It’s almost time for Thanksgiving in America, and people across the country will soon practice the age-old tradition of going around the table to express what they’re thankful for this year.

Well, I’m not gonna do that. But I have been thinking about some of the romances that have either changed my life for the better, or have brought me immense joy in this year of ridiculousness.

An Extraordinary Union

Alyssa Cole
Kensington
March 28th, 2017

cover of An Extraordinary Union

If you follow me anywhere online, you know that I will not shut up about An Extraordinary Union. While I probably couldn’t recite any text from the book from memory, the feelings evoked upon reading have stayed with me nearly a year later. I rarely read Civil War novels, but this one intrigued me from the start because it stars a black female spy, based on a real person, who has an eidetic memory. Even before I read the description, I saw the cover. Man. That cover. It was everything most of us have ever dreamed about. But in the end, this is my go-to recommendation to people from all walks of life because of its combination of so many great things: the love story, the spy story, the setting, and the approach to that setting that is enhanced by its focus on a black main character written by a black female author.

(I’m also thankful that we’re sheer days away from the release of A Hope Divided, the second book in the series.)

Interborough

Santino Hassell
Riptide Publishing
October 24th, 2017

cover of Interborough

One of these days, I’m going to write an ode to the Boroughverse. But for now, I have to talk about how much reading Interborough meant to me. While Interborough is the fourth novel in Santino Hassell’s Five Boroughs series, it is also the second book in the series about the same queer couple, which sets it apart from most romances. This one focuses on the work a couple has to do to make things work. Sometimes love isn’t enough, and there are other commitments that have to happen for the sake of the relationship. Everything about this book was fantastic: the characters, their growth, the obstacles, how they were (sort of) overcome, and the promise of something more in the future.

Hamilton’s Battalion

Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole
Courney Milan
October 17th, 2017

You’re going to think I’m a broken record, but I just can’t shut up about Hamilton’s Battalion. An awesome trio of romance, this collection takes a topic that will sell — anything related to Hamilton — and gives us three stories that stand on their own just fine, but are absolute magic together. The three couples in this book never truly meet, but are bound together by the efforts of Eliza Hamilton and her continuing need for more information so that she can Tell Their Story. 

Trade Me

Courtney Milan
Courtney Milan
January 19th, 2015

cover of Trade Me

I swear I read more than the same five authors, but I have to say that Trade Me, which was written by Hamilton’s Battalion author Courtney Milan, is still one of the most memorable contemporaries for me this year. While not the first own voices romance I’ve read featuring a protagonist of Asian descent, it was the first one I’d read where her identity was a significant matter to the plot. Reading a book that is able to seriously approach the issues of race, poverty, immigrating to the US, and working your way through it all, while also having the silliness of a “let’s switch lives” situation and everything involved in a Jobs-esque product reveal, is the perfect way to keep yourself occupied and have some joy during the holidays.

Treasure

Rebekah Weatherspoon
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
October 13th, 2014

cover of Treasure

Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Treasure is another one of those books that I probably couldn’t quote, mainly because I devoured it at such a breakneck pace that everything I consumed just went through me and the nutrients settled right in my soul. This romance between two young black women in college is the perfect pick-me-up on a cold, rainy day, and it makes life better for a bit. It’s also short enough that you can just go back to the beginning and start over if you really want to.

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What romances are you thankful for having near you in 2017?

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