Romance Novels: Female Empowerment, Talking Dirty and a Few Favorite Titles

love_storm_webSure the cover art is often terrible and some of the stories can be fairly misogynistic, but the stories and perspective romance novels provide have also helped women learn to better communicate our sexual needs and desires over the last 20 years. Long before Christian Gray was enticing young women to sign sex contracts – Fabio look-a-likes of the 80’s were teaching the generations before us how to talk dirty with confidence.

I love romance novels. I’ve loved them since my college days, when I used them to escape boring textbooks on the weekends. Now I find myself mostly listening to romance novels on Audible while doing laundry or cleaning up the house – yeah multitasking! It’s this entire genre of page-turners and they almost always end happily. Romance novels have given us examples of healthy female sexual desires and pleasure – these beautiful stories that support the narrative that it’s okay for a woman to ask and receive what she wants in the bedroom.

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Romance novels perfectly fill the gap between mainstream films (Rated R & NC-17) that are required to limit the nudity and sexual content in order to remain mainstream – and where XXX (pornography) story lines fall flat. There’s this sweet spot the best romance novels hit with their visceral intimacy and carefully selected language dripping with sensuality…they make you keep coming back for more…even if that means neglecting laundry, dishes and sometimes even your children…

Here are a few of my favorite romance novels from my 2018 library:

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai: (Book #1 in the Forbidden Hearts Series) 

This book is truly a page-turning romantic drama from chapter one. I’ve seen it mentioned that this book is like Romeo and Juliet, except with a happy ending – and that is a great description! Two enemy families, tragedy, resentment, and secret love…with a lot of great chemistry and little bit of angst! The characters are honest and raw – even more so in books #2 and #3 in the series – and I found myself cheering for their happy endings. I’m a sucker for a good series – which is why this one is at the top of my list! 

Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward:

The first chapter had me hooked – a woman finds a beautiful blue note sewn into a consigned wedding gown and feels compelled to find out more about the man who’s stationary it was written on. It’s fresh and original – in a genre where that’s incredibly difficult to do. It’s romantic, drama-filled and filled with every fantasy you could imagine. I found myself wishing this was a 10 book series – I didn’t want it to end! 

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole: (Book #1 in the Reluctant Royals Series)

Think The Princess Diaries mixed with Black Panther, but all grown up, featuring a smart black lady in STEM and a quazi-Nigerian Prince scam gone-right. It has all of the makings of a great romance novel – and then some – swoon-worthy, educational, steamy sex scenes, tales of friendship and DIVERSITY. The book is full of the good stuff – even though it still features all of the clinches you’d expect from a princess romance novel – it’s also much smarter and funnier than expected!

The First Taste by Jessica Hawkins: 

A standalone title by the author of another one of my favorites “Slip of the Tongue.” The development of the characters and their relationship feels very natural – each individual coming to the table openly and with flaws – the whole story is dripping with HONESTY and VULNERABILITY- what a novel concept! It’s a beautiful and captivating true-to-life story of a second chance at love – with enough romance to give you the hot-and-bothered tingles from head to toe! 

If you have any suggestions for romance reads in 2019 – leave a comment below!


Hi, I’m Rachel (you can call me Rae), Founder of The Pillow Talk Press. I’m a Sociologist. Writer. Sex-Positive Advocate. Master Woodworker. Artist. Yogi. Sports Mom. Cancer Survivor. Ninja Kicking Depression One Day at a Time ❤︎


The Pillow Talk Press was created as a hub for intimacy, honesty and thoughtful human connection – a corner of the internet helping to reconnect us to our basic humanity. 

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