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Putting Feeling Back in Romance: the Works of Jasmine Guillory

This blog is the sixteenth installment of UIC Radio’s Black History Month series profiling and celebrating the work of Black artists throughout the month of February. To read the previous entry in this series, click here! For more information regarding Black History Month at UIC and the many upcoming events planned over the next several weeks, visit the Black History Month Student Planning Committee’s webpage here.

I love love. I love rom-coms, sappy songs, period dramas (thank you Jane Austin), and several Pinterest boards regarding fanciful futures (big, fancy wedding cakes).

However, one of the areas I’ve had trouble falling in love with has been romance novels. So many feel inauthentic and rushed, instead of providing moments of gleeful expectation and moving plots. They’re also overwhelmingly, disappointingly white. Then I found the works of Jasmine Guillory. Guillory is known for centering her stories around the lives of accomplished African-American professionals, featuring characters from lawyers to fashionistas to chiefs of staff.

She currently has 6 books out for your pleasure. My first introduction to her work was Guillory’s debut novel “The Wedding Date,” which features an elevator meet-cute and a sizzling dynamic between our main characters, Alexa Monroe and Drew Nichols. There’s a tantalizing amount of tension and plenty of light-hearted moments as well.

Told from both the perspective of Alexa and Drew, “The Wedding Date” showcases the nuances of faux-fledgling relationships. As a reader, we have the unique, external perspective, and we are privy to the underlying causes of relationship issues (pro-tip: if there’s a problem in your IRL relationship, try communicating). This perspective heightens the feeling of *drama* because we know why they said that off-the-cuff comment but they don’t know why until the other person said it.

If you’re looking to tip-toe into the world of meet-cutes, first kisses, and steamy relationship dynamics, consider picking up a Jasmine Guillory novel at your local library, bookstore, or wherever you read books.

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