Last year I put together an article titled, “LDS Authors Flock to the Regency Romance Genre,” highlighting the recent rise of LDS authors putting out historical romance novels that take place in the Regency era: original article is here. Since writing that article, I’ve been watching the publishing market closely, thinking that readers of clean regency romance are surely readers of clean romance in general. Also, I wondered if these regency authors were writing in other romance sub-genres as well.
When I heard about Sarah M. Eden’s upcoming book, Longing for Home, I was surprised it deviated from her Regency roots. Set in 1800’s Wyoming, the story follows an Irish woman who travels to Hope Springs in order to earn enough money to pay a heavy debt back home in Ireland.
Having enjoyed Eden’s Regency novels, I downloaded the advance copy of Longing for Home from NetGalley. Knowing that it was published by Shadow Mountain (an imprint of Deseret Book) under their Proper Romance line, I knew I was safe in the content. Eden’s talent for swapping sub-genres led me to believe that there were other authors doing the same thing… writing romances that are written for a broader, national market, yet they are still clean and wholesome.
At a recent writers’ conference I attended in Utah, an editor from Harlequin came… You might wonder why would a Harlequin editor come to a conference in Utah and meet with a bunch of LDS authors? The answer is that Harlequin launched a “heartwarming” romance line this summer, and where else would they find a conglomerate of authors already experienced in writing clean romance?
I met with the editor and was impressed with what she had to say—she asked for wholesome romances where the characters were dealing with real-life problems, yet encountered sweet romance and true love. This signaled to me that clean romance is not just something that LDS readers are seeking. Harlequin also publishes an inspirational line which includes religious elements in a sweet romance genre.
But is there a market for it? With the explosion of the erotic romance genre over the past year, it seems that extreme steam is in. Another new trend that’s taken off is the revamped “chick-lit” into “New Adult” which is basically steamy romance in a college setting or among the 20-something crowd.
The good news is that after all of my research, I discovered that there is a demand for clean romance. And authors are starting to fill that demand. Based on the clean regency authors that I highlighted last year, I went to their author websites to see what they were up to. Most of them are staying with the regency genre.
G.G. Vandagriff is continuing with her amusing series, her latest offering is Lord Trowbridge’s Angel, which of course I decided to read and found very enjoyable. I was also excited to find out Vandagriff is working on a sequel to one of my all-time favorite historical novels, The Last Waltz. I learned that Julianne Donaldson has a new regency coming out, called Blackmoore, and I grabbed it off of NetGalley (love that site!). A story you don’t want to miss!
Other authors to note who are actively writing clean romance for a broad market include Rachel Anderson (great contemporary romances, latest, Working It Out), Jenni James (fantastic YA faerie tale series with gorgeous covers, latest The Frog Prince), Karey White (latest, My Own Mr. Darcy… yeah, gotta read that one!), Heather Horrocks (clever and humorous writer, latest, Kissing Santa), Janette Rallison (an excellent YA author, but some of her grown-up romantic comedies are being re-released, such as, Masquerade), Diane Darcy (delightful romantic comedy writer, latest, The Princess Problem).
It’s tough to weed them out because even when you type in Clean Romance into book search engines, you’ll be surprised at what comes up. One way to find them is to check out people’s Goodreads shelves, or word of mouth, of course. There are also websites such as RatedReads.com that will tell you exactly what you are getting. Because sometimes knowing an author is LDS isn’t always a guarantee. There are publishers you can rely on for producing clean-content novels such as Covenant Communications, Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain, Cedar Fort, WiDo, and Walnut Springs. On the national level there are plenty of Christian publishers that are known for their clean fiction as well.
Overall, the good news is that there is more clean romance than ever, and when you need a break or a humorous uplift from your hectic life, you don’t have to look very far to find a sweet story about true love.
Heather B. Moore is the author of the recent historical novel Esther the Queen, and the non-fiction work, Christ’s Gifts to Women. Visit her blog to learn more about her work