It's Pride month! It's also the start of The Ripped Bodice's Summer Romance Bingo game/contest!
We here at Love in Panels decided to go ahead and mash the two together for some extra queer fun, and we've got recommendations for each of the squares. (Some of them we stretched a wee bit.) 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, 2018. 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 fancy new Instagram.
Without further ado, on with the recs!
Running With Lions, by Julian Winters
A debut YA set at soccer camp, featuring a diverse group of queer characters and a bisexual boy MC. (Andrea is reviewing this if you want to wait for her thoughts.) You can also use this for the Camp square!
At Attention, Annabeth Albert
One of the heroes plays on a recreational soccer team, but it's mainly a gentle story about a widower and his best friend's younger brother falling in love.
Fairy Tale Retelling
Two anthologies of LGBTQIA+ fairytale retellings! Ninestar Press does a solid job of curating their anthologies.
Once Upon a Rainbow Vol 1
Once Upon a Rainbow Vol 2
The Lawrence Browne Affair, by Cat Sebastian
Not exactly a direct retelling, but this is totally a Beauty and the Beast story, but where the beauty is a grifter and the beast is a genius (he just thinks he's a beast). (Side note - this was Suzanne's first Cat Sebastian book and the one that got her hooked. There's a giant dog and a crumbling house, plus science!)
The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman
This is an f/f retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It was controversial enough when Gaiman published it that you could only get it in the UK for a while... because the two women kiss. *laughs* It's prose, with gorgeous illustrations by Chris Riddell.
A Scot's Surrender, by Lily Maxton
Lightning, a storm, and washed out roads force the heroes to stay in a castle together while unwanted guests intrude on their growing attraction. You can read Margrethe's review here.
Fearless, by Shira Glassman
Trapped in a hotel for a music competition, a newly out mother falls for her kid's music teacher. A super cute short story that's a lovely distraction just before bed.
Hot Head, by Damon Suede
Full disclosure, I haven't read this, but I have it on my TBR. When Suede is mentioned, Hot Head is usually one of the books discussed. And reportedly, if there was a category for kilts, this would qualify.
The Ripped Bodice also recommended this one in their list!
Young Adult Paranormal
The first two books of a trilogy about teens in a world where superheroes and supervillains are sort of ordinary stuff.
Not Your Sidekick, by C.B. Lee
Jessica accepts an internship with a supervillain where she also gets to work beside her long-time crush.
Not Your Villain, by C.B. Lee
Bells is a shapeshifter and also the world's most wanted villain, but that doesn't mean he gets to ignore college applications and his crush on his best friend.
Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova
The first in the Brooklyn Brujas series, about a family of Latinx witches in Brooklyn. The sequel just came out, but focuses on a different sister. The heroine in LL is bisexual, and it's on page. (Suzanne is currently reading/listening to this one.)
The Turning Point, by Amy Paine
This is the first in a series of three f/f novelettes that (probably?) combine to make a complete romance. The Turning Point is essentially erotica, with a hint that they might eventually figure their stuff out. Both women are closeted, both of them are in relationships with men at the time, and this first book is mostly just them having sex in a train carriage. It's short and $0.99, so if you need to fill the square, this might be the book for you. Just don't expect that HEA yet. (Content warning for some exoticization of the biracial heroine.)
Damaged Like Us, by Krista & Becca Ritchie
A bodyguard romance with sex in a car... yes, it's a stretch, but also almost the same thing. When Farrow and Maximoff give in to their desires in said car, it's... hot as hell.
EDIT: We've been told that this writing pair has treated their fans in some pretty awful ways in the past, so we're leaving it up because we did recommend it, but we don't recommend it any longer. Read the original tweets about this here.
Backwards to Oregon, by Jae
Again, a tiny stretch, but it's sex in a covered wagon. A couple of caveats for this book: there is some racism in regards to how the Native Americans are portrayed; Luke is likely a trans man, but the text never engages with that; and Margrethe also thinks it meanders a bit.
Knit One Girl Two, by Shira Glassman
One heroine is a hand dyer of yarn and the other is an artist. They are both super cute, into their cute clothes, and invested in their art.
Hold Me, by Courtney Milan
Suzanne gave this book a mini-review over here, but here's why it fits this category: the heroine not only dresses stylishly, she blings out her heels! She's quite tall, but she still wears these super femme, super high heels like a boss. It's a plot point when *spoilers redacted.*
A Fashionable Indulgence, by KJ Charles
With a radical past, Harry learns that he might be heir to a fortune, and a dandy, Julius, is enlisted to polish Harry in a Pygmalion story except where they definitely fall in love and we don't debate that for ages.
