Independent Bookshop Week has arrived and this year it finds us gearing up for Scotland's inaugural festival for romance writing: First Date takes place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on June 25th.
If you're not in Edinburgh for it, fear not. The panels will not only be livestreamed, but we've also invited some of our favourite authors of romance fiction from further afield to take part in the celebrations virtually by recommending their favourite romance reads!
Today, we're delighted to feature a list curated by Amita Murray.
Amita Murray lives in London. Just to keep things interesting, she writes in two genres: Regency romance and contemporary mystery. Her Arya Winters mysteries are published by Agora and are under a TV option. Her mystery novel Thirteenth Night won the Exeter Novel Prize in 2022. A collection called Marmite and Mango Chutney won the SI Leeds Prize in 2016 and her short story “A Heist in Three Acts” comes out in Ellery Queen Magazine in 2022.
These are Amita's recommendations with uniquely drawn relationships at their core:
I do like a good romantic relationship in a book. When I’m writing a relationship I focus on female sexual agency, difference and diversity. I like to think what quirks, insecurities and old trauma is getting in the way of this relationship. Here are some books where I’ve loved the romance.
City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty: This isn’t a romance novel but the complicated relationships between Nahri, Dara and Ali are compelling, the characters distinct and nicely-drawn, and the world-building is magical.
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi: I’m reading this right now and I love the set-up of relationships in the backdrop of epic stories, especially ones that explore difficult histories. I do love unfamiliar backdrops or seeing a place in a completely new way.
The Traitor, by Seth Dickenson: This is not the easiest read. It challenges you, not only to examine oppression, but also tropes of storytelling. So, what could go wrong? Well, everything. The relationship between the two women – Baru and Tain Hu – is subtle and haunting.
The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer: My Regency series (the first novel Unladylike Lessons in Love comes out with HarperCollins this year) is influenced by Heyer’s witty banter, passionate romances and runaway horses. This was the first Heyer I ever read. And though I’ve added class, sexual and colonial politics to my Regency novels, I remain a committed Heyer fan.
God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy: Who says Booker-winning novels can’t do love stories? Here’s complicated and traumatic love at its best, both the love in the past and the present. Another Booker-winning, very compelling love story is Possession by A.S. Byatt.
Follow #FirstDateFestival on our social media and keep an eye out for more recommended romance reads through Independent Bookshop Week. Info about First Date Festival can be found HERE.