Amish romance novels, a subgenre of romance, are often referred to as bonnet rippers. Books in this subgenre trade traditional romance covers (which show lust-inducing men with rock hard abs) for book covers that have women donning Amish prayer coverings. Although Amish romance novels feature characters who were raised in the Amish community, these books are usually not written by or targeted toward Amish people. While not always overtly Christian, these books typically appeal to a Christian audience and contain conservative themes and almost never contain steamy sexual situations.
The rise of the Amish romance novel genre began with Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning published in 1997. This book, the first in a series of three, follows Katie Lapp as she struggles to fit in within her Amish community while trying to prepare herself to marry a man whom she does not love. As this romance novel increased in popularity, the entire Amish romance subgenre began to grow. Since 1997, thousands of Amish romances have been published, and many of the top-selling books in this subgenre having sold millions of copies.
Considering the subgenre uses seemingly simple settings that lack technology, electricity and other elements of the modern world and readers will be unlikely to find modern plot lines. Given this it might come as a surprise that Amish romance books have been flying off the shelves since the mid-1990s. However, there are several elements of Amish romances that are appealing to readers and romance lovers from all backgrounds.
Here are a few common themes and characteristics of Amish romance novels that draw in readers:
What Amish romance lacks in racy sex scenes and lustful affairs, it more than makes up in passionate romance. In many Amish romance novels, the protagonist is a woman living within an Amish community who, due to curiosity, fate, or other situations, falls madly in love with someone outside of her community. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their love story, the protagonist and her love interest experience a sweet romance filled with longing glances, secret meetings, and romantic gestures.
Readers who want a passionate love story that is strong and genuine, without needing an abundance of sexual tension or sexual scenes to show the romance, are drawn to Amish romances because they focus on the heart of the relationship and the unbreakable bond that two people can forge with one another.
Amish romance novels tend to have themes around valuing fidelity, modesty, chastity and purity. The protagonist is often able to find true love while remaining chaste and avoiding actions that are taboo. Even in stories where the protagonist questions her Amish upbringing, she is often living the moral and religious values of Christianity.
While there is not a set formula for how Amish romance novels are written, almost all of them have a positive ending. In most Amish romances, the characters who fall in love face seemingly insurmountable odds to be with one another. However, despite the challenges they prevail and make it work. Yes, happy endings abound in Amish romances.
Interested in reading Amish romance novels? Here are five popular novels in this subgenre to consider:
Also written by Beverly Lewis, The Thorn is a great book for readers who are new to this subgenre or Amish romance enthusiasts alike. In this riveting novel, two sisters, Rose and Hen, struggle to balance their love lives with their family obligations and Amish backgrounds. When Hen longs to return to the simple way of life she embraced in her community, and Rose is caught in a love triangle, the sisters are forced to make some difficult decisions.
In Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport, the threat of job loss pushes software creator Annie Friesen to leave the modern society where she grew up and find solace in an Amish community. When she falls in love with Rufus, a cabinetmaker in the community, she is forced to decide between returning to her old way of life and her newfound love.
Suzanne Woods Fisher crafts a compelling Amish romance with The Haven. This novel shows Sadie Lapp wrestling with love, faith, and forgiveness as she navigates a complicated love triangle. In this Amish romance, readers realize that true love can overcome any obstacle.
A Gift of Grace
Amy Clipston’s A Gift of Grace follows Rebecca Kauffman as she struggles to navigate her sudden guardianship of her two teenage nieces while honoring her husband and her way of living within the Amish community. In this novel, readers will watch Rebecca learn and grow in her love for herself, others, and God.
A Season for Tending
A Season for Tending by Cindy Woodsmall, expert gardener Rhoda Byler finds herself connecting with Samuel King, who is having trouble with his orchard. Readers watch as Rhoda learns how to overcome guilt and learns to tend to her heart in the same way she skillfully tends to her garden.
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