Olivia Waite is a romance author, practicing feminist, and wide-ranging dilettante.
I always find it an unexpected pleasure when a romance novel I am reading carefully weaves in an exploration of women's rights. Depending on the historical setting or world that has been created, the subtle and not so subtle cultural forces of gender and how to find a love that truly sees you within those structures create a powerful level of truth that makes me fully engage with the story
Also, these kinds of everyday but unusual conflicts of the right to vote, own property, not be property, control of reproduction, intellectual equality, bodily autonomy, hold public office, fair wages, education, military service, legal contacts, and so on make for excellent plots.
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Here is a list of great love stories that also think carefully about Women's Rights.
1. Shotgun Wedding by Maggie Osborne examines the real consequences of putting the philosophies of New Modern Womanhood into action.
2. In Name Only by Janet Bieber explores how a heroine frees herself from her own inflexible beliefs.
3. Never a Gentleman (The Drake's Rakes, #2) by Eileen Dyer showcases a remarkable heroine who due to circumstances beyond her control submits to convention.
4. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1) by Sarah MacLean looks at the social restrictions on women in a more light hearted but still truthful way.
5. A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5) by Courtney Milan confronts the father's ownership of a daughter.
6. After Hours by Cara McKenna is a contemporary look at the the intersection of class and gender.
7. A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer gives us a matriarchal world where men are expected to be virgin and the nurtures and women are the warriors.
8. The Lady's Tutor by Robin Schone digs into a women's suppressed sexuality and contraception in the Victorian Age.
9. Saving Grace by Julie Garwood frames womanhood as seen by the Church.
10. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran marvelously reveals the difference between working class women and and those of the upper class.
As always, I would love your suggestions for great love stories that deal with issues of Women's Rights.
If you would like to vote for the best of best, go to the Goodreads list: Women's Rights in Romance Novels.
Let us raise a glass to all those women and men who have fought so hard to expand the rights of women!