Caleb Tasker lost his wife to cancer but it took him a long time to put her memory to rest. Deciding he needs a vacation, he accepts the gracious invitation of living in his friend’s Malibu home for an over due holiday.
Delilah Ward grew up in rural Mississippi and ran away when she was sixteen, moving to Los Angeles with thoughts of being anything but the person she was born to be. But reality settled in quickly and the bright lights of Hollywood soon faded into the dark abyss of dancing on a darkened platform.
The Vanilla Romance
The first romance I ever read was Web of Silk by Yvonne Whittle, a Harlequin Presents set amidst the lush background of South Africa. Morgan, the heroine, was a titan haired beauty and her hero was an American blonde Adonis. I devoured my mother’s collection of Harlequins the summer before I started fifth grade, not only enraptured by the romance and love but also by foreign locals I was transported to through my imagination.
Growing up in rural Missouri, in a town of about eight thousand people, it never entered my mind that all the romance books out there only featured white couples. A decade later, when the 1990’s rolled around, I found myself living in Baltimore working at John’s Hopkins Hospital and taking the bus to work. My Harlequins, at this point, had graduated to sweeping Zebra Historicals. One morning I happen to see an African-American woman reading a Zebra novel, with a white couple brazenly displayed on the cover and it made me start to wonder why there weren’t black love stories.
Now, this wasn’t a negative thought by any means. When I went back to the bookstore I started looking at all the covers…and all were, well, vanilla. I couldn’t help but see a wide gap that even romance novels wouldn’t breach through mainstream bookselling and I thought that was pretty sad.
The internet was just emerging by this point but used mainly for emailing friends because the information highway was a pain the ass since dial-up it took half a night to download anything. So I didn’t know the name of Elsie B. Washington, widely regarded as the first woman to publish an African American love story in the mainstream romance market. Nor did I know of Harlequin publishing the first collection of African American romance novels featuring Donna Hill, Brenda Jackson, and Mildred Riley.
And then the Nineties gave way to a new century; the internet took off and people started realizing how small the world actually is and how beautiful other cultures are. And then I started seeing more and more romance novels with African-American heroes and heroines on the shelves of Waldenbooks and Barnes and Noble.
Fast forward to the later part of that decade (early one of this decade) and the explosion of ebook publishing. Finally, love is able to dominate. Interracial couples are in demand and suddenly love is no longer vanilla. I’m so very happy about that. I have had the delight of reading the most amazing stories, not just about interracial couples but even interspecies couples, ménage stories, and gay romance. I am so happy and thankful that I live in a time when love can be love, in any flavor.
In Once Upon a Love Story, Caleb is an Alaskan boy with dirty blonde hair and sky blue eyes while Delilah is an African-American girl who grew up in rural Mississippi. Both are as different as they can be but they find a wildfire love that takes them by storm. I loved writing their story and hope you enjoy their romance.