Increased diversity in books is something that we need to continually fight for and encourage and #OwnVoices books help to bring awareness to this need.
Check out this book list of #OwnVoices books in the romance genre that will diversify your reading with the best love stories.
*Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What are #OwnVoices Books?
#OwnVoices books are books in which the character(s) and author share a marginalized identity.
Identities highlighted by #OwnVoices books could include race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender identity, immigration status, disability and more.
Authors and readers help to identify these books with the hashtag #OwnVoices.
History of #OwnVoices Books
Before #OwnVoices emerged on the scene, there was a similar campaign to promote more diversity in books with #WeNeedDiverseBooks. This movement was started in 2014 by Asian-American authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo.
The #OwnVoices movement began a year later when young adult author, Corinne Duyvis posted on Twitter suggesting that readers use the hashtag #OwnVoices to recommend books about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group.
The hashtag was originally used to highlight diverse books in children’s publishing and from Duyvis’ own frustration that the conversation of diversity of books was solely focused on characters and not also the diverse authors who write them.
Now the #OwnVoices hashtag and distinction are used to market and promote books from marginalized authors in all genres.
#OwnVoices Books in Romance
This book list highlights some of my favorite #OwnVoices books in the romance genre and those that are on my TBR list.
It is by no means an exhaustive list, so I encourage you to find and read even more #OwnVoices books after making your way through these titles.
Thien-Kim Lam, a romance book author who writes about Vietnamese characters and who promotes diversity in books, highlights sources for #OwnVoices books in romance so you can find even more.
Already have a favorite #OwnVoices book? Share in the comments below!
#OwnVoices Books with Neurodivergent Differences
Stella Lane feels most comfortable at her job, working with numbers, which is why she has way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish.
Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan.
The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position.
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all of the other things he’s making her feel.
This was Huang’s debut novel and a Goodreads Choice Awards winner in 2018 which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Stella totally stole the show in this romance book but I also loved the relationship coach aspect to the story where she sought out Michael for “lessons” in the bedroom.
I loved the diversity in this #OwnVoices book from the ethnicity of the characters to Stella’s neurodivergence. A must-read!
Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, things always seem to go wrong.
Case in point when she accidentally hits the owner of the bed and breakfast with her car, breaking his arm.
Jacob may have turned her down for the head chef position during her interview, but with him laid up and understaffed Eve is everywhere he turns trying to help.
Eve’s chaotic nature is the complete opposite to Jacob’s need to control everything, so why is he starting to get used to her being around and liking it?
This was my first Hibbert book and it instantly became one of my most favorite romance books of all time.
I cannot tell you how much I love Eve and Jacob- two characters on the spectrum. Despite being complete opposites, they fit so well together and I loved their banter.
This #OwnVoices book is not to be missed! Check out my review of Act Your Age, Eve Brown.
The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is.
I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue.
Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.
This is another #OwnVoices book with a female autistic character written by an autistic author.
I loved Frankie’s honesty and her moments with Ren’s sister (also on the spectrum) were some of my most favorite.
But Ren was also a stand-out because he is just the nicest guy. Grab this romance if you love hockey players and office romances!
Related: Best Hockey Romance Books
Winnifred Gobaldi and Byron Visser are not best friends. Yes, they’ve known each other for years, but they’re not even friendly. The truth is, they have nothing in common.
She’s a public school science teacher with stars in her eyes, and he’s a pretentious, joyless double PhD turned world-famous bestselling fiction author.
She’s looking for a side hustle to help pay down a mountain of student debt, and his financial portfolio is the stuff of fiduciary wet dreams. So why are they faking a #bestfriend relationship for millions of online spectators?
When a simple case of tit-for-tat trends between nonfriends leads to a wholly unexpected kind of pretend, nothing is simple. Sometimes, it takes a public audience to reveal the truth of private feelings, and rarely—very rarely—you should believe what you see online.
It’s really saying something when I declared that Winnie and Byron became my favorite Penny Reid couple (gasp!).
The slow burn intensity to this couple was off the charts but it was how they opened up to one another and the things they shared that just made me love them even more.
I also think this book is the first time Reid mentioned her own neurodivergence in the acknowledgments. I absolutely loved Byron who was this direct yet complex character who totally captured my heart.
This is another five-star #OwnVoices book you can’t pass up. Check out my review of Ten Trends to Seduce Your Best Friend.
#OwnVoices Books with Health Differences
I sell toilet paper for a living. It doesn’t seem glamorous but we’re the fastest-growing eco-toilet paper subscription service around.
