I don’t shy away from how much I adore the Romance genre. There was a part of my life (aka during university) where that was all I could read.
Romances tend to be a safe bet. They’ll evoke happiness. A smile. Pure joy when you come become invested in the characters and their relationships. This genre is my go-to when I’m in a reading slump, when I’m feeling down or when I just want to smile. I know it’s going to cheer me up.
And growing up, I wasn’t reading romance books with characters that looked like me as the main protagonist. The closest book I had was ‘Noughts & Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman and even that had the back drop of racism. I read Meg Cabot, Jacqueline Wilson, Sarah Dessen, Sophie McKenzie and much more. I would have loved a list like this.
So save this list somewhere when you’re seeking a Black romance book! I’ll be updating it whenever I stumble across a new one. I’ll also indicate whether it’s YA or Adult and if it’s steamy or not (if I’ve read it!)
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry – Joya Goffney
Quinn keeps lists of everything – from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears (as well as embarrassing and cringeworthy truths) on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing . . .
An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett – the last known person to have her journal and who Quinn loathes – in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.
Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.
Blackout edited by Dhonielle Clayton
When a heatwave plunges New York City into darkness, sparks fly for thirteen teenagers caught up in the blackout.
A first meeting.
And maybe the beginning of something new…
When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths, love blossoms, friendship transforms and new possibilities take flight.
Seven Days in June – Tia Williams
Eva Mercy is a single mother and bestselling erotica writer who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning novelist, who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up unexpectedly in New York.
When Shane and Eva meet at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their buried traumas, but also the eyebrows of the Black literati. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. While they may be pretending not to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry – or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years.
Over the next seven days, amidst a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect – but Eva’s wary of the man who broke her heart, and wants him out of the city so her life can return to normal. Before Shane disappears though, she needs a few questions answered . . .
The Worst Best Man – Mia Sosa
Adult 18+ (I think)
A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.
Marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning–absolutely off-limits–ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.
If they can nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.
Soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…
Love in Colour – Bolu Babalola
Bolu Babalola finds the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology and rewrites them with incredible new detail and vivacity in this debut collection. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines iconic Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from countries that no longer exist in our world.
Whether captured in the passion of love at first sight, or realising that self-love takes precedent over the latter, the characters in these vibrant stories try to navigate this most complex human emotion and understand why it holds them hostage.
Moving exhilaratingly across perspectives, continents and genres, from the historic to the vividly current, Love in Colour is a celebration of romance in all of its forms.
For All Time – Shanna Miles
Tamar is a musician, a warrior, a survivor. Fayard? He’s a pioneer, a hustler, a hopeless romantic.
Together, Tamar and Fayard have lived a thousand lives, seen the world build itself up from nothing only to tear itself down again in civil war. They’ve even watched humanity take to the stars. But in each life one thing remains the same: their love and their fight to be together. One love story after another. Their only concern is they never get to see how their story ends. Until now.
When they finally discover what it will take to break the cycle, will they be able to make the sacrifice?
Get A Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert
Adult 18+ and the 1st in a trilogy
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost–but not quite–dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family’s mansion. The next items?
- Enjoy a drunken night out.
- Ride a motorcycle.
- Go camping.
- Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
- Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
- And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.
But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon
Young Adult – Also check out ‘Everything, Everything’
I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true.
I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him.
Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations.
Never the poet. Or the dreamer.
But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Who’s Loving You – edited by Sareeta Domingo
Who’s Loving You? is a celebration of love in all its guises written by women of colour, with ten original short stories from bold new voices, literary prize-winners and national treasures.
Two souls come together and are torn apart, lifetime after lifetime. A seed of hope begins to grow out of the ashes of grief, heartbreak and loss. Romance sparks in the most unexpected of places. And an unbreakable bond is formed that transcends countries, continents and even the boundaries of time…
In this extraordinary collection, ten writers explore the full spectrum of love in all its messy, joyful, agonising and exhilarating forms. Celebrating and centring the romance, passion and desire of women of colour, these stories burn with an intensity and longing that lingers long after the final page.
Rebel – Beverly Jenkins
Valinda Lacy’s mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.
As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.
If I Don’t Have You – Sareeta Domingo
Afro-Brazilian filmmaker Ren is recovering from a romantic betrayal. Kayla is a Black British artist and journalist keen to make her mark. Thrown together during a string of interviews in New York for Ren’s latest film, they’re struck by an irresistible attraction. The two surrender to one night of searing honesty and passion, which leaves them with more questions than answers about the future. With secrets lurking between them, letting their romance continue could upend the separate lives Ren and Kayla have so carefully built. But can they really risk losing their miraculous connection?
The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory
When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game in LA with her actor boyfriend, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t difficult – they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…
At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media goes crazy. Believing that neither of them are looking for anything serious, Nik embarks on an epic rebound with the handsome doctor, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, will they be brave enough to admit what they’re really feeling?
