About a year ago, I started reading romance novels. I hate to admit this now, but I was embarrassed about it. In the past I had laughed at romance novels, thinking they were trite and silly (and they are), but then again, the simple joy of reading a romance novel was helping me through the scariest moments of the pandemic. Yes, they are formulaic, but the formula and the expectation of a happy ending was soothing to me. It helps that I’m a romantic person to begin with, but doggone it, I love romance novels and I don’t care what people think anymore!

Historically, romance novels have been “a woman’s thing,” but maybe reading and unapologetically loving them can also be a big middle finger to those upholding the patriarchy. Vanessa Zoltan writes passionately about romance novels on her podcast Hot & Bothered. In the first episode, she breaks it down: “The patriarchy doesn’t just want to shame you for your body and then try to control it. The patriarchy also wants to make your pleasure and your desires seem dumb. It wants to ruin romance novels for you.” Zoltan also reminds us “Romance novels, of course, are not just about resisting the patriarchy. They are for everyone: to imagine the love that they deserve in the world.” 

So, go ahead: Read some romance, leave your expectations behind, and just fall into it. 

Imagine the love you deserve, because you definitely deserve it.

Here are a few romance selections I’ve enjoyed:

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Secrets and Lies by Selena Montgomery: This is our Indy Book Club pick of the month! A suspenseful romance set in South America, in which a professional thief and a botanist find love while looking for an ancient relic and getting chased by bad guys.

Best of all: Selena Montgomery is the pen name of Georgia politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams! 

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Tessa Dare: I would recommend all of author Tessa Dare’s books. They are Regency-era romances covering a variety of tropes. All of them are steamy, and none of them take themselves too seriously. To begin with, I recommend the Girl Meets Duke series. These books focus both on loving relationships and female friendships! 

Another fun book by Dare is When a Scot Ties the Knot.

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The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite: This steamy friends-to-lovers female/female historical romance about two ladies in science is a slow-burning delight.

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The Brown Sisters Series by Talia Hibbert: Each book in this trilogy focuses on a different sister in the Brown family. These books have been a smashing success, so it’s a good bet you’ll love them! There is also disability representation, something not often found in romance novels.

Join the Indy Book club at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 22, at Municipal Winemakers as we discuss our book of the month, Secrets and Lies, as well as the particulars of the romance genre!

With all the love,


If you are a local author, host book events in the Santa Barbara area, or have any other fun bookish tips for us, please send your recommendations for consideration to allbooked@independent.com.

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