After years of hard work, I have everything I need to take my business to the next level—well, everything except the paper.
When my competition swoops in and offers my supplier a better deal, I’m left up a certain creek without a paddle and the only person willing to help, my ex-boyfriend, Lincoln ‘Linc’ Garrett.
Mitchell, like her heroine Annie, lives with Crohn’s disease. I understand through my work how this inflammatory bowel disease can really impact one’s life which is why I’m really looking forward to checking out this #OwnVoices book.
LGBTQ+ #OwnVoices Books
One compromising photo too many puts Luc’s job in jeopardy. His one chance at redemption turns out to be a fake relationship with a respectable boyfriend to clean up his image.
That “job” falls to Oliver Blackwood, a barrister, who is the opposite of Luc in every way.
But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.
I adored this MM romance which was a wonderful opposites attract love story.
I admit I have a thing for British heroes so this totally fit the bill.
Related: Best Gay Romance Novels
My readers expect me to chronicle my very real, very steamy encounters in my novels. I’d never want to disappoint my fans, but the creative well has run a bit dry.
Burlington, Vermont, seems like a good place to fill it up. This town offers a tempting array of artists, craftsmen, farmers. . . and so many beards.
But no one prepared me for Brody. He’s young. He’s hot. He’s definitely a grump. And he’s getting under my skin. Where I want him is under my bed sheets.
When my friend bets I’ll never be able to get Brody there, I make winning my mission. Turns out being with Brody is more than a plot device. He’s so very wrong for my life, but is he right for my heart?
I love books about authors, especially romance authors, but I love grump/sunshine pairings and bets that launch a relationship so I’m all in on this #OwnVoices book.
It’s been months since aspiring journalist Kian Andrews has heard from his ex-boyfriend, Hudson Rivers, but an urgent text has them meeting at a café.
Maybe Hudson wants to profusely apologize for the breakup, but he only has a favor to ask. He wants Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town, and Kian reluctantly agrees.
The dinner doesn’t go exactly as planned, and suddenly Kian is Hudson’s plus one to Georgia’s wedding of the season.
If Kian goes, he’ll help Hudson preserve appearances and get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in media. This could be the big career break Kian needs.
But their fake relationship is starting to feel like it might be more than a means to an end, and it’s time for both men to fact-check their feelings.
This #OwnVoices book will be my first Jackson read and I cannot wait.
Felix Love is desperate to find love but also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages Felix comes up with a plan for revenge.
What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle and launching a journey to self-discovery.
I was captivated by this storyline which is why it made my book list of high school romance books as well.
I haven’t seen transgender marginalization as a theme in romance books that often so this one is a definite standout and an #OwnVoices book you should definitely check out.
August looks forward to seeing Jane every day on the train. Only her subway crush is impossible because Jane is a girl lost in time, displaced from the 1970s.
McQuiston changed things up for her second romance book debut with this lesbian love story after her debut novel, Red, White and Royal Blue, which was an MM romance, launched itself off the best-selling charts.
It’s an #OwnVoices book to read especially if you love time travel!
Darcy is tired of her brother trying to fix her up, so after a disastrous blind date with Elle, his coworker, she fibs and tells him that they were a match.
Elle is ready to find her soul mate but she’s assured that it is not Darcy who couldn’t be more opposite to the care-free astrologer.
But when she finds out that Darcy lied to her brother saying that they are now dating, she somehow agrees to Darcy’s plan to fake date through the holidays.
And the more these two spend time with one another, it appears love may be written in the stars for these two opposites after all.
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#OwnVoices Book with Ability Differences
By the time Effie Galanos starts her senior year, it feels like she’s already been thinking about college applications for an eternity—after all, finding a college that will be the perfect fit and be accessible enough for Effie to navigate in her wheelchair presents a ton of considerations that her friends don’t have to worry about.
What Effie hasn’t told anyone is that she already knows exactly what school she has her heart set on: a college in NYC with a major in Mass Media & Society that will set her up perfectly for her dream job in digital media.
She’s never been to New York, but she can picture the person she’ll be there, far from the Minneapolis neighborhood where she’s lived her entire life.
When she finds out that Wilder (her longtime crush) is applying there too, it seems like one more sign from the universe that it’s the right place for her.
As Effie navigates her way through a year of admissions visits, senior class traditions, internal and external ableism, and a lot of firsts–and lasts–she starts to learn that sometimes growing up means being open to a world of possibilities you never even dreamed of.
And maybe being more than just friends with Wilder is one of those dreams.
