Amish Romance: The ‘Clean Girl’ Aesthetic of the Romance World

Heard of bodice rippers? Well get ready for its clean stepsister, bonnet rippers! That’s right, we’re talking Amish Romance this go round! The subgenre that just keeps on giving!

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You must’ve known this was coming! Perhaps you didn’t know when, or who was going to give you this, but it’s here now and you will enjoy it! You might have noticed that we at Bookstr have been exploring a few…unexpected subsections of the romance genre. This is in collaboration with our graphics department! We want to bring light to some lesser-known or talked about genres because we’re fascinated by them! Today, we’re taking a journey to the scenic hills to explore the Amish Romance genre!

If you aren’t familiar with my work, allow me to give you some credentials of mine that qualify me to talk about this! Hi, I’m Gracie–the Resident Romance Redneck of Bookstr and I have a habit of talking about the romance genre…probably more than one person should. Nevertheless, I enjoy what I do and you enjoy my content!

Defining ‘Clean Girl’ Romance

Now I say, ‘clean girl’ because this was a trend on TikTok of women who would reduce their personal styles to the bare minimum. How this translates for literature, specifically romance, is that we’re looking at first-base type romance. You’ll get the whiff of intimate romance and there’s an immediate fade to black.

Amish Romance Book Covers (from left to right)

The Amish Beauty and the Beast by Ashley Emma
The Judgement by Beverly Lewis
A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews
cr. Amazon

To be honest, this type of romance writing is closer to the writing of the Victorian era–times when it was taboo to have feelings outside of “OMG he likes me. I must marry him now.” Part of this direction from Amish Romance is that Amish Romance is Christian fiction. The type of ideas that you’ll run into with these books are going to be rooted in the character’s faith.

These protagonists are typically more conservative, and their romance doesn’t rely on what romance books normally do. This is an entire subgenre of slow burn, but it actually reaches the end because it achieves the conclusion that it’s meant to.

Amish Romance can’t be that popular though, right?

You would be incorrect to assume that Amish Romance isn’t popular. Not only that, but the subgenre itself is rich in content and ripe with opportunities for aspiring authors. Plus it’s very formulaic–well, that is until they add the interesting elements, which we’ll talk about in a minute!

Amish Romance Book Covers (in order from left to right)

The Shunning by Beverly Lewis
A Merry Heart by Wanda E. Brunstetter
The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall
cr. Amazon

Think authors like Karen Kingsbury type writing, but for Amish Romance, there are a few high hitters. The top three-selling authors in the Amish Romance subgenre are Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall, and Wanda Brunstetter. Combined those three authors have sold over 24 million books.

Adding Spice to ‘Bonnet Rippers’

As I said, Amish Romance is a form of Christian fiction, so it’s deeply rooted in faith and the importance of chastity (and by proxy purity culture–personally, ick). However, I also mentioned that sometimes the evangelical authors of these books add some spice to the storylines. No, it’s not the typical spice you’d get from say Tessa Bailey or Jasmine Guillory, but it’s spice for this genre.

Amish Romance Book Covers (in order from left to right)

Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz
The Pianist by Rebecca Byler
Amish Assassin by Ashley Emma
cr. Amazon

I literally cannot make this stuff up. If I could, I would be making BANK on writing these books for your enjoyment. Sometimes you’ve got to just switch it up to keep the relationship interesting. Despite what leading author Wanda Brunstetter said to Newsweek, even ‘clean girl’ readers want some more uumph to their reading.

What’s the appeal of Amish Romance?

Honestly, this is a genuine question that people have for the genre, especially considering the parent genre it hails from. Traditionally, the romance genre has been characterized by its overbearing alpha male love interests paired with conspicuously innocent female protagonists. More recently, the genre has been expanded and more LGBTQ+ narratives and POC storylines are having their time in the spotlight.

I mean let’s be real here! We’re fantasizing about blue aliens with ginormous dongs who are finding their one true mate in a human girl that was kidnapped from Earth and sold into an alien slave trade. So what gives? How can Amish Romance expect to keep up with the overly sexualized community of readers that it supplies? Author Wanda Brunstetter said it best:

We can show that the couples are consummating their marriage without giving details. For my readers, it is more refreshing to read between the lines and not hear step by step what goes on. We all know what goes on.

Wanda Brunstetter, Newsweek

In my opinion, the real draw that Amish Romance holds is the idea of the forbidden. Though these books aren’t usually written by Amish authors, they do follow quite a bit of Amish culture. That being said, there is no premarital sex, no musical instruments, no electronics (vibrators), etc. The more that you try to tamp something down, the stronger the pull to that idea will be.

There you have it! Amish Romance has been around since the 90s and it still has a place in the world today. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but nothing ever is. If your kids are looking for an introduction to romance and you don’t mind a little purity culture in their reading, have them check out Amish Romance.

Are you secretly curious about those blue men from space? Click here!