i’m just… so tired of reading posts complaining about problems that only exist because people won’t read romance novels… it is a huge genre there are books about werewolf dukes, there are books about black revolutionary war soldiers, there are books about south asian doms who care about enthusiastic consent, there are books about shape-shifting cowboys who turn into bears, there are books about lady scientists learning how to trust that their boundaries will be respected, there are books about alien barbarian warriors, there are books about genies, there are books about women of color in victorian london, there are books about polyamorous earls, there are fake marriages and marriages of convenience and basically every fanfic trope that people lose it for exists as a book with original characters but some of the same people who complain about how books no longer satisfy them turn a blind eye to a whole genre because it never occurs to them to read a ~bodice-ripper~ when they could read romantic fanfic of a more respectable genre instead
so the thing about romance novels is that the hard part is finding them, and for the most part i find them by
- buying things with keywords i like when they go on sale
- buying things i see recced on twitter by people i trust to have tastes aligning with mine
which means my collection skews toward paranormal and historical and historical paranormal, and it is tragically hetero. finding m/m isn’t so bad but trying to find good w/w is hell. those don’t go on sale for a dollar as often. also these links are gonna be affiliate links. with all that in mind here are some books:
- Be Not Afraid is about a Black soldier fighting for the American Revolution to win his freedom. He meets and falls in love with a Black woman fighting for the British for much the same reason. It is written by a woman of color and I have read it and recommend it. Kinda short novella-ish.
- Be My Fantasy is about a secretly kinky woman and her secretly kinky ex who broke up because they thought they were too vanilla for each other. It’s got a Latino male protag and I wish I could better describe all the tropes in this because it was hella my shit. It’s got all the weird class dynamics of a good historical but it’s contemporary rich people instead. It is written by a woman of color and I have read it and recommend the shit out of it. Kinda short novella-ish with a sequel if you’re down.
- Bound with Honor is about a marquess in love with a dude but then the marquess falls in love with a lady and marries her and then finds out his wife is in love with another lady and I have not read it and know nothing about it but I want it because holy shit
- The Duchess War is the book I recommend to everyone because Courtney Milan is my favorite forever and also The Duchess War is free. It is about a well-meaning SJW of a duke and a disfigured chess master just trying to live her life in peace with her lesbian aunts. Other books in the series include Talk Sweetly To Me, about a Black woman who works as a computer falling for a scandalous advice columnist, and… honestly every book in the series is gold, fuck. She researches the shit out of everything, everything is always accurate, I don’t even care but if you do you will appreciate her dedication. Courtney Milan is a woman of color and I rec everything she has ever written including the stuff that’s contemporary and in the first person WHICH IS HOW YOU KNOW I’M RIDE OR DIE.
- Slightly Married got me into historicals tbh. Colonel Lord Aiden promises a dying man on the battlefield that he’ll take care of his sister, turns out the only way to save the man’s sister from evil relatives is to marry her, no one is happy about it, she is sweet and Welsh and he is dour and high in the instep and then whoops they fall in love. I’ve read it but not in years, nonetheless it’s very classic Mr Darcy shit.
- the shapeshifter category on amazon is massive and it is up to you to
navigate that minefield for yourself but just know that a popular
subgenre is rich white men who can turn into bears and pregnant black
bbws. if you are into vicariously experiencing the most vulnerable
members of society being loved and cared for by the most powerful you
are pretty much set for life.
- Slave to Sensation is the first in a series I only just discovered because I liked the cover art of the most recent entry but ANYWAY it seems to be about aliens who are either psychic or shapeshifters and they hate each other but oh no two of em fall in love. And the author is a woman of color! I’M DOWN it has been added to my wishlist.
- The Protector is about a lesbian werewolf bodyguard and a secret vampire and has also been added to my wishlist for what i assume are obvious reasons.
- i feel bad for listing so many books i haven’t read but tbqh i mostly read basically the same book over and over again and i don’t want this list to be nothing but dukefucking. i read a lot of dukefucking. it’s my shit.
- The Djinn’s Dilemma is the first in a series about sexy djinn. It is about a sexy djinn assassin. Like, he’s an assassin who’s half-djinn, not he assassinates djinn. anyway. it’s a shortish novella thing and the author is a woman of color.
i am going to stop here but as part of my going through amazon for books i have and have not bought i discovered that they even have this handy organizational tool
i would never in a million years have guessed at the popularity of secret baby love triangles but different strokes for different folks. ultimately my recommendation is to figure out what weird romance niche you dig, find an author who is awesome in that niche, and then find out who they like to read. romance authors love to rec other romance authors. it can make life much easier sometimes. go fall in love with some original characters and support cool authors trying to do cool things.
When my family and friends tell newbies the plots of my stuff as a kind of ‘this is how outre and wacky mary is’ thing I’m just like oh please, I don’t even rate, do you have any idea how niche and amazing the world’s imagination is, it’s incredible okay.
Courtney Milan is the BEST. Plus I have personally read like…42 or 43 novels by Mary Balogh, the author of Slightly Married, and if you like marriage of convenience or fake engagements you should probably check her out. Also I want to mention The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Anthology.
@riptidepublishing has some very nice search categories, like seriously, I love their catalog so much (I’m a librarian don’t judge me…). And speaking of libraries, libraries have lots of romance novels! As far as I can tell, “romance” means hetero on most library shelves, but if you want queer stuff, you can usually find it under general fiction, especially if you already know what titles/authors to look for. The library in your area is too small? Ask if they do interlibrary loan. You prefer to read ebooks? Ask if your library has a subscription to Overdrive or a similar ebook database. Your library’s website is just and not browsable at all? Browse on Amazon or other sites, and then see if your library has any of the books you find that look interesting.
Less Than Three Press and Dreamspinner Press are also good places for queer romance.
*Waves* We’re quite fond of our category search too. And Bound with Honor. (Go get it, don’t wait!) And we are always here if you’re looking for specific recommendations or have an odd request that the categories don’t cover.
And we’re also a huge advocate of open dialogue with libraries. Ask for more LGBTQ books. They may say no, but they may also broaden the interests of the library, and the minds of readers who frequent there. Also, librarians are fantastic with “read alike” recommendations and such, so not a bad place to look in general.
I just want to mention Rose Lerner who I just discovered but has been around a while. If you’re ever, like, “Does this m/f have to so heterosexual?”, the answer is no, and also Rose Lerner.
Rose Lerner is also excellent if you feel like you need more honest representations of class divisions in your romance.
Enthusiastically second Courtney Milan (of course), and Mary Balogh is indeed the queen of classic tropes in m/f. Tessa Dare is my other favorite historical romance author.
And if you prefer your historical fiction speculative, you ought to check out Meljean Brooks (Riveted, omfg) and Zoe Archer, just to name a couple.
But, yes! OUR GENRE IS MIGHTY. And frequently mighty weird! Join usssss!