Tag: Mia Sosa

Jun 05

Boosting Black Voices: Rom-Com Edition

Romance 2

Hi Bookworms,

It’s been a week, hasn’t it? I’m going to take a pass on a regular weekly update. It hardly seems appropriate given the circumstances. Today, I want to take the opportunity to highlight some books by excellent Black authors that aren’t going to land on any social justice reading lists. Most of what I’ve been reading of late has been light, romantic, and fun. That’s my lane, and there are a ton of fabulous Black authors writing these stories. If I can give some of those voices even the tiniest boost? It’s not much, but it’s not nothing. Black people deserve happy endings too, dangit.

Before I start, though, I want to make it clear that I fully understand the gravity of this moment. George Floyd was murdered by police, on camera, in an absolutely horrific and brutal manner. It has sparked a massive uprising of protests across the country, protests which are just and necessary. If this atrocity hadn’t been filmed, if the video hadn’t been disseminated, if people hadn’t started to protest? The man who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck until he suffocated would still be out there with a gun and a badge able to do anything he pleased. At the moment I’m writing this post, the other three officers involved STILL aren’t in custody. (*UPDATE* They’re in custody now. Finally. I’ve been working on this post all week.) And, it’s not JUST about George Floyd. It’s happened over and over and over again and the perpetrators are almost never held accountable. Police are always given the benefit of the doubt in conflict situations. Black people rarely are. It’s wrong on a basic human level. It was wrong centuries ago. It’s wrong now. It’s endlessly wrong that it’s been allowed to continue in varying degrees for so freaking long. What can I, as a white lady who avoids conflict like it’s her job, POSSIBLY add to a conversation about racial injustice? Nothing, really. And my personal feelings are not important. This isn’t about ME and I don’t want to center myself in the conversation. There are a lot of resources out there right now discussing the hard topics, and I encourage you to seek them out. I know I will be. (I’ll link some at the end of this post.)

But back to my little mission statement: there are so many wonderful stories starring Black people about love and joy. Fiction and non fiction exposing the systemic mistreatment of Black people is incredibly important, but stories of Black joy are enduring and vital. Hollywood nearly always depicts Black people in romantic comedies as sidekicks and comic relief- this list of books puts Black people in at least one of the starring roles, and every last one of them is authored by a Black woman. Let’s take a gander at some of my recent favorites, shall we?

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole- This book is laugh-out-loud funny. It starts off with a Black woman completing grad school who keeps receiving what she assumes to be catfishing emails from a African prince. Because, yes, OF COURSE she’s betrothed to an African prince. Naledi Smith- former foster kid, worker of multiple jobs, struggling student, and Princess to be? Sure, Jan. Spoiler alert- it’s not a catfishing scam. Prince Thabiso of Thesolo is legitimately attempting to track down the woman he was betrothed to as a child, out of duty and curiosity. He’s immediately drawn to Naledi, but he’s not exactly forthright about who he is. Nobody ever claimed romance heroes have the best judgment. Anyway, the book is really fun and it kicks of a series, which is perfection, and you should read every single installment.

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory- this book is the third in the series, but it’s my favorite. of the bunch. Every single book in this series so far features a Black girl getting a happy ending, so you really can’t go wrong no matter where you start. The Wedding Party follows Maddie and Theo as they prepare to stand up in their best friend Alexa’s wedding. Unfortunately, the two have always not-so-secretly hated each other so things are bound to be kind of tense. Except that they “accidentally” hook up… And then can’t stop hooking up. What? Enemies to lovers is a tried and true romance trope for good reason! But Theo. Oh Theo. He’s one of my all-time favorite romantic heroes. He’s all buttoned up and proper and smart, but then he busts out with his sweet sweet N’Sync dance moves. It’s a recipe for fun, I tell you what.

RAFE: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon- I have talked about this book A LOT. Actually, I think I’ve discussed all the books on this list in other places on my blog, but the swoony factor on this one is a stand-out. Dr. Sloane Copeland is a Black heart surgeon. The former child prodigy has super cute twin little girls and her nanny flaked out. Finding quality, reliable childcare is tough under the best of circumstances, but Sloane has unpredictable hours. She’s a single mother who needs live-in help, and she’s been left in the lurch. Enter Rafe, unlikely but incredibly capable childcare professional. The sparks immediately fly and the two must navigate the murky waters of professionalism and attraction. Nanny-employer relationships are usually pretty creepy, but Weatherspoon flips the script. Our heroine is super aware of the power imbalance; she and Rafe actually discuss the power dynamics of their involvement. This book is the exact opposite of the gross Dad leaving his wife for the babysitter. I highly recommend it.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa- The protagonist in this novel is of Afro-Brazilian decent, which was awesome as I know know that pao de quiejo exists and I’ve never wanted to eat something so badly. I mean, Brazilian cheese bread?! YUM! Lina Santos is a sought-after wedding planner whose own wedding took a disastrous turn when her garbage fire of a fiance jilted her at the altar. Apparently a heart-to-heart with his brother and Best Man the night before the wedding convinced him walking out would be the best thing to do. Fast forward to a while after the dust settles. Lina has an incredible job opportunity, only to find out it would involve her working with both her ex and his brother- the WEDDING RUINING BEST MAN. Look, if “we accidentally landed in a couples counseling retreat” doesn’t sound like the perfect recipe for hilarity and heart in a rom-com to you, then perhaps you’ll be interested in “woman of color gets revenge on smug white guy by ordering him extremely spicy food he totally thinks he can handle.” Enemies to lovers, you know you love it.

Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins- This is the third installment of a series following the Yates brothers, and my favorite of the bunch. It’s a historical novel, set in the barely post-Civil War American West. Noah Yates is the youngest member of a well-to-do bi-racial Northern California ranching family (his dad was Black, his mom is Spanish.) While he has plenty to go home to, his traumatic past has led him to spend his life at sea. Pilar is a Cuban political activist from a family of forgers, pirates, and general malcontents. Noah has a ship. Pilar needs one. So she steals the boat and kidnaps Noah. As one does. Overall, this one is more serious in tone than most of the other books on the list, but that doesn’t mean it lacks for humor or hijinks. I mean, the lead couple end up in a literal sword fight at one point! (Not a “I want to actually hurt you” sword fight, mind. More of a “let us compete for the title of best swashbuckler in an attempt to ignore our incredible sexual tension” sort of sword fight.) It’s an excellent (and steamy) read!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert: Talia Hibbert is British, and I imagine that the experience of being Black in England is different than being Black in the US. But, racism is garbage and literally everywhere. In this book, Chloe comes from a wealthy Black family- she suffers from chronic pain and as a result she does not suffer fools. Her curtness leads to a prickly acquaintance with the superintendent at her apartment building, Red. He hails from a much humbler set of circumstances, and is put off by Chloe’s snobbishness. If only he could get past the fact that he’s inexplicably drawn to her. And then Chloe goes and attempts to rescue a cat from a tree and Red then has to rescue Chloe. Adorable, hilarious, cheeky banter- it’s everything I love in a rom-com. The second book in this series was just released, and I’m super stoked. Take a Hint, Dani Brown, here I come!

I’m going to stop there because I will never finish writing this post otherwise. I have discussed most (if not all) of these books on my blog at some point, but compiling this list felt important. Seeing Black people live “happily ever after” is wonderful. It’s critical to recognize the trauma Black people experience, but let’s normalize that Black joy too, shall we?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested and in a position to do so, please consider making a purchase from a local independent book store. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home! 

Here are a few resources for those of you interested in a more serious reading list and some thoughtful commentary:

12 Anti-Racist Books Recommended by Educators and Activists

16 Books about Race Every White Person Should Read

What is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?

The Anti-Racist Reading List

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Feb 27

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Romance 1

Greetings Bookworms,

I just finished the most delightful Rom-Com. As I started writing little notes to myself for my weekly wrap-up, it quickly became clear that I had a lot to say about The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa. Hence, it shall have its own post. You deserve it, you sweet little book, you.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgOur protagonist, Carolina Santos, is a wedding planner who manages to keep doing her job despite having been left at the alter herself (early aughts J-Lo vibes are inevitable, really, but, this is a better story.) Carolina Santos is excellent at her job, and she’s worked very hard to cultivate her no-nonsense persona. After she masterfully saves the eyebrows (you read that right) of the groom one at one memorable event, she’s offered the opportunity to interview for a position to be a swanky hotel’s wedding coordinator. The opportunity sounds almost too good to be true, considering she’s going to be losing her affordable retail space and is OVER the exhausting work of running her own business. The other shoe inevitably drops when she discovers that the marketing team she’s supposed to build her pitch with consists of her ex-fiance Drew and his brother Max, AKA, the WORST BEST MAN EVER (since he apparently encouraged Drew to ditch Lina.) As you might imagine, hijinks ensue.

Let’s get to the good stuff. First, Lina is the daughter of Brazilian immigrants living in the Washington, DC area. I think this is the first book I’ve ever read focusing on Brazilian immigrants, and it was a lot of fun to hear about the family’s dynamic and traditions. And, as an added perk of listening to the audio version, I really enjoyed hearing the little snippets of spoken Portuguese peppered into the dialogue. (That would have been less fun if I’d read it myself, because I don’t speak Portuguese and would certainly have mentally mispronounced all of it.)

This book also hit upon one of my favorite romance tropes, the classic “THERE’S ONLY ONE BED!” But it didn’t stop there! I’d like to see “OOPS WE ACCIDENTALLY LANDED IN A COUPLE’S COUNSELLING RETREAT” become a romance trope in its own rite, because it was hilarious and wonderful. That’s another thing- this book was funny. You know how when you type “LOL” but you really only exhale sharply through your nose and smirk? This was not that type of funny. This was “bystanders are going to wonder what the heck is going on because I’m wearing ear buds and I can’t stop giggling” funny.

The only issue I had with this audio book is that the male narrator’s voice had a quality that kept making me think of Norm Macdonald. And while mid-90s teenage Katie did kind of have a thing for him on SNL, much like my crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas, this one didn’t age well. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, NORM, YOU’RE RUINING THIS FOR ME! (I’ll own that this criticism is 100% on me; I doubt anyone else has a subconscious Norm Macdonald fixation.)

All the humor and fun aside, this book had a lot of heart. Max and Lina made so much progress in dealing with their emotional baggage. I mean, Max and Drew have this awful toxic competitive relationship that needs a lot of unpacking. And Lina keeps such a tight reign on her emotions because the world has penalized her for having feelings. I’m a walking bundle of messy, leaky feelings, and while it can be inconvenient and embarrassing, White ladies are afforded liberties with emotions that Black Latinx women are not. I WANT TO HUG YOUR FICTIONAL FACE OFF, LINA, YOU DESERVE BETTER!

All that is to say, if you’re in the market for a romantic comedy, I cannot recommend The Worst Best Man highly enough. Humor, heart, and a dash of heat make it an all-around fabulous read!

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links in the post above direct to amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent bookstores, click on the image or the link below:

The Worst Best Man

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