#RomBkLove 2021 Day 13: Musicians

Day 13

Our guest post today is by Vicki Haddix, a romance loving librarian and one of our #RomBkLove support team:

Music has always had a big place in my life, and I’m eagerly anticipating more concerts to attend in person in the coming months! I also really enjoy reading about musicians in my romance novels. There’s often an element of found family that resonates with me, and the tension between public and private is often interesting even when the musicians are not at a huge level of fame. Where do you draw the line between public and personal? What are you comfortable putting on social media about your relationship?


Musician romances have been part of #RomBkLove in past years, and there are lots of my favorites that are frequently mentioned. For example: Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series, Kristen Callihan’s VIP series, Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series, Anna Zabo’s Twisted Wishes, Lauren Dane’s Hurley brothers, Emma Hart’s Burke brothers, JN Welsh’s Back on Top series, and Amber Lin’s Half-Life series- to name just a few.


But for this year, I wanted to spotlight some of the books that I haven’t seen mentioned as often or that were released since the last #RomBkLove round. Most of them are novellas, because that’s what has worked for my brain this year. Shout out some new musician romances you’ve read, or tell us what you’ve loved about your old favorites!


ThingshopedforThings Hoped For, Chencia C. Higgins

This book just made me smile while I was reading and for a nice chunk of time afterward. Massage therapist Trisha moves to Houston and meets Xeno, a rapper on the verge of breaking out, after one of her shows. Trisha is hesitant to be all in on their relationship, and it was beautiful to read how she works through it. Xeno documents quite a lot on social media, and the friend and family relationships are developed so well within just 129 pages. 

Representation: Gay, Black women


When in Tokyo, Imani Lewis

When in tokyoMost of this story takes place over the course of a single long evening into night in Tokyo. Hendi is a rockstar who escaped from his security and she helps him hide from fans, not having any idea who he is. Ari has just moved to Tokyo to take a job as an intern research analyst in a lab doing neuroscience research. I have never been to Tokyo so I can’t vouch for the realism, but they have a magical night getting to know each other and talking through family tragedies. Two epilogues wrap up the story.

Representation: Female MC is Black

Content warnings: Male MC speaks about his father’s suicide, Female MC speaks about her grandparent’s battle with dementia



Craving his spotlight, Renee Dahlia Craving his spotlight

Riley Micah was the lead singer of a very successful boy band about 10 years ago but then dropped out of that world in an alcoholic haze. He’s been sober and working in the outback of Australia for 8 years. Riley has started making music again, releasing it under a new name and starting to get airplay. He knows he’s going to need some help to make it again in the music world on his terms, this time. (Also, apparently many of his fans thought he was dead.) Vince is the CEO of the agency Riley chooses, and with all the sparks happening between them, they decide to scratch the itch to get it out of the way...as if that ever works. 

Representation: Gay Male MCs

Content Warnings: Riley is a recovering alcoholic, Vince’s father was an alcoholic


ListerLove’s Serenade, Sheryl Lister

This takes place in the 1920s in Harlem and is second chance romance. Leigh and Miles knew each other in Arkansas and initially planned to run away to Harlem together. Piano player Miles went his own way with little explanation (then or now) but seeks out Leigh at her friend’s club where she has recently become the headlining jazz singer. We don’t see a lot of either jazz singers or historical settings within the musician trope, and I enjoyed the change of pace.

Representation: Both MCs are Black

Content warnings: Female MC’s parents are religious fundamentalists and send a preacher to get her, which results in violent resistance; Male MC’s grandmother passes away peacefully


ScandalizedScandalized, Tara Frejas

I must admit to having only a passing familiarity with Kpop, and I’m sure I missed some things in this book, but I loved it anyway. Fi is living in Seoul, enjoying life as the road manager for the band East Genesis Project when a series of unplanned events lands her in the middle of a mess. The band’s fans think she’s trying to be in a relationship with the lead singer, and have harsh things to say on social media. The record company relieves her of her position and she goes home to the Philippines. But Gabriel Park, executive at that company, sees it differently. There’s a strong anti-bullying message in the book, and it was also fun to see how Gabriel works to get Fi’s mother to approve of him. And ok, yes, this a musician adjacent start to the series- check out the next book in the series to get East Genesis Project member Jo Yihwan’s story.

