How I Fell in Love with Historical Romance

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. But my love of reading didn’t always extend to Christian historical romance as much as it does today.

Growing up, I didn’t like to read fantasy or historical books very much. I preferred contemporary ones about girls my own age doing things that I liked to do. Series like The Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins/Sweet Valley High were definitely among my top choices as a pre-teen. My friends and I would pour over these types of books and giggle endlessly about who was our favorite and which boys at our school were most like the characters in the novels. And history was never a favorite subject of mine. I much preferred science, especially biology and chemistry.

When I think back on it, though, I guess there were a couple of exceptions to this rule. I did really enjoy the Little House on the Prairie books and Anne of Green Gables. But even though these books are technically historical, they are still based on young girls and therefore seemed a bit more relevant to my life.

That poor, unfortunate book (Once Upon a Summer) thus sat on my shelf for many years.

Then when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I received a book for Christmas from my aunt. It was Once Upon a Summer by Janette Oke. Being the tween that I was, I was not interested in it at all. I read the first few chapters, but I just couldn’t relate. A boy as the main character? *Shrug* A setting so many years ago? *Yawn* And this unlikely story continues in a four-book series? *Heavy sigh*

That poor, unfortunate book thus sat on my shelf for many years. By the time I got to college I was so busy with school and activities and a boyfriend that I didn’t have time to read just for fun.

But all that changed the summer that I took a job on campus. The university I attended has a hotel, and I was hired to answer the phone for the hotel and for the main university number. It was a great summer job, and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted in between answering the phone. This gave me tons of time to start reading for fun again, and so I read everything that I could get my hands on. The librarians even knew me by name…and it’s not that small of a town.

During one of my many excursions to the library that summer, I happened to come across the author Janette Oke once again. I checked out a book from her “Women of the West” series –A Bride for Donnigan – and read it. And I fell in love. Hard.

I checked out a book from Janette Oke “Women of the West” series –A Bride for Donnigan – and read it. And I fell in love. Hard.

I loved that the story was told from the perspective of Donnigan as well as the main female character. I loved the sweet story of a mail order bride. I loved that they eventually fell in love. And I absolutely loved that they became Christians during the novel. “What a perfect book,” I thought. It was nice, sweet, had Christian themes, and it left me with a sense of hope and peace instead of hopelessness and turmoil, like so many secular books seemed to do.

I immediately went and dug up my old book Once upon a Summer, read it, loved it, purchased the entire series, read all of them, and then went on to read every book written by Janette Oke. I guess you can almost exclusively credit Janette Oke with my initial distaste for and eventual infatuation with Christian historical romance. (Sounds like a good plot for a novel right there!) Since then, my love has grown as I have branched out to other authors and especially during my last four years of doing book reviews. Like any relationship, there have been bumps along the way. (There are even a couple of books by Janette Oke that I haven’t really liked – the horror!) But also like any relationship, my love for historical romance is now deeper than it was the day that I first fell in love.

Though it was definitely not love-at-first-sight, my love for historical romance is one that has grown from infatuation to something that can stand the test of time.

The biggest reason I think I love Christian historical romance so much is that it is based on reality and truth, but since the stories take place in a different time, there is a little bit of separation there. I can still feel for the characters and experience their pain, grief, and joy, but it’s not like I am actually living it.

I’m also a sucker for a happily-ever-after. And one way or another, that’s almost always what you get with Christian historical romance. My husband and I met almost 20 years ago, and we have been married almost 15. In him I have truly found my knight, my true love, my happily-ever-after, and I love seeing how the characters find theirs as well.

Though it was definitely not love-at-first-sight, my love for historical romance is one that has grown from infatuation to something that can stand the test of time.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How about you? How did you fall in love with historical romance, and why do you like it so much?


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