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I Love My Librarian: Romances in Library Land

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Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

It’s National Library Week, and what better way to show our love for librarians that to enjoy some librarians in love! Some work in public libraries, some in academic. One is a personal librarian for a wealthy young gentleman. Beyond, there are library assistants and bookmobile drivers, all working their way through life in hopes of giving the world a little more information. There’s one thing they have in common, though: they love their work.

Here are a few recent favorites:

Taking the Heat, Victoria Dahl

When we first meet Veronica, she is having a bit of a freakout. Her Dear Veronica advice column has been so successful that her boss wants her to do a live show. When she runs to the library for advice from her friend Lauren, she meets the new, bearded librarian: Gabe, come from a big city library to bring Jackson Hole into the twenty-first century. While their attraction is instant, Gabe is turned off by Veronica’s Manhattanite vibe—or so he believes, until he discovers her real issue: public speaking. The two hit it off and Gabe does some sexy librarianing both inside and out of the library. He also makes time to go hiking and rock climbing (on real rocks); if you can’t choose between the rugged mountain man and the classy, digitally inclined librarian, here’s your chance to have both! And then of course go back and read Looking for Trouble, the first in the series, featuring librarian Sophie.

Busted, Shiloh Walker

This one features a librarian who is also a book blogger, and a widower/author/father. Trey Barnes, a single father, brings his young son Clayton to the library pretty regularly. It doesn’t hurt that he develops a major crush on Ressa, the Children’s Librarian who has stolen young Clayton’s heart. Ressa, who blogs about books and author gossip, is just as in love with little Clayton, and is definitely attracted to his sexy father. The pair skirt around each other for months, but when they meet at a convention, they can’t help but act on their attraction. Of course, the question is: now what?

Adrian’s Librarian, Hollis Shiloh

Adrian shares a kiss with a stranger during what he thought was an assignation, but after hearing the young man’s story, is determined to become a friend to him. Young Oliver only wants to get out of his uncle’s house without being sold to be a wealthy gentleman’s plaything. He’d rather do something with books. Adrian to the rescue, with his library full of recently rearranged books, and all kinds of unrequited love, weird pet adoptions, and late-night embraces ensue. While a few of the reviews for this book have warnings for “mantears,” I thought there was an appropriate amount of tears, given the character doing the crying.

The Undateable, Sarah Title

Disapproving Librarian is the new meme, featuring a very unflattering picture of Bernie, a reference librarian at a small Bay Area college. While her boss is all about using the meme to stir up more traffic, a reporter from a local magazine has a different plan for her. Colin Rodriguez has a few ideas, but the one that sticks with his editor is surprising: let’s get the Disapproving Librarian a chance at true love by sending her on thirty dates in as many days; let’s prove the undateable to be dateable. If only their stupid hearts didn’t get in the way.

Thaw, Elyse Springer (April 24)

Abigail doesn’t like parties or dancing, but here she is, dolled up at a charity auction and asked to dance by the most beautiful woman in the room. After they share a dance, the woman disappears with a promise to make it up to her. It’s a shock to Abigail when the woman—Gabrielle, actress turned model—calls to ask her to dinner. And then invites her out again. And again. Abigail loves spending time with Gabrielle, getting further and further under her layers, but the more Gabrielle spends time moving forward in their relationship, the more Abigail shies away. She isn’t sure how to explain her asexuality to Gabrielle. And with trouble at her small Brooklyn library branch causing more stress, she isn’t sure how to proceed.

There are more, of course; Wendy the Super Librarian has pulled them all into a nice comprehensive list.

Of course, there is one gaping hole that I can’t ignore. Much like librarianship itself, romances about librarians are overwhelmingly white. There are a few written by authors of color, but I haven’t enjoyed any of them. Since YMMV, here they are:

    • Nalini Singh’s Rock Addiction is about two trainwrecks who have to overcome their toxic passion to get their happy ever after. I never grew to like the leads, but I couldn’t stop reading, due to the whole trainwreck thing.
    • Biker’s Librarian features…well, a biker and a librarian…who go from “hot for each other across the room” to pursuing a relationship with no exposition from here to there, and a perspective I just can’t get behind. If you like the heroine being drawn to the hero in part because he’s a Manly Man who goes for what he wants and damn the consequences, this book for you.
    • Ballantyne’s Destiny is the third book in a series about three brothers in a small mountain town, and the hero can’t believe the heroine, the town’s “spinster librarian,” would dress up as Vanity and sing “Nasty Girl” at a Prince party because she’s “a church girl.” There was also some reference to rumors about Chevy having a “deviant sexuality” and members of the town turning against him. Shrug.

Here’s your opportunity, romance authors of color: give me a hero or heroine who works as a librarian of any kind who, even if older and unmarried, doesn’t use the term “spinster” with disdain or negativity. Give us a love interest who doesn’t draw the librarian in with forcefulness coded as “determination” or a less-than-acceptable opinion on who should be looking at “their” women and what should be done about it. Give us the library not as a last resort or the only work when the heroine moved back home, but as a desired career with staying power. Give us the smart, sweet, desirable heroes you’ve given us in other situations—you’ve got some wonderful bookish couples outside of libraries, like Sebastian and Carmen in Love by the Books; now you just need to bring them inside.

(And as usual, if I’ve missed one, I will totally take your suggestions in the comments.)

In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye out for any librarians who might show their faces.

Who’s your favorite librarian in romance?