The inauguration of President Trump is happening soon and it will kick off four years that don’t look very promising for large swaths of the population: women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, those who aren’t millionaires, etc. What’s a concerned citizen to do? You need to take action. Be outspoken. Donate to organizations that support these causes.
When your motivation starts to wane or you just need an escape, there are also stories to read for inspiration to keep fighting for those whose rights aren't assured — like these romance novels featuring heroines who take action, get sh*t done, and live happily ever after. Suffragettes in historical novels remind us just how far we have come and contemporary heroines show what it's like running for office (as more of us should do!). There are stories of immigrants making a new life in America or women trying to escape the lack of opportunity in small towns. In each one of these books, intimacy leads to greater understand and loves always trumps hate.
Here are nine romance novels to read on the way to the Women’s March in Washington, when you need help understanding someone different or after a long day changing the world.
1. Run for office: The Phoenix Candidate by Heidi Jo Tretheway
Motivated by personal tragedy to run for office, Grace Colton campaigns for and wins a seat in congress where she advocates for gun control and environmental issues. Now she’s being considered as a pick for Vice President on the Democratic ticket—and having a hot and heavy affair with Jared Rankin, the political consultant responsible for vetting her. This is a novel about power and passion, staying true to your values and finding love again.
2. Own your power: Daughters of A Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology by Alyssa Cole, Kianna Alexander, Lena Hart and Piper Huguley
Whether teaching freedmen in Nebraska to read, leading a strike among the washerwomen of Atlanta, convincing men that women deserve the right to vote or balancing love and a business empire in Harlem, this historical romance anthology includes four stories of African-American heroines embracing their power to make a real difference in their communities and finding lasting love.
3. Love is love: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
This YA novel is about a girl named Amanda who was assigned male at birth. After she's attacked in her old home, Amanda decides to start over at a new school in a new town. It’s a sweet and simple story we all recognize—one of trying to make friends and trying to fit in. This story has a happy ending, and it's a reminder of what we should be striving for as a society.
4. Immigrants get the job done: Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Tina Chen is a broke but ambitious student pursuing her college degree while holding down a job so she can help support her immigrant family. Meanwhile her classmate, Blake Reynolds, is the son of the billionaire tech tycoon who founded Cyclone Systems. After a heated debate in class, they agree to switch places: he’ll take her job washing dishes and she’ll do his work for Cyclone Systems. Trading lives leads to trading kisses and more showing that no matter how different our lives may seem, empathy and shared experiences can lead to love.
5. Understand small town life: Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long
There are only two ways out of a slow, small town like Hellcat Canyon: a cop car or a casket. There’s not much to do besides get into trouble, as Sherif Eli Barlow knows—he had to arrest his best friend for trafficking meth, and as a result he lost his chance with Glory Greenleaf. She’s got big dreams and no money to pursue them, so she’s stuck in the small town with her guitar. This is a beautifully written book about long lost love, ambition and life, all in the confines of a small town.
6. Advocate for others: The Earl by Katharine Ashe
Fierce political opponents unite! Lady Emily Vale is the anonymous, “rable-rousing" pamphleteer known as Lady Justice and as such she’s been a tireless advocate for social reform. The Earl of Egremoor has been sparring with her in the press for years and is determined to unmask her. But when they’re united by a common cause — a search for a missing woman — sparks fly and these enemies unite.
7. Be the Boss: The Marriage Merger by Jennifer Probst
Billionaire hero books are a dime a dozen, which makes it extra awesome to read about a high powered, successful and wealthy heroine for once. Julia Conte is the top executive at her family’s bakery business. Hotelier Sawyer Wells is seeking an exclusive partnership with her… business. And her. This steamy novel shows that heroines don’t need to be submissive to be sexy.
8. Vote: Violet Fire by Brenda Joyce
This old school romance kicks off with a feisty suffragette bursting into a society event, wielding a gun and shouting feminist slogans from on top of the grand piano (as one does). Fierce feminist Grace O’Rourke attracts the attentions of wealthy scoundrel Rathe Bragg but despite their passionate relationship she refuses to be his mistress and only accepts his marriage proposal when he vows to support her advocacy work, as real heroes do.
Maya Rodale is an award winning author of smart and sassy romance novels. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Her latest novel, Lady Claire is All That, is available wherever books are sold.