Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I enjoy romance novels; and unlike some other readers, I enjoy both the Christian and mass-market versions. In general, if I have a problem with a Christian romance novel it is that it is too preachy or strongly pushes a theology with which I disagree, or that the characters are just too good to be true. In general, if I dislike a mass-market romance it is because the characters seem to be in lust more than in love, they have no morals or the language seems unnecessarily crude. Often if asked to give a quick way to determine if a romance is the Christian type or the mass-market type, I'd say that in the Christian type the characters go to church; in the mass-market type, they go to bed.
When Rebecca at Glass Roads offered me a review copy of A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series) one thing that piqued my interest was that it was noted that the book had previously been published as The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure) and had been re-worked for the Christian market. I was curious to see what that meant so I headed to Amazon and purchased a copy of The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure) and waited for my review copy of A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series). I thought it would be fun to compare the two.
First of all, let me say that I enjoyed both books. The story was basically the same in both versions. On her deathbed, Abby asks Zoe, her best friend, to write to Cade, her brother and Zoe's first love, to ask him to take care of her children. Cade is a bounty hunter who promised to return for Zoe, but who never did. Cade returns to town, planning to arrange a home for the kids and leave quickly, before the bad guys realized he was there. Of course things don't go as planned, he has to spend a lot of time with Zoe, and sure enough.... As mass-market romances go, The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure) is on the mild side; there is no pre-marital sex (though some had happened in the past and was regretted) and the characters are faithful to each other. They aren't using sex as a substitute for love. A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series) is on the mild side for a Christian romance--no one gets "saved" and religion isn't a primary subject of discussion. I think a die-hard non-Christian would only roll his/her eyes once or twice during the whole book.
So, what the difference in the two books? The mass-market version is much more physical. Cade and Zoe touch much more and get physical reactions to that touching. We are in the bedroom with them when they consummate their relationship, whereas in the Christian version, we don't get to watch more than the first kiss. Of course the Christian version has more religion in it--but even the mass-market version had the kids praying over their food and showed the family going to church.
Which book should you read? If you want a clean romance, try A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series) even if you don't generally like Christian romances. If you like all those physical descriptions, you'll like The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure). Both books were fun to read and I enjoyed this little comparison exercise.