If you think all romance novels have covers displaying a shirtless Fabio clone embracing a woman with heaving bosoms and are filled with torrid sex scenes, think again. The hottest trend right now in the romance genre is the “Amish inspirational,” which are books with chastely dressed women on the front and no sex inside. Yep, that’s right, kissing is about as racy as it gets in an Amish inspirational. But, for many readers, that’s very appealing. As a recent article in USA Today  says, “In our sex-soaked society, nothing seems to inflame the imagination quite like the chaste.”
USA Today isn’t the only publication to notice the rise in Amish romances. The Wall Street Journal  and Business Week  have also written about the publishing trend. From reading the articles, it seems like an Amish woman falling in love with an outsider is the basic plot of most of these books. Forbidden love is a common theme in historical romance novels, but writing about the Amish allows authors to use that theme in the contemporary world.
A few of the books listed in the articles are featured below. Note: If you decide to look for these at your local bookstore, you will probably find them shelved in the religious fiction section.
The Thorn  by Beverly Lewis
(Available September 7, 2010)
This is the first book in a new trilogy by Beverly Lewis and is due on September 7th. Lancaster County, with its rolling meadows and secret byways, may seem idyllic, but it is not without its thorns. THE ROSE TRILOGY is the stirring saga of two Amish sisters on the fringes of the church, and the unforeseen discoveries that change their lives. Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop’s foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble too. Rose’s sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, so dismisses the warnings. Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding? Rose’s older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband. Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire–and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband’s wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?
The Bridge of Peace  by Cindy Woodsmall
(Available August 31, 2010)
Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.
Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.
One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.
Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?
Lydia’s Charm  by Wanda Brunstetter
Widowed and jobless, Lydia King moves her son and herself to Charm, Ohio, to be close to her mother and help with her grandfather. Menno Troyer, a furniture store owner, is also recently widowed and the father of four energetic boys. Levi Stutzman, another newcomer to the area, is the only one in his family not handicapped by dwarfism and has dedicated his life to caring for them. As fall colors the countryside, will anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life and romance, or will another tragedy flood her with infinite despair?
Autumn’s Promise  by Shelley Shepard Gray
Some promises are meant to be broken. . . .
Until Robert Miller met Lilly Allen, his world had been dark. A widower after only two years of marriage, he’d been living in a haze, feeling that, at twenty-four, his life was already over. But thanks to his friendship with Lilly, he now has new reasons to wake up each day. He knows his connection to her doesn’t make sense. She’s only nineteen, with a past the whole town talks about. Even more, she’s not Amish, like Robert. A marriage between the two of them could never happen.
Lilly’s heart is drawn to Robert, not to his faith. No matter how much she admires his quiet strength and dependability, she doesn’t think she could ever give up her independence and reliance on the modern world. Is their love doomed before it even begins?
Courting Ruth  by Emma Miller
(Available September 1, 2010)
Amish widow Hannah Yoder prays her daughters will each find a husband someday. Still, sensible Ruth believes it’s God’s will that she stay home and help care for her younger sisters. But when a handsome young man comes to Kent County, Ruth starts to rethink her plans. Not yet part of the church, Eli Lapp is allowed to run wild. Yet something in Ruth’s sweet smile and gentle manner makes him yearn to settle down—with her at his side. Can Eli convince her that their lives should be entwined together on God’s path?
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