Inspirational Romance

Publication year

From the introduction to the volume:

As Rebecca Barrett-Fox and Kristen Donnelly demonstrate, the unabashed sentimentality, religiosity, and cultural conservatism of Christian romance fiction has long made it the target of both aesthetic and political critique, but it has also been investigated and defended, often with considerable nuance, by scholars interested in its deployment of Biblical allusion, its perhaps-unexpectedly complicated construction of romantic masculinity, and its place in the devotional and communal lives of its readers. Although most of this scholarship has focused on white Evangelical romances in the United States, this chapter also surveys important work on non-Protestant Christian romances, Black and Hispanic Christian romances, Amish romances (a popular sub-sub-genre in the United States), and the emerging genre worlds of Muslim and Jewish romance, both of which are also discussed in Chapter 22 (“Romance and/as religion”). (14-15)


Today’s Christian publishers, writers, and readers stress the distinguishing marks of their faith on these books: 1) romance through each partner’s relationship with God, so that God is the center of their relationship, 2) a lack of detail about theology or religious ritual, 3) no sexual contact or, if the couple is married, only monogamous sex that is not described, 4) a focus on faith to restore brokenness of some kind, 5) a happily-ever-after ending that includes marriage or the promise of marriage between heterosexual partners who have not been divorced from other partners, and 6) traditional gender roles but heroes who may be less traditionally masculine than men in secular romances. These conventions remain true across subgenres of Christian romances published by evangelical publishing houses, though non-evangelical presses and self-published authors may not hold to them as tightly. (192)