This month, Ali Williams brings us an epic list of her favorite LGBTQIADPPN romances to celebrate PRIDE. Prepare to crack open your wallet and abuse your credit card!
Remember, just click on the cover and a link will take you there.
I love how inclusive Romancelandia can be, if we let it, and what better way to celebrate PRIDE month than with a list of recs? I've limited myself to three books for each letter in LGBTQIADPPN - because otherwise this piece would last forever—but romances can celebrate the diversity we see in the world, and more importantly, it should.
As a queer woman (one could argue I'm fairly bifurious), I cannot emphasize enough how important it has been to see bisexual heroines and f/f romances within this genre. And in the same way, I know what it must mean for my queer siblings—cis and trans, asexual and poly, intersex and non-binary—to see themselves reflected in books which revel in giving them the HEA they deserve.
So, let's get reading!
Proper English by KJ Charles
A shooting party at the Earl of Witton’s remote country house is a high treat for champion shot Patricia Merton—until unexpected guests turn the social atmosphere dangerously sour.
That’s not Pat’s biggest problem. She’s visiting her old friend, the Earl’s heir Jimmy Yoxall—but she wants to spend a lot more time with Jimmy’s fiancée. The irrepressible Miss Fenella Carruth, with her laughing eyes and lush curves, is the most glorious woman Pat’s ever met, and it quickly becomes impossible to remember why she needs to stay at arm’s length.
But while the women’s attraction grows, the tensions at Rodington Court get worse. Affairs, secrets, betrayals, and blackmail come to light. And when a body is discovered with a knife between the shoulderblades, it’s going to take Pat and Fen’s combined talents to prevent the murderer destroying all their lives.
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy—so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.
When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.
In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de Bodard
In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land...
A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village's debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.
A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.
When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn's amusement.
But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets...
For Real by Alexis Hall
Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.
Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.
Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.
The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.
It can’t be real.
Embers and Echoes by Daniel De Lorne
Blue lights in the red dust...
Echo Springs on the edge of the outback – a town where everyone knows your name, and your business. But the wholesome country living and welcoming community aren't what they used to be. Echo Springs has a dark underbelly, and it is seeping ever outward.
A suspicious fire on the edge of town sets Constable Ben Fields on a collision course with firefighter and one–time friend Toby Grimshaw. When the investigation takes a troubling turn that calls the two professionals' integrity into question, the heat gets turned up on Ben and Toby's unresolved history. Ben's got something to prove, but his love for Toby could cost him – and Echo Springs – everything. Meanwhile, will Toby overcome the horrors of his past and find a new future with Ben – or will it all go up in flames?
His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade
Ash Harrington's life is out of control.
At twenty-three years old, he's suddenly the head of a multibillion dollar global corporation he is in no way equipped to run. His father is dying. His mother's run away. He's spent his entire adult life playing fast and loose with his life and his loves, but when he's dragged into a position of responsibility with the fate of the company on his shoulders, he goes spinning into freefall.
And Brand Forsythe is the only man to catch him.
Icy, detached, nearly twice Ash's age, the massive monolith of a British valet is impossible to deal with and like no servant Ash has ever met. Domineering and controlling, Brand quickly puts Ash's life in order.
And quickly takes Ash in hand.
Even if by day Ash has to project authority, leadership, and calm...by night he's discovering the breathless pleasure of giving up control. The shivering thrill of surrendering to Brand. The sweet taboo of being submissive to the man in even the smallest things. Ash can't quite understand why it feels so good to put himself in Brand Forsythe's capable, commanding hands.
He only knows, as he faces the hardest decisions of his life...the only thing that can save him is the love of his cocky valet.
Cinnamon Blade by Shira Glassman
Every time Cinnamon Blade, crime fighter making up for a bad past, rescues the sweet and nerdy Soledad Castillo from bad guys, the two women's chemistry grows stronger. Now that she's finally asked Soledad out, sparks fly -- but is a normal date even possible in a city threatened by aliens and vampires on a regular basis?
Fly with Me by Hudson Lin
She set out to explore the world and found love along the way.
Vivian Ng is as experienced as flight attendants come. Taking charge and getting stuff done has always been her MO. When her father pushes her to give up her Asian routes in favor of flights to Europe, she’s nervous about the change, but her skills have never failed her before.
Flight attendant Marco Chang is charming and he knows it. Growing up as an immigrant with absentee parents, he learned how to win people over with a smile and a sexy accent. But being popular never meant his heart was available.
When Vivian and Marco find themselves working the same flight to Rome, Marco is immediately smitten. Vivian is smart, competent, kicks ass and takes names. Vivian’s not as impressed. Marco’s cute, sure, but he’s helpful to a fault and she doesn’t need some guy telling her how to do her job.
As they hop back and forth across the Atlantic, the romance of European cities works its magic. But if there’s any hope of their budding attraction taking off, she’ll need to let go and he’ll need to let her in.
