The very first writing conference I ever went to was the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writing Conference. It was this huge, sort of overwhelming thing to me. So many authors! So many class options!
Since I had, clutched in my hands, the finished draft of the book that would come to be Wisdom to Know, I went all-in on the romance oriented classes.
One of those classes was taught by Yvonne Lehman. She was also the conference director and the brains behind the conference in the first place. I hadn’t actually read any books by her, but she was an incredibly prolific writer.
I will never forget her standing at the front of the room describing how she came up with her plots. Get an idea, pit the hero and heroine against each other, and then raise the stakes. Make a little progress on the problem? Raise the stakes again.
It felt like she spent the entirety of that hour telling us to keep raising the stakes.
Honestly, I had a lot of anxiety leaving that class. Not because I questioned my ability to write. No. I was severely anxious for her characters.
Yvonne had described all the horrible things she put her hero and heroine through on their path to a happy ending and it made me want to cry.
It’s not to say that there isn’t a place for those high-drama, high-stakes romances. There obviously is.
But I’m finding, especially with the morass of stress that my own personal life is these days, I am really struggling with books that leave me biting my nails. (And it’s worse with an e-reader. When I used to read paperbacks, I could at least flip to the last chapter to read it and make sure things would be okay. That’s a lot messier on the Kindle.) The other day, I was sitting and reading beside my husband and I turned off my Kindle and set it aside. He looked over at me and asked, “You okay?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I just need a minute. It’s too tense.”
He smirked at me.
I picked up and tried to read again. But nope. It was too much. I ended up setting that book aside and maybe I’ll get back to it another day. (And it isn’t as if it’s a thriller or even romantic suspense. It was just a very high-angst sweet romance.)
It got me to thinking that maybe I wasn’t alone in needing some lower drama, lower angst recommendations. I think the current trend toward romcoms might be an attempt to provide this, but I’m offering books that don’t necessarily fit that description just in case you, like me, struggle to find books that fall in line with your sense of humor.
So here are some books (or series) that give you all the swoony, romantic feels without the nail-biting, stomach-twisting angst.
The Sweet Home Billionaires by Hannah Jo Abbott — small, southern town meets billionaires with big hearts.
The Billionaire’s Secret by Meghann Whistler — a sweet, faith-filled story here, don’t let the billionaire scare you.
Destination: Romance by Amy R. Anguish — what’s better than a road trip with friends and some romance along the way?
Nowhere for Christmas by Heather Gray — hands down my favorite Christmas romance. Laugh out loud funny (to me, at least) with strong faith. Generally, I’d say Heather’s books are low angst so you really can’t go wrong.
The Love in Store series by Autumn Macarthur – Delightful, faith-filled romances set in London (so bonus travel abroad here).
Most of the Bloom Sisters series by Tara Grace Ericson — I say most, because Longing for Lily probably edges into medium to high drama from subject matter alone.
I could go on, but I should probably stop there. I’d love to hear from you! Who’s your go-to author when you need those sappy, swoony romances without the high drama mixed in? (Or maybe you love all the angst? Tell us your favorite, high-angst author!)