Queer romance novel recommendations, please
May 12, 2021 12:14 PM   Subscribe

I am new to the romance novel world and finding it somewhat overwhelming to find stuff I like. Please recommend some good fun reads. Specific wants/do-not-wants/stuff I've read and liked under the cut.

I have read and liked Cat Sebastian and K J Charles. I also really enjoyed Winter's Orbit.

Things I want:
- queer protagonists
- happy endings
- books that take place either in historical settings or fantasy/scifi settings

Things I DO NOT want:
- books that take place in a modern setting, or indeed, that are set after about 1900. The 20th/21st century is not my bag.

Thank you!
posted by darchildre to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Following this thread with *great interest*. Cat Seebastian is SO GOOD.

I really, really loved CL Polk's Kingston Cycle Books. They're fantasy with a bit of a steampunk bend. Each book has a queer love story that is slow burn but steamy and the couples all get a happily ever after.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 12:23 PM on May 12, 2021

Do you do Dickensian mystery/romance with a Gothic bent in mid 19th century London? Because Fingersmith is one of my all time favorite anythings.
posted by thivaia at 12:25 PM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Whyborne & Griffin series by Jordan L. Hawk. Historical, magical, Lovecraftian, and altogether wonderful!
posted by SamanthaK at 12:28 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Olivia Waite's "Feminine Pursuits" series is really good.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:39 PM on May 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

I am waiting with bated breath for A Marvellous Light, which sounds up your alley too - sample chapters in Tor's 2021 Debut Authors sampler: https://books.google.com/books?id=IhcmEAAAQBAJ
posted by february at 12:50 PM on May 12, 2021

I liked A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger. (And I am pretty picky - I usually only read the authors you mention.)

You might want to check out Death By Silver. The burn was a little too slow for me, but the Magic whodunnit plot was interesting.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:58 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Whyborne & Griffin is terrific, and much more cozy/happy ending oriented than the Lovecraftian aspects would make one think! It's all about defeating unspeakable horrors with love and friendship - and Christine's trusty rifle. I'm so happy that Hawk has continued in that universe with a new series about the librarians. Also, if you have read K.J. Charles' The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, there is a cross-over story between the two series that fits so nicely into the canon of each.

I know that you've asked for no 20th century, but if you were to stretch over that 1900-barrier into the 1920s, I really like the Magic in Manhattan series (first book is Spellbound) by Allie Therin - it hits a lot of the same tones as the Whyborne & Griffin series or K.J. Charles' Magpie series. Some of my favourite K.J. Charles books are also set in the early 1900s (Proper English) or 1920s (Spectred Isle).

For more straight - well, super gay - romance, Joanna Chambers has a couple of series set in the early 19th century - the Enlightenment series (first is Provoked; books 4 and 5 are stand-alone stories of secondary characters) and the (as yet) unconnected Winterbourne series.
posted by jb at 1:03 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Courtney Milan also has a couple of novellas with queer protagonists in her Worth saga - The Pursuit Of... (late 18th century) and Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure (early-mid 19th century).
posted by jb at 1:14 PM on May 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

The Greenhollow Duology: Silver in the Wood and Drowned Country by Emily Tesh
posted by carrioncomfort at 1:33 PM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

As mentioned above, you definitely want Olivia Waite's The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics and The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows.

Ignore the cover art. It is indeed terrible.

Both take place in late industrial revolution "England Times" (TM Heaving Bosoms podcast). Plenty of very competent women in professional lives, pushing against societal norms, all while falling in love with each other and sticking it to the Man. Both are light, pleasant romps, and will have you thinking about things like shell grottos, embroidery, and beehives.

Also check out She Rises by Kate Worsley which is set in 1740. Great if you enjoy suspenseful twists and turns—romance of the more gut-wrenching variety.
posted by oxisos at 1:38 PM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

A few author recommendations:
EE Ottoman specializes in queer and trans historical romance. Looks like he also has a few fantasy books.
Felicia Davin writes queer fantasy and sci-fi. I actually only know her via her delightful weekly newsletter Word Suitcase that most weeks includes brief notes on romances she's read that week. Some of those would fit your criteria. You can click through previous entries for some examples.
posted by thatquietgirl at 2:42 PM on May 12, 2021

Seconding The Kingston Cycle and The Greenhollow Duology. Also The Errant Prince by Sasha Miller, The Beast That Never Was by Caren J. Werlinger, and The Wode series by J. Tullos Hennig (though I haven't read the final book in the series yet so can't totally vouch for happy ending).
posted by brook horse at 2:46 PM on May 12, 2021

