Hearts on Fire: Diverse Romance for Fall 2017

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Welcome once again fellow readers! We’ve already shared some of our most anticipated science fiction and fantasy reads, and now we’re back for round three of our recommendations. This time around, we’ll focus on the brighter side of life and indulge in a little romance for the remainder of 2017. Out of the many, many genres in the literary world, romance frustratingly remains one of the slowest to progress beyond its focus on white heterosexual relationships. But love touches all our lives in strange and wonderful ways, and we do that universal human emotion a grave disservice by not reflecting its diversity in the media we create and consume. Besides, it’s always good to show the few glimmers of light that exist among the darkness of this year. So sit back, relax, and let love fill your heart and rejuvenate your soul into 2018.

They Both Die at the End

Adam Silvera
Harper Teen
September 5th, 2017

Of course, the first recommendation for this list will be absolutely heartbreaking—but so worth it, given the talents of Adam Silvera. He broke onto the YA scene two years ago with his stunning novel More Happy Than Not, where he explored race, class, and sexuality to devastating effect. His latest release further delves into these same topics, with a greater focus on finding meaning in life and death. In an alternate society where people are informed of their impending deaths by the mysterious Death-Cast agency, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio find each other on their End Day and embark on their lives’ last great adventure together. They Both Die at the End delivers on the heavy themes and captivating romance that Silvera fans are accustomed to, but even the title cannot prepare readers for this poignant emotional journey.

Acting on Impulse

Mia Sosa
Avon Impulse
September 19th, 2017

What do you get when you mix spontaneous vacations, airplane meet-cutes, secret identities and a whole lot of celebrity drama? Mia Sosa’s latest cute and joyously tropey romance, Acting on Impulse! As the start of her Hollywood inspired Love on Cue series, readers follow fitness trainer Tori Alvarez on a low-key getaway to forget about her media-hungry politician ex. But she accidentally stumbles upon a real-life celebrity during her travels… though she doesn’t realize it at first. Movie star Carter Stone has become completely unrecognizable following a dramatic transformation for a new movie role, but he needs some serious help to regain his good looks. While she doesn’t recognize him, Tori is more than willing to train this funny and charming stranger. But as sparks fly, the media finds Carter and blows his cover, leaving Tori to question whether she wants to undergo another romance in the spotlight.

Wild Beauty

Anna-Marie McLemore
Feiwel & Friends
October 3rd, 2017

If you want your romance to be lovingly packaged around mythology, family legacy, and magical gardening, then Anna-Marie McLemore’s lush novel Wild Beauty may be the thing for you. On the mysterious grounds of La Pradera, generations of the Nomeolvides family tend to the gardens using the gifts of their ancestral magic. However, this magic comes with a few costs—they can never leave the grounds or they will die, and they can never fall in love or that person will disappear forever. When the latest generation of cousins—Estrella, Azalea, Calla, Dalia, and Gloria—all fall in love with the heiress of La Pradera, they collectively pray for her safety by sacrificing their treasured objects to the garden. The garden responds with a surprise: a boy from a different century, who starts inspiring Estrella to question the life that she and her family lead.

A Line in the Dark

Malinda Lo
Dutton Books for Young Readers
October 17th, 2017

The author of Huntress, Ash and Adaptation, Malinda Lo is back this year to grace us with another cool, genre-bending psychological thriller. A Line in the Dark starts as a classic tale of unrequited love: Jess Wong and Angie Redmond have been best friends for as long as they can remember, and Jess has been in love with Angie for just as long. But Angie has set her sights on Margot Adams, a popular athlete from a nearby boarding school. As the girls enter Margot’s world, they soon find themselves trapped in a blistering new reality of unchecked privilege, irresponsibility, and secrets that could very well threaten their friendship—and, as this novel soon reveals with a shocking twist, their lives.

Rosemarked

Livia Blackburne
Disney-Hyperion
November 7th, 2017

By now you should know that I’m a sucker for covers, and the lush watercolors for Rosemarked immediately appealed to my soft romantic sensibilities. The story behind the cover is just as romantic, but it’s far from a soft journey to get there. Under the thumb of the Amparan Empire are two young protagonists suffering from unique tragedies. A village healer named Zivah is succumbing to the incurable rose plague, and she distances herself from her friends and family until a strange threat forces her out of isolation. Meanwhile, enemy soldier Dineas has just escaped his captivity from the empire and now seeks to free his people from its oppressive encroachment on his homeland. These two lost souls find one another in the empire’s capital city, and love inadvertently blooms despite the conflicts in their missions.

A Hope Divided

Alyssa Cole
Kensington
November 28th, 2017

After the well-deserved success of this year’s An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole will end the year with this new addition to her Civil War themed series, the Loyal League. Marlie Lynch has lived as a freewoman in the South her entire life and in A Hope Divided, keeps a low profile while she quietly helps the Union’s efforts in the war. But Marlie soon joins the thick of the war when her house is seized by the Confederate army to be used as a base of operations and makeshift prison. One of the new captives is Ewan McCall, who seems to be hiding a shared history with the cruel army captain. When this secret is revealed, Marlie and Ewan are forced to flee for their freedom and protect their love on the path of the Underground Railroad.

A Distant Heart

Sonali Dev
Kensington
December 26th, 2017

Finally, you should wrap up your Yuletide festivities and welcome the new year with A Distant Heart, the upcoming novel by A Bollywood Affair author Sonali Dev. After several miscarriages, failed fertility treatments, and prayer, Kimaya is considered a miracle child in her family. Her parents shower her with all the love and protection they can afford, and yet it still doesn’t prevent her from developing a deliberating illness that requires her to be confined in her germ-free mansion. While she thus spends most of her childhood alone, her adult life offers a new surprise in the form of newly appointed servant Rahul Savant. The two strike up a casual flirtation that becomes beautifully tangible as Kimaya’s health slowly improves. But in planning a real future together, Kimaya and Rahul must confront their conflicting life experiences, their severe class differences, and their families’ deadly intertwined histories.

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Adult-in-training by day, queer geek of color by night.

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