I grew up reading the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer, the romance suspense stories of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis Whitney, and the Harlequin romances of the 70's. I loved escaping into the worlds these authors created, the search for trust, and the happily ever after endings.
But today, we live within a more aware sensibility. The romances listed above were about middle or upper class white women and men. I did not imagine, even undescribed secondary characters, as people of color.
Today, novels are available that take into account the complex reality of our culture. More and more stories describe protagonists or supporting characters as people of color, and how skin color affects the lives, not only the individual, but also of other people caught in the web of relationships within the community itself.
This year, I have read two novels by Barbara O'Neal. She is a new author for me and I'm delighted to find her. I just finished her book, The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Not only does she write about romance and a particular woman's growth, she also taps into an immigration raid and how that effects the restaurant community in her story. She builds in the nuances that exists within the Spanish speaking community--Mexican, Spanish, Indian--just as she makes distinctions between Jewish, Russian, and Irish.
Within this last year, I have also enjoyed stories by Celeste Ng, Bernadine Evaristo, Heidi Durrow, and Jacqueline Woodson as well as Roxane Gay's non-fiction book. They are not all americana happily ever after like the books I read in the 70's. But I am a curious person and I want to learn about the world around me, through non-fiction, and through novels.