Love Is in the Air 2021: Even More Romance Recommendations
by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
In February, we're all about romance! We recently released our Book Club episode focusing on Sonali Dev's Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, and this Wednesday, we're releasing our newest episode of romance recommendations, "Love Is in the Air 2021." I can never resist, however, offering even more book ideas. (You know I always want to read all the things.) So, here are some other romance novels I've enjoyed . . . each of these would also work for the "romance by an author of color" category in the Unabridged Podcast Reading Challenge.
Alyssa Cole's How to Catch a Queen - Alyssa Cole is one of my auto-buy romance authors (I talked about her on last year's "Love Is in the Air" post, too!), and I'm always amazed by the different genres she explores in her writing. She's written historical romance, sci fi romance, and—in this case—speculative romance in a near-reality world of her own creation. How to Catch a Queen is the first book in her Runaway Royals series, which is a sort of spin-off of her Reluctant Royals books. Check out my review of How to Catch a Queen here. (Cole would also be a great choice for our Reading Challenge category "Two books by an author in different genres": her book When No One Is Watching is a fabulous thriller that takes on some important social issues, including redlining.)
Helen Hoang's The Bride Test - Helen Hoang is a long-time favorite on the podcast (check out Sara's review of The Kiss Quotient). The Bride Test is her wonderful second novel. In her review on Instagram, Ashley said, "What I loved about this book was that the struggles of both Khai and Esme are extremely difficult (and very different from each other's problems), but they are both believable and relatable. Esme's desire to make a better life not just for herself but for her daughter, her mother, and her grandmother is so pure, and it makes the crazy situation she finds herself in believable.
"And Khai's autism coupled with his grief make his inability to move forward with what seems to be an ideal relationship totally believable. So I guess what I loved is that nothing feels contrived and that the relationships between the characters are so amazing and were a joy to read. I loved Khai's relationship with his brother Quan so much, and I loved the way that Khai's mother looks out for Esme, her 'precious girl,' regardless of how things are going between Esme and her son." Be sure to head over to IG to read the rest of Ashley's review!
Courtney Milan's Trade Me - Milan, like Cole, moves seamlessly between different genres within romance—her historical fiction is fantastic (she has several great series, including The Brothers Sinister), but here I want to focus on her contemporary romance. Milan's Cyclone series is new adult romance and focuses on the family of a software empire. It's compelling and steamy and diverse, and the characters are appealingly nuanced. Milan herself is a great follow on Twitter, and her focus on diversity and equity in the romance industry only made me love her work more.
Alisha Rai's The Right Swipe - Rai is another auto-buy author for me. (Yes, I have a lot of those!) Her current series, Modern Love, focuses on three women who have found success in various tracks of social media—the alternating voices of each love interest offer diverse points of view and diverse identities. Rai is a well-established romance author with several amazing series available (just be aware that these are very open door: Modern Love is steamy but probably earns the fewest fire emojis).
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