Reading a new genre can be intimidating, but Shelley Shepard Gray is here to help. Gray is an ideal guide as you dip your toe into the world of Amish romances: She’s written over 30 Amish novels. Her latest is An Amish Family Christmas, a book about the blossoming romance between Levi (who is still grieving after the loss of his father) and Julia (who hides the fact that she’s an unwed mother from her Amish community by claiming to be a widow). Here, Gray introduces readers to five of her favorite Amish fiction authors. If you’re new to the genre and don’t know where to begin, this list is sure to help.
When I first started reading Amish romances, there weren’t many writers in the genre. In fact, I only remember there being three: Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, and Cindy Woodsmall. I read every book I could find by these authors. I was so impressed by their beautifully written, gripping, well-researched novels. These are still the authors that I aspire to be like.
Since writing my first novel, Hidden, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet other authors in the genre. These days, there are over 60 novelists writing Amish mysteries and romance. New readers have a variety of choices and subgenres, yet there is still a misconception that all Amish fiction books are slow, sweet stories that cover the same themes. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Below are five authors who I think represent the genre well. They work hard to create engrossing stories that also respect the Amish way of life. Not only do I know each of these authors personally, I’m also a true fan of their work.
I’ve been a fan of Marta Perry’s novels for years. She has numerous series, so there is something for everyone here. Personally, I love how she effortlessly weaves suspense into her stories. Fallen in Plain Sight is a short novella that begins with an Amish woman discovering that her employer is dead. I couldn’t read it fast enough.
Jennifer Beckstrand’s books have been nominated for a RITA Award and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from RT Book Reviews, and she won the LIME Award for Inspirational Fiction. Her books are filled with loveable characters and a lot of humor. Her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series involves an older matchmaking couple in Wisconsin. It’s simply, well… adorable.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is truly an authority on the Amish community. Before I read any of her novels, I read several of her nonfiction books. A couple of years ago, I was asked to give an endorsement for Anna’s Crossing. I remember opening it up, thinking I would start by reading a chapter or two. Before I knew it, two hours had gone by. This is a historical novel with a lot of adventure. I loved it!
Amy Clipston, Vannetta Chapman, and I went on a book tour together back in November 2011. Before joining them, I read A Promise of Hope on the plane. It’s filled with love and emotion. Amy writes about characters who are incredibly endearing. Last time I went up to Sugarcreek, Ohio, my Amish friend showed me her personal library. She had every single one of Amy’s books; she loves them! I think that says everything about Amy’s work.
I love Vannetta Chapman and her books! She’s a gifted writer, and she breaks all kinds of stereotypes readers might believe about Amish novels. Anna’s Healing takes place in Oklahoma, where a tornado strikes and leaves the heroine with a terrible spinal cord injury. Readers usually don’t expect to find life-threatening danger in Amish romances. One thing I really love about Vannetta’s novels is that she effortlessly intertwines her story’s spiritual threads with the central plot. This can be hard to do, but she makes it seem so easy.
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.