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Here Comes . . . There Goes . . . the Bride . . .
I lost a good friend a few days ago. My heart is broken in the way death breaks our hearts. Just two days after the passing (before I’d found my feet again), I received a note from a grieving reader. We commiserated together and do what women do: talked to it and then through it, and then kept on talking shifting the subject to something that didn’t hurt.
It is at times such as these that women who love their marriages think of brides. Why? Because marriage is a time full of beginnings and hope and love—the polar opposite of grief. Oh, yeah, there are times when a woman needs a good bride story–and times when writers need to write them.
In such a mood, I created Catherine in Legend of the Mist. I wanted a strong woman, but one who faces the kinds of dilemmas that we all face: torn loyalties, betrayal, being lied to or lied about, heartbroken, soul weary, and cheated on in multiple ways. Catherine definitely wasn’t ready to meet James Cameron, who constantly stunned her (and me) by never reacting as expected. He was the antithesis of the man who’d wronged her, and to this day, I love him for it. He is flawed to the core, but a perfect hero. (General market read).
James shares a lot of common traits with Mark Jensen in Down and Dead in Dixie. Now that was an unusual bride book. Two weddings between the same couple only with a weird twist and they occurred in the oddest places—both times! Thinking on it, I suppose it’s not so strange for an unusual woman to have an unusual wedding . . . or two. And it sure was fun. (Inspirational/general market “clean read.”)
These kinds of dilemmas fascinated women in bride books. We don’t want just ordinary brides, if there is any such thing as an ordinary bride, but ones that spark that hope and new-beginning feelings, preferably for unique reasons. Here are some favorites and why I believe we love to write and read them:
- Julie Garwood’s The Bride. This book has topped Bride Book reading lists for a lot of years. Why? Jamie makes us laugh. She’s spirited and feisty and funny. There are also delicious tidbits in her that conflict, which confuses her (as they do all of us), and it’s a joy to watch her work through them. There’s suspense, humor, romance, lots of tender moments—so readers’ experience a wide-range of emotions. (A general market romance.)
- Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. A powerful, powerful faith-filled story of love and redemption. Sold into sex slavery as a young child, this forced prostitute finds her mate in an unlikely man determined to follow God’s will. It’s a rocky road, but at the end of the journey, you’re totally invested in this bride and celebrating. This woman endures and conquers and is redeemed. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. (Written for the inspirational market.)
- Jo Beverley’s Dark Champion. A medieval woman trying to save her castle needs a champion, and Immogen finds one but feels certain he’s only defending it or her for money. An interesting twist because he’s really bent on marrying her. This is an emotionally honest story that gives realistic depictions of medieval times in context. Sometimes the most difficult champion to recognize is the one standing right before you, right? (Written for the general market, adults.)
- This was a first novel by a gifted writer—and the “here she comes, there she goes” bride in it is adorable. Kathy Carmichael’s My Lady Mischief. This romp of a Regency novel depicts the arranged marriage with a failure twist that’s a success, and that makes Lady Thea very interesting. There are moments during her journey that are laugh-out-loud funny, and moments that touch your heart for their tenderness. When your spirits need a lift and you need a chuckle, this is the coming-and-going, sweet read, bride book to read. (Written for the general market, but suitably sweet.)
- Susan Carroll’s The Bride Finder. A little fantasy, a little whimsy, a lot of romance with a complex character that fascinates from the moment Madeline arrives in Cornwall to meet the husband chosen for her by the Bride Finder. I first read this book as a judge in the RITA Award competition, and I absolutely loved it. When you want to read about a bride trapped and embraced by the mystical and magical, reach for this paranormal book. (Written for the general market, adults.)
- Karen Harbaugh’s The Marriage Scheme. Georgia, an academic in a time when academics were unpopular (to some, unacceptable) for women, schemes to get her mother properly married (a fascinating twist). What really knots her up is falling in love herself. The battle between education and love—in all its glory—makes for a fascinating bride. (Written for the general market, adults.)
Yes, sometimes a woman needs a story about a bride. But inspirational or dark, funny or fantastical? That depends on the woman and why, at a given moment, she needs the story about a bride. The same goes for the writer. All of these female lead characters and the men in their stories are great study subjects for character development and arcs and plot twists.
Sometimes as people and writers we don’t know what we need, only that we need something. Whether soothing the emotions, warming the heart, researching or finding our way out of a dark situation or relationship and rediscovering love, we’re apt to find something worth finding in books with fascinating brides.
Now why have I focused on books to read?
Because too often writers get so caught up in writing that they stop reading. That’s a sure-fire way to dampen or even kill creativity. Instead, read and deepen the creative well. Read broadly, read to mood, read to need, but read. Ask yourself: As a writer and human being, what books do I “go-to” when (insert a variety of moods)? And then ask yourself, “What is it about my books that call readers to them?”
These are great questions to explore for personal career strategy and for recognizing your author theme. We write strongest when we write within our author theme. So spend some time, explore, figure it out. In your books, what comes and goes?
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.
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