Just like last year, we're celebrating Pride and summer by giving queer recommendations for The Ripped Bodice's Summer Romance Bingo!
A few notes:
Some of the categories we stretched a wee bit.
We've tried to leave off the books we recommended last year.
Some of these we haven't read and are planning to read them for our own bingo cards, but we've tried to eliminate those with problematic rep and/or give content warnings below.
So here's the deal with the Summer Romance Bingo:
- Full rules, recommendations from The Ripped Bodice, and a downloadable/printable card are over here at The Ripped Bodice's site.
- Where we can, we've given a link to purchase each book at The Ripped Bodice. We do get a little affiliate bump from those sales, but mostly we're hoping you can buy some of your books from TRB since they're running this whole thing.
- The contest runs from June 1 - August 31, 2019. Pride is, of course, just the month of June, but that shouldn't stop you from reading LGBTQIA+ books whenever the heck you want. During the month of June, we'll be tweeting out these recommendations and posting them on our Instagram.
This post contains affiliate links.
Without further ado, on with the recs!
Beach on the Cover
Bliss, by Fiona Zedde
This is an erotic lesbian romance set in Jamaica that also fits in the "Character's Name in Title" category. This novel was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and is on Suzanne's Kindle, waiting for a beach day.
Undue Influence, by Jenny Holiday
A contemporary m/m retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. You can read Margrethe's review recommending it here. This is technically a pier, but we say it counts.
Perfect Day, by Sally Malcolm
Next Door Neighbor
Covet Thy Neighbor, by LA Witt
A tattoo artist and a pastor who happen to be neighbors.
Ebook and Audio are on Hoopla.
Band Sinister, KJ Charles
This is a fluffy historical romance with heroes who have neighboring homes and a sweet secondary romance. Read Ana's review here. (Suzanne and Margrethe also rec it.)
On the Page Atheist
It Takes Two to Tumble, by Cat Sebastian
A vicar and an atheist in a Sound of Music sort of setup. There are ducklings and unruly children (who are not mean but run around and climb trees) plus a polyam father. You can read Suzanne's full review here.
Band Sinister, KJ Charles
Yes, we just recommended this for the neighbors category, but there's also an atheist. Multiple, honestly. The men in the Murder have bucked many conventions, organized religion being one of them.
Just for Show, by Jae
This romance is between an author and the actress she hires to pretend to be her fiancee for a few weeks. It's a Suzanne rec and you can read her review here.
Everything Leads to You, by Nina La Coeur
This is an Andrea rec and this from the blurb sounds magical:
When she and her best friend, Charlotte, discover a mysterious letter at the estate sale of a Hollywood film legend, Emi must move beyond the walls of her carefully crafted world to chase down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life, leading her to uncover a decades’ old secret and the potential for something truly epic: love.
Echo After Echo, by Amy Rose Capetta
This young adult romance pairs an actress and an assistant lighting director at the Aurelia Theater. Plus mystery!
An Unsuitable Heir, by KJ Charles
Pen is a genderfluid trapeze artist who performs with his twin sister. (He uses he/his pronouns.) This book also works for the Someone Wears a Costume square.
Twisted Wishes Series, by Anna Zabo
Roan Parrish's Riven Series
More queer rockstars! Andrea will be reviewing Raze before release day on July 2. Links are to the first book in the series, Riven.
Salt Magic, Skin Magic, by Lee Welch
Read Eva's review here. She was more critical of the book, but Margrethe, Suzanne, and Ana have also read and recommend this one. If you hate the cover, I'm sorry, but it's really very good. The premise is that a young man is trapped on his family's estate by a curse, and a visitor might just be his ticket out. Audio is on Hoopla.
Charlie Adhara's Big Bad Wolf series
Ana gave us a review of this trilogy earlier this year. They've got a mystery element and obviously... wolves. Links below are to the first in series.
Wolfsong, by TJ Klune
If you like this one, it's just the first in series! This rec comes from Ana, but we don't have a review up. If you need content warnings, please feel free to ask.
Port Lewis Witches series by Brooklyn Ray
Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, Nathan Burgoine
Many of Holley Trent's books, including The Coyote's Comfort
Hmm, spies? We stretched this prompt a bit. Except for the last one, which has a legit assassin.
