LOVE FROM A TO Z: S.K. Ali is the Role Model Muslim Women Need

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali drops April 30, 2019, and deserves to be at the top of everyone’s spring reading list. In the book, Hijabi heroine Zayneb is an empowered Muslim female, and in real life, Ali inspires Muslim women!

Love from A to Z book cover

In her highly anticipated second YA novel, Ali tackles Islamophobia towards young adults, and wraps it around an innocent love story. Eighteen- year-olds Zayneb and Adam’s ways of life are both compromised: Zayneb is harassed by her Islamophobic high school teacher, and Adam’s mobility and independence are dwindling because of his recent MS diagnosis. They share something else special: they each own a “Marvels and Oddities” journal, in which they introspectively note their daily wonderful and weird observances. They write about first impressions, the “friends you’re dealt with,” and of course, each other.

Love from A to Z immediately drew me in with its lovable, complex characters. Although tall, patient Adam and fiery Zayneb feel chemistry immediately, it’s unsure whether their relationship will beat the odds: Adam’s health issues, the long distance, and even religious guidelines on male-female interactions.

Whereas in her debut novel Saints and Misfits, Ali focused on internal issues like spiritual abuse, in Love from A to Z she confronts the global epidemic of Muslims getting harassed simply for practicing their religion. Reading this book personally allowed me to heal my buried experience of Islamophobia during my freshman year in college. I still remember my Creative Literature professor criticizing Islam in front of the whole lecture hall, and ignoring me when I went up to ask a question. I always regret not speaking up and defending my religion, even though the words were on the tip of my tongue. Reading how Zayneb seeks justice against her racist teacher makes me feel validated, as though I had actually stood up for myself back then. We all want peace like Adam, but as Zayneb rightly points out, “there couldn’t be peace without…justice.” I’m glad in the real world, we have authors like S.K. Ali, who is continuously fighting for our justice with her pen and tweets.

Ali’s writing career has not always been smooth sailing, which she transparently shares on Twitter (@SajidahWrites). In October 2018, the Ontario Library Association overlooked Ali’s Saints and Misfits for an award, and instead awarded a book about a hijabi written by a non-Muslim, non-hijabi. As an advocate for “Muslim representation,” Ali explained that there is no excuse not to “promote books written in our own voices.” Ali then encouraged fellow authors to “tell our own stories” and share our diverse publications on her thread. Her eloquent portrayal of her #ownvoices struggle allowed me to contextualize moments that I have allowed non-POC’s to tell my story. I put my feelings into words in another article for Muslim Girl, stating the need for more creative spaces for Muslim women’s voices.

Another delightful gem in Love from A to Z is the diversity and inclusivity among the characters and settings. Both Adam and Zayneb are mixed-ethnicity, or ‘halfies’: Adam is half-Chinese and white, while Zayneb is half-Guyenese and Pakistani. In fact, Adam is a convert Muslim; he converted to Islam like his dad. As a halfie myself (I’m half-Mexican and Pakistani) and the daughter of a convert, I reveled in the fact that Ali features unconventional and ethnically marginalized Muslims, who are typically unknown or overlooked in mainstream society and even among Muslims. The book starts off in middle America, and then takes us across the world to explore Doha.

Like all writers, my query emails and tweets are often ignored. That is why I am so happy when S.K. Ali replies to my DMs. Despite her (well-deserved) success and busy schedule, Ali continues to offer me writing and publishing advice, and even met with me in person. When reading Ali’s tweets and messages, I feel a gentle nudge forward to write my truth. She has helped me find my voice both as a writer and as a Muslim women. Further, I’ve opened myself up to mentor emerging Muslim women writers.

Especially in the aftermath of the nightmarish New Zealand masjid attack on March 15, 2019, we need an unapologetic she-ro like Zayneb.

