Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Romance Project: Update

This year, one of my reading resolutions is to read more romance novels. It's a genre that I am not very familiar with and it's a super popular one with my library patrons. I'm calling it The Romance Project and I made a list in my bullet journal of titles to seek out this year. I'm constantly adding to the list, so I would love to know your favorite romance titles and authors, particularly authors of color and queer romance.

I'm going to check in here regularly so I can keep myself accountable. Here's what I've read so far this year:

 The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (Berkeley Books, 2018). When Nik's boyfriend of a few months proposes to her on the jumbo screen at a baseball game, she turns him down (OF COURSE) and is thrust into the spotlight. Carlos comes to her rescue, helping her escape the stadium before camera crews can track her down, and they start hanging out. Neither is looking for anything serious, but as they start to get to know each other they discover they actually have a lot in common... I really liked this one! It's a fun story and I really liked both the leads. I liked that Nik is a strong independent woman who can take care of herself.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Avon Books, 2000). Daphne's the girl everyone likes but no one loves, much to the chagrin of her mother who is trying to get her eldest daughter married off. Simon is the mysterious duke who's just appeared back in town and caught the eye of every eligible woman AND their mothers. When Daphne and Simon meet by chance at a party, they decide to start a fake courtship to get Daphne's suitors more interested and to get the mothers off Simon's back.

Julia Quinn is an author recommended to me by multiple readers and I can see why she has fans - there's a lot of humor in this book and very likeable characters. I found some major elements of this book pretty problematic and it wasn't for me. I am going to try some different historical titles and I'd like to try a more recently published Quinn (let me know if you have a recommendation!) and see if I like that better.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Berkeley, May 2019). When Khai Diep's mother brings Vietnamese Esme Tran to live with him for the summer, she's hoping for a match that will end in marriage. Khai's just hoping Esme will leave his stuff alone and Esme is hoping for a better life for her and her young daughter. Told with heart and humor, this steamy romance novel features a neurodiverse lead and an immigrant lead based on the author's mother's experiences. I really enjoyed the humor here and the diverse characters. I think readers who liked The Kiss Quotient (me among them!) will enjoy this title, as well. Coming in May! (Reviewed from digital galley provided by publisher.)

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev (Kensington, 2014). Married at four years old, Mili Rathod has dedicated her life to being the perfect wife, despite the fact that her husband, an officer in the Indian Air Force, has never come to fetch her. Samir Rathod has tracked Mili down at her Michigan college to secure a divorce for his brother - their child marriage was supposed to have been annulled but his grandfather never followed through. But when Mili is in an accident and Samir comes to her rescue, the two start to become friends and then maybe more, even as they're both carrying secrets that will devastate the other. I really enjoyed this one, too. I liked the cultural details included and the slow development of Mili and Samir's friendship and eventual romance. I listened to this one on audio, narrated by Priya Ayyar, and it was just what I needed to get motivated to work out on these cold February days.

So that is the state of my Romance Project so far. I'll check in again soon! What titles and authors would you recommend I add to my list?