Mr. & Mr. Smith, by Helen Kay Dimon
Not quite assassins, but they're undercover and up to some questionable things. But also keeping many secrets. Let's pretend they're assassins.
Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
This series is currently transitioning publishers, so not all of the books are available right now, but it's m/m with Special Agents crime-solving! This rec comes from Andrea. Links are to Crash & Burn (Book 9, sorry).
Hither Page, by Cat Sebastian
From the blurb:
A jaded spy and a shell shocked country doctor team up to solve a murder in postwar England.
AKA - "Agatha Christie, but make it gay."
Unmasked by the Marquess, by Cat Sebastian
This square is so hard for queer romance. *sob* Anyway, a secondary pairing in the novel elopes. Here is Amy's review.
Takes Place in Multiple Countries
American Fairytale, by Adriana Herrera
This book has scenes in both the United States and the Dominican Republic. Read Ana's full review here. (We've also got this one in the grandparent category!)
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee
Since this book is essentially one giant road trip, it fits this category perfectly. We even mentioned it in our 2018 RomBkLove Road Trip post!
One Last Heist, by Dahlia Donovan
This rec comes from Andrea and has husbands who do crime together! Heists, in particular. Content Warning: Mack has a degenerative eye disease and we can't speak to the rep.
Finders Keepers, by NR Walker
This is a tricky category since so many queer folks have strained family ties, but Andrea says this one has found-grandparent vibes.
We had it on last year's list, but this is tough category.
American Fairytale, by Adriana Herrera
This is the second in Herrera's debut series and you can read Ana's review of it here.
Heroine Smells Like a Flower
The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, by Olivia Waite
Waite's debut f/f historical comes out on June 25th and we're super excited for it. Ana's review will go up soon and we'll link it then!
A Lady's Desire, by Lily Maxton
This f/f historical novella is connected to Maxton's Townsend series and the m/m story is in the Kilts category. Margrethe recommended it here.
Amazon (Kindle Unlimited)
Both Leads Over 50
Hooked on You, by Jenn Matthews
This f/f romance pairs two divorcees complete with grown kids and lots of lived experience. As you might guess, it's full of crochet!
Margrethe's review is here.
Twice in a Lifetime, by Jodie Griffin
This f/f romance pairs a Jewish widow with a police officer. The title comes from this part of the blurb:
Then Eve is badly injured in the line of duty, and Talia’s worst fears are realized. She may lose her chance at happiness with the woman she’s come to love, and she can’t survive that kind of loss twice in a lifetime.
Mrs Martin's Incomparable Adventure, by Courtney Milan
Also works for Title Includes Character's Name! This book is like a unicorn - an f/f historical romance with characters over 50. There's some foiling of a sh*tty nephew, too.
Title Includes Character's Name
The Remaking of Corbin Wale, by Roan Parrish
This is a weird, quiet, vaguely spooky m/m romance between a young baker who returns to town and the loner he went to high school with. Corbin Wale has frequented the cafe for years, coming in every day and sitting with his sketchbook. It's hard to describe but totally transports the reader. The audiobook is on Hoopla.
Patience and Sarah, by Isabel Miller
Patience and Sarah is a classic historical lesbian romance between a painter and a farmer in 19th century New England. It was one of the books that galvanized the gay and lesbian community in the '60s and '70s, and was re-released by Arsenal Pulp Press as part of an effort to revive out-of-print gay and lesbian classics. If you need content warnings, please ask.
Don't Date Rosa Santos, by Nina Moreno
The romance in this book is m/f, but high school senior Rosa has dated both boys and girls in the past. (Not sure how she identifies.) The book has a touch of magical realism, plus lots of food and family and a love interest who bakes and sails. (Full review to come.) Content warning for death of family member and grief.
Also works for Tarot, Takes Place in Multiple Countries, and Sassy Grandparent. You could use it as a stretch for Beach on the Cover. Audiobook is on Hoopla.
The True Queen, by Zen Cho
An f/f historical fantasy with dragons. Not quite a romance, but with romantic elements. Margrethe's review is here if you want more details.
Smoke Signals, by Meredith Katz
This is part gaming romance part "dragon wants tech service in exchange for gold." You'll just have to read the blurb. This rec comes from Ana and also works for the Queer Paranormal square.