Hobbies For Romance Heroines

Writers of any level can tell you that a quick way to character development is to give a character a hobby. Maybe your tough action hero has a sensitive side and likes to bake. Likewise, have your shrinking violet accountant really into crossfit, and therefore, a secret badass. As I’ve been on a bit of a romance kick, I’ve noticed a little bit of a trend to have hobbies as main personality driver and/or major reason for conflict in a lot of these romances. My personal favorites range from the geeky, like coding and cosplay (Level Up and Game of Hearts by Cathy Yardley) to the athletic, like power-lifting (Advanced Physical Chemistry By Susannah Nix) to the too real it hurts (like trying to turn your nerdy interests into a career as in Alyssa Cole’s Can’t Escape Love). Knitting is also a very, very popular hobby (see everything by Penny Reid, but especially Neanderthal Seeks Human).

cover of can't escape love by alyssa coleNow dear fellow readers, let me tell you that I eat this up. This is an adorable, lovely feature of some of my favorite genres, but I ESPECIALLY love it in romance. It’s also wonderful when an author actually does said hobby, took the time to actually research the hobby or painstakingly make it up. Yes, please give me three full pages on the mechanics of cake decorating or werewolf politics!

But that got me thinking, what hobbies aren’t or haven’t been explored yet? So I present to you:

A (non-comprehensive) List of Hobbies For Romance Heroines

Miniature Horse Breeder: Have those horses pull tiny chariots or what is even the point?

An Actual Tomb Raider: Indigenous art theft by another name.

Handcrafted Coaster Maker: Makes coasters out of interesting and found objects. Very trendy. I promise.

Ancient Greek Olympics Reenactor: Have an entire collection of olive oils to wash in or go home. Worth noting that the Olympic events were traditionally performed naked, just in case you need a steamy scene.

Art Restoration Specialist: There’s a lot of chemistry involved, hopefully also between the leads. Will they find a mystery in the x-rayed version of a painting? Will they answer that mystery…with love?

Bubble Wand Collector: Both whimsical and a little creepy.

Likewise, a Troll Doll Collector: There was that movie, so it’s probably more popular than we think.

via GIPHY

Competitive Eater: Maybe it’s hot dogs, or pancakes, or cocktail weenies. Just food, and lots of it.

Professional Madonna Impersonator: All I can say is this spells hijinks. Will she fall for a professional Elvis impersonator?

Wig Maker: For a hair-raising good time!

Deadhead: Appealing for a certain generation.

Cat Show Competitor: Really, the meet cute writes itself when Mr. Tingles hisses at Harrington Snugglesworth the third.

Professional Insulter: It’s a thing! Also you can totally make this an “enemy to lovers” plot surrounded by a ton of snark.

Harmonica Player: Is this a profession? Is this hobby? Is this Blues Traveler fanfic? You decide!

Pickler: Pickles things. Cucumbers. Eggs. Cabbage. Garlic. Anything really. Also “Pickler” is a lot of fun to say and think of all the double entendres!

Candle Maker: Two Words: Hot. Wax. Also, think of the double entendres!

Ex-Nun Turned Lounge Singer: It’s Sister Act in reverse, only without the criminal element. Or maybe with the criminal element? We still expect a Lauryn Hill cameo in the sequel.

Broadway Costume Designer Understudy: Not very glamorous, but a vocal and appreciative group. Give their blistered fingers a chance.

OSHA Inspector: They are all about a clean and hygienic environment, until it’s time to get dirty. Hair nets and closed toed shoes are required.

Food Staging Specialist: A career for both commercials and the Instagram age. Make sure they don’t mistake their motor oil for syrup or their shaving cream for whipped cream.

Hot Air Balloon Operator: Whimsy! Baskets! Fire! It writes itself.

Book Riot Contributor (1):

via GIPHY

Are any of these already in use? Or have I missed other hobbies? Feel free to comment below with your favorites!

(1) Let us know when we can collect our Secret Duke Millionaire.

