21 Diverse, Loved-Up Books That Will Make You Root for Romance All Month Long

updated Feb 11, 2021
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It’s the time of the year for chocolates, hearts, and sweet love stories. Romance books and stories are wonderful all year round — and I’ve found they’ve gifted me with much-needed joy and lightness during the pandemic — and February is all the more reason to read more love stories. 

My favorite thing about romance books is that they reinstate hope, optimism, and possibilities even when things might seem bleak in real life. It’s even more special to read the love stories of BIPOC characters — to see marginalized communities find happiness, fall in love, and live lives that aren’t always marked by identity struggles and trauma. Here are 21 books that celebrate the love and joy that Black people, Indigenous peoples, and other people of color deserve. These stories range in genres, age categories, and tone, and are all #ownvoices stories that center their main characters’ happily ever afters. 

 1. “Fat Chance, Charlie Vega” by Crystal Maldonado 

Crystal Maldonado’s heartwarming tale about coming of age as a fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is an ode to first love, friendships, and finding your voice. Charlie Vega is ready to find love and confidence in herself and her body. She has a complicated relationship with her mother, but her best friend Amelia has always been in her corner. And then there’s Brian, her cute classmate who sees her in a way that no one has. Charlie Vega finally has everything she wants… or does she?

2. “Ayesha at Last” by Uzma Jalaluddin 

In this “Pride and Prejudice” retelling, two opposites fall in love amidst a loud, happening, and vivacious Muslim community. Ayesha’s dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. When she meets stoic, reserved, and judgmental Khalid, she is irritated to be attracted to him. Yet when an engagement is announced between Khalid and her cousin Hafsa, Ayesha’s heart is suddenly torn between her feelings and her duty to her family.

3. “Happily Ever Afters” by Elise Bryant

Tessa Johnson has rarely seen herself in the stories she reads, so she writes her own love stories instead. When Tessa is accepted into a creative writing program, she decides to take inspiration from real life, and sets out to create her real life happily ever after, armed with a list of romance novel inspired steps. But as she checks each item off her list, she realizes that her own love story might not be the one she has wanted all along.

4. “Let’s Talk About Love” by Claire Kann

This is a wholesome summer romance starring a Black asexual, biromantic main character, and Kann captures how fun, messy, and scary love can be. Alice has everything she needs for the summer: a job at the library, amazing friends, and plans that involve a lot of yummy food. But then she meets Takumi, a soft and adorable boy who complicates her perfect summer plans for the better.

5. “The Right Swipe” by Alisha Rai

The creator of a successful dating app, Rhiannon Hunter is careful when it comes to her own love life. So when she finds a spark with pro football player Samson Lima, only for him to ghost her later, she is clearly not amused. But he appears again, this time as a potential business rival, asking for a second chance. Mixing business and love is a bad idea, but could Samson be worth the risk?

6. “Don’t Date Rosa Santos” by Nina Moreno 

A girl cursed by the sea, and a boy who brings the ocean with him. Rosa Santos is a Cuban-American teen who lives in a coastal town in South Florida with her abuela. She yearns to connect with her roots — particularly Havana, the place her abuela left behind and refuses to talk about. Even as she falls for Alex Aquino, a soft-hearted baker, she has to navigate her curse and find her place in the history of her family, and her home. “Don’t Date Rosa Santos” is a love letter to diaspora identity, small-town communities, and to Cuba.

7. “Love from A to Z” by S.K. Ali

Zayneb and Adam’s meet-cute is the stuff dreams are made of. When Zayneb is suspended for confronting her Islamophobic teacher, she visits her aunt in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to her spring break. There she meets Adam, who has been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and is struggling to keep it a secret from his loving family. Told in journal entries, and full of heart and warmth, the story follows two Muslim teens in a modern love story that is a perfect blend of cuteness, fierceness, marvels, and oddities.

8. “Temporary Wife Temptation” by Jayci Lee

This one’s for the Harlequin lovers. A fresh take on the marriage-of-convenience trope, “Temporary Wife Temptation” features Garrett Song, the heir to a Los Angeles fashion empire. To take the reins of his family’s business, Garrett needs a wife, and he is not going to succumb to his grandmother’s matchmaking. Enter Natalia Sobol, and a fake marriage begins — but based on their fiery chemistry and stubborn temperaments, their arrangement might not be so fake after all.

9. “This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story” by Kacen Callender

As much as Nate loves movies, he doesn’t believe in their happy endings. A forever pessimist whose luck in love hasn’t always been the greatest, his life is turned upside down when his former best friend — and old crush — moves back to town. Utterly cute and realistically messy, “This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story” explores the thin lines between friendship and love.

 10. “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon 

Dimple is not ready to think about marriage, and is not amused by her mother’s obsession with finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” She has big dreams and bigger goals and an arranged marriage is not in the cards. Rishi is a romantic, and he is all for following family tradition, so when he meets Dimple, he knows she is the one. Can these opposites find love and happiness without letting go of themselves and what they want from life?

