Today on the InspyRomance blog, I’m delighted to welcome my friend Emily Dana Botrous. She writes thoughtful, Christ-centred, realistic romance with some of the most well-developed characters I’ve ever read. I’ll shut up now, and let Emily speak!
What is your first thought when you hear “romantic hero”? A fearless firefighter, perhaps. A generous billionaire. A doctor who saves the lives of children or a farmer working desperately to preserve his family legacy. We see endless endearing variations of romantic heroes in romance. But one that might not come to mind as fast is a pastor.
A pastor as a romantic hero? Weird. But is it?
One series I enjoyed reading as a teen was the Cape Light series by the late Thomas Kinkade. While not strictly romance, it is an inspirational small-town series set in New England like his paintings. While I always preferred the romance subplots woven throughout the series, I appreciated that one of the other storylines was about the town reverend. And it wasn’t about his wonderful sermons, the scenes where pastors are generally relegated in fiction. No, it was about his personal struggles. His struggles with his walk with God. His struggles with his relationship with an estranged son. His struggles with anxiety that sent him to the hospital. His human struggles.
Yep. Pastors are human. Just like you and me.
I was stoked when Denise Hunter, my favorite contemporary Christian romance author, wrote a book with a pastor as the hero. On Magnolia Lane was the first contemporary romance I read with a romantic hero as a pastor. I love how we see Pastor Jack’s human side twined with his commitment to the Lord. He longs to love and be loved and isn’t sure how to go about it because he has an entire congregation and community watching his every move. His love interest, Daisy, has little confidence in herself, and as she begins to develop feelings for Jack, the idea of being a pastor’s significant other is intimidating.
I have a personal interest in pastors in fiction because I am a pastor’s daughter.
I don’t know precisely what it is like to be a pastor as I am not one. I don’t fully comprehend the pressure put upon a pastor’s wife because I am not one. But I witnessed these two roles more closely than anyone else in my community, and I understand how difficult it can be to balance the desire to please God with the duty to please the community. It’s a tightrope to walk, and I can honestly say pastors and their families need your grace. They have dreams and hopes and desires just like you and me. They have family issues and estrangements and fights just like you and me. They have love lives just like you and me.
My first romance novella, A Second Chance for Sugarplums, features a pastor’s daughter as the heroine, and she hasn’t exactly lived according to the light she knows. When she returns home, it is her pastor father who gently shepherds her, pointing her back to her Heavenly Father. His love, forgiveness, and acceptance of her make her believe God can do the same.
As much as I loved having a pastor as the father in that story, I wanted a pastor as a love interest. Pastors tend to have a lonelier life than you would imagine, and I feel that pastors deserve a real, moving, swoon-worthy love story. God is the author of love, and when a person dedicates him or herself in service to Him, what better reward is there than lasting love with a life partner?
It was terrifying, but I wrote a pastor as the romantic hero in my new release, The Promise of Picnics.
And not just any pastor, either. He’s an ex-con who served time before he came to Christ. His past is messy, which only adds to the pressures that naturally come with his position. Then his love interest is a single mom who refuses to step foot in church. As her best friend so aptly puts it, “Who better to delve into that particular issue than a man of God?”
Writing The Promise of Picnics challenged me in ways no other story has, but I was determined to give Pastor Ricardo de Leon the love he deserved. A love that we all deserve. A love that God longs to give us. After all, He is the original author of the Happily Ever After. Adam and Eve messed it up, but He graciously offers it to us again and again as only He can.
What about you? Have you read any romances that feature a love interest in a pastoral/ministry setting? If so, drop the title in a comment below because I want to read it! Are there any pastors or pastor’s wives or children reading this? Comment below so we can support you and lift you up today.
You can download a complimentary copy of A Second Chance for Sugarplums by subscribing to Emily’s newsletter. The Promise of Picnics is the fifth and final book in the Hometown Holiday Heartstrings series, but it can be read as a standalone.
Emily Dana Botrous is a wife and mom of four living in San Diego. When she’s not busy doing laundry, packing lunches, and picking toys off the floor, she enjoys reading, cooking, music, long walks, and writing. She is the author of seven inspirational romance titles and a Christian coming-of-age series. To learn more, visit her website.