There are lots of lists for friends-to-lovers stories, but what about partners-to-lovers? Unlike friends, partners have linked up to realize a particular goal. While pursuing this goal, the partners grow to like, trust, and admire each other, and love grows out of this foundation.

Our reviewers love so many of these books that we decided to split the list in half. Part 1 is for partners in law enforcement, the military, and espionage. Many of these books are mysteries and thrillers, and the stories of these characters are often spread out across multiple books. Part 2 will be for other types of partners: dancers trying to win a contest, businesspeople working on a big deal, actors staging a play, etc.

So let’s get started with Part 1! Some of AAR’s favorite law and order partners-to-lovers books are:


Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara

FBI agent Cooper Dayton has to give up his lifelong law enforcement dream and leave the Bureau after a terrifying near-death experience with a werewolf. He becomes an agent for the BSI (Bureau of Special Investigations), a small, secretive agency tasked with monitoring ‘monster’ crimes. When The Wolf at the Door begins, Cooper is partnered up with Oliver Park, a werewolf agent for The Trust (a werewolf leadership group), in an effort to improve relations between the two groups.  Park seems like a good guy, but he’s a werewolf, so Cooper isn’t sure he can trust him. The two are forced to work together to investigate the mysterious deaths of three hikers in the White Mountain National forest, believed to have been killed by werewolves. The suspense plot is clever, and the prickly relationship between Cooper and Park is a delicious slow-burn.

Buy the series at Amazon

Hazard and Somerset Mysteries by Gregory Ashe

Detective Emery Hazard returns to his home town of Wahredua, Missouri to discover – to his dismay – that his new partner is the man who made his life a misery when he was at school – local golden boy, John-Henry Somerset.  Each book in this six book series boasts a self-contained mystery and there’s an overarching plot that comes into play, too.  But the big draw is the completely fucked-up relationship between the two leads; as the series progresses we watch them desperately trying to deny the pull of attraction that’s been there since they were teens, and watch them as they are forced to face up to some difficult and unpleasant home-truths.  The mysteries are clever and complex and Gregory Ashe knows how to create sexual tension so thick, it could be cut with a knife!  This is a slooooow-burn romance with emphasis on the slow, but it’s worth the wait.

Buy the series at Amazon

Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke’s story by Suzanne Brockmann, first book The Unsung Hero

Sam is a Navy SEAL, and Alyssa is the FBI sharpshooter attached to his unit. Across several books, they team up in counterterrorism missions and attempt to keep their massive sexual tension under control. But every time they take a step forward in trusting each other, it seems they take another one back. However, in their main book (Gone Too Far), it’s Alyssa’s staunch refusal to believe that Sam could have murdered his ex that unmasks a deception.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole

To investigate potential European support for the Confederacy, Loyal League spy Daniel Cumberland is paired with newbie Janeta Sanchez – who, unbeknownst to the League, is planning to be a double agent. Janeta is black, but her mother was enslaved by her father before he freed and married her, and he’s in Confederate prison unless Janeta can find information to barter for his freedom. Meanwhile, Daniel, who was born free, has devastating trauma from a period of enslavement. Daniel helps Janeta examine her status, and Janeta helps Daniel heal. It’s a dark and powerful story that doesn’t shy away from the hard questions.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Tyack and Frayne Mysteries by Harper Fox

In the first book Once upon a Haunted Moor, lonely Cornish policeman for the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor, Gideon Frayne, meets handsome clairvoyant Lee Tyack. Together they search for a missing girl on the moors and find more than a mystery together. Gideon and Lee are an adorable couple. Their developing story stretches over a series of nine short mystery novels, which are truly absorbing, romantic, thought provoking and filled with the nature and myths of Cornwall. Harper Fox is a rare author who can highlight heartfelt emotions using the spirit of nature.

Buy the series at Amazon

Firestorm by Rachel Grant

In this third book in the action-packed Flashpoint trilogy, Sergeant First Class Cassius Callahan and CIA operative Savannah James embark on an intelligence gathering mission that goes spectacularly wrong and ends with them going on the run in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most dangerous places on earth.  This couple have been dancing around each other since the first book (Tinderbox) and the sexual tension between them is incendiary – they both know they’re intensely attracted to each other, but aren’t happy about it – and the mission they’re about to embark on is going to see their abilities and trust in one another tested to the limit.  Our review says – Firestorm is a real treat for lovers of romantic suspense; great characters with off-the-charts chemistry, a tender romance, a powerfully compelling plot full of dramatic twists and turns, and one of those against-all-odds finales that has you jumping up and down and punching the air when the good guys triumph over evil.”

