Amy Lyon, author of Long Way Home (out March 26), book one in her Sleepy Lake Romance series, writes clean and wholesome romance, but that doesn’t mean her characters don’t deal with real-life problems on their way to happy ever after.
Amy: My characters find themselves in some pretty hopeless situations, and in order to make them authentic and believable, they have to ask the same questions we ask:
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Where is God in this grief?
How will I ever find love after what I did?
Annie Finn, the heroine in Long Way Home, carries a burden she tries to cover with a meticulously organized life. She’s responsible for her father’s death.
Maybe that’s why she’s so controlling in the little things, because she has no control over the biggest thing—coming to terms with her past. But there’s hope on the horizon. She ventures out of her comfort zone to Las Vegas on a bachelorette weekend and the hero, Brett Connery, strolls into her life. Shirtless and full of his own secrets.
(How do they tell that story of how they met at church?)
Long Way Home is an upside-down fairy tale, and Annie Finn does what any modern-day heroine would do: She rescues Brett and brings him home to Sleepy Lake. There, both of their pasts begin to unravel.
Even though Annie has a powerful weapon at her disposal—her faith—she knows that faith alone won’t shield her from her past. Her journey becomes one of self-discovery, healing and, eventually, love.
I love working through the tough stuff with my characters, most of which comes from personal experiences or stories I’ve written in my 20 years as a journalist. (Truth is often stranger than fiction!)
I also asked a few of my fellow inspirational romance authors to chime in on the difficulties that befall their characters and what role faith plays in finding happy ever after.
Rachel Hauck, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author (www.rachelhauck.com) writes about a contemporary heroine with no family in The Wedding Dress.
“Her mother died when she was 12 and she never knew her father. She was raised by a grumpy old lady,” Hauck said. “It’s hard to know yourself and your destiny when you have no sense of family. Yet, throughout the story as mysterious and intriguing things happened in her life related to a wedding dress, Charlotte began to understand God’s love for her. He was her family.”
In Kerry Evelyn’s novel, Love on the Edge (www.kerryevelyn.com), her hero struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“This is not just a romance novel,” Evelyn said. “It is a story of a war hero trying to adjust to life back home. Matt’s strong faith saves him from despair, and when he’s hired as a bodyguard to a victim of an attack, he gently teaches her how to utilize God’s Word to take control of her emotions and rest in the fact that with God, you can turn your pain into your purpose.”
Characters in inspirational romance aren’t exempt from making mistakes, falling into the depths of despair or having the proverbial rug ripped out from under them. I share these stories in hopes that readers will relate to a character or a situation and find the strength to face their own challenges or maybe begin their own journey of self discovery.
“I want to illustrate how regular people use their faith everyday as a tool of inspiration, motivation and peace,” Evelyn said. “You don’t have to be religious or preachy to live a Christian life.”
Hauck writes inspirational romance because she’s been inspired and touched by God in so many ways.
“I love creating stories where the supernatural breaks into the natural and for a moment, we might see what God is up to beyond the veil,” said Hauck. “All stories have to have some kind of hope. For me, mine is just interwoven with an all powerful, all loving God.”
The challenge and reward for characters in inspirational romance is that drawing on their faith gives them the tools to triumph over the tough times. Just as the love story always triumphs in romance.
About Amy Lyon
Amy Lyon writes Stories That Inspire, a collection of inspirational romance novels and one powerful memoir. She’s a Minnesota native who recently traded in her snow boots for flip-flops in Florida. Find out more at: http://www.amylyon.com
About Long Way Home
An upside-down fairy tale…
Annie Finn hasn’t met a man in the last year she couldn’t fix. Until Brett Connery strolls into her life. Shirtless. So Annie does what any modern-day heroine would do: She rescues him and brings him home to Sleepy Lake. Their connection quickly grows beyond the small-town roots they share, but one question remains:
Will he still want her when he doesn’t need her help?
Brett isn’t proud of his past, but he’s ready to move forward into the future if he can just get back home. Swallowing his pride and accepting Annie’s help is the biggest challenge of all. His story may be fake, but his feelings are real. He has one nagging concern:
Is he just another one of her fix-a-guy projects?
Brett and Annie’s tale may not be one for the storybooks, but is it possible fate—or faith—has joined their paths? Or will the hurts of their pasts keep them from finding their happily ever after?
> > > This article was originally published on USA Today Life – Happy Ever After blog on March 26, 2018.