Some days, you just need a little romance.
As you may know, I love romance for many reasons, but I especially love them when I feel down. Romance, to me, represents the most hopeful and optimistic books in literature, and while I always love and appreciate them, some days, I need them.
This week has been a string of those days.
For those of us who see the Orlando shootings as not just horrific, but also as a hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community, this has been a very hard few days to get through.
I could tell you so many stories of gay friends and family members who’ve faced injustice, bigotry and intolerance. We all have the misfortune of knowing mean, intolerant people, but on days like these, they seem even meaner and more intolerant.
In times like these I turn to romance, and this week I thought I’d turn to some favorite LGBTQ+ romance friends and authors to get some recommendations.
My two favorite LGBTQ+ romance ambassadors are Radclyffe and Damon Suede. They’re both terrific authors, and I’d recommend anything they’ve written.They both did great posts in January for Read-A-Romance too. Radclyffe spoke eloquently about our need for heroes and finished her post with this beautiful and germane statement:
“We read romances to celebrate all that is best in the human spirit, and we need romances to remind us of all that is best about the human condition. No matter how difficult our day, how dark the world around us may appear, or how uncertain the future, for a few moments, and often much much longer, romance fiction provides us with comfort, hope, and the common bonds that unite rather than separate us from our fellow human beings.” (You can read the full post here.)
Aurora Rey (Winter’s Harbor and Built to Last): for those who like their contemporary romances with a little heat and a little sweet.
Melissa Brayden (How Sweet It is; Kiss the Girl (Soho Loft series): romances where friends share the ups and downs of falling in love.
Jenny Frame (A Royal Romance; Heart of the Pack): from a Princess and the Commoner contemporary romance to the leader of the Pack (paranormal romance).
In Damon’s post (read it here) he shared this great sentiment:
“Whatever you read, whatever your secret kink or guilty habit, I encourage you to stretch your margins and push past your comfort reads. If you haven’t read a romance written before 2000, check out the genre greats of yesteryear. If you only dig paranormal, consider giving romantic suspense a go. If you loathe inspirationals, see if you can find one that surprises you. If you’ve never read a book with zero white characters, you (literally) don’t know what you’re missing. Fantasy romance comes in all flavors. Small town romance runs the gamut from lesbian YA to interracial. And every one of them contains that seed of joy from which our genre sprouts. Joy frees us, excites us, changes us— it holds us because it will not and cannot be held.” (Full post.)
In his post, Damon’s recommended:
Jordan Castillo Price, who somehow balances lush escapism with gritty realism in every title.
Sarah Waters, who turned literary historical lesbian romance into a mass-market phenomenon in the UK through sheer talent.Finally, I met Christopher Rice at RT this year and simply loved him. I’ve been very moved by his twitter coverage of the Orlando shootings, especially his dedication to posting a picture of every victim of the massacre. (Follow @chrisricewriter) twitter.com/chrisricewriter )
I asked Chris for a few recommendations, and he sent these:
Eric Shaw Quinn, who has just published a beautiful dramatization of the love story of Jonathan and David from the Book of Samuel. Sure to be controversial, but a beautiful, heartfelt book that uplifts scripture while embracing the two men as lovers. The book is called The Prince’s Palm and it was published by DSP, an imprint of Dreamspinner.
On the romance side, The Salisbury Key by Harper Fox and Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels, both of which are about finding love after having been almost shattered by grief.
One of the greatest novels about the gay male experience of all time is Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran.
You want to honor the people who died in Orlando?
Pick up a book by someone you’ve never read before. If you’ve never read a gay or lesbian romance, try one. You’ll be moved, I promise you.
Above all, be kind. Be sensitive to the lives and struggles of others, and especially to those who many people in our society still think are deserving of discrimination, mistreatment, and injustice.
And, apparently, of death.
Be a hero. Stand up to hate. Call those people out on how they treat others.
Read a romance.Celebrate love.
Believe in love. Believe in love for everyone.
(I originally wrote a longer, more personal blog post that talked about two of my gay friends and their experiences. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here on the Read-A-Romance site.)
Have a beautiful, heroic week.