Christian Romance Novels: 6 Honest Pros and Cons

ArynChristian Fiction, Family16 Comments

An interesting topic, contemporary Christian romance novels.  There are pros and cons, and I think it’s time we discussed them.   Some people love them, and lose themselves easily between the pages. Others find it both invasive and unrealistic.

This debate has a lot of truth on both sides, and I want to do it justice. So please, read the whole post before you decide if Christian romance books are worth reading.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I may make a small commission. I only recommend books and resources that I’ve enjoyed personally, or believe that you would like. You can read my full disclosure here. You will also find information on Scripture translations there.

 
 
Black background with floating hearts, christian romance stories beauty or Beware?
 
 

2 Reasons to Beware of Christian Romance Novels 

 
When you read any genre, there are things to pay attention to, caution lights, to keep you aware of reality.  Christian Romance novels are no different. Here are a few of the cautions I’ve found in 20ish years of reading both historical and contemporary Christian romance books.
 

1: Christian Romance Books Effect Your Emotions

 
When reading any well-written book, but especially Christian romance novels, many of us are so drawn in.  We feel like the main character is our friend, or we relate to her on an even more personal level. So we join her roller coaster (as any good book includes one or two!), and those emotions spill over into our real world.
 
One example of this is my first experience with Christian romance books. The Brides of Montclair series by Jane Peart. Fantastic historical fiction and clean Christian romance, but as a young teen, I wasn’t prepared to handle the drama. I was all over the place emotionally, and had to put them away for a year or two.
 

2: Contemporary Christian Romance Books can Build Unrealistic Expectations

 
Book boyfriends and husbands aren’t always written in a realistic way. They tend to have a little more patience. Maybe they act a bit more considerate. Forgive easier. Communication flows more easily (after the complete lapse in whatever that causes the crisis).
 
But let’s face it. If 95% of these ladies don’t get a happily ever after, we wouldn’t be reading Christian romance novels or anything similar.
 
I would suggest that if you are in a season of difficulty in marriage, you probably shouldn’t be reading romance. You’ll end up resenting your spouse for not being like this week’s dashing hero from your Christian romance novels.
 
Wedding photo with sun setting between couple's hands. "books don't tell the whole story

The Beauty of Christian Romance Stories 

 
A-Since God wrote the best of all Christian romance books, I firmly believe that its an acceptable and beautiful genre.
 
B-Jesus used stories to convey his message, and God includes some amazing romance throughout the Bible.
 
C-Contemporary Christian romance novels can inspire us to love better, and to feel God’s love as the characters learn to. Basically, to be a better me than who I could easily let myself become.
 
D-When we read fiction, we can see our own flaws and strengths displayed on the page in front of us. Then we have a choice.
  • At that point we can take note and be encouraged to make improvements.
  • Or, just laugh and move on to the next entertainment source.
 
What will you do? 
 
Spoiler: some days I choose change, sometimes, entertainment.
 
I hope you will consider some of my favorite Christian romance books, most of which have great discussion questions at the end!!
 

Reading Guidelines for Christian Romance Novels

1: Watch your Emotions
If you become more emotional than your circumstances warrant, then take a step back from reading Christian romance novels!
 
2: Watch your Expectations
Don’t expect your spouse to do and say the things these authors dream up. While they may be good things, it’s just like expecting yourself to be a Proverbs 31 woman fulfilling every verse all the time. It’s just not gonna happen!
 
3: Challenge Yourself
Ask yourself questions. Are there any thought patterns that make you uncomfortable? Talk to God. Any behaviors worth emulating? (NOT trying to be perfect, but we all have room for improvement!) Did you have an “Aha” moment, where you suddenly understood someone else in your real life? Take notes!
 
4: Pray
Pray for your family. Your Friends. Pray for yourself and your spouse. Many Christian romance stories have great prayer points you can claim for yourself. Grab a notebook and join in!

Christian Dating Stories

*Here’s where you should look for some creative couples night ideas! They’re inspired by some fantastic Fictional Couples!!

 
Betwixt 2 Hearts is a fantastic collection of 6 books in one. Each is standalone, though they connect to one another, and sometimes to the author’s other works.
Betwixt 2 Hearts cover

Betwixt 2 Hearts by Amanda Tru

A remarkable setup, a breeding ground for Christian dating stories to launch from. As Camden and Bailey build a Christian Matchmaking website, they build a unique relationship of their own. The best parts in my opinion, are:
  1. Camden sharing the gospel with Bailey. Wow! She struggles with it, because if he’s right, she and many others who think they are Christian, aren’t.
  2. Bailey’s growth as a character is pretty awesome. Its believable because of the mistakes along the way, and her reactions to them.
  3. The plot is fascinating, and so much fun! I couldn’t put it down! The back and forth between Camden and Bailey had me alternating between laughter and eye-rolling.
 