Representation: Female MC is Filipina

Content warnings: online bullying


LoveandlifeLove and Hiplife, Nana Prah

I found this book while browsing my library’s online collection and then bought it. Lamisi is a multilingual PhD student in Ghana trying to finish her thesis work despite her supervisor. She meets Bizzy, a multilingual hiplife musician when his companion makes some unflattering comments about her in a language he didn’t think she spoke. There’s clearly a spark but she decides to let it go and focus on her studies. But then that supervisor throws up another roadblock that Bizzy could help her get around. She helps him with the French he needs for the new music style he wants to try, there’s a weekend trip to the Ivory Coast to practice, and an “other woman” plot point (that I could have done without) along the way to their happy ending.

Representation: Both MCs are Black

Content warnings: Female MC’s interaction with her thesis advisor is unpleasant to read, some kink shaming of the “other woman”


Beach thingBeach Thing, DL White

Wade is a mega-producer borrowing a friend’s tropical island home to escape some family drama in NYC, and Ameenah has just opened a smoothie shop on this island. She has her own family issues, as her parents would have preferred she stay in their restaurant business. While Ameenah and Wade know he’s only on the island for the summer, they decide to have a “beach thing” and enjoy it. Of course it doesn’t stay where they put it- it’s a romance novel! I found this a fun and minimally angsty book that I will be re-reading when I finally get another beach vacation. 

Representation: Both MCs are Black

Content warnings: Male MC’s father has just been released from jail and appears to threaten his mother

#RomBkLove 2021 Day 12: Weird and Wonderful Powers in PNR

Day 12

#RomBkLove 2021Day 12: One of the best things about PNR is the different powers that can be found in these books. What weird and wonderful powers have been unforgettable? These are a few Melinda has loved! 


And what would *your* power be if you were a character in a PNR?



#RomBkLove 2021 Day 10: Impossible Relationships

Day 10
 Impossible relationships. 


RomBkLove 2021 Day 10:


Today we’re going to talk about couples separated by wildly impossible circumstances who still manage to end up together.  What do you consider wildly impossible circumstances?  What couples do you want to see make it despite everything the world (and the writer) throw at them?  


Guest Post by Stacey Agdern

Many people come to the romance genre with different definitions of what an impossible relationship is. Which means it’s important for me to begin this essay with my definition. Quite simply, an impossible relationship is when a couple is separated by both time and wildly impossible circumstances, knowing that they are bound together emotionally despite everything

Authors who write this kind of a story focus both on the idea that tension turns into angst due to both the force of obstacles separating the couple and how important it is to them to surpass those obstacles. Because this isn’t just a soulmate or starcrossed lovers situation. It can be.  But it doesn’t have to be. 

It isn’t just conflict either.

So what is it?

My own interest in, and the desire to find a definition for my favorite variety of impossible relationship began with Evelyn Vaughn’s AkA Goddess’ and ‘Her Kind of Trouble.’ These two stories, told through MMC  Maggi Sanger’s first person POV are a ride, containing suspense, grail theory, international travel and goddess worship.  But what makes these books stick now and forever for me is the years of backstory tying Maggi Sanger and Lex Stuart together , told in italicized flashbacks throughout the story.  Their relationship is impossiblebut they can’t walk away no matter what obstacles are thrown in their path. It takes two books to resolve this and it’s gorgeous.

Nalini Singh’s ‘Heart of Obsidian’ is another impossible relationship. I adore Kaleb and Sahara for many reasons, but when I started to find myself codifying a definition of an impossible relationship, I settled on this oneThe story of her charm bracelet, his absolute conviction that he will find her. And her love for him that spans through the most difficult moments.You can also find an impossible paranormal relationship in Kelley Armstrong’s ‘A Stitch in Time  (time crossed lovers for the win ) and hints of it in Shira Glassman’s novella ‘Wet Nails.’