Breaking His Spell, by Foster Bridget Cassidy
This novella is on Suzanne's TBR. We're not sure where the dragon is in the book, but there's one on the cover! This line sold it though: "While he tries potions, Carishina tries kisses. Only one of them will succeed." Bwahaha! Who wants to be it's the kisses?
Her Royal Highness, by Rachel Hawkins
This is sort of cheating, but the word "kilt" is in the book... This is an f/f young adult romance with a teenager from the US going to a private school in Scotland and falling for... a Scottish princess. This rec comes from Margrethe, who read the audiobook.
A Scot's Surrender, by Lily Maxton
This recommendation comes from Margrethe (read her review here), who liked it so much she read everything else she could get from Lily Maxton. It's part of a series with m/f, m/m, and f/f pairings.
Avery Cockburn's Glasgow Lads series
This rec comes from Sarah (@queer_reader), and the books are about a team of queer Scottish soccer players.
The Rest is Silence, by Chii Rempel
Andrea reviewed this book earlier this year, and it's a queer Hamlet retelling of all things. Even though it's based on Shakespeare's fictional kingdom, we're calling it historical fiction.
The Prince & The Dressmaker, by Jen Wang
This graphic novel features a genderqueer prince and a dressmaker who helps him transform into the glamorous Lady Crystallia at night. It's sweet and Suzanne loved the dresses.
Dates I & II Comics Anthologies, from Margins Comics
These are queer comics anthologies that feature romances throughout history. They're so fun and sweet and really validating if you're a queer reader. Suzanne reviewed Dates I and Dates II, and noted that the stories were more diverse and better curated in the second volume. You can buy them direct here.
Also - A Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee, which was on last year's list and is in the Multiple Countries list.
Wine & Spirits
The Beyond Series, by Kit Rocha
In case you missed it, Ana's such a fan of this series that she's co-hosting a podcast about it! Anyway, the characters are part of a group that runs a whiskey distillery and distribution gig in a post-dystopian society. The bar is central to the story. Kit Rocha call these characters a "Bisexual Love Army." The books and audio are widely available on Hoopla and Scribd and Audible etc.
Love at Last Call, by M. Ullrich
This is a New Adult (ish?) lesbian romance that Suzanne recommended last year. One of the heroines owns a bar and after she and the other heroine become friends, offers her a job when she's down on her luck. It manages to not be weird about the power dynamic though.
Annabeth Albert's Rainbow Cove Series
These books are set in and around a bar and like the rest of Albert's romances, are m/m. Ebooks are only in KU, but audio is on Hoopla and elsewhere.
Available in Kindle Unlimited
If you feel like stretching the prompt a little bit and reading romantic suspense, you might also try Layla Reyne's Agents Irish and Whiskey series, which starts with Single Malt. Also works for assassins maybe? It's a bigger stretch for that category as they are secret agents.
Caroline's Heart, by Austin Chant
This is a trans steampunk cowboy Western novella. We don't have a review up, but Ana recommends it! This one and Peter Darling also fit for Queer Paranormal, and we think you should ready pretty much anything Chant has written.
The Midnight Twelve, by Hairann
This is a classic western, with revenge and outlaws and a saloon, but one of the main characters is genderqueer. None of us have read it (it's a new release) and you should probably read the content warnings here.
Red Dirt Heart, by NR Walker
This recommendation comes from Andrea and is a cowboy romance set in Australia with a local rancher and an American agronomy student. You should know, however, that the first volume doesn't stand alone. It's a series following the same couple.
The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal, by E.K. Weaver
This is a big road trip across the country and it's one of the most frequently recommended modern queer romance comics. If you're going to buy this, we highly suggest picking up the definitive edition at Iron Circus, since it includes all the shorts and is cheaper than Amazon. (Better and cheaper = the best.)
Beta Test, Status Update and Arctic Sun, by Annabeth Albert
Albert apparently likes a road trip, but she's also a very prolific author of contemporary m/m so it could just be that there's a lot to choose from. The first two of these are in her Gaymers series (geeky) and the third is an Alaska-set book that Andrea reviewed recently. Links to the first two books are in the title, Artic Sun links below. Audio is on Hoopla.
Signal Boost, by Alyssa Cole
Post-apocalyptic road trip? This m/m romance is one big dystopian hike. It's the second in a series, but each stands pretty well alone. The first book, Radio Silence, is m/f and features the best friend and the brother of one of these two heroes.
