When Dr. Georgia Young realizes she’s stuck in ‘cruise’ mode with no target destination, she slams on the breaks and calls a time out to re-evaluate her life and the choices that have led her to it. Her daughters, ex-husbands, mother, colleague and best friends worry that she’s lost her mind, but Georgia is over prioritizing the opinions of others above her own. She commits to overhauling her life and being intentional about making choices that revitalize and feed her spirit. The death of a university crush also inspires her to seek out all men she has loved over the years with the goal of letting them know that they mattered. Terry McMillan’s 2016 novel is a story of reinvention and second chances and it challenges all of us to consider whether we are living our most optimal life or simply going through the motions.
One of my favourite books this year has been ‘The Comeback’ by Lily Chu. It’s a sweet, romantic comedy about a workaholic, corporate lawyer – Ariadne Hui – whose life is upended when her roommate invites her gorgeous cousin to stay in their small apartment. Unknown to Ari, the quiet, artistic South Korean guy loafing on her couch is one of the biggest k-pop musicians in the world. Lily Chu has created two compelling, charming characters whose growing relationship propels them to liberate themselves from the expectations of others and discover what they really want from life. It’s a joyful, thrilling ride of a story that I whipped through in record time.
A second chance romance about two successful writers – Eva Mercy and Shane Hall – who survived brutal childhoods and an epic romance that ultimately crashed and burned in their teens.
The interwebs tell me August was Romance Awareness Month. Although we’ve missed that delightful bus, I offer up this sparkly selection of romance novels because (1) we should celebrate romance every day (2) we’re going to need some tingly happiness to handle the annual slide from flip flops and ice cream to hot chocolate and falling leaves. Give yourself an extra challenge and try an author you haven’t read before.
Indian-American writer, Sonali Dev has layered her warm romcom style, accomplished heroines and Indian culture into two of Jane Austen’s most famous novels with marvelous results.
On a bright April day last year, I managed to grab a quick lunch with Sareeta Domingo. She’d whittled an hour out of her fiercely busy schedule to chat with me. To be safe, we ate at the Pret a Manger off London Bridge, a short walk from the Harlequin Mills & Boon office where she works as an editor. When we spoke on that April day, Domingo was a published author with a romance novel (The Nearness of You) and an erotic novella (The Confessional Diaries of a Girl in Town) under her belt. In the months since that interview she has released Love, Secret Santa, a sweet Christmas romance for teens, cued up Love on the Main Stage – a summer romance for teens – for release this month, she has a July novel coming as part of Jacaranda’s 20 for 2020 campaign called, If I Don’t Have You, and she’s worked with a clutch of remarkable writers (including Dorothy Koomson, Daniellé Dash and Sara Jafari) on a new anthology celebrating women of …
“When I was younger, I wrote stories with white heroines. I thought, ‘If I want to be published, this is what I’ll have to do. No one wants to read about black people.’” Romance writer Talia Hibbert is talking about her protagonists. Specifically, about the effort it took to stop imagining them as thin, white women and write characters who looked like her. “I grew up reading all these romances that I loved and they were so important, but they were also the kind of books that said, ‘His hand looked so dark against her pearlescent blah, blah, blah.’” She rolls her eyes and smiles.
At one point in 2017 it felt like Alyssa Cole’s name was coming at me from every direction. She’d pop up in every Twitter discussion that even vaguely mentioned a romance must-read list, whether the sub category was contemporary, historical or science fiction. During my 10 leagues deep obsession with the Hamilton musical I discovered Cole had contributed to a romance anthology called Hamilton’s Battalion, set during the founding father’s assault on Yorktown. She appeared on Shonda Rhimes’ culture website shondaland.com sharing book recommendations and she was splashed all over the Smart Bitches Trashy Books review website. Yet, despite the universe’s insistence that I read her work, it was the cover design for her novel, A Princess in Theory that finally made me pay attention. Many black authors have talked about the problems they experience creating appealing book covers for their work. Issues range from difficulties finding stock photography that feature black models, to publishing houses that woefully misrepresent the characters the author has created. Therefore, whenever I spot a good black book cover my …
Last year my mother’s secondary school friend came to spend Christmas with us. We were settled in the living room, slumped in the obligatory post-turkey coma-haze, when this five-times-a-day praying, Muslim grandmother pulls out a battered paperback. I could see the cover from across the room, the pert, white woman with flowing hair and translucent billowing gown, clinging to her shirtless, muscled white, male love-interest. The cover design was so typical of Mills & Boon I barely needed the M&B trademark initials they stamp in the corner to identify it. I was so amused to see Aunty retreat into the world of throbbing bosoms and hardened members I had to snap a pic. For posterity.
Despite challenges in the publishing industry, there are oodles of wonderful black romance novels out there. As a primer, I’ve compiled a list of 24 black romance novels that I feel you absolutely must read.