Picture this: snuggled beneath a warm blanket on a soft couch, indulging in endless chocolates (forget fit-fam this week), and immersing yourself in classic romance fiction that promises tales of love, its obstacles, and happily-ever-afters. Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches, and what better way to celebrate than with a selection of heartwarming romance novels that make hearts flutter? It doesn’t matter if you are booless or happily booed-up – which even makes it more perfect – grab some chocolates, pour a glass of sweet wine, cue your favourite playlist, and escape into the pages of these romance novels written by some favourite African writers.
Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola
Meet Kiki Banjo, a sharp-tongued yet secretly soft-hearted relationship-evasion expert and host of the popular student radio show, Brown Sugar. When an accidental kiss with Malakai Korede, the very person she publicly denounced, jeopardises her show, they enter into a fake relationship to salvage their reputations. As Kiki resists falling for Malakai, their entertaining study sessions and intimate late-night talks challenge her presumptions and make her wonder if she’s ready to open herself up to something deeper. With glorious humour, romantic intrigue, and knee-weakening moments, “Honey and Spice” is a must-read that will leave you craving for more.
If An Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga
In the wake of the Arab Spring, an Egyptian American woman and a man from a village in Cairo meet by chance at a café. Despite their different backgrounds, they fall in love and begin living together. However, their desires for personal transformation take a violent turn neither expected. “If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English” explores the complexities of American identity politics, particularly when exported overseas, and raises questions about the consequences of fetishising one’s homeland and punishing those we love. Noor Naga’s experimental debut is a haunting and thought-provoking examination of longing, disappointment, and the stories we tell.
The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo
Hannah Bailey is on a journey to Nigeria for her father’s funeral. Having never known her father, Hannah sees this as a chance to explore her Nigerian roots and discover a part of herself that has remained hidden. In Banana Island, she encounters the Jolades, her father’s prestigious family, who hold mixed opinions about her place among them. As she delves into secrets, immerses herself in a vibrant culture, and finds unexpected love, Hannah undergoes a transformative experience that reveals the power of self-discovery and the bonds that tie us together.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Yinka’s Nigerian aunties, work friends, girlfriends, and even the men in her life all have their own opinions about her love life. While her aunties pray for her to find a partner, her work friends consider her too traditional because she’s saving herself for marriage. Her girlfriends, on the other hand, think she should move on from her ex. Amidst all of this, Yinka holds onto her belief that true love will come when the time is right. However, when her cousin gets engaged, Yinka embarks on Operation Find-A-Date for Rachel’s Wedding, using a spreadsheet and the support of her best friend. The story questions whether Yinka will find a husband or if there’s something even more important that she needs to discover about herself. Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? takes the conventional romantic comedy and turns it on its head with a bold and unconventional heroine. This captivating tale explores the complexities of love, culture, and self-discovery in a way that will both make you smile and provoke thoughtful reflection.
Changes: A Love Story by Ama Ata Aidoo
In the vibrant city of Accra, Ghana, Esi Sekyi, a modern African woman with a thriving career in data analysis and a postgraduate degree, makes a bold decision to divorce her husband after enduring yet another episode of marital rape. Despite the confusion and disapproval from family and friends who fail to comprehend her choice since he doesn’t physically harm her, Esi remains resolute. With her newfound freedom, she unexpectedly falls in love with a wealthy married man who offers the possibility of a polygamous marriage.
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
In this compelling story, Yasmen and Josiah Wade confront the challenges that life throws their way, discovering that love alone cannot mend everything, not even their failing marriage. As Yasmen rebuilds her life, she rediscovers joy and co-parents their children alongside Josiah, while also running a successful business together. However, their strong connection and lingering feelings continue to draw them closer, prompting them to question if they are truly ready to let go of their past. Temptation ignites with stolen kisses and as the passion intensifies, old wounds resurface, forcing them to face the dilemma of whether it is too late to find their forever or if they can be even better the second time around.
His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
Afi Tekple, a young seamstress in Ghana, is offered a marriage proposal from the wealthy Ganyo family, Afi agrees, but soon finds out that her new husband, Elikem, is in love with another woman. Settling into her new life in Accra, Afi discovers her own independence and passion for women’s rights, while navigating a rapidly changing world. “His Only Wife” is a powerful and relatable novel that explores love, identity, and the evolving role of women, with a touch of intelligence, humour, and a vibrant setting.
On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi
Fans of Grey’s Anatomy will love this book. Angela Appiah, a Ghanaian-American woman thought she had it all figured out as the “Perfect Immigrant Daughter.” She carefully crafted her life to meet the expectations of her parents, excelling in medical school, pursuing a suitable partner, and surrounding herself with successful friends. However, everything starts to unravel as her relationship ends, a crucial medical exam goes awry, and her best friend becomes distant. Amidst this quarter-life crisis, Angie questions her choices, friendships, and even her patterns of attraction. Just when things seem at their most complicated, Ricky Gutierrez enters the scene—a brilliant, thoughtful, and undeniably attractive man who truly sees Angie for who she is. But with the label of “wasteman” attached to him, Angie finds herself torn between her usual control and the unpredictable matters of her heart.
Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
Yejide and Akin, are a couple navigating the complexities of love, marriage, and fertility in Nigeria. Defying societal norms, Yejide and Akin dare to reject polygamy and commit to a monogamous life together. However, their dream of starting a family remains unfulfilled. As the pressure mounts, their marriage is tested when Yejide’s family introduces a young woman as Akin’s second wife. Fueled by jealousy, Yejide takes drastic measures to conceive, unaware of the devastating consequences that await. “Stay With Me” is an emotionally charged, powerful novel that explores the lengths one woman will go to save her marriage and the sacrifices we make for the sake of family.
The Marriage Class by Adesuwa O’man Nwokedi
Delve into the enthralling world of Abi and Raymond as they navigate the complexities of their impending marriage in a unique marriage class. While Abi battles with cold feet and the reappearance of her ex-fiancé who is now married to someone else, she finds herself torn between her steadfast love for Raymond and the passionate chaos she once shared with Lucas. As the class unfolds, the struggles of nine other couples come to the surface, each dealing with their obstacles and uncertainties. Will these couples find the strength to make crucial decisions about their futures? Brace yourself for a journey filled with heartfelt dilemmas, captivating dynamics, and the ultimate question that hangs in the air: will they or won’t they?
What book are you and your partner reading on Valentine’s Day?
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