Sarah Ready is a romance author for one simple reason: She loves the genre. She loves writing books that are “full of love and laughter,” that earn reviews full of words like heartwarming, laugh-out-loud, and euphoric. But in the opening pages of Josh and Gemma Make a Baby, Ready’s heroine is dealing with some serious challenges. Gemma is in her early 30s, divorced from her cheating husband, perpetually single, and, worst of all, haunted by a doctor’s warning that she likely will never be able to get pregnant.

But Gemma works for a famous self-help guru, and she’s taken his lessons to heart. What she wants more than anything else is a baby:

I’ve been waiting for a good man to help make my dreams come true.

But, at that moment, I realized my dream doesn’t have to include marriage. Or a man.

Single women have babies all the time. I don’t need a fifty-year-old toupee-wearing man to have a future of happiness. I can make a future of happiness for myself.

Maybe, I can have a family. Maybe I can finish singing that lullaby.

I just need an egg, some sperm, and a doctor to help make the magic happen.

I can control my own destiny.

Gemma sets off on the rocky road that is IVF, enlisting the help (and sperm) of her childhood crush, Josh Lewenthal. Romance fans know how hard it is to find books that tackle infertility issues, and Ready wanted to fill that need in the genre she loves so much. Kirkus Reviews hails Josh and Gemma Make a Baby as “an unusual and winning read about a little-discussed topic.”

Ready, who lives in the Caribbean with her family, has always been a voracious reader of all genres of romance. This extensive reading showed her how rare it was for a romance, especially a romantic comedy, to acknowledge infertility issues. And yet in real life, infertility is all too common. “It’s so much a part of our story as women,” she says, “and yet it’s not out there in pop culture. And when it is out there, it’s often a very sad story.”

Ready has been writing romance and romantic comedies for some time now, from her debut The Fall in Love Checklist to her Soul Mates in Romeo Romance series. The early stages of Josh and Gemma Make a Baby leaned a little more on the dramatic side, but when Covid lockdowns began, Ready knew she needed to write it as a romantic comedy. “Humor connects us as humans; it’s one of the best ways to approach certain topics and times of life because it brings people together.” Once she had the revelation that her novel needed to be a comedy, it fully came together in her mind as a story she could put on the page.

But there’s simply no avoiding the fact that infertility journeys are tough. And just because Ready was writing a comedy, that didn’t mean she was going to ignore the pain, both emotional and physical, that comes with struggling to get pregnant. Kirkus notes that “the details of reproductive challenges and medical interventions are explicit and not for the faint of heart but can provide information and comfort to those who are curious or have experienced fertility struggles themselves.”

In order to maintain that balance while also leaning into the “comedy” aspect of “romantic comedy,” Ready stays close to her characters as she writes—to their emotions and in-the-moment reactions. “When you’re writing, even if you haven’t had that specific experience, you’ve felt that emotion,” she says. “You can still bring the depth of humanity that we all share into what you’re writing.” From there, Ready says the readers bring their own hearts and minds to the story, and that’s the magic of how characters come to life.

There’s something very special when that author-reader connection happens around an issue like infertility. Many people who have undergone procedures like IVF feel isolated, and reading about characters who are tackling the same problems can be validating. Many of Ready’s fans have reached out to her to share their own stories and to thank her for writing a book that portrays a journey so much like their own. Ready even found out that a pregnant woman started the book while in labor at the hospital, then switched to the audiobook version after her child was born.

Readers can pick up the sequel to Josh and Gemma Make a Baby, titled Josh and Gemma the Second Time Around. Ready says Book 2 is “vastly different,” leaning a little more into “a roller coaster of emotion,” but that her advance readers have loved following Josh and Gemma’s journey. Without spoiling anything, Ready continues to explore the difficult parts of life that are very normal but still not typically depicted in popular culture and romance novels. “I hope that it can help a lot of women,” she says.


Chelsea Ennen is a writer living in Brooklyn.