Valentine’s Day might be anything for you but I like to assume it’s the perfect day to add some romance books by authors of color to my never-ending TBR. After all, picking up a book with romantic themes and obsessing over fictional characters who are finding or fighting their love sounds way more exciting than the real-life romantic plans you think of when you hear about this holiday. Well, whatever may be your plans, here is a list of twelve romances you should definitely check out!
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You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. Heartbroken, she tries to forget the tragic way he died but desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone. And Sam picks up the phone. With a temporary otherworldly connection and a second chance at goodbye, this debut romance with hints of magical realism will make you cry.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Nishat has always heard Muslim girls aren’t lesbians, but she doesn’t want to hide who she is and doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. When a childhood friend, Flavia, enters her life, Nishat feels the butterflies but a school competition soon marks the two as rivals. In the midst of henna, rain, and culture, a sapphic romance begins—while Bangladeshi-Irish Nishat also fights bullies, microaggressions, and cultural appropriation that stems from diversity being seen as a trend.
Like A Love Song by Gabriela Martins
Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star, until she’s dumped on live television. Not only is it humiliating, it could even end her career. But a gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend can turn this around. Nati reluctantly agrees but William is not what she expected—a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top, reclaiming her voice, with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William
Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Chloe is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend because the truth is: she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for You ‘Rents to impresses her traditional Taiwanese parents. When she rents Drew (whose passion is art and who has dropped out of college), the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval. But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who is definitely not ‘rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel.
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
Ellie survives in an Illori-controlled centre in NYC where music, art, and books are illegal because humans are deemed dangerously volatile and emotional expression is banned. But Ellie keeps a secret library. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S was raised to be emotionless. But when he finds Ellie’s illegal library and is duty-bound to deliver her for execution, he finds himself drawn to human music. They’re both breaking rules and they both embark on a wild and dangerous road trip to save humanity’s fate.
Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan
Karina has a plan: keep her head down, get through high school, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go to Bangladesh for four weeks, she expects some peace. But tutoring the school’s resident bad boy unravels everything. Pretending to date him is out of question but Ace does everything right. Karina agrees and starts counting down the days till her parents come back—but she no longer wants everything to return to normal.
For All Time by Shanna Miles
Tamar is a musician, a warrior, a survivor. Fayard is a pioneer, a hustler, a hopeless romantic. Together, Tamar and Fayard have lived a thousand lives, 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. From the past to the future, they have finally discovered what it will take to break the cycle, but will they be able to make the sacrifice?
The Shaadi Set-Up by Lillie Vale
High school sweethearts until the day Milan Rao broke Rita Chitniss’ heart. Six years later, Milan has re-entered her life, but only to seek her furniture-restoration business expertise for this one house that’s difficult to sell. Rita agrees to help and is also set to prove that she’s completely over him by showing her boyfriend, Neil, as her perfect match — but the desi matchmaking site doesn’t think so. A lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers ready to unfold in this sophomore novel.
When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis
Devon longs for two things: the stars and the boy she fell in love with last summer. When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But in a year, she’s slowly putting the broken pieces back together. She’s determined to enjoy every moment of this year as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. Then Ashton shows up on the first day of her senior year. Can she forgive him and open her heart again?
Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali
Zayneb is the only Muslim in the class and she’s angry. When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher—who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are—Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Qatar for an early start to spring break. Adam has stopped going to classes ever since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, so he flies back to home, Qatar. He wants to keep this a secret from his grieving father and little sister. When the two cross paths, a marvel and an oddity occurs.
Xoxo by Axie Oh
Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets the mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, she allows him to take her on a night of adventure —before he disappears without a word. Three months later, when Jenny arrives in South Korea with her mother, she’s shocked to discover Jaewoo in the same arts academy she’s enrolled in. Also, he’s a member of a big K-pop band and strictly forbidden from dating. Now Jenny must make a tough choice in this YA romance.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine finds her face splashed across the tabloids. Now she returns to her hometown of NYC to film a bilingual rom-com, thinking her new plan to play a leading lady would be easy—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton. He is given a chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and he must make it work. With their careers on the line, the two agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing and a spotlight on them.
which of these have you read and what is definitely going on your tbr? 💛