I’m already in love with this young adult romance! Forrest’s #OwnVoices book brings a much-needed look at disability representation in romance books.
I remember the ups and downs of senior year and cannot wait to see how Effie navigates her year while following her dreams.
#OwnVoices Books by Authors of Color & Marginalized Ethnicities
Dr. Nicole Allen is about to start a prestigious fellowship but when she disciplines an intern—a powerful donor’s son—her job is placed in jeopardy.
She’s always been able to depend on her friend and neighbor, Ben. So, when he’s willing to have his family intervene on her behalf, Nic decides to help him in return, posing as his fake girlfriend for the week to ward off his ex-fiance.
I recommend this friends to lovers romance book to everyone I know because I loved both characters and loved the friendship between Nicole and her besties.
I love how Livesay used her own friend group as a springboard for the women in this series and can’t recommend it enough! Check out my review of Like Lovers Do.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules which Trisha is guilty of breaking.
Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character.
He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.
As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with.
If there’s a modern, Pride and Prejudice retelling being written, I’m so in. I love how Dev tackles all of Jane Austen’s greats in her The Rajes series but this twist on the classic is sure to delight.
If you too love retellings, then this is the #OwnVoices book for you that explores the intricacies of an Indian American family.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle.
She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal.
Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental.
She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family.
Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
This #OwnVoices book was a finalist for the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards and definitely deserves a place on your TBR list.
I cannot wait to meet Ayesha and learn more about her customs and family traditions in this one.
Roxanne is a self-made Latinx billionaire and she’s just negotiated her most important business deal yet.
She’s offering a marriage of convenience and three nights a month to bail out Mateo’s impoverished kingdom. In exchange, he has to give her a baby.
I love it when it’s the heroine who holds all the coin in a billionaire romance novel!
If you want to escape into the wineries of a beautiful kingdom with some amazing, strong characters, I highly recommend this book!
Soap star Jasmine and telenovela star Ashton have a lot riding on the new TV show they are making together.
Jasmine needs to improve her image after a public break up landed her in the tabloids and Ashton needs to revive his acting career or see it finished.
A disastrous first impression has their on-screen chemistry lacking so they’ve resorted to rehearsing in private which leads to a hidden fling.
But as their feelings grow, the media spotlight on Jasmine threatens not only their relationship but Ashton’s biggest secret.
I love how this romance novel was like being behind the scenes in a telenovela! It was also a finalist in the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Romance.
Intermixed with their own love story, Daria included chapters of scenes between the two TV characters which I enjoyed. It was almost two romance stories in one which was fantastic. Check out my review of You Had Me At Hola.
Dig a little and you’ll find photos of me in the bathtub with Ezra Stern when we were six months old. Pry and one of us might confess we saved our first kiss for each other.
Get into our business and you’ll see two families, closer than blood, torn apart in an instant.
Twenty years later, my “awkward duckling” best friend from childhood, the boy no one noticed, is a man no one can ignore. And he’s taken.
Tell me the boy who always felt like mine is now the man I can’t have.
When we find each other again, everything stands in our way–secrets, lies, promises.
But we didn’t come this far to give up now. And I know just the move to make if I want to make him mine.
I love this #OwnVoices book for its cover alone. It’s still rare to find a woman on the cover without her partner counterpart unless it’s a historical romance. But this woman just captivates and I can see her power.
I definitely turn to Ryan for romance books with strong heroines and this one is no different. A must-read for sure.
As if Zora Leffersbee didn’t have enough to worry about with her tenure job in jeopardy, funding for her employees uncertain and a fake engagement to manage, the boy who broke her heart when he disappeared suddenly is now back in town and in her office.
Nick is back and willing to do whatever it takes to win back Zora – if she’ll let him.
This is another five-star read that just sucks you in from the first page and won’t let go. Ellis’ debut novel blew me away and gave me the best second chance love story.
You won’t regret reading this #OwnVoices book! Check out my review of Been There Done That.
On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof.
Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.
Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect.
And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away.
Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time, before they lose their second chance?
There’s just something about second chance love stories that I adore, especially those in which the families of the characters is what drove them a part.
I loved that the forced proximity of being roommates is what finally gets these two to recognize what they had.
Related: Best Cross Cultural Romance Books
For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants.
Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.
But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect.
But then, of course, they immediately remember.
Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?
This #OwnVoices book is a young adult romance in which two Vietnamese American teens fall in love despite their families’ age-old feud.
I love how their families have competing, neighboring restaurants, and can’t wait to see how they stand up to their families for their own love.