9 Seattle Sports Romance Series

When you think of Seattle, you probably think of Pike Place Market and Starbucks, maybe Amazon and Microsoft if you’re into tech (or billionaires). But you may not know that after getting caffeinated and while avoiding Pike Place, Seattlites are rabid sports fans in a bookish city. I know, I know reading and sports aren’t unusual pass times but Seattle goes full-bore for these two hobbies.

  • The King County Library System is among the top libraries in the country for ebook circulation.
  • The Seattle Public Library System is celebrating the centennial of their summer reading program this year–yes, 1919 was their first summer reading program.
  • Did you know that Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, and A Discovery of Witches all have Seattle-connections?
  • If those bestsellers don’t catch your eye, how about Terry Brooks, Seanan Maguire, Nisi Shawl, Julia Quinn, Patricia Briggs, and Kristin Hannah?
  • Seattle regularly ranked in the top literate cities, a study by the Connecticut State University using six criteria: “number of bookstores, educational attainment, Internet resources, library resources, periodical publishing resources, and newspaper circulation.”
  • 11 years later, people still passionately mourn the loss of the SuperSonics basketball team. Ask a Seattlite if they’re bitter about the SuperSonics. (Hint: they are.)
  • While the 12th man isn’t a Seattle invention, in 1984 the Seahawks retired the jersey number 12 in honor of the fans who are referred to as 12s.
  • Seahawks fans have twice set the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd, both times in the 2013 season.
  • 2018 was the launch of the Major League Rugby league in the U.S. and the winners were the Seattle Seawolves.
  • Seattle was the first U.S. team to win the Stanley Cup as the Metropolitans in 1917.

Basically Seattle is a great place for readers and sports fans. And what happens when they get combined? Seattle sports romances. I mean, that’s one thing that can happen.

I stumbled into this corner of Romancelandia and was intrigued to find Seattle so well-represented in sports romance. Sadly, I didn’t find a lot of authors of color writing Seattle sports romances. If you’ve got any, send ’em my way!

Hockey

Chinooks Hockey Team by Rachel Gibson

Published in 1998, this sports romance centers around an imaginary Seattle hockey team, named from a Salish-speaking Native American community who traditionally lived along the Columbia River. (. . .)  The earlier books in the series may not have aged well (see above choice for Native American-inspired mascot), but the series spans 12 years of publishing.

Seattle Sockeyes by Jami Davenport

Apparently fake Seattle hockey teams get salmon-related mascots.  (Chinook and sockeye are both local kinds of salmon.)  This eight book series includes a few novellas all focused around the players of the imaginary Seattle Sockeyes hockey team. The series starts with Skating on Thin Ice, about the establishment of an NHL team in Seattle. If you want to cut straight to hockey playing, go with Crashing the Net. Heck yeah that’s the Space Needle behind him!

Football

Seattle Lumberjacks by Jamie Davenport

Davenport is a self-professed life-long sports fan, and proud Puget Sound resident. This first of her Seattle football romance series. In the first book, Fourth and Goal, Seattle Lumberjacks professional player, Derek is struggling on the field until he finds some engaging activities off the field with old flame, Rachel.

Play With Me in Seattle by Kristen Proby

This one is actually a lone sports romance in a series of Seattle-set romances.  He is a professional football player for an unnamed Seattle team, she’s his sister rocker friend and isn’t into jocks. Usually that is.

WAGS by Naima Simone

WAGS, or “wives and girlfriends” refers to the partners of professional athletes, by way of the British media. Scoring with the Wrong Twin starts the series with a Puerto Rican computer programmer impersonates her supermodel twin sister as a favor, where she meets the Washington Warriors tight end. (Ahem.) Romancing ensues.

Seattle Steelheads by Jami Davenport

Did you know that fish are a big deal in Seattle? Yes, this is the third fake Seattle team with a fish mascot. This is also Davenport’s second Seattle football sports romance. The first book, Snap Decision, has a bad boy, the girl next door, and a remote PNW island. However, Game Changer, where the Steelheads tight end (. . .) gets entangled with a horse breeder finally gives us a sportswoman! Also of note, the cover model for Blindsided, book two, has chest hair!

