It seems nearly every Christian romance novel I've read has one main character who is a Christian from the beginning, and one who is not. Yet, they still date. What strikes me even more is how often the Christian is the one pursuing the relationship. It just seems funny to me given that I’ve never met one person who thinks “missionary dating” is wise. Sad thing is, many of the books like this address some valid issues. It’s common for the non-Christian to have some doubts about God’s existence and such. I frequently find myself thinking if the author separated that story line from the romance story, they would be two decent books. Reading these, I also find myself thinking, “You know, Christian couples do have other situations in their lives that would make the story worth telling.”
Another issue I have is how many of these novels have rather racy scenes in them. They are what I have dubbed “pre-erotica”. It’s almost as if some of these books were written for those women who are curious about erotica, or want to read it, but feel they shouldn’t. These stories get as close to the line of erotica as they can without kicking themselves out of the Christian category. Pushing boundaries isn’t the best idea in real life - I don’t know why putting it in a book would make it any better.
Then there is the fact that it seems half of the romance books in the Christian section of the bookstore have an Amish setting. I personally have not read any of these. I tried one once and couldn't get into it, and I've just never picked up another one. I'm not saying they are all bad - perhaps I just tried one of the lesser quality ones.. I'm sure part of the reason this setting is so popular is that purity is expected within that culture. Thinking of that, though, makes me shake my head - purity isn't supposed to be an Amish thing, it's supposed to be a Christian thing.
Finally, you have those “Christian” novels which barely mention God. More often than not, it seems to me that the authors just wanted their stories to fall into this category, so they toss in a few uses of the word “God” here and there, and call it a day. This doesn’t make or break the romance story, but it doesn’t add anything of substance to it, either.
Of course, some have more than one of these tropes. Maybe they should get credit for at least mixing and matching.
I currently have a story idea in my head that would be Christian romance, but wouldn’t contain any of the above tropes. Perhaps I’ll write it someday. (Probably not, though.)