Fly With Me, by Hudson Lin
This is a bit of a stretch since they're in an airplane... but we say it counts! Margrethe recommended it in her review. (Bonus: it's short!)
Play it Again, by Aidan Wayne
This is an m/m romance between a blind YouTuber in the US and an asexual Let's Player (gaming streamer) in Ireland. The romance is mostly through DMs and chat until they finally meet in person. Suzanne gave it a mini-review here. It's very fluffy. Audio is on Hoopla.
IRL, by Lucy Lennox and Molly Maddox
This m/m accidental-photo-text romance also works for the Epistolary category. There's also an audiobook on Audible if you prefer, but everything seems Amazon exclusive EXCEPT the paperback, which you can get at TRB.
Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston
This New Adult debut pairs the son of the US President with a British prince. Also works for Royalty. Content Warning: Forced outing.
Captive Prince, by C.S. Pacat
First in a gay fantasy romance trilogy, complete with court intrigue and deadly political machinations. Content Warning right in the first paragraph of the blurb:
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Of Fire and Stars, by Audrey Coulthurst
This is the first of Coulthurst's queer fantasy romances and features a princess and the sister of her betrothed (also a princess). The audiobook is on Hoopla.
A Prince on Paper, by Alyssa Cole
Johan is a Bad Boy bisexual prince who's been playing a part to deflect attention from his brother, the heir to the throne. Enter Nya, who's back in Thesolo for the royal wedding. Oh, and did we mention the Fake Engagement?
The Tales of Inthya series, by Effie Calvin (three books)
Her Royal Highness, by Rachel Hawkins
Ivan, by Kit Rocha
Princess, Princess Ever After, by Katie O'Neill (graphic novel)
Toil & Trouble Anthology
A few stories have a queer romance plot, while the rest of the book is comprised of a whole bunch of diverse witches. Content Warning for sexual assault in a couple of the stories.
These Witches Don't Burn, by Isabel Sterling
This one is billed as "equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery" and has two witches falling in love. It's on Suzanne's nightstand, so no content warnings yet.
Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Córdova
There's a very brief mention of a Tarot card in one scene. We're counting it. The MC is bi and this is a bit of a love triangle.
Someone Wears a Costume
Hot Dog Girl, by Jen Dugan
"A fresh and funny contemporary YA rom-com about teens working as costumed characters in a local amusement park."
On Suzanne's TBR so we don't have content warnings yet.
Breaking Character, by Lee Winter
You can read Margrethe's review of this f/f actress romance here. Audio is on Hoopla if that's of interest.
Fire on the Ice, by Tamsen Parker
"Snow & Ice Games" f/f sports romance. Maisy is a figure skater. Content Warning for forced outing.
How Not to Ask a Boy to Prom, by S.J. Goslee
This is on the ever-growing TBR pile, but it fits this prompt perfectly! Here's the blurb:
Nolan Grant is sixteen, gay, and very, very single.
He's never had a boyfriend, or even been kissed. It's not like Penn Valley is exactly brimming with prospects. Nolan plans to ride out the rest of his junior year drawing narwhals, working at the greenhouse, and avoiding anything that involves an ounce of school spirit.
Unfortunately for him, his adoptive big sister has other ideas. Ideas that involve too-tight pants, a baggie full of purple glitter, and worst of all: a Junior-Senior prom ticket.
One Ghosted Twice Shy, by Alyssa Cole
This is a novella in the Reluctant Royals series, told in two timelines - when the MCs first meet and when they're reunited. There's a ghosting plot, but it's for a good reason. Read Ana's review here.
Sunstone, by Stjepan Sejic
A BDSM erotic romance comic told in 5 volumes. Surprisingly funny and populated with a (very white) kinky and supportive cast. Suzanne put it in her Top 5 romance comics of 2017 post.
Paper Love, by Jae
Jae's gentle f/f workplace romance starts out with a touch of enemies-to-lovers but quickly morphs into a story of two women working to save a struggling stationary shop. It's a great book for when you want to be reminded of life's quieter pleasures like crafting, writing longhand, and reading. Suzanne's review is here.
If I Loved You Less, by Tamsen Parker
This is a retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, set in Hawaii. Surfing, baking, and falling in love. Margrethe's review is here.
And that's the list! What will you be reading this summer?