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9 Swoon-Worthy Romances by Black Authors

Black Authors Series

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • February 12, 2020

In celebration of Black History Month, we continue our series featuring great black writers from four distinct genres. Recent surveys indicate that the publishing industry is still sorely lacking in diversity, so we are pleased to have the opportunity to promote the outstanding work of authors of color. Last week, we highlighted contemporary black writers. This week, in keeping with Valentine's Day, get ready for some blushing and swooning with novels from nine dreamy romantic authors.

The Trendsetters

Even as the publishing industry as a whole has been called out for a lack of diversity, the romance genre has been under an even higher degree of scrutiny lately, thrown into chaos by recent controversy surrounding the leadership of the Romance Writers of America. This makes the following authors all-the-more bold as they were some of the first who ventured into the field.

Zora Neale Hurston
First published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God was initially rejected by the mainstream because of its strong female protagonist. Luckily, we were given another chance to fall in love with the tenacious Janie Crawford when the book was reissued in 1978.

Ann Petry
In The Narrows, a handsome, brilliant young black man falls for a married white heiress, shaking things up in their sleepy New England town. Published in 1952, Petry's tale of star-crossed lovers shines a harsh light on the ways that attitudes about race and class wreak havoc on people's lives.

Terry McMillan
Focusing on the friendship between four women as they navigate complicated love lives, Waiting to Exhale has also been made into a hit 1995 movie. The 1992 bestseller, along with its sequel, is beloved by readers for accurately portraying the modern-day challenges of finding lasting love.

The Powerhouses

It may be hard to believe that prolific industry superstar Beverly Jenkins initially found it difficult to break into publishing. Prospective publishers in the mid-1990s weren't sure there was a market for her historic African-American novels that focused on love, rather than slavery. Did she ever show them! And she threw open the door for many who came later.

Beverly Jenkins
The author of dozens of bestselling novels, Jenkins has been dubbed "Queen Bev" by her fans. She is a master at creating spunky heroines and emotionally intelligent heroes. Bring on the Blessings is a departure from her usual historic romance, but it's a great example of her unputdownable prowess.

Eric Jerome Dickey
After leaving a successful career as a software engineer, Dickey pursued acting and comedy gigs before he found his niche as an author. The Other Woman is a great example of his ability to write savvy, scintillating romance with the story of a couple who are struggling to stay together.

Alyssa Cole
Taking the romance industry by storm, Cole has published between three and five romance novels per year since 2014. Her work ranges from historical to scif-fi and explores both heterosexual and queer relationships. An Extraordinary Union is the Civil War-era story of two undercover agents who share a common cause.

The Innovators

"For every 100 books published by the leading romance publishers in 2018, only 7.7 percent were written by people of color. That compares to only 6.2 percent in 2017 and 7.8 percent in 2016." This quote is from a report put out by The Ripped Bodice, a Southern California-based bookstore. Learn more about the study here.

These three African-American authors are breaking the mold and bringing even more diversity to the types of love stories they tell.

E. Lynn Harris
The author of ten consecutive bestsellers, Harris, who died in 2009, was known for infusing his racy romances with complex issues like race and bisexuality. Not a Day Goes By is a sexy, urban love story about a retired football player who, after years of playing the field, gets engaged to his new love, an up-and-coming Broadway star.

Zane
Working as a sales executive, Zane began writing erotic literature to pass the time after her young children went to bed. After developing an online following, she landed her first book deal. Addicted is the story of Zoe, a married woman secretly struggling with a sex addiction.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Yale-educated Nigerian writer Adichie writes richly textured novels that draw on her multicultural experience. Americanah is the story of young lovers Ifemelu and Obinze who are forced apart after fleeing their military-ruled homeland. Fifteen years later they are reunited in a newly democratic Nigeria.

Hopefully you're feeling ready for some romance! If not in real life, then at least in books. Please let us know if there are any literary sweethearts that missed our attentions for this post.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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