Alisha Rai smuggled home her first romance novel from the library at the age of 13, and that’s an experience that I can completely identify with and understand. (I brought home my first romance novel home from the library around the same age and squirrelled it away and read it in the dead of night.) She’s one of my favourite romance authors and why I’ve chosen to spotlight her in this series.
I discovered Alisha’s novels a little over two years ago, and I have happily never looked back. Like a lot of the books that end up on my TBR list, I learnt about her novel A Gentleman in the Streets through Amanda Nelson via one of Book Riots various podcasts. [Side note: a lot of the books that have ended up on my TBR have come via recommendations made by Amanda Nelson. Thanks, Amanda!] The plot of the book hooked me almost immediately. Never had I heard of a book, in any genre, with an Asian female protagonist who did whoever she wanted, whatever she wanted, and didn’t give a care about what others thought about her, and happened to be a straight-up boss worth more than a few million. I bought it immediately, but it didn’t turn out to be the first novel that I read written by her. I found my way into four of Alisha’s other novels, starting with Play With Me, the first book in the Bedroom Games series, before I got to A Gentleman in the Streets, and all four of those novels can be summarized by a multitude of heart eye emojis and fire emojis.
If you haven’t heard of Alisha Rai, let me give you a quick rundown. She’s a lawyer-by-day and award-winning romance novelist by night, the first author to have her indie-published book end up on Washington Posts ‘best of’ list, an absolutely brilliant writer, an advocate for greater inclusion and sex positivity in romance novels, and a BAMF woman of colour. She also judges potential partners on how much they enjoyed Pacific Rim, and that is something I can definitely stand behind. She’s written over a dozen novels, the majority being contemporary novels and with a couple of paranormal novels as well. The tagline for her books is, “All the Heat, all the Heart” and I can attest to the truth behind those words.
Alisha knew from a young age that she wanted to write romance novels. She actually began writing in her teens. Her first novel, Glutton for Pleasure, was published in 2009 and was the starting point of her romance-writing career. She’s one of the pioneers of publishing romance digitally. For many of women writers of colour, especially romance writers, digital publishing was your way into publishing game. That is especially true if your heroines and heroes are persons of colour, a subject that Alisha has spoken about quite often and passionately about.
What makes Alisha one of my favourite authors is that she doesn’t shy away from the realities of life in her novels and her characters. Issues like depression, anxiety, familial pressures, societal pressures, race, and sexism are all part of her novels. They aren’t the main point of her novels but they are beautifully interwoven aspects of them. She writes heroines that go after what they want, whatever that may be. She writes heroes that understand what their heroines are going through and are willing to work through those problems with them and support them in whatever aspect that the heroine needs them to be. She writes stories that show that love can win, that everyone can and deserves to be loved, and get that happily ever after no matter what obstacles stand in the way of those characters thinking that they don’t deserve love. She takes you on some of the most angst-ridden, sexy as fuck roller coaster rides in each of her novels and you thank her for it after. She’s just that awesome.
Her newest novel, Wrong To Need You, the second novel in her Forbidden Hearts series, features the character Sadia Ahmed and her life as a single mother trying to stay afloat in a world that has completely shaken her over the past decade of her life. I could identify with Sadia’s efforts to stay afloat, to keep moving, to keep working, and to keep going despite all the difficulties that life can throw at you. I viscerally identified with Sadia’s list writing and how it is both an organizational tactic and a survival tactic for facing the world every day. I also fell hard for Jackson Kane, the hero of the story and his story. I identified with Jackson’s quiet nature and his desire for solace. Jackson’s desire to protect his family and the lengths that he went to, to protect his family is something that I completely understand. I fell hard for Jackson Kane. I mean who doesn’t fall in love with a strong, quiet, decent man who is also a master chef? (Also if you know anyone that fits that description, you can send them my way. Thanks!)
The final novel in the Forbidden Hearts series, Hurts To Love You is set for release on March 27 of this year, so mark your calendars and pre-order it if you can. I know I’m counting down the days till it’s released. I’m also excitedly waiting for the second novel in the Campbell siblings series which is slated to be released later this year. (I’ve been waiting for this book for since I read A Gentleman in the Streets which is the first book in the series.)
Considering Alisha has written over a dozen novels, these are my top three recommendations that you should totally go pick up and read as soon as possible. I promise that you will not regret it.
1. A Gentleman in the Streets
2. Play With Me
3. Hot as Hades
Alisha Rai is an absolutely brilliant author and one that if you have not discovered yet I implore you to do so. You will not regret it.
Tune in next week for the continuation of the Spotlight series.
Thanks for reading!