by Rachael Phillips
Have you ever read a romance that left you with that [*sigh*]-if-only-that-book-lasted-forever feeling? Better yet, have you written one? Then you know exactly what I mean when I say a good romance is like strawberry cheesecake.
Do I have a food fetish? I’m afraid so. One friend, having read my romances, even complimented? me, saying I always blow my quota of adjectives describing food.
True. Probably more than I spend on the hero.
Still, I stand by my hypothesis.
First, romance, like all writing and all yummy food, is best when authors begin with fresh ingredients: exceptional characters, riveting dialogue, unique settings and ingenious plot twists.
Romance, as well as cheesecake, also consists of a delicious balance of the sweet and the sour swirled together to create a flavor blend better than the original ingredients.
A contrast of textures, including crunchy graham cracker crust, creamy filling, and fruity topping, reinforce this in cheesecake. Likewise, nitty-gritty research (often historical, geographical or occupational); rich, luscious language; and wholesome, flavorful everydayness together enhance a romance’s appeal.
Like strawberry cheesecake, excellent romances usually take time to solidify before the writer layers on the final elements that make it taste out of this world.
John Steinbeck, in his book Travels with Charley, deplored chain restaurants that boasted their generic offerings were “untouched by human hands.” He wanted a dinner imprinted with the cook’s own fingers. Likewise, an excellent romance should bear an author’s special touches based on her background and personality, distinctive as an unrecipe-d sprinkle of cinnamon or even an opulent layer of chocolate.
Yes [*eye roll*], dieticians don’t consider strawberry cheesecake a critical element of the food pyramid. Likewise, theologians and pastors don’t regard Christian romance an essential nutrient. Some even see both cheesecake and romance as harmful.
Yet how many of us avoid those who religiously stick to their uncompromising diets—and expect everyone else to, as well?
The Bible does not stuff truth down our throats without regard to taste. In fact, the frankly sensual chapters of the Old Testament book Song of Songs celebrate married love. The romantic theme of Christ’s love for His Church resonates throughout the entire Bible, including a rescue of the damsel in distress—on a white charger, no less, as Robin Jones Gunn says—the Great Elopement (a.k.a., “Rapture,” no ladder necessary), and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (notice the food reference, here?), which celebrates His becoming one with his Church forever.
Strawberry cheesecake, right? With a gazillion chocolate dribbles on the plate.
Certainly, something is wrong if our diets consist of nothing but yummy dessert-type fiction. Even the most avid romance readers and writers should fill their lives with a variety of nourishing genres.
Yet somehow, a bowl of oatmeal doesn’t celebrate life and truth the way strawberry cheesecake does.
I say, “Mmmmmmmmm. Bring it on!”
Uh, yeah . . . the well-written romance, too.
What do you say?