Pride Month Reads 2020


Boy, am I late. Feel free to blame it on: 55 hour work weeks, an out of control TBR list, a family vacation to Michigan, or my cats (and husband) needing occasional attention. But better late than never, so let me introduce you to some of the amazing LGBTQIA+ reads I've injected directly into my brain via my eyes over the last year (or at least the ones I managed to remember by scrolling through my Kindle app and skimming my bookshelves.


I'm going to section it off my category for easier scrolling. I'm also tossing in a few books I haven't read, but whose awesome authors responded to my story about LGBTQIA+ reads (so, if you don't follow me on Instagram you should because wham you might get your books featured here).

Contemporary


Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert


Blurb: Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all...but in reality, he's scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control. Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection...but even he can't help but feel a little broken inside. When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way―even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

Trope: Enemies to Lovers

LBGTQIA+ representation: Gay with a cast featuring a wide range of sexualities

My thoughts: I'm always searching for books with nerdy protagonists (because I'm a huge nerd married to a huge nerd) and this book fit that criteria to a T. I'm not really into gaming (cards, boards, or video versions), but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book one bit. I loved watching two young enemies grow to tolerate one another and then grow to love one another while bonding over their love of a common interest.


Work For It by Talia Hibbert



Blurb: In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot. When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious. And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again. The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me.

Trope: Enemies to Lovers

LBGTQIA+ representation: Gay/Queer

My thoughts: I love Talia Hibbert and I love this book. Grumpy heroes are my jam and Griffin is the absolute best because he's neither very handsome nor very smart which puts him leagues above all these cookie-cutter alpha males with perfect looks and brains to match. He's different. This book had so much sarcasm and witty banter that I didn't even care that it's a slow-burn!


American Squire by Sierra Simone (audiobook)


Blurb: Former presidential aide Ryan Belvedere has been drifting in a fog of misery ever since his president was killed, but he reluctantly agrees to do a favor for a friend—fetching a rare book from a crumbling manor house in England. There he meets Sidney Blount—cold, sophisticated, Dominant—who’s at the same house to appraise the family art. It doesn’t take Sidney long to appraise Ryan too, and decide exactly what Ryan needs. Which just so happens to be the one thing Sidney wants to give…

Trope: BDSM, Forbidden

LBGTQIA+ representation: Gay

My thoughts: I listened to this audiobook from Read Me Romance while walking on the treadmill at the gym and it felt super wrong. But so damn right. The audiobook is free on the podcast so there's literally no reason not to read it. Erm, listen to it.


Out of the Office by Louisa Masters


Blurb: Whoever thought achieving career goals could be boring? Not Duncan Witten, but here he is at forty-one, in his dream job… and hating it. Throw it all away for a challenge? Yes, please! If only Dunc had known his challenging new job came with Paul Hanks, a man who redefines “stubborn.” They need to work together to meet targets, but thanks to Dunc’s idiot predecessor, Paul won’t take his calls or reply to emails. There’s only one solution: travel across the country and confront Paul face-to-face. It’s time to take things out of the office.

Trope: Office romance

LGBTQIA+ representation: Gay

My thoughts: A really cute, short read. Unfortunately, it's fade-to-black (wah wah) but the build-up was good enough to make up for it. It was nice to read about more mature characters and who doesn't love a bit of forbidden romance?


Building Forever by Kelly Jensen


Blurb: Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine. Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore. But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Trope: First time with a man (is that a trope?), Widower (again, trope?)

LGBTQIA+ representation: Bisexual/Gay

My thoughts: No erotica here. A sweet, sexy slow-burn that elicited real tears from my eyes. I normally shy away from novels with widows/widowers because the feelings are strong, but this book really tackled the emotions with thoughtfulness.


Endless Stretch of Blue by Riley Hart


Blurb: Lorenzo Moretti and Damon Blackwell have never met, but they're tied together by the same tragedy. They were both therethat night. They each lost someone they loved. They've been living as shells of their former selves ever since. Running into each other and realizing their shared pasts? Pure serendipity. Being together is a tingle at the base of Enzo's spine, a comfort that settles into Damon's bones. No one understands what they went through the night the club caught fire--until now. For the first time, they have someone to lean on, someone who knows all the right things to say and when to say nothing at all. Neither of them has been with another man before, but their shared connection grows from friendship and explodes into something more, something raw and desperate and real. Now, they're dealing not only with their pasts, but their new relationship, the one thing that calms their internal storms. Enzo and Damon might not know much else, but with every touch, with every word, and every night spent exploring each other's bodies, they know they're in love. They keep each other going, show each other what happiness really is. But love alone can't get them through. Damon and Enzo must decide if they really have what it takes to work through their trauma and fight for the happily ever after that's waiting just on the horizon.

