Romance novel suggestions, similar to Danielle Steel?
April 25, 2013 1:57 PM   Subscribe

My grandmother is in her 80s, but loves romance books, especially Danielle Steel. She's gotten several of the Harlequin Intrigue, etc series, but says that there's too much sex in them. She prefers the Danielle Steel books because of the plot (I think?). Can you suggest any other authors/books?

She especially liked a recent Danielle Steel book about the Amish, I think, but when I look up "Amish Romance" on Amazon, I find a lot of "will I stay or will I go?" sorts of books, which she might like, but I'm not sure.

She does not want anything in the paranormal romance category, which is about as close as I sometimes come to romance books, nor does she want anything with kink in it (from what she's said in the past - she considers all that stuff to be "weird").
posted by needlegrrl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
does she already know Maeve Binchy?
posted by ipsative at 1:57 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I really like Sophie Kinsella's books. Light and breezy and no porno-sex. She also wrote as Madeline Wickham.

I'm all about the chick lit, and I think she'll like these. They're not as DRAMAZ as Danielle Steele, but they're not dirty.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:07 PM on April 25, 2013

If she wants the sex to be more "fade-to-black" maybe try regency romances? The early 19th century setting tends to imply more discretion.
posted by Wretch729 at 2:10 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nora Roberts. I don't remember them having so much sex. But it's been a while since I've read her stuff . . .
posted by Sassyfras at 2:14 PM on April 25, 2013

Judith Krantz, especially "Mistral's Daughter" and "Princess Daisy." Also "The Thorn Birds" of course. Same ilk as Danielle Steele but more interesting, I think.
posted by nkknkk at 2:15 PM on April 25, 2013

If you can get her hooked on Nora Roberts, you're golden - she will never, ever run out of books. The older romance reading ladies who come to the bookstore where I work are very fond of Sherryl Woods, Robin Carr and Debbie Macomber, so you might want to give any of those a try. None of them are racy at all - actually, I got a huge kick out of watching a coworker talk an older customer out of the 50 Shades books the other day by saying, "But I know you like to read Robin Carr! These books are kind of like the exact opposite of Robin Carr - the anti Robin Carr."

Amish romances are an actual Christian romance category and there are lots of them. Beverly Lewis is probably the best known of the authors but there are a ton and more being published every day. Some seniors also enjoy the Heartsong and Love Inspired series romances - they're similar to Harlequins but Christian and basically sex free as I understand it.

Not super romance-y but also very sort of calm and popular with octogenarians - try Dorothea Benton Frank, Kristin Hannah and Miss Read, who writes these strange British village life books in which exactly nothing, but nothing, ever happens at all yet they are soothing.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:18 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Most romances being published these days have a fair bit of sexual content. If she's uncomfortable with that, maybe try getting her some older books? Emilie Loring and Georgette Heyer are two authors who were very prolific and don't have sex scenes.

I get most of my grandmother's romance reading from public library booksales, which are a good way to stock up on large quantities of older romance reading.
posted by pie ninja at 2:22 PM on April 25, 2013

I'm here to also recommend Regency romances! Look for the shorter ones published by Signet and Avon--those lines no longer run but there's quite a good back catalog easily found in used bookstores. The longer ones, the historicals, often have a lot more sex.
posted by so much modern time at 2:27 PM on April 25, 2013

Sweet/clean romance thread on Goodreads. Note: there's a fair amount of lingo in that thread, but a lot of good suggestions for publishers and publisher lines (like HQ's "Romance", not to be confused with "Super Romance" line) that are by definition low- or no-sex.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:36 PM on April 25, 2013

I hear there are a lot of romance books written by religious people that have very little sex in them- just the run up. If she doesn't mind some god in them, that might be a place to look.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:37 PM on April 25, 2013

Harlequin has lines that are no-sex or little sex or explicitly religious, etc. (Like, they have guidelines for writers for how many times the characters can kiss in a book. Stuff like that.) Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense might be good. They also have an entire Wholesome category that I think assembles the no-sex books from various categories (international intrigue, suspense, cowboys, etc).

Romance novels are incredibly democratic in that there's usually something for everyone with very little judgment.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:42 PM on April 25, 2013

When I worked as a librarian I would sometimes go to Novelist for genres that I didn't read actively myself (romance being one of those). Here is their entry on Danielle Steel. Along with that is a list of read-alikes:
Although her books feature more ordinary women, Barbara Delinsky's stories will please those Steel fans who do not require the brand names and details of elegant living. Like Steel, her titles are romantic, but the focus is more on women and issues in their lives. A Woman's Place includes typical Steel dilemmas, as a career woman and good mother must battle her ex-husband's lies to gain custody of her children.