Set at Summer Camp
In Her Court
A cute best friend's sister love story at a summer camp for adults. Both women are nerds and geeks and they are so good for each other. (Bonus, Star Wars cosplay sexytimes!)
Enemies to Lovers
The Ruin of a Rake, by Cat Sebastian
Julian is a prickly guy very focused on appearances and very unhappy about the fact that a notorious rake, Courtenay, is hanging around Julian's married sister. He resents the contact with Courtenay and the fact that he can't resist the rake.
Peter Darling, by Austin Chant
A Peter Pan retelling except where Peter and Captain Hook fall in love, and you turn into a puddle of emotions.
This book would fit in several categories/bingo squares!
A Seditious Affair, by KJ Charles
They've been engaging in bedroom activities, but don't actually know who they are sleeping with. Silas is a seditionist and Dom is the official trying to arrest seditious writers, but then they discover they have been sleeping with their literal enemies.
The Pursuit Of... from Hamilton's Battalion, by Courtney Milan
All three of these stories are wonderful, but in Courtney Milan's The Pursuit Of..., the two heroes meet for the first time on opposite sides of a battle. Does it get more enemies-to-lovers than that? One hero is black and formerly enslaved, while the other is rich and white and titled back in England. It's fascinating and heartening to watch them come together on a long, long walk.
New Heights, by Quinn Anderson
Mika's flight is delayed, and an annoying (but hot) guy keeps hogging all the good power outlets. Which means war. In the middle of an airport.
Heroine's Eyes are Described Using the Ocean
Into the Mystic, Vol. 3 (Fire and Brine)
This was a hard category to nail down, but there is a story in an f/f fantasy/paranormal anthology that Suzanne read recently (review to come) called Fire and Brine that fits the bill. The story pairs a siren and a succubus, and the siren is, naturally, described using all sorts of mermaid/ocean adjectives.
Priddy's Tale, by Harper Fox
A Cornish man recovering from an overdose and attempting to manage his addiction, encounters a merman and falls in love with him. Some caveats: there's a fair amount of addiction discussed here, there is a magic peen that disappears Priddy's addictive urges, and some complicated merman anatomy. (Find Margrethe if you have questions.)
The Seafarer's Kiss, by Julia Ember
This is a Little Mermaid retelling, but with a female viking (shieldmaiden) and a mermaid! It's YA and there's a companion novel coming out in September.
Peter Darling, by Austin Chant
Honestly, this is not a mermaid story, but they are present in the story. Still as highly recommended as mentioned above. The puddle of emotions you become is a good thing.
Overexposed, Megan Erickson
Levi is a reality star hiking the Appalachian Trail in an attempt to manage his grief. Then, he meets Thad on the trail, and they give into their attraction. Thad is demisexual, which is handled well, but he isn't the POV character, which is Margrethe's complaint.
From the blurb: Arthur Less almost falls in love in Paris, almost falls to his death in Berlin, barely escapes to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally books himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounters, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face.
This is probably the easiest category for us to populate, and anything we've named from KJ Charles, Cat Sebastian, or several others would fit here. We decided to spend our time filling in the other boxes for you, but here are a few more recs!
Daughter of Mystery, by Heather Rose Jones
An heiress and her bodyguard fall in love while unraveling intrigues and battling treachery with a touch of magic. (Suzanne is reading this for the bingo.)
The Doctor's Discretion
A doctor and a surgeon fall in love in 1830s New York while also rescuing a patient from a hospital. (Margrethe is reading this for bingo.)
Hero Named Harry
A Fashionable Indulgence, KJ Charles
Harry Vane leaves behind his radical past and falls in love with a dandy. Charming book is charming.
Book that is Now a Movie
Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters
There are two adaptations of Fingersmith, the miniseries and The Handmaiden. It is much more literary fiction than traditional romance, and very intense (I put it down for months because I didn't know how it could end well), but there's an HFN (probably HEA even).
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Adapted as Love, Simon, this is the story of Simon and his search for his internet crush. Both the book and movie are gentle, fluffy joys.
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
A retelling of the Iliad, as a story of the romance between Achilles and Patroclus. (Warning - HEA sort of happens after death.) Suzanne's mini-review of this is here.
Brothers of the Wild North Sea, by Harper Fox
A monk struggling with his desire for fun and adventure finds himself nursing an injured Viking back to health and falling in love. Like much of Fox's work, there's a notable fantasy/mysticism aspect. (On Margrethe's TBR.)
