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50 Shades of Hay: 12 Things You Didn't Know About Amish Romance Novels

The world of the romance novel has long been prone to easy ridicule, but perhaps no other genre of romance is as strange, fascinating, and misunderstood as the little-known Amish romance novel. Though purists probably wouldn't consider these books a genuine type of Amish literature, nor are they necessarily intended to be romance novels for Amish people, the genre is a unique and surprisingly influential one. The first thing most people notice about Amish romance novels is the first thing people notice about any romance novel: the cover. But in place of swelling bosoms, massive man-pecs, and lusty looks, you see a timidly smiling young woman, usually wearing a prayer headcover, cape dress, and apron, standing in a serene country setting. This portrait sets the stage for a very specific kind of love story: amour in the land of the Amish.

Many readers—far more than you might think—enjoy Amish romance novels for the escapism and entertainment they provide, even if the novel offers little resemblance to real Amish culture. For those unaccustomed to these types of books, it may be helpful to learn a bit more about Amish romances to better understand their peculiar appeal and the place they inhabit in contemporary literature.

  • Amish Romances Are Fantasies Of A Different Sort

    We can hem and haw all we want that Amish romances are not authentic in their Amishness, and we can crack jokes about their lack of sexual spark and surplus of overturned buggies. But Amish romances are still fantasies for millions of readers. Sure, target-demographic readers are escaping into a fantasy where women are more repressed than they, and that doesn't seem to many of us like much of a fantasy at all, but who are we to debate the merits of fantasy? Or what makes for socially acceptable fantasy and what doesn't? Fantasy is important, plain and simple.

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    Subgenres Of Amish Romance Are An Emerging Market

    With the popularity of Amish romances becoming more and more entrenched in the book-buying public, there have been several subgenres of Amish romance that have popped up. There are now Amish mystery novels that are slowly gaining an audience. Young adult Amish romances are also a burgeoning market, especially with Christian publishers. Amish vampire novels are also a thing, though they are most definitely not with Christian publishers.

  • These Aren't The Kids From "Breaking Amish"

    If your only image of the Amish is what you've seen on Breaking Amish, you will be surprised by the characters you find in Amish romance novels. You will be hard-pressed to come across a partying Amish person pulled over for a DUI, buying English clothes in a department store, or getting a tattoo in New York City. Most of the characters in Amish romances are "good," virtuous types who are extremely devoted to their lives, families, communities, and faith. Perhaps this is even part of the fantasy for so many readers: a gentle reminder that yes, there is still plenty of good out there.

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    They Guarantee A Happily-Ever-After In An Anguished Modern World

    The world today is as it has always been: big and confusing and difficult and messy. Finding a happy ending can seem, at times, like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. But when you read an Amish romance, you are guaranteed a happily-ever-after that will efficiently and tidily resolve all the loose ends and bring the hero and heroine together. Almost always, the birth of children figures into these HEAs, and for a few moments, you may feel like all is right and just and makes perfect sense. An Amish romance could be the balm you need in an often-troubling world.