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Seven of Spades series by Cordelia Kingsbridge

One of the very best m/m romantic suspense series to emerge in recent years, the Seven of Spades series features an overarching plot about the hunt for a particularly clever and enigmatic serial killer (who leaves a seven of spades playing card on their victims) meting out vigilante ‘justice’ in Las Vegas.  Detective Levi Abrams is assigned to the case, and is irritated to discover that the handsome bounty hunter, Dominic Russo, has become mixed up in the case after one of the people he’s chasing turns up as one of the killer’s victims.  Levi and Dominic are chalk and cheese – Levi is abrasive and tightly-controlled, where Dominic is charming and open-hearted – but as the killer ups the ante and Dominic becomes reluctantly entangled in the case, he and Levi begin to develop a friendship – of sorts – with a strong undercurrent of mutual attraction that neither can ignore.  These are fast-paced, uncompromising stories with skilfully developed, complex plots, but Levi and Dominic and their wonderful, romantic, angsty love story is firmly at the centre of each one and the whole series; they have to confront some incredibly difficult personal issues as well as watch their backs, but there’s never a question that these two are soulmates and belong together, and the identity of the SoS will keep readers guessing right up until the last minute.

Buy the series at Amazon

Fish Out of Water series by Amy Lane

PI Jackson Rivers, a former cop, teams up with uptight defense attorney Ellery Cramer when his brother-of-the-heart is framed for the murder of a police officer.  Jackson’s past comes back to haunt him as it turns out that this case is linked to the one that ended his police career – and almost ended his life – eight years earlier when as a young rookie, he was hung out to dry in an investigation into police corruption.  The relationship between Jackson and Ellery is really well done, both the professional and the personal.  They respect and admire each other’s abilities when it comes to their jobs, but the personal isn’t quite so simple. Jackson’s difficult past and self-esteem issues mean he’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop, while Ellery is determined to show him he’s worth loving and what it really means to be part of a couple. These are gritty, angsty stories that go to some dark places, but it’s clear these two are in it for the long-haul.

Buy the series at Amazon

The Adrien English Mysteries by Josh Lanyon

The series of six books is based around the quirky on/off relationship between Detective Jake Riordan and bookshop owner Adrien English, who could not be more different. Many of the murder mysteries start at, or revolve around, Adrien’s crime fiction bookshop Cloak and Dagger, but Jake is never far away to organise the investigations. The chemistry between Adrien and Jake is obvious but the relationship is up and down though never heavy with angst. The will they/ won’t they have their happy ever after carries over the whole series

Buy the series at Amazon

Cuff Me by Lauren Layne

Police officers Vincent Moretti and Jill Henley have been partners for six years in this third New York’s Finest novel. They’d kept any attraction between them strictly out of the picture until Jill returns from a three month leave with a new fiancé, forcing Vincent to address his real feelings for her. Combined with a murder mystery to investigate and an entertaining cast of secondary characters this is a sexy and enjoyable contemporary romance.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber

An unusual heroine, Lady Keira Darby is the widow of Sir Anthony, who was obsessed with creating the world’s first and finest study of human anatomy.  He forced Keira (a talented artist) to provide the illustrations for his work, and she has been shunned by society as a result, the idea of a woman drawing such unsuitable things branding her as ‘unnatural’ – and worse, rumours circulate that she was an evil woman who trawled the streets looking for subjects for her husband’s experimentation. After Sir Anthony’s death, Keira lives quietly in Scotland with her brother and sister-in-law,  but the death of a guest at a house party sees her being widely suspected of the murder, and then working with another guest, private enquiry agent (and ‘golden boy’ of London ballrooms) Sebastian Gage in order to prove her innocence and find the real culprit.  The pair don’t think much of each other at first – but it’s soon clear there’s a strong pull of attraction between them that is hard to ignore. This develops as the story progresses, and continues into subsequent books as the couple continues to investigate murders together, fall in love and eventually marry.

Buy the series at Amazon

Someone to Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught

It’s the secondary characters in this book – police lieutenant Mitchell McCord and Detective Samantha Littleford – who strike sparks as they work to solve the mystery of the heroine’s husband’s disappearance. McCord wants Samantha desperately, but as her boss, he can’t let even a hint of his feelings escape. Yet every step of the investigation keeps them together. It’s delicious.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn

This popular series of historical mysteries opens with the heroine meeting her hero, private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane, over the body of her (not quite) dead husband. She initially dismisses Brisbane’s claim that her husband was murdered, but when she later finds evidence to support that theory, Julia engages the enigmatic – and maddeningly attractive – Brisbane to help her to discover the truth.  The chemistry between the couple sizzles as they dance around each other while working to find a murderer, developing real trust and admiration for one another’s unique abilities and falling in love.

