22 June 2011

Joanne Tropello Is Guest Blogging Today!

Welcome Joanne! 

In Mr. Shipley's Governess, Sophie Baird is looking for a way to escape the painful reality of her parents' deaths. Unable to live in their home any longer, she takes a job as a live-in tutor to Anastasia Shipley to remove herself from her painful memories and the feeling that God has abandoned her. Anastasia has an illness that has prevented her from ever attending school and makes her father, Sebastian, over protective. When Sophie first meets Sebastian, she cannot deny the intense attraction she feels toward him. When an unexpected romance begins between them, she starts to rebuild her relationship with God, with the help of a certain little girl.  

Will Sophie find peace from her past at the Shipley mansion? For Jane Austen enthusiasts, this is the story you just have to read.

Conveying a Romance of the Heart: What makes a love affair great?

Joanne Troppello

Plain and simple, the formula for a romance novel is man meets woman and they fall in love. Of course, they run into various obstacles along the way, but there is always a happy ending. However, what sets a romance novel apart and makes it irrefutably memorable?
Think about one of the most dramatic love stories through the ages—Romeo & Juliet, young love of the forever kind. Yes, this story ended tragically, but it shows the ingredients of a great love affair. Even death could not keep them apart.

Let’s look at a more contemporary example, The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks. Two young people experience a passionate summer romance and life threatens to pull them apart. The heroine goes away to college while the hero enlists in the army. The hero wrote to her but she never received his letters and she thinks he doesn’t want to be with her. She gets engaged to a man from an affluent family and finally, circumstances bring the hero and his heroine together again. They marry and have a family, living a good life. Eventually the heroine has dementia and her loving husband stands by her, trying to help her remember the happy life they had. Even when she has lost her mental capacity, he stands by his wife. They die together in their sleep. Now that is a true testament of an everlasting love affair.

So how do you create such an unforgettable love affair that breaches the limits of the run of the mill romance novel? You start by thinking outside the box. The formula is the same, but you need to make the plot your own. I write inspirational romance, so I bring an element of faith into my stories. In my opinion, that adds the cement to hold the romance together. If a couple wants to weather the storms of life, they need a higher power to give them the foundation to succeed. I believe that foundation is God at the center of their relationship.

Now, I don’t want to get too preachy here—and I never do in my books either because I believe in real life. Not everyone believes the same way or has a strong faith in God, yet many people experience a great love affair in their lives. So, even if you don’t add an element of faith to your novels, you too, can write a memorable love story.

Your hero and heroine need to love each other unconditionally. That is real love. They love body, soul and spirit, every part of each other. A great love affair is one that begins in the realm of friendship or at least intellectual or emotional connection, before any inkling of physical intimacy enters the picture. Passionate connections are wonderful, but passion eventually fades. When it lessens, what remains? That agape, unconditional, love remains. It’s a love that knows no bounds. They overcome hurts and offenses and learn to forgive. It’s not about winning, but learning to compromise and serve one another’s needs first. A great love affair turns from friendship into a passionate love with your best friend. Physical intimacy obviously comes into play, but depending on the type of genre you write in, will determine the amount you show the readers.

Your novel may not span the length of your hero and heroine’s years like in The Notebook, but you need to convey the same sense of long-term commitment. Your readers must get the sense that your characters are in it forever. However, if you write a sappy romance novel, most readers won’t appreciate that and it won’t be a memorable love affair. In real life, we face problems. Make your novel real and add reality to your story. If you do that, it will be believable and readers will relate. Own your own story. If you believe the love affair you are creating, your readers will believe it too.

Thank you Joanne for taking the time to visit my blog today.  Your post is lovely, and I wish you all the success you can handle!    ~ Nadja

My thoughts on Mr. Shipley's Governess........

Sophie Baird struggles with the grief of losing her parents in a tragic accident and in her ensuing distant relationship with God.  But her floundering leads her to the place the Lord intended for her all along - as governess to Anastasia Shipley. 

Tutoring her young charge, who also knows the sting of loss, Sophie slowly comes to terms with her pain, learning from her pupil even as she endeavors to instruct. 
As Sophie grows anew in her faith, love begins to bloom in her heart for Anastasia's father, Sebastian.  Afraid of her growing affection for her employer, Sophie must decide whether she will trust God with her future or continue to lock her heart away.

Mr. Shipley's Governess is a simple story affirming the belief that faith conquers all.  The hero, Sebastian, and his daughter, Anastasia, display their trust in God throughout the four hundred-eleven pages, and of course, the heroine joins them by the story's end.  Troppello's message is conveyed clearly, sprinkled within the characters' thoughts, words, and deeds.  This novel is quite sweet in that regard. 

Interestingly, the most amusing character in Troppello's novel is Sebastian's brother, David Shipley.  The author's employment of witty and cagey dialogue with this particular character absolutely stole the scenes in which he figured, and I wonder if she may comtemplate writing a story about him!

I would rate the novel three stars out of five for the following reasons.  I craved more meaningful conversation between Sophie and Anastasia as well as between Sophie and Sebastian. The couple never openly discuss weighty matters, for as soon as an uncomfortable topic is breached, one or the other either flees the situation or changes the subject.  Anastasia, at times, came across as too 'pollyanna-ish'. I would have also enjoyed it if the author had delved more deeply into the family relationships.   Besides the wants I've listed, I also have praise.  It was nice to read about a well adjusted child who was respectful toward adults and  who loved learning.  Love between Sophie and this  young girl was nicely written, and I liked the fact that the heroine fell in love with Anastasia before falling for her father. The lack of a truly nasty villian was also refreshing.  Troppello writes about issues that people actually face, such as fear, loss, fear of man, bitterness, and hope.  Add in a wealthy hero that jets the heroine across the pond and, voila!, we have a romance afoot. 

Joanne Troppello writes an inspiring tale.  The stars I would award were well earned!  I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a sweet, easy read that is wholesome and PG rated.



  1. Nadja, thank you for the opportunity to guest today. Sorry I couldn't stop by sooner...was guesting at the LASR chat today. Thanks for the review. Always love hearing from reviewers. Actually, I was thinking about writing a sequel, with David as the main character. I'm glad you found his character intriguing. Loved writing his dialogue. Thanks again. Looking forward to you guesting on my blog. :-)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Joanne! I will be awaiting David's story....impatiently, ha!
    ~ Nadja

  3. I've enjoyed quite a few inspirational romances in my time (grew up as a pastor's daughter). I understand her argument, but there are many other reasons for characters to fall in love than friendship or emotion. I certainly think these are the most meaningful, but if you try to sell YA fiction and get an audience to stick around for that Grace Livingston Hill moment at the end, where the hero confesses his love and they get married... good luck to you. :)
    Adults understand what love SHOULD be like, and that is why Joanne's type of story can appeal to them. Teenagers tend to want what love SHOULDN'T be like, and it's our job to give it to them, while steering them in the appropriate direction.
    I thought Anna and the French Kiss did a wonderful job with that.

  4. Kate,
    Thanks so much for stopping by. Agree with your point about teenagers' perspectives on love and steering them in the right direction. Have a great weekend! :-)