Trope: Sexuality Discovery, First Time with a Man, Friends to Lovers

LGBTQIA+ representation: Bisexual

My thoughts: This book is not one that I've read personally, but my friend hopped in my DMs earlier today about it. She said the following, "I also read another book the other day that you have to read... I had to force myself to go to bed at 1 am on Saturday night and when I woke up at 7:30 am, way before my alarm, I went straight to the book instead of social media. Two straight guys connected by a tragedy and then they just...Boom. Also completely amazing writing and heart-wrenching story."


Once Ghosted Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

Blurb: 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.

Trope: Second chance, Royalty

LGBTQIA+ representation: Lesbian/Bisexual

My thoughts: A short and sweet novella by an amazing author with a reputation for writing diverse and captivating characters.

The D--- in 403 B by Jess Bryant


Blurb: Declan Ward has been called a lot of things in his life. Drug baby, delinquent and dirty little gay boy just to name a few. As a child in foster care, he heard it all and as an adult he knows better than to worry about what other people think of him. But when he gets into a war of words with his neighbor, he earns a new nickname and this time, it’s one he likes, one he decides he should definitely live up to. After all, the new guy never actually said what it was the D stands for in his letters, but Declan has a few ideas and would be more than happy to show him. Brett Coburn is a mature, respectable adult. He doesn’t get into arguments and he doesn’t name call like a kid on the playground. It doesn’t matter that the guy in 403B is the best-looking man Brett has ever laid eyes on. He’s a dickhead and Brett has the letters to prove it. That’s why nobody is more surprised than Brett when their thinly veiled threatening letters take a turn for the fun and flirtatious. Is it possible they have more in common than they realized? Can they overcome the rough start to their friendship and turn it into something more? Or if they let their relationship become about more than just the “D” are they both bound to end up broken hearted?

Trope: Enemies to Lovers

LGBTQIA+ representation: Gay

My thoughts: I haven't read this one personally, but after reading and loving The Flatshare and it's 'leaving notes' thing, I think I would enjoy this. So many Goodreads reviews mentioned the adorable note-leaving/almost penpal situation they have going on. Other good features of this book: dogs, mental illness representation, love conquers all vibes, gruff hero, rough childhoods, and lots of sexiness. Apparently a great read for those who like brooding artists paired with polite and well-mannered heroes who are working through difficult pasts.


Step Into Love by Lili Draguer


Blurb: Colton Johnson has successfully buried the crazy attraction he feels for his younger stepbrother for so long, he can pretend he’s not attracted to Asher at all. Graduating and dealing with the daily chore that is his bipolar disorder are the only two things on his mind. Then Colton makes the impulsive decision to accept his stepmother’s invitation to visit. What Colton doesn’t know is that Asher has been making plans. With boundless enthusiasm, good looks, and endless amounts of persistence Asher Miller usually gets what he wants. The one plan that hasn’t worked out for him is falling in love. He never thought his off limits, damaged, hot-as-sin stepbrother would be the one to catch his heart. For years Asher has squashed down his forbidden desire but now he’s eighteen, he’s following Colton’s footsteps to college…and all bets are off. It’s time to take the steps that will seduce Colton into love.

Trope: Step-Sibling, Forbidden Romance, Mental Illness

LGBTQIA+ representation: Gay

My thoughts: This is another one that I haven't read myself, but damn it sounds so good. When I usually read step-sibling romances it tends to be that both characters are sort of fighting the attraction because they know it's "wrong" but in this book one of the heroes is persistently flirting with the other, which I'd probably adore. Goodreads reviewers enjoyed the depth and serious subject matter paired with steamy scenes of forbidden step-sibling romance. They also said that the bipolar disorder was covered respectfully and truthfully.


Romantic Comedy


Rule Breaker (+the rest of the Mixed Messages series) by Lily Morton

Blurb: Dylan has worked for Gabe for two years. Two long years of sarcastic comments. Two long years of insults, and having to redo the coffee pot four times in the mornings to meet his exacting standards. Not surprisingly he has devoted a lot of time to increasingly inventive ways to murder Gabe. From stabbing him with a cake fork, to garrotting him with his expensive tie, Dylan has thought of everything. However, a chance encounter opens his eyes to the attraction that has always lain between them, concealed by the layers of antipathy. There are only two problems - Gabe is still a bastard, and he makes wedding planners look like hardened pessimists. But what happens when Dylan starts to see the real Gabe? What happens when he starts to fall in love with the warm, wary man that he sees glimpses of as the days pass? Because Gabe is still the same commitment shy, cold man that he’s always been, or is he? Has Dylan had the same effect on Gabe, and has his solid gold rule of no commitment finally been broken? With his heart taken Dylan desperately needs to know, but will he get hurt trying to find the answers?

