About an hour after I was asked to put together a list of Black romance authors with recent and upcoming releases, I had about 20 names on the list. It took a couple of days to narrow them down. Ultimately, I chose the following selections because I have personal respect for these authors and a love of their books. 

For some of them, their work is engaging, well-crafted, and should have more media attention. Many romance novels by Black authors don’t always get the recognition they deserve. So here, I’ve gathered a selection of romance stories that will provide the escapism you crave — especially in these trying times — from a point of view you may never have considered.  While some of these are steamier than others, none of these choices are defined as sweet/clean romance. So prepare yourself for some heat!

Regency in Color: Collection 1 by various authors, including Gabrielle Carr and Elise Marion
Genre: Regency historical

If you can’t get enough of the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn (now a show on Netflix), this anthology is sure to help curb your cravings until the next season. Regency in Color is a collection of five novellas with heroes and heroines of color featuring everything from a beautiful heiress moonlighting as a tavern songstress, to a sinfully sexy, society misfit Duke striking an unlikely alliance. Some are written by Black authors such as Gabrielle Carr.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

Wild Rain (Women Who Dare, Book 2) by Beverly Jenkins
Genre: Historical

Beverly Jenkins is a legendary and award-winning Black author who has enlightened readers to the significant role Black people have played in American history through her historical romance novels. While she’s also written contemporary romances, her latest novel, Wild Rain, is set post-Civil War. The novel features a reporter for a Black newspaper who travels to Wyoming on assignment to write a story on doctors. Of particular interest is Colton Lee — that is, until he meets Colton’s unconventional sister, Spring. A woman ahead of her time, she runs her own ranch, wears jeans, and completely fascinates him like no other woman before her.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

If the Boot Fits (Cowboys of California, Book 2) by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Genre: Contemporary, Western

Moving further out west to California,  and further in time to the present day, Rebekah Weatherspoon brings us book two of her Cowboys of California series. Weatherspoon’s novels Xeni and Rafe have won her awards and acclaim, Rafe garnering praise from the New York Times. She’s also one of the few widely-known romance authors to bring to the genre such a great portrayal of LGBTQ characters of color. Her latest in the series is a Cinderella retelling complete with Oscar parties, movie stars and hot cowboys.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams (forthcoming November 2, 2021)
Genre: Romantic comedy

I am a champion of curvy heroines, especially curvy heroines of color. So, when I saw the teaser trailer for this sophomore novel by Denise Williams, I knew I had to have it on my TBR list. Her debut How to Fail at Flirting was one of my favorite romantic comedies of 2020 (see my review here) and I’m excited about this one centered around characters Britta and Wes. Britta works for a lifestyle website, and she’s writing about a new body-positive (!) fitness app. Wes is the CEO of the app, and he’s now getting back into coaching … with Britta. Maybe reading this one will get me to exercise more? Bonus!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

Won’t Go Home Without You (Richardson Sisters, Book 2) by Cheris Hodges
Genre: Contemporary

I must admit, I love Cheris Hodges’ books for the writing and for the fact that they are usually set in some part of the Carolinas (where both she and I are from). I love the familiar feeling and sense of home I get reading her books. This installment of the Richardson Sisters series, however, has a theme I don’t read a lot of in romance a couple going through a marriage crisis (aka marriage-in-trouble trope). While I read more of this in women’s fiction (mainly because the outcome usually doesn’t end in an HEA), it’s as much a romance trope as it is a theme in women’s fiction. Hodges has already made some editors’ pick lists with this must-read romance.

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 Queen Move (All the King’s Men #3) by Kennedy Ryan
Genre: Contemporary

Kennedy Ryan’s romances are often as emotionally hard-hitting as they are passionate. It’s what draws you in and keeps you there throughout all of her novels. Her heroes and heroines love hard and go through … a lot. The bonus is seeing so many Black characters in prominent community roles and just being the boss. Kimba and Ezra are just that. This third book in the All the King’s Men series is a second-chance, friends-to-lovers romance that once you start reading you won’t want to put down.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

Maybe Next Time (Vegas Nights, Book 1) by Christina C. Jones 
Genre: Contemporary

And just as I say I don’t read a lot of married couple romance books, I’ve got another must-read one on the list! However, this novella approaches its marriage-in-trouble more as a second-chance romance than dealing with a crisis. The novel centers on Denver and Kensa, whose vows of “for better or worse” are being sorely tested. It’s their battle of egos, however, that they must overcome if they’re going to rekindle their flame. At the time I write this, this novella is a number-one bestseller on Amazon in the category Black & African American Erotica. And if you’re a fan of Christina C. Jones, you know this is not a coincidence or a one-time event. She continually produces some of the best erotic romance stories out there. If you haven’t heard of her, this novella may just be a great place to start.