But where I went wrong is thinking all inspirational novels are like that. For years, I went to the library and would be drawn to a lovely cover and a promising story and I’d look at the publisher—and if it was an inspirational publisher, I’d put it back. Imagine all the stories I’ve been missing all this time. I know!
So at the RWA conference this year, I went to a workshop called Bare Naked Plotting. (How can you not like something with the word naked in it?) And color me shocked when I realized our teacher wrote inspirational novels (and she used the word naked!) On top of it, she used the movie IRONMAN to explain plotting and identity and essence—and anyway, I immediately decided I’d found a soul sister. She revolutionalized the whole concept for me, as well as concept of what makes an inspirational an inspirational. I dearly wanted to win one of the books, and I even said a little prayer, hoping my name would come out. And it did—the first name drawn—apparently God had been dying to have me read an inspirational for years.
On the flight home, I read TIFFANY GIRL (which is about 500 pages) and just could not put it down. It was funny. It was touching. It was sweet. It was ROMANTIC. But the most shocking thing of all, it was sexy. I mean, seriously, seriously sexual tension sexy! I think they kissed twice, but there’s a scene where they’re making a “phenakistascope”, which is a 19th century version of the modern GIF. Anyway, they’re posing in various stances for the waltz that will make up the pictures for this thing and let me tell you, Sylvia Day couldn’t have packed more sexual tension and “sex” into a scene where everyone was fully clothed. It was just fabulous. And romantic. And I wanted to tell everyone about this book and scene so they’d run out and get the book.
Now, meanwhile there is an actual story going on, and I was impressed (and horrified) at how much tribulation Ms. Gist put the characters through. Everyone suffered, constantly, and just when you thought, “YAY! Things are finally turning around!” something even worse would happen. Becoming a New Woman (or the equivalent of the modern woman in the gay 1890s) definitely wasn’t all it was cracked up to be; however, Flossie Jayne is one plucky heroine who is easy to root for; and Reeve Wilder is exactly the sort of kind yet exasperating hero you want for her.
Anyway, as you might guess, they get married, and I honestly thought where they kiss at the wedding was the end of the book. Inspirationals, as you know, don’t have sex. But Ms. Gist takes us a chapter further, and we have another scene, much like the “phenakistascope” scene, and while she lives up to the requirements of an inspirational novel, she gives those of us Readers who want to see what happens behind closed doors just a bit more. Yes, a tender, worthy Christian husband, but still a man who can’t keep his hands off his beautiful wife. A story that focuses on the sex positive aspects I expect from a modern romance novel.
Definitely go find this book, especially if you’re like me and thought all inspirationals were the same.