I was once book-shamed by a fellow librarian for reading romance novels.
I borrowed Wrong to Need You, the second installment in the sexy Forbidden Hearts trilogy. A coworker saw the book’s cover, which featured a buff, tattooed, shirtless East Asian man and a beautiful South Asian woman in an embrace.
She scoffed and said, “He looks like a bad boy!”
I replied, “That’s the point!” What I didn’t say was that the man on the cover reminded me of a past lover.
As a librarian, I believe that people should read whatever they want and wouldn’t let her scorn deter me. I went on to devour the novel in two days.
Romance novels may lead you to think of cheesy paperbacks for sale at drugstores with covers depicting women with heaving bosoms in the arms of men that look like Fabio. (It’s true: Fabio was featured on many romance novels covers in the 1980s and 90s.) However, the romance genre is expanding and includes a story for most everyone.
My personal preference is contemporary and sexy. If those qualities aren’t calling you, I recommend visiting Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a website dedicated to the wide world romance novels. Goodreads and Amazon are great resources, too.
In this next installment of Librarian Read, I am sharing a few romance authors whose books I’ve read and enjoyed, that I hope you will too.
I mentioned Alisha Rai and her Forbidden Hearts series above, which spurred judgment by a colleague and the retelling of the story above. The tagline on Rai’s website is “All the Heat, All the Heart,” which is an accurate description of her work. Rai’s books include people with flaws navigating relationships and having hot sex. Her characters have faced real-life issues like depression, emotional abuse, and workplace harassment, making them relatable to the reader.
Choice read: The Right Swipe, out in August, which begins a new series called Modern Love.
Most of Jasmine Guillory’s books are set in California and you can feel California through her words; it makes me almost want to leave Jersey City for the West Coast… almost. Her writing is fun and her characters are multilayered. What I love most about Guillory’s books is she writes female friendships well - what is life without friends who are there for you and understand you? You will want to hang out with her characters, even the villains.
Choice read: The Proposal, which Reese Witherspoon chose for her Hello Sunshine book club in February 2019.
Helen Hoang discovered in her thirties that she is on the autism spectrum and her experience as an aneurotypical woman informs her writing. Her first book, The Kiss Quotient, features a woman on the spectrum and is unlike any romance I have read before. I learned a lot about how people on the spectrum uniquely approach life and relationships. Reading books by and about people who are different than you is the best way to grow and expand your point of view.
Choice read: The Kiss Quotient. See it before it hits the big screen - the film rights for this book have been sold.
Alexa Martin’s high school sweetheart and now husband went on to play football in the NFL. Being an athlete’s wife makes her well qualified to write her Playbook series, which follows the lives of women and the athletes they love. If your favorite way to unwind is watching shows that bring the drama with a capital D, you will enjoy this series as it explores dating and loving famous professional athletes. And don’t worry, with the drama comes the sexy stuff.
Choice read: Intercepted. Look for the #hashtags that represent Marlee’s thoughts throughout the book.
These books are perfect for reading on vacation or staycation, whatever your plans are. Find them at your local bookstore and library. If you’re new to the romance genre, these authors and their novels are definitely a good place to start.
I’d love to know if you read any of these books. Share in the comments
Kerry Weinstein is a Jersey City-based librarian and book lover. She believes in spreading the word about the positive impact libraries have on their communities. She always has a book with her - either a print book or the Kindle app on her iPhone. She founded and leads the Lady Memoir Book Club, based at Little City Books in Hoboken. You can follow Kerry on Instagram where she posts photos of her book reviews written on sticky notes.