Some readers remember Barbara Taylor Bradford for her immensely satisfying sagas, written in the 80s and 90s. More recently, however, she has followed the example of Steel and others and focused more on stories of Women's Lives and Relationships. Rich and famous trappings, along with strong working women protagonists and their emotional stories, and similar writing style make her an excellent choice for Steel's fans, even though she adds occasional touches of Suspense. Try A Sudden Change of Heart, which features medical and emotional trauma.

Eileen Goudge presents younger characters -- as Steel did in her earlier titles -- but they are similarly engaging as they battle obstacles to their happiness. Several of her titles add touches of Mystery and Suspense, elements not frequently found in Steel, but the overall effect -- the tone and reader reactions to characters -- is the same. Trail of Secrets offers the trappings of wealth as well as an appealing story.

Family stories, wealth, relationships, and a strong young woman facing adversity feature in many of Fern Michaels' contemporary stories. Steel readers will relate to the characters, the issues that drive the plot, and the tone. Try Kentucky Rich, the first in her Kentucky series.

Steel's legion fans should also be introduced to Nicholas Sparks and his contemporary, romantic, emotional stories of love lost and found. Although he sets his novels in small towns, away from the bright lights and brand names, they touch on the same heartfelt dilemmas. Try A Bend in the Road, which reconstructs a family from a small boy and two individuals, damaged by love and life.
Each of those authors has a linked page of their own with more read-alikes (some duplicates, of course), but may be useful to guide your search.

There are also series of books like Harlequin but tailored to more chaste tastes. I can't remember the series name off hand, however.
posted by codacorolla at 2:56 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Goodreads is another good place to look for "readalikes" - over on the right-hand side of a page like the one I linked to it will say "Readers also enjoyed similar books." I've found some good romances that way (but my tastes don't really run to Danielle Steel, so I have no good recs for your grandmother).
posted by mskyle at 3:08 PM on April 25, 2013

If she has not already read them, Georgette Heyer Regency romances have been re-issued. My aunt loved them. Anya Seton historical romances are old but good too, much higher quality than Danielle Steele, and not racy.
posted by mermayd at 3:15 PM on April 25, 2013

Betty Neels wrote a ton of books - they all end with nothing more than a kiss. My grandmother also loved Janette Oke novels; they are Christian themed but not as pushy about it as some of the more modern examples of the genre.
posted by cessair at 4:37 PM on April 25, 2013

I am in favor of Nora Roberts and Maeve Binchy and Sophie Kinsella and Debbie Macomber! I came in to say several of those!

The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, which is the first of a trilogy about the life of Napoleon's Empress Josephine, is in the same mental category for me, even though it's a literary-ish historical fiction epic. It's gripping, relationship-focused, and reads fast; everyone I know who likes Danielle Steel and Maeve Binchy has LOOOOOOOOOOOVED it even if they're not historical fiction readers usually. It may or may not be her thing, but people just adore it. (Including me!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:50 PM on April 25, 2013

Rosamund Pilcher is kind of in the same line as Binchy.

Grace Livingston Hill is an option - VERY conservative, the most exciting thing that happens is that at the very end of the book the main character's hands accidentally brush and both "find the contact sweet." And then they get married.

Daphne du Marier is fun. Some sex, but generally pretty classy.
posted by bunderful at 6:02 PM on April 25, 2013

Uh, Judith Krantz includes quite graphic sex in her books.
posted by brujita at 1:33 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think there's a genre called 'gentle reads' or 'cosy' - the latter mostly mysteries - which might be worth looking at. Jan Karon is one of the names that came up when I happened to be reading about them on Wikipedia the other day. There are a ridiculous number of themed cosy mystery novels out there - series based on crochet, cheese, chocolate, cats, and other things that don't begin with C - which might fit the romance theme as well - but I get the impression they are written for readers who don't much care for graphic sex and violence.

I have a thing for small-town America novels and I did enjoy Adriana Trigiani's Big Stone Gap series, which IIRC didn't have any explicit sex in them. They're set in Appalachia which might interest her if the Amish theme did.

'Sagas' are very popular with her age group in the UK - Barbara Taylor Bradford, Catherine Cookson etc.
posted by mippy at 6:49 AM on April 26, 2013

For God's sake, do not give her Scruples (by Judith Krantz.) We used to read it aloud in our dorm rooms in high school and giggle at the very raunchy sex scenes.

I've read some Nora Roberts lately, and there is definitely sex in them, but I don't think it's filthy or anything. Probably along the same lines as Danielle Steele.
posted by pyjammy at 10:04 AM on April 26, 2013

You might try the Power Search at All About Romance. In the right column, under Sensuality, select Kisses or Subtle. Beneath that, under Book Type, select Romance or Women's Fiction.
posted by ohshenandoah at 5:46 PM on April 26, 2013

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