I am a HUUUUGE FAN of interracial historical romance novels. It’s that taboo element along with the how is the author going to realistically pull this off factor that grabs me every time. Now I know there are a few detractors out there who just can’t deal because of the blatant, overt, downright racist elements that accompanied black women at that time, and I feel you! I really do, because when done right, an IR historical is supposed to touch you in that way. I would be side-eyeing (-_-) any IR historical that didn’t discuss racism in the narrative. So what do I consider historical? Personally, any story set in a time that’s 50 years ago or longer, so we’re talking 1965 y’all. Doesn’t seem that long, but there were laws still on the books that made interracial marriage illegal. Laws that could get you killed if you were white and married a black person or vice versa. Damn shame, ain’t it? But enough rambling, I have chosen 10 books that are historical and interracial, and that I love! This is my favorite genre, so if you have an IR historical book you love and don’t see it listed here, please add in the comments. I’m always looking for something good to read!
(In no particular order)
- Being Plumville by Savannah J. Frierson: If you are new to the genre and want a good foundation to start, this is IT! I have probably read this story no less than 20 times. You will fall in love with Benny and Cora as I have. Beginning in 1950’s Georgia all the way thru the mid-70’s, Being Plumville is the story of two children who grow up as friends not knowing there is a such thing as black and white, and as they become teenagers, they experience the divide and learn their places in society. As they attend the same small college together, that friendship goes through some trials as they fall under the influence of societal and peer pressure to remain separate. Eventually, they grow closer and fall in love. Given the climate of the times along opposition from family and friends, Benny and Cora prove that love really conquers all, but the road ain’t easy whew. I really wish Ms. Frierson would write a follow up on Benny and Cora as married adults. I would love to see how things were for them living in Boston-of all places! And we know how racist that city was back in the 70’s…
- The Summer of Tsunami by S. Campbell Williams: Oh this story got me right in the damn feels! It reminds me a lot of Being Plumville, not in plot or setting, but just the overall sweetness of how the story was told. It lulls you and pulls you in as if you’re sitting back listening to one of your elders telling you how she and her man met and fell in love. Tsunami or Tsu is visiting her country cousins in Lexington, Va for the summer in 1961. There she encounters Paul Morrison, and the sparks immediately fly. You know how you meet someone, and there’s just this instant connection like you’ve found the person you were destined to be with? Yeah, this is one of those stories. From the old country store to the southern dialogue, the storytelling is so picturesque. Paul and Tsu go through some shit in this one. It’s bad enough being an interracial couple in 1960’s Virginia, but when your own best (and horribly racist) friend wants your girl for himself, that adds an additional layer of drama and heart palpitations to the story. Definitely add this one to your collection!
- The Fancy by Mercedes Keyes: This lady right here can tell a damn good story! It was the cover that initially grabbed me, and I haven’t looked back since. The Fancy is book 1 in a series called Cora’s Daughters, but each book in itself is a stand alone. Quinton is a doctor and confirmed bachelor. When he saves the life of a slave trader’s mother, he is “gifted” with Suga, the beautiful daughter of one of the trader’s older slaves. Suga is definitely sweet-and feisty. Quinton ain’t down with slavery so he grapples morally with keeping Suga but at the same time he knows that her life will be worse if she remains where she is. Together they forge north where he sets up practice and tries to establish some sort of life with Suga-but in what capacity? There’s a My Fair Lady element to this story which is an interesting twist with even more interesting results. Definitely worth the click.
- Whiplash by Yvie Towers: I must caution you. THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE FAINT AT HEART! It is not a sweet nor romantic read, but is a tell it like it is story about the horrors of slavery, what slaves endure, and how one white slave owner battles his own feelings of self-hatred and love for one of his slaves while trying to maintain his role as overseer (hmmm have you seen Twelve Years A Slave?) This is probably the realest “romance” I’ve ever read about slavery and what happens when bot the slave master and the slave catch feelings. This is book 1 of 2. I have not yet read book 2 because I first need to reread this one to reacquaint myself. It’s definitely worth reading.
