BOOKS: Good clean romance novels

Hi everyone,

My spiritual director/counselor suggested that I try reading some books just for fun, but I’ve exhausted the authors I’m familiar with and enjoy. She suggested I try a different genre than the mysteries I usually read (I love Agatha Christie), so I thought I’d try reading some romances. The problem is that I know a lot of romance novels are pornographic, so I don’t want to just go to the romance section of my local library and pick some out at random. Does anyone know of well-written, lighthearted romance novels? (I’ve already read all of Jane Austen’s works, but I’m looking for something a little more contemporary.)



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I love Victoria Holt’s novels. They are totally clean–no porn, no graphic descriptions of physical acts between couples.

In fact, I don’t think the characters ever have sex until they are actually married, but there is never a “description” of the “wedding night.” (There is one novel, On the Night of the Seventh Moon, in which the protagonist is raped–again, no graphic description of the rape–and the plot is that she thinks was married and taken on a honeymoon, but everyone else tells her that she was raped and that the doctor gave her medicine to cause her to fantasize that the rape was actually something pleasant so that she would retain her sanity after such a horrifying experience. But she continues to insist that she is legally married and continues to search for her husband and father of her child. Who is telling the truth?!)

The plots are excellent mystery-adventures. There is a lot of historical background in each story. E.g., the novel I love best is called The King of the Castle, and it’s about a lady artist who specializes in restoration of paintings. Fascinating for someone like me who knows very little about painting. There is another novel called The Pride of the Peacock that’s all about Australia, a country that I find very interesting.

The characters are individual, well-developed, and memorable, the writing is well-done and correct (not amateurish), and the reading level is light and entertaining.

With one exception, the endings are always satisfying, and good always triumphs over evil. (The Legend of the Seventh Virgin is my least-favorite of her novels because the protagonist is thwarted–a similiar situation as the ending to Gone With The Wind. No happy ending. I know that some readers prefer that kind of story, though, to a “fairy tale.”)

The plots are set throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, so not all the plots are quaint or historical.

When Miss Holt was alive, she spent at least a year on each novel, so these aren’t the type of romances that are cranked out every two weeks.

I have all of the Victoria Holt novels and have read them all several times. So relaxing and fun. I wish she hadn’t died so she could have written more.

She has also written under two pen names, but I’ve not read many of these titles. Under one name, she writes a series of historical fiction about the history of England, which, I regret to say, I know so little about that I have a hard time understanding these novels.

I haven’t read Victoria Holt novels in forever but I remember loving them. Pride of the Peacock was the first I read and I was hooked after that. I might need to make a trip to the library now Cat!

I also like Mary Higgins Clark. They’re mystery novels with some romance. I don’t remember them being graphic in any way. (but I must admit that when it’s there, I skip over it so fast I don’t really notice it) The main characters are usually Catholic and there is often reference to them attending Mass. Mary Higgens Clark also writes novels (usually Christmas based) with her daughter that I’ve enjoyed.


Ditto Mary Higgins Clark, the Queen of Romantic Suspense (although I personally find the books she writes with her daughter to be inferior to her “solo” works).

As far as “graphic”, the murders are more graphic than her “romances” ever are, but to be safe, just avoid, “Weep No More, My Lady” and “Stillwatch”, both of which portray their main characters involved in extra-marital affairs. The rest of her books are great (my personal favorite is still “While My Pretty One Sleeps”.)

Read her memoirs, “Kitchen Privileges” for a great insight to a great lady and a remarkable career!

Beverly Lewis and Wanda E. Brunstetter both write excellent novels based in Amish country and with Amish characters. Very clean romances, although a lot of their plot conflicts deal with the characters slipping during their “rumspringa” (running around) years. Still very fascinating stories about the Amish culture. You might also enjoy the “Mitford” series by Jan Karon (Episcopalian) and the “Cape Light” series by Thomas Kinkaid and Katherine Spencer (yes, that’s THE Thomas Kinkaid, “Painter of Light”, his books are along the lines of Evangelical Christian novelist like Janette Oke).

And for some mystery, without the romance (okay, well, the main character IS very much in love with God) there’s the Sister Agatha series by Aimee and David Thurlo–“Bad Faith”, “Thief in Retreat”, “Prey for a Miracle” and their latest “False Witness”.

Hope this is enough to get you going! Enjoy!

Debbie McComber (sp?)'s books are quite good. Occasionally her characters engage in unmarried relations but the discussion is brief. She even has a character who is pro-virginity until marriage!

The books are lighthearted and about relationships and a romance. I like that some of her characters are featured in several books.

