I owe Alexis Hall a huge favor. I thought it would be lovley if we ended our Queer Romance Month Friday series with a list of LGBTQ+ books everyone should read. I also had this thought this past Tuesday night. I then asked Alexis if he could pull together something. I might have mentioned the number 25. Rather than tell me I was tardy and unreasonable, Alexis said, “Sure.” The man’s a gem.
So thanks Alexis (and I know he didn’t mention his book Glitterland on this list which is my favorite male/male romance ever) and thanks to all the authors who contributed this month. AAR is proud to be part of Queer Romance Month and we couldn’t have done it without you!
Before we begin, we are the ground rules.
- I hate top lists. So this isn’t one. It does not represent the best of anything. I claim no authority here. It’s just a list of queer romances I love and want to share with you in whatever order they floated into my head.
- I know some of these people. I admire a lot of them.
- Some of these books will be published by Riptide Publishing. I am also published by Riptide Publishing.
- Dabney asked me for 25 books but since this to wrap up Queer Romance Month and there are 31 days in October I over-spilled.
And now, to the books:
1. The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of the Original Sin by Colette Moody
Lesbian pirates. Thank you and goodnight.
2. Chaneling Morpheus by Jordan Castillo Price
JCP is the reigning sovereign of m/m speculative fiction. I could honestly have recc’ed you anything she’s ever written. I’ve chose vampires because it’s Halloween. Sexy, edgy, full of very human monsters.
3. Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins
Beautiful writing, intricate characterisation, deep, compassionate story-telling. This book kicks off one of my favourite NA series.
4. How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis
This book is insanely happy-making. A coming of age story, a poignant romance and a shameless celebration of complete and joyous nerdery.
5. The Reluctant Berserker by Alex Beecroft
An exquisitely written and slow-burning love story set in Saxon England. Meticulously researched, with a side order of deconstructed masculinity. Perfect.
6. Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Very sweet and sexy NA about two very different young women finding each other and finding themselves.
7. The Rifter by Ginn Hale
Epically imaginative and breathtakingly brilliant. Some of the best SFF (science fiction fantasy) I’ve ever read – and I was an SFF reader before I came to romance, so I don’t say that lightly.
8. Mark of Cain by Kate Sherwood
An Anglican priest slowly begins to fall for the man who murdered his brother: an ambitious and complex story of guilt and redemption, love and faith.
9. A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles
Queerness, politics and fabulous waistcoats: the m/m Regency romance you’ve always wanted.
10. Pearl by Kelly Rand
A coming of age story set in the 1920s about a small town girl and the transman who opens her eyes to a world of hope and possibility. Evocative, gorgeous, exquisite.
11. Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
A NY-set love story between a Puerto Rican teacher and his Italian-American best friend. Gritty, real, and unexpectedly romantic.
12. Adaptation by Malinda Lo
So … kind of like the X-files if the X-files was YA, had a gloriously diverse cast and involved a bisexual love triangle.
13. Santuario by GB Gordon
A sci-fi western: excellent world-building, intricate plotting and a subtle, slow burning romance. Unusual and haunting and special.
14. Business Makes Strange Bedfellows by EE Ottoman
A lesbian gothic horror set in 19th century New York City. The book is dedicated to women who are unafraid to be both the heroes and the villains. There’s a romance between a re-animator and a vampire. There are fights. Top hats are worn. Delightful.
15. Tales, Claimings and Other Alien Artifacts by Lyn Gala
If someone had told me I would one day go around sincerely recommending a kinky SF m/m story about a submissive human and a lizard-alien with a prehensile tail I would’ve made a face like this: O_O. However, this is genuinely lovely. Particularly recommended to readers who are sick of dominants they wouldn’t trust to open a tin of beans.
16. Bound To Be A Groom by Megan Mulry
Like m/m? Like f/f? What about m/m/f? And m/m/f/f? Megan Mulry, err, does it all in this exuberant pansexual, polyamorous Regency romp.
17. Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
Two young men, a road trip. Grief and truth, love and friendship, external and internal journeys. What I love in Erickson’s writing is her talent for portraying relationships between people who not only love and desire each other but like each other too.
18. Hammer and Bone by Kirby Crow
Not really romance but I can’t not recommend this a stunning collection of queer spec fic shorts. These are 90% cocoa solid dark. But they are brilliant and I am evangelical about them. Read them slowly. Savour them.
19. Dead Ringer by Sam Schooler and Heidi Belleau
Praise the lord for a sex worker who is not required to be redeemed from their job by love. This is a multi-layered, emotionally complex and occasionally surprising reworking of the ol’ prostitute-falls-for-client trope. Beautifully done.
20. The Devil Lancer by Astrid Amara
A paranormal–historical about the Crimean War. Bleak, powerful and vivid. With an unexpectedly tender romance considering one of them is literally possessed.
21. To Summon Nightmares by JK Pendragon
I do love an “I appear to have inherited a creepy old house in the country” plot. The horror/suspense elements contrast beautifully with the gentleness of the love story. The transgender protagonist is written with care, compassion and authenticity, and allowed to both vulnerable and heroic.
22. Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane
Amy Lane has two modes. The first is “yo dawg, I heard you like angst, so I put angst in your angst so you can angst while you angst.” The second is “I will melt you like fondue.” This is that. And I don’t even like Xmas stories. I hate them. But this is a ridiculously lovely friends-to-lovers romance that is full of hope and just … goddamn niceness that still somehow manages never to cross the line into sticky or maudlin.
23. The Dark Wife by Sara Diemer
To describe this a YA lesbian re-telling of the Persephone myth is to undersell the depth and detail that has gone into it. Essentially it takes story about loss of power and not only queers the living hell out of it but turns into a tale of female agency. Also Hades … Hades is *fans self*.
24. The Two Gentleman of Altona by JA Rock & Lisa Henry
Madcap mystery and romance between a burned-out agent and a Shakespeare-quoting conman. I’m warning you now, you’ll want to read all three in the Playing the Fool series.
25. Waiting in the Wings by Melissa Brayden
This is definitely one for theatre nerds (especially musical theatre nerds *cough*) but the dialogue is crackly as anything and the characters are easy to root for and relate to.
26. Loving Jay by Renae Kaye
On the surface this is a simple story of a man being dragged out the closet by the flamboyant fellow he’s falling for. But Kaye writes with real warmth and affection for her characters and her setting (Australia!) while exploring themes of family, masculinity and identity with perception and compassion.
27. Life After Joe by Harper Fox
Harper Fox is one of my favourite writers. I cannot do her justice in a paragraph. Read anything of hers and I promise you’ll love it. I chose Life After Joe simply because it was my first (and you always remember your first): heart-breaking, hopeful, exquisitely written.
28. In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
Snarky city boy meets gentle giant in move to small town: stylish and full of heart, as unabashedly tender and neurotic as its protagonists.
29. The Midnight Hunt by LL Rand
This is Radclyffe’s urban fantasy series. Think lesbian Anita Blake with more ass kicking and less gratuitous sex. Bring it.
30. Catalysts by Kris Ripper
A straight boy, his gay dom and the gay dom’s boyfriend. And their friends. An unusual kinky love story that pushes the boundaries of sexuality, gender, and relationships themselves.
31. A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews
A gay Amish romance. Yes, you read that right. This is a beautifully written and tender romance that neither diminishes the value of community nor the value of freedom. Delicate and complicated, sweet and painful – it stayed with me long after I’d finished reading.
Alexis Hall is the author of ten queer romances. His most recent book is For Real: A Spires Story.