Any time I talk about a romance novel or any book with a love story, I get a steady stream of questions along the lines of, “Is it clean??”
If you like your love stories to not go past some kissing (and maybe some pining!), these books are for you.
Also, as a heads up, if you’re looking for more of these kinds of books, they’re often labeled “chaste” or “sweet” so if you see a book labeled with one of those, you’ll know you don’t have to worry about any sex.
Here are more than a dozen of my favorite clean romances – I hope you’ll love them too!
14 Clean Romance Novels
Edenbrooke by Julianna Donaldson
Marianne is invited to visit Edenbrooke by her twin sister who intends to marry into the family that owns the country estate and Marianne, mourning the loss of her mother and lonely in Bath with her grandmother, quickly agrees. She has no interest in romance herself, but is very anxious for a change of scenery. Lucky for her, she’s going to get both. I especially loved the snappy dialogue in this one. (Blackmore is another historical romance by the same author and it’s good but not AS good as Edenbrooke). (Full review here).
Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson
This is such a cute fun romance! An editor at Savannah’s dream publishing company is asking for the manuscript of a romance novel she has been secretly writing behind the scenes, while working at a different publishing company. She hides her manuscript in a hidden room, but later discovers someone has found it and started jotting very critical edits in the margins. This mystery editor is not only helping make her manuscript better, but could she be falling for him too?
These Is My Words by Nancy Turner
I read this book YEARS ago after my mom raved about it and sent me a copy. She wasn’t wrong – this historical romance is written in diary form (a format I generally don’t care for but works wonderfully here) and follows Sarah Prine and her family in the Arizona Territories where pretty much every bad thing you can imagine happens until they join up with a wagon train. The leader of the wagon train is Captain Elliot and Sarah by turns admires him and despises him. Of course she does. I LOVED this book. (Full review here)
A Heart Worth Stealing by Joanna Barker
This one is such a delight to read. After her father’s passing, Ginny is devastated when his treasured pocket watch goes missing. When she hires a special investigator, Jack Travers, to help find the watch, he discovers there is more going on than just a missing watch. As Ginny and Jack work together, of course, there will be romance. This is a fantastic whodunnit story with snappy dialogue.
Lovely War by Julie Berry
The story takes place during World War I and follows four main characters, so you get two love stories for the price of one. Even more interesting? The story is framed by several Greek gods who are in a tiff of their own during World War II (I lied – THREE love stories!). I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it works. It’s in the top 10 books I’ve ever read. And while I read a paper copy, I’ve heard the audio version is STUNNING.
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
Charlotte is a school librarian and happy to spend her life buried in a book. Her twin sister, though, has spent her life chasing beauty pageant crowns and now is competing for Miss American Treasure. Except, the night before the pageant begins, Ginny has a horrible allergic reaction and begs Charlotte to take her place until Ginny is well enough to step back in. But even though they look alike, Charlotte and Ginny are wildly different – is there any way they can pull off a con at this level? I read this last summer and blew through it in a day – it was just so so delightful and also squeaky clean! (Full review here)
Beauty by Robin McKinley
I’ve always loved a good fairy tale retelling and this is one of the ones I remember best from my childhood. My mom read this Beauty and the Beast retelling aloud to us and I woke up in the middle of the night to see her reading it in the hallways because she couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out! I love that this one gives you way more backstory for Beauty’s family and I really love her sisters and their sweet relationship. It has such great character development and it’s just a delight all around.
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Samantha is a very bookish twenty-three year old whose only friends are the characters in her beloved books. Her life takes a mysterious turn when she gets a letter and a scholarship from an unknown Mr Knightley. She begins a pen pal relationship with her questionable benefactor and learns a lot about herself, trust and relationships. This one is fun and sweet.
Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker
I just listened to this one not too long ago and it was an absolute delight. Amelia and her sister face abject poverty as soon as their stepfather dies and Amelia is hopeful that before that happens, she can secure a marriage between her sister and a wealthy gentleman – Sir Ronald – her sister has shown some interest in. Fortunately, they’re invited to a house party at Sir Ronald’s house and it looks like things for the sisters. Until Amelia discovers that one of the other guests, Peter Wood, is hoping to help HIS sister make a match with Sir Ronald. And when Amelia finds attraction blooming for Peter, things are going to get even more tricky.
Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
In this delightful novel, eighteen-year-old Jerusha, “Judy”, grows up in an orphanage. When a mysterious millionaire begins to pay for her college education, she cannot believe her luck! Who was this mysterious gentleman and would Jerusha ever get to meet him?
How I Met Your Brother by Janette Rallison
I recommend Janette Rallison all the time when people ask for clean book recommendations. She’s so funny and her books are just 100% delightful. I loved this one, it is just an absolutely fun and fluffy read!
Savage Wells series by Sarah M. Eden
I might have to add Sarah M. Eden to my list of authors to read all her books this year because I have read a lot of her books lately. These have been my most recent historical romance titles (they are classified as Western Romance) and I love them. Each book in this series: The Sheriffs of Savage Wells, Healing Hearts, and Wyoming Wild are all stand-alone and don’t need to be read in order. They are squeaky clean, have snappy dialogue, and are just overall great stories.
And if you’d like a printable copy of this clean romance book list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!
I dislike the term clean when referring to romance novels, as it infers that romance novels with sex scenes are somehow dirty. We need a better term to use – chaste and sweet aren’t much better, in my opinion.
How about the publishers just using a star rating: 1 star indicates no sex scenes, while 5 stars indicate that it’s probably not advisable to read it on the bus!
But then again, each reader to their own …