JoAnn Durgin – Real Life Romance – Part 1 of 1

Shannon here: Contemporary Romance author, JoAnn Durgin is back. Today JoAnn shares her proposal story and a chance to win her latest book, Twin Hearts. Every time you comment on this post, your name goes in the drawing. Deadline: May 5th, 11:59 pm, central time. Here’s JoAnn:

 In late 1986, I moved from Dallas, Texas, back home to southern (stress that part) Indiana, and then to Visalia, California, a charming little “oasis in the desert” between Bakersfield and Fresno. Why Visalia? My boyfriend, Jim Durgin, was the new associate pastor for youth and music at a charming little church. He’s a Newport, RI native, and we met when I worked in downtown Dallas as a legal secretary and he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary.

We met on a blind date (that’s another story I’ll have to write about someday, maybe a fictionalized version). I always detested girls who “followed” guys and moved with the hope of getting a ring on their finger. But guess what? In a series of events only the Almighty could orchestrate  (including an unexpected job loss, a surgery, a Caribbean cruise, an unexpected job offer and a ton of letters and phone calls), the Lord made it abundantly clear He wanted us both in the same place and see where this relationship might lead. And where He leads…

Fast forward to early February of 1987. Jim stopped by my office every day leading up to Saturday, Valentine’s Day, and he’d drop off little gifts or cards. Each day, the gift was a little larger, a little nicer. I had my suspicions. I can’t remember all the surprises, but one I still have—a huge Ziggy card. When he told me he wanted to take me to Carmel and Monterey for Valentine’s Day, I knew without a doubt—oh yes, something “big” was planned.

At the time, I worked for a wonderful man named Aram Kinosian. He and his lovely wife, Joyanne, owned a second home in Carmel, and he also owned a cookie shop there (and rubbed elbows at parties with Clint Eastwood, then mayor of Carmel). On that Saturday about noontime, Jim pulled up to their home in Carmel, telling me they’d invited us for lunch. Turns out, somewhere along the way on our car trip north, a bird had met its fate and was firmly wedged in the grillwork of Jim’s car. He was mortified, but I went inside with Joyanne for a bit while the men took care of, um, dislodging that poor creature.

Our hosts treated us to a very special lunch at the famed Pebble Beach Country Club (they’d married there and told us all about their wedding – hint hint) overlooking the ocean. Jim tasted calamari for the first time and pronounced it delicious. I tasted nothing even though I ate; my stomach was roiling. I knew he was going to propose later that afternoon. Plus, it was a little hard to miss all the winks and head bobs between Jim and Aram, and Joyanne and Jim.

Shortly after lunch, we bid them adieu and Jim suggested we take a walk on the beach. The skies had darkened and threatened to rain. I was a twit and didn’t want to get my new shoes full of sand and asked if we could find a park bench instead. There were plenty of them lining the beach—but being Saturday and the biggest romantic day of the year after all, they were all occupied.

I could tell Jim was getting a little antsy as we walked and walked…and finally found one. As we talked, I could see little sweat beads forming on his forehead and he moved his hands a little more than usual. When he started to go down on one knee, my heart almost stopped…and then when he was almost on the ground, he let out a little cry. You see, a dog had decided to, um, add some fertilizer right beside that bench. Eww I know, but thankfully Jim realized it. Was it nerves that kept us from detecting it before then? Must have been love is all I can say. 

I vaguely remember some claps and oohs and aahs all around us. We went to the main street and shopped, hand-in-hand, and found Aram’s cookie shop. He hugged and congratulated us and told me he’d thought of baking the ring into one of his cookies. Charming as that is, I have to say, I’m glad they didn’t go that route. All in all, it was a great day, and it never did rain. 

We married on Jim’s birthday in September of 1987, and this year, my sweet husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage. Has it really been that long? The Lord has blessed us immeasurably with three wonderful children: Sarah, Chelsea and Matthew and assorted dogs and hamsters.  If you’ve read Awakening, the first book in The Lewis Legacy Series, the character of Sam Lewis is based on Jim, and his Lexa (Clarke), is based on yours truly. San Antonio is where these two characters fall in love. This fall, the ACFW annual conference is in Dallas, and we’re going together to revisit where we met and fell in love, and then Sam’s taking Lexa to San Antonio, and especially the Alamo.

I love writing contemporary Christian romance, and it’s a high honor and calling. I believe in putting God first in a romance, and forgiveness and redemption are big themes in my books. But always, I believe in happy endings!

Many blessings, my friends. Matthew 5:16

About JoAnn: JoAnn Durgin is the author of the popular contemporary romantic adventures, Awakening, and its follow-up, Second Time Around, published by Torn Veil Books. Her third book in the series, Twin Hearts, released in March 2012. JoAnn, her husband, Jim, and their three children live in her native southern Indiana after living in TX, CA, PA and MA. She likes to say she’s “been around in the nicest sense of the word.” She’s a full-time wealth administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky, law firm, and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Her books are available at every major online book retailer such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, both in paperback and electronic versions. Please visit her at or on Facebook.

