I think romance novels are stupid. Generally speaking, romantic stories trace the travails of individuals who wallow in emotional drivel. What’s more, they’re completely unrealistic. For instance, in all romance novels, guys learn how to get in touch with their feelings. What absolute drivel. If God wanted guys to be in touch with their feelings, he would have slathered them in barbecue sauce and wrapped them in a burger. If that weren’t bad enough, Christian romance novels add whole new dimensions of shlock. In Christian romance stories, the principle characters, belligerent non-Christians, ride a roller coaster of emotional turmoil to discover love and salvation all by the end of the novel. It’s a cliché nightmare of epic proportions.
All that being said, you’d think I hate Mags Storey’s romantic tale, If You Only Knew. But you’d be wrong.
Mags Storey’s If You Only Knew (Kregel Publications ISBN 978-0-8254-3895-0) clings to many of the common Christian romance clichés, but with a twist. The main character, Jo, is a disenfranchised high school graduate who moves in with her cousin, trying to find herself in the small town of Silverpoint. While there she meets the two co-conspirators of the requisite love triangle, Sam and Kevin. Add a mystery that intertwines all the residents of the rustic locale and you have the makings of intrigue.
What Mags does so well is present a romance story with a sardonic twist. It’s as though she’s telling the reader that, yes, this is a love story, but that doesn’t mean we can’t poke fun at the genre. The author, and the main character, never lose their sense of humour. It’s a romance that allows us to laugh at all the predictable conventions. The snappy dialogue and self-depricating reflections of Jo are both refreshing and engaging. At times the plot lags, but picks up again at the right time to move the plot along to a conclusion that would make any romance aficionado sigh.
I don’t recommend that anyone read a romance novel. They’re tired and predictable and completely unrealistic. But if you insist, I suggest If You Only Knew. It’s what I believe all modern romances should be.