JoAnn Durgin – The Story Behind the Story – Part 1 of 1

Contemporary romance author, JoAnn Durgin share her inspiration for her Christmas novel, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. Comment on any post date Nov 26 – 30 to get your name in the drawing for the book in e-book format or paperback. Deadline: Dec 8, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s JoAnn:

I met my husband, Jim, on a blind date back in the mid-1980s in Dallas, Texas. Then a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, he’d sworn off blind dates when he’d been set up with a runner-up to Miss Texas (gorgeous, tall, blonde…you get the picture) a couple of weeks before. Mutual friends had invited them both to dinner in their home after which Miss Runner-Up pushed away from the table, thanked them politely and bounced off, saying she had another date.

I was dating someone else at the time (an urban cowboy whom I suspected—rightly so—of two-stepping out on me). So, I wasn’t particularly in the mood to date (and specifically told my friends not to fix me up) when we all decided to go to dinner. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that my friend Susan’s boyfriend (now husband), Marshall, went to seminary with Jim.

In a sweet revelation, we found out later that both our friends prayed independently for someone to introduce each of us to, and lo and behold, came up with…well, you can guess the rest. We’ve been married 25 years this past September (on Jim’s birthday, no less—you marry a man on his birthday and he won’t forget his anniversary).

My first date with Jim was the Dallas Seminary Spring Banquet, quite an auspicious event. Jim was in the men’s chorus. When he showed up on my doorstep in his midnight blue tux—all 6’2” of tall, dark and handsome—I almost swooned. He was endearing when he tucked me inside his old bomb of a station wagon. I’ll never forget him telling me how he couldn’t find a replacement window for that little triangular piece of glass on the passenger side. “You can scoot closer, if you want,” he said, giving me this shy, sheepish look, “or else the fumes might get to you.” I was in love.

We became fast friends and went out together quite often, but honestly? I wasn’t exactly the type of Christian girl my husband-to-be thought he was seeking. Jim called it the “seminary mentality,” meaning he wanted a girl like his own dear mother, raised in the faith from the time she was knee-high to a grasshopper. But Jim and I shared a mutual fascination (for lack of a better description) with one another, and continued to go out as “friends” even though there was always something simmering below the surface. We even went out together when we were both dating others. But he told me later that no other girl held the same challenge and appeal, even though they more closely matched his image of that elusive, “perfect” Christian girl.

Then came the infamous Red Lobster date. It got to the point where Jim decided he needed to know where I stood spiritually (he’d been debating whether to take the step of faith—more like a leap—to date me). That dinner at Red Lobster was truly awful; he challenged my spiritual condition and I stormed away, feeling personally attacked and defensive.

I emotionally distanced myself from him for months. He called and left messages, stopped by the law office, even had flowers delivered (a big expense for a seminary man), but I didn’t want to see him. Quite simply, I was hurt and embarrassed. But here’s the thing: I knew Jim was right; he saw straight through me. I was living a good, moral life, but I wasn’t living for the Savior. But he could tell I loved the Lord and wanted to learn and grow, and that encouraged him. When Jim went on a musical tour of Europe with the Seminary, he wrote novels on postcards to me (which I literally burned but, in hindsight, wish I’d kept). But the Lord was continuing to work in my heart.

There’s so much more to our story, but suffice it to say, he was soon graduating and leaving Dallas, and I had no plans to leave. So, about three weeks before he was to depart and move back home (Rhode Island) and seek a full-time ministry position, we sat in another restaurant, and decided to try and make a long-distance relationship work. It seemed impossible, but we had optimism and were full of big hopes and dreams. Perhaps more importantly, we had faith that God could work it all out. 

Those last weeks were glorious, and I fell hard for my handsome, tall, faithful man. Jim felt the same, but how would this all work? Only a few days before he was to graduate and leave, he told me something I found incredibly hard to believe…but also so precious for my heart. As handsome as he was, as much as he’d dated, Jim had never kissed a girl on the lips.

And this is what still stops my heart: Jim told me he always knew the first girl he kissed on the lips would be the girl he married. And so, my friends, on the night before his graduation – with the world at our feet, but with no idea how we’d be together or what would happen (but knew the gracious Lord would orchestrate it all if it was meant to be)—Jim kissed me. On the lips. And it was, as they say…the moment I knew. And so did Jim.

