Alyssa Cole is an inclusive writer of diverse romances and thrillers. She has long been a proponent of more Black characters in the romance genre. And whether her romances are contemporary, historical, or science fiction, they are always sexy, emotional, and so romantic. With over twenty novels and novellas ranging from medieval knights to modern day African royalty to the biggest page turner of a thriller I’ve read, Alyssa Cole is the definition of prolific. There are many, many books to choose from if you want to start (or keep!) reading her work. From a giant Alyssa Cole fan, here are my five ideas on where you should start.
If you want to be swept away by a modern-day fairytale, try A Princess in Theory.
Naledi is a busy woman. She is getting her graduate degree in epidemiology busy. Multiple jobs trying to pay her rent busy. Way too busy to believe the constant e-mails in her inbox telling her she’s engaged to an African prince. But it turns out, Prince Thabiso is real and won’t forget about is childhood best friend and betrothed. He visits New York to track Naledi down. But when Ledi doesn’t remember him, he pretends to be a new hire at her waitressing job instead of telling the truth about who he is. She doesn’t remember her past in Africa at all. Her first memories are in the American foster care system. And as the two fall in love, their differences and the secrets between them threaten their future happiness.
If you’re interested in historical romance set during the Civil War, pick up a copy of An Extraordinary Union.
Elle is a former slave who gives up her free life in Massachusetts to pose as a slave and spy for the Union Army. Malcom is a detective fighting for the Union as well through Pinkerton’s Secret Service. When they meet on their missions, attraction and deeper feelings blossom between the two undercover agents. But acting on these feelings would mean even more danger for both of them. And Elle is especially wary about trusting her heart to a white man, especially one so talented at charm and subterfuge. They both are fighting for a common goal. However, there are a lot of obstacles for Elle and Malcolm to overcome before they can be together. This book is so deeply romantic and emotional, I suspect you will tear through the other two books in the Loyal League trilogy as soon as you finish reading.
If you want to read a super feminist, diverse romance in the 1910s New York Cabaret scene, try Let Us Dream.
It’s 1917 in Harlem, New York and Bertha has created a cabaret club where Black people can feel comfortable. She’s also a suffragette working hard to help get women the vote. Amir is a Bengali Muslim chef who just arrived in New York. As an undocumented immigrant, he is desperate enough to take a job as a dishwasher at Bertha’s cabaret. A slow burn romance builds between the two of them. They come from different cultures and have opposing obligations and goals, but still the two characters fight to find their own happily ever after.
If you’re looking for a thriller that you absolutely can’t put down, try When No One Is Watching.
This novel is a contemporary thriller, not a romance. Although there are some romantic elements to the story. Sydney has lived in Brooklyn her whole life, but now gentrification is taking over her neighborhood. Realtors won’t stop calling her about selling her mom’s house. Bodegas are turning into high end cafes where she’s not welcome. And beloved neighbors are disappearing left and right. Trying to hold onto the memories of her historically Black neighborhood, Sydney wants to create a walking tour. Theo, one of her new, white neighbors, volunteers to help. Sydney isn’t sure if she can trust him. But what they uncover through their research is terrifying, deeply unjust, and threatening. It makes Sydney question if her old neighbors truly sold their homes willingly and moved to the suburbs. And the answers she finds put both her home and her life in danger.
If you’d like a sci-fi twist with your romance, read The A.I. Who Loved Me.
In the near future, Trinity enjoys a quiet life working from home for a government research center. She’s gone through a traumatic incident and is trying to recover and build back a calm and safe life. When her neighbor’s sexy neighbor Li Wei moves in, Trinity feels an instant attraction to him. But the more she gets to know him, the stranger his behavior seems. She discovers that he is an A.I. so advanced that it’s hard to tell if he is a human or a machine…or both. I never thought I’d get so into a romance involving a robot, but this their relationship kept me totally engrossed. Together they uncover secrets about his technological purpose and his past. It’s a sexy, fast-paced and action-filled story. And while there is a print version available, as an audible original the audiobook is amazing to listen to with Regina Hall and Mindy Kaling as narrators.