Kissing Books

Romance Has a Race Problem

Well, since we last spoke, romance twitter has been calling out the racism in romance that so many authors have not felt the confidence to speak of before. Having never gone to the RWA national conference and having only ever gone to one chapter meeting for my local RWA, and of course, having never made any attempt to publish, I don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute.

Sponsored by Flatiron Books

Following two sisters in their pursuit of passion and independence, this is a genre-bending novel that is part coming-of-age, part historical fiction, with elements of mystery and paranormal. When one of the sisters goes missing, the other must put aside her books to find her–and start living.

So here are some words:

This is just the tippy tip top of the iceberg, and I recognize that three of the people I’ve listed here are not black women. If you’d like to read more (because it’s exhausting, painful, and uncomfortable work that needs to be done), I’ve retweeted countless other stories of what it’s like to be black in romance. Just hit my twitter feed and start scrolling (there is also some other, much more fun stuff, which you probably need). These tweets include some stories, yes, but their authors are often engaging white readers to help do something about it. If this is you, take their words to heart, and see how you can contribute to the breaking of the cycle.

This is not the end of this story, and I imagine you’ll be hearing more about it from me as things evolve. Which we hope they will, because we’ve apparently been here before. (RWA made a statement about diversity and inclusion in 2016, which has different goals than their 2018 statement, and members of the board have spoken to that statement, but I don’t know what has been done in practice.)

In other news, which muse are you? I got Thalia, the muse of Comedy. Here’s what it says:

When it comes to romance novels, your taste runs to biting dialogue, witty remarks and ridiculous plots. The more over the top it is, the more cutting the criticisms characters make, the more helplessly everything goes wrong, the better.

If you’ve seen any of my book reviews ever, you know they are…very much not wrong.

And speaking of over the top and cutting criticisms, have you seen the cover for Jasmine Guillory’s new book, The Proposal? I can’t wait!

Also, let’s celebrate NPR’s most recent coverage of Alisha Rai. NPR is doing Good Work.

Finally: Harlequin date videos are back. This one isn’t as hilarious as the Viking or the Highlander, but I still enjoyed it a very great deal. Though with A Princess in Theory (I know, that’s not Harlequin) and books like Therese Beharrie’s Falling for his Convenient Queen, they missed their opportunity to throw in a little bit of not-white-ness. (Though of course, with Kimani closing and only a portion of their authors being signed to other series, who knows what they’re thinking over there.)


Invaluable by Alana Albertson is 99 cents.

K.M. Jackson’s Through the Lens is 3.99.

Deliver Me, the first book in Farrah Rochon’s Holmes Brothers series, is FREE right now.

Savannah J. Frierson’s Reconstructing Jada Channing is 3.99.

Feud by Phyllis Bourne is 2.99.

Over on Book Riot

Bookworm on Tinder? It’s like a romance novel come to life. Or something.

Sonja makes us really glad we have access to huge amounts of romances wherein this doesn’t happen.

We’re excited about some books coming out this month, including some good-looking romances.

Have you seen Rah’s list of affirming trans books? Good books in all categories.


Here are some books I’ve recently finished or am reading right now and have every intention of finishing someday, when I’m not wildly busy. Three of them are non-Regency, US-set historicals, and the last is a queer retelling of a classic. If either of those are your jam, you’re in for a treat.

The Doctor’s Discretion
EE Ottoman

This historical romance, written by a trans author, features two doctors—one black, one white—in nineteenth-century New York. They have been hired to catalog a deceased doctor’s library, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that they are ridiculously attracted to one another, and after an evening together one doctor enlists the other to assist him in saving a patient. This is not the conventional style of saving, though; this patient, on the verge of imprisonment, would first have to undergo the most intrusive analysis imaginable by the hospital’s senior doctors and other interested parties from all around, all because he lives as a man but has the body of a woman. It’s a quick, surprisingly light read. Also, you’ll learn a lot about mid-nineteenth-century medicine.

Night Song
Beverly Jenkins

When I picked this up, I didn’t realize that it was a reprint of Beverly Jenkins’s first novel. This is where the original Henry Adams story lives. Our heroine, who grew up in Georgia before, during, and after the Civil War, joins the earliest part of the Great Migration and joins one of many black communities in Kansas. She isn’t too keen on the hero, in part because he is a cocky bastard, but also because he wears Union Blues—the same color as the men who killed her grandfather in cold blood and destroyed her family home. But they’re growing on each other.

Let Us Dream
Alyssa Cole

I know. I KNOW. What took me so long, right? It’s been sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to pick it up. This story first appeared in Daughters of a Nation, an anthology featuring multiple novellas about women fighting for women’s suffrage. Here, Bertha owns a club in 1917 Harlem. She uses her influence and space to help educate the women who might be gaining the vote, and that same influence to sway the thoughts and minds of the men who would be voting for the vote. What she wasn’t expecting is to be so smitten with her new dishwasher, Amir, an Indian immigrant who wants more rights for people like him.

Pride and Porters
Charlotte Greene

I’ve only just started this book, and the writing is a little off-putting, but I can’t resist a good Pride and Prejudice retelling. This one particularly stuck out as one that features a lesbian (f/f, wlw, whichever way you want to say it) romance. Erin and her sister Jen run a brewery in a small city in Colorado, and Charlie Betters is looking to learn more about the trade. Charlie’s friend Darcy is…not a great person. She’s a snob who might say she’s looking out for her friend, but she’s also more than a bit of an asshole. But people can change, right?

New and Upcoming Releases

Still Loving You by Sheryl Lister

Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone

Cheeky Prince by Nana Malone

The Thief by JR Ward (April 10)

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren (April 10)

As usual, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!