Well, I gotta say, my husband’s cancer battle took me down a long, winding road into inspirational romance. Not long after he got well, I found out about the "Hearts Crossing" contest at a small publishing start-up. There were specifics you had to have in your entry.
A heroine, an only child, who was a landscape architect. A hero who taught American literature and had seven siblings. The standard stuff for inspy had to apply...somebody losing/finding faith, becoming Christian etc.
Since my faith had been stretched pretty thin by my helplessness as a cancer-caregiver, I thought I could write a story about faith challenges. And well, Hearts Crossing was absolutely the Best Name for a ranch. Hubs and I had just signed up to go on a city-slicker wagon train trip so...
...Heroine Christy, a California landscape architect, takes a similar wild-west adventure, where she meets Colorado wagon master Kenn, a high school teacher during the academic year. Both need God...Christy to survive the morass of her father’s tragic death. Kenn, overcoming guilt at leading his younger brother Bragg astray...
(The novella got accepted and so did stories about Kenn’s siblings, all working and running the Hearts Crossing Ranch.)
The boat slid through the silver lake, and Christy felt calm at last. The coffee warmed her through and through, but nothing like the heat of Kenn’s presence across from her. His muscles moved again like magic and music, a sight she’d never tire of whether she stayed on at Hearts Crossing Ranch for Cowboy College after the wagon train, or returned home.
Both possibilities confused her.
“Have you thought about staying on?” Kenn asked casually as if reading her thoughts, “Cowboy College?”
She fought for the correct reply, not wanting to sound eager. Or reluctant. Both emotions scrambled together in her heart. “I can’t deny I’m intrigued. But there’s my job. And my mom.”
“Do you think she’s worried about you? Our no-cell phone rule, I mean.”
“Sure.” Christy shrugged, not liking the thought. Not liking the guilt she felt as not having really thought about Mom for a while. “She worries about everything. And it confuses me so much. She’s supposed to be this strong Christian woman, yet she can’t seem to trust God’s will at all.”
Kenn sighed, long and loud before he replied. “I think I’ve learned faith isn’t some pinnacle you reach where you get to stay forever,” he said finally. “There’s hills and valleys all over the place.”
He gave her a quick, heart-stopping glance before he looked away, as if ready to bare his soul. For a flash, she wondered if he was about to reveal to her the load Kelley had hinted at.
Christy’s voice was soft. “You think you ever reach the pinnacle again? Once you land in a valley?” For some reason, today had her feeling the valley of the shadows might be a thing of the past. Or at least she was on her way upward. It wasn’t mere coincidence or habit, was it, which had her beseech God at the moment she needed Him?
“I don’t know.” Kenn’s forlorn voice touched her heart as both their gazes traveled the shoreline to land on Bragg, busy showing Mitchell how to cast a fly rod. Maybe God had led her here to Hearts Crossing to find her own peace and to help Kennedy Martin regain his faith.