The Two Authors I Discovered This Year

This year has been a year for discovering new favorite authors. Yes, the number of new authors I have discovered is only two, but considering that most years the number is zero, this is a great achievement for me. Of course, I read books by new-to-me authors all the time, but with these two authors, I want to read everything they have written, and I want to read it right away.

Some of you might have heard of these authors before and some might not. Both are writers of Christian romance and both have styles that are very different, but both authors manage to create characters and situations that feel very real. Are you ready to learn who they are?

These writers are Joanna Davidson Politano and Melissa Ferguson.

When I decided to write some women’s fiction projects a few years ago, I realized that I needed to explore other authors in the genre. But I still faced the same problem I have always faced with Christian romance and women’s fiction: finding books that don’t ignore the harder problems of life in favor of trials that are easier for readers to swallow. I don’t want to read about the man who is hesitant to enter a relationship because his ex-girlfriend dumped him ten years ago on his birthday, I want to read about the budding relationship that is derailed when the man and woman each suddenly take custody of children who have nowhere to go because of parental drug addiction and abandonment. Or the absent father who dies, leaving his estate to his daughter—along with that estate’s debt.

Joanna Davidson Politano

Last year for Christmas, I received a book called A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano, an author I had never heard of before. Not only is the book a Christian historical romance, it’s also a mystery. I love mysteries. As I read the book, though, I realized the romance and mystery were only secondary to the real point of the story—learning to trust God.

Showing a character discovering their dependence on God is where most Christian writers struggle. It often falls flat. It’s understandable, though. The scriptures themselves tell us we can’t gain a testimony without the Holy Ghost, and the feelings prompted by the Holy Ghost are famously difficult to put into words. We can’t expect an author of fiction to put perfectly into words what we can’t put into words ourselves.

But better than any author of fiction I’ve read before, Politano describes her characters’ transformations of spirit, conveying their thoughts and feelings in a way that helps the reader understand those thoughts and feelings. It helps that her characters are flawed and relatable, making mistakes and wrong decisions, even when they know better. While learning to relate to God, her characters are also learning how to relate to each other. The stories woven are rich and unexpected.

So far, I have read three of Politano’s books and am currently reading a fourth. Each of them has surprised me with its plot and execution, and each has left me with a feeling of fulfillment.

Melissa Ferguson

The characters in Melissa Ferguson’s books are Christians, but you aren’t going to see any redemption arcs in their stories. Not of the wholly religious kind, anyway. Her books are romantic comedies with a much stronger emphasis on the romance. Still, her books are closer to women’s fiction than other authors of clean romantic comedies. We have the satisfaction of seeing the woman and man fall in love, but we also see the woman (and sometimes man) gain a greater understanding of their own identity and the world around them.

When I pick up a book by Melissa Ferguson, I know I’m going to enjoy it. She has a great knack for comedy and understands how real people react in real situations. She never tries to sound young or cool (unless for comedic effect), only genuine. At the end of each book, her characters still don’t have perfect lives, but they have a better understanding of who they are, what they want in life, and who they want to spend that life with.

I have read all four of Melissa Ferguson’s novels that are available, plus one novella. Her next novel comes out in April 2024 and I have already strongly hinted to my husband that I want it for my birthday in May.

I don’t expect you to enjoy these authors simply because I do, but if you have ever felt that your taste in books is similar to mine, I suggest you give them a chance. They might surprise you.

Published by Vibeke Hiatt

I am a wife, mother, and lifelong writer.

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