DIVERSITY ARC#4: Romance Fiction (9/24/19)

WHEN: September 24, 2019; 9:45am to 12N

WHERE: Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield; 345 Main Street (Lecture Hall)

Contact: Leane Ellis; rapotential@gmail.com  

Please sign-up for next meeting using the MLS CE Calendar.    

2019 is a year-long study of Diversity in Fiction. We continued with Romance Fiction after studying Historical Fiction in January, Fantasy Fiction in March, and Mystery Fiction in May.  We conclude with Science Fiction in November.

Assignment: Everyone reads both benchmarks: Sonali Dev’s Bollywood Affair (2014) and Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union (2017) The Loyal League#1 OR  another in Cole’s series: #2: A Hope Divided (2017), OR #3: An Unconditional Freedom (2019).                           

Please read a third title and record your titles in this category either from the suggested list below or one that you choose yourself on this blog under Submit 2nd Titles.

For appeal, please focus especially on frame, tone, and character.



Diverse books are those that reflect and honor the life experience of all readers. We Need Diverse Books defines diversity as: “including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”

*including but not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction), as well as a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

Thank you to the Western MA RA Round Table and the Southeastern MA RA Round Table for forging our path and providing resources and guidance.

ONLINE RESOURCES (again with thanks to the Western & Southeastern MA [Scroll down.] RA Round Tables)

ARRT: GENRE STUDY: Romance (5/21/19) Especially see LGBTQ Assignment  & Notes.

The Ripped Bodice Presents The State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing 2018

Print/PDF Bibliography  (Available on Google Group) 

Bouricius, Ann. The Romance Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Love in the Stacks. ALA, 2000. p.3-21; 51-57.

Cole, Alyssa.” You Read Those Books?” “Writers & Readers” Booklist, September 1, 2918.  p37.

Goo, Maurene.” In the Mood for Love. “Writers & Readers” Booklist, September 1, 2918.  p67.

Higgins, Kristan.” It’s Not the Sex”. Publishers Weekly, August 17, 2915.  p.76.

Ramsdell, Kristin. Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre. LU. 1999. p. 3-15, 17-20, 23-29, 261-265, 289-292.

Rodale, Maya. Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. Maya Rodale, 2015. p. 15-31, 66-67, 82-99, 174-183 plus all tables.

Saricks, Joyce. G. with revision by Jennifer Lohmann. “Getting Up to Speed in Romance,” NoveList. EBSCO. 2015 (3/07/19)

Wyatt, Neal & Joyce G. Saricks. “Romance.” The RA Guide to Genre Fiction. 2019. 3rd ed., ALA, p.191, 215-226.

NOTE: The NE RA RT did do an overview [Romance (3/23/10)] and will be exploring Romance Fiction again in 2021 & 2022.

Cancellation Policy: If the town/city of the location of the meeting cancels public schools, and/or there is a parking ban–the meeting will be cancelled even if the library in question remains open. We do not have an alternative date. Leane will modify the upcoming schedules to reflect the missed meeting. Leane will broadcast the cancellation of the meeting due to inclement weather by 7:00am or before from the Google group, and post it on this website.

Elective Titles

Leane Ellis

Ayesha at Last – Uzma Jalaluddin
Appeal Factors: CH/TONE/PLOT

This delightful gentle romance was both an entertaining and informative choice for Romance Diversity exploration. Both a take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with ample dips into Shakespearean couplets, this realistic contemporary love story revolves around South Asian Muslims and the importance of their culture and Islam beliefs in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Issues like arranged marriage, the role of women in society and in marriage (independence vs feminism), and the assumptions people make about others who are unlike themselves or even differing interpretations from the same culture and faith gives the story weight. Plot tropes like mistaken identity and a Wickham-like cad as well as cultural nods to Bollywood, Tim Horton’s, wrestling, and life coaching add richness to the details of the novel. The description of the food will make your mouth water. Outspoken and independent Ayesha, a talented poet, feels the need to pay back her uncle for her education by becoming a teacher, even though she longs to discover her own bliss, clashes with conservative Khalid whose traditional dress causes him problems at work and with Ayesha. The sexual tension builds between them as they navigate the characters in their lives, some questionable choices, and the drama of S. Asian Aunties’ expectations. There is no sex on the page but the sexual and romantic yearnings are well-painted and believably complicated. The style was engaging and the tone was compelling with dashes of both humor and sentiment. This is a great love story for readers who want something gentle yet full of food for thought on identity, religion, culture, tradition, familial expectations, and the role of personal dreams in one’s life choices. The author even weaves and handles issues like abortion and pornography in an even-handed way. Not as hot as Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient but contains an equal lens into S. Asian culture in an author’s own voice. Other readalikes may be Dev Sonali, Sonya Lalli, Soniah Kamal and may appeal to fans of Emily Giffin and Meg Cabot’s adult novels.

Jessica Atherton

Bad Boy – Elliot Wake
Appeal Factors: Authentic, romance, diverse

Renard Grant lives a double life. On his profitable video blog, he details his life and thoughts as a transgender icon. His secret life puts everything at risk as he uses vigilante justice to terrorize the worst trolls of the internet, balancing the scales with his newfound strength. This thriller follows Ren down a rabbit hole of dramatic plot twists as he searches for the truth.

The novel benefits from a deep seated authenticity that comes from the author having undergone the same transition as the protagonist. The best part of the book comes with regularly interspersed vlog transcripts that detail Ren’s transition from female to male. These are humorous, heartfelt, and informative. The main plot can get lost in the weeds and suffers from an excess of stereotyped descriptions, but this book contains a new voice with a valuable perspective.

Lisa Francine

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
Appeal Factors: Culturally Diverse Characters, LGBTQIA diverse, Heartwarming, Steamy, Engaging, Well-crafted dialogue, Witty

Alex Claremont-Diaz, First Son of the United States, has had an antagonistic relationship with Prince Henry of Wales. Alex’s mother is the first woman President of the United States, and currently running for her second term. During a royal wedding Alex is involved in an incident with Prince Henry that causes international mayhem. To rectify the situation, and not endanger his mother’s election chances, Alex must become “best friends” with Prince Henry. Typical of delightful enemies-to-lovers rom-coms, Alex soon discovers that he has strong romantic and physical feelings for Henry. Can they keep their romance hush-hush, or will they proclaim their true feelings to the world? Engaging and witty dialogue, likable characters, and Twitter being used for the greater good are some of the positive attributes of this steamy debut by McQuiston. I’m looking forward to Casey’s next LGBTQ adult romcom!