Hello again, friends! For this month’s blog, I thought it might be fun to ask questions of a select group of contemporary Christian romance readers about their fiction preferences. Trust me, this is as much to enlighten the authors of this blog as much as it will hopefully be thought-provoking and entertaining for you! Please feel free to chime in with your own comments, friends. The more the merrier! We value your input more than you can possibly know as we continue to produce quality Christian fiction. I’d like to introduce you to my special guests today representing a cross-section of Christian romance readers from coast to coast, all of whom I’m blessed to count among my BEST readers: Cathy (South Carolina), Beverly (Ohio), Pam (Pennsylvania), Cammi (Texas), Shirley (Florida) and Emilee (Alabama). Now, let’s get started!
What three qualities do you most like/admire in the HERO?
Cathy: A true helping attitude toward other people, not thinking of himself, humble, looking for ways to help. I like when they are nice looking inside and out and don’t even realize it and get embarrassed when someone comments on it. Love to see them blush.
Beverly: Gentleness, strong in his faith, honesty
Pam: Sincere, dedicated and faithful
Cammi: Loyal, quick witted, handsome (not in an unrealistic too perfect way)
Shirley: Honest, Godly
Emilee: Masculine, charming and brave
What three qualities do you most like/admire in the HEROINE?
Beverly: Spunky, loves her family, can think for herself with a healthy dose of independence
Pam: Strength, caring, faithful
Cammi: Sense of humor, passionate about whatever she loves/believes, loyal and caring
Shirley: Good morals, honesty, sweet spirit
Emilee: Selfless, humorous, fun
Are there any qualities you DON’T like in either the hero or heroine?
Cathy: I don’t like for them to arrogant, thinking only of themselves and how everything affects them and what they can get out of it. I don’t like them to be mean or rude to anyone. They can be stern but not rude or degrading. I find that if I don’t like something about the character at the beginning of the book, it is hard for me to really care for them at the end of the book.
Beverly: Arrogance, dishonesty, selfishness
Pam: Insincerity, selfishness
Cammi: Aloof, snobby, selfish
Shirley: Greedy, a liar
Emilee: I don’t like the heroine to be a feminist.
Are there any scenarios that are your least favorite?
Cathy: I like all stories but if I had to pick my least favorite I would probably say too young/first love. I would always choose one of the others before young love. Unless it was about loving that person all their lives and then meeting again at age 30 or something like that.
Beverly: I can’t say I have a least favorite; however, I would love to read some books with 35 and older age group characters (possibly widow/widower). I think the young and in love is the “expected” scenario.
Pam: I am open to all scenarios; there aren’t any I can think of that I dislike.
Cammi: Couples with an age difference of more than 15-20 years.
Shirley: My least favorite is falling in love three days after they meet.
Emilee: I don’t like to read books that are particularly sad or that discuss adultery or other deep issues.
Novellas are becoming increasingly popular. As a general rule, do you like them? Why or why not? Do you like them BETTER if the characters have been introduced in a previous book by the same author?
Cathy: I love when characters have been introduced in another book. Novellas are okay, but I feel you are just getting to know the character and the book is over. I would assume it takes an author a while to develop and know the character themselves and then have to put in very short book they may leave out important elements of the character and we miss the true person. There is where characters coming from another book help. I also would not want to pay a full price and then find out it is a very short book.
Beverly: I love novellas! I have no preference about whether or not the characters have previously been introduced or not. Sometimes, my schedule is a bit crazy, but I would still like to pick up a quick read that doesn’t require as much time as a full-length novel.
Pam: They are a bit “rushed.” I like a lengthier book. I think that if the novella revolved around a previous character I am familiar with, I would enjoy it more. If it elaborated on the next part of the character’s life.
Cammi: I prefer novels because I’m more entertained by a well-developed story with deeper characters. It’s harder for me to connect with characters who have to meet, fall in love and become intimate too quickly.
Shirley: I usually don’t like them as I don’t feel I get enough of their background, but maybe if they are from another book, it might be okay. I have read a couple I did like, just not my favorite.
Emilee: I normally don’t read novellas because I like longer books. But if I do, I like them better if they have been introduced in a previous book.
Cathy: Doesn’t matter as long as it is contemporary.
Cammi: A rural setting. Whether it’s a cabin in the woods, a small town in a rolling country side or a seaside cottage, these tend to stir my senses more and make me want to dig into the story.
Emilee: I like both but rural and beach or mountain settings are my favorite. It takes me to another place. That’s why I read in the first place.
If you’re considering spending your hard-earned money on buying a book from a brand new author (to you), what factors would play into your decision?
Cathy: I find new authors when they are recommended from other authors or on sites where one of their books is free or .99 cents. Won’t buy a 4.99 or above book unless I have already read something from them. When I actually buy the book rather than eBooks, the cover is what sells me. I tend to like them light and bright, not dark and sinister.
Pam: The storyline is my primary draw to all of my book choices. Once I do get to know the author, then I really do not even read the back cover for the story line.
Cammi: I look for a realistic story line and romance that can stir the heart without offensive intimate detail. I read as many of the reader reviews as I can before making a purchase decision. If there are no reviews I usually won’t buy it. I’m more inclined to read a new author at a lower price point like $6 and lower. If the author proves to be a good one I will pay more for the next read.
Emilee: Good reviews, word of mouth and maybe a beautiful cover.
Do you see any GOOD trends in contemporary Christian romance? Any NOT SO GOOD trends?
Cathy: I love seeing the characters find their faith in the book. Whether finding it for the first time or rediscovering it. That exact moment when they realize how easy it is to ask Jesus into your heart. I love when the book has a little suspense/mystery elements in it. This does not appear so easy to do with novellas.
Beverly: Some GOOD trends that I have seen are direct scripture quotes, the plan of salvation laid out in the dialogue, and real-to-life scenarios for great applicability. Some NOT SO GOOD trends that I have seen are worldly behaviors without redemption, foul language, and explicit and detailed love scenes.
Pam: I appreciate when the Christian author incorporates the scriptures into the books.
Emilee: There is more and more of it so that’s a good trend.
Do you feel like you’ve learned any spiritual insights in the recent books you’ve read?
Cathy: I’ve learned how to talk to people about how easy it is to love Jesus and simple. How He blesses us whether we desire it or not.
Pam: The main thing I get out of the books is that God gives you what you can handle and what He wants you to have in His time…not our own, and we just have to keep that faith in Him.
Cammi: I will often bookmark pages that encourage me with insightful scripture application to every day and life changing trials or where a character shares the gospel in a new or concise way that I have not heard before.
Shirley: I have learned to have more faith that God’s working in our lives.
Any other comments you’d like to make about contemporary Christian romance in general?
Cathy: I absolutely love contemporary Christian romance. It is my favorite genre to read.
Beverly: At first, I stayed away from the genre due to the word “contemporary.” In my mind, I felt the books would contain stories that were of a more worldly and explicit content than what I felt God would want me to be reading. I am thankful that God has allowed me to connect with some awesome authors and friends who have shown me that my thoughts were not necessarily valid.
Pam: I love reading Christian romance because of the simple fact that you can enjoy the romance and intimacy of a love story without the disgusting smut involved in other books.
Cammi: Being in my mid-40s, I enjoy a romance novel involving people my age!
Shirley: It’s clean and it’s about everyday people just like us.
Emilee: I like to read contemporary Christian fiction because it is clean and I don’t feel guilty as opposed to watching TV or movies. It doesn’t have to be preachy or full of scripture. Although we can never get enough of God’s word.
Thanks for visiting our blog, friends! Now, I’d dearly love to hear your comments. Please chime in!