The enormous popularity of Amish romance fiction in the twenty-first century has stunned many observers. Amish romance novels are now appearing at the rate of more than one per week, with some eighty titles published during 2012. Although many observers trace the advent of the subgenre to Beverly Lewis's 1997 The Shunning, the first Amish romance novel, Helen Reimensnyder Martin's Sabina: A Story of the Amish, appeared more than a century ago. This essay traces the history of Amish romance fiction from its inception in 1905 to the early part of the twenty-first century, and examines the way that three identifying strands--rural particularism, chaste heterosexual romance, and evangelical piety--have joined to create a singular subgenre within inspirational fiction.
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