#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

All About Pride: Lake Lovelace


Vanessa North‘s Lake Lovelace series is a small town series that has its own wakeboarding competition and its fair share of local athletes.

Ben Warren used to be a wakeboarding champion, but it’s not until he meets Davis Fox in  Double Upthat he starts to embrace life again. Davis is trying to build bridges with his estranged brother by entering the competition, but he can’t wakeboard and soon Ben finds himself coaching the newcomer!

In Rough Roadwealthy flirt Eddie Russell finds himself rescued by a man half his age when he runs his Mercedes off the road! Wish Carver is fascinated by the duality of Eddie’s personality – even if the two of them seem to be on opposite sides of a local issue…

Tina Durham’s adjusting to life after her divorce in Roller Girlbut everything seems to be going wrong – from her career to the washing machine that’s flooded her kitchen! Thank goodness for Joanne “Joe Mama” Demario. Not only does she fix the offending washing machine in question, but she also invites Tina to join her roller derby team and really doesn’t care that she’s transgender. But soon sparks between them begin to fly; will coach and player be able to keep things strictly professional?

It’s a wonderfully intersectional romance series, and North’s ability to create charming and amusing characters works wonders!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

All About Pride: Unspeakable


Abbie Rushton‘s Unspeakable  follows Megan, who hasn’t spoken in months. She even communicates with her mother through writing little notes, but in some ways it’s for the best. Because if she started speaking, goodness only knows what secrets would come selling out.

The last thing she expected was bubbly new girl Jasmine to pay any attention to her; certainly know one else expected it, but gravitate towards her Jasmine does and this makes for fascinating reading, with us hearing Megan’s internal responses to Jasmine’s chattering dialogue…

The romance itself is heart-warming and brightening, especially when we slowly begin to realise the enormity of the trauma that’s caused Megan to stop talking in the first place…

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

All About Pride: Not Otherwise Specified


Hannah Moskowitz‘s Not Otherwise Specified is a coming of age novel that follows Etta as she struggles with the categories that people want to put her in…

She’s not quite tiny enough for ballet, she’s not quite gay enough for her group of friends the Dykes – even though she’s always been open about being bisexual – she’s not quite sick enough for some people to take her anorexia seriously, even if she is in recovery, and she’s a black girl in a whiter than white Nebraska…

And it isn’t until she’s drawn to straight, white, Christian Bianca in her therapy group that she starts questioning her role within the labels that people have assigned her.

I think what’s truly remarkable about this book, is the strength of Etta’s voice. She’s funny and witty and goes off on tangents in a way that is really very endearing. Moskowitz approaches the darker issues with levity and practicality, and shows light onto the shadow. Utterly charmed by this book!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Rome


Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, by Jaye Robin Brown, is set in Rome, Georgia, a small conservative town, and follows Joanna Gordon.

Jo’s been out and proud for years, but when her radio evangelist father remarries and they move from Atlanta to Rome, he asks her to do one thing:  to lie low for the rest of her senior year.  Hiding who she really is, is the last thing that Jo wants to do, but she agrees.

The rest of the novel follows her as she starts a new school and continues with life…only a complication arises when she meets Mary Carlson.  Mary’s stunning and tempting and seems to be interested in Jo too…

What I really loved about this book, is the way in which it approaches the difficulties of navigating your sexuality, when your own faith can be used against you.  It’s not preachy at all – which is important for me – but instead posits Jo as a modern, rebellious and gay woman, who just happens to be religious.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Winslow


Piper Huguley‘s Migrations of the Heart is a heartwrenching series set in during the First World War in a small town in Georgia, following African American heroes and heroines.

The eponymous Ruby in A Virtuous Ruby, is hardworking and outspoken – exactly what a woman shouldn’t be, especially one who’s just had an illegitimate child.  But she simply can’t stand injustice, and that’s what drives her through the prejudice.  All Adam Morson wants, is to take Ruby and her child out of the toxic atmosphere he finds her in, but will she choose to stay to save the heart of her hometown?

In A Most Precious Pearl, journalist Asa returns home from the war with an amputated leg, and only one purpose:  to get Mags Bledsoe out of trouble.  But soon he discovers that there’s more to Mags that meets the eye, especially when he begins to uncover the truth about lynchings in the South…

A Treasure of Gold sees Ruby and Mags’ youngest sister, Nettie, head away from the small town of Winslow, to Pittsburgh, to do work for a charity kitchen.  But the big city is very different from the small town that she’s used to – and that definitely includes reprobate Jay Evans.  Jay really doesn’t need any help from a do-gooder, but he needs help with his daughter until his wound heals, and Nettie may well be just what he’s looking for!

Huguley has a gorgeous writing style, and I love the way she weaves her romance naratives with larger societal issues of the time.  Definitely worth a read!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Rock Hollow

Laurent Linn‘s Draw the Line is set in a small town in Texas, where being a nerd, an artist, and gay just brings you far more trouble than it’s worth.

And so Adrian has perfected the art of blending into the background – but when a hate crime rocks his world, suddenly he’s no longer satisfied to hide.  Soon he’s using his artwork to try and make a real difference.

It’s beautifully illustrated, but also heartbreakingly written, and highlights the fact that not all small towns are warm, fuzzy, accepting places!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, Mills & Boon, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Gauthier


Farrah Rochon‘s Bayou Dreams series is set in the small Louisiana town of Gauthier

When a family tragedy brings Mya home in A Forever Kind of Love, she’s determined to avoid the man who broke her heart fifteen years before.  But Cory’s determined to win back his first and only love!

In Always and Forever Phylicia can’t quite believe how close she came to buying back her family home – until Jamal, a restoration specialist, managed to buy it out from under her!  But when he asks her to help him convert it into a B&B, will their working relationship become a more intimate one?

Historian Tamryn West is brought back to Gauthier, trying to uncover the secret of her grandmother’s past in Yours Forever, only to stumble upon even more scandalous secrets – secrets that Matthew Gauthier has spent years trying to keep from coming to light…

Forever’s Promise sees Xavier’s attempts to mend his broken heart whilst working as Gauthier’s ER doctor interrupted when he meets Shayla.  Shayla’s helping care for her nieces after a family tragedy and has opened a coffee shop, but will Xavier inspire passion?

When widowed mother of two Leslie gets caught up in a clash between the progressive new principal of Louisiana’s elementary school and the local community in Forever with You, she’s determined not to take sides.  Only that’s a little more difficult when there’s such explosive chemistry between her and Gabe…

When the Gauthier community comes under threat in Stay with Me Forever, it’s up to Paxton and Sawyer to save the day, and help prevent flooding – if only they can stop thinking about the passionate night they shared three years ago!

I love the fact that these Bayou natives face real risks and threats to their community in this heartwarming series!