Hero smells like "MAN"
In the Middle of Somewhere, by Roan Parrish
Do you know how hard it is to find a queer book (that we'd recommend) that says that a hero smells like "man"? We couldn't do it, so this loosely fits. Daniel takes a job in small town Michigan and meets Rex, who challenges his desire to return to a city. While Daniel never says "he smells of pine and man," he does often reflect on the smell of Rex and Rex's scent being on sheets and clothes, so Margrethe think it counts.
In Memoriam, by Nathan Burgoine
A terminally ill man reflects on the one who got away. As he revisits memories and his diaries, time blurs and maybe he is getting a chance to do things differently. (Margrethe is reading this for bingo.)
Priddy's Tale, Harper Fox
Vague time travel. The merpeople in Priddy's Tale have a lot of unusual and unexpected abilities, including a version of time travel. As mentioned above, addiction is a major theme in case that's something you need a content warning on.
Jane, Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore
Quirky, bi Jane explores alternative universes and timelines while following the mysterious happenings inside a magical house.
Tech in the Big City
Status Update, by Annabeth Albert
After he's stranded in a campground, a video game designer has to rely on a stranger to give him a place to stay and then give him a ride cross country.
This is the first in a series of m/m #gaymer books, so most of them would probably fit the bill. Bonus - they're on Hoopla if your library has access.
Looking for Group, by Alexis Hall
This is a story of two gamers falling in love and eventually trying to figure out how to be together in the real world and the digital one. It's closed-door and takes place in college, so New Adult. You can read Suzanne's review here!
Heroine is Older than Hero
Burn Down the Night, by M O'Keefe
Heroine is older than hero is another tricky category for queer romance, but the heroine in this one is bisexual and older than the hero, so here ya go. Suzanne has this one on TBR Mountain, but hasn't read it yet, so no content warnings from us though we have been told it needs quite a few.
The Butterfly Tattoo, by Deidre Knight
A man grieving for his dead partner and trying to care for his daughter meets a woman who is attempting to manage her own physical and emotional scars. And together they begin to heal and find happiness. (Considering the description, there are probably some content warnings needed, but we haven't read it yet... it is on Margrethe's TBR for this summer.)
EDIT - we've gotten some CWs from readers now and it appears this book has a bunch of bi-erasure and dated/stereotypical language. We're not recommending it based on that, but leaving it here so you can make your own choices. CWs are in the comments if you scroll down.
Baby on the Cover
Rescued Heart, by Georgia Beers
We refuse to accept that The Ripped Bodice meant only human babies on the cover. Have you seen Fitz? We think Fitz would approve of bending this rule to allow puppies. You can read Margrethe's review of Rescued Heart here. It's a lesbian romance that takes place at a dog shelter and a book that Margethe recommends for anyone who wants a low-angst romance these days.
Finders Keepers, by NR Walker
Birds are Somehow Involved
The Magpie Lord, by KJ Charles
Historical m/m paranormal in which one of the characters has magpie tattoos all over his body that move during sex and/or magic times. First in a series. (Content warnings in a comment below!)
The 13th Hex, by Jordan Hawk
A short historical m/m paranormal with a crow familiar (shifter). This is actually the prequel short story for Hawk's Hexworld series that is on Margrethe's TBR list.
Return to Hometown
Blueberry Boys, by Vanessa North
After he inherits his uncle's blueberry farm, a man returns home to sell the farm, but falls in love with his uncle's tenant farmer instead.
You may see a different cover floating around, from before North got her rights back from Riptide. Same book!
It Takes Two to Tumble, by Cat Sebastian
A naval captain returns home to find his children out of control, but only somewhat managed by the handsome vicar. They sort of try to resist each other, but that barely lasts. And there are ducklings. Suzanne's review is here.
Take Me Home, by Lorelie Brown
Two women pretend to be dating for a family Thanksgiving, but then, oops, fall in love.
Pansies, by Alexis Hall
Alfie goes back to his hometown for his friend's wedding, spends the night with a hot boy who ends up being the boy he bullied in high school, and is so charmed by Fen that he ends up staying in town much longer than he planned.
Damsel in Distress
Cinnamon Blade: Knife in Shining Armor, by Shira Glassman
Superhero Cinnamon Blade saves Soledad a bunch of times before they get together. Suzanne reviewed it here!
My Lady's Lover, by Nicola Davidson
Beatrice is a lady's maid and in love with her mistress, Amelia. Over the course of this historical erotic romance, Beatrice helps Amelia find the strength to escape her abusive husband and also rebuild her life after things fall apart.