Valentine's Day. A day of roses and romance and restaurants and all things that celebrate the wonder and glory of love...(cue violins, followed by gagging)
I have an admission. Despite my best efforts my husband and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day. He thinks it's ridiculously commercialised, and can't really see the logic in paying a premium for roses and restaurant meals which would be priced normally a day later or before. (I mean, come on...really? That happens?)
That doesn't mean he doesn't love me; he just doesn't like societal expectations that say a man's love for a woman is proved by how many red roses he gives her. Um, how about his love being proved in the 14 hour days of sweat and pain as he labours to earn money to put food on the table for the wife and kids living 8 hours away? How about the love proved when a couple chooses to stay together after tragedy, when they practice forgiveness as they battle with selfishness and pride? Not glamorous enough? Not romantic enough?
Maybe I'm a trifle cynical, and for the record I do think relationships are worth investing in with nice meals out and special times away (so if you're celebrating Valentine's Day today I hope you have a wonderful time!). But sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the fantasy element of what a loving relationship looks like (hello Facebook
I recently asked readers on my Facebook page why they read romance books. Answers ranged from wanting 'to live vicariously through the story' and 'gives hope that this could be a reality' to liking novels 'that make you think and encourage you to make changes in your own life' and 'reminds us what true love is and shows how powerful godly relationships are.'
I know it's easy to get swept into the fantasy element of romance novels - as a historical romance author that's (partly) what I aim to do! But I think the challenge as a romance writer is to balance the fantasy with aspects of reality, the grit of personal and emotional challenges, so that what we present our readers is not an impossible dream, but something that gives a healthy approach to loving others in this day and age.
After all, eventually the roses wither, the chocolates are eaten, the memories of that meal out (with dozens of other couples) fade. But the relationships built on faith and trust and forgiveness and self-sacrifice and God - the marriages that last 40, 50 years - these are the real love stories, built on principles that can't be bought, that sing a louder song to this world and celebrate the wonders of love in a lasting way.
Over to you: Have you read a romance novel that challenged you to make changes in your life?
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher.
A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, and Winning Miss Winthrop, all available from Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, etc