Sunday, November 8, 2015

A smidgen of snark, a splash of tea and more non-White romance authors writing their takes on the "other's"romantic life

This week's installment of non-White romance writers has 8 who mix it up well.

G. A. Aiken/Shelley Laurenston - I call this successful author a "double agent." She beat the odds doing it her way..

Aliyah Burke - contemporaries with witty dialogue, strong plots. Her latest "Code Name: Papa" is a tension-filled, hilarious spy thriller.

Ambrielle Kirk - erotic romance, paranormal, fantasy

Camille Leone - contemporaries showcasing little written on romantic alliances

Jeannie Lin - pens lush, historical tales set in Tang Dynasty China and a Steampunk series set during the Opium Wars. I applaud her covers. They SHOW the lovers and their ethnicities. Not some vague object or neutral landscape.

Billie London - contemporaries with a take on love in a country not America. I love her covers too.

Pepper Pace - contemporaries with main characters who might be homeless, have mental illness or physical challenges.

Now about that snark and tea...

This goes out to those reviewers/bloggers who look upon reviewing historical romances written by non-White authors as "problematic." Why? Is it that your mindset is so firmly entrenched in those tired-assed time periods that have become wallpaper in your consciousness? Have you gotten so comfy with those eras that showcase the same old, tired characters that you can't stretch your minds to include other periods that include "other" people living in those periods? Again as in contemporary romance, you seem to have no problem whatsoever with accepting the existence of m/m pairings in historical romance. You devour and applaud and comment glowingly on an author's effort to depict a love affair not like the ones to which you are accustomed.

So where is the disconnect when the pairing is hetero and non-White? Why must you "caution" readers that you "don't know how accurate the history is" in this kind of historical romance? Is it because you are lacking in your world view? Is it because you/your followers don't believe "others" existed in all facets of life, and were living it, before, during and after enslavement or colonization? That's mightily insulting because it means that if these types of people aren't presented to the reading public and/or validated by "reliable sources" (i. e. mainstream writers), they didn't exist and hence don't warrant page time or consideration. And Lord knows you can't rely on that non-White romance author to "get it right." Amirite?

I see the mediocre reviews these wonderfully different books get if the books are penned by a non-White author. If they get reviewed at all. The reviews are terribly dismissive. They scoff at real circumstances related in the books as "implausible." How? It's HISTORY! Why? Because you can't fathom them having occurred? Because you are narrow in your scope as a reviewer? Sad. From that point onward (or downward ) the book in review gets picked apart. Scrutinized ad nauseum due to the reviewer's lack of perspective. Things are questioned that are taken as Gospel in mainstream historical romances.

I admired one reviewer and gave her a pass when she reviewed my historical, KINDRED, and stated that she couldn't vouch for the accuracy of the history. She's a reviewer born and living in the PHILIPPINES! I didn't expect her to know American history but being the gracious person she is, she admitted she couldn't vouch for the history because SHE wasn't well-versed in it. Not because she didn't believe I knew my subject matter. I thank her for using common sense.

I will not point out names. I'll stick to my stuff. In my Swirl Awards-winning historical romance KINDRED, AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY set in colonial America, I received reviews out of the blue that I didn't ask for. First of all, I know that how a book is going to be received is out of my hands once the book is released to the world but I really wonder sometimes what y'all are on. Maybe folk like the crazy-assed, WTF moments in romance that are supposed to make it endearing. Me, I find them annoying and not how real people communicate but the public loves 'em. Insert note here. I DON'T WRITE 'EM. You want WTF moments, look elsewhere. Now these unsolicited reviews had dissenting opinions. Fine. No problem. Have an opinion. But have one that makes sense. Number one said there was too much history in the story. I repeat. The woman complained that a HISTORICAL ROMANCE had too much HISTORY in it. I'm done. I got nothing. Reviewer number two said it was melodramatic. My books are many things but they ain't melodramatic. Ok. So this person reviews ROMANCE. I said ROMANCE! If there ever was a genre that is the epitome of melodrama, it's romance. But she picked out my book as guilty? This time I got one word.


And the ish keeps coming!

How could I forget this gem? The Gullah speech that the grandmother character speaks in my historical is REAL. It is a bona fide dialect of American English spoken in the Low Country of the USA.. Hell, my father spoke it and all his family,


But one uninformed soul/reviewer deemed it my "attempt at writing quaint uneducated tongue." She totally ignored or dismissed that there was both a glossary and a bibliography at the end of the book because she wanted to make her statement. See why we need more than the same, clueless types of people in romance publishing/reviewing/critiquing calling the shots? The ignorance/snobbery knows no bounds. Not a one of those broads took into account that I had to do TWICE the effin' research to write the effin' book. That's right. TWICE! I had to research the timeline of the White characters' world and the timeline of the non-White characters' world to see where the two intersected. I have DNF'ed many a "book" by a White writer of diverse historicals due to their LACK of history. Period. And what kills is the pass and/or praise they get for "tackling a big void in historical romance." Excuse me while I puke! I found not a bit of history in any of those books. Just people of different hues going at it for over 200 pages in funny clothes speaking 21st century jargon. Titillation over information. No non-White writer writing an honest, thorough, historical romance where the players are non-White is pulling it out of their asses! We do actual research and do it until we go cross-eyed.

The old "You gotta be twice as good to get half as much attention."

But don't take my word for it. You are the "experts." Yeah, right.

Class dismissed.


  1. Thanks for highlighting so many writers. A few I haven't run across yet.
    I know it's little comfort, but there are those reading your books and appreciating them. I am thankful especially for historical romances with POC or non-western. As far as being criticized for too much history in historical fiction- that, I hunk, is part of the larger market trend to make everything sexier, sexier, sexier and sacrifice the rest. As a reader, not so keen on it. I don't mind sexy, I love romance, but I also want a full story.

    1. es, a lot of mainstream historicals turn me off. Sexy times ad infinitum and little history. Like I always add as a note to my historicals: If you DO NOT like history in a historical romance, DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT read my historicals! Common sense.

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