So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Desperate times call for desperate measures...
And desperate is the only way to describe Kayla Davis's current situation. Out of work and almost out of money to cover her bills, Kayla finally caves to her roommate's nagging and follows her to Arrangements, an online dating site that matches pretty young women with older men of a certain tax bracket.
Convinced this "make-rent-quick" scheme will surely fail—or saddle her with an 80 year old boyfriend—Kayla is shocked when Michael Bradbury, Internet billionaire and stone-cold salt and pepper fox, offers her a solution to all her financial troubles. It's hard enough for Kayla to accept his generosity, but what's a girl to do when the wealthiest man she's ever met is a dream in and outside of the bedroom?
Coffee Boy by Austin Chant
After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.
Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.
The Craft of Love by EE Ottoman
When professional respect leads to something more...
Benjamin Lewis has created a life for himself as one of the most respected silversmiths and engravers in New York City. For Benjamin, his work is his passion and he has never sought out companionship beyond the close ties of family. Stumbling across dresses sew by his late mother, however, reawakens painful memories from his past. Now he is determined to forge something beautiful from the remains of the life and identity he left behind. In the process, he discovers stunning and fiercely intelligent Miss Quincy who might just have the power to tempt him out of his quiet isolation.
Remembrance Quincy's talent is as undeniable as her needlework is exquisite. She has made a name for herself crafting quilts and embroidery pieces for all the wealthiest ladies in the city. When soft-spoken, yet charming, Mr. Lewis comes to her with a particular project in mind she is intrigued both by his artistic design and by the man himself. He treats her like an equal, values her work and makes her smile, but Remembrance already gave her heart away once, now can she risk doing it again?
Cinder Ella by S. T. Lynn
Ella is transgender. She's known since she was young; being a woman just fit better. She was happier in skirts than trousers, but that was before her stepmother moved in. Eleanor can't stand her, and after Ella's father passes she's forced to revert to Cole, a lump of a son. She cooks, she cleans, and she tolerates being called the wrong name for the sake of a roof over her head. Where else can she go?
An opportunity to attend the royal ball transforms Ella's life. For the first time, strangers see a woman when she walks down the stairs. While Princess Lizabetta invited Cole to the ball, she doesn't blink an eye when Cinderella is the one who shows. The princess is elegant, bold, and everything Ella never knew she wanted. For a moment she glimpses a world that can accept her, and she holds on tight.
She should have known it wouldn't last. Dumped by her wicked stepmother on the farthest edge of the kingdom, Ella must find a way to let go of the princess and the beautiful life they shared for an hour. She'll never find her way back. But it's hard to forget the greatest night of her life when every rose she plants is a reminder.
Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West
In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner's birthday party together.
Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant's birthday party and trying to do a really good job.
Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw
Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it). The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month.
Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks.
Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to? Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague. What’s a werebear to do?
A Lover's Mercy by Fiona Zedde
Mai Redstone prowls Atlanta as its hero, Mercy, trying to save people from themselves and each other. With her newly discovered, stronger powers, she acts as if she’s invincible. To those who know her though, she’s as delicate as a cobra lily.
Xóchitl is the complete opposite. Violence comes naturally to her. Hard-hearted and thick-skinned, the softest thing about her is her love for Mai. As part of an elite law-enforcement team in the secret Meta community, Xóchitl hunts and punishes anyone who dares to break their rules.
But when Mai is in danger from her own powerful family, Xóchitl’s soft underbelly is exposed. How can she protect Mai when she can’t even tell allies from enemies? For the first time in her life, Xóchitl feels as threatened as the vulnerable humans Mai protects.
Xóchitl is used to being the strongest one in the room, but when she suddenly isn’t, will she allow herself to surrender to her lover’s mercy?
Lord of the Last Heartbeat by May Peterson
Stop me. Please.
Three words scrawled in bloodred wine. A note furtively passed into the hand of a handsome stranger. Only death can free Mio from his mother’s political schemes. He’s put his trust in the enigmatic Rhodry—an immortal moon soul with the power of the bear spirit—to put an end to it all.
But Rhodry cannot bring himself to kill Mio, whose spellbinding voice has the power to expose secrets from the darkest recesses of the heart and mind. Nor can he deny his attraction to the fair young sorcerer. So he spirits Mio away to his home, the only place he can keep him safe—if the curse that besieges the estate doesn’t destroy them both first.
In a world teeming with mages, ghosts and dark secrets, love blooms between the unlikely pair. But if they are to be strong enough to overcome the evil that draws ever nearer, Mio and Rhodry must first accept a happiness neither ever expected to find.
Raine by Elizabeth Amber
The last in a fabled line of otherworldly aristocracy, the Lords of Satyr are born to wealth, power, and a talent for sensual delight that mere mortals only dream of. Commanded to marry, these passionate men will travel to Rome, Venice, and Paris--and along the way will explore desires both shamelessly wicked and blissfully divine...
