2020 wasn’t a great year. It’s way too early to tell whether 2021 will be significantly better. But these nine diverse romantic comedies I’ve pulled together are ready to take you away from your troubles. All (bar one) were published either last year or are yet to be released, so there’s a high chance you haven’t read them all yet.
I’ve also divided them into YA and adult. Enjoy!
Diverse Romantic Comedies: YA
#1. Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn
Thai American teenager Winnie has the kind of strict parents who’ve never allowed her to date. And, in the style of Ten Things I Hate About You, that’s all because her older twin sisters have also never dated. But when her parents abruptly decide to reverse her decision, they pick out a boyfriend for her to practise on: her lifelong enemy Mat Songsomboon.
I love the #OwnVoices Asian representation in this one! Both Winnie and Mat are Thai, and there’s a great chapter set during the annual Songkran Festival. In general, it’s a light, fluffy book perfectly calculated to cheer you up.
#2. Prom Theory by Ann LaBar
17-year-old Iris has a nonverbal learning disorder which means that she’s always found it difficult to socialise with her peers. Only two people, her best friends Emmy and Seth, have ever been willing to spend extensive amounts of time with her. Iris thinks of herself as a scientist, though, and one day she comes up with a proposition that’s going to wreck her carefully constructed life: what if she can get Theo Grant, most popular boy in school, to ask her to prom using science?
I really enjoyed the neurodiversity in this one. Being inside Iris’s head is interesting, and the romance is sweet. Will be published on 30 March.
#3. Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
Darcy has a problem. Nobody knows this, but she’s the mastermind behind Locker 89, an anonymous relationship advice service at her high school. Unfortunately, she hasn’t always used her powers for good: she was responsible for sabotaging a romance between her best friend, Brooke Nguyen, and another girl, all because Darcy’s in love with Brooke herself. When a guy named Brougham discovers her secret, he agrees he’ll keep his mouth shut…if she helps him get his ex-girlfriend back. Cue a tangle of emotions with heavy dashes of humour and a smaller dose of angst.
This might be the most sexuality-diverse YA book I’ve ever read. Darcy is bisexual, her older sister Ainsley is trans, Brooke is a lesbian (as are a couple of other characters), and there are supporting characters who are pansexual, gay, and genderfluid as well. My favourite thing about this book is how Darcy comes to terms with the fact that she might be bi but that doesn’t mean she isn’t allowed to be in a relationship with a guy, and it doesn’t mean she’s ‘less queer.’ Will be published on 9 March.
#4. Pumpkin (Dumplin’ #3) by Julie Murphy
Waylon is fat, gay, and stuck in the small Texan town of Clover City. Two of the only things that make his life bearable are his twin sister, Clementine, and his favourite drag-focused TV show, Fiercest of Them All. But when Clem betrays his trust and shares his audition tape for the show, he ends up bullied and – as a joke – nominated for prom queen. He doesn’t fold, though. Instead, Waylon decides to throw himself into running for queen, a process which involves spending a lot of time with his nemesis Tucker Watson.
This one is HILARIOUS. The fat representation is #OwnVoices, and Waylon’s internal monologue is dramatic, funny, and snarky. It reminds me of Oliver’s from Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales. Will be published on 25 May.
#5. Sunny Song Will Never be Famous by Suzanne Park
Sunny Song is a social media addict. At least, her parents think she is. She’s always on her phone uploading posts, and when she accidentally films a cooking video in her underwear which goes viral, it’s the last straw. Her parents ship her off to a ‘digital detox camp’ in the middle of Iowa for one whole month. How on earth is Sunny going to survive that? Maybe with the help of an unexpectedly cute farm boy…
Like Park, Sunny is Korean American. She’s also entertaining and just a little naïve. The strong connection with her best friend is one of the best parts of the story, but the entire book is ridiculously easy to read. Will be published on 1 June.
Diverse Romantic Comedies: Adult
#6. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutano
Twenty-six-year-old Meddelin Chan is a photographer for the wedding planning company run by her mother and aunts. All of them (thanks to the Chan family curse) were left by their husbands. Her mum, though, wants Meddy to get married, so she sets up a blind date with local hotelier Jake. Things don’t go as planned. Instead of ending with wedding bells, the night ends in death as Meddy accidentally kills her date. Her entire family comes over to help her cover up the crime, all the while balancing their preparation for a wedding being hosted the next day by Meddy’s ex-boyfriend Nathan (‘the one who got away’).
This book features a large, boisterous Chinese Indonesian family who keep the story buoyant with charm and humour. Though the romance is a lot more understated than I prefer, it’s fast, amusing read.
#7. Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho
Andrea Tang is the last Tang standing. Everyone else in her Chinese Malaysian family has officially been taken off the market. She, on the other hand, has just broken up with her boyfriend, and is newly single. Her job as a hotshot M&A lawyer in Singapore is also suddenly more complicated than it used to be, with Suresh Aditparan – a new British Indian arrival – competing with her for partner. What’s Tang to do?
I enjoyed this #OwnVoices diverse take on the traditional ‘single woman in her 30s desperately seeking husband’ trope. Be warned though that there is my pet peeve, a love triangle. And although I do think this book is funny, it’s a sharp kind of humour – think Bridget Jones.
#8. Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid
Neurodiverse Janie is having a bad day. All in one go, she’s lost her job, her boyfriend, and her apartment. Enter Quinn. It turn’s out he’s not just a hot security guard, like she always thought; in fact, he owns a company which could do with Janie’s particular skillset.
This book is quite a classic of the genre. I love Janie’s penchant for reciting trivia, and her relationship with her best friend Elizabeth is adorable.
#9. Best Knight Ever (A Kinda Fairytale #4) by Cassandra Gannon
I’ve talked about this book before, but it’s so amazing it deserves to be talked about again. I recommend starting with the first book in the series, though, because there’s a lot of world-building and you may be lost otherwise. (Also because those books are great too). It’s funny, romantic, and packed with action. What else could you want?
Essentially, Trystan and Galahad are inhabitants of a fairytale-esque land where people are divided into Bad folk and Good folk. They’re both Good, but they were on opposite sides of a war that’s just concluded, so things don’t get off to the best start. Then they find themselves having to strike up a partnership, and the inevitable ends up happening.
Don’t worry! We’ve got even more diverse romantic comedies for you to dive into when you finish these.