But impossible relationships aren’t just a feature of Paranormal romance.  Cat Sebastian packs so much angst and longing into the historical novella  ‘Tommy Cabot was Here’ that I couldn’t stop reading it. Duty vs love, power vs emotional honesty. Angst. And then the payoff. Tommy and Everett were two men who are deeply devoted to each other, and no matter what life threw at them, they found themselves back together, where they belonged. 

I’d argue that Tracey Livesay’s ‘Sweet Talking Lover’ slides into the contemporary version of the impossible category. Duty, love, power, and emotional honesty each have a place here.  Both Wyatt and Calia are pulled by both duty and longing, responsibility to their past and their present, their family and their responsibilities. And yet they have absolutely no choice despite their circumstances, but to end up together.  If you unpack this story just a little bit, you could see them fightingagainst time too if they needed to. Laura Florand’s ‘The Chocolate Touch’ falls into this category of impossible in contemporary as well. 

Impossible relationships manifest throughout romance, in contemporary, in historical and in paranormal.  They’re the kinds of stories where characters fight seemingly impossible odds just to find their happy ending. They make a reader root for these characters because when they’re done right, not even fate, time or the writer can deny the inevitable. 



#RomBkLove 2021 Day 9: Parenting

Day 9Mother's Day can be a hard day.  Hard for the mothers's who feel uncherished, hard for those who have lost their mothers, hard for adults with rocky relationships with their mothers, hard for those who wanted to be mothers and were unable to, hard for biological mothers who adopted out,  etc.  If any of those apply to you.  I hope you take some time for yourself today, and know that you are enough.  


I asked the #RomBkLove team to share their inclusive recs about People who Parent in romance. 


Today we are going to talk about all people who parent, mothers, fathers, foster parents, siblings, grandparents, loving parental figures in Romance, either as MCs or supporting characters.  Share who you find the most compelling!


Something about youLauren @llamareadsbooks recs Reese Ryan's Something About You

 Lita and Trey meet when they discover their kids are planning to get married… and are having a baby.

Representation: both MCs are Black and are “grown folks”; author is a Black woman

Content Warnings: alcohol consumption

Second chanceHannah @hannahheartsro1 recs Jay Northcote's Second Chance

Nate and his teenage daughter move back to the town he grew up in to stay with his mother. The relationships between all three generations is truly wonderful. The other MC has also moved back in with his parents, though that relationship is less positive. I think this book is a lower-angst exploration of how relationships, including parent-child relationships, evolve through time and life changes.

Representation: Gay trans man MC, gay cis man MC, both are white

Content Warnings: depression, alcoholism, past self-harm, past drunk driving accident, past child abuse, MC’s daughter is drugged at a party, transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming

Heiress to mumNick @nickofthebooks recommends Therese Beharrie's From Heiress to Mum

In this book, Hunter finds out that he’s a father after an ex-hookup of his shows up at his doorstep with a baby in tow. She initially kept her pregnancy from him because they were essentially strangers at the time of the hookup. Hunter is completely at a loss on how to parent and immediately reaches out to his ex-girlfriend/current friend, Autumn, for emotional support. With Autumn’s help, Hunter learns how to be the best father he can to his little guy. I really loved how easily Autumn slipped into the role of a non-traditional parent here too but didn’t necessarily take over the role of a mother. Instead, she’s there to emotionally support Hunter while also growing a bond with his baby. Grace, the birth mother, is also treated so nicely by all the characters involved in the story - there is absolutely no shaming of her character nor is she treated like an evil ex!
(Disclosure: Therese and I are friends)

Representation: Both MCs are Black

Content Warnings: grief, unplanned pregnancy



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#RomBkLove 2021 Day 7: Bad Decisions Book Club

Day 7#RomBkLove 2021Day 7:What books keep you up late into the night? What makes a book a perfect choice for Bad Decision Book Club? Melanie shares some of the books she gladly gave up sleep for.  Find her recs at Smexy's: https://smexybooks.com/2021/05/rombklove-2021-day-7-bad-decisions-book-club.html #BDBC


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#RomBkLove 2021 Day 6: Comfort in Kindness

Day 6

#RomBkLove 2021Day 6: Comfort in Kindness What romances offer refuge through kindness? What do you find sexy in Kindness? What are the comforting kind gestures that have made you swoon? Find @TheLadyInReds recs here: http://goodbadandunread.com/2021/05/06/rombklove-2021-comfort-in-kindness/and tell us yours!



