The romance genre sometimes gets a bad rap. Is it because of the book covers with people missing various pieces of clothing? Or maybe it’s the genre’s “predictibility”? (Which, I might point out, is common in many genres. Mystery book? I’ll bet the mystery is solved by the end.) These reasons may be valid, but regardless, I’m here to convince you that dipping your toes into romance is well worth your time. Especially if you want to complete your Read Harder Challenge!
One of the 24 tasks of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge is to read a romance by or about a person of color. The romance genre has many subgenres, and so there’s sure to be something out there for everyone. All of these books will fulfill task 10 of the challenge.
Historical romance is one of my favorite subgenres– each time period has slightly different social customs, dress and, of course, historical events to explore. “An Extraordinary Union” by Alyssa Cole is one such historical romance, and it takes place during the Civil War. Elle Burns, a former slave, returns to the South as a spy for the Union. Malcolm McCall is a member of the Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Together, Elle and Malcolm infiltrate a rebel enclave and what they discover, besides an undeniable attraction for each other, could lead to the Union losing ground in the war. There is a sequel to this book, which is good news since you’ll surely be wanting more of Cole’s delightful writing.
If your historical interests tend towards the wild west, look no further. Beverly Jenkins‘ “Forbidden” takes place after the Civil War in the small mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. Eddy is heading out to California to start her own restaurant when she is robbed and left to die in the desert. Rhine, a former slave whose skin is light enough that he can pass as white, rescues her and brings her into town. Their feelings for each other grow, but their love is forbidden because they seem to be of different races. The characters are vivid, the story steamy without being explicit, and the historical context thoughtful.
Coming back to the present time, “North to You” by Tif Marcelo follows Camille, who’s attempting to balance being the sole guardian of her younger sister with her business of running a food truck. When her high school sweetheart Drew appears back in her life, she doesn’t have time for him, as much as she may wish she did. Drew himself is working with limited time as he’s set to deploy soon. The two deal with conflicts of interest and conflicts with each other, as they try to figure out the feasibility their rekindled relationship. This one will appeal to foodies and lovers of San Francisco, as the city becomes more of a character than a setting.
Fantasy lovers should check out this more subtle romance, which happens to be by one of my favorite authors, N.K. Jemisin. “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” is Jemisin’s debut, and follows Yeine, who is suddenly pulled out of her calm, rural life and shoved into a new one in the beautiful city of Sky, where mythical gods are now submissive to mortal humans. While there’s a great many things happening throughout this novel, the budding romance between Yeine and one of the troubled gods adds even more complexity, without overwhelming the story line.
If none of these titles interest you, or perhaps they interest you so much, you simply need more, check out this list in our catalog for even more romances by or about people of color. Happy reading!