[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have Maika Moulite, 1/2 of the author due behind of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, guest posting on the site today! Take it away!]
Growing up I read a lot of romance novels. My mom always had old paperback books lying around the house and being the voracious reader that I was, I would pick them up and start to read them myself. There were western romances, modern day loves, medieval matches, you name it. As soon as I finished one story, I would immediately begin the next. And the cycle would go on and on. Although my mom knew I was reading her books, we never, ever spoke of it.
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I discovered black protagonists in romance novels and had people to talk about them with. I have my girlfriends in school to thank for that. They were sharing the books that their older sisters, cousins, and aunties read. The ones their relatives kept on nightstands. The ones they overheard them giggling about when they were gossiping with their own girlfriends. So they’d sneak them out of their homes and we’d crowd around each other at lunch to talk about our favorite parts. (The sex scenes. Let’s be honest here.)
But with age comes introspection and it dawned on me that if I hadn’t had my classmates, I probably wouldn’t have seen myself reflected in romance until I was an adult. And then I realized something even more shocking. My mom didn’t know these books existed! I thought about giving her one of the stories that I read “back in the day” but decided against that. Those books were hot and that would be the equivalent of barreling through the front door of my parents’ house and shouting “ LET’S TALK ABOUT KINK, MOM.” Hard pass.
So instead, I gifted her The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. I handed it to her without saying a word and the first thing she said was: Is that a black woman on the cover? I could literally hear the excitement in her voice when she said it. And it wasn’t that she didn’t like any of the other romances that she read before. She did! Fierce female leads, enemies-to-lovers story lines, unwitting heiresses are her jam (and mine too). But it just feels a little special when you see yourself reflected in the books that you read (and all of the other media that you consume for that matter but that’s a topic for another day).
She’s in the process of reading the novel now and I can tell she’s savoring it. She’s a busy woman but every now and again, I catch her holding the book up to her face, giggling at what I’m sure are the same parts that I did when I read it. And because I’m nosy (and for the sake of this article, I’m gonna be real) I asked my mom why she didn’t have books with black leads lying around the house when I was younger. Her reply: I didn’t know where to look for them or that they even existed.
My mom is like a lot of women who read romance novels but never talk about them. They were something to be enjoyed in the privacy of your home and that’s it. But when I shared The Wedding Date with her, we got to have a conversation about womanhood, what to look for in a partner, the power of reading a novel that focuses on the desires of a black woman. And it was awkward! But necessary.
We didn’t always have these candid conversations. It might have been because I had no business reading steamy romances when I was younger. But it’s also partly because of the mother-daughter dynamics of a Haitian household. It was loving but there were strict parent-child lines that just weren’t crossed. With time, the way we view each other has shifted and it’s wonderful to see how our relationship continues to evolve. To have these kinds of discussions now is a big deal. And I’m not surprised that a book with a black woman as the love interest has played a role in making that happen.
So I’ll continue to share more romance novels with my mom and we’ll have more of these talks. I welcome them. Even when it gets weird. And one thing that I’m most looking forward to? Telling her that the next book in Jasmine Guillory’s series features a woman closer to her age. I can’t wait for the conversations that will come from that.
About the Author:
Maika Moulite is a Miami native and daughter of Haitian immigrants. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami. When she’s not using her digital prowess to help nonprofits and major organizations tell their stories online, she’s writing stories of her own. She also blogs at Daily Ellement, a lifestyle website featuring everything from diverse inspirational women to career guidance. She’s the oldest of four sisters and loves Young Adult fantasy, fierce female leads, and laughing. Find Her Here: https://www.maikaandmaritza.com
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, out now!
When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…
You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?
Actually, a lot.
Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.
All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.
You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.