Reading romance novels is my life's passion and it's an absolute dream that there are so many subgenres and sub-subgenres of romance novels to choose from. I can read a sci-fi romance and then a historical and then a contemporary and then a rom-com and then a paranormal all in one night! I never struggle to find something different, something unique, something that tugs at my insides or challenges my biases and beliefs. But while there are infinite plots out there ready to be read and written it can be slightly more of a struggle to make sure to diversify my heroes and heroines. Thankfully, authors are stepping up these days to ensure that the characters we know and love come from many different backgrounds, races, ethnicity, sexual orientations and identities.
Below are some of my favorite LGBTQIA+ romances from the last year or so. Feel free to use the contact form to send me further recommendations (especially if you're an author who writes LGBTQIA+ characters). I am always looking forward to reading about diverse heroes and heroines.
Heat Stroke by Tessa Bailey: M/M Romance
They can't be together. They won't stay apart. Marcus “Diesel” O’Shaughnessy is a brash, over-sized CrossFit enthusiast with a naked lady tattooed on his rippling forearm. Jamie Prince is a private school teacher with an extremely low tolerance for bull. The two men have zero in common. Well, except for three things. They’re both moonlighting as lifeguards for the summer. No matter how hard they try, they cannot stay away from each other. And both of them have secrets they’re determined to keep. But what happens in the shadows of the Long Beach boardwalk can only remain hidden for so long, before the July sunshine reveals the hot, unrelenting connection they never expected, forcing Marcus and Jamie to decide if they’re simply caught up in a temporary heat stroke or if they’ve found something worth rescuing...
Romantically Inclined says: There's enough sexual tension here to make a girl faint. Heat Stroke is insanely hot and packed full of witty dialogue that will tug at your lips and your heart strings.
A Duke in Disguise by Cat Sebastian: Bisexual Heroine
If anyone else had asked for his help publishing a naughty novel, Ash would have had the sense to say no. But he’s never been able to deny Verity Plum. Now he has his hands full illustrating a book and trying his damnedest not to fall in love with his best friend. The last thing he needs is to discover he’s a duke’s lost heir. Without a family or a proper education, he’s had to fight for his place in the world, and the idea of it—and Verity—being taken away from him chills him to the bone. All Verity wants is to keep her brother out of prison, her business afloat, and her hands off Ash. Lately it seems she’s not getting anything she wants. She knows from bitter experience that she isn’t cut out for romance, but the more time she spends with Ash, the more she wonders if maybe she’s been wrong about herself. Ash has a month before his identity is exposed, and he plans to spend it with Verity. As they explore their long-buried passion, it becomes harder for Ash to face the music. Can Verity accept who Ash must become or will he turn away the only woman he’s ever loved?
Romantically Inclined says: What more could a devoted romance reader ask for than a plot revolving around elicit pictures and the publication of an erotic novel? Oh, and did I mention there's a male virgin involved?
Building Forever by Kelly Jensen: M/M Romance
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.
Romantically Inclined says: A beautifully written story that focuses most on the developing relationship between a man coming to terms with a change in what he thought his sexual orientation was and a man looking to make a name for himself. It's a gentle romance with hints of spark and sexual tension and a heart-warming story of accepting oneself.
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: M/M Romance & Bisexual Hero
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends... First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him. As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
Romantically Inclined says: A uniquely written (third person-present tense) novel full of relevant politics and a cast of delightfully wicked characters. If you're not a progressive, you will not enjoy this read. But if you're fed up with the current political climate, and also a huge fan of forbidden romances, then you will adore this hilarious tale of what happens when two of the world's most powerful, influential individuals fall in love.
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole: F/F Romance, Bisexual Heroine
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.
Romantically Inclined says: A story of redemption and second chances between two powerful and confident women. It's a great continuation of a much loved character from Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series.
A Sinner Without a Saint by Bliss Bennett: M/M Romance
Idealistic Benedict Pennington once abandoned family and country to pursue his dreams of becoming a renowned painter. Now that he's returned home, he has a new, but equally idealistic ambition: to help found the country's first national art museum, one open not only to England’s wealthy few, but to rich and poor alike. After a long campaign, he’s finally persuaded a patron to donate his collection of Old Master paintings to the project. He’s certainly not going to anyone to steal them away by courting the donor’s granddaughter—especially not dissolute Lord Dulcie, once the object of Benedict’s own illicit adolescent desire. Sinclair Milne, Viscount Dulcie, evades every attempt of his family to marry him off, preferring to collect innovative art and dally with handsome men than to burden himself with a wife. But when rivals imply Dulcie is refusing to pursue wealthy Miss Adler and her dowry of paintings because of lingering feelings for Benedict Pennington, Dulcie vows to prove them wrong by wooing her away from Benedict—inadvertently disrupting Benedict’s museum plans in the process. When Benedict is dragooned into painting his portrait, Dulcie finds himself once again inexplicably drawn to the sensitive, intense artist. Can the sinful viscount entice the wary painter into a casual liaison, one that will put neither their reputations, nor their feelings, at risk? Or will the not-so-saintly artist demand something far more vulnerable—his heart?
Romantically Inclined says: A enemies to lovers story of two men with strong personalities and even stronger dislike for one another. Those who are fascinated by art will enjoy the facts surrounding famous statues, artists, and paintings that the author intersperses throughout the story. And can you scream sexual tension?\
Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins: M/M Romance
With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that. But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed. Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging. Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.
Romantically Inclined says: Voyeurism = hot. A fast-paced, spicy tale of discovering one's sexuality.
