Everybody doing okay? Hanging in there? I don’t know about you, but I’ve pretty much thrown out my usual reading goals and TBR in favor of a new technique I’m calling the “I’m Reading Whatever The Heck I Feel Like And Can Focus On Right Now, Thanks Very Much” method. I highly recommend it. And that means a lot of what I’m reading is anything that brings me comfort or joy. I think it’s safe to say comfort and joy are things we could all use a little more of in our lives at the moment, right? And, especially for LGBTQ+ readers, going into a book knowing it’s going to have a happy ending can be really important. So, need some feel-good recs with guaranteed HEAs right about now? Check out these queer books with happy endings.
I can’t promise there won’t be any angst in the middle, but all of these books are relatively light and definitely fall into the “happily ever after” category.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that made me smile as much as Casey McQuiston’s Red, White and Royal Blue. Maybe you heard all the hype and weren’t sure, but let me tell you: it’s just that good. Presidential First Son, Alex Claremont-Diaz, is forced to make nice with Prince Henry after an international public relations incident at the royal wedding. Feels ensue.
A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian
As far as feel-good romance novellas go, this one is top of the list for sheer adorableness. Street-smart lady’s maid Molly is taken aback by a down-on-her-luck young woman living with a benefactress after being thrown out by her cruel father. Molly knows what she wants, but does Alice?
A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole
A bisexual prince with anxiety? Now, that’s my kind of book! Getting to see bi characters in all sorts of relationships in literature is so important, and I love that while it isn’t a central point of the book, it isn’t glossed over either. Plus Alyssa Cole just writes the best royal romances, and I think we can all agree on that.
Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon
A failing book club, a die-hard romance reader, a new guy in town. Jordan is determined to keep his romance book club, Meet Cute Club, afloat, even with diminishing numbers. But when a pretentious new bookshop employee decides to join after making fun of the “grandma books” Jordan reads, he’s not sure this new member is worth it. Except, for all his pretentiousness, Rex really does read the books Jordan recommends to him. And he keeps calling him “handsome.” What’s a romantic who thinks romance is just for books to do? Maybe finally let a little bit of his own romance in?
Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
The F/F enemies-to-lovers story you’ve always wanted where the taciturn film nerd gets the popular cheerleader—after thinking she’d been scorned by her. The truth is Rachel has always liked Sana. But when she asked her out, Sana thought it was a cruel prank and has hated her ever since. But when a film project forces them back together, sparks fly.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
Widowed Catherine St Day is looking forward to a quiet life after making sure her husband’s legacy is fulfilled. But when Lucy Muchelney, an eager young astronomer, shows up to translate the groundbreaking French astronomy text, Catherine is taken aback. She wasn’t expecting this young woman to stay, much less to fall in love again.
While it doesn’t gloss over the historical homophobia and sexism, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics manages to acknowledge and exist within that landscape without wallowing in it. And most importantly of all, it shows queer characters getting their happy ending.
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker
The cutest little supernatural friends-to-lovers graphic novel you ever did see. A young witch and an enby werewolf rekindle their friendship—and their feelings—while trying to stop a supernatural attack on their hometown. It’s a sweet, feel-good read for all ages!
Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
This retelling of “Snow-White and Rose-Red” and Swan Lake reimagines the story around two sisters fated to be rivals. An ancient spell has doomed one del Cisne girl to turn into a swan in every generation. Blanca and Roja are determined to undermine their fate, but disobeying the swans comes with a cost. And when the sisters discover two lost boys in the woods, their fates become inextricably entwined.
Anna-Marie McLemore’s stories are always so beautiful and so queer and so tender. This book plays on fairytale tropes in all the best ways.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Leah is a badass drummer, a snarky best friend, and a not-quite-out-and-proud bisexual. She’s still working on that last one. Her best friend, Simon, is gay after all. A whole lot of senior year angst and a major crush on a friend she can’t seem to get away from make life complicated. But with prom coming up and her friend group fracturing, she’ll have to figure out how to be true to herself and keep it all together if she wants to get the girl. After all, it’s senior year—what does she have to lose?
The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
One summer internship, two interns, and the chance to earn a job at the coolest plus-size fashion boutique in Los Angeles. Abby has always dreamed of making it big in the fashion industry, but when she starts to fall for the competition—fellow intern Jordi—things get complicated fast. Dating a fellow employee is a big no-no—especially when Abby knows only one of them can get the job. Still, Abby’s kissing a cute girl and checking out all the burger spots in L.A. with a new friend. It might just be the best summer of her life. But Abby’s not used to living her life in the spotlight, and Jordi’s photography makes her question everything she thought she knew about herself. Is it too late to make this the summer of Abby Ives? Or is she just stuck playing sidekick forever?