Well, I was going to say Jane austen, but I guess you’ve already read those.
Memoirs of a Geisha is a wonderful book. Nothing pornagraphic.
Atonement, which is my favorite book period, is brilliant. I’m still trying to figure out if I would consider it a romance. It does have a few choice words, but again no porn.
Gone with the Wind. It might not be everyones cup of tea, due to the size of the book (over 1000 pages), but brilliant still the same.

Mary Stewart’s romantic thrillers, great plots and characters, good writing, books you can read over again and still enjoy.

Jane, of course.

if you are reading for enjoyment and relaxation, try the best children’s writers–Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain (not that they actually wrote for children), Noel Streatfield, Rumer Goden (her books for adults are also terrific), C S Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, George MacDonald etc.

go back and read classic novels the one’s we avoided in HS because they were assigned, but when we rediscover them as adults, are chagrined to find we enjoy immensely.

Too bad they aren’t publishing them any more, but Signet and Zebra used to publish regency romances which were set in the time of Jane Ausen and were very sweet - no explicit sex at all.
My favorite writer - Carla Kelly wrote some excellent ones if you can find them in a used book store.

Try Georgette Heyer. Her books are very Austenesque.

My mother, Trudy Tait, has written two novels (and is working on a third), called “The Velvet Curtain” and “Behind the Velvet Curtain.” They are about young Romanian women who come to America in the 80s and struggle with the cultural differences. They are written from an evangelical perspective but contain nothing anti-Catholic (in fact she has some fairly satirical comments on various aspects of evangelical Protestantism). I won’t post a link here because advertising one’s family business is probably frowned on! But if you google “Tait Velvet Curtain” you’ll find the necessary info, should you be interested.


The early Janet Evanovich novels are great (so are her Stephanie Plum books, but they aren’t really romance novels). There is premarital sex, but nothing descriptive.

Yes I second Victoria Holt
I’ve read several of her novels and I agree with all stated above.
I haven’t read a novel of hers in years but now I’m looking into some I haven’t read yet.
I also second Mary Higgins Clark.

Not romance novels but I thoroughly enjoyed C.S. Lewis’ Space Triology for fantasy/sci fi.

Be careful with romances–even it there is no sex, it can cause discontent with a real relationship.

That’s been my experience, in any case.

That said, my favorite romance novels are Jane Austen. Love 'em.

Georgette Heyer for Regency Era romances

Dee Henderson’s Uncommon Heroes and O’Malley series for modern romance/mysteries about military servicemembers, police/fire/medical workers, etc.

I can recommend SOME of Claudia Dain’s historicals for showing the Catholic faith in a positive light as a major influence and motivator in people’s lives, which is refreshing in the romance genre, and which sounds very authentic for medieval times, I’d guess. Check out To Burn, The Willing Wife, The Marriage Bed, The Holding, The Temptation… But there is some description of the marital act between husband and wife.

Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series, and I HIGHLY recommend her book Redeeming Love, a re-telling of the book of Hosea: a man feeling called by God to marry a prostitute, being disappointed by her, but in the end “redeeming” her, an analogy for God’s love for unfaithful Israel.

Look around in the category “inspirational romance” for clean romances with a spiritual component, although they’ll likely be evangelical Protestant in tone and content.

Best wishes,

P.S. If you love mysteries, are you familiar with Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael series about a detective monk in medieval England?

I also like Georgette Heyer. Her mysteries are especially fun to read because of the unusual characters.
All of the books by Mary Roberts Rinehart are clean and interesting.

Seconding the Heyer. Seconding hard.

Also, if you like serious drama with your romance, you might like Dorothy Dunnett. The mysteries (Johnson Johnson) you’d probably like, and the EPIC HISTORY romances, while a bit squicky and angsty (in a non-sexual way) and including the occasional touch of gay (though it’s always either negative or morally neutral), are still really good. Stick with Lymond: House of Niccolo are not at all what you’re looking for, and not as well-written.


The new Mary Higgins Clark will be out the first week of April! I’m pre-ordering from my book club right… NOW!

Hi everybody,

I’m brand-new here and the “meet and greet” thread was closed…

I actually stumbled upon this forum while researching the need for clean romance in the process of writing a press release. I have recently published a good, clean romance and would love to tell you about it.

I hope this is not against etiquette; the book is available at Amazon, the title is Touching the Brilliance of Sunrise; and the author is Lisa J. Lehr.

I hope you’ll check it out! I promise, it’s clean, faith-based literature. :slight_smile:



I am partial to the Christian writers. Check out that section in the bookstore.


I recommend the “Love Comes Softly” series. Wonderful somewhat romance books (its subtle) with a Christian theme. “Love Comes Softly” is set in the late 1800s, but are quite enjoyable.

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