I am not one to watch television, but my husband loves movies, particularly westerns. Last evening, he stumbled across on oldie but goodie: Love Comes Softly, directed by Michael Landon, Jr. The film originally aired in 2003 on the Hallmark channel, and is based on a Christian series written back in the 90s by Janette Oke.
As I said, I’m not one to watch TV. But the movie was worth staying up for.
This, my friends, is what I consider a true romance. A young couple, Marty & Aaron, head out west to start their new life together, but the dream is not meant to be. Before they can even set up camp, Aaron goes after one of their horses who wandered off and dies in a tragic fall. Marty is pregnant, alone, and winter is coming.
A local widower, Clark, proposes to Marty on the day she buries her husband. He offers her a solution: marry him, help him over the winter to raise his 9-year old daughter, Missie, who desperately needs a woman’s influence. In the spring, he will provide passage for Marty to go back east, along with the baby he discovers she’s carrying. With no options, Marty accepts.
The couple are married in name only, and live in separate quarters. Missie resents Marty’s presence, and her efforts to coax the girl to act more like a girl. But gradually, Marty finds a way to earn Missie’s trust. The grieving faux family show signs of becoming a real one.
As an author of romance novels, I read and listen to hundreds of titles every year. I seek out what’s popular, what’s selling, trying to figure out what today’s romance audience wants. This movie had no sex, no foul language, no violence, no dead bodies (except for Marty’s husband at the beginning). Yet the story captured my attention from the first minutes and kept me riveted to the very end, where the first kiss between Marty and Clark represents the start of their new love.
It’s true, there is a minor religious element–it was, after all, a Christian novel. But there is certainly no Bible thumping or prosyletizing. A subtle reference to Clark’s God, in one scene, is the extent of the Christian element. Other than the absence of graphic love scenes or bloody violence.
This, my friends, is romance. By the end of the movie I was smiling with tears streaming down my face. This is, ultimately, the kind of love story I love–the kind of emotional experience I’d love to provide for my readers.
Am I alone? I know I’m older, but . . . Has this kind of pure romance–without all the sex and language and violence–really gone out of style? Is there still an audience for stories like Love Comes Softly?
Please share your thoughts in comments.
Claire Gem writes contemporary romance and supernatural suspense. And is strongly considering drifting over to the Inspirational side . . . visit her Amazon Author Page.