LBGTQ+ PRIDE is celebrated in many countries throughout the world in June, and here at AAR, we’re doing our bit to celebrate the idea that Love is Love is Love and that romance is for everyone by choosing our favourite queer fiction and queer romances. We could all have chosen more than one (or two!), but these are the ones that have stuck with us over time and to which we return again and again.

What are your favourites? We’re always ready to be switched onto new books and new authors, so jump into the comments and let us know!


Anne:

The Last Herald-Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey

This wasn’t the first time I encountered a gay protagonist, but I’m including it because many readers have admitted it changed their lives. LGBTQ+ readers have said it let them know they weren’t alone, and straight readers have admitted it taught them compassion they might otherwise never have learned. Also, it’s Mercedes Lackey at her peak. Don’t enter into this trilogy for happy endings, however. Heralds live very dangerous lives.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo

The Desert Peach by Donna Barr

This was available in comic book shops when it first came out (in the 1990s!), but I think there were issues with the publisher, because the original collections are hard to find and collectible. This is a series about Erwin Rommel’s fictional gay younger brother, who commands a group of misfits in the Afrika Korps. (This is during WWII, but only one of the members of the Korps is officially a member of the Nazi party.) Be warned that Pfirsich Rommel is flamboyant, and some people don’t like to read that sort of story because they see it as a stereotype. (His partner, on the other hand, is an alpha Luftwaffe pilot.) There are only a few issues available in the Kindle store (more if you allow “adult” results to appear (sigh)), but there are also graphic novel collections as well as individual issues in paper. And graphic novels do look better on paper. :-)

Buy it at: Amazon


BJ:

Documenting Light by E.E. Ottoman

This is a sweet, gentle romance and in my opinion an important book, especially for Pride Month.

For those of us who have gone before.

Your stories will not be forgotten.

Wyatt finds an old photo. The photo pictures two men sitting either side of a table. There is a nervousness about the expressions and the candid nature of the portrait calls to Wyatt. He approaches the local historical society to see if they can shed light on the photo and those pictured.

Help comes in the form of Grayson, a trans man and very well qualified historical researcher, disowned by most of his family when he transitioned, he strives to keep his skills and love for history alive.

Wyatt makes the big decision to come out for the first time as genderqueer, to Grayson on their first real date. Mutual interest, in the lives behind the photo, binds the two closer, as they begin a relationship which allows them to be themselves. There is something so intimate about the bond between Wyatt and Grayson that I felt grateful to be allowed into their world for a while.

Documenting Light shows how love is, regardless of labels. I said that I felt this book is important – I do. If people fear what they do not know then this gentle sweet story can give any reader an insight into what it is like to live and love, as an ordinary trans / genderqueer person in the twenty-first century. More than that it urges the reader to consider what it is like to be erased from history. E.E. Ottoman expresses this perfectly, through Wyatt –

All I want…’ Their voice was soft. ‘…is the possibility that there is a space for people like me to exist in history too. To have a past. To look back with pride and say people like me lived and loved and endured. That’s all I want.’

I loved this story, this romance, and the truth behind this novel. This author has my admiration and the book my highest recommendation.

Love truly is Love, Romance is Romance and everyone deserves to have their stories told.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Caroline:

Revolutionary Girl Utena by Chiho Saito

Think of this book as Harry Potter, but starring a girl who defies gender presentation and sexuality norms. Harry heads off to a magical boarding school to live as a wizard; Utena goes to her school and becomes a prince, dueling to protect her Rose Bride, because whoever claims the bride will win ultimate power. This was the first LGBTQ book I ever read, and it was everything my fantasy-loving, vicariously-swashbuckling-but-totally-unathletic teenage heart desired. Beautiful art and a powerful, tenacious, and loyal heroine make this a legendary saga-style love story. The ending is, however, hopeful rather than happy.

Buy it at: Amazon


Caz:

Spectred Isle by K.J. Charles

It’s no secret to anyone around here that K.J. Charles is one of my favourite authors, and as no post about LGBTQ+ romances would be complete without mentioning her – I’m mentioning her!  It’s hard to choose just one of her books as they’re all so damn good, but I remember being utterly captivated by Spectred Isle, a story set in the same universe as the Simon Feximal stories, and which takes place shortly after the end of World War One.  Saul Lazenby is a disgraced archaeologist whose slightly bonkers employer is obsessed by myth and folklore and has Saul running about looking into all sorts of unusual phenomena, while Randolph Glyde is the last scion of a once powerful family of arcanists charged with protecting England from supernatural threats.  When the two men keep ‘accidentally’ bumping into each other, they’re both suspicious – until it becomes apparent that Saul is somehow integral to the ongoing fight against the darkness.  Clever, sexy, suspenseful and seriously spooky in places, I can’t recommend Spectred Isle highly enough.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo

 