Trope: Enemies to Lovers, Office Romance

LGBTQIA+ representation: Gay

My thoughts: An amazing romantic comedy that (low and behold) actually made me laugh out loud. Who can resist two characters who can't help but wind one another up? Dylan's uncanny ability to drive his boss insane was the highlight of my entire life. Plus they're out their denying their smoking hot feelings for each other? Drool. Seriously, I got this book for free and then I paid money for the rest of the series which, considering my already length TBR list, is insane in itself. What's even more insane? I didn't feel like I wasted a single penny.



Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Blurb: Luc O'Donnell is tangentially--and reluctantly--famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he's never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad's making a comeback, Luc's back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything. To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship...and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He's a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he's never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened. But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that's when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don't ever want to let them go.

Trope: Fake Dating, Only One Bed, Enemies to Lovers, British

LGBTQIA+: Gay, plus most secondary characters are LGBTQIA+

My thoughts: This book comes out this week and I cannot say enough good things about it. Boyfriend Material is drop dead hilarious. My husband actually came out and asked me what the fuck I was reading because I was hysterical on the couch. And I almost never laugh because books are usually trying too hard, but damn... this book got me. And it was so good. And the token straight friend thing had me reviving and then dying all over again, keeled over, choking on my own tongue. Just an all around amazing read packed with feels.


Historical


Two Rogues Make A Right by Cat Sebastian


Blurb: Will Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world. Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on. As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?

Trope: Virgin, First Time with a Man

LGBTQIA+: Gay, Demisexual

My thoughts: Cat Sebastian writes some really diverse romance in terms of the sexuality spectrum. She has F/F, M/F, M/M, M/N, Bi/M... just a wide, wide range, so there's something for everyone! But this book was the third in a series (sorry, maybe start with Seducing the Sedgwick's #1 which is arguably one of my favorite books ever. Her writing is historically accurate. Seriously accurate. Someone tried to say that one of her books was inaccurate (it was either the Black man owning a bar in England in the 1800s or the bisexual woman publishing erotica in the 1800s) and she whipped out a bunch of research she'd done on the topic proving them wrong. I admire that. But yeah, check out her amazing backlist and get reading.


The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi


Blurb: 1333. Edward III is at war with Scotland. 19-year-old West Country knight Sir Harry de Lyon yearns to prove himself in the war, and so jumps at the chance when a powerful English baron, William Montagu, invites him on a secret mission with a dozen elite knights. They ride north, to a crumbling Scottish keep, capturing the feral, half-starved boy within and putting the other inhabitants to the sword. And nobody knows, or nobody is saying, why the flower of English knighthood snuck over the border to capture a savage, dirty teenage boy. Montagu gives the boy to Harry as his squire, with only two rules: don't let him escape, and convert him to the English cause. The price of failure? Forfeiting his small, heavily indebted Devon estate to the Baron. At first, it's hopeless. The Scottish boy is surly, violent, hoards sharp objects, and eats anything that isn't nailed down. Then Harry begins to notice things: that, as well as Gaelic, the boy speaks flawless French, with an accent much different from Harry's Norman one. That he can read the language – Latin, too. That he isn't small so much as desperately under-fed. That when Harry finally convinces the boy – Iain mac Maíl Coluim – to cut his filthy curtain of hair, the face revealed is the most beautiful thing Hary has ever seen. With Iain as his squire, Harry wins tournament after tournament and becomes a favourite of the King. But underneath the pageantry smoulders twin secrets: Harry and Iain's growing passion for each other, and Iain's mysterious heritage. As England hurtles towards war once again, these secrets will destroy everything Harry holds dear.

Trope: Enemies (literally) to Lovers, Captive, Us Against Them, Virgin

LGBTQIA+: Gay

My thoughts: Two words: Gay Outlander. I mean, not exactly, because there's no time travel, but I seriously got those vibes with the English vs. Scottish, war-time thing it had going on. I read the 400+ pages in two days, while fishing, on a family vacation. It was just that good. And to think, I put it off because it seemed too historical. It is very historical, don't get me wrong. Although, I'm not actually sure of its accuracy. It might be entirely made up, but I feel smarter. And it was so sexy. And at times sad. And at other times scary. It's war, man! But de Campi just did such an amazing job making me feel things and feel them fucking hard. Not to disappoint for those who don't mind putting a little time into their reads and being heavily rewarded for it. And did I mention it has beautiful illustrations?


Lot's Wife, An Erotica Retelling by Rosalind Chase


Blurb: In this debut erotic romance from Rosalind Chase, Lot’s wife is given a new identity and a new story. No longer an anonymous symbol of disobedience, she is a whole person. A girl who falls in love, a woman who discovers her own sexual power, a wife who ventures outside her marriage for passion, a mother who must protect her daughters and, in the end, a proud citizen of a doomed city. Every step along the way brings her closer to the moment she will make a choice. We all know how this story ends: with a backward glance and a pillar of salt. But that’s Lot’s version of the story, isn’t it? This is his wife’s.