About the book: Josh Grant is a man seeking redemption. He’s not looking for love, but finds it in a most unexpected and tender way. His twin sister, Rebekah, is an elementary schoolteacher torn between two very different men: a dashing, British aristocrat offering her the world, and the other a humble, faithful Louisiana lumber man. When family tragedy strikes, the twins lean on Sam and Lexa Lewis and their fellow TeamWork Missions volunteers for encouragement. Together they learn lessons in faith and family and what’s most important in life as they discover it’s time to stake their claim on love, which means a road trip from Louisiana to . . . the peace to be found in seeking and finding the sweetest desires of the heart.

Come back April 25th for Tina Pinson.

16 Responses to “JoAnn Durgin – Real Life Romance – Part 1 of 1”

  • Jennifer Hibdon says:

    With the …mishap…, you will always smile when you remember that day! JoAnn, thanx for the memory! Thanx for the chance to win a book! Keep up the great work of introducing us to writers, Shannon!

  • What a romantic proposal and love story. I am so happy for JoAnn and her husband. I understand how God orchestrates circumstances to get certain people together as my own story is a testimony to His ways. The books sound amazing. I’d love to win this book. May God continue to bless your calling, Shannon. Thanks for introducing us to JoAnn.

  • Marianne says:

    Thanks Shannon and JoAnn for sharing your story and for the great opportunity to win your novel. i guess i know all about dog fertilizer and my family is always warning me when i am about to step in it (and also when i have!)

    Have an awesome day!

  • Illene Stewart says:

    That’s a crappie and delightful story. It made me chuckle.

  • JoAnn Durgin says:

    Thanks, ladies. Yes, Jennifer, I DO smile when I remember that day. Linda, it’s amazing to me how the Lord works to bring His people together in the way only He can sometimes, you know? That’s part of my point in Twin Hearts. Thanks, Marianne, and watch where you step. Very funny, Illene! Ha…made me laugh. LOL. BTW, you should have Second Time Around any day (she won it here on Shannon’s blog recently). If you’re interested, you can see our wedding photo on my website at Can’t believe it’s been almost a quarter century already! The Lord has indeed blessed us.

  • Judy B says:

    Oh how I loved this story! The proposal part had me laughing out loud. I could just picture it! As you know JoAnn, I loved Awakening and Second Time Around. I can’t wait to read Twin Hearts. Josh’s story should be very interesting!

    Blessings my Friend!

  • As one who lives in Louisiana and honeymooned in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, I was thrilled to read of your interest in the areas. I laughed when I read about the dog poop incident! That’s the type of thing that usually happens to me, especially as the owner of two Basset Hounds. I sure hope Rebekah choses the Lousiana lumber man!

    Thank you JoAnn and Shannon for giving us the opportunity to win such fantastic Christian fiction books!

  • JoAnn Durgin says:

    Nice to see you, Judy, and thanks for all your encouragement and support. It means so much to me. I can’t wait for you to read Josh’s story, but you keep forgetting poor Rebekah (Beck). She’s a big part of this book, too. 😉 And Patricia, thank you for stopping by and commenting. You might be interested to note there’s a fictional town in Louisiana mentioned at the end of Twin Hearts (and a bed and breakfast) that is the center point of my second series (a spin-off of the TeamWork ministry). Of course, you’ll just have to read it to see which guy Rebekah chooses. Actually, I think most readers have a good feeling which one she chooses, but it’s her JOURNEY that makes it fun (at least I hope so). Many blessings!

  • Carol Moncado says:

    What a great story :).

    Would love to win this one :).

  • Linda Phillips says:

    I love the story about the proposal. I can just picture the sweat on Jim’s brow as he was getting ready to pop the question, and I can’t believe you never told me that story before! My new assistant is interested in reading your books. I’m letting her borrow Awakening tomorrow. B&N just put Twin Hearts in the mail to me tonight, so I hope to be reading it soon, and getting some more copies to give as presents to friends!

  • JoAnn Durgin says:

    I told Jim about sharing the proposal story, and we had a few good laughs. He reminded me about the bees which I’d totally forgotten about for some reason. Apparently, they were buzzing all around that park bench. Probably because of the canine depository nearby. I can’t believe I’d forgotten that part. He said it really rushed the entire proposal. So, maybe it wasn’t the most romantic in the world, but you know what? It was to me. 😉 Okay, I digress. At least neither one of us got stung by a bee! And Jim couldn’t remember he’d stopped by my office with the gifts. Thanks for sharing my books, Linda, and Carol (future CAROL award winner, probably), thanks for stopping by to pay your respects (grin), as always. 😉 Many blessings.

  • GREAT proposal, JoAnn!! All these proposals … here and on Seekerville today!! You’re right, it does seem like Valentine’s Day!!


  • Illene, you have such a way with words.

    Glad everyone is enjoying the interview.

  • Bobbe says:

    What a delightfully beautiful story, full of so much thoughtfulness, caring & love. The humor added that special icing on the cake. Thank you so much for the the wonderful interview & sharing your talent. I would feel honored to receive this gift. 🙂

  • stvannatter says:

    I have a winner! Patricia Rhymes won the copy of JoAnn’s book. I appreciate everyone for stopping by and JoAnn for being my guest.

  • I have to say that for the past couple of hours i have been hooked by the amazing posts on this site. Keep up the wonderful work.

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