While most Mormons think of fantasy as the place most Mormons head when they are writing for non-Mormon audiences, the regency romance genre is becoming a growing field. Many of all faiths flock to the Mormons in the field because they create “clean” regencies, meaning there is no sex or swearing, nothing to make a good church-going reader blush. This said, the books are filled with exciting and tantalizing plots.
According to author Heather Moore, the movement seems to have begun with Sarah M. Eden, who was having trouble finding regency romances that she felt comfortable reading. She self-published Seeking Persephone, which then found a publisher in LDS-owned Covenant Communications. When this book, and the others she published with this publisher, became popular, other Mormon authors became interested in the genre, as did other LDS (Mormon) publishers, and today there are a growing number of writers entering the field.
Heidi Ashworth publishes for Avalon Press, a national mainstream publisher. She was doing so before the trend began. Publisher’s Weekly said her first book was elevated above the usual fare by the subplot and Booklist called the same book refreshingly sweet and tartly humorous. Her reviews demonstrate the world is willing to read a clean romance if it is well-done. Mormons, known for their traditional high moral standards, understand how to make romance fascinating and moral at the same time.
Moore describes regency romances as, “…known for their humor, for their heroines who battle against ‘stiff judgments’ of an upper-crust society, and for characters and plot that operate within a strict societal structure.” She notes that the heroines are often mocked for their defense of morality and goodness, making them the natural territory of Mormon authors, who often find themselves mocked for the same reasons.
Mormon authors have been more and more emerging on the national scene, finding in their own lives and faith themes that are common to people everywhere. There are many popular authors in the children’s and YA markets (Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, Stephanie Meyers, for example), but also many in adult fields, where, with careful work, they can convince publishers to ignore (or not even notice) the fact that the book is clean. Instead of relying on immorality to sell books, they make certain their plots are filled with action, humor, layers of meaning, or whatever other techniques suit their story.
Mormon novels, both those written for Mormon audiences, and those written for the general public, are becoming more and more diverse. There is room for good, clean reading in nearly every field.
For more on this subject:
Heather B. Moore, LDS Authors Flock to the Regency Romance Genre, November 21,2012)