5 African American Romance Authors to Keep Your Eye On

By Dena Thu, October 19, 2017

A few weeks ago The Ripped Bodice, a romance bookstore in Los Angeles, released the inaugural report on the State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing and it exposes some hard truths about the lack of diversity in traditionally published romance books in the United States. According to the report, of every 100 books published in 2016 by a leading romance publisher, only 7.8 were written by a person of color.

This report made me think really hard about what I read and how I recommend books to others. So often we find ourselves reading what is comfortable, or what we've always read, and we rarely venture out into the wider world of what's available (or, as this report makes clear, what ISN'T available, but should be). If what's available is substantially homogeneous, we're missing out on so many other voices that deserve to be heard.

Over upcoming blog posts, I'm going to highlight some diverse authors that might not be on your radar. I'll start with African-American authors, since they're probably the most substantial group being published once you move into the realm of "diverse".  Like the report above, I will focus on how the AUTHOR identifies, regardless of how their characters identify.

African-American Romance has a huge following, so you might already read it. In fact, if you go into a bookstore or library looking for a romance novel, there are often two sections—general Romance and African-American Romance—and it can be easy to check out one section but not the other. If you're a romance reader and you skip the African American section you're missing out on some great stuff! Of course, romance readers probably already know the big names in African-American romance: Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson, Rochelle Alers, et al... but let's talk about some of the other authors that are out there that might become some of your new favorite writers.This list is not even beginning to scratch the surface of the vast pool of African-American romance talent, but hopefully this will be a fun way to begin your exploration!

1. Xio Axelrod
Axelrod is a local Philly author. She writes contemporary romances inspired by everything from Scandal to Outlander to the Norwegian TV show SKAM. Her books are funny, heartfelt, and sometimes really hot. She even sets some of them right here in Philadelphia!

 

 

 

 

 

2. Alyssa Cole
Cole writes strong, principled, delightful characters and does her homework - the settings and circumstances are believable whether she's writing romances set during the Civil War or the Civil Rights era. She is also about to begin a light and funny contemporary romance series next year. And if your tastes run teen, she started her career with a trilogy of near-future post-apocolyptical adventure romances full of diverse early-twenties folks.

 

 

 

 

3. Rina Gray
Do you like your romances contemporary and fun? Rina Gray might be your sweet spot. The books are filled with high-powered marketing types, sports stars, and loads of people who are good at their jobs but not so good at romance.

 

 

 

 


 

4. Piper Huguley
Huguley writes Christian historical romance, mainly set during the Great Migration at the turn of the 20th century. She writes about former slaves, teacher, and preachers who are working to build a better life for themselves and their community.

 

 

 

5. Rebekah Weatherspoon
Does a college sorority lesbian vampire series sound good to you? Check out Rebekah Weatherspoon! You can start with the vampires and move on from there. Some of her other books are contemporaries with BDSM and suspense elements and others are romantic comedies, so you get a little of everything with her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next time I'll give you some suggestions for other diverse romance writers!

According to the State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing report, of every 100 books published in 2016 by a leading romance publisher, only 7.8 were written by a person of color.
According to the State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing report, of every 100 books published in 2016 by a leading romance publisher, only 7.8 were written by a person of color.

Comments

Wow.. I have not read Xio Axelrod or Rina Gray.. heading to Amazon. Piper, Alyssa and Rebekah are AWESOME! Thank you
Cilla - Baltimore Thu, October 19, 2017
Thanks for the list! Please add me to your mailing list.
Carol - California Thu, October 19, 2017
Rina Gray is definitely up and coming. Keep you eyes open for her books. They are a treasure, funny, sassy and down right good.
Connie Gillam Fri, October 20, 2017
I always think of Piper Huguley as having arrived. Piper is a great storyteller and like Beverly Jenkins her books educate as well as entertain.
Connie Gillam Fri, October 20, 2017
Thank you so much for this list. The only author I knew was Piper and I love her books so so much.
Rebecca Rodgers - Seattle, Wa Fri, October 20, 2017
Thanks for this list! It's always great to find new authors in different genres.
Dana - Philadelphia Tue, October 24, 2017
I have been reading Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson and Rochelle Alers for many years. I love Rochelle Alers book "No Compromise" Story of Jolene Walker and Michael Kirkland. I Lent my copy out and I am sad because I never received it back and cannot find a copy in any store. Thank goodness for the library. I can borrow it and return it for others to read.
Dorothy Thomas-Wilson - Philadelphia Fri, October 27, 2017
Thank you so much for this list!
S. - phila Fri, October 27, 2017
Thanks so much. I was turned on to African American romance novels some 15 years ago, but really enjoy the historical flavor. There Beverly Jenkins is at the top of my list. However, my other favorites are Brenda Jackson, Donna Hill, and Rochelle Ayers are at the top of my reading list. I needed this, next stop Amazon.
Myrdis - West Philly Sun, October 29, 2017

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