Opposites Attract, but Can it Last?

Last week, I read debut Love Inspired Historical novelist, Jessica Nelson’s Love on the Range and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had no idea that the FBI had already been formed at the time of WWI, which was enough of a hook to pique this romantic suspense reader’s interest. Add to that the undercover angle–a topic dear to my heart–and you’ll keep me reading into the wee hours. Not to mention that I’m a sucker for a hero in a cowboy hat. ~grin~

Today I’d like to chat about one of the questions from the back of the book, but first…the overview.

Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote
Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she’ll never have to depend on anyone ever again.

Rancher Trevor Cruz can’t believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Gracie’s pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he’ll use her determination to find “Striker” to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

Jessica did a great job of characterizing her brooding hero and her chatty naive, but endearing, young heroine. Trevor Cruz has a sad past. The son of a prostitute and a father who never had a kind word for him, he doesn’t believe in a God of love. While the heroine, a joyous believer, comes from a privileged, upper-class, Bostonian family and has never faced crises in her life…at least not at the beginning of the story. She’s traveled West to both escape the scourge of the influenza epidemic and to secure her independence by proving her mettle as a reporter.

But she soon discovers that life in the hot, barren plains is much different then she’d imagined and perhaps not a life she could embrace. Whereas Trevor loves the open range. 

Your Turn: Given their vastly different backgrounds, do you think a romantic relationship like theirs can last? What common values do you think create a satisfying, lasting relationship?

This week I’ll be giving away my gently read copy of Love on the Range to one of the commenters on today’s or Wednesday’s blog. Check back Friday to see if it’s you.

Let’s Chat about Real Virtue

Monday, I introduced Katy Lee and her book Real Virtue. Today I’d like to talk about some questions the story raised.

This was a very thought-provoking book for me. The heroine has self-esteem issues, because of always being placed second to her schizophrenic mother’s welfare. However, she has become a successful business woman, thanks in large part, she believes, to the inspiration of a virtual reality game she plays in which she’s beautiful and people don’t snicker at her because she has a weird mother.

Many people live similar kinds of dual lives aside from virtual reality games. They are one person online, outgoing and friendly chatting on blogs or Facebook, but perhaps are shy and withdrawn or simply housebound in their immediate physical world. Sometimes they are more “connected” to their online “friends” than the people in their home or those sitting next to them in the lunch room.

That came home to me one day when my daughter learned my “writing news” from my Facebook page before I went downstairs to tell my family in person. Yes, I “told” my fans, before my family! Ack!

Moreover, the internet, like TV before it, has changed many people’s perception of reality. Online we can be the person we may not feel we can be in real life. There is positive value to this and dangers.

The hero in Real Virtue helps the heroine to see her true value and worth, as he has always seen her and as God sees her–not her skewed virtual reality version (in all its layers of meaning…from the virtual reality of living with a schizophrenic mother to her virtual gaming)

He shows her how to listen to her mother, to really listen to the truth mixed in with the schizophrenic babbling. The characterization is compelling. There are so many layers of meaning and depth to this book.

Your Turn: What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced in participating in online communities? What dangers concern you about the increasing popularity of cyber-living?

For those who missed Monday’s post, this week I’m giving away an Ecopy of Katy’s book to one lucky commenter. If you’re worried that this is a techno book that you wouldn’t relate to, it’s not. I was a bit concerned about that as I started the first chapter, but the heroine is soon drawn back to her small home town which is where the story takes place. And if you’re reading this blog, you’re online enough to totally relate to that aspect of the story.

Talking about the Blame Game

Since Shades of Truth has hit Ebook readers nationwide…

and I know this because it actually appeared in the top 20 on 2 Kindle bestseller lists on Friday, yee!!

I’ve decided to ask a reader question from the back of my book, today.

The hero, Ethan Reed, is working undercover in a youth detention center to ferret out the person who’s recruiting residents for a drug ring.

In his youth, Ethan did time in a similar facility, and based on that experience, he remarks that residents always claim incidents are never their fault.

We talked about this tendency in our Sunday School class yesterday morning. That is, we talked about how all sin begins with self-deception.