I love Cat Sebastian and KJ Charles, and I also love a lot of Samantha Kane's Brothers In Arms series, which is all MMF.
posted by Nickel at 2:50 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I adored Tamara Allen's Invitation to the Dance, which is set in Gilded Age NYC and reads like a romantic screwball comedy. It's very slow-burn, but rewards the patient reader.
posted by toastedcheese at 4:14 PM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

For fantasy setting, I'm currently listening to stories from A. H. Lee's Knight and the Necromancer universe by way of Abigail Hilton's Patreon podcast. I'm also a fan of her Panamindorah universe, though that's more varied and furry and though it occasionally has a romantic payoff (and the one in Guild of the Cowry Catchers is pretty hot) is more action-adventury in genre.
posted by straw at 5:51 PM on May 12, 2021

So this is queer and has a historic setting. It's sweet, but also pretty hot, and it's very well written.

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite.
posted by signsofrain at 6:28 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

The House in the Cerulean Sea
posted by aetg at 6:38 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding Invitation to the Dance as well as pretty much everything else by Tamara Allen. The Only Gold is my favorite—it’s about Gilded Age bankers who fall in love while trying to foil a robbery attempt, and has a similar ratio of plot-to-romance as Winter’s Orbit.
posted by eirin at 9:16 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I loved Hamilton's Battalion, an anthology with two queer love stories (m/m and f/f). One of the Courtney Milan novellas recced above is in this collection (In Pursuit Of...), and one of the book's other authors has a new Audible Original book called The Wife in the Attic, which is also coming out in text format at end of summer if you prefer. It's a great Regency gothic f/f story that riffs on Jane Eyre.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:29 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Heather Rose Jones writes fantasy sapphic romance. I'd call it pseudo Regency since her books are set in an alternate history similar to ours but in a fictional European country (Alpennia).

I've read Daughter of Mystery and loved it. I'm part way through the sequel, The Mystic Marriage.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 12:31 AM on May 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I just checked my 'books read' list because I knew there were more but I couldn't remember the titles.

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is a re-telling of The Snow Queen but Gerda falls in love with the robber girl.

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water and The True Queen by Zen Cho are both fantasy with strong romantic subplots. The first is riffing on wuxia novels and set in a fantasy 1950ish Malaysia. The second is set in an alternate 18th century.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 1:23 AM on May 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

CL Clark's The Unbroken might suit but doesn't have a purely happy ending. It's the first book in a series.

Queer fantasy in a fictional setting inspired by the colonial Maghreb.
posted by knapah at 3:50 AM on May 13, 2021

Lemme roll up my sleeves. I love KJ Charles, so the first thing I recommend is keeping an eye on her Twitter: she often recommends things which would be up your street!

C S Pascat's Captive Prince trilogy is alt-historical/fantasy m/m queer fantasy: very good, rather saucy. Perhaps some dubious consent dynamics at times, so YMMV.

Emily Tesh's Silver In The Wood duology is a sort of mystical Green Man-esque m/m slow-burn romance.

Iona Datt Sharma's Penhallow Amid Passing Things is an historical f/f romance about smugglers and the Revenue Office, set in 18th century Cornwall.

Aster Glenn Gray writes yearningly beautiful short novels. Briarley is a m/m retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Threefold Tie is a Civil War-era m/m/f reflection on friendship, love and flexibility.

Elin Gregory's On a Lee Shore is a fun m/m pirate romance.

Lisa Henry does a lot of m/m queer fantasy. Choose carefully, though - some of her books have some very uncomfortable power dynamics. Anhaga is a good example of her m/m fantasy/magic; perhaps Red Heir, too.

Joanna Chambers' Gentleman Wolf duology is a 1700s m/m romance featuring a werewolf. Hope that's not a spoiler.

Lee Welch's Salt Magic, Skin Magic is m/m fantasy history with a really cool magic system.
posted by citands at 4:20 AM on May 13, 2021

I absolutely recommend Restraint by Anne Hawley. It is one of the most moving literary depictions of lifelong MM love I have ever read and it's set in the Regency Era.

Seconding KJ Charles and CS Pacat as well. These are authors I re-read.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 4:26 PM on May 13, 2021

I came here to recommend Olivia Waite, the Courtney Milan and KJ Charles. I'm going to second them because they are so fabulous.
posted by rednikki at 9:15 PM on May 13, 2021

« Older How can I grow out my bad haircut faster?   |   Pardon me while I burst into flames Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.