Book 2: Swedeharts Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson

 
Eleanor’s fear and frustration are so relatable!
Wanting to make others happy can only go so far. Fear of failure, and frustration when your performance is never good enough, can wear you out. When Ellie snaps and goes off to find herself, I was along for the ride!
 
Watching her grow in strength of character, identity, and faith made me think, as often as her selfish slips had me laughing!
 

Book 3. Whole Latte Love by Kari Trumbo

Seeing yourself as God does, not how others do, is the stated goal of this book, and it successfully does just that, if you look! This is one of those Christian dating stories that builds you up.
 
Drew and Addi both have allowed circumstances to control what they believe about themselves and others. I could empathize with Addi, since I’m better at defending others than standing up for myself. Realizing that others will often treat you as poorly as you allow them to is eye-opening. Some do it selfishly, and others thoughtlessly. This was a fun way to teach the lesson of being careful how you treat others, and how you allow them to treat you.
 
Couple standing close, her foot popped up

Book 4. Her Safe Refuge by Alana Terry

This one is hard since it mostly deals with a married couple on the edge of divorce. However, it gives the backstory for a new series and is encouraging for women married to an unbeliever. The struggle of how to act, how to handle obeying God and living as a Christian, while still showing respect for your husband who thinks you’d lost it, is well taught.
 
This is one of the few contemporary Christian romance novels I would recommend if you are in a struggling marriage. It’s not trite and does offer hope. Another would be Christmas Embers.
 
 I enjoyed the intersection with some of the author’s other series and past Crossroads Collections.

Past Crossroads Collections: More Great Christian Romance Books 

Book 5 Guardian of her Heart, by Carol Moncado

Here’s a fun one! If you’ve read any of the others in the Montavero/Serenity’s Landing series, you will recognize some of the main players, though you don’t have to, in order to enjoy this one.
 
I enjoyed Casey, she was someone I could relate to. She was smart and resourceful, and still managed a convincing ‘damsel in distress’ role. I think compartmentalized expectations played a role.
 
Casey’s computer skills rock, as do her business management abilities. But anything outside her experience and comfort zone really rattled her.
 
Mark is the kind of guy you want on your side. Has the resources, and the willingness to help.
 
Definitely a whirlwind romance, but a lot of fun. And success for Betwixt!
 

Book 6: Random Acts of Shyness, Chautona Havig

 
I felt for Heath in every awkward moment. A child’s coping mechanism that he didn’t know how to let go of and hadn’t just outgrown can be devastating in a grown-up.
 
Truth be known, the main story is good, but I had as much fun with the side stories.  First, An old man reunited with a son he hadn’t wanted to give up over 50 years ago. He wasn’t given a say though. The emotional roller coaster here was so well written that I was there in the room.
 
Second, the woman willing to risk her job to give a young man the chance he needed and was also an unbelieving mother who chooses not to lie to her daughter because the daughter became a Christian. Her character is impressive, and she’s so genuine! I hope we get to see more of Ann in the future!
 

Check These posts for Great Biblical Romance Stories

 

Contemporary Christian Romance Novels with Suspense

This romantic suspense genre is fun if you like some danger and mystery. When it’s well done, you get the heart-racing feeling of danger and rescue, without the actual danger. If you’re highly sensitive to character personalization, you may want to skip this category of Christian romance novels, to avoid unnecessary stress!
 

Song of Suspense series by Hallee Bridgeman

Song of Suspense series covers Starting with A Melody for James, this series is high powered drama. You’ve got espionage, country music, tragedy, hope, and courage. Now, I’m a fan of country music, but there’s not a lot of lyrics included, so don’t worry about it if you are not.
I love the learning to trust again after tragedy and heartbreak part. Found it encouraging and believable, because it was NOT EASY. They have a lot to work through.
 
An Aria for Nick and A Carol for Kent both have a lot on forgiving (without being preachy).
The most recent addition to this series of Christian romance stories, A Harmony for Steve, is still great, just much more intense. Its more evangelistic, but also eye-opening for how cult and occult followers can sneak in and cause trouble.
 