- Plucking The Pearl by Afton Locke: This is also a gritty, love story (at least in my opinion.) Set in 1930’s Maryland, this is the story of Pearl, a refined, Northern woman, who goes to live with her country ass kin off the shore in Maryland after the death of her mother. It is immediate culture shock for Pearl because her family is poor and is literally living hand to mouth. She is shunned by her family for being too sidity, not too mention being another mouth to feed. To help make ends meet, Pearl gets a job shucking oysters, and there she meets Caleb, the plant owner. These two enter into a forbidden, yet passionate love affair that threatens not only their personal safety, but Caleb’s business and everyone’s livelihood. This story is very scenic and rich in imagery and very authentic. This was a real nail-biter for me.
- Filthy Lucre by Sharon Cullars: This is definitely a fave! Set again in the 1930’s, this story also features some real-life historical figures-Bonnie and Clyde! Teddy Holliday is robbed of her last few bucks at the local (racist) general store and to add insult to injury, she unknowingly takes in a bank-robbing boarder named Louis. Soon Louis and his gang holes up in Teddy’s house where they’ve taken her hostage while they hide out from the law. The tension is thick, but Teddy and Louis can’t deny the strong attraction between them. Like all the other recs, this one is filled with rich imagery of life in the 30’s-the old dusty roads, the cars, cooking techniques, the fashion…The ending was the absolute best. Sharon Cullars is a masterful storyteller, and she is truly slept on.
- Ain’t No Sunshine by Leslie Dubois: This is the type of book that when you finish, the first words out of your mouth are: What the fuck did I just read?! There is a twist in this story that is so sick that you won’t know if it’s the truth or a lie. I still don’t know what to believe! All I’ll say is everybody isn’t who they’re supposed to be. Set in 1960’s Virginia, Stephen is in love with Ruthie, and Ruthie loves Stephen, but racism and abuse aren’t the only things keeping these star-crossed lovers apart. You MUST read this book! Leslie Dubois is the truth!
- Zoe by TA Ford (aka Sienna Mynx): Have you seen the movie Belle or read Cinderella? If you have, then you definitely want to read this book because the parallels are very similar. Zoe is a mixed-race woman in the Napoleon era who is the product of a Frenchman and his African mistress. Zoe is raised in a life of privilege despite her heritage, and she is forever reminded of it. She never lets the fact that she is biracial prevent her from thinking any less of herself. She always holds her head high and commands respect. She is not without enemies, mainly, her stepmonster who is hell bent on making sure she knows her place. Enter rogue lothario Julien, and the stakes just got higher. Definitely worth the read.
- Taken by Koko Brown: Olivia Bryant is the prototype for the early 20th century modern woman. She does not have time nor the inclination for men. She is career-focused, but underneath it all she has a thing for the brash, arrogant Khalil Francois Duis. This story spans the globe from New York to North Africa. Khalil is the ultimate alpha male, and what Khalil wants, Khalil gets. And he wants Olivia. This story is rich in imagery and often hilarious. Click it up!
- Chance Encounter by B.D. Anderson: I loved this story. It takes place in the early 60’s in Virginia (very popular no?). Paris is about to start her freshman year of college at Howard University. Driving home one night, she gets a flat tire and is helped by a young white boy named Billy. This story has a lil twist because Paris is older than Billy by a few years so she has no interest in romantically, one because of his age, and two because he’s white, and it’s forbidden. Billy is one persistent fellow though because he is totally head over heels for Paris and makes his intentions known early. Paris can’t help but t be charmed by his gentlemanly manners and genuine interest in her romantically. It’s a tough road for these two, and reading how it all plays out is well worth it.
Again, if you’ve read some great IR historicals, please drop them in the comments. I’m trying to grow my library!