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Clean Romantic Reads

Who doesn't enjoy the sigh-worthy romance of a well-crafted love story? Studio 5 Contributor Teri Harman shares her favorite 10 clean romance books.


Unlike movies and television shows there is no content rating system for books. The pages may contain sex, violence and foul language or be perfectly clean; it's a gamble. If you are content conscious, it is especially risky to pick up a book about romance or love.

But who doesn't enjoy the smolder, intrigue and sigh-worthy romance of a well-crafted love story? So if you want all the good stuff of a romantic read without worrying about content, look no further than this list of favorite clean romances. All of these books are free of graphic/descriptive sex scenes (in a few of the books sex occurs, but is only mildly described or happens "off- stage") and contain no or only small amounts of foul language and violence.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel is terminal. She's known it since she was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at age 13. Now at age 16, thanks to a miracle drug, she's been given some time to live a quiet life, but knows there are still fewer days ahead. The last thing she expects is to fall deeply in love, but when seriously handsome, intelligent, bold Augustus Waters appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's simple life takes a whole new direction.

This book is simply amazing. The story is so real and achieves that elusive goal of speaking about life, death and love in a way that is meaningful instead of pretentious. Bold, slightly irreverent and genius.

The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

Abby, a senior in high school, has a normal, predictable life: good friends, reliable boyfriend and college applications in the works. But all her normalcy is interrupted when mysterious, gorgeous and Italian, Dante Alexander shows up. He's unlike anyone she has ever met and Abby soon discovers that she cannot resist Dante's allure. But as Abby is swept up in his love she is also pulled into his world of danger and time travel, filled with secrets that reach all the way back into the sixteenth century.

Pick up this beautifully written young adult novel, the first in The Hourglass Door Trilogy by local Utah author Lisa Mangum, and forget everything else for a day or two. The love story is loaded with swoon-worthy moments and the time travel adventure feels fresh and new.

After Hello by Lisa Mangum

After you finish The Hourglass Door Trilogy, get your hands on Lisa Mangum's next young adult book, After Hello, which hits shelves in September 2012. With inviting writing, a quick pace and a wonderful first- love story, this book is a pure delight to read. Mangum has a gift for subtle, but smoldering romance.

It's Sara's first trip to New York City. With her camera in hand, she is ready to capture every moment of the experience. As she stands on the busy streets of the city she watches a handsome guy step out from a bookstore and she impulsively takes his picture. From that one picture a whole day of adventure is born. Sam and Sara partner together to find an elusive piece of art work and along the way discover the unexpected: love and themselves.

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Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Kerr family is a family of secrets. Lady Elizabeth Kerr hides her devotion to the auld ways. Her husband, Lord Donald, hides his shameful behavior from the household. And the dowager Lady Marjory hides gold under her floor boards and harbors regrets of the past. As the city of Edinburgh is turned-over in the wake of a rebellion, so, too, are the Kerr's secrets left bare for all to see.

Everything about this book is intoxicating: the romance, the writing, the emotions, and the vivid eighteenth-century Scottish history. It's nearly impossible to put down and, thank goodness, when it ends there are two more books to finish the story (a trilogy).

Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs

Ah, the fated love triangle. In the autumn of 1788, on the mysterious Scottish Lowlands, Jamie and Evan McKie fight to inherit their father's lands and flocks and two sisters, Leana and Rose, vie for the attention of one handsome man. Only one brother can inherit and only one sister can be the bride.

Liz Curtis Higgs, master of historical fiction, pulls the reader in from the first word and takes them on a journey of passion, drama, deceit, betrayal, jealousy and secrets. This is also the first book in a trilogy.

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

From a harrowing attack by a highway man to the unexpected attention of a handsome gentleman, Marianne's visit to the fabulous English country estate Edenbrooke is nothing she expects. Local author Julianne Donaldson's new Regency (think Jane Austen) love story is a pure delight. The first in a new brand of novels called "Proper Romances" from local publisher Shadow Mountain, this book has all the smoldering romance without any of "that other stuff." Watch for more "Proper Romance" titles coming out yearly.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Can a hummingbird cake bring back lost love? Is there a ghost dancing in the woods? In the small Southern town of Mullaby, North Carolina, these kinds of questions are not a rarity, but the norm. When Emily Benedict comes to town to stay with the grandfather she's never met, in hopes of learning more about her mother, she is surprised to find that strange is around every corner. From the wallpaper that changes to fit her mood to the strange light flitting around the yard late at night, Emily finds nothing she expects, but everything she needs.

