15 Must-Read Romances Featuring Characters Who Are BIPOC

January 13, 2021
Nicole Fiorica

Everyone deserves to see themselves in the books that they’re reading. That’s one of the best parts about fiction. This feels doubly true for romances, as no two couples are exactly alike. Here are a few that you can cozy up to and enjoy ASAP.

14 Must-Read Romances Featuring Characters Who Are BIPOC

1. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Sandyha Menon does it again with this amazing Beauty and the Beast retelling set at an elite boarding school in Colorado. When, Grey Emerson the heir to the Emerson family ignites the centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. So when she finds out that he attends St. Rosetta’s academy, Jaya devises a plan to make him fall in love with her only to break his heart.  The only problem is that Grey Emerson is not not what she expected and, to her annoyance, his brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in.


2. The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson

Mia hates rom-coms. They’re forced and not at all realistic. But her friends love them and so she begrudgingly watches them. So when she has to find a date for her sister’s wedding, her friends have the perfect plan: they’re going to recreate the perfect meet-cute from all the rom-coms that they’ve watched. It’s a little crazy, a little out there, and maybe just a little bit perfect.


3. A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

This book was a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club YA pick and deservedly so. This feel-good romance, set in the English country side will warm your soul. Not to mention, make you hungry after you read all the delicious food descriptions.


4. Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

Imagine running into your destiny at 5am in a bodega in Brooklyn. That is exactly what happens to Pablo, a young NYU drop-out, while he’s working the midnight shift at his job. When international pop-star Leanna Smart walks in to his store for a late night snack the two of them immediately hit it off and a whirlwind romance begins.


5. Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

What happens when a mad, sad fiery girl meets a beautiful cinnamon roll boy with secrets? An unforgettable romance following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.


6. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

If you loved When Dimple Met Rishi, then you’ll love this book! There’s Something About Sweetie follows Rishi’s brother, Ashish, and a confident fat athlete named Sweetie as they both discover what love means to them.


7. Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Penny Lee is ready to leave behind her mediocre high school years when she flies across the country for college…and then she meets Sam, the struggling barista who quickly becomes her closest confidant. But only over text.


8. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Kiko Himura is struggling with her social anxiety, stifling family, and understanding of her half-Japanese heritage. When she doesn’t get into her dream art school, her childhood friend Jamie invites her to join him on a road trip touring art schools on the West Coast. As the trip unfolds, Kiko is free to learn more about herself, while realizing that she has feelings for Jamie as well. 


9. The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

Amber Smith’s contemporary novel isn’t exactly a romance as it follows the year after Brooke’s mother kills her father. But it’s only as Brooke starts to fall for her biracial classmate Dani that she is able to start piecing her life back together and letting go of the past.


10. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah is excited to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers – especially because she thinks it means that her parents have put their plans of finding her “Ideal Indian Husband” on hold. But little does she know that Rishi Patel’s parents are sending him to the same camp, with the hopes that he can woo her to be his future wife.


11. American Panda by Gloria Chao

17-year-old Mei is a freshman at MIT, following the next step in her parents’ plan for her to become a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer.  What Mei can’t tell them is that she hates germs—and that she has a massive crush on her Japanese classmate. 


12. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Artistotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante might feel like a throwback, but if you haven’t read it yet – really what are you waiting for? Aristotle meets Dante, another Mexican-American teen, at a local swimming pool, and in each other, both loners learn more about who they are.


13. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean Song writes love letters to the boys she’s loved, including her sister’s ex-boyfriend – and hides them in a box in her room. Then her letters are mailed out, and Lara Jean fakes a relationship with one of its recipients, all while trying to figure out how she really feels about each of her crushes. What could go wrong?


14. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Janna thinks of people in three different categories in her world, and she places herself at Jeremy firmly in the misfits. Janna thinks she and Jeremy are from two different worlds, but the old adage “opposites attract” can be very true.


Look for more romance? Check out these swoonworthy books or  LGBTQ+ love stories!

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