“When I'm Gone” by Angela K. Couch
First Place Romance
Summer 1942. Just before the competition that could launch their careers as professional ballroom dancers, Elaine Mathews’s partner, James Larson, gets drafted into the army. Now, with her dreams and the man she loves hanging in the balance, Elaine must acknowledge what she’s most afraid to lose.
As a historical romance writer, it doesn't take Valentine's Day to get me thinking about love. As a Christian, I think about it even more, for the greatest love story of all is the one of our Savior's love for us. Completely platonic, but oh, so powerful! Today I have been "musing" about aspects of Christ's love for us - aspects that are present in all the best love stories. Even the romantic ones.
Humility: While the world often sees humbleness as a weakness, in reality it is strength. To admit you're wrong. To apologize. Pride and Prejudice would have ended quite differently, and not near as happily if both Elizabeth's and Darcy's pride hadn't softened and given way to a little of this.
Long suffering: I was going to step away from Jane Austen, but as soon as I wrote those two words I thought Persuasion...and then of Elinor in Sense and Sensibility. Poor Elinor did the right and kind thing no matter how deeply it cut her, and thankfully in the end she got her happy-ever-after.
Courage: "For love casteth out fear". I recently finished reading Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund, based on the love story of John and Abigail Adams. In the end they both have the courage to sacrifice everything for the one they love, and to do the right thing. Which brings us to...
Personal sacrifice: I don't think a story can be considered a love story without an aspect of sacrifice. (maybe a lust story, but not love.) Whether one is sacrificing their pride, their job, their dream, or their life for the person they love, it must be present. When they gather their courage, and suffer what they must, then I will believe that they actually care...actually love. Maybe not as fully as Christ loved us...but that only leaves room for growth.
So happy belated Valentine's day. I hope that whether you are reading a romance, or living your own, you will find real love, even charity - the pure love of Christ.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4 KJV)