*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a completely honest review*
I am a Christian, many who follow my blog—The Rebel Christian—or have come across my reviews are likely aware of my commitment to my faith. That being said, I have read MANY, I repeat, MANY Christian books. That includes fantasy, science fiction, action, war, and the dreaded … romance. Christian romance, the bane of my existence—and I will tell you why.
There are many kinds of romance; raunchy, sweaty romance that gets your heart racing. There’s gentle romance built on passion and emotion. Gripping, painful romance like a Greek tragedy. YA romance—funny and heartwarming, like reliving your days with your high school crush. Romantic comedies which needs no explanation, and awkward, coming of age romance for the young—or young at heart.
And then there’s Christian romance.
There was a time I would describe Christian romance as dry but I have been proven wrong by a few notable authors on my blog. Now, I’ve come to a new conclusion: its repetitive.
Let me break it down …
Jack is single and Christian but content with his life.
Jill is single and Christian but content with her life.
Jack meets Jill, asks her out. Jill resists him—because she’s trying to focus on life and Christ.
Jack asks again. Jill suddenly realizes life is dry and wouldn’t be bad with Jack around.
Checks with Jesus—He says it’s all good.
Jack and Jill get married.
I’m sure I just described 80% of every Christian romance ever written—or at least 80% of every Christian romance I’VE ever read.
Unfortunately, B and B is not much different.
Ben is this hunky horse guy who is very much content with life, yeah, he’s single but he’s content and just wants to keep to himself and focus on work. He is partnered with someone who’s quite his opposite, a pal named Jake who is very outgoing. The two pair off well as Jake is talkative and doesn’t mind socializing with customers while Ben is quieter but definitely caring and knowledgeable when it comes to horses and whatnot. It’s no surprise that either man catches the eye of Brooke, a new cook hired at Happy Trails.
Brooke is a single mother who just wants to keep her head down and stay focused on her daughter and her life but she can’t hide from Jake for long as he takes notice to the new beauty hanging around. While Jake might be a jokester and sometimes seems like too much to handle, Brooke doesn’t keep her guard up forever. Thus, the romance unfolds.
Don’t get me wrong—because of my lengthy rant—B and B was not by any means a horrible book. It was just a book that fell into the same cookie cutter structure as nearly every other Christian romance—but hey! These books sell in Christian fiction, so why complain? Right?
B and B wasn’t bad, in fact I would recommend it to other readers. It had some points of originality in the fact that it was a ‘horse’ novel set in Australia. There was also the character, Jake, thrown into the mix, who came off as the initial love interest of Brooke. But this heartwarming battle was won by Ben. Gentle Ben, casual Ben, Ben just like most other Christian romance protagonists.
I guess what bothered me the most about B and B was that it was so predictable and that may not be any fault of the author’s—just that I’ve read so much Christian romance, it begins to feel repetitive. Both characters, Brooke and Ben, were like exact replicas of every other main characters in Christian romance. Brooke was innocent and kind, a somewhat shy yet strong female who has decided to stay away from men and romance for whatever reason. Ben was a quiet man, a good man, just looking for a simple life.
There wasn’t much excitement, no surprises, no twists or turns, and barely any passion. While I’m not looking for smoking hot love scenes, I would like more emotion, more detail, more affection. Let me say there is absolutely nothing wrong with squeaky clean romance, but my complaint is not that Christian romance is squeaky clean, it’s that it is very repetitive and often—but not always! —lacks emotion and/or passion. You can be squeaky clean and passionate at the same time … it’s called building on emotion and character connection.
One of the reasons B and B may have lacked in the passion area is probably the writing itself. I would not describe it as bad, it was just very, very simple. It broke the rules of show don’t tell. Instead of showing me that Ben is reserved, and doesn’t enjoy being social, I learned that about him before page 5 because the narrator just plainly said it; “He [Ben] liked them [people] to leave him alone.” And so on…
Oh, ok, good to know…
Many of the sentences began with ‘He’ or ‘She’ in reference to the main characters and read more like a to-do list than a narration. He did this, he did that, she noticed this, she laughed at that. Very simple writing with very little detail. It was plain and laid bare.
Overall, I didn’t think this book was bad. I thought it was just another Christian romance. I did point out the parts I found that weren’t very great—the lack of detail, and style of writing—but altogether, I think this is something that anyone who frequently reads Christian fiction will enjoy.
I also think it’s important to say that this is a solid story that is gentle, and clean, and definitely appeals to Christian audiences. It has a sense of warmth and is a kind piece, especially being a horse fiction. I believe Meunier is a writer who will prosper in Christian fiction and I am very happy to have read her work.