For more than 15 years, Amish romance novels have been gaining popularity. Publishers are eager to publish these quick sellers, and their popularity has yielded at least one academic book (Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels by Valerie Weaver-Zercher) and a slew of articles from online newspapers and magazines about the phenomena. The LA Times coined the term “Bonnet Rippers” to describe them, although the books are too modest for much ripping to occur. In the age of Fifty Shades of Grey these books seem to be the demure alternative for ladies (and gentlemen!) looking for a little romance.
The Storekeeper’s Daughter is the first book in the Daughters of Lancaster County series by Wanda Brunstetter. After the death of her mother, Naomi Fisher takes over all of the responsibilities of managing a household of seven children and helping her father at his store at 20-years-old. She longs to gain the attention of a young man in her community, but with her new responsibilities and after making a horrible mistake while watching her baby brother, Naomi feels like it will be impossible to start her own family.
Beverly Lewis’ The Secret is the first book in the Seasons of Grace series, and introduces readers to Amish Grace Byler and “Englisher” Heather Nelson. After family issues make her reassess her future, Grace breaks off her betrothal and plans a future as a single woman, until she begins receiving attention from another man. Heather comes to Amish country to reconnect to memories of her mother, following a somber medical prognosis. Although they are from different worlds, the two women develop a quick friendship and help each other find what they’re looking for.
In the first book, When the Heart Cries, of Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt series, we meet 17-year-old Hannah Lapp. Hannah was raised Old Order Amish, but wants to break tradition to be with the Mennonite man that she loves, Paul. He is a modern man, attending college and driving cars, which is unacceptable to her traditional father. She knows that marrying Paul would change the relationship she has with her family, but she also wants to spend her life with him. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself having to seek answers outside of her family’s traditions.