As A Lover, His Skills Are Legendary...
The middle brother, Raine, is both sensual and stoic. Scarred by once taking a wife who could not accept his carnal needs, he wants no part in another marriage. But duty commands that he fulfill his promise to wed King Feydon's second daughter, Jordan...
But In Matters Of The Heart, He Has Much To Learn...
The loyal satyr begins a search that leads him from Tuscany to romantic Venice, where his beautiful bride awaits, unaware of what passionate delights fate has planned for her. Raine is careful not to reveal his powerful satyr sexuality, for fear of driving yet another woman away. But unbeknownst to him, Jordan is no ordinary woman and was born with an insatiable appetite for love. And as Raine's heart begins to melt for her, how long will he be able to hide his true nature when Jordan seems to want him so fiercely?
Pantomime by Laura Lim
In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more...
Gene's life resembles a debutante's dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities - last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.
The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as 'Micah Grey', Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight - but the circus has a dark side. She's also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?
Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox
While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though — he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.
Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.
Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.
Mr March Names the Stars by Rivka Aarons-Hughes
Wes loves his life traveling the Pagan festival circuit, but he loved it more when he wasn't harangued by women a little too fond of his picture in a popular charity calendar—a calendar that mucked up his bio by stating that he's single, but leaving out that he's not straight.
Wes's appeals to the company to change the bio come to nothing until Nash, a lawyer from the company, shows up and promises to do all he can to fix the problem. But though Wes quickly grows fond of Nash, and the interest seems mutual, the calendar problem shows no signs of being fixed...
Thaw by Elyse Springer
Abigail is content with her quiet life as a librarian. But when she’s invited to a high-profile charity auction, she finds herself dancing with one of the most beautiful women she’s ever met. Abby’s sure she’ll never see her again, but then Gabrielle calls and asks her on a date. And soon after, another.
Supermodel Gabrielle Levesque has a reputation as the Ice Queen—cold and untouchable—except she warms up whenever she’s with Abby. Only Abby isn’t interested in the heat between them; she’s asexual, and she’s worried that admitting as much to Gabrielle might spell the end of their blooming romance.
They’re two different women from two very different worlds, but Abby knows she can love Gabrielle. Her passion for books, travel, and theater prove there’s more to the Ice Queen than meets the eye. But they’ll have to overcome Abby’s fears—and Gabrielle’s own threatening secrets—in order to find their way to love.
Soft on Soft by Em Ali
June Bana might post nearly daily makeup looks that gain thousands of likes but Real Life June has built a wall behind which she exists with her two cats.
But with messy feelings getting in a way of early hermit life, June begins to realize that she wants more. She wants model/actress, Sunshine Reincarnated Selena Clarke. It doesn't hurt that Selena is amazing with cats and quiets down June's anxiety to bearable levels.
June is given the choice of facing her anxieties about relationships to gain not only a girlfriend but also a better understanding of how far she'd go for love. But would she take it? Would she leave her comfort zone for something softer?
That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert
She wants a fake relationship. He needs something real.
If there’s one thing Rae can’t stand, it’s pity. She’s forty, frazzled, and fed up—so attending an awards ceremony alone while her ex swans about with his new wife? Not an option. To avoid total humiliation, Rae needs a date of her own. And her young, hot-as-hell new best friend is the perfect candidate…
Zach Davis, king of casual hookups, has a secret: the notorious womaniser craves emotional connection, and anonymous encounters leave him feeling hollow. After years of performance, Zach’s desperate to be himself. So why does he agree to play Rae’s fake boyfriend? And why does it feel so easy?
When the line between pretence and desire blurs, Zach’s forced to face an unexpected truth: there’s nothing phoney about his need for Rae. But the jaded divorcée’s been hurt by playboy men before. Can a weekend of faking it prove that Zach’s for real?
Bite Me by K. B. Rainwater
If martial arts champion Kerry Thomas were the sort to be interested in romance, she'd have long ago accepted one of the blind dates with her mentor's hot cousins. But she's not, and the last thing she needs right now is to get tangled with the scoundrel who's hitting on her at the Renaissance Faire. If that's not bad enough, her twin sister insists that he's a vampire.
Jacques Dumond has been alive for over three centuries, and in all that time he's never met anyone as intriguing as Kerry. She's a mystery he wants to unravel, a puzzle he wants to solve. Though he ought to return to his ship, he finds himself lingering on shore, just so that he might remain close to her. In doing so, he courts the danger of her discovering his secret: that not only is he a pirate, but he's the most wanted vampire to sail the seven seas.
But Kerry has secrets of her own, secrets that could threaten the fabric of their budding relationship. As desire and duty war within her, will she betray the principles she holds dear--or destroy the only man she has ever loved?
Syncopation by Anna Zabo
Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.
Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.
Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.