Love is a Revolution – Renée Watson
When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He’s perfect, except . . . Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.
Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman
Sephy is a Cross: dark-skinned and beautiful, she lives a life of privilege and power. But she’s lonely, and burns with injustice at the world she sees around her.
Callum is a nought: pale-skinned and poor, he’s considered to be less than nothing – a blanker, there to serve Crosses – but he dreams of a better life.
They’ve been friends since they were children, and they both know that’s as far as it can ever go. Noughts and Crosses are fated to be bitter enemies – love is out of the question.
Then – in spite of a world that is fiercely against them – these star-crossed lovers choose each other.
But this is love story that will lead both of them into terrible danger . . . and which will have shocking repercussions for generations to come.
The Boyfriend Project – Farrah Rochon
Three friends. One pact. And a temptation to break the rules…
Samiah Brooks never thought she would be ‘that’ girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date reveals the painful truth: she’s been catfished by her three-timing jerk of a boyfriend.
Suddenly Samiah – along with the two other ‘girlfriends’, London and Taylor – have gone viral. Now the three new besties are making a six-month pact: no men, no dating, just time to focus on themselves.
This means Samiah can finally focus on her exciting career in app development – so having the deliciously sexy and distracting Daniel Collins walk into her office definitely isn’t part of her plan…
But is Daniel really boyfriend material – or is he simply too good to be true?
How To Catch A Queen – Alyssa Cole
When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.
A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.
By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.
Opposite of Always – Justin A. Reynolds
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, he knows he’s falling – hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.
But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.
Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.
Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.
Finding Joy – Adriana Herrera
As his twenty-sixth birthday approaches, Desta Joy Walker finds himself in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the one place he’s been actively avoiding most of his life. For Desta, the East African capital encompasses some of the happiest and saddest parts of his life—his first home and the place where his father died. When an unavoidable work obligation lands him there for twelve weeks, he may finally have a chance for the closure he so desperately needs. What Desta never expected was to catch a glimpse of his future as he reconnects with the beautiful country and his family’s past.
Elias Fikru has never met an opportunity he hasn’t seized. Except, of course, for the life-changing one, he’s stubbornly ignored for the past nine months. He’d be a fool not to accept the chance to pursue his doctoral studies in the U.S., but saying yes means leaving his homeland, and Elias isn’t ready to make that commitment.
Meeting Desta, the Dominican-American emergency relief worker with the easy smile and sad eyes, makes Elias want things he’s never envisioned for himself. Rediscovering his country through Desta’s eyes emboldens Elias to reach for a future where he can be open about every part of himself. But when something threatens the future that’s within their grasp, Elias and Desta must put it all on the line for love.
Where the Rhythm Takes You – Sarah Dass
Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at the Plumeria, her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden—her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything—left the island to pursue his music dreams.
Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.
And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life—as a VIP guest at the resort.
Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal—the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…
Bad Love – Maame Blue
A young woman living in London, Ekuah loves deeply and loves hard, yet with each romantic encounter she is left feeling increasingly unmoored and adrift. She struggles in her love for Dee Emeka, a gifted musician, who is both passionate and distant in the way he loves her back. Confirming her worst fears about the unstable foundation of their relationship, he suddenly disappears from her life. Heartbroken, she is left to pick up the pieces, while searching for new validations and preoccupations from others.
But when, against a backdrop of enigmatic, poetic, nights in London, Venice, Accra and Paris, she finds an unexpected new love in the form of Jay Stanley, Ekuah re-focuses on her journey to meaningful love. She is determined to feel deeply again, but can she handle the vulnerability and forgiveness that comes with falling in love?
Ties that Tether – Jane Igharo
At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture, even after immigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping – well forcing – her to stay within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and… white. When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother. Soon, Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.
The Mermaid of Black Conch – Monique Roffey
Near the island of Black Conch, a fisherman sings to himself while waiting for a catch. But David attracts a sea-dweller that he never expected – Aycayia, an innocent young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid.
When American tourists capture Aycayia, David rescues her and vows to win her trust. Slowly, painfully, she transforms into a woman again. Yet as their love grows, they discover that the world around them is changing – and they cannot escape the curse forever…
You Should See Me In A Crown – Leah Johnson
Liz has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed town. But Liz has an escape plan to attend an uber-elite college, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to college. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
So many of these authors have huge backlists such as Talia Hibbert, Nicola Yoon, Kennedy Ryan, Beverly Jenkins, Jasmine Guillory and Alyssa Cole! I recommend having a look at all their books to see what appeals to you!
Creating this post made me realise that there’s not nearly enough contemporary Black romance’s being published.
Publishers, if you see this post – please, we need more and would love more!
And I mean romances without the backdrop of racism, slavery or segregation. Romance books where the romance is at the forefront. It’s not a secondary plot to everything else that’s going on!
Of course, I’ll keep adding to this post. I feel like there’s probably loads more that I’ve missed so please put them in the comments and I’ll keep adding them in! But let me know what’s your favourite Black romance book!