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#RomBkLove 2021 Day 5: More the Merrier

Day 5

RomBkLove 2021Day 5:  More the Merrier: What are you favorite inclusive Ménage and polyamorous romances? What do you look for?
does it best?

Author Jaycee Jarvis shares her favorites:

Welcome to #RomBkLove day 5: Ménage and Polyamory Romance

Today we’re going to celebrate one of my favorite relationship dynamics in romance novels-- stories that contain ménage and polyamorous relationships. There are some very rich themes commonly found in these stories, including characters discovering more about themselves and what really matters to them, great communication, and of course creative and interesting sex scenes, where desire is explored in ways that are authentic to the characters.

As Pinkslip a reader and a writer, I'm not a big fan of cookie-cutter expectations for what romance looks like. I've never enjoyed Valentine's day, which seems strange as someone so invested in the value and importance of love and romance, but the holiday really puts unnecessary performative pressure on couples to act or be a certain way---which is the opposite of romance in my mind. Love comes in many forms and every person and relationship is unique, so I really enjoy stories that step outside the mainstream to deliver a happy ending perfectly suited to the characters involved.
That's why books that feature polyamorous relationships appeal to me so much. The author is taking a stand from the get-go that their characters will define what happiness means to them, and to me there is nothing more joyful, nothing more romantic, nothing more empowering than that.
Best of all these stories can be found in every subgenre and niche of romance, so no matter what you like to read, you can find characters defining love and happiness on their own terms.

Contemporary Romance:

Pink Slip by Katina Jackson: In this fun and fast paced spy novel, Keirra decides to stop lusting after her married employers and move on with her life--only to be entangled in one last dangerous mission. 

Extra Whip by L.A. Witt: Small town romance with heavy kink. Will and Aaron are interested in Kelly for some casual fun, but they aren’t ready to be poly, are they? Bonus points for excellent depictions of safe-word usage. 

All Together by Brill Harper: In this new adult romance, best buds Fletch and Shane set out to teach shy Penelope about sex and romance and instead discover new depths to themselves and their relationship. 

Historical Romance:

The companionThe Companion by E.E. Ottoman: An atmospheric and immersive literary romance set in upstate New York in 1949. Struggling writer Madeline offers companionship to a reclusive author, and finds more than a refuge with him and his alluring neighbor. 

Scandalous Passions by Nicola Davidson: This medieval romance mixes political intrigue with a heartfelt love story. Exiled from court by a jealous queen, Lady Janet Fraser finds comfort and passion in the arms of her eager ward and the knight sent to protect them both.

Heart and Hand by Rebel Carter: A sweet western about a New York debutante who answers an ad for a mail-order bride for two men. Told from Julie’s point of view, this charming story explores what it means to boldly seek your own destiny, no matter how unconventional.

Paranormal Romance:

All the Prince's Men by Samantha MacLeod: Prince Liam is more interested in his personal guard than any wife, and must figure out how to balance duty and love. A touching tribute to found family and forging your own happiness.

Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha: This best-selling series starts off hot and heavy, with a wide cast of compelling characters in a sex positive post-apocalyptic world. Exiled from puritanical Eden, Noelle explores her deepest desires with Jas and the loyal O’Kane clan.

Laid Bear by Eve Vaughn: A sexy paranormal Goldilocks and the Three Bears retelling. Zora doesn’t know quite what to do with the three bear shifters who claim to be her fated mates, though being with them feels just right.

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