So, instead of offering just a typical review, I wanted to share some of the thoughts this book stirred for me concerning love, passion, and romance. Let me begin by saying, it definitely gets five stars on the romance chart. The hero is so roguish and charming, he had my heart-racing throughout the book. I dare say I fell in love with Dominick right alongside Tabitha.
I adored the depth of passion between the hero and heroine as well. As I mentioned in several of my shorter online reviews, often when I read Christian romance, I can’t figure out what in the heck the authors are even writing about. I don’t see those can’t eat, can’t sleep, if you walk out that door right now I might just shrivel up and die sort of moments that I relate with the human experience of falling in love. I see two people slowly, gradually moving toward one another, but at the same time, all too easily talking themselves out of the attraction. Which leaves me to ask:
What planet do these people live on???
Now let me be fair, sometimes in a long standing friendship, especially one beginning in childhood, these feelings can come softly. But in general, in my experience, they hit much more like a freight train, or better yet, a steam roller. I don’t know, maybe it’s one of those wiring personality issues. Maybe "thinkers" feel the emotions, but ultimately their thoughts win out. But, I’m not a thinker. I’m a feeler. So even if I thought a guy was wrong for me, even though I might have managed to physically stay away from him, my heart would be killing me. My fingers screaming to graze his cheek. My eyes darting to catch a heated gaze. My lips tingling at the sound of his voice. Yes, the word passion in my tagline is not a typo.
I sensed this sort of passion between Tabitha and Dominick in Lady of the Mist, and was so happy to find it there. We need this sort of realism in Christian fiction. But, of course, as all good Christians who attended Sunday School know, we shouldn’t be guided by our passions. In fact, in my first novel, the hero who represents uncontrolled passion and desire turns out to be devastating for my heroine. With God’s help she is able to escape him and eventually make her way back to the man she’s destined to marry. So why did this passion and desire work so well in Laurie Alice’s book and not in mine.
The situation was entirely different. Tabitha and Dominick were both at a place in their lives where they had given up on God. (no, I’m not taking an easy cop-out here, stick with me for a minute.) They had both hardened their hearts to God for their own reasons and were trying to earn their salvation, a feat no one can attain. In this book, they wanted to harden their hearts to each other just like they had hardened their hearts to God. In fact, Tabitha didn’t want to trust Dominick, just like she didn’t want to trust God. So in their case, opening their hearts to one another actually helped them to soften their hearts to God. They had to trust their feelings and take a step of faith. They had to let go of old hurts and preconceptions in order for their romance to blossom. Not only had God ordained this relationship, he used them to promote healing in each other's lives. (I don’t need a spoiler alert here, right? We all knew from chapter one that they were going to get together. This is a romance novel.)
God gave us marriage, and yes, I’ll say it, sex, as a beautiful physical portrait of the spiritual intimacy he desires to have with us. So do I believe passion and romance belong in a Christian novel? Absolutely. As long as the author is clear to show how God is working through this romance, I believe it offers the best sort of message possible. And Laurie Alice Eakes, skilled author that she is, used it in just this way.
We all need to have that can’t eat, can’t sleep, if you walk out that door I might just shrivel up and die kind of love for our heavenly father. We should long for his touch, seek his gaze, tingle at the sound of his voice. And romantic fiction creates an interesting avenue to express this powerful truth.