A number of things have become mainstream as the years go by. Unconventional romance is one of those genres that still has some catching up to do. Today, I will give you some good ones to help break the ice into your new foray of uncommon romance. They are all unique in their own ways and some contain explicit matter (Meaning Mature Audiences).
Jason: This Anita Blake novel was my first run in with this particular author and boy, was it a wild first ride! This is one of the last books in the series, a fact that was unknown to me, and should be read in line with the other novels. There was plenty that went on that needed a backstory, though a big part of this particular book went into delving into those backgrounds. However, as an independent read, it was WILDLY entertaining. This book focuses on the polyamorous tribe that Anita has accumulated over the years and the commitment to each of them that she is forced to consider. Did I mention that she is a vampire hunter and her lovers are a mixture of werewolves, wereleopards, and weretigers (and vampires of course!)? Will she set aside the last of her inhibitions to help a friend and herself?
Spoiler Alert: Olivia Dade has stolen my heart with this one! The main story focuses on a short, redheaded geologist name April who happens to be a bit on the thicker side and a famous actor named Marcus who plays a god in a tv series. Both of them have a side to their personal lives they are unwilling to show to the public numerous reasons, but they have one thing in common, they both write "fix it fics" (fanfiction) about the popular television show Marcus is on. They meet up as part of a situation in which April needs to be confident about exposing her personal side to the public. Marcus, on the other hand, is just beginning to sort out his own public persona. Instant connection! This story focuses on more than just the weight difference between the two main characters. The author takes a deep dive into how childhood trauma affects lives and how representation really matters. She also brings up the change in professional pace in most industries now a days and how our hobbies are not our work ethic. This might just end up on your top 10 new favorite books if you give it a chance!
The Kiss Quotient: Asian-American protagonists have been in short supply but are quickly on the rise. This story follows an Ecologist who has Aspergers and an escort who is struggling to pay the bills and take care of his family. That's right, I said HIS. The dynamic that these two end up having is amazing but it starts with a simple lesson. A lesson about intimacy and patience, a hard learned subject to Stella, whose lifestyle is very blunt and to the point (lacking passion and the basic social skills needed to develop any meaningful relationship). They agree on an arrangement where he teaches her the more important dynamics of being in a relationship and allowing control to be given to another. Of course they fall in love! Author Helen Hoang was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder herself, so The Kiss Quotient is an OwnVoices book. The author is able to share her experience with disorder authentically as well as her experience with her Vietnamese culture and food.
Rent A Boyfriend: The author really put the entire book into the first 10 pages! The scene was set, the players were introduced, the problem was laid out, and the potential solution was teased. What more could happen after that right? Jing-Jing (or Chloe, as she likes to be called) is a hardworking, Americanized, Chinese woman who just wants to live her life free of her "Dragon Parents". They have attempted to make a match for her (a wealthy Chinese man, big in their small community) but she just wants to live a normal life where she can choose who she wants to be with, without them butting in. Chloe and James, who is a paid actor/boyfriend-for-hire, play the perfect, successful, loving couple and end up falling for each other hard. They relate on a personal level due to the overbearing nature of both of their families and the hope that they can someday break free and live the dreams that they are working for. Worth the read!
She Drives Me Crazy: This is our only 'non-explicit' pick for this bunch. The story did not lack for it at all! It is a story centered around athletics so it spoke to me, personally, on a more basic level. I think I thoroughly enjoyed it because I used to be in sports and remember how intense everything seemed to be in high school. Scottie and Irene get thrown together, quite literally, at the beginning of the book and seem to be holding onto past grudges and old loves that keep them from really getting friendly. They agree to "work together" in order for Scott to make an ex jealous and Irene to get the money to pay back her parents for the accident that brought them together in the first place. In the midst of all this, they learn more about themselves and each other and start really liking each other. This book is a definite must if you are unsure about your feelings about your own insecurities and how people perceive you because the author really handled it well, down to the last page! Truly a beauty and beast kind of story with the main characters being a bunch of cheerleaders, basketball players, and soccer players. A great intro into these types of romances without all the explicit debauchery of some of our other picks.
There are many different types of romance in the world so I think it's high time that we make room for them and place them in the spotlight! There's more to the world now than man and woman (or human and human for that matter!). Take a journey and find that these stories hold a great value with their knowledge and different perspective. Whether it's Teen, Adult, Vampire, Werewolf, Zombie, Dark, BDSM, LGBTQ+, or anything in between, love prevails and is constantly changing.
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