One of the beautiful things about reading is the ability to understand others better. And for me, that has always been the case with reading about characters with disabilities. Understanding their struggles and seeing them overcome those obstacles while you’re cheering them on from the sidelines. In many ways, it makes us better humans and it helps us connect to each other outside of the pages of a book. So, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite characters that face their disabilities head on and never let those get in the way of achieving everything they set out to. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with them as hard as I did.
I wanted to include The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang on the list although if you haven’t read it or heard of it by now you must be living under a rock. The heroine is on the Autism spectrum and while she is totally kick ass in many aspects of her life, she struggles with human contact and interactions. But she wants to overcome that, so she hires an escort with the express purpose of helping her through it. This book is steamy, endearing and introduces you to a great set of characters you’ll want to know more about.
Labels can be hurtful and that is something our bubbly heroine has had to deal with her whole life. Having a learning disability is hard enough but the stigma attached with other people’s perception can cut even deeper. I was pleasantly surprised to see how The Chase by Elle Kennedy explored these things in a way that really made you get the heroine. Care for her. And see her succeed in the end. Then again I would’ve expected no less from one of my favorite authors!
So, you may be asking why I want to talk about a whole series right? Well, J.R. Ward loves to give us the most tortured characters and I didn’t want to make this a Black Dagger Brotherhood list so I decided to group them together. First, we have the King of Vampires, Wrath. As the series progresses, he loses his eyesight, hence being known as the Blind King. It’s so important as the reader that you’re going through the process with him. Seeing the struggle, and how he can come out even more powerful from it in the end. Then we have two characters that are already introduced with a disability and my heart just melts for both heroes. Phury, who lost a leg while saving his twin brother from being a blood slave. And John Matthew, who is mute but goes on to join an elite group of warriors.
The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren has a tough subject to tackle but it’s done oh-so-well. Both main characters are survivors of a school shooting and they’ve dealt with the aftermath of that event in their lives in different ways. They reconnect while a segment is being filmed about the survivors and they get their second chance at love. The heroine suffers from some pretty traumatic PTSD from that shooting and the author has done a wonderful job at making you feel that. Don’t worry, there is healing in the cards for these survivors and I’m happy to see that as the series goes on. While this isn’t the only PTSD book I could talk about, I do think it’s one with a topical subject and it’s done so incredibly well that you won’t want to pass it up.
The last thing a wounded warrior wants to see is pity from their loved ones. The hero in this book knows that all too well. He lost his leg during his service and after recovering he decided to become a sheriff instead of working at the family ranch. He still deals with PTSD and he doesn’t think a woman would want him with a stump. He’s had to alter the plan he had for his life completely and that left him closed off. Until the right woman came along. A story about two broken people that help put each other back together.
We’ve all called ourselves or accused someone else, normally in relation to cleanliness, of being OCD. It seems such a harmless thing to say. Then I read Beard in Mind by Penny Reid which really brings home the difficulties someone living under the burden of obsessive compulsive disorder lives under. Reid does this with compassion and understanding as our heroine tries to overcome her compulsion and live the life she wants. What I loved about this romance, was that the hero didn’t somehow swoop in and “save” her, but rather supported her as she overcame her own demons.
I hope you will give some, or all, of these a try. Let them sweep you up in all the emotion and beauty of all that humanity has to offer.