Summer is officially over - it’s getting darker earlier and Winter Wonderland Season is just around the corner.
So The Floor Mag with help from its lovely writers has rounded up five books that are sure to keep the fire burning even as the temperature drops. From tropical getaways to campus trysts these are five books any Lover Girl (secret or otherwise) should be reading this autumn.
‘Until I Met You’ By Amber Rose Gill and Nadine Gonzalez
Amber Rose Gill’s debut novel (co-written by Nadine Gonzalez) takes us on newly single Samantha’s trip, from her home city of Manchester to a luxury resort in Tobago. Dreading facing the trip alone, where she will attend her childhood best friend’s wedding, Samantha begrudgingly seeks refuge in the also newly single, mysterious Roman Carver.
But ‘Until I Met You’ is more than a modern spin on an easy-read romance, the novel’s true magic lies within the flawed friendship group, their dedication to one another, and their struggles with the ever-changing dynamics of adulthood. Throughout the group’s time on the island, we see how relationships - familial, platonic, and romantic alike - unravel under the close confines of the resort. As this group is forced to have honest conversations, being truly open with themselves and each other, we see how they eventually come together and form connections that may last a lifetime… Or perhaps just for a holiday?
‘Honey and Spice’ by Bolu Babalola
Self-titled Romcomoisseur™ and pop-culture Queen Bolu Babalola shows no signs of stopping in her journey to make the world fall in love with the worlds she creates.
Her debut novel ‘Honey and Spice’ is set in the hallowed halls of Whitewell University, where our heroine Kiki Banjo lets her fellow students know exactly what the male population of Whitewell is thinking and how to avoid heartbreak. Now Kiki isn’t perfect, as we learn throughout the novel she has her own hang-ups to contend with and new student Malakai isn’t making life any easier. Scorchingly hot, Babalola’s way with words will leave you hooked, interactions between Kiki and Malakai feel like too much and yet not enough. Babalola takes over-used tropes and breathes fresh life into them - ensuring that readers are left pinning for more of Kiki’s wit and Malakai’s smooth talking.
‘Honey and Spice’ once more proves that Babalola will always be wholly unapologetic in her Blackness, her craft and her way with words.
‘Get a Life, Chloe Brown’ by Talia Hibbert
The first in a triple bill, ‘Get a Life, Chloe Brown’ refreshingly dives head first into the world of non-visible disabilities and the concept that as strong as we are, it’s okay to have help.
Probably the steamiest book in this round-up, ‘Get a Life, Chloe Brown’ focuses on protagonist Chloe and her desire to live her life to the max. With help from her landlord, Red, Chloe is working her way through a list of things she’s always wanted to do. Hibbert craftily weaves a solid storyline with the occasional page or two of smut thrown in for good measure.
I appreciate how Hibbert doesn’t seek to diminish her character's experiences or over romanticse the situations they find themselves in, Chloe uses sarcasm to mask her vulnerability, Red is no saint either.
‘Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl’ by Joya Goffney
YA Queen Goffney, has done it again! This time tackling themes of religion and purity culture, our protagonist, Monique is a ‘good girl' for all her outward appearances. But she’s struggling with something that she doesn’t quite understand and with the help of some new friends, she’ll be able to come to terms with her faith, her body and all the bits in-between. Goffney’s tackling of issues which are normally saved for women’s Bible study groups are dealt with from a young perspective with a twist that I didn’t see coming. We also are treated to insights of what it might be like to be the child of a Preacher and how this shapes Monique's place in society as a young Black woman.
The best thing about Goffney’s latest novel is that even though it’s about a boy, at its heart it’s not. Monique might be trying to figure out how to win a boy over but ultimately she gains something much more important along the way which she had been seeking over the romantic, a solution.
‘Who’s Loving You’ edited by Sareeta Domingo
With a range of authors, all excelling in their individual crafts outside of this anthology including Kelechi Okafor, Sara Collins and Varaidzo, ‘Who’s Loving You’ is a collection of short stories edited by Sareeta Domingo.
For me, ‘Who’s Loving You’ is like getting into bed when it’s storming outside. It’s comforting. Although not all stories have a romanticised ending, they are perfectly placed and timed alongside their characterisation. Even though love was at the centre of each story, larger themes of family, grief and uncertainty trickled throughout and whilst some flames roared, others simmered.
You can read our columnist, Karen’s full review of ‘Who’s Loving You’ here.
Additional words by Sophie Harman