Kissing Books

Lift Every Voice

Hello again! Hope that the rest of the week went well for you. I am doing fine myself because the weather is so nice that you wouldn’t even know that last week my city was effectively shut down due to the snow storm. Thanks again for the outpouring of love, support, prayers, and well wishes that were directed towards us here; it was very much appreciated. My heart goes out to those who have extensive damages that they didn’t or may not have been prepared for. And it goes out even more for those who lost loved ones during this time, since I know that is a difficult thing to go through.

Since I spent most of last weekend mentally recovering from the snowstorm, I missed the rumblings in the romance world when they were happening, and spent Sunday trying to catch up on the major drama that went down.

And I’ll be honest with y’all, I grappled with if I should bring it back up. One reason is that it was a powder keg that would require delicate treatment. Another is that I’m, or was in some cases, subscribed to a number of the panelists that were involved and have my own mixed feelings on how it all went down. Ultimately though, I realized that I had to take that aspect out, since it is still Romance news with topics that need to be addressed.

The Black Prose Club held a live stream romance panel over on their YouTube channel. While the title may have read as just romance, based on the history of the channel and panelists, the intention was to showcase and uplift Black Romance Authors. It started off well enough, but soon fell apart when the question of what actually defined Black Romance was raised. The first panelist to speak answered perfectly; it is a romance written by a Black author involving one or more Black people in love with a HEA or an HFN ending. This has always been widely accepted to be the correct definition of the genre.

Once that statement was made though, there was little talk of Black romance afterwards, and it was almost dismissed entirely. That’s a problem because the panel should have worked to lift up all types of Black romances, be it straight, poly, LGBTQ, or any other sub-genre. But it didn’t happen. In fact, there were a lot of damaging and disparaging things said about Black romance. For all the talk that Black people are not a monolith, it came across that this was the case for Black romance. Which rightfully upset a lot of people.

Besides the fact that this romance panel hosted and led by Black women had little to no talk about Black romance, the problem that Romancelandia had is that this isn’t the first time some of these panelists have made what are viewed as inflammatory statements against Black romance. And honestly? Some of the comments did come across that way. And that’s not okay, especially in this month on a panel that seemed designed to do just the opposite.

Most of the panelists admit that they didn’t actively read or seek out Black romance either, which also left a bit of a sour taste. More work could have been done to find BookTubers who primarily read Black romance or, at the very least, read more than some of the panelists here. What we ended up with were discussions on dark romance, specifically of the Mafia variety, and monster smut. And, while part of that is on the hosts, the panelists need be held accountable too. If they knew that this wasn’t a subject that they could speak at length on, they should have bowed out of the panel.

Multiple mistakes were made by everyone involved, which happens since we’re all human, and it could have been handled so much better. The next day, the hosts came out with another live stream, taking ownership and accountability, as well as promising that they were going to do better next time. Most of the panelists were there in that live stream, and apologized for their hurtful words as well as on social media. So, they stepped up, owned up and are working to do better. And for those that have done that, I believe some credit is due.

With all that in mind, I’m going to end with my recommendations for the week. In keeping with my earlier statements, I’m going to recommend indie Black romances to uplift these voices. I know this is something that I need to work on myself and will work to boost the signals here with authors.

cover of A Taste of Her Own Medicine by Tasha L. Harrison

A Taste of her Own Medicine by Tasha L. Harrison

This is an age gap romance between the recently divorced Sonja and Atlas, the teacher for the entrepreneur class she enrolled in. This was a quick read with a lot of banter and steamy build up between the two. I did enjoy the spin on the age gap as well as the confidence that Sonja developed through the story, plus that Atlas was consistently supportive of her in all her endeavors. This was a good example of a believable relationship that I would classify as a HFN.

Layover by Katrina Jackson

This is a short quick read but wow does it pack an amazingly sweet emotional punch. It follows travel blogger Lena in a 24-hour delay where she meets up with Tony, a podcaster she has been talking to online over the last few months. Even though their meeting is sweet, their connection is real and their story has a wonderful HFN ending.

One. Two. Three. Love. By Tuesday Harper

This is a polyamorous story about the relationship between Camille, Draya, and Mack. While all of them want the same peace, balance, and love in their relationship, do they have what it takes to put in the work to ensure that it happens? I haven’t read this one yet personally, but it sounds like another emotionally driven read that will leave you wanting more.

This is of course not a comprehensive list, but hopefully it helps to open the doors for you to other authors in this apparently still overlooked genre. I hope that we all can move on from here and continue to grow. As always, feel free to follow me over on Twitter under @PScribe801. Until next time.