Romance Books That Showcase Class and Culture


The pandemic has prevented most of us from roaming much further than our own backyards. Luckily, books continue to provide safe pathways to explore diverse cultures beyond our own relatively small communities. Romantic duos that don’t share similar ethnic/cultural backgrounds face challenges that encompass a broader spectrum of complications, usually involving well-meaning, but problematic family, friends, and community members. Remember Romeo and Juliet? Their relationship was doomed from the start, with Romeo identified as a Montague and Juliet’s identity as a Capulet. It’s always something, right? 

The following books feature couples whose romantic journeys include deciding if they will accept cultural and class expectations and norms or if they’ll take a risk on a love that adheres to the longing of their hearts, regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.

ties that tether by Jane Igharo

Azere, the main character was born in Nigeria and raised in Canada. As a child, she promised her dying father that she would marry a Nigerian, and it is her mother’s mission to have her follow through on that promise. However, Azere’s life is thrown off-kilter when she meets Rafael, who is of Spanish ancestry. This novel centers on Azere’s struggle to decide if she will remain the obedient daughter who lives the life her parents have chosen for her or if she’ll select the path that brings her unexpected joy. 

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

Twenty-nine years old, Raina, the main character, allows her grandmother, Nani, to set her up on dates with eligible Indian bachelors who share similar cultural backgrounds. The problem is that Raina is still in love with her ex, Dev, who suddenly reappears in her life. Raina must decide if she’ll accept one of Nani’s suitable options, resume her relationship with Dev, or branch out in a totally new direction.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

Issues of race, class, and privilege take center stage in this complex story of an Indian American doctor, Trisha Raje, who strives to meet the expectation of her wealthy family’s strict rules regarding how she should conduct her life. When Trisha meets DJ Caine, a bi-racial chef, whose experienced multiple challenges, she’ll have to re-examine her previous biases, just as he will have to look beyond her exterior façade to discover the woman within.

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

In this novel, we have the intersection of race, class, and health status, which figures prominently in this England based novel of wealthy, Black British, Chloe Brown, and working-class, white, Redford (Red) Morgan. Chloe’s fibromyalgia has negatively shaped the course of her life, leaving her cantankerous and afraid of love. Whereas, good-natured and thoughtful artist, Red, has his own broken heart and stalled career to mend. The question is, can they move beyond their past wounds to create a better tomorrow?

These novels show us that love can grow and even flourish across cultural divides. The heroines learn the hard way, that a life lived according to someone else’s plan, will not always lead to happiness. Attempting to fulfill family expectations can lead to heartache and despair. It is only after they realize that they must navigate their own path, that they are able to continue on the road to true happiness.

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