 11. “Cemetery Boys” by Aiden Thomas

What happens when a brujo falls for a ghost? Utter chaos. Yadriel is sure of his trans identity and his identity as a brujo, but his traditional Latinx family isn’t quite ready to accept his gender. When a chance to prove himself offers itself, he takes on a challenge, only to accidentally summon the ghost of the school bad boy Julian Diaz, who is not ready to go back quietly. As the boys attempt to find the secrets behind his death, a sweet love forms between them, and thus ensues a race against time and death.

12. “A Princess in Theory” by Alyssa Cole

In this modern fairytale, an epidemiologist finds out that she is a lost princess… betrothed to an African prince! The heir to the throne of Thesolo, Prince Thabiso knows his duty, and his marriage is definitely a top priority. But his betrothed has been missing for years, and it’s time to find her and bring her back. But when he actually meets the princess, she mistakes him for an ordinary man, and for once, the prince forgets his crown and lets himself dream and live as a common man, and fall in love with an oblivious princess.

 13. “Only Mostly Devastated” by Sophia Gonzales

In this “Grease” retelling, the aftermath of summer love gets complicated. Ollie finds the perfect summer fling in Will Tavares, but as soon as the vacation is over, Will disappears, and so do his texts. When Ollie meets Will again at his new school, he is elated — only to realize that this Will is popular… and closeted. Now Ollie has to decide if Will is worth trusting, or whether he’ll only end up with more heartbreak at the end of it all.

 14. “I Wanna Be Where You Are” by Kristina Forest

Chloe Pierce needs to attend a ballet audition… whether or not her mom is going to let her do it. She is ready to embark on the 200-mile road trip, but her plan is foiled by her annoying (but cute!) neighbor Eli, who insists on hitching a ride. Surely this won’t end well? A delicious and cute rom-com that takes on well-loved tropes — only one bed will never not be good — that is guaranteed to warm your heart.

 15. “This Time Will Be Different” by Misa Sugiura

CJ has never been her mom’s daughter. She is not ambitious and would like nothing better than to spend her days creating flower arrangements. But when her mother decides to sell the family flower shop to the family who swindled them during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, CJ discovers that she finally has something she wants to fight for. With a wholesome friends-to-lovers story, and teens being messy and making mistakes and being real, “This Time Will Be Different” is a wonderful tale of family, friendships, and honoring your history.

16.  “My So-Called Bollywood Life” by Nisha Sharma

Winnie has a plan for a perfect Bollywood life. Her horoscope has predicted that her boyfriend Raj is the love of her life, and she is ready to spend her life loving and studying movies. Except her boyfriend likes someone else now, and her perfect ending is all going wrong. Then comes Dev, who infuriates her and makes her feel those rom-com butterflies, and she finds out that going off script might not be too bad at all.

17. “You Had Me At Hola” by Alexis Daria 

Two actors with their careers on line find love behind the scenes of a romantic comedy. Jasmine Lin Rodriguez, a popular soap opera actress has just had a messy public breakup, and telenovela actor Ashton Suárez is at the brink of losing his career. Determined to make this last chance work, the two stars agree to rehearse in private… only to find out that their on-screen chemistry might transfer a little too well off-screen.

18.  “The Henna Wars” by Adiba Jaigirdar

Nishat is in a predicament. Coming out to her traditional Bangladeshi Muslim family doesn’t go really well, and while she doesn’t want to live a lie, she also doesn’t want to lose the love of her family. When her old childhood best friend Flavia re-enters her life, Nishat welcomes the feelings and butterflies, even as the other girl opens a rival henna business to Nishat’s own.

 19. “A Cuban’s Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow” by Laura Taylor Namey 

A summer in England might sound perfect to some — but not to Lila Reyes. She misses the sun, the food, and the warmth of her Miami home, but then she meets Orion Maxwell. The cute tea shop owner becomes her personal tour guide, and as the teens embark on a journey around the countryside that includes music, lots of food, and cute moments, Lila finds herself charmed by the boy and the country… except falling for Orion might mean leaving everything she loves behind.

20. “The Duke Who Didn’t” by Courtney Milan

This one’s for the fans of “Bridgerton” and historical romance. Miss Chloe Fong has plans for her life and absolutely no time for nonsense. So when her childhood sweetheart comes back into her life after a three-year disappearance, she is determined to pay him no mind. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has made many mistakes, and he is ready to rectify them. He is here to get his girl back, but he might have to do a lot of convincing… while continuing to keep his identity as a duke a secret from Chloe and the entire village. 

21. “Charming as a Verb” by Ben Philippe

Henri Haltiwanger is charm personified. He’s a star student, a dutiful first-generation Haitian American, and a dog walker for a wealthy New York City clientele. But Corrine Troy can see through that facade. When she finds out that Henri’s dog walking gig is a scheme, she uses that information to pressure him into helping her to change her image at school. The hustlers shake their hands on it, except as they become closer to achieving the end of the bargain, they realize there might be more to this convenient arrangement.