Guest Post: Romance Novels & Mental Health Rep

Hi all!

Today’s post is a guest post by the very sweet Em! Em has so kindly written up an incredible post about mental health representation in romance novels and has even provided some amazing book recommendations. Please do check out all of the recs Em has so thoughtfully provided! I know I will be!

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Romance novels & depression & anxiety representation (+ an ADHD heroine)

Hello everyone and thank you for clicking to see my post hosted by the lovely Laura.

I like to call myself an avid romance reader and since it’s the end of the year, I thought I’d look back on romance books that center mental illness representation. Just so you know, I center reading depiction of depression and anxiety since I myself am afflicted with such mental health issues. I read books that feature such representation so it’d help me deal with my own episodes.

Nonetheless, the list features other neurodivergence that I enjoyed tremendously. I hope that one of these books introduces anyone to representation they love.

Let’s start!


Rend by Roan Parrish

Rep: Anxiety representation

Pub date: November 27th 2018

38944629Blurb: Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

Rend is so poetically written as it centers Matt, a Mexican-Italian gay man, who has anxiety. In the period of Matt’s husband’s tour, Matt must face his own anxiety manifesting in many ways for him. I enjoyed Rend extremely and there were many moments in which I felt kinship with Matt. It did make me happy that the romance took its needed break whilst Matt and Rhys (aforementioned husband) try and figure out a way for Matt’s anxiety not to be hidden due to his fear of abandonment.


A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Rep: ADHD representation

Pub date: July 31st 2018

35564582Blurb: New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.

Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.

Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?

A Duke by Default is a romance with a heroine, Portia, who goes to Scotland for a swordmaker apprenticeship. Portia discovers through her research that she might be ADHD. What I enjoyed about the rep is how Portia comes across it through her sister’s help and how she goes on to read more about it. It gives Portia light about how she conducts her life. She finds that maybe the reason she can’t put her heart into something unless she’s interested in it could be due to ADHD. I loved Portia and I think the romance is a plus to such good representation.


Untouchable by Talia Hibbert

Rep: Depression and Anxiety representation

Pub date: Published in 2018

40971314Blurb: Nate Davis didn’t plan on returning to his hateful hometown. But then, he didn’t plan on being widowed in his twenties, or on his mother getting sick, either. Turns out, life doesn’t give a f$*k about plans.

Hannah Kabbah thought her career in childcare was over. After all, no-one wants a woman with a criminal damage conviction watching their kids. But when her high school crush returns to Ravenswood with two kids in tow, she gets the second chance she never dreamed of.

She also gets to know Nate – the real Nate. The one whose stony exterior hides aching vulnerability. Who makes her smile when she wants to fall apart. Who is way, way more than the bad boy persona he earned so long ago, and way too noble to ever sleep with the nanny.

So it’s a good thing she’s completely over that teenage crush, right?

Untouchable doesn’t just excell with the depression and anxiety representation in both heroine and hero, it also offers an excellent arc about Hannah’s sexual insecurity. I love Hannah Kabbah. She’s so proper and yet outrageous at times. She’d throw marshmallows and make lists of how to turn someone’s life around. Hannah’s anxiety and depression make her very much into controlling her time, what she knows about the small town she lives in, and how she runs her life. I adored reading scenes where she’d talk about how depression made her angry because I rarely saw that kind of anger. It’s also cool that Nate has experienced depression and his own view of it is so very relatable. His words of how helpless it feels hit me close to home.

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About Em

dsxg_qbwsayntdgEm is a full time romance reader who just will always look for good pegging scenes! You can find them on twitter @bookjinni. They write romance reviews for @letsfoxaboutit sometimes when they’re not too busy crying over fictional lovers they wish they had.

Please also check out Em’s adorably sweet f/f romance novel, Soft on Soft, that was published earlier this year.


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