Self-deception such as:
~saying everyone is doing it or
~it can’t be wrong when it feels so right or
~I’ll just do it this once or
~I can always ask God to forgive me later or
~saying you can’t help it, it’s not your fault, because of A, B, or C

Whereas, true repentance is marked not only by an admission that yes, you did wrong, but an absence of rationalization for it, as well as a genuine sorrow about doing it (not just about getting caught!), and the desire to make restitution to any offended party.

So here’s the question: When you make a mistake in your life, do you tend to blame someone else or do you take responsibility? Since this is an intensely personal question, perhaps share an example of how doing one or the other (in your younger days!) had positive or negative repercussions and what you learned from that experience.


If you’d like to read an interview with my hero, you’ll find it here: http://craftieladiesofromance.blogspot.com/2012/03/shades-of-truth-interview.html

And there’s a giveway going on this week for a signed copy of SoT here: http://www.anitamaedraper.com/author-memories.html

What would you give up for love?

This past week I read the Love Inspired contemporary Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan about a cop who jilted his bride-to-be mere weeks before their wedding after learning that a night of indiscretion three years earlier had led to the birth of his son.

He chose honor over love and married his son’s mother, a woman he scarcely knew and who was battling cancer. The story begins five years later. Stephen has been widowed for a year, and Lindsey, the woman he’d jilted, and never stopped loving, is back in town.

And Stephen will do anything to make her trust in God and take a risk for love–again.

This story has a similar element to one in Deep Cover in that Lindsey’s father died in the line of duty, and she doesn’t think she can risk enduring that kind of loss ever again. But for Stephen being a cop and eventually becoming captain is his ticket to redeeming himself from his past mistakes and proving himself honorable to his family and community.

Stephen’s friend asks Stephen what he’s willing to give up to keep Lindsey.

I won’t give away the ending by telling you what he decides. But I will share an interesting tidbit about the author. Twenty-three years ago, Lisa begged her then Marine husband to give up his dream of becoming a police officer like his dad. She admits that she was terrified of losing him and didn’t trust God enough to protect him.

Lisa’s husband honored her plea.

Your Turn: Have you had to make a sacrifice for someone you loved (spouse, child, parent)? How did you handle it? Has someone made such a sacrifice for you? Thank them, today.

Emotional Connections

Have you ever read a story that a friend raved about and then been stumped at the attraction?

That’s happened to me a few times lately, and I’ve been attempting to pinpoint why. Sometimes, of course, it can be chalked up to different tastes, or different life experiences that make a story resonate with one person and not another.

Lately, I’ve been hungering for stories in which I emotionally connect with the hero or heroine so much that my heart aches when theirs does.

This obsession seems to be spilling over into my people watching–an occupational hazard.

Sunday afternoon my husband and I and two youngest children went to a restaurant for lunch, and a young family caught my attention. There were four adorable blond children ranging in age from about four to eleven and a tired-looking dad. They were dressed like they’d come from church, well-behaved. The eleven-year-old girl was obviously used to mothering her younger siblings.

I wondered if the mom was trailing behind with a baby. Then when she didn’t appear, I wondered if she was sick at home, or had just had a baby and hubby was giving her a few hours of peace and quiet.

Nosy writer that I am, I soon found myself trying to catch a glimpse of the father’s left hand.

My heart sunk when I saw his ring finger was bare. I doubted he was divorced. He looked too melancholy, and I figured that if this was his weekend with the kids, he’d be more…alive.

So I naturally assumed he was widowed–every happily-married spouse’s worst fear.

Instantly, I was emotionally connected.

My heart ached for that little family even as my mind began re-writing their happily ever after.

Hours later, I found myself wishing we’d introduced ourselves, perhaps invited the children to come out for a ride on our sweet old horse. That’s the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of actions I yearn for my characters to inspire in readers.

Your turn: What kind of scenario squeezes your heart, or plays on your mind for hours after you’ve put a book down? Has a fictional story ever inspired you to change something about yourself or do something differently?

A Word about posts on RSS feed

For those of you who subscribe to this blog via RSS feed, I apologize that about 25% of the time, the feed has shown nothing but formatting information. This happens when I copy and paste my post from a word document and don’t remember to backspace at the beginning of the post to delete formatting.

I went back and republished those posts today so that they should now render properly in the feed. And I’ve subscribed to my own feed so that I’ll catch it early if this happens again.