Jewel Saga by Hallee Bridgeman

The Jewel Saga is remarkable. It’s on the ‘shallow end’ of the suspense pool. Not quite, but still a bit of Suspense  In Sapphire Ice you have a strong woman fired by trials, who is in need of the great romance of God. First, Tony has to crack her protective wall, and show her that both he and God are for real. No easy task.
 
I enjoyed the determination both show, and the gentle Christian witness.
*Tony messes up, he’s not perfect, but he does set a high standard.
 

The Agency Files by Chautona Havig

Ok, high suspense here, the Agency exists to provide protection. Sometimes they are hired, but other times, they discover a threat, and “kidnap/hide” the victim BEFORE the attack can happen. Then, catch the bad guys.
 
Book 1, Justified Means starts out in high gear. Knowing who to trust is difficult. Falling in love with your kidnapper/rescuer is dangerous. Especially when he’s a Christian and you are not. This is well written in general, but especially timing-wise. Not too sudden, And not like Col. Mckenzie and Cmdr. Rabb from JAG (nearly there, but never gonna happen).
 
There are many threads in this series, of faith, romance, and suspense/adventure. Its a lot of fun!
 

 Alexa Hartfield Mysteries by Chautona Havig

Hartfield Mysteries covers There’s romance and rescue here, but it’s subtle. The mysteries take center stage, and Alexa is such a fun character. Famous author, slightly eccentric, and lives her Christian faith, though that’s not the genre she chooses to write. Crazy mysteries and crime just happen to pop up around her, so its Officer Joe to the rescue. At least, when Alexa is sleuthing herself into trouble she has someone to count on! Book 1, Manuscript for Murder has her current book in progress coming to life all around town!
 

Check These posts for More Contemporary Christian Romance Novels

 

Historical Christian Romance Novels

 
We’ve just about run out of room to tell you about my favorite Christian romance novels in the historical fiction category, but here are some links to some historical Christian romance authors that I enjoy!
 

2 Amazing Historical Christian Romance Authors

 
Lori Wick. For example, The Kensington Chronicles. An unusual set of women, strong and Courageous, who learn to love God, and their men! An orphan in Arabia, a ship’s captain in disguise, a woman faithfully praying for an unbelieving husband for decades, and one whose mother is downright cruel! Great Christian romance books from the 1800s to the turn of the century.
 
Janette Oke For example, I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite here, between the Song of Acadia series set in 18th century Canada (branching out to Louisiana and England) and the Acts of Faith series (set just after the Resurrection) both are beautiful, fun, and definitely challenging!
 

2 Historical Christian Romance Authors Who Write Around WWII

 
Sarah Sundin For example The Sky Above Us: The drama, action, character development, and a little bit of mystery made this a book I couldn’t put down.
 
I relate well with Violet. An upstanding citizen, raised in the church, desire to help… I’m sure I have an equally skewed perception. While I don’t see any one group as less in need of encouragement and help than any other, I AM less willing to help some than others. And I’m good at justification (my safety, don’t know how, other responsibilities…) ouch!
 
The adventures are fun, and heartbreaking and encouraging. Adler grows up a lot in a short time. I was impressed by the reminders of 1. being willing to let God change your mind, and 2. That you’re a missionary wherever you are. It doesn’t have yo to be a foreign country or an inner-city.
 
*I received an advance copy of the book from @NetGalley, and while I am grateful, that does not influence my review. All thoughts are my own.
 
I’ll also never forget Sarah’s Wings of a Nightingale series (WWII nurses).
 
Penelope J. Stokes Faith on the Home Front series is also unforgettable.
This trilogy of historical Christian romance novels covers a lot of ground, between the 3 military buddies and their adventures, and the girls (and their friends) left behind. There’s beautiful romance, and plenty of action, but a ton of character building that stays with you for years.

Do You Read Christian Romance Novels?

Christian Romance novels, to me, are like so many other things. Not necessarily good or bad, it’s all in how you use them.

What about you? Do you read Christian romance books, or do you avoid it? I’m curious to hear your thoughts. I know we all have our opinions, and as long as you keep kindness in mind, we’d love to hear from you!

Until Next Time, Love God, Love Books, Shine The Light!!