Buy the series at Amazon

Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

A standalone loosely related to the Lady Julia series, the story opens with Poppy Hammond legging it from her wedding, assisted by the curate, Sebastian Cantrip… who turns out not to be a curate after all, but a spy our reviewer described as “Errol Flynn, James Bond and Indiana Jones rolled into one”.  Poppy is caught up in Sebastian’s mission in the Holy Land and proves her mettle as she learns to believe in herself and take charge of her life. It’s a fast-moving, eventful story with a wonderful sense of time – 1920s – and place; the dialogue is sharp and witty and the sexual tension is delicious.

Buy it at Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Agents Irish & Whiskey series by Layla Reyne

Single Malt, the first book in the series, introduces FBI partners Aidan Talley, ‘Irish’, and Jameson (Jamie) Walker, ‘Whiskey.’ When the story opens, Aidan is newly returned to work, still mourning the loss of his husband. His boss and sister-in-law, Melissa Cruz, Special Agent in charge of the San Francisco FBI office, partners him with Jamie – a former stand-out college basketball player whose need for privacy outweighed his desire to play in the NBA – who’s secretly been in lust with Aidan for the past three years. They spend their first few meetings pretending they aren’t attracted to one another, but when they’re sent to Galveston, Texas, to investigate a hacking attempt on a high-secruity biocontainment facility, it become harder and harder to deny. The relationship between Irish and Whiskey evolves over the three book series, as does a suspense plot related to Aiden’s past. Clever, compelling, the Irish and Whiskey series is Ms. Reyne’s best work to date.

Buy the series at Amazon

Poison Study by Maria Snyder

In this fantasy novel, convicted murderer Yelena accepts the position of food taster for Ixia’s commander rather than the guaranteed death of execution. The Commander’s chief of security, Valek, poisons Yelena and controls her access to the antidote to ensure she remains loyal. Then he begins her taster training. But the Commander, and all of Ixia, may be in danger from something else altogether, and only Valek and Yelena seem to notice. They will have to overcome their bad beginning if they are to save their Commander, their country, and their own lives.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Metahuman Files by Hailey Turner

Captain Jamie Callahan, former elite marine, was the lone survivor of a horrific chemical attack that turns him into a metahuman with super strength and endurance. He joines the Metahuman Defense Force’s Alpha Team, tasked with finding and eradicating the chemical and destroying the terrorist groups who trade in it. Alpha Team is assigned a sniper from an elite Strike Force special forces team, and much to Jamie’s dismay, he knows him – it’s Staff Sergeant Kyle Brannigan, the stranger with whom he recently spent a memorable night. Oops. In the Wreckage, the first book in this AWESOME five-book series, introduces the suspense plot that unfolds over the course of the Metahuman Files. Terrorists and criminals want metahumans of their own. It also establishes Jamie and Kyle as a couple whose complicated relationship evolves as the series progresses.  Metahuman Files is addictive and thrilling, and the partnership between Jamie and Kyle is simply brilliant.

Buy the series at Amazon

Cut and Run series by Madeline Urban and Abigail Roux

This series, which began in 2008 and spans nine books in total is a bit of a legend among fans of m/m romantic suspense.  Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are thrown together to investigate a series of murders in New York, the most recent of them of a couple of FBI agents (one of whom was an ex-marine buddy of Ty’s) and it’s not exactly love at first sight.  On the surface, they’re opposites, with Ty being the maverick and Zane the by-the-book guy – but as the story progresses we discover they’re both screw-ups with a truckload of emotional baggage.  These are generally fast-paced, action-packed reads in which, it has to be said, the plots are often full of holes and sometimes outright bonkers, but Ty and Zane are such wonderfully compelling characters that they manage to carry the stories, even at their craziest.

(NB – At time of writing, books 1-5 in the series are available in used paperback format only.)

Buy the series (books 6-9 only) at Amazon 

Library Wars by Kiiro Yumi

It has always been Iku Kasahara’s dream to join the Library Defense Force and protect literature from government censors, but she’s the first woman to apply for active duty. Drill Sergeant Atsushi Dojo has to make sure she’s strong enough to succeed. As the missions grow in danger, and traitors appear within the Library Forces, Dojo and Kasahara rely more and more on each other. And Dojo has to trust that his training was good enough for a woman he wishes he could protect. This is a terrific action graphic novel series that is never extremely violent or dark, so it’s a great read for the middle school set as well as older YA fans.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo


Have you got any more recommendations for us? Look out for Part 2 of AAR Loves… Partners to Lovers Romances – Coming Soon!

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