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Clean Romance

What is the Clean Romance Genre?

Also known as “Proper Romance,” this genre is called the “Clean Romance genre” for obvious reasons: it tells intelligent and engaging stories that intrigue the reader, but would never embarrass them with graphic sex scenes. It is one of the few genres which appeals to multiple generations – from young teens all the way to seniors.

What to Expect in the Clean Romance Genre

  • A commitment to affection and fidelity between the character
  • There are no “sex” scenes, but many scenes of longing”
  • Modesty
  • Gentle touches and caresses which suggest more
  • Smart stories

Clean Romance Characteristics

  • Level of Angst

    On a scale of 1-10, the level of angst in this genre is usually between 4-5. There is a lot of passion and romance in the characters in this genre, the only difference being that there are no physical sex scenes – it doesn’t mean they don’t want it, it just means that the author doesn’t write about it.

  • Character Development

    This genre’s character development is often quite good. The characters are depicted as actual, real, relatable characters who are not just looking for quick and easy sex, but actual love, so the time is taken to develop the characters and the situations to fulfill that expectation. The male characters are admirable and definitely not “players” (no “bad boys” here), and the female characters are regular, everyday women who could easily be one of the readers.

  • Plot Strength

    The plot strength for this genre is very strong since the authors are developing stories that are much more realistic for most readers. The stories are both clean and wholesome, with interesting characters and intriguing situations.

  • Romantic Tension

    There is probably not a single response for this genre since some of the novels are quite suggestive – they just don’t act on the suggestion - and some of the novels have “lingering gazes” and “a light touch.” So, the reader will definitely “get” the romance, but it really depends on how the author chooses to develop it as to the level of tension. Certainly some of these novels have just as much romantic tension as “traditional” romance novels, just without the sex scenes.

  • Level of Eros

    The entire genre is developed to avoid this, so the easy and direct answer is: None.

  • Prose Quality

    The prose quality in these novels is usually outstanding. The writers are trying to develop relationships between characters in a caring and thoughtful way, and the reader is definitely not being rushed from sex scene to sex scene as with some genres.

Related Romance Subgenres



  • There are several related genres/subgenres from which this genre borrows: Christian/Inspirational, Regency, Contemporary

Clean Romance isn't for you if

You like sex scenes, “bad boys” and “alphas”, and the thrill of the chase (and its result).

Clean Romance is totally for you if

You like stories that are sometimes “quaint” that focus on commitment and developing real relationships. You enjoy a little modesty, you don’t want to have to hide your romance novels every time someone walks into the room, You want to be able to give an honest answer when someone asks you what you are reading…

Popular Clean Romance Books
  • 1 Twilight (2006)

    By Stephenie Meyer. Fits into several genres, but it’s definitely a classic example of a clean romance. The two characters barely hold hands in this novel, and there is only one or two kisses…clean, but definitely sparks the imagination!

  • 2 Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance (2012)

    By Julianne Donaldson. Is filled with twins, mysterious men, strangers in the night, and, of course, romance.

  • 3 Seeking Persephone (2011)

    By Sarah Eden. Focuses on a young woman who is offered a tremendous fortune in exchange for marriage. Her husband is abrupt and removed, but a danger which faces him threatens them both unless he can let his guard down and tell her how he really feels.

  • 4 A Dream Came True (1982)

    By Betty Neals. Tells the story of a young woman who needs to make it on her own after her parents’ deaths and her brother’s departure for America. Since she was not trained to do much more than be a companion, that is what she did – until she met her employer’s handsome brother!

  • 5 Austenland (2008)

    By Shannon Hale. Is a fun novel about a young New Yorker who is obsessed with “Mr Darcy.” Given a trip to a place which caters to people obsessed with Jane Austen, while there she might finally find her own…

  • 6 Nine Coaches Waiting (2006)

    By Mary Stewart. Tells the story of an English governess brought to a French chateau who is enamored with the rich history of her surroundings. She quickly discovers that there are some odd goings-on at the chateau, however, and the life of her young charge may hang in the balance.

  • 7 Dusty Britches (2012)

    By Marcia McClure. Focuses on a serious young woman who has a lot on her plate between the ranch she runs, her widowed father and her impulsive sister. She shut her heart down years before when the man she loved left…but what will happen now that he’s returned?

  • 8 A Secret Fire (2012)

    By Deborah Hathaway. Is about a young woman and a cowboy and their commitment to helping each other discover that they are both entitled to a “happily ever after.”

  • 9 The Forgotten Garden (2010)

    By Kate Morton. Tells the story of a young girl who was abandoned as a child and doesn’t find out she was orphaned until she turns 21. Determined to discover her past, she starts off on a lifelong adventure – but it is only after her granddaughter takes up the search after her grandmother’s death that the puzzle is completed.

  • 10 Forever and Forever (2016)

    By Josi Kilpatrick. Is based in 1836 and tells the story of the daughter of a wealthy Boston industrialist who is touring Europe when she encounters the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She is intrigued by him, but can she put aside their different social classes to give true love a chance?