I love a body-positive book that still deals with and acknowledges how complicated body image and self-love can be. And an adorable F/F relationship on top of that? Too good to be true!
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
Did you really think we were going to get through this list without another Alyssa Cole book? Of course not. No list of cute queer books would be complete without this gem of a novella about royal assistant, Likotsi, who is reunited with her former fling. But can the two rekindle their former feelings after a turbulent start? (Yes, obviously. This is a whole list of books with happy endings. Spoiler alert: they work it out.)
Most Ardently by Susan Mesler-Evans
A modern Pride and Prejudice retelling with bisexual and lesbian leads? Yes please! It’s hate at first sight for Elisa Benitez and Darcy Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, their lives are already too entwined, with Darcy’s best friend dating Elisa’s sister, for them to avoid each other entirely. But the more time Elisa spends with the snobby heiress, the more her view of her—and the world—begins to shift. This is a story of pride and prejudice, after all.
The Princess Affair by Nell Stark
Even more LGBTQ royals! Rhodes Scholar Kerry Donovan arrives at Oxford determined to make the most of her time there—just as she has with every other opportunity in her life. But when she happens across Princess Sasha, second in line to the British throne, at a club, her perfectly planned out life—and all her assumptions about the partying princess—are turned upside down. Can the chemistry drawing these two together overcome the cruel spotlight of the tabloid paparazzi?
Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon
All Xeni wanted was to claim the inheritance her aunt left behind. What she got instead was a husband. Mason McInroy knew the death of his mentor and friend, Sable Everly, would leave a hole in his heart. But he didn’t expect her to also use her last will and testament to play matchmaker and set him up with her niece. The two decide to make the best of a messy situation and just play along, but what neither of them expected was to actually fall in love in the process. I absolutely love fake relationship turning into real relationship love stories, PLUS a fat bisexual love interest? What more could I want in a book, honestly?
Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger
Imogene Hale is a parlourmaid at a local vampire hive. Not your typical work, but it will do. Especially when she meets the beautiful French inventor they’ve imprisoned in the potting shed. But Genevieve Lefoux is dead set against the match. Can Imogene win the lady’s heart before the vampires suck them both dry? Or is their love just doomed from the start?
A standalone romance set in Carriger’s popular steampunk Parasolverse.
Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman
A lighthearted, Jewish F/F romance about a small-batch yarn dyer and the artist who proves to be her new inspiration. Clara is on the search for the next great yarn color for her independent yarn business, but nothing seems to live up to her last idea. Then she discovers Danielle Solomon’s painting of Florida wildlife at a local gallery and knows exactly what colors to dye next. And soon Danielle proves to be even more captivating and inspiring than the artwork Clara first fell in love with.
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
A secret spy organization trains teens in the ways of attraction, because the fastest way to get information out of a person is to become their love interest. Caden and Dylan are playing opposites—the nice guy and the bad guy—to compete for the affections of the same girl. They’re out in the real world for the first time, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Because whoever doesn’t win, dies. But as Caden and Dylan taste a bit of freedom for the first time, feelings outside of their training begin to take over. What happens when the love interests fall in love…with each other?
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Summer lovin’ is all that’s on Ollie’s mind. But when vacation is over, his dream summer fling, Will Tavares, completely ghosts him. Too bad a family emergency uproots Ollie and leaves him attending the same school as Will. And this Will is not the same one Ollie knew—he’s the class clown, closeted, and a bit of a jerk. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust this guy with his heart again. But with Will showing up just about everywhere Ollie goes, from music class to the lunch table, resisting his summer fling becomes harder and harder. This contemporary queer take on Grease is cute as can be.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (July 7, 2020, Flatiron Books)
Inspired by Persian folklore and fairytales, the author of Girls Made of Snow and Glass brings us another beautiful, complex queer story about power, agency, and trusting the wrong person. For Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away in the palace, trust is complicated. Her touch is poison, but secret forays through the hidden passages of the palace and into the city with a new friend make her question everything she’s ever been told. And the answers to everything lie just out of reach in the dungeons below, where a demon may hold the truth of her curse. But the truth is easily twisted, and the choices Soraya makes have consequences far beyond what she ever could’ve imagined.
A lush foray into Persian mythology and folklore that has quickly become one of my new favorite books. A truly lovely and unforgettable read.
Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays by R. Eric Thomas
Personal essays on finding your way—and the joy—in a state of perpetual otherness. Be it his sexuality in church, or his skin color in the mostly white suburban high school he attended, R. Eric Thomas redefines what it means to be “other” and “normal” in a post-2016 world.
Running With Lions by Julian Winters
Star goalie Sebastian Hughes has ever reason to look forward to senior year: great friends, an amazing team, and a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his childhood best friend, Emir, shows up for training camp, the perfect balance of the team is disrupted. Since that’s mostly Sebastian’s fault, it’s up to him to make things right. But reconnecting with Emir seems like it might lead to more than just friendship, and with the dynamics of the team on the line, Sebastian has to decide how to balance his feelings with his role as team captain.
Would You Rather?: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney
A memoir in essays about going from a life of being single to realizing she’d been looking for love in all the wrong places before. From coming out in her late 20s to traversing the dating scene in New York, Heaney’s honest and relatable look at love and self-acceptance proves it’s never too late to find yourself or find love.
The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen
What if the X-Men spent a little less time saving the world and a little more time in therapy? That’s the general premise of this novel based on Lauren Shippen’s award-winning podcast, The Bright Sessions. Caleb is an Atypical, a person with powers. That might be pretty cool, except his extreme empathy means he feels the emotions of everyone around him. And when he starts feeling mood swings way out of the norm for even a typical teenager, he’s drawn into the orbit of Adam, a classmate who’s feelings may line up a little too closely to his own.
Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht
When Vera Kelly’s technical talents on the radio get her noticed by the CIA in the 1960s, the woman just trying to make rent and blend into the scene at Greenwich Village suddenly finds herself working as a spy in Buenos Aires. But as the local government falls into turmoil, a betrayal leaves Vera stranded at the worst time possible. War makes for strange bedfellows—especially when you’re a foreign spy just trying to survive.
Nothing Is Okay by Rachel Wiley
Poems about queerness, fatness, race, and feminism that will alternately make you want to cry and laugh. Simultaneously a critique of the culture we live in and a celebration of who we are as individuals. Rachel Wiley is a poet like no other.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
The newest collection of essays from Samantha Irby covers the hilarious and all-too-real facts of her life settling down as a step-mom in a mostly white Midwestern town. From hosting book club to becoming someone courted by Hollywood, Wow, No Thank You is just as funny, readable, and relatable as Irby’s previous collections.
The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
The world is broken, and it will take two sisters raised half a world away to remake it. Haidee lives in a bubble under the scorching sun, knowing nothing about the twin sister she never knew living in a frozen city on the opposite side of the planet. But as Odessa sets out to fulfill her duties as a goddesses alongside her fierce bodyguard, Lan, the paths these two sisters set out on, the discover the truth about their pasts and fix their broken planet, grow closer and closer to intersecting.
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
This novella centers on the interconnected lives of a group of queer women living in San Francisco during the Second World War. Helen, an elderly lawyer and former dancer, reminisces on her younger years after fulfilling a decades-old promise to sell the lost last artwork of her late friend, Haskell. A younger Helen poses for Haskell’s pulp drawings and cavort at Mona’s, the club where “girls will be boys.” There, drag king Emily calls on Haskell’s help during hard times, and the two begin to fall for each other amidst fairs and hard times. This lovely piece of historical fiction doesn’t gloss over the racism, sexism, and homophobia of the time, while still managing to write a sweet, compelling story about queer women unabashedly living their lives and falling in love.
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Alice’s perfect summer plans include working at the library and marathoning her favorite TV shows. They in no way include her ex-girlfriend who broke up with her after finding out she’s asexual. In fact, Alice has sworn off dating for good. But then she meets Takumi at the library. Takumi, who makes her feel romcom-grade butterflies. Takumi, who’s a bit of a knight in shining armor. But is she willing to risk the friendship they have for a romance that might end as badly as her last?
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
How do you lose the time war? By falling for the enemy, of course. That’s exactly what happens to Red and Blue, competing agents from two opposing time travel bureaus. As the two trade illicit letters amidst their battles to shape the history, future, and reality of the timeline, they realize the relationship growing between them could mean more than just their certain deaths if anyone were ever to find out—it could mean a new future altogether.
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
A crew of interstellar researchers modify their bodies in order to explore an incredible array of extrasolar planets. Ariadne and her fellow crewmates sleep between their destinations, and though the Earth may chance drastically in the time that passes, their mission remains the same: to research and to record.
For even more lighthearted queer reads, check out these feel-good queer comics, ten joyful queer books, this quiz to determine which fun queer book you should read next, and some more LGBTQ+ books with happy endings.