Jill’s Reading Challenge: Diversity

December 31, 2014 Opinion, Reading Guide 15

Last year Meoskop wrote a post that really resonated with me called Reading While White. She challenged white readers to examine the choices we make and be more proactive about seeking out diversity.

I’ve always tried to include diverse characters in my writing, but I wasn’t making it a big enough priority in my reading. Most of the multicultural romance I’d read was by white authors, and it was hit or miss as far as stereotypes. I took a hard look at my Goodreads shelf and saw very few authors of color.

I knew I could do better. I decided to read more diverse books, and not just those written by white people! My effort to broaden my horizons in 2014 turned out better than I expected. I found some really excellent stuff. About half of the books I read in 2014 featured GLBT characters and/or people of color.

Here are my top ten diverse reads this year.


Princess Shanyin1.Princess Shanyin: The Complete Obsession Saga by Liliana Lee aka Jeannie Lin

My favorite of the year! You can read my spoiler-filled Goodreads reviews:
Book 1: The Obsession
Book 2: The Enslavement
Book 3: The Fulfillment

*book 2 includes some scenes I would call dubious consent.


Summer Chaparral  by Genevieve Turner2.Summer Chaparral by Genevieve Turner

This book features a Hispanic heroine, a white cowboy hero, and excellent cultural/setting details. At one point the hero calls the heroine’s father a racial slur. It’s a terrible moment that’s not glossed over or easily forgiven. I loved the way the author portrayed racism as not just something bad people do, but an infection within us all.

Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley3.Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley

Don’t be fooled by the cover, both the hero and heroine are African-American. Adorable setup, good writing, accurate sports details, great banter.

Flower in the Desert by Lavender Parker4.Flower in the Desert by Lavender Parker

I really enjoyed this survival story romance featuring a black heroine and a Native American tracker hero.

His Road Home by Anna Richland5.His Road Home by Anna Richland

Nicely done novella with a disabled vet hero. Both hero and heroine are POC.

Lesbian romance

Hellcat’s Bounty by Renae Jones6.Hellcat’s Bounty by Renae Jones

Blob hunter heroine in space! Loved this one.

Charm City by Mason Dixon7.Charm City by Mason Dixon

This book features two African-American heroines, an underground boxer and an undercover cop, on the mean streets of Baltimore. Gritty and compelling.

Bisexual heroes

Lost In Kakadu by Kendall Talbot8.Lost In Kakadu by Kendall Talbot

The heroine in this novel is a raging bitch who transforms into a gentle sweetheart. I really liked the hero. After his lover dies in a plane crash, he learns how to survive in the jungle.

One Kiss with a Rock Star by Amber Lin & Shari Slade 9.One Kiss with a Rock Star by Amber Lin & Shari Slade

Again, I’m recommending this for the hero. Both the hero and heroine are bisexual.

Honorable Mentions:

Title: Bollywood and the Beast. Author: Suleikha Snyder. A man and a woman embrace. His back is to the camera. She's facing the camera, pulling his shirt down from his left shoulder and kissing that shoulder.Bollywood and the Beast by Suleikha Snyder

SharingSpaceTheCompleteSeriesbyNinaPerezRoommate Wanted by Nina Perez

Out of the Box by Audra NorthOut of the Box by Audra North

Misbehaving by Tiffany ReiszMisbehaving by Tiffany Reisz

Satisfaction by Sarah MayberrySatisfaction by Sarah Mayberry

Thanks for reading my list! Do you have any recs for diverse romance novels?

Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels, including the Aftershock series by HQN. Find her on Twitter or on her website.

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15 Responses to “Jill’s Reading Challenge: Diversity”

  1. SuperWendy

    I’ve got, like, four of these in the immediate TBR! I am so grossly behind it’s not even funny.

    Of the books that I don’t have the TBR already – I’m super intrigued by Charm City and Flower in the Desert. Off to investigate….

  2. Ridley

    A bunch of us on Twitter bought a Flower in the Desert and it looks like a group read is afoot. That 1970s style cover and the $.99 price made it an easy sell.

  3. Jill Sorenson

    @Nu: I think that’s a fair critique. I remember the heroine’s pale skin but it didn’t strike me the same way. The book made my list because I liked it and it features a Brazilian hero. IIRC the race/cultural details were hardly mentioned, so there wasn’t much to find fault with. Also not much to praise on that front.

    It’s interesting because I just read another IR romance (The Carny) with a “painfully white” heroine and it bothered me there.
    I just thought the race issues were portrayed in a clumsy, exaggerated fashion overall. In Satisfaction it was more of a non issue and I felt that the heroine’s paleness was coincidental.

    Thanks for the link and comment.

  4. Tina

    Flower in the Desert was very good. Lavender Parker was my new-to-me author revelation this year.

  5. Las

    I read Charm City last week and I really enjoyed it. It’s also the first time I read a book described as “gritty” that’s actually gritty.

    I have so many of these in my TBR. I need to get to them.

  6. Jill Sorenson

    Your Comment Here…@Las: Wait, what about my books? Not truly gritty? I’ll have to grit harder. ;)

    I’m excited about all the Flower in the Desert love! The cover has such a fun 70s porn vibe. Hope everyone enjoys it.

  7. cleo

    I’ve read three on your list and I own at least one more.

    This year I also decided to consciously diversify my reading, both in terms of stories and authors, and to keep track of my reading, with mixed results. I read about 100 books by about 100 authors. Of those, about 10% of the authors were queer and about 10% were AOC (that I know of). (My numbers may be slightly off – I read a couple big box set anthology things with a lot of unknown to me authors and I haven’t bothered to look them all up).

    I was hoping for more dramatic results, but I think it will just take time for me to build a more diverse list of favorite authors. I was closer to 30% AOC this spring and then I was laid off and did a lot more comfort reading of familiar things.

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