The Comeback of the Clean Romance Novel

by | Sep. 12, 2013

I'm addicted to words. I admit it. I know it would take an extensive twelve-step program to get me off words. But I was beginning to tire of dystopian plot lines and racy romance novels that tried to insert sensuality into the nineteenth century, a time well known for its propriety. So when I found Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson, I felt as if I had hit the clean romance jack pot.  And I know you'll be sold too, once you read her writing. And did I mention she's already written a second clean romance novel? I promise that you'll be amazed by these two very different but equally sublime proper romances. 

What inspired you to write Edenbrooke?

J: I was a huge fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, but I couldn't find other authors who could give me what they gave me in terms of a proper but utterly romantic story. So I decided to write my own. 

When you first finished Edenbrooke, what were other publishers' responses to it? 

J: I spent a year sending Edenbrooke out to agents, and after a year the message was very clear: they loved the story but they couldn't get it published without sex in it. I was unwilling to make my romance explicit, so I resigned myself to just putting the story in a drawer and never publishing it. As a last-ditch effort I sent it to Shadow Mountain, which was the perfect home for it.

What inspired you to start writing "clean romances"?

J: I never considered writing any other kind of romance. I think what most women look for in a romance is the emotional journey of love. The explicit nature of the majority of romance novels offers a counterfeit to what readers are really looking for. It offers lust and titillation instead of the deeper emotions of longing and love. When I looked for Regency stories in the vein of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, I was dismayed to find that the genre had been tainted by the modern hyper-focus on sex. I wanted to bring the genre back to what it was and what it could still be--a genre that celebrates refinement, and restraint, and honor, and true love.

How do you feel the women in your books break the stereotypical, passive female lead that are popular among many romances out there? 

J: I don't know if the passive female lead is the norm for romances, because I honestly don't read mainstream romances. But if it is, my heroines are definitely not of the same mold. They are young women who have dreams, who are intelligent, and who make difficult decisions based on duty and honor and integrity. 

What are you working on next?

J: Great question! I don't know. I've been taking a break from writing to be more available for my busy family. With a bishop for a husband and four young children, there are lots of people who need my attention. It's nice to be done with Blackmoore and have the luxury of being a mom right now. 

Find Edenbrooke and Julianne's newest novel, Blackmoore, on sale at deseretbook.com. To read more about great authors who write clean romances, don't miss out on the Q&A session we had with Shannon Hale, author of Austenland.

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