A More Diverse Union: Interracial Romance Spreads Through History
By Alexa Day
Hippity hoppity, Outlander’s on its way! This week we celebrate the return of Outlander with a week devoted to historical romance. I’m a recent convert to historicals myself; I had a lot of help from a Big Gift Bag of Historical Romances from a couple of Love Fests ago. Now that I’ve joined the party, I’m pleased to present a host of historical romances from my chosen subgenre: interracials featuring black characters.
I have to get on the soapbox for just a second first. I promise I’ll only be a minute.
I’m really bothered by how difficult it is to find an interracial historical romance set outside the United States. I’m delighted that we have more of these stories from the American West and from the early 20th century; I’ve posted on them here. But black history exists beyond the narrow boundaries romance seems to have imposed on it. We do not have enough stories about the kingdom of Nubia, or about the descendants of the blamenn transported from Africa to Scotland and Ireland by the Vikings, or the many expats who made their way to Russia in the 1920s. Don’t even start me talking about the Regency period, which was PLENTY more diverse in reality than it is in fiction. Those stories are real and true, and publishing should be doing a better job of embracing diverse readers (or hell, curious readers) by presenting diverse stories.
Okay, I’m coming down. See? That just took a second. And by the way, if you have any idea where any of those stories are, definitely let me know.
Here’s a handful of interracial historical romances set outside the usual locations and time periods. Check them out and get your hot history on!
1. Afton Locke’s Oyster Harbor series. Afton sat next to me at my first signing a couple of years ago, and I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know each other. She’s a great person and a fearless writer. I’ve mentioned her interracial historical, Plucking the Pearl, before; it’s set in 1930s Maryland, and the cover tells you everything you need to know about how hot it is. But Afton’s Oyster Harbor series tackles some thorny historical realities. The second book, Rose, Exposed, addresses passing. In Sadie’s Surrender, which is set for a May release, the hero is a reluctant member of the Klan (as were many businessmen who would otherwise have faced the Klan’s pattern of violent intimidation). I know I just said I was focusing on the interracial historicals outside the States and in unusual time periods, but I had to show up for an interracial romance where love beats the f*cking Klan.
2. Susanna Fraser’s A Dream Defiant. Look hard at that cover up top. That’s a black Redcoat. Do you need me to tell you anything else? This novella is set in Spain, in 1813, and it’s about a widow with dreams of becoming an innkeeper and building a life with Elijah, that hot fellow who’s out of uniform on the cover. Need more? Check out the excerpt and then have a look at her post on interracial historicals for an interesting perspective.
3. Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole. This is a short story set in medieval England. Agnes is a black lady-in-waiting in the court of King James, and her wild knight wins a kiss from her as the prize in a jousting tournament. But here’s the best part: The Tournament of the Black Lady was absolutely real. You can read some more about it here. Maybe this is common knowledge in the UK. If it is … why aren’t people sharing from the other side of the pond?
4. Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan. Courtney Milan won my heart with her post about how
needlessly difficult it is to find a decent stock photo of a black bride. This novella tells the story of Rose, a mathematician who would prefer to avoid attention, and Stephen, who rather enjoys attention. Their romance, in the England of 1882, naturally draws attention, right?
Questions still abound, of course. Why are so many of these stories so short? Why aren’t there boatloads of them written by black authors? Why are these stories so tough to find? I wonder about all that, too. For the time being, though, this particular corner of the genre seems to be moving in the right direction, even if I’d like to see it moving a lot faster.
I would love to see some hot, swirly, historical word of mouth (forsooth, heyo!) in the comments — I think hungry readers are searching in vain for interracial historicals. If you’ve seen something, say something.
And follow Lady Smut. We’re about to get historical on you.