Rights with Our Choice, Romance for Roe Anthology Edited by Jackie Barbosa
Reviewed by Cardyn Brooks
In Our Choice, Romance for Roe, Jackie Barbosa has assembled a compendium about love that prioritizes self-sovereignty, autonomy, and agency. Sorted into three sections of contemporary, historical, and speculative stories, Our Choice offers something for almost every reader of romance depending on mood and time allotment. Short stories, novellas, novels—most standalones, some parts of series, and others as teasers for upcoming releases—all distinctive and well-crafted as they celebrate love and support equal human rights for all sentient beings.
Craving a contemporary short that honors generational connections? Try “Legacy of Love" by Savannah J. Frierson. Smart women and tenderhearted bad boys who enjoy bit of kink bring heat and emotional depth in Jackie Lau's Pregnant by the Playboy novel, and two people on opposite sides of the law must decide how much they're wiling to risk in order to be together in Crossing the Line, a novel by Alison Packard.
Tales featuring midwifery separated by hundreds of years bridge the transition from contemporary to historical stories. Love in a Sandstorm by Zoe York generates all the feels of a superb, thoughtful military romance, and set in the early 1800s “The Midwife's Son" by Elizabeth Bright examines generational advances and setbacks in access to safe healthcare choices for pregnant people. When the main character thinks, “… Either way, it was a dangerous thing to be a woman…” the statement resonates as just as true today.
Interested in a clever spin on Jane Eyre? Elizabeth Cole's A Mad & Mindless Night novel should satisfy and lure readers to add the Secrets of the Zodiac series to their TBR lists. Evelyn Isaacks offers a fresh, emotionally deft approach to the “misunderstanding" and “second-chance love" tropes in “A Captain for Christmas" novella. The short “The Scandal of the Season" is a delightful teaser for a longer story about the irrepressible Susannah Waterhouse. Bring it.
A mix of grit and menace with some volatile space opera, magic, mystery, porn-y camp, and fantastical beings round out the final section of speculative tales. Three novels, three novellas, and two short stories with “Shaped by You" by Debra Jess and Cathy Pegau's Haunted as standouts roll into two exciting fantasy stories set in S.E. Smith's world of Magic, New Mexico to conclude this impressive and broad assortment. From actors, athletes, government agents, party animals, political strategists, tattoo artists, truck drivers, and more, to mental health, self-care, physical disability, addiction, family drama, and for all kinds of people—QUILTBAG, cis-hetero, flexisexual—in various forms of monogamous, polyamorous or open commitments the fundamental truth of each person's inalienable right to make choices for themselves is upheld.
Not every story includes an abortion reproductive healthcare thread, and of the ones that do some mention it only as a matter of fact and others provide specifics of personal circumstances and reasons why. The detailed table of contents provides word count, heat level, and a very brief synopsis of each story, making it easy for readers to decide where they want to go next (if reading them as arranged isn't preferred despite what Adele might recommend). Many stories also start with content advisories.
Our Choice, Romance for Roe is available only through romanceforroe.com in order to ensure that 100% of the proceeds go toward defending against the legal assault on the reproductive healthcare rights of pregnant people. There is no print edition of these 36 stories because producing physical copies would require multiple volumes, making it unmanageable and too expensive in costs and resources. Contributing authors have donated their time and talents toward this necessary fight.
Here is a link to the author's website.