The Rec League: Cross-Cultural Romances

January 16, 2020

The Rec League - heart shaped chocolate resting on the edge of a very old bookThis request was sent in by Maggie. Thanks, Maggie!

Hey ladies, I’ve looked through past reader recs but haven’t seen this topic so I thought I’d ask for it. Do you have any recs for books where couples from different countries/cultures meet?

I recently read The Mother-in-Law Cure by Katherine Wilson (a memoir, not a novel) about how she met her Italian husband while studying in Naples and now I’m on the look out for more cross-cultural romances.

Catherine: Trade Me by Courtney Milan, has a Chinese American heroine and a white American hero, and there is a lot he doesn’t get. (He does learn, though, and it is funny and sweet and delightful).

The Chocolate Thief
A | BN | K | AB

Also, The Chai Factor, which I just finished reading last night and is marvellous! Heroine is Muslim and first generation Indian-Canadian, hero is white. It’s from the heroine’s viewpoint, and very embedded in her community. (Note, there are characters who are having to put up with a lot of homophobia, there is also racism and islamophobia. It is dealt with in the book, but might be triggery for some.)

And, I mean, all of the Amour et Chocolat books by Laura Florand have American heroines and French heroes, so if you want very sensual stories with lots and lots of chocolate and Paris in them, you’ll have fun with these.

Tara: Lorelei Brown’s Far From Home is an f/f green card romance between an American woman and a woman from India. CW for anorexia, in case anyone needs it.

Far From Home
A | BN | K | AB

Aarya: I can think of hundreds of recs. Here are three that aren’t as well-known and that I haven’t discussed on the site before.

1) Bucket List to Love by C. P. Santi ( A ). Filipino heroine moves to Tokyo to study in architecture program. She falls in love with an annoying Japanese student that she teams up with for a design project. Absolutely adorable and the heroine experiences culture shock.

2) The Write Escape by Charish Reid (I think Shana reviewed this for the site). Black heroine escapes to Ireland after ending her engagement.

3) Pas de Deux by Lynn Turner. Black French ballerina goes to NYC to work with choreographer hero. It’s beautifully written and emotional, but difficult to read at times. CW for abuse and food disorder.

I don’t want to take up too much space, but also check out authors like Ruby Lang (Open House), Adriana Herrera (American Dreamer), Jeannie Lin (Butterfly Swords), and Priscilla Oliveras (Her Perfect Affair). I also enthusiastically second Catherine’s rec for Farah Heron’s The Chai Factor. Okay, I’m shutting up now.

Catherine: Never shut up! I, for one, was waiting eagerly to see what you would come up with because I knew you would be on this!

Pas De Deux: A Dance for Two
A | BN | K | AB

Shana: Seconding many of these recs, especially Far from Home and The Write Escape. Some of my other cross-cultural contemporary faves:

Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon has an African-American heroine who ends up in a marriage of convenience, after her aunt mandates she marry a Scottish bagpiper as a condition of the will.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory. American Vivian tags along on her daughter’s work trip to the UK, and meets the Queen’s private secretary. Lots of cultural confusion and delightful discoveries.

Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams ( A | BN | K | AB ) has a Black working class heroine who heads to Montana for a midlife adventure, and falls for the Native American owner of a small town restaurant.

Not Another Family Wedding by Jackie Lau ( A | BN | K | AB ). Natalie is a mixed-race professor who who brings her white Canadian friend to a big family wedding, and sparks fly. Natalie’s rambunctious Chinese-Canadian family have some show-stealing scenes.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. The whole Reluctant Royals series has cross-cultural relationships, but I think this is the book that arguably focuses the most on the challenges (and surprises) of its North American/African romance.

Sneezy: Hard second on Trade Me, The Chai Factor, and A Princess in Theory.

I also want to rec:

A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year
A | BN | K | AB

A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year by Jackie Lau. The hero is half Chinese and the heroine is white. The story serves up awesome feel-good times while also touching on things like looking white despite being Chinese-Canadian, Chinese food in North America being its own thing that also varies from region to region.

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai. It’s the second in the Forbidden Hearts series, and dives in to lots of things. Across the series, the Japanese interment camps and mental health is explored in various ways. This book in particular features a hero with Japanese-American and Hawaiian heritage and a Pakistani-American heroine.

Let Us Dream by Alyssa Cole teams up a Black woman and Indian Muslim man in 1917 Harlem, NYC. The heroine used to travel with her father as performers, pretending to be Indian so they could avoid racism and by-pass segregation. Although she no longer pretends to be Indian, she still performs in her night club, Cashmere. The two of them has experienced many hurts because of who they are, and when they meet, they constantly butt heads. Eventually, they two stop butting heads long enough for the hero to offer and the heroine to agree to have him teach her how to dance the Indian dances she’s been performing. Further fireworks ensue from there.

Wanna Bet by Talia Hibbert, the second book in Dirty British Romance, is another good one. The heroine is Black, and the hero is Hindu-Muslim.

Which books would you recommend?

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