Note: A Delicate Affair is the first book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of the 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page.
I absolutely love historical romance. Ever since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed reading about love in the past. Regency affairs of the heart? Give it to me. Victorian flirtation and ever-after? I can’t get enough. Turn of the 20th century seduction? Still one of my very faves. I adore it all.
I discovered these historical romances lying around our house when I was a pre-teen in Jamaica. These novels, usually thick paperbacks with long-haired couples flashing acres of pale skin, were breadcrumbs more than hinting at my mother’s voracious reading appetite. Whatever books she bought or brought home from the library, I promptly devoured. Enraptured by these sensual and sensational images of the past, I fell completely in love with the same type of books my mother did.
There weren’t many contemporary books in her collection and I had no issues with that fact at the time. After all, sometimes reading about contemporary lovers in real life situations just felt too Real. If asked as a child, I would’ve probably said that having those historical romances around gave a pretty look into the past and gave us the chance to revel in a little bit of harmless nostalgia. But now as an adult, I’ve become a bit cynical and imagine the prevalence of these books in Jamaica was just another way to stuff colonialism and the illusion of a perfect and jewel-bright England down the throats of the inhabitants of current and former British colonies.
After being nurtured on the genre for years, however, I couldn’t quite turn away from it. Luckily, I don’t have to.
Not too long ago, I watched a documentary on Pompeii and its destruction during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. In that documentary, the narrator talked about the remains of bodies found buried under the volcanic ash. One of these bodies, the archeologists found, belonged to a black man. This man was wearing the jewelry and other signifiers of someone possessing great wealth and/or position in that society. This man was not a slave or servant. What he might have been was simply another unfortunate citizen caught by the volcano, or perhaps a wealthy traveler passing through at the wrong time. This was an amazing revelation to me. Black people, people of color, rising from the ash of history where they had been buried and forgotten.
My amazement comes from the fact that, in so much of history, whenever black people are mentioned, it is mostly in the context of slavery or servitude. And so when the light is shone on the past and on people who look like me, it’s validation of the most important kind. And it’s wonderful. It is no less amazing and wondrous to see this validation in a novel of historical romance.
That’s why I love books by Alyssa Cole, Beverly Jenkins, Kianna Alexander, Piper Huguley, and other amazing writers working today. Their books are filled with the beautiful brown skin, undeniable historical presence, and inspiring black love missing in the books I once found on my mother’s bookshelves all those years ago in Jamaica. I’ve shared these books with my mother and now, she’s in love again, too.
Lindsay Evans is the author of the upcoming historical romance, A Delicate Affair. It is the first in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance novella series set from 1900 to 2010. Her latest contemporary novel with Harlequin Kimani, The Pleasure of His Company, is available now. Find out more at www.LindsayEvansWrites.com.