year-old daughter the best Christmas ever—one that includes an outdoor display lit with fifty thousand lights, activated in time to music shared through four giant loudspeakers.
When Lanie comes to complain that she can’t write with the lights flashing and carols blasting, Kyle realizes that—unknown to her—their circuits have crossed in the past. If he wants his daughter happy, he needs to keep that information to himself, keep the show running, and keep his distance from Lanie.
Christmas in Abundance is a contemporary Christian romance novella and is a companion story to the Abundance Series. It is a stand-alone book and is written to fit well at any point in the series.