About JoAnn: JoAnn Durgin is the author of the popular Lewis Legacy Series, and her Christmas novella, Meet Me under the Mistletoe (where hero Jake shares Jim’s philosophy on kissing a woman for the first time), from Pelican Group Ventures/White Rose Publishing. She and Jim live in her native southern Indiana after living in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and JoAnn is an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm. She’d love to hear from you via her website ( or drop her a line on Facebook. 

About the book – Meet Me Under the Mistletoe: Captain Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s wounded hometown hero, made a long ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one” he’ll marry. Now, at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then he meets his best friend’s sister, Julia Sinclair, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams—but she’s promised to another. When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance. But somehow, everyone in the tiny town learns Jake’s secret and he’s transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake and Julia find their way under the mistletoe for a forever kiss? 

Purchase link:

14 Responses to “JoAnn Durgin – The Story Behind the Story – Part 1 of 1”

  • JoAnn Durgin says:

    Thanks, Shannon! Here’s some great news…the price for Meet Me Under the Mistletoe was lowered to only 99 cents last night, along with all the other 2012 Holiday Extravaganza novellas from Pelican Book Group. There are some great stories available from new and established authors (I’ve read almost all of them already), so I’d encourage everyone to check them out. At that price, there’s no exuse not to download them! SMILE. Many blessings for a wonderful Christmas season to everyone!

  • Kim F says:

    Wow! What a story – God sure had to work hard to get you on the right path :). Glad you finally listened and found your soul mate. Loved hearing about your journey

  • JoAnn, I love your true-life romance! How sweet! And congratulations on celebrating 25 years together!

    Shannon – I already purchased Meet Me Under the Mistletoe so you don’t have to enter me.

  • KayM says:

    Jo Ann, I love your story of how you met your husband. What a journey you had! Isn’t it wonderful to know that God picked you for each other? Somehow, He always works everything out.

  • JoAnn Durgin says:

    Hi Kim, Brenda and Kay! Thanks so much for visiting Shannon’s wonderful blog and reading my story. Yes, the Lord had a job to do, but what I love is HOW He did it–in only the ways He can! This journey of life is a fascinating one, as you all know. Brenda, thanks so much for picking up Meet Me Under the Mistletoe! I hope the other ladies will get a chance to read it, too. I like to think it’s a great price for a very sweet, funny and heartfelt Christmas read. Just the right length for a cold December afternoon or evening. Many blessings to you all during this most special season of the year!

  • Nancee says:

    Thank you so much for your information regarding JoAnn’s latest release. I’ve heard many wonderful comments regarding “Meet Me Under The Mistle” and would love to have the opportunity to win a copy. Thank you so much for offering this contest!

  • Susie says:

    I loved reading about your courtship with your husband! Congratulations for your 25 years of marriage! It’s so refreshing to hear that there are still people who are committed to love and marriage like we are. I’d love to win a copy of “Meet Me Under The Mistletoe” for my three teen daughters. Thanks for the chance!

  • Janet Estridge says:

    I loved reading the interview with JoAnn Durgin. I know all about blind dates and I’m glad that yours turned out so well. Congratulations on being married 25 years !
    Thanks for entering me in your contest.

  • Deanna Mundy says:

    I love reading about how JoAnn and he husband got together. Thanks for giving me a chance to win one of her books.

  • shelia hall says:

    this sounds so interesting!Love to win it!

  • Jes says:

    Wow, what a courtship story! 🙂 Thanks for sharing it! My parents met on a blind-date too! 🙂

  • JoAnn Durgin says:

    Hi everyone, and thanks so much for leaving a comment. I wish you all could win the copy of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. If you’re not the winner, please know it’s priced especially low on several online websites through Christmas Eve (and will be available at its regular price of only $3.99 afterwards). This is for the ebook version. I have author-only paperback copies and will sign and send a copy to the winner, if that’s her choice. I had so much fun with my firefighter/nurse story and loved the small-town, Iowa setting. Snow at Christmastime, fun characters and a love letter to our precious Lord at this most special season. What could be better? Many blessings everyone.

  • shelia hall says:

    this sounds like it would be a great book! Storyline is something I can identify with!!Love to win it!

  • I have a winner! Nancee won the drawing for JoAnn’s book. I appreciate JoAnn for being here and everyone else for stopping by.

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