A New Take on Romance: Diversity and Representation

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Author | 0 comments

By Aria Emend

I’d like to thank Authors’ Lounge for this incredible opportunity to share my story and my book with you all.  I’m loving their website and would recommend them to other authors and anyone that wants to stay informed and share information on their writing and the writing process.

One never knows what the future holds for them.  Ever since I was a young child, I knew I wanted to be a nurse.  I pursued this goal and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Then went on to obtaining a Master of Education in 2001, from Cambridge College.  Little did I know then, I would one day become an author.  An author who strives to include diversity in today’s stories.  

Growing up, I always had a passion for reading.  In elementary school, I fell in love with books such as the Pippi Longstocking series, The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, and many others.  By junior high and high school, I was reading books by Harlequin Romance, Danielle Steel, Sandra Brown, and Nora Roberts, to name a few.  One thing I noticed over those years, was the lack of diversity in the books I read. All the stories I read were based on American values, beliefs, and traditions.  Being from the Cape Verde Islands, a set of ten islands off the west coast of Africa, I had a hard time relating to the characters I read about.  Don’t get me wrong, I immigrated to the US at the age of 8 and I was well integrated into American culture.  I loved being a Cape Verdean American, but at times, I couldn’t relate to what I was reading.  Once I turned 50, I began thinking about this disparity decided in 2020, I was going to write about a Cape Verdean experience, specially, a romance story.  I started typing on my cellphone in Google Docs and soon enough my debut novel, The Forbidden Love Affair, was born.  I’ve since changed the title of this book to, The Forbidden Love and Its now part of The Forbidden Love Series.  So far, it’s a series of two books, The Forbidden Love and The Regrettable Decision, a continuation to book one.    

In, The Forbidden Love, a young Cape Verdean American girl, Zarayah falls in love with an older man, Zaire, also Cape Verdean American.  Their love and relationship were forbidden by her family, but they continued to see each other secretly.  As time went on, their relationship was discovered, and they were forced to stay away from each other.  As the years went by, she turned eighteen and the couple began secretly dating again.  Soon enough, the relationship progressed to a point that the family was unable to prevent them from being together.  

In book two, The Regrettable Decision, they solidified their relationship and got married, but Zarayah, soon discovers that living in matrimonial bliss with Zaire isn’t what she had always dreamed of. Once again, she learns Zaire isn’t the man she thought he was, and he has secrets that could harm her and their relationship forever.  Can Zarayah break free of Zaire and live life on her own terms?  Or will he keep her under his thumb forever?   

As I wrote, The Regrettable Decision, I incorporated Cape Verdean values, traditions, and beliefs within the story line.  These values, traditions, and beliefs are based on my upbringing.  Within the story are experiences that I had lived through or heard of while growing up.  The character names are fictitious, but they are based on real people in my life.  I also wanted to transform my readers into the Cape Verdean culture through dialog by incorporating Cape Verdean spoken language, Creole in the story.    

My hopes for writing these books are to provide some diversity in the novels we read.  I want to provide a different point of view on love and relationships.  My target audience is anyone over the age of eighteen. Book one, The Forbidden Love, is a Clean Romance and doesn’t contain any sexual content. Book two, The Regrettable Decision, is also a Clean Romance/Suspense Romance. They both follow into many other categories.  My hope is to influence young adults and adults to stay true to themselves, hold on to their values and self-worth even when faced with pressure from others, such as boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, peers…  

My novels, The Forbidden Love and The Regrettable Decision, are both available on Amazon in paperback, kindle, and kindle unlimited. Both are also available in paperback at Barnes & Nobles to name a few.


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