Recommended Reads: Multicultural Romance

December 20, 2013 Links, Reading Guide 23

We’re running a little lean lately due to reasons and I don’t have a review to run today. Instead, I’d like to build off the past week’s discussions and collect some recommended authors and books for those looking to add to their bookshelves. I’ll start the list off with books I’ve read or seen recommended. If you leave suggestions in the comments, I’ll add them to the list.

Historical Romance:

  • Beverly Jenkins – Just in case you’ve been under a rock for years and haven’t heard of her.
  • Jeannie Lin – Lin’s books are set in Tang Dynasty China.
  • Zen ChoThe Perilous Life of Jade Yeo] got good reviews at Dear Author and from Heidenkind (the second review is spoilery, BTW.)
  • Amara Royce – Royce has a Victorian coming out soon with a Japanese heroine.

Contemporary Romance:

Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy:

  • Shelly Laurenston – She also writes as G.A. Aiken. Her multicultural books are Go Fetch!, Beast in Him, Beast Behaving Badly, Belong to the Night, About a Dragon, and How to Drive a Dragon Crazy
  • Seressia Glass
  • Alisha Rai – Alisha writes both contemporary and paranormal romance, all on the spicier end of the spectrum.
  • Nalini Singh

Romantic Suspense:

I really don’t read much paranormal romance or romantic suspense, so that’s why those sections are so sad.

Please hit me with some names to add to the list, and we’ll all know where to blow our money after the holidays. ;-)

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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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23 Responses to “Recommended Reads: Multicultural Romance”

  1. rube

    Thanks! Some great writers on the list, and some I’m looking forward to checking out. Bookmarking.

    Caridad Pineiro writes solid romantic suspense and paranormal.

  2. willaful

    You forgot Nalini Singh?

    I just read The Dom Project by Heidi Belleau and Solace Ames and enjoyed it. Review should be up at DA in a few days. Ames is Japanese-American and the story has an Asian-American hero, white heroine. Erotic romance.

  3. Ridley

    Added them all to the list. Can’t believe I forgot Singh. I’ve even read those books.

  4. Heather Massey

    A few off the top of my head:

    K.S. Augustin writes stories that mix hard SF and romance. Can’t go wrong with any of her titles, basically!

    I recently bought books by Deborah A. Bailey and Tatiana Caldwell. Haven’t read them yet, but according to the blurbs they fall under the paranormal/sci-fi romance umbrella.

    Clare Dargin — SFR

    Lisabet Sarai’s Rajasthani Moon is more on the erotic side, but it features PoC characters and a steampunkish Indian setting. She writes in other subgenres, too, but I’m not familiar with her other titles.

  5. nu

    I would add Karyn Langhorne to contemporary, and for paranormal romance, IIRC:

    Allyson James’ Stormwalker heroine is Navajo.
    CE Murphy’s Heart of Stone heroine is biracial.
    SJ Day’s Eve of Darkness heroine is half Japanese.
    Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson is half Blackfoot.
    Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn heroine is Black.
    Sharon Shinn’s Shape of Desire heroine is Latina.
    Ava Gray’s Skin Game hero is Latino.
    Erica Hayes’ Shadowfae hero is Indian.
    Susan Krinard’s Once a Wolf hero is Mexican. Historical.
    Lori Handeland’s Blue Moon and Phoenix books, hero is Native American.
    Christina Dodd’s Storm of Shadows, hero is Native American.
    Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom hero is Black.

  6. Tina

    Angela Henry – writes romantic suspense and mysteries with a strong romantic element. Black female protagonists.

    Crystal Hubbard – Contemporary, primarily writes IR romances with black heroines.

    Ruthie Robinson – Contemporary. Her debut book book Reye’s Gold is a really good New Adult-ish (she is a senior in college, he in law school)

    Nina Perez – Contemporary. a new discovery for me just this week has a serialized novel in six installments called Sharing Spaces. I HATE serialized novels, but she has sucked me in. Probably will end up in my top ten books of the year.

    The late Judith Smith-Levin wrote a police procedural/mystery series called the Starletta Duval series. Also has a very strong romance element. Sadly she passed away before completing the series.

    Shiloh Walker has written several Romantic Suspense with AA heroines: The Missing, The Departed, and “If You Know Her” the third book in the excellent Ash Trilogy.

    Jaycee Clark. Romantic Suspense. Her Deadly series’ 4th book, Deadly Games has an black heroine. She’s a British assassin and I totally pictured her as Freema Agyamen (Martha Jones from Dr. Who) the whole time.

    Jill Brock and Kyra Davis both write wacky, humorous chick-lit/mystery hybrids featuring AA heroines.

  7. Sylvie

    A Jeannie Lin came in the mail today. Picked that up after last week’s discussion. Don’t know how I missed it.

  8. Las

    I just finished Heidi Belleau’s Apple Polisher, an interracial m/m romance with a black Canadian hero. It’s very much a coming of age story, which I’m not usually a fan of but I enjoyed this one.

  9. Isobel Carr

    Carolyn Jewel’s PNR My Immortals Series has IR couples (more explicitly now that she’s self publishing it). Specifically My Darkest Passion and My Forbidden Desire have non-white heroes.

  10. willaful

    I’ve been trying some of Holland’s suggestions and realized I’ve been going down the wrong path, because I’m just not that big a fan of most contemporary romance. I need to check out some of the names in the other categories.

  11. Janine Ballard

    I’ve seen Kathleen Eagle recommended as an author of respectful romances with Native American characters.

    Do Jewish characters count as multicultural or would they fall under a different umbrella? (I’m not being facetious– I really have never figured out where they fit in in these discussions) If they do, I can think of more author names to contribute.

