Discussion: Diversity in Romance part 2 – mental and physical ability

As a follow up to my April 2018 post about Diversity in Romance, I wanted to talk some more about diversity in romance – specifically main characters with mental, physical, and sensory disabilities.

***IMPORTANT: I am writing this from a place of good intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell…  I did some Googling to try to be sure I’m using the most appropriate/acceptable terminology for people with disabilities. If anything in this post is offensive, it is unintentional and I ask that you please educate me so I can correct it.***

There has been a LOT of discussion about diversity in romance, and it seems like the main thing brought up is race and the lack of people of color both being published as writers of romance as well as having representation as main characters in romance novels. I talked about this aspect of diversity in romance in my April 2018 post, but today I’d like to focus on a different aspect of diversity in romance. I don’t see many romances about people with disabilities, and I think it is important for people to see themselves in the media they consume. I want to see more romances with characters who are on the autism spectrum, who are deaf or blind, who struggle with mental illness. I want main characters who use mobility aids and other assistive devices, and characters dealing with things like MS or diabetes or a spinal cord injury. I’m not saying the storyline needs to revolve around their disability; just that they be present and represented and THERE.

So! Let’s help each other find some more mental and physical diversity in romances, shall we? I’m going to talk about a few books I’ve read that have at least one main character that is disabled, as well as a few on my TBR. Please leave recommendations in the comments of more that I need to add to my TBR. 🙂

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert features a leading lady, Ruth, who is an Autistic black web comic artist.

Sit, Stay, Love by Debbie Burns has a hero who has ADD as well as PTSD, and I am very hopeful that the third book in the series, My Forever Home, will be about Patrick, a side character in previous books with Asperger’s. (Patrick was definitely my favorite character in Sit, Stay, Love.)

Pandora in Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Spring suffers from an inner ear that leaves her deaf in one ear as well as causing her difficulty in keeping her balance when moving around in the dark or doing things like dancing.

There seem to be a lot of novels with main characters (especially heroes) who suffer from PTSD, usually soldiers who have seen action of some sort in battle. Cameron in Jenny Holiday’s One and Only has PTSD. Love in the Afternoon, arguably my favorite novel by Lisa Kleypas, is a historical with another hero suffering from PTSD. It seems like PTSD has become one of the most socially acceptable mental illnesses, at least as portrayed in romances and as it relates to men. I’d really love to read more romances with MC’s struggling with depression, anxiety disorders, OCD, PTSD related to non-war situations…

A couple of romances on my TBR with main characters who are deaf or mute include Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce, Tracking You by Kelly Moran, and Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks. Additionally, some romances on my TBR with blind MC’s include Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt, Playing the Part by Darcy Daniel, and The Arrangement by Mary Balogh.

Are there any romances you’d recommend with main characters who are people with disabilities? If you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed in my TBR, what did you think of them?
Is this a category you feel has adequate representation in the romance genre, or could representation be better/more inclusive?

2 thoughts on “Discussion: Diversity in Romance part 2 – mental and physical ability

  1. One book I recently read was The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen. This is an awesome NA story about an ex-hockey athlete heroine who had a spinal cord injury, resulting in her unable to fully use her legs. She uses a wheelchair or crutches. The hero is also a hockey player who broke his leg doing a crazy stunt and they meet at their dorm – he lives across from her. What I love about this story was how her disability wasn't 100% the main plot. The romance was subtle and devwloped really slowly and the h/H grew as characters as the story progressed. Try this book. So good!


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