Beyond fun rom-com movies and shows, I also enjoy the occasional romance novel. In fact, I’ve been reading much more romance since quarantine started! My favorite romance authors include Helen Hoang, Josie Silver, and Anne Tyler (though Tyler focuses more on the family unit). Of all the romance writers I’ve picked up so far, Jasmine Guillory feels the most, for a lack of a better word, relatable to me as a millennial reader. She’s the kind of writer I gravitate towards when I can’t decide what to read and just want a lighthearted, feel-good book.
I was bound to enjoy Guillory, just because I lived in Berkeley and worked in Oakland for a few years in college. So far, I’ve read The Wedding Date, The Proposal, The Wedding Party, and part of The Royal Holiday. Many of the characters are based in the East Bay, so I feel a sense of camaraderie with them! Alexa from The Wedding Date works as the Berkeley mayor’s chief of staff, and her friend Theo, the star of The Wedding Party, is the mayor’s communications director.
But even beyond location, I find Guillory’s books to be quite fun, light, and delightfully unpretentious. They’re never too serious, although Guillory does take the emotions of her characters seriously so that there really are stakes that you can follow. Her books tend to be about young, straight professionals of color. Yes, people of color! Race is not a front and center facet in these stories, but it is a valid part of these characters’ lives.
On the romantic side of things, you always get the perspectives of both halves of a couple, so you’re privy to different sets of motivations and interests. Her books do have an aspirational glaze to them that reminds me of shows like The Bold Type and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Outside of their relationships, the characters are also very passionate about their jobs and often find their paths towards their dream careers. In fact, a lot of the hurt feelings that emerge in a relationship when one person fails to understand the other person’s dreams, if that makes sense.
On a less consequential note, the characters eat a LOT, as Roxane Gay has pointed out in her Goodreads review of the first and second books. It’s quite enjoyable to see how much they love food. Yes, it’s a Millennial Thing. But it’s pleasant to see food not as a symbol or a plot device of sorts. People like to eat delicious food, and it’s not a Big Deal.
For a fun, fizzy page-turner that’s emotionally effective but not too bombastic, pick up a Jasmine Guillory read! You’ll be hooked in her rom-com literary universe before you know it.
Guillory’s books are very accessible. You’ll find them in most bookstores as well as big-box retailers like Target and Walmart. (Support your indie shops, of course.) They’re easy to find at the library as well, whether you’re hunting down a physical or electronic copy.