  12. meoskop

    @Janine Ballard: I’ve read Eagle – she’s a mixed bag for me but I’ve liked some of her work.

    The Jewish characters is an interesting question. From a strictly US standpoint I’d say they fit the broader description of multicultural but not the more narrow one generally meant by the term in our conversations. In American culture, Jewish is treated as white. My Jewish relatives easily “pass” for WASP in social and employment situations. So is the cultural divide with a WASP character really very large? If the book was truly centered in Jewish culture, say an inspirational or reform vs orthodox, I’d say yes – because that would be pretty different culturally.

    I’d be interesting in authors that have written a character more centered in the culture than “likes dreidels” – so whatcha got?

  13. Janine Ballard

    @Meoskop it is absolutely true that Jewish is treated as white in many a situation, but I suspect your Jewish relatives have encountered some bigotry in their lifetimes nonetheless. It isn’t anywhere as commonplace or oppressive as what POC encounter, but it’s still there.

    To take situations from my life, people mistake me for Italian-American a lot (my skin is a light olive), but when my husband (then boyfriend’s) grandfather passed away, his WASP grandmother told him that he was welcome at the funeral, but only if he didn’t bring his “Jewish live-in” with him.

    When I was new to this country, a boy in my ESL class told me that his father said it’s too bad the Nazis didn’t finish the job they started and gas all the Jews.

    An emotionally unstable girl my brother broke up with while he was still living at home once painted a swastika on my parents’ door.

    I don’t think this is in any way compares to what POC have to deal with, but IMO to equate Jewish with WASP isn’t accurate either.

    And with regard to romances, despite the fact that Jews pass for white much of the time, the fact remains that Jewish characters (heroes esp.) are still a relative rarity in romance-landia. This leads me to think the stereotype that Jewish men can’t be attractive/appealing is still very much at work in romworld. I’m curious–do you agree with that?

    Back to the topic, the closest thing I can think of to what you’ve requested– the Jewish equivalent of an inspy–is Naomi Ragen’s oeuvre. Ragen writes women’s fiction set among ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities both in the US and in Israel, and therefore steeped in Jewish culture. I haven’t read all of them and of the ones I’ve read, the one I’d most recommend to romance readers is her first novel, Jephte’s Daughter.

    Jephte’s Daughter deals with spousal abuse and sexism within an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem. The American-born heroine enters an arranged marriage in order to please her father and later has to fake her and her young son’s deaths to escape an abusive husband.

    In England, where she moves to, she eventually falls in love with a man who is not only Christian, but takes his religion very seriously, as the heroine does her own. How can this conflict be resolved? I’ll let readers read and see for themselves.

    I’m interested in finding romances with all kinds of Jewish characters, not just deeply religious ones, but I won’t list those here if you don’t think it’s appropriate.

  14. Janine Ballard

    I don’t see a YA category above but for those who love a romantic YA, I recommend Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves. It has a heroine who is both biracial and bipolar, with a love interest who is Latino. This being a paranormal, the heroine’s mental illness isn’t treated in a purely realistic fashion, but it isn’t stigmatized either. I think I graded it in the A range when I reviewed it, and the author is African-American, too.

  15. meoskop

    @Janine Ballard: No, it’s totally appropriate to list those. And yea, absolutely anti-semitism is not invisible nor behind us, no question.

    “This leads me to think the stereotype that Jewish men can’t be attractive/appealing is still very much at work in romworld. I’m curious–do you agree with that?”

    I totally agree with that. When we do see Jewish characters it’s more often women. I think the bias based stereotypes about Jewish men are very much alive and well in our culture. Sexy Rabbi pics totally lose to Sexy Priest pics in the pin up world. People think Rob Reiner not Lenny Kravitz. I’d bet many Jake Gyllenhaal fans are totally unaware of his heritage.

    As far as equating it to the wasp experience – I grew up in an area where being Jewish is more of a bonus than an issue. Moving around, I found how completely atypical that is.

  16. Janine Ballard

    @Meoskop — Even *I* didn’t know that about Jake Gyllenhaal- ha! Shades of Paul Newman.

    As for books, Alisa Kwitney has some good romantic chick lit with happy endings and usually in her books at least one protagonist is Jewish. More typically it’s the heroine but On the Couch had a Jewish cop hero (not a role we often see Jewish men in).

    I have Miss Jacobson’s Journey by Carola Dunn, a trad regency with Jewish characters in the TBR pile but I have not read it yet. I’ve also heard good things about Nita Abrams historical series about a family of Jewish spies.

  17. Liz Mc2

    The post in the pingback above talks about multicultural as including Jewish and other ethnic identities (whereas “inter-racial” or “African-American” for example would be narrower terms).

    I read Dunn’s Miss Jacobson’s Journey and enjoyed (but didn’t love) it, and Jewish culture/identity in their Regency England versions are definitely part of the story.

    I also second (third?) the Karyn Langhorne recommendation. I read A Personal Matter over the holiday and it made my favorite books of 2013 list. I wish her backlist were bigger.

    Thanks for making this list. I plan to keep coming back to it.

  18. Ming

    Hello. I would like to ask if anyone knows of a Harlequin / Silhouette/ M & B book where the hero is a half-Japanese, half-American martial arts instructor and the heroine is American. They both lived in the same apartment building. It was published some time in the 1980s or 1990s. If anyone could help me out, I’d be most grateful. Thank you.

  1. Can we talk about multicultural romance?

    […] far more eloquent than I am today, check out these posts at Love in the Margins: 1 – Recommended Reads: Multicultural Romance 2 – Reading While White (The Finicky Reader) 3 – Multicultural Romance […]