Trope: Bible Retelling

LGBTQIA+ representation: Gay, Bisexual, and all sorts of other sexualities

My thoughts: I did not know the story of Lot's Wife prior to reading this book which was a big mistake. Once my friend explained it to me I was able to go back and enjoy the book 1,000 times more. Chase breathes new life into a story you thought you knew all about. It's incredibly erotic and written like poetry, honestly. A masterpiece really.


Erotica


Bloom (+the rest of The Order series) by Nikki Rae


Blurb: When she was sold at the age of nine to a Suitor, Fawn believed he would protect her from the “Mainworld”, where those who know nothing about the Order dwell. Living with the cruel man who bought her freedom, she finds just what the Order is about: money, control, and status for the Owner and humiliation and abuse for those they own. Unwilling to accept the expectations of being Owned, Fawn goes from golden girl to maid, content to live in the shadows of the Order as long as she isn’t Owned again. It’s been ten years since she disgraced her former Owner’s name, and now the brooding Frenchman Elliot Lyon wants her. Master Lyon is kind, smart, and unlike any man she’s met. She doesn’t want to admit it to herself, but Fawn is drawn to him despite constantly planning her next escape. Even the prettiest flowers have thorns, and Master Lyon is hiding secrets that will uproot everything she thinks she knows about him.

Trope: Dark romance, BDSM, Enslavement

LGBTQIA+ representation: Bisexual men & women

My thoughts: This series stressed me out so much, but in a good way? Kind of. The author has an amazing way of making me feel so much. Too much. About everyone and everything in the book. So dark. So forbidden. So naughty. Do not read unless you like the darkest of the dark, but if that's your jam... you're in luck.


Out of the Blue by Lila Rose

Blurb: At forty, Lan Davis is looking for his damned picket fence and 2.5 kids. What he doesn’t expect is instead of a wife in the picture, his mind keeps conjuring up images of two men. One, his partner in the force, who is as straight as they came, the other an ex, who he’d hurt but never forgot. After an incident leaves Lan injured, the two men rally around him… only maybe they shouldn’t have. It seems a medicated Lan is a truthful one. Parker Wilding is pissed at the world. His anger builds when his partner refuses medical care after an attack. Instead, Lan entrusts his neighbour to take care of him—a guy Parker doesn’t trust. While he’s aware they share a history,

when the past is revealed, the truth shocks the hell out of him. Being emotionally crushed ten years ago, Easton Ravel hoped he would never have to see the man who broke him again. Hope is a fickle b*itch. And now he’s not sure how to handle being face-to-face with the man he once loved. Add in the mix the annoying, testy Parker, and Easton finds his limits are pushed. Just not in the way he thought they would be.

Trope: First Time with a Man, MMM, Age Difference, Law Enforcement

LGBTQIA+ representation: Gay

My thoughts: Some confusing-ish subplots (a read of the other books in the series would solve that problem), but overall a really great, dynamic read what alternated between the three male protagonist POVs. Relationship-driven book full of action, drama, excitement, and threesomes. Yum.


Paranormal


Just Right by Bronwyn Green


Blurb: I moved to Parrish Falls—a.k.a. The Middle of Nowhere—Michigan to study black bears. But in the three months that I’ve been working as a biologist at the local branch of the DNR, I haven’t seen a single one. Because my boss has been activelycockbear-blocking me every chance he gets. I don’t know what his problem is, but I’m about to find out. Just as soon as I can look at his gorgeous, grumpy face and not mentally relive every filthy sex dream I’ve had about him. Confronting Noah doesn’t go as planned, and I discover that shape shifters exist and fairy tales aren’t just stories. Somehow, I’ve found myself snowbound and playing Goldilocks to three stupidly-hot bear shifters. As it turns out, “just right” is so much more than a figure of speech.

Trope: Foursomes, Enemies to Lovers, Workplace Proximity Associates

LGBTQIA+: Bisexual

My thoughts: I dig MMMF shit, so this book was amazing. Also, it was sort of nice that the hero and heroine are mainly a duo, they just enjoy the company of our other males during a portion of the book. And it's a novella, so don't go in expecting a ton of plot. Really, it's a bunch of sex with a tiny, tiny subplot of work in the beginning, but that's what I wanted so it was perfect. Truly very, very sexy.

Thanks for checking out my recommendations! If you ever read something based on my recommendation and like it, please reach out and let me know! I absolutely love knowing that someone takes my words to heart. If you didn't like it... I'm super sorry, my tastes are eclectic and unpredictable and maybe you'll give me another chance one day.

Disclaimer: Many of the books read by Romantically Inclined Reviews are provided free in exchange for a review (positive or negative).  However, a read request does not equate to a review on this blog. If you are reading a review on this site it means that the blogger genuinely enjoyed it.

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