Seattle Grizzlies by Serena Bell

This is a standalone, so far, about the Seattle Grizzlies team getting a new coach, a woman! She’s caught balancing her professionalism with her attraction to one of the linebackers.

Men of Tyee by Jami Davenport

Shifting towards the new adult arena, this third Davenport football series follows college football players at the imaginary Tyee University. The first book is the second chance romance with Riley and Tiff, who had been an item in high school. Sacked in Seattle might be my favorite title today.

Baseball

Seattle Skookums by Jami Davenport

First things first, “skookum” comes from Chinook jargon, meaning “strong” or “monstrous.” See, it all comes full circle. Zeke Wolfe, brother to leads from the Steelheads and Sockeyes series, suddenly finds himself with a fake fiancé and three children. Hijinks and romance commence.

Laundry List for Future Seattle Sports Romances

When I stumbled on the little pocket of Seattle-based sports romance, it was a fun rabbit hole to explore. However, at the end I’m left with a laundry list of wants from future Seattle-set sports romance. If you’ve come across any books that fit these criteria, please share!

  • I didn’t find any Seattle basketball romances. Is the Supersonics wound still too fresh, Seattle?
  • What about the other sports in Seattle? MLS? NWSL? WNBA? MLR?
  • What about sports that aren’t professional in Seattle? More curling romances please.
  • Why is everyone so white? Even Seattle isn’t that white. Seattle’s sports power couple is Russell Wilson and Ciara. (ICYMI: not white people)
  • Where are the sports romances about Seattle’s women athletes?
  • Where are the queer Seattle sports romances? I mean, the other Seattle sports power couple right now is the Reign’s Megan Rapinoe and the Storm’s Sue Bird. It’s not like the city would be surprised by a F/F sports romance.
  • Rugby is an all-gender sport and Seattle has several LGBT-friendly teams–sounds like a prime zone for pushing the genre outward both in terms of gender and sexualities.
  • And can we please get some Native-penned Seattle sports romances?

If you’re looking for more spo-ro (not a thing) books try:

50 Must Read Gay Romance Novels, 100 Must-Read Sports Romances, 5 Figure Skating Romances for Your 2018 Olympics, and 8 Baseball Romances to Check Out.

6 Romance Novels That Should Come With Snacks Included

I have seen one constant refrain in the weeks since Adriana Herrera’s novel American Dreamer was released: this book will make you hungry. Which makes sense. One of the main characters owns an Afro-Caribbean food truck. For me and my money, there are not enough food truck romances. But this got me thinking: what other fantastic romances feature a heavy food element? Here are six romance novels that should come with snacks included. (So, food trucks, I’ll be looking for you to roll up.)

American Dreamer CoverAmerican Dreamer by Adriana Herrera

Let’s start with the inspiration for this post. Nesto Vasquez is trying something new, moving his Afro-Caribbean food truck out of NYC and upstate. He’s got six months to make this thing float, otherwise he has to go back to a miserable day job. Jude Fuller is a local and has a great life, good job, but he’s single and feeling lonely. When he tries Nesto’s food truck, he finds he can’t get enough of the food or the hunky truck owner. Nesto is trying to focus on work, Jude is trying not to get hurt, but these gentlemen can’t resist the pull between them.

