I love a good love story, and even more so when it's a "real life" story of the triumph of love. That's probably why I instantly fell in love with Come My Beloved by Ellen Gable Hrkach and Kathy Cassanto. In full disclosure, I'll share that I actually already loved Ellen - she and I have been writing friends for years, she is a contributor here at CatholicMom.com, and we've even had the pleasure of meeting and spending time in person. So I guess perhaps I was predisposed to enjoyment when Come My Beloved crossed my desk. But the truth is that this is a wonderful book -- and in an age when marriage is often under attack -- a greatly needed shot of encouragement not only for married couples, but also for engaged couples discerning their vocation together.

What I shared in my endorsement of the book still rings true:

Whether you're courting, engaged to be married, newlyweds, or celebrating your jubilee years together, this terrific resource offers something for anyone looking to grow closer to God and to one another in a loving relationship. I loved each of the diverse stories in this book, which show a variety of "real life" couples living out their vocation to marriages in different circumstances. Having just celebrated my 25th anniversary, this book reminds me of the importance of keeping Christ at the center of our relationship. Thanks to all who shared their stories and to the editors for creating a great resource for our families!

I hope you'll enjoy the following interview with author Ellen Gable Hrkach and that you'll add Come My Beloved to your personal library and share it with loved ones in your life too.

Q: Ellen, congratulations on the recent publication of Come My Beloved. Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.

Thanks, Lisa!  I have been married to my husband, James, for 29 years. We have five sons ages 12-24.  I’m a freelance writer and author of three novels. As well, my husband and I also create the Family Life cartoon for Family Foundations magazine and we’ve been NFP teachers for 27 years. We live up here in a small town in Ontario, Canada.

Q: Tell us about Come My Beloved - what prompted you to compile this book and what will readers find in the book?

Everyone loves a love story, especially a true life love story.  In this day and age where divorce is unfortunately common, love stories which lead to joy-filled marriages give us hope.

Come My Beloved is a celebration of Catholic courtship and love. Readers will find different courtship stories, from couples who have been married a few years to other couples who have been married for many years (one couple in the book has been married for 58 years).

As to what prompted me, two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, a group of homeschooling mothers had gotten together so that our children could exchange Valentine’s.  Because it was Valentine’s Day, we began sharing how we met and married our husbands.  My friend, Kathy Cassanto, remarked, “I wonder if there is a book out there with Catholic courtship stories.”  My response was, “If there isn’t, there should be.”  Thus, the idea was born.

Q: Who are some of the couples that contributed their stories to the book?

Some of the well-known contributing couples are: Regina Doman and her husband, Andrew Schmiedicke;  popular blogger, Sarah Reinhard, and her husband, Robert; Damon Owens, well- known speaker and host of EWTN’s “NFP: Embracing the Marital Gift” and his wife, Melanie; author Posie McFee Douthwright and her husband, David. We have stories from couples who were very young at the time of their courtship and one couple who was in their late 30's.  And, of course, Kathy and I have also shared our own courtship stories.

Q: What are some of the lessons you learned in culling, editing and sharing these courtship stories?

I learned that it is more challenging working with many people (23 other people) than it is writing novels!  This means there are many personalities and many different approaches.  However, it was a great experience and a true labor of love for both of us.

Q: Who is your target audience for the book? Why is this a book for more than just engaged couples?

Target audience is anyone who enjoys reading true life romance stories.  Originally, I thought we would target this to single young adults and engaged couples, but many people (even those married for many years) said how much they enjoyed this book and that they want to buy a copy for each of their adult children. I think this is a book which will give hope to many, not only single people, but also to those who have become cynical regarding marriage.

Q: How did the writing and sharing of your own story impact upon your marriage?

I shared a more detailed fictionalized version of my own story in my novel, Emily’s Hope.  However, many people have said that they really enjoyed hearing our story from my husband’s point of view.  And...we have shared our story many times over the past 28 years through our involvement in marriage preparation courses.  Every time we share it, it reminds me that God does answer prayers and that He is the ideal matchmaker.

Q: Are you working on any new projects you can share with our readers?

My third novel, Stealing Jenny, will be released this fall.  I am also working on a second book of courtship stories, so if any of your readers would like to share their courtship stories, they can email me at info(at)fullquiverpublishing.com.  I am editing a book called “Growing in God’s Image” which is a book for parents and children. And...I am working on a Christmas romance novella, as well as an NFP Devotional, which will be published next year.

Q: Are there any additional thoughts you'd like to share?

I’d just like to add that this is a great book for anyone, teens who are looking for inspiring reading, single young adults who are looking forward to marriage someday, couples who are newly married and those who have been married for many years.