Saturday, August 27, 2005

Romance research

I had to go into town this morning to the farmer's market for vegetables for today's soup canning expedition, and while I was there, I swung by the church to see what they had for Steeple Hill romances in the church library. (I've always ignored them before!) But because I've gotten a fixation the last few days on romances and trying to write one myself, I figured I'd be smart to see what's out there.

Steeple Hill is a division of Harlequin, and here's what they say about their novels: "Heartwarming, inspirational Love Inspired stories feature a commitment to strong family values and high moral standards." They have four divisions, Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, Cafe, and Women's Fiction. My church library seems only to have heard of Steeple Hill Love Inspired, though. I read two of them today, sitting at the kitchen table keeping half an eye on the pressure canner gauge. (Yes, I DID get some work done too!)

What have I learned? What can I summarize from two books? Both heroines were mid-twenties career girls sworn off of love for different reasons. One of the heroes was a widower with a child...can you say 'nanny'? Both stories are contemporary, which I already knew from reading the guidelines. That's my biggest problem with genre romance, I think. I prefer fantasy or sf settings. My last three books have had a romance as central to the plot, but don't quite fit genre romance on account of the setting.

Anyone have any recommendations of Steeple Hill novels from the 'other' sub-genres? I'll read a few more Love Inspired from the church library because they're handy, and I'm sure I'll find more common threads to help me shape my own story, but I have a feeling that mine might be more 'mature'. I need to find some of their Women's Fic to read I think, see if that's where the story I'm starting to dream up may fit better. Tips would be welcome.

6 comments:

Tina said...

Speaking as a recovering romance book reader I can say that anything by Francine Rivers. She is anything from historical to contemporary and I can't speak highly enough about her.

http://www.francinerivers.com/

You can also try Terri Blackstock. While a lot of her stuff is suspense she weaves quite a bit of romance in. Check out her Newpointe 911 series or her Second Chances series.

http://www.terriblackstock.com

Getting away from christian romance you can look at some of the books published by Luna. They are fantasy/romance.

http://store.eharlequin.com/t10_view_series.jhtml?CATID=80117&PRIM_MONTH=0

Here is a link to Luna's writing guidelines.

http://www.eharlequin.com/cms/learntowrite/ltwArticle.jhtml?pageID=030317wu01001

And of course - I can't say enough about Holly Lisle. Her new book Talyn is a fantasy romance book and awesome work. You can also read her Secret Texts series for fantasy wrapped up with romance.

Good hunting Val and let us know what you find that you like.

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks, Tina! :) That gives me a bit of a start.

Katie Hart said...

One reason your library probably didn't have any of the other Steeple Hill lines is that they're all relatively new - within the last 2-3 years, I believe. I've only read one Steeple Hill book that I remember - and thought it was cheesy.

If you're looking for author recommendations from other publishers, I'd recommend Dee Henderson. Oh, wait, her two first books were published by Steeple Hill, and I enjoyed them. But her romantic suspense and military romances from Multnomah are better.

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks, Katie. I was hoping you would read and comment. :) There has been a certain cheesey flavor, but I don't think it's cheddar. Can't quite put my finger on it...

Tina said...

I agree with the Dee Henderson suggestion.

I think the reason the Steeple Hill books are cheezy is because they simply don't strike me as realistic. You are better off with other Christian romance publishers. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see more.

http://www.passionatepen.com/romancepubs.htm

Valerie Comer said...

thanks, Tina. That link is perfect.