A Bollywood Affair CoverThe Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

One of our High Priestesses of Romance, Trisha Brown, reported that she made many trips to the Indian restaurant near her house while she was reading this book. Mili Rathod has not seen her husband in 25 years, not since she was promised to him at the age of four. That betrothal, however, opened the doors for Mili to leave India and study in America. Now she waits for her husband to claim her. Famous Bollywood director Samir Rathod has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his brother. He assumes this will be an easy task, but Mili is not the simple village girl he was expecting. Before Samir can realize what’s happening, he is enveloped into her life, cooking traditional food, escorting her to a wedding, and—it would seem—falling a bit in love.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living CoverThe City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

When pastry chef Olivia Rawlings flambés not only her dessert but the whole dining room while her lover and his wife are in attendance, she knows she needs a change. She escapes to Guthrie, Vermont, where she gets a job as pastry chef at a hotel working for Margaret Hurley, a cantankerous woman who offers Olivia a place to live in the sugar shack on the premises. What Olivia doesn’t realize, however, is that this job comes with a high-stakes apple pie contest, loads of deep new friendships, and Martin McCracken, beloved local boy returned home to care for his ailing father. The sparks between Martin and Olivia fly, but this book is more than just their romance:  it’s about family, redemption, and oh Lordy, so much pie.

the proposalThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

If you can read this book without craving tacos and cupcakes, then you’re made of stronger stuff than I. Carlos is a character brought over from the first book in this series, The Wedding Date, and while this book definitely has a lot less sex in it than The Wedding Date did, the connection between the characters is undeniable. A fun premise, great characters, and cooking up food that makes me want to show up at Carlos’s house with plate in hand.

Bet Me CoverBet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Minerva Dobbs doesn’t believe in happily-ever-after, and definitely not with a man who asks her out to dinner to win a bet. Calvin Morrisey isn’t interested in commitment or Minerva. After their date, they both expect to go their separate ways. But fate brings them back together, and this time, they’re stuck with each other, and there are Krispy Kreme donuts and Chicken Marsala, and a whole lot of hijinks. These two characters are in risk management, but it seems the risk they need to take is with their own hearts.

Month of Sundays CoverMonth of Sundays by Yolanda Wallace

Now, it’s been years since I read this book, but it has stuck with me. Rachel Bauer is still smarting from a recent breakup, and she’s set up on a blind date with Griffin Sutton, a sexy celebrity chef. Rachel knows Griffin’s reputation as a bit of a playgirl, so she holds Griffin at arm’s length. Griffin has never met a woman she couldn’t seduce, so she proposes a month of dates:  each Sunday, they’ll tour the world in food. For these women, let’s hope the truth holds, that the way to Rachel’s heart is truly through her stomach.

 

For more on foodie romances, check out 6 Spicy Food Truck Romances.

28 Romance Novellas You Should Check Out Immediately

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having trouble hunkering down with a nice, lengthy read this year. Out of the twenty or so romances I’ve read in 2019, nearly half have been romance novellas.

I love novellas. They’re quick and easy to commit to, and while many novellas are part of series, most can be read on their own. There are even series comprising completely of novellas, so you can have little bursts of joy in several increments. (P.S. I’m classifying novellas as anything under 200 pages or anything the author has classified as a novella…sometimes they’re a touch longer.)

Here are some of my favorite romance novellas, both recent and a touch older.

cover of can't escape love by alyssa coleCan’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

Okay, this is now probably my favorite novella of all time. I don’t know how that happened, but it did and I love it and will fight for it to the death. It’s set in the middle of the Reluctant Royals series, and discusses events that happen in A Duke By Default, but doesn’t lose anything if you haven’t read those. It features Reggie, nerd lady extraordinaire, and Gus, a friend she makes in a rather unorthodox way. Alyssa Cole can touch on physical disability, neurodiversity, nerddom as a POC, general racism, and about 50 other keywords while also making you grin like an idiot the whole time. The other novella in the Reluctant Royals series, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, is similarly able to stand alone, and is just as good.

Talk Sweetly To Me by Courtney Milan

This Victorian romance, set in the same universe as Milan’s Brothers Sinister series, tells the adorable story of a writer and a mathematician. Under the guise of doing research for his next novel, Stephen finds a way to spend time with his enchanting neighbor, Miss Rose Sweetly, and his courtship may begin in earnest. Stephen’s a bit of a rake, and Rose would rather not be popular, but she can’t help but be drawn to him as well.