Hot Head by Damon Suede: M/M Romance
Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish. Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?
Romantically Inclined says: This novel will have you sopping up drool with a bath towel. It's explosively hot, but also touches on the sweet story of a lifelong friendship and then changes that romantic attraction can bring to that.
It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian: M/M Romance
Some of Ben Sedgwick's favorite things: helping his poor parishioners, baby animals, shamelessly flirting with the handsome Captain Phillip Dacre. After an unconventional upbringing, Ben is perfectly content with the quiet, predictable life of a country vicar, free of strife or turmoil. When he's asked to look after an absent naval captain's three wild children, he reluctantly agrees, but instantly falls for the hellions. And when their stern but gloriously handsome father arrives, Ben is tempted in ways that make him doubt everything. Some of Phillip Dacre's favorite things: His ship, people doing precisely as they're told, touching the irresistible vicar at every opportunity. Phillip can't wait to leave England's shores and be back on his ship, away from the grief that haunts him. But his children have driven off a succession of governesses and tutors and he must set things right. The unexpected presence of the cheerful, adorable vicar sets his world on its head and now he can't seem to live without Ben's winning smiles or devastating kisses. In the midst of runaway children, a plot to blackmail Ben's family, and torturous nights of pleasure, Ben and Phillip must decide if a safe life is worth losing the one thing that makes them come alive.
Romantically Inclined says: While normally not a huge fan of kids in romance novels (no one ever seems to do it right), this story wouldn't be the same without the cast of ragamuffins desperate for their father's love. It's a delightful story of a bossy hero and a infuriatingly teasing vicar.
The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian: M/M Romance
Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down. Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl. Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.
Romantically Inclined says: Grumpy recluses are god's gift to romance readers and there is no one grumper and more disagreeable than the Earl of Radnor. A Beauty and the Beast-esque story if Beauty was a con artist.
The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian
Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London's slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be. After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman's life-one that doesn't include sparring with a ne'er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack's pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they're together.
Romantically Inclined says: A romantic class struggle, with an enemies to lovers vibe that burns slow, but burns bright.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: M/M Romance
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.
Romantically Inclined says: This book is what would have happened if Harry and Draco had gotten it on.
The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian
Rogue. Libertine. Rake. Lord Courtenay has been called many things and has never much cared. But after the publication of a salacious novel supposedly based on his exploits, he finds himself shunned from society. Unable to see his nephew, he is willing to do anything to improve his reputation, even if that means spending time with the most proper man in London. Julian Medlock has spent years becoming the epitome of correct behavior. As far as he cares, if Courtenay finds himself in hot water, it’s his own fault for behaving so badly—and being so blasted irresistible. But when Julian’s sister asks him to rehabilitate Courtenay’s image, Julian is forced to spend time with the man he loathes—and lusts after—most. As Courtenay begins to yearn for a love he fears he doesn’t deserve, Julian starts to understand how desire can drive a man to abandon all sense of propriety. But he has secrets he’s determined to keep, because if the truth came out, it would ruin everyone he loves. Together, they must decide what they’re willing to risk for love.
Romantically Inclined says: This book is stomach-clenching passion that will have the reader up way past their bed time with no regrets.
Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian: Nonbinary/M Romance
Robert Selby is determined to see his sister make an advantageous match. But he has two problems: the Selbys have no connections or money and Robert is really a housemaid named Charity Church. She’s enjoyed every minute of her masquerade over the past six years, but she knows her pretense is nearing an end. Charity needs to see her beloved friend married well and then Robert Selby will disappear…forever. Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke, has spent years repairing the estate ruined by his wastrel father, and nothing is more important than protecting his fortune and name. He shouldn’t be so beguiled by the charming young man who shows up on his doorstep asking for favors. And he certainly shouldn’t be thinking of all the disreputable things he’d like to do to the impertinent scamp. When Charity’s true nature is revealed, Alistair knows he can’t marry a scandalous woman in breeches, and Charity isn’t about to lace herself into a corset and play a respectable miss. Can these stubborn souls learn to sacrifice what they’ve always wanted for a love that is more than they could have imagined?
Romantically Inclined says: Cat Sebastian does her research, making sure that her stories are backed up by actual historical events (for those historical romance busybodies who like to point out every historical inaccuracy), and this book is no different. A wonderful novel that brings the experience of nonbinary individuals into the light for romance readers.
A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian: M/M Romance
Once beloved by London's fashionable elite, Hartley Sedgwick has become a recluse after a spate of salacious gossip exposed his most-private secrets. Rarely venturing from the house whose inheritance is a daily reminder of his downfall, he’s captivated by the exceedingly handsome man who seeks to rob him. Since retiring from the boxing ring, Sam Fox has made his pub, The Bell, into a haven for those in his Free Black community. But when his best friend Kate implores him to find and destroy a scandalously revealing painting of her, he agrees. Sam would do anything to protect those he loves, even if it means stealing from a wealthy gentleman. But when he encounters Hartley, he soon finds himself wanting to steal more than just a painting from the lovely, lonely man—he wants to steal his heart.
Romantically Inclined says: A slow-burn romance that crosses class lines and race lines to bring together two men who both truly need one another. Another historical great from Cat Sebastian!
A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian: F/F Romance
Pick pocket turned lady’s maid Molly Wilkins (who you might remember from The Soldier’s Scoundrel) teams up with her employer’s companion to right wrongs and steal things. Available August 2019!
Romantically Inclined says: I haven’t read this yet, but you better believe it'll be on my Kindle seconds after its release.