Differently-abled, same Love (“Who Gets an HEA?”)

In our new mini-series, “Who Gets an HEA”,  that showcases romances with marginalized heroes and heroines, episode 16 has romances that feature differently-abled main characters. Y. M. Nelson and Nerdy Romantics Dana and Staci along with new Nerdy Romantic Jen recommend several romance novels that showcase people finding love whether they are deaf, or disfigured, or on the autism spectrum.

Speaking of autism, did you know that April is Autism Awareness Month? (We did). Also, most of these books are by differently-abled authors! 😍🥰😍🤩 Even more incentive to pick up these recommendations. As if you needed it.

While we recommend several books, these are only a few of the growing collection of masterfully done differently-abled romance. EVERYONE should read romance with differently-abled main characters!

In this episode, we recommend:

A Match made in Spain by Rochelle Merrill (also known as R.L. Merrill):

Cecilia, a deaf ASL high school teacher, is asked to substitute a class on a trip to Spain at the worst time possible–right after she’s finalized her divorce. She’s not in the mood to meet someone new. Of course, that’s when she’s seated beside Felipe, a handsome Spanish man who attempts to charm the socks off her all the way from California to Spain. If you’re too pandemic-shook to travel, this grumpy-sunshine novel set in Spain is sure to feel like the escape you need.

(Also mentioned) Have We Met? by Camille Baker: This romantic women’s fiction novel deals with loss and grief, past loves, and has a secondary character that is deaf. The main character indulges the whims of the prototype of a dating app that posits that she’s found her soulmate in a past love and pushes her to revisit past potential matches.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang:

Book 1 of the series finds us with Stella Lane math genius and a little bit rich because of it, but she’s bad at dating and sex, partially because she has [previously known as] Asperger’s syndrome, which keeps others from relating to her. She hires escort Michael Phan and creates a lesson plan to help her be good at sex. What forms instead may be much more permanent than a one-night stand. 

Also featuring an MC on the spectrum:

  • The Bride Test

Also by Helen Hoang:

  • The Heart Principle
Beast by Pepper Pace (Estill County Mountain Man, Book 1):

Christopher and Ashleigh are a twisted and complicated version of Beauty and the Beast in this romance inspired by the famous fairy tale. Christopher had a bilateral cleft palate and skull formation issues as a child that his family couldn’t afford to fix properly. As a result his face is deformed and scarred, keeping potential love interests from getting to know the wonderfully kind and nice guy he is. Ashleigh is all about looks making sure to keep her clothes, hair, and makeup on point at all times, but because she’s plus-sized and has low self- esteem, she can’t seem to keep a man. When her last breakup leads her to the gym she meets Christopher.

*Trigger Warnings: racial slurs and epithets, gay slurs, scenes of purging (eating disorders)

Pepper Pace has several romance novels that feature MCs with physical differences. Here are some others Dana recommends:

  • The Wheels of Steel Series (6 books)

Our Talia Hibbert LoveFest

Yep, we did it. We went full-on lovefest with some of Talia Hibbert’s selections. We love a lot of her work, and she’s become a 1-click author for a couple of us. We also appreciate the authenticity of her audiobook narrators, especially Ione Butler on the Brown sisters series.

A Girl Like Her and That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert (The Ravenswood Series, Books 1 and 3):

Rae, an older woman with facial scarring meets womanizer (and latent demisexual) Zach in That Kind of Guy, the 3rd book of this small-town romance series. There are all kinds of issues separately and together between these two, which is why you just have to read it to see what happens.

In A Girl Like Her, Ruth Kabbah, self-proclaimed town Jezebel (that was sarcasm if you didn’t hear it), is an autistic comic book creator who can’t seem to shake her neighbor Evan Miller, ex-Army and current Blacksmith. The one big wrinkle in all of this? He works at the local steel mill where Ruth’s ex is manager and “heir to the throne.”

Trigger warning: flashbacks of verbal abuse

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (The Brown Sisters, Book 3):

When Eve Brown literally runs into Jacob Wayne (autistic) with her car, she’s just quit her umpteenth job and is desperately looking for another to meet her mother’s imposed 6- week deadline, or she’ll be cut-off. She ends up working for Jacob at his Bed & Breakfast (much to Jacob’s chagrin), where these two enemies-destined to be-lovers duke it out and learn things about themselves through each other.

Link to my marked up copy of Eve Brown (listen to the episode for the reference ☺)

Get A Life Chloe, Brown and Take A Hint, Dani Brown also have differently -abled main characters. Chloe has fibromyalgia-a chronic pain condition. Raf (in Dani Brown) has severe anxiety disorder.

What we point out:

  • Book or series’ title and author
  • What the selection is about
  • Why we love these differently-abled main characters
  • Why we love the stories in general
  • Who these stories would be perfect for (heat levels, tropes, character types)

Where to find these books:

Support Indie Bookstores by buying at Bookshop!
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*The Bookshop.org link/image above is linked to a list of books reviewed on the podcast . By purchasing a book from there, you support independent book stores, and I will receive a small commission for each purchase when using these links. (This does not affect what you pay.)

Where you can find some of our Nerdy Romantics

Dana and Staci:

While Dana and Staci represent themselves here, they’re also permanent guests on the L-5 podcast, a YouTube podcast reviewing newly released movies and TV shows. Check it out!

Jen Graybeal

Jen Graybeal is “a book coach and freelance editor working with romance authors that want to take their books and their business to the next level.” She also loves talking all things nerdy, so look for her on more nerdy episodes.

Want to contact her?

Jen is accepting new clients for both coaching and editing. She offers a free 30-min coaching session for new clients. (sign up on her website).

Website: www.jengraybeal.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/jentheeditor/
Clubhouse: Romance Author Community https://www.clubhouse.com/club/romance-author-community

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Listen to this episode here!

Ep.16 Differently-Abled Romance Recs – Who Gets an HEA mini-series Nerdy Romantics Podcast

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