16 Comments on “Christian Romance Novels: 6 Honest Pros and Cons”

  1. I used to read a lot of “inspirational Christian romance.” However, I will encourage my daughter not to read them. One of their dangers is that they assume that most of the time, the young lady gets married. Period. Well, lots of godly young ladies remain single, if not for life, then for a lot longer than they expect. I think I would do my daughter a better service if I was realistic with her that she may not get married as an adult…. There are plenty of good biographies and non-fiction out there, so I will encourage her to read those instead. (This is my first time here.)

    1. Excellent point, Liberty. Everyone doesn’t marry, and some marry later in life. I will try to gather a list of books that highlights that. I can think of several right now. One of my new favorite books is Marilla of Green Gables and she definitely doesn’t get married, though is content. (review here)

      It’s great that you’re looking out for your daughter’s heart, and planning ahead for how you can help her.

      I would try to find a balance in a wide variety of genres. Reading only one type all the time would be like eating the same thing at every meal. Not healthy!

  2. I agree with everything you said. Balance. There’s a point to this stuff, but if the point doesn’t work with your particular place in life, then the point is to leave it alone for now. After all, it’s fiction. And I always say that while I often learn best through fiction, if it’s not the Bible, it’s not necessary.

    1. Exactly. Fiction is fun, and fun can be educational. But even Christian romance stories can set you up with a false picture. Knowing what your limits are and using your head is important when choosing any type of entertainment??

  3. I have read a few Christian romance books but they left me feeling like I lacked in so many areas. They leave me with a longing that is unfulfilled. I grew up in an abusive home, got married at 17 who was not physically abusive but drank a lot, had an affair. I left him a few times and due to a massive heart attack at 26 our lives got turned around. He was a believe since age 13, I was unsaved. At 35 I got saved, he rededicated his life and then our life really changed. And by changed I mean we both found the love of God to be the strongest love, not the romantic love you read about in those books. I think, for me, I cannot handle the unrealistic theme because my life has been so real. Being married is the hardest thing I have ever done. There are great high spots but on a daily bases, life is not usually easy. It’s a battle and yes it’s been won for us. If there was more realness in the books and not so much romance I think I could handle them. God does not love us in a romantic way, it’s a divine love, it’s deeper, it’s real. His love story, the bible is full of all kind of things in marriage that are not romantic. Jesus clearly told us, in this world you shall have trouble but I have overcome the world. For a couple to be romantic after marriage takes hard work. If I look to my husband to be that way I will probably be disappointed a lot. I do look to him to be the leader in our home for God has ordained him to be. I am to be his helpmate. It’s in these role I find fulfillment. I will say I really liked the Francine Rivers books, they are a touch of real and the divine love that will hold us together through all kind of trials. AGain I love reviews on books for I don’t want to spend my money on something that leaves me empty or longing for something that Is not real.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with us! Im sorry for what happened, and am grateful for the turn around you have experienced!

      I can appreciate your perspective and agree that there’s many times, and people who need to avoid the Christian romance stories for sure.

  4. Honestly, Aryn I have never been able to get into Christian romance— except my own. LOL There’s just so many great books out there to read and I have so little time. It’s not that I have anything against them, I’d just rather spend my time reading things that would help me grow spiritually. Just my thoughts for what it’s worth. Thanks for brining this conversation to the forefront, and thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    1. I absolutely agree about so many books, so little time! Which is why I read with a goal, looking for spiritual application in all of it.

      While it is Not my favorite genre, I do enjoy Christian romance stories when I am not it a difficult place in my own marriage. Gives me ideas for what I could do better or differently sometimes.

  5. You make some great points, Aryn! I’ve never heard of a lot of these authors (and I’m a copious reader of Christian Inspirational romance!). Thank you for the suggestions! Melanie Dickerson always appeals to my high school students (and I enjoy her books, too ? ).

    1. Thanks Anita! I have read a couple of Melanie Dickerson’s fairy tales retold and enjoyed them. Christian romance stories definitely have their place, and I am grateful for them ???

  6. Pingback: Culture Shock: How One Girl Challenges Assumptions • Aryn the Libraryan

  7. Pingback: The Painted Castle: It's Beautiful and Courageous! • Aryn the Libraryan

  8. You worked through this topic so well. I learned long ago to avoid Christian romance because after reading it I seem to be angry at my husband for being less than perfect ? So it sure sets unrealistic expectations without even realizing what is happening!

    1. Christian romance stories can be tricky for sure. They can be a lot of fun, but it is also possible that you can get yourself into a mess by expecting real people to behave like the storybook people do!

I would love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.