The Tyack & Frayne series by Harper Fox – narrated by Tim Gilbert

I’ve listened to the audiobook versions of the seven available titles in this series, and have enjoyed them a great deal.  Set in present day Cornwall, the stories revolve around the village of Dark on the edge of Bodmin Moor and its local bobby, Gideon Frayne, the son of a tub-thumping Methodist minister, and TV psychic, Lee Tyack, who team up in Once Upon a Haunted Moor (book one), to find a missing girl.  Their love story develops throughout the series, as they face threats both supernatural and mundane; and although many of the stories are novellas or shorter length novels, they’re beautifully written, wonderfully atmospheric and steeped in ancient magic and mysticism.  Lee and Gideon are simply perfect for each other, and the complicated Frayne family relationships are drawn and developed with great skill and insight.  Added to the terrific writing is the superb narration by Tim Gilbert, who delivers a set of nigh-on perfect performances throughout.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Em:

Deal Maker by Lily Morton

I’ve read some truly memorable LGBTQ books over the past few years; several are on my all-time favorites list. But if I had to pick one to read over and over (and I have), it would be Deal Maker by Lily Morton. This book has it all – it’s sweet, tender and affecting, but it’s also laugh out loud funny and sexy as hell. The principal characters are supremely well realized, and the secondary characters are also wonderful – except the villain of the piece (whom we hate). When I crave a comfort read that perfectly balances sexy times and tender moments, makes me sigh in satisfaction (frequently), and giggle uncontrollably, I read it. It’s sublime.

Jude is a model and all around great guy with a wicked sense of humor. Unlucky in love, he’s wary (that’s an understatement) of relationships, and he flits from man to man, unwilling to commit. Jude comes from a supporting, close-knit family, but after a university relationship ended badly, he isn’t willing to fall in love again. Asa Jacobs is a famous actor in the midst of a comeback after taking time off to raise a young son. Easy-going, generous and warm, Asa has also been unlucky in love. After a failed relationship with a man who took advantage of his wealth and fame, he’s reluctant to trust anyone again. But everything changes when Jude shows up to interview for a live-in position as Asa’s personal assistant. The two hit it off and agree Jude will spend the summer working for Asa until he can find a permanent replacement… until Asa asks Jude for references and discovers he’s a model. Asa goes from friendly to frosty in the blink of an eye, assuming Jude is just as vapid and shallow as his ex. So Jude sets out to prove him right. And oh, reader! Jude is so naughty and mischievous and sly and Asa is so bewildered and angry and confused… it’s brilliantly funny and awful and awesome.

Once Jude and Asa begin to live and work together, it just gets better and better. Everything about Deal Maker absolutely sparkles: their chemistry, the secondary characters who love them both, the idealized settings, Jude’s fan letters… oh, it’s so so wonderful – and epic. I love it.

Buy it at: Amazon

Squamous with a Chance of Rain by Alexis Hall (part of the Liberty & Other Stories anthology).

I wish I could adequately (and eloquently) express my love for Alexis Hall and his books – but it’s impossible.  Each one is a tiny little masterpiece – funny, poignant, and wonderful. I have favorites but since I’m in the middle of a Prosperity series re-read, I want to turn your attention to Squamous with a Chance of Rain, which never fails to make me laugh.

Squamous with a Chance of Rain is told via a series of letters from Jane to her closest ‘friend’ Miriam. The first few letters from Jane’s temporary home at ‘Mrs. Miggle’s Boarding House for the Genteelly Impoverished,’ detail her recent misfortunes.  Jane’s eccentric Uncle Ridgewell was murdered by a group of miscellaneous ruffians (among them an accountant and a priest, who’s been taken into custody).  He left behind the writings of a madman and, unfortunately, no fortune for Jane. So Jane has accepted a position as a governess to a family in Cornwall.

The story is creepy and awful and disturbing and scary…and laugh out loud funny. Jane’s supremely dry sense of humor and matter-of-fact voice as she details events at Vanstone Hall is the perfect antidote to the horror unfolding in this tiny, marvelous novella.  She’s magnificent and awesome and lusty and irreverent…and simply brilliant – as is the story.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Haley:

Midtown Masters by Cara McKenna

As with the entire Sins in the City series, Midtown Masters is highly erotic but it is also deeply romantic, which surprised me when I read it. Writer John Lindsay is sexually inexperienced and looking for help in that department so he can write better sex scenes. He’s been watching Suzy Park and Meyer Cohen’s cam shows and eventually develops an off-screen relationship with them. The thing I particularly liked about the book – and what made me choose it for this post – was how John was able to explore his bi-curious side with Suzy and Meyer without any hints of toxic masculinity popping up. Often in MMF there’s an air of competition or domination happening, but all of the scenes in Midtown Masters were so sexy because everyone involved wanted to be there just as much as the next person. I thought this was a surprisingly lovely look at John exploring his sexuality and the romance that develops with Suzy as he opens himself to new opportunities.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Hollis:

Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell

This book has everything. An OTP that will wreck you in every possible and wonderful way – and please note I don’t throw around the catch-all OTP for just any couple. Seriously hilarious dialogue and banter that is at times silly and ridiculous but so charming and adorable. Such sass, oh my god the sass. I loved the emotion, the pain, the rage, the love, the forgiveness, the impossible to resist heat.. everything is described and shown so beautifully. This story is so strong and it blows my mind that this was the author’s debut. The chemistry between this pairing was just.. and the characters themselves.. good grief. I read it so long ago now but I am still trash for this book and this couple. Bad Judgment has mystery, tragic backstory, violence, abuse, thrilling corporate espionage, murder.. everything possible to keep you on the edge of your seat, but the friendships, the connections, the laughs!, are what make this story so spectacular and wonderful and I want more people to love it, too.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo

Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn

With a surplus of hockey and (American) football romances out in the contemporary world, the Glasgow Lads series stand out not just because it’s set around an LGBTQ+ (European football) soccer team but also because it’s so much more than just sports. Not only is it incredibly diverse, this series handles topics ranging from sports (obviously..) to religion to politics to patriotism.. everything. It is also very educational. While a lot of cities or countries in novels can feel like background noise, Cockburn actually gave Scotland a presence. So much so that the setting itself feels like a beloved character by the end of the read. Cockburn is as varied and all-encompassing in her subject matter as she is in her characters and if you’re like me you’ll be devouring the rest of the series after you pick this one up.

Buy it at: Amazon


Kristen:

My choice is definitely Tamsen Parker’s Fire on the Ice, a f/f story set during Ms. Parker’s version of the Winter Olympics. Not only is it a sports romance – which I generally adore – but it plays with the notions of power, play, commitment, and sense of self in a particularly adroit way. At 169 pages, it’s essentially a novella, but the author manages to use the limited pages to her best advantage. The plot is tight, the characters rich, and the sex super hot. I hear readers frequently lament the lack of well publicized f/fs, so let me bang this drum a little louder – this one is worth your time.

Buy it at: Amazon/iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

 


Lisa:

First of all, a shout out to Nine Star Press, Less than Three Press and Bold Strokes Books for always printing diverse books by diverse authors; I’m always proud to shop with these fine indie presses. When I was a queer, latinx girl growing up reading straight romance, I always used to wish I could read lush historical romances between women that were like the ones I could pick up for het couples. Thankfully that’s becoming more of a reality in the publishing game as time goes on!

It was hard for me to pick a single romance; I again recommend Quinn Anderson’s Fourteen Summers; Rachel Spangler and Kris Ripper have never let me down. Lunav by Jenn Polish is one of my latest unputdownable reads, and its worldbuilding is rich and great.

But the Bluewater Bay series, written by various authors, with various heat levels and different sorts of pairings (and moresomes!) is my blanket pick. Richly diverse (m/m, f/f and various poly arrangements abound, and the series has several trans heroes) and centered around life in small Bluewater Bay, Washington, it has everything you could want in a small town romance series and smacks me right in the id every time – handsome vets! Lonely soldiers! Childhood sweethearts! Marriages of convince that turn into the real thing! Hollywood invading a small town! It’s a great one.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Maria Rose:

The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan (originally published in the anthology, Hamilton’s Battalion)

When Corporal John Hunter, part of the Black Regiment of soldiers under Hamilton’s command encounters Mr. Henry Latham, British army deserter in the heat of battle, they fight, but in the end, go their separate ways. Well, until Henry seeks out John days later and offers to accompany him on his journey home to find his sister. They are an unlikely pair – a slave freed for joining the army, and the son of a British Lord. Can they find the common ground that will enable them to have a lasting relationship?

This story is quite humorous yet with spikes of sharp truths from John’s painful background as a black man and a slave. Along with the sharing of a hideous block of cheese, John and Henry trade details of their lives and defend each other when needed, all on the way to a fast friendship, and then more. The contrast in their backgrounds couldn’t be more different and for both, being gay is just another aspect that makes them wary of their peers yet drawn to each other. Though it seems that there really isn’t a way for them to get a happy ending together, it comes together in a sweet and very satisfactory way. This is a lovely, funny, opposites attract romance.

That Could be Enough by Alyssa Cole (originally published in the anthology, Hamilton’s Battalion)

After Hamilton’s death, his wife Eliza is collecting tales of those who served under him, including the stories of those in the first two novellas in the collection. Mercy Alston is a black woman who serves in Mrs. Hamilton’s household, a maid who also takes notes during the soldiers’ interviews. When Andromeda Stiel, a black seamstress who has her own dressmaking business comes to tell her grandfather’s story, Mercy doesn’t know what to make of her, except that the attraction she feels for Andromeda is unnerving. Andromeda is clear that her interest in Mercy is not going to fade, but will it be enough to convince Mercy to give her a chance?

Another opposites attract romance, this one has two black women who come from different family backgrounds. Andromeda had the love and support she needed to become a successful businessman woman, no mean feat for a black woman at that time while Mercy grew up as an orphan when her parents died of a fever. Though neither were slaves, the sting of oppression for not being white is still keenly felt. Having experienced a painful end to her last relationship, Mercy is the one who is wary of what Andromeda is really offering her. I loved seeing her open up to the lively and determined Andromeda and though they have a few ups and downs, they get a delightfully happy ending.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Shannon:

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Walters

I absolutely adore this book. It’s a lesbian romance that takes place in Victorian England. The story is incredibly deep and moving with characters I fell in love with right from the start. I read it for the first time almost fifteen years ago, and I’m always looking for an excuse to revisit the lush, romantic world Sarah Waters has created.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo