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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Welcome JoAnn Durgin and Awakening

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JOANN DURGIN is a member of ACFW and its Indiana chapter. Awakening is her debut novel. She was a finalist in the long contemporary romance category of the 2010 RWA/FHL Touched by Love contest, and is a regular blog contributor with Hoosier Ink and Reflections in Hindsight. JoAnn is also an active member of the My Book Therapy Voices and has won or placed in several of their quarterly Flash Fiction contests. She loves to share her passion for the redeeming love of Christ through her stories.

by JoAnn Durgin
Published by Torn Veil Books


Lexa Clarke signs up for a short-term summer mission in San Antonio with TeamWork Missions, hoping to make a difference in the world. TeamWork director Sam Lewis has a job to do and can't afford to be distracted by the petite, feisty blonde. But when she tumbles into his arms from the top of a house they’re rebuilding, Sam suspects his life will never be the same. A God-fearing man. A God-seeking woman. It’s a combustible combination.

Readers, buy your copy of Awakening today!


How you define a hero in a Christian romance? What makes him irresistible? I don’t know if you’ve ever checked out the Christian Community boards on Amazon, but a particular discussion thread recently caught my eye. One reader complained there weren’t enough strong men in the Christian romances she was reading. We’re talking leadership potential here. Men who are decisive and loving and, if married, the head of their households yet treat their wives as equals.

I started pondering that point and did a quick run-through of recent books I’d read. Don’t get me wrong – there are some wonderful heroes out there, but more often than not, they fall short (and I’m not talking stature). For example, it seems the male “heroes” in Christian books tend to fall into one of the following categories (with varying degrees of a relationship with the Lord):

  • Widower still grieving the loss of his saintly wife, idealized all the more for having died young (and beautiful, but that goes without saying) – with or without a child or two (having one ups the vulnerability factor)
  • Afraid to commit because he’s been burned by love, is still pining for a lost love or hasn’t met “the one”
  • Too focused on his career
  • Scarred physically and/or emotionally
  • Insecure, not confident in either himself or the strength of his love

Let’s be honest and face facts here. Deep down, do we really want a hero in a Christian romance who smells his socks before he throws them on the floor, belches, slaps other guys on the backside and grunts like a cave man, can only cook mac and cheese and microwave hot dogs, leaves the lid up on the… Okay, you get my point.

Oh, no. We want them to be (you can define your own order here):

  • strong in his faith and personal relationship with the Lord
  • handsome
  • intelligent
  • witty
  • charming
  • brave and honorable
  • confident
  • sensitive
  • kind
  • chivalrous
  • heroic
  • romantic as anything
  • tall
  • strong in every way imaginable
  • awesome kisser
  • compassionate to children, seniors and animals
  • treats his parents like the queen and king they are and his brothers and sisters with the utmost respect
  • admired by his co-workers or employees
  • self-supporting and the doer of good (and often selfless and sometimes anonymous) deeds
  • looks equally spectacular in a Stetson, jeans and a T-shirt, a wetsuit, a tuxedo or a hot tub

And last, but definitely not least, he absolutely must look at his heroine as if she’s by far the most beautiful, desirable creature he’s ever met and who ever walked the face of the earth.

I ask you, is it too much to ask for the charm of Cary Grant or Colin Firth, the wry humor of Harrison Ford (as Indiana Jones) or George Clooney, the smooth, deep voice of Gregory Peck, the effortless sex appeal of Robert Redford or Pierce Brosnan, the intelligence of (you fill in the blank – it’s up for grabs), the simply too-cool-for-words macho heroics of Clint Eastwood or Hugh Jackman (or Harrison as the President of the United States when he snarls, “Get off my plane!”), the romanticism of Jeff Bridges (have you heard this man talk about his wife, the great love of his life? It’s positively sigh-inducing, and he thankfully had a great marriage modeled by his parents), and the great faith of (again, you fill in the blank with your own example). Okay, I’m showing my age here, but I’m not sure today’s Young Hollywood offers the same leading men of days gone by. Sigh.

There’s an old Carpenters song with lyrics that go like this, I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world, and fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find. My mother often told me that should be my own theme song. I mistakenly believed those lyrics were from, ironically enough, Goodbye to Love. They’re not, but interestingly enough, they’re from I Need to Be in Love. But show me a guy who embodies all those above-named qualities, and you’ve got perfection.

Well, I’m here to say that perfection is highly overrated. It’s downright boring – not to mention totally unrealistic – especially in fiction. Perfection is only embodied in one man in human form, and you know Who that is. My strong male hero in Awakening, Sam Lewis, can get grumpy sometimes. But you know what? I love Sam grumpy. It makes him real and vulnerable. And yes, loveable. But he’s good, he’s faithful, and he’s definitely hero-worthy. At least I think so. I know some of you have such men in your books too, and I’d love for you to tell me about them. Someone said the need to make a hero handsome is a need within the author. Well, call me shallow, people, but I like ‘em handsome!

As I close, here’s something to think about. The following comes from the lyrics of a great song performed by the Christian group 4 Him, and it goes like this:

Oh, I say the measure of a man is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘cause I found out the measure of a man
God knows and understands
For he looks inside to the bottom of your heart
And what’s in the heart defines
The measure of a man

Well, you can doubt your worth
And search for who you are and where you stand
But God made you in His image
When He formed you in His hands
And He looks at you with mercy
And He sees you through His love
You’re His child and that will always be enough

Overall, I believe the Christian reader on Amazon had a point. What do you say? Tell me what you look for in a Christian romantic hero. What makes your heart rate speed up, makes you smile, and most importantly, keeps you turning those pages?

Blessings, everyone!

* * * * *

Thank you, JoAnn, for sharing with us today.

Reader's Question: Tell me what you look for in a Christian romantic hero. What makes your heart rate speed up, makes you smile, and most importantly, keeps you turning those pages?


squiresj said...

Looks like I am the first respond - whow. What I look for a hero in my life is most important. I spent all my years praying and seeking the type of man I knew God wanted for me. I didn't marry until I was 29 because I wanted a man who would be committed to me for all the rest of his life. He told me when I told him that - that meant forever. Well he has done just that - committed only to me now for 32 years. I have two grown daughters and our first grandson this past Nov. I do have two step-grandchildren God gave me.
But love is so much more than sex. It is being there for each other like when I was told I had vaginal cancer last year and we held each othr and cried for two weeks (God healed me - took all the bacteria away). It's sitting by me through knee replacements, car wrecks, an ankle fusion, etc. He has a strength and yes, he is sensitive. He can cry and I love it he is that way.
jrs362 at hotmail dot com
I've never read any of your books and would love to win this so I can review it for you.

Pegg Thomas said...

To keep me in the story, the romantic hero has to be REAL. Mr. Perfection is both unreal and frankly... boring. It's not about looks either, he can be scruffy and have grease under his fingernails, but he better have heart. Heart for the Lord and heart for his family and friends is so important. It may not be there in the very beginning, but it better be solid at the end. :)
twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

JoAnn Durgin said...

Thank you for your wonderful comments, ladies. What a testimony of faithfulness and love, squirej. Faith, hope and love. But the GREATEST of these IS love. After all, God loved US enough to send His Son to die for us. I'm thankful you've found a lasting, deep-seated love. I didn't marry until I was nearly 28, and it was the right choice for me. My character of Sam is based on my husband, Jim, and Awakening loosely based on our own love story. You might be interested to note that I have my Sam shed some tears in Awakening - to me it's a greater testimony of a man who feels things deeply when they can let down their guard and allow themselves to cry. It's not weakness, but shows strength of character. And goodness. And faith.

And Peg, sounds like you agree with me about perfection in a man (or woman) being boring. I read a review of a CBA book recently (not mine) that said the hero was great, and although she was wowed as a reader by his charm, she couldn't figure out the depth of his spiritual life. I found that comment incredibly sad. In my books, there's no doubt where my male characters stand. Sam is my core character and he's strong, but he also has his flaws, of course. But he's good and solid and loves the Lord - and his woman. And that's what makes him such a good mentor for all the other guys in his TeamWork organization as we move along through the series.

Thanks again, ladies. I love your comments! Blessings to you both.