For a long time, I didn’t read any fiction by mainstream (i.e., secular, non-Christian) authors because it seemed like every one I picked up was rife with profanity, gratuitous sex scenes, and and immorality. Per the wise instructions found in Philippians 4:8, I just don’t really feel a need to fill my mind with that junk; I therefore erred on the side of caution and just avoided secular authors altogether.
Gradually, though, I’ve come to discover a few authors who are not, as far as I know, Christian, and do not write for Christian publishers, but whose books are fairly clean and even more importantly, honor important Judeo-Christian values such as marriage, family, loyalty, and selflessness.
These are the authors I know and can recommend, although you will have to judge them for yourself. Also, I can’t vouch for every single book by these authors because I haven’t read every single one. And if you have any author recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!
1. Patricia Veryan
If you enjoy Christian author Julie Klassen’s work, you will probably also enjoy Patricia Veryan. Patricia Veryan specialized in novels set in the Georgian or Regency eras of English history. She was one of the forerunners of the popular Regency genre, following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Georgette Heyer (another author I can recommend). While the Regency genre is full of a lot of trite and pointless fluff, Veryan’s novels are anything but.
While Veryan’s books are first and foremost romance novels, they are also well-researched, historically accurate books filled with period details of the Jacobite Rebellions in early 18th century England. There is no profanity in her books, aside from the occasional “d–n”, and there are absolutely no sex scenes. There’s not even any implied pre-marital or extra-marital sex except in one book that I can think of (not my favorite of hers for that reason).
What I love most about Veryan’s novels is the central theme of honor. Whatever else you may say about the morality of Regency England, their code of honor was rigid and all men were expected to abide by it. As portrayed in Veryan’s novels, even young boys were trained diligently from a young age to abide by this stringent code, which regulated how the men treated each other and how they treated the women in their lives.
While their code of honor deviated from the one we find in Scripture, at its core, it insisted on a selfless life spent protecting one’s family – especially the women of the family – and one’s country. The men in Veryan’s stories are truly men of honor who live courageously and bravely in service to their country and their families. Many of them exhibit the quality that Christ exhorts husbands to have in relation to their wives: a willingness to sacrifice even their life for the sake of their loved ones. It’s this old-fashioned chivalry that draws me back to Veryan’s novels again and again, while society around me unravels daily in a quest to satisfy self.
Veryan has written quite a few novels, and it’s difficult to narrow them down to my absolute favorite, but if I had to pick one it would be “Love Alters Not“. That’s my favorite because it’s side-splittingly hilarious and laugh-out-loud funny, plus the hero in the story is one of Veryan’s best and most honorable. It’s a good place to start with Veryan books!
Oh, one note of importance: for whatever reason, the publishers of these books decided to put racy bodice-ripper covers on all the paperback versions… don’t ask me why! Many Veryan fans have pondered over this discrepancy to no avail. Truly a case of not judging a book by its cover!
2. Nicholas Sparks
Fans of Karen Kingsbury will appreciate the homey, family-centered romances by Nicholas Sparks. And if you’ve seen the movies based on his books… don’t be put off by them! Hollywood twisted most of them into something very different from what Sparks actually wrote, so, as usual, the books are much better than the movies.
As with Veryan, there are a few “d–n”-s sprinkled throughout Sparks’ books, but no graphic sex scenes, although many of them do have “fadeouts”. In particular, ”A Walk to Remember” and “The Last Song” are pretty squeaky clean.
What sets Sparks apart from other contemporary authors is his emphasis on family and committed relationships. Although he’s definitely a romance novelist (kind of sappy and often tear-inducing), he idealizes in his stories a committed kind of love that goes far beyond the infatuation and attraction that most love stories are made of. Many of his novels feature an elderly couple that has stood the test of time and weathered many storms together; any author that honors committed marriage relationships is automatically bumped up a few notches in my opinion!
My absolute favorite Sparks novel is the above-mentioned “A Walk to Remember” (Which, actually, is one movie that they actually got right! For the most part.): it’s sappy, and it’s so sad you’ll need to read it with a box of tissues close at hand, but it is so good!
3. Kate Morton
Kate Morton is a new author for me – I’ve only actually read one and a half books of hers, but so far, I like what I’ve read! I’ve browsed through tons of reviews of her books online and it seems like she is frequently listed as a “clean” author; so even though I can’t personally vouch for all her books, she comes well recommended to me.
Like Nicholas Sparks, you can expect an occasional “d–n”, but that’s about it. She implies “off-scene” intimate activity, but doesn’t describe it so there are no sex scenes.
Francine Rivers is probably the most comparable Christian author to Kate Morton, in terms of scope, historic elements, and touches of mystery. Jamie Langston Turner also comes to mind. Morton likes to tell the historic background story of contemporary people, switching back and forth from modern to historic scenes and casts. You have to pay close attention to the dates noted at the beginning of each chapter, or you might get lost, but I love how this approach portrays vividly the domino effect of consequences from choices made by one generation to the next. I also love how the people in Morton’s stories are very ordinary people, but they live(d) extraordinary lives: it makes you think about the fact that every single person we meet has a story to tell but we rarely stop to listen to their stories. (Job 8:8)
The House at Riverton is the first book of Morton’s that I read, and I was glued to it from beginning to end, trying to figure out the mystery that was hinted at throughout. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the Downton Abbey series, you’ll love the historic setting of this book, as its very similar in style and feel. I’m always fascinated by the rapidly changing times of the early twentieth century, and Morton captures them vividly. I’m currently reading The Forgotten Garden, which is set in Morton’s native Australia, and has a compelling plot about a girl who was abandoned and left to sail on her own halfway around the world. It grapples with the heady topic of a person’s sense of self – their identity – and how it is formed and shaped, and how it can be altered by changed circumstances.
Other Clean Authors You Might Like
Here are a few other places where you can find suggestions for clean authors:
- Library of Clean Reads
- Clean Reads group on GoodReads.com
- Clean Romance Reviews
- Good Clean Reads
- List of Clean Romance Novels on GoodReads.com
Want to see what I’m reading? I’d love to see what YOU’RE reading! Join me at Goodreads, where I keep track of books I enjoy (and even books I don’t)! I’d love a sneak peek onto your bookshelf, too.
Some blogging friends and I are going to spend the next six weeks talking all about reading… and sharing our favorite books with you! Follow our blogs to join in the discussion and find some new favorite books to love. We’ll also be chatting about our blog posts – and the books we love – in our Facebook community for women, Christian Homemaking Community.