Author Spotlight: Denise Williams, Ngozi Ukazu, & Jasmine Guillory

Happy last week of February! It has been snowy and cold here this month (#snowdays) so allow me to bring all the warm fuzzies with these wonderful Black authors!

Denise Williams

If Denise Williams' debut novel, How to Fail at Flirting, hadn't been released so late into 2020 (December), it would have easily been in my Top 10 Reads of the Year list. As it was, I didn't get around to reading it until last month. I'm so sorry I waited! With just this first book, I know I've discovered an author I will read for life. The gist: When Professor Naya Turner's professional life is in shambles, she decides to forget about her troubles for just one night by flirting with a guy she meets at a bar. He's only in town for business, so what's the worst that could happen, right? I could give this book 5 stars based on the steam level alone. It was actually refreshing to see this much steam that wasn’t a slow burn, and the witty banter was fun. And my goodness, just LOOK at that cover! GAH! So pretty! Denise Williams' next novel, The Fastest Way to Fall, has been announced for a November 2 release. That gives you plenty of time to become a fan of hers!

Ngozi Ukazu

Romances can be found in many mediums, including graphic novels. And with Check, Please! about all the feels! This M/M College Hockey Romance by Ngozi Ukazu had me shipping Bitty and Jack so hard! When figure skater Eric (Bitty) Bittle finds himself recruited to a D1 hockey team, he's concerned with how he'll be treated once he comes out. But even though this particular plot line is central to the beginning of the comic, it quickly takes a seat on the back burner once Bitty realizes his team accepts him for who he is no matter what. In a society where openly gay male athletes are still few and far between, I found this refreshing. Even in Book 2 where Bitty and Jack's relationship is revealed on National TV (Jack is drafted into the NHL right out of college), the main focus of the story is Bitty and Jack's relationship with each other, their families, teammates, and friends. While at its core this may seem highly romanticized, or even unrealistic, it's what I loved most about Check, Please!. What a world it would be if men coming out, no matter their profession, was no big deal...

Jasmine Guillory

To round out this month's author spotlights, I figured I couldn't have a post on Black romance authors and not talk about Jasmine Guillory. Out of the six books in her hit series, The Wedding Date, a whopping FIVE of them made onto GoodReads' The 52 Most Popular Romances of the Past Three Years list!! (Pretty sure the last book wasn't on the list only due to publication date vs the timing of the article.) Now, full disclosure: I myself have only read the first book of The Wedding Date series...but everything else is on my TBR list, I promise! So why am I recommending her books if I've only read one of them? Hey, if 10% of a "Top Romances I Want to Read" list is dominated by one author, she must be doing something right!

The Wedding Date Series:

1. The Wedding Date (#7 on list)

2. The Proposal (#14 on list)

3. The Wedding Party (#37 on list)

4. Royal Holiday (#48 on list)

5. Party of Two (#49 on list)

6. While We Were Dating

More importantly, it's so crucial to support and share Black voices now more than ever. As Ms. Guillory herself said in TIME Magazine:

“Racism is not the only thing to know about what it means to be Black. Our joys, our sorrows, our love, our grief, our struggles to fit in, our families, our accomplishments and our triumphs—these things also matter. Black children matter, and not only the ones killed before their time...To recognize Black lives as ones to celebrate, empathize with and care about, here’s your antiracism work: read more fiction by and about Black people.”

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