Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Redefining Romance by Kariss Lynch | Guest Post

I am so excited to host my friend Kariss today. We're almost out of February - the "month of love" - but she's got some really valid points on what romance and love really is and how we may have lost the reality of it in what we are reading. We'd both love to know your thoughts below! 

Up until a few years ago, I would have described myself as a closest romantic. Then I had this book come out that my publisher called “romance,” and I could no longer hide. The secret was out. I was a huge romantic. Even as my second and third book released, I continued to struggle with this label until I finally realized why I was wrestling. I didn’t want to identify with romance as culture defines it. We’ve messed it up. Instead, I wanted to redeem the definition.

Romance as God paints it in scripture is something that is strong and steady. It pursues, it asserts, it is something beautiful. Basically, romance is near and dear to the heart of God because He is the embodiment of love. But we have desperately messed it up. Over the past few years, I set out to read more outside the Christian genre. I wanted to see what others called romance. I’ve made a few observations, particularly from my reading of Young Adult Contemporary Romance and Young Adult Fantasy (both genres that I LOVE).

1) Characters (aka authors and readers) want a romance that’s permanent.

This may seem like an obvious statement, but how it plays out in fiction is a little more subtle. In fantasy, I often see this permanence referred to as a bonding or mating. This kind of relationship can’t be broken and the characters know it is forever (which can literally mean hundreds of years for some characters). I’ve noticed that marriage isn’t a word used often. It’s as if that doesn’t represent something permanent or strong enough, and in reality as a culture, we’ve cheapened the institution of marriage.

We’ve even made a statement about romance in how we have divided our Christian genre lines. I had an editor tell me one time that if my characters were married before the book began then I was now writing women’s fiction instead of romance. I thought this was interesting. Didn’t God design romance to happen inside of marriage but instead we depict it (at least in fiction) as all happening in dating? That’s not to say you can’t find an incredible romance as a story line in other genres, but in business, we have to categorize somehow.

2) We’re looking for depth.

I think this takes the permanence concept one step farther. Permanence doesn’t mean as much without something deep. Secretly, and perhaps not so secretly, we want to know and be fully known by our partner. I believe God created us to desire this! I also know we are imperfect people and will fail at this often. In the books I read, there is a desire for a deep connection, for the characters to know each other like no one else, flaws and all. I do believe with a partner committed to God that this is possible to pursue. However, the fulfillment of this only happens with Jesus.

3) We’re looking for ideal.

This one breaks my heart the most as I study some of the trends, particularly in YA. Again, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading in this genre. But I have noticed an increase of reverse harem novels specifically that allow a character to experience the best of all worlds through several different guys that they don’t have to choose from. Somehow these Alpha males through the magic of plot line are content to share one girl so they don’t lose her. My fear is that this will start influencing how young adults look at romance. They can pick and choose the qualities they like and don’t like about multiple people and never experience the beauty of commitment with one person.

So why do I write romance and why do I proudly own the title of romance author now? Well, it is because I strongly believe that God is for romance and love and marriage. He designed those things. So I want to celebrate that in my books. I want to write messy characters who stumble across significant others that are just as messy and somehow in the process there is a choice to love one another and pursue permanence, the kind of permanence that Jesus depicts in the Bible – strong, steady, and beautiful. And my ultimate hope is that as you read, you will see the heart of a God who loves you.

Kariss Lynch writes contemporary romance about characters with big dreams, adventurous hearts, and enduring hope. She is the author of the Heart of a Warrior series and loves to encourage her readers to have courage. In her free time, she hangs out with her family and friends, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.

Purchase: Shaken

by Kariss Lynch

When her world is shaken, will her foundation survive?

Idealistic and sheltered with a passion to change the world, Kaylan Richards leaves her comfortable life in Alabama to serve in poverty-stricken Haiti. Despite her inexperience and the opposition of a voodoo priest, Kaylan develops a love for the country and the Haitian people. But something deadly is about to strike.

It is the worst earthquake the country has ever seen, and in its aftermath bodies, buildings, and broken lives litter the streets. People she cares about are dead, and Kaylan is caught in the middle of the destruction, questioning a God who said He was good.

Navy SEAL Nick Carmichael never planned to find a girl he loved more than his country. Now she is a world away, trapped in a deadly situation nothing could have prepared her for. Can Nick’s love help Kaylan heal and show her the God who never abandoned her, or will tragedy shake even the most rooted faith?

Enter to win a copy of Shaken below...

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