Christian author Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of more than two-dozen books, including a couple that were adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She continues her Blue Ridge Romance series with Honeysuckle Dreams (Thomas Nelson), which shines a light on the complicated and beautiful angles of love. In this interview, Denise explains why the novel’s so chock-full of drama, how it fits into the overarching series, and what she considers the essential qualities of a leading man and leading lady…
Denise, Honeysuckle Dreams revolves around a tragedy, a shocking secret, a custody fight, and a couple that’s engaged but not because they love each other–whew! How did you come up with this mix of complications?
From the beginning I knew Hope and Brady’s story would involve a marriage of convenience. Readers love those, and so do I! Making it plausible in a contemporary setting is tricky, but I knew Hope and Brady’s love for baby Sam would prove enough of a catalyst to call for such an extreme measure.
What’s the overarching concept for the Blue Ridge Romance series, and how does this novel fit in?
The Blue Ridge series involves a close set of friends who are trying to overcome past issues and grow together, both spiritually and emotionally. Of course, their love stories provide the ultimate impetus for that change. Hope has been hurt by love in the past and doesn’t quite have the courage to face another heartache.
Brady was adopted by his aunt as a child and then left by his ex-wife. He’s never quite felt as though anyone truly wants him. Both of their issues collide when Brady and Hope fall for each other. Hope’s fear of falling in love feels like yet another rejection to Brady. I think this sort of thing happens all too often in real life.
What do you consider the essential qualities of a leading woman and leading man?
I like to start with a strong woman. Perhaps she’s lacking courage in a particular area due to past hurts, but she’s no stranger to picking herself up off the floor. A caring heart is also important. In Honeysuckle Dreams, Hope demonstrates her compassion by putting it all on the line for Brady and his son.
I love a protective hero, and Brady fits the bill. He’s willing to go to the ends of the earth to protect his son—even when he finds out Sam isn’t his by blood. And of course that love and protection extends to the woman in his life. Also, for both hero and heroine, you can never go wrong with a great sense of humor. It brings levity in the hard times.
What do you hope readers get out of reading Honeysuckle Dreams?
This story tackles a few weighty issues: finding the courage to love again, dealing with crippling anxiety, and overcoming abandonment issues. With all of these, the characters and—I hope—the readers will learn that with God’s help we can overcome all of these issues and more.
How does your faith impact how you approach writing your fiction?
From a plotting standpoint I like to write about deep issues, mostly those stemming from childhood. These issues generally surface as an obstacle when the characters are on their journey to true love. Of course, the ultimate answer to all of these problems is a faith rooted in Christ—and sometimes a little therapy! I am always working toward that mark when writing the story.
My faith also affects my writing from a personal standpoint. Sometimes the ideas and words don’t flow, and this keeps me dependent on Him. I’m dependent upon God for inspiration. I pray daily that He will guide me so that the story turns out just the way He wants it to.
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Blue Ridge Romance #2