Playing the Ethnic Card in Modern Romance Books

TSH_500Until very recently, most romance heroes and heroines were all white and assumed to be protestant. If they were anything else, the book was put into a special category, like ‘ethnic’ or ‘interracial.’ But the homogenous picture those mainstream novels painted wasn’t reality. So I, for one, am glad to see that a few more ethnic characters are being thrown into the mix.

I wrote my first interracial romance on a whim. It was a romantic suspense, and the heroine was black woman, married to a wealthy, cheating white man. The book was well received and earned me a following in a niche market of mostly black romance readers, so I wrote more of the same, while continuing to also write books about white characters.

But I wanted to branch out more. When I started writing THE SURROGATE HUSBAND, Dex revealed himself to me as a man with a strong family background. His kin had traditions and he’d been raised with lots of extended family. His grandmother lived with the family and tried to set him up with all her friends’ granddaughters. Despite the book being a category romance, I took a chance and made him of Armenian descent.

Since one of the tropes I used was opposites attract, I think Dex’s ethnicity works well. Lucy is as far from old world traditional as you can get. Her parents divorced when she was a child and the family lived nomadically for a while before settling in Miami. She colors her hair hot pink and wears lingerie-inspired clothes that straddle the line between smutty and classy.
Another ethnic element of this book is the setting. The first part of the story takes place in Miami, so I played up the Latin angle, which is such a huge part of the culture of the area.

In reality, most of live in a world filled with diversity. So why shouldn’t our books reflect that diversity? Kudos to Entangled for embracing diversity!

I hope you feel the beat of Latin music and feel the energy of South Beach in THE SURROGATE HUSBAND. And I definitely hope you can imagine Dex’s thick, black hair. So yeah, I’ll probably continue to play the ethnic card in my books.


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