Sarah Addison Allen's writing is magical. This endearing story of every-day magic and loveable misfits will enchant readers from the very beginning.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), of the small English village of Edgecombe St. Mary, is everything a proper English man should be: loyal, wry, courtly and an expert on a properly brewed cup of tea. After his brother's death the Major finds himself in an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. As they share a love of literature and bond over the shared grief of the loss of their spouses, the two soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But the village society is not entirely comfortable with their relationship. Can they push past culture and tradition to find happiness?

A perfectly charming and thoroughly enjoyable book. As funny as it is sophisticated, Major Pettigrew's love story between two older people will leave the reader with a smile and a warm heart.

A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron

Television over-seas correspondent Jenny Knight faced the unthinkable while in a war zone and almost lost her life. Now, as part of her recovery, she's staying with her grandma at her home in an Amish community. As her body heals from the devastating injuries sustained in a car bomb attack, Jenny finds a teenage crush for her grandma's neighbor, Matthew, sparking to life again. But can she look past her scars and their different lives to find love?

This book is filled with hope, redemption and sweet romance. Not only is the story romantic, but also intriguing as life in the Amish world is revealed. A quick, satisfying and memorable read. This is the first book in the Quilts of Lancaster County series.

A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin

Violet Hayes is a proper young lady of wealthy society, but she longs to experience mystery and romance, the kind she secretly reads about in novels. After discovering a shocking truth about her mother, Violet manipulates her way into visiting Chicago, intent on tracking down the woman she thought she'd never see again. Her grandmother and three quirky sisters open their home to Violet and each decides it's their duty to help her find a purpose and a husband. From the thrills of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 to the city's depressing slums, Violet's journey will be everything she hoped for and many things she never dreamed of.

This light, fun read is rich with interesting history and keep-you-guessing romance.

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adrianna Trigiani

Enza and Ciro first meet as teenagers in the majestic beauty of the Italian Alps. But after one night of heart-felt conversation and a first kiss, circumstances beyond their control pull them apart. They meet again, unexpectedly, far from their native home in the hustle of turn-of-the- century America, but still fate seems to want to keep them apart. Fate, however, is not strong enough to keep these star-crossed lovers apart forever. From the beauty of Italy, the drudgery of garment factories, the trenches of The Great War and the glamour of the Metropolitan Opera, this epic and beautifully written story of love and family is one that everyone will be talking about.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

One of the bestselling novels of all time, Rebecca deserves every accolade it gets. "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." With this haunting first sentence, the second Mrs. Maxium de Winter begins her tragic story of romance and mystery. Married young to a husband she barely knows, the new bride is forced to live in the shadow of the life of the first Mrs. De Winter, the beautiful Rebecca.

This mysterious, suspenseful romance should be on every love-story-lover's list. The writing is so atmospheric and the emotions of the poor second Mrs. De Winter heart-wrenching. A must-read!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre's quiet patience, endless perseverance and sharp mind catch the eye of her handsome and arrogant master, Mr. Rochester, after she is employed as governess to his ward. Despite the fact that Rochester is far above her station, Jane falls irrevocably in love with him and soon discovers that he may share her passion. But tragedy and old secrets arise to stand in the way of Jane's happiness.

Deep sigh. Few love stories are as affecting or as tragically romantic as "Jane Eyre." First published in 1847, Bronte's quiet but stalwart heroine broke the mold of standard class conceptions and is one of the most endearing female characters of all time.

Book Rating Websites

Also, check out these on-line resources that are helping readers take the gamble out of picking up a book.

Rated Reads (ratedreads.com) - Book content rating website, all genres

The Literate Mother (theliteratemother.org) - Content ratings for youth and young adult books

Compass Book Ratings (compassbookratings.com) - Book content rating website, all genres

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