Cover of Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure by Courtney MilanMrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan

Look, nobody said I could only talk about one book by each author. If you like books and reading about people, you have to read this novella. Absolutely have to. The titular Mrs. Martin often talks about finding a nice young thing of 40 for companionship, but instead finds herself caught up with Miss Viola Beauchamps, who isn’t much younger than her own 73. Viola has come to her seeking help with who Mrs. Martin only calls her Terrible Nephew, and it all goes swimmingly from there. If you’ve made the realization that Happy Elderly Victorian Lesbians is a thing you need more of in your life, well. Here you go.

The Craft of Love by EE Ottoman

This is another Victorian romance, though it takes place in New York and is much more low-key. The protagonists are both craftspeople by trade—our trans hero a silversmith, and the woman he admires a quiltmaker. Their quiet courtship is sweet and charming, and we get to see a side of 19th-century New York that isn’t often portrayed in romance.

cover of Only for a Night by Naima SimoneOnly For A Night by Naima Simone

On the other end of the spectrum is a very sexy, very steamy romance that—you guessed it—features a couple whose plans limit them to one night of hot lovin’. Harper goes to Rion looking for sex. He owns a sex club, after all, and was the one who dumped her way back when. They should both be over the intensity of their youthful relationship so she can figure out what she wants and needs after a few bad experiences, and, well. She trusts him. But what happens when those feelings come back? Or worse, never left? Talk about packing a hell of a punch into a few pages; Naima Simone is a master of ripping your heart out and stomping on it before smoothing it out and putting it back together again. Fair warning: tears may be involved.

Tikka Chance On Me by Suleikha Snyder

A famous romance author called this book a masterclass in the crafting of a novella, and I’ll tell you, it’s all true. Pinky and Trucker are hella attracted to each other, but she’s Indian American and he’s…well, he’s in a biker gang. That shouldn’t work, but it does. You have to read it to find out why. This one is also super sexy and includes banging in lots of different kinds of places.

cover of Treasure by Rebekah WeatherspoonTreasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

When a young black woman gets the hots for the stripper who gave her a lap dance, the last thing she expects is to be in class with her a short time later. The two women develop a friendship, and then something else, as they get to know each other. This was the first time I’d ever read a story of two black women—one of whom is a sex worker—finding love, support, and companionship in each other, and I take the chance to scream about it from the rooftops every chance I get.  (Also, if you’re looking for Rebekah Weatherspoon books, you might as well pick up Rafe while you’re at it. It’s a little longer than novella length at 257 pages, but it’s still a quick read and hell-ah hella hawt.) (Also also try Wrapped as well because there are gingers and cupcakes involved.)

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde

What happens when two friends who have known each other forever online finally meet for a con? They have to figure each other out in person, but adaption is basically the easiest thing ever. And they can support each other through their own dealings with crowds, anxiety, gender dysmorphia, and other things. (P.S. if you’re interested in more stories like this, you can also check out Geek Out: A Collection of Trans and Genderqueer Romance, which is a nice compilation of novellas.)

cover of Not another Family Wedding by Jackie LauNot Another Family Wedding by Jackie Lau

Natalie has to go to another family wedding (ha) but she doesn’t want to go alone. She knows there’s going to be some kind of embarrassing incident that she’s going to need to escape from. But the only person she can even think to ask is her best friend, Connor. The interesting dynamic between the pair is that they’ve been friends for years, but neither has considered pursuing a romantic relationship with the other since their early friendship, in part because of their standing on children. So there’s that.

Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert

Chastity is part of a family of monster hunters. And Luke is a werewolf. After catching the scent of his mate, he’s been hanging out where Chastity works, getting to know more about her and letting her see him as well. But eventually, the huntress has to discover that the hot guy who comes into the bakery all the time is a monster—and her mate. How does it go? Well, there’s some attempted murder involved. Really lovely stabbing. This was written as a Halloween novel, but it can definitely be read anytime. It’s one of many Talia Hibbert books I would shove into your face, but is also probably her shortest.

cover of Briarley by Aster Glenn GreyBriarley by Aster Glenn Gray

Sarah MacLean recommended this book to me, and I will be forever grateful. It’s a World War II–era novel set in the English countryside, and there’s a parson who finds himself in an enchanted castle after stopping for a rose in the rain. The servants are invisible, and there’s a very grumpy dragon who doesn’t know what year it is. But eventually, they become friends.

Cinnamon Blade: Knife in Shining Armor by Shira Glassman

Soledad tries to talk to Cinnamon Blade every time she rescues her, only to see her back as she walks away. But they’re finally face to face, and can go on a date…except Cinnamon Blade is a superhero and therefore can’t just have a normal date like a normal person. Every character in this novella is an effing delight and I wish there were more so I could follow Cin’s whole crew around all the time.

cover of let it shine by Alyssa ColeLet it Shine by Alyssa Cole

Ahaha you thought you weren’t going to get any more Alyssa Cole but you were wrong! Let It Shine and her sister story set during the Suffragist movement, Let Us Dream, are two of the best historical fiction novellas set in the twentieth century I’ve experienced. They take issues of social justice—respectively, the Freedom Riders and the American Suffrage Movement (and a side of xenophobia)—and build love stories within them. Because during times of struggle, love is even more imperative.

One in Waiting by Holley Trent

Queer, polyamorous, kinky baseball romance with a secret baby, you say? I mean, does it need any more description? I don’t think so.

cover of Play With Me by Alisha RaiPlay With Me by Alisha Rai

If you haven’t read any Alisha Rai, this is a great place to start. It’s the first in a trilogy of novellas (Bedroom Games) and it stands alone. We’re introduced to both parts of a couple who are no longer together. But one of them needs something, and the other is more than willing to help…for a price.

His Road Home by Anna Richland

This story starts with a small lie, which explodes into something much bigger when said liar is severely injured on the war front. What follows involves a woman suddenly being “engaged” to a man she hardly knew in high school, and the fallout. Strangely, it allows the pair to become friends in a different way, and there might be a road trip.

cover of one true pairing by cathy yardleyOne True Pairing by Cathy Yardley

TV heartthrob + townie fake relationship during a con? That’s more than enough little check marks for me. If you like fandom and cackling, this is definitely a great book to check out. It’s not the first in the Fandom Hearts series, but they all stand alone in a collective universe, so this is as good a place to start as any. But believe me, you’ll want to check out the others, starting with Level Up—which is about video game designers!

Rogue Desire (collection of 8)

If you’re looking for romance with a social justice and activism bent, the Rogue series is a magical world. Each anthology includes 8–10 novellas, featuring people doing what’s right for the cause. That cause could be political activism, local government, national government, or other things related to activism. There are six anthologies out now, and more are planned for the future.

cover of Hamilton's BattalionHamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole

This collection of three novellas are all somehow related to Alexander Hamilton (thanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda!) and are all pretty great. The first, Promised Land, is about two Jewish soldiers. Corporal Ezra Jacobs left home in disguise to fight in the war; she was no longer happy in her life as Rachel. But her husband shows up as a Loyalist spy, and the pair have a lot to discuss. The second is The Pursuit Of… which is actually set in the Worth universe, same as Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure. A black Revolutionary soldier and a white Redcoat find themselves on a long journey together. Finally, That Could Be Enough takes place later, and features the secretary of Eliza Hamilton and a young woman who has come to New York to tell her grandfather’s story (also harkening back to another Alyssa Cole novella, Be Not Afraid). All three are magnificent, and also the author’s notes. They’re so great.

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This is just a starter list; there are so many novellas in romance, in part because they’re so easy to consume and leave us time to get through more stories. If you like any of the authors mentioned here, they’ve all got longer offerings as well, and you can really dig down into their repertoires.

What are your favorite romance novellas?