Pride month has come, yet again, with the same discourse as practically every other year. But we’re not here about that. Instead, we’re gonna talk about some queer joy. Some queer romantic joy. In a time where queer rights are being targeted and the trans community is actively under attack, it’s okay to take a step back and focus on some happily ever afters, stories that we’ve been excluded from in the past or pigeonholed into some sort of stereotype to better suit the plot centered on some cisgender, heterosexual individuals. There can be queer romances.
We can be the main character. We can have our own love stories, our own happily ever afters, our own queer romances, where the boy gets the boy, the girl gets the girl, they fall in love with them, with every delicious trope you could wish for.
So if you’re looking for a little happiness, a reminder it’s okay to love yourself, or some distraction from…everything else, try these. There’s contemporary romances, historical romances, paranormal romances, elderly romances (because life doesn’t end when you hit 30), and more. All of them queer in some way. Have fun.
Transpire Together by Mercy Zephyr
With this sweet contemporary romance set in small town Alaska you’ll meet Lynn Hall, a woman with a plan to leave as soon as she gets the chance, and Keith Kendall, a trans man who can only come home now that his parents are gone. Keith wants to rebuild his life and make new happy memories while Lynn can’t wait to forget. Their memories cross though, as Keith was once Lynn’s high school girlfriend. One that she doesn’t recognize. Which gives Keith the perfect opportunity for a second chance with one of his happiest memories from before, with a happily ever after, with some sacrifice from both parties, guaranteed. It hits deep, due to the contemporary issues faced in the book like a bathroom bill, but it’s one that still leaves you satisfied after you turn the last page. (Note: Keith does disclose that he knew Lynn in the past).
The Doctor’s Discretion by E.E. Ottoman
Set in New York in 1831, this is a wonderful romance mixed with suspense and mystery as our main couple, consisting of a black doctor and a white intersex Navy Surgeon, take it upon themselves to rescue a man at the hospital who has been imprisoned under the accusation of being transgender. If they don’t help him, he’ll be committed to an asylum. This one does have some warnings attached due to the racism, transphobia, and homophobia of the time, but that doesn’t change the fact that this story is a delightful romp with a tender romance between two men who is just what the other needed.
Marriage of Unconvenience by Chelsea M. Cameron
Who doesn’t love a fake marriage romance, especially one where the marriage is necessary for an inheritance? That’s exactly what this is, except make it sapphic and with some friends-to-lovers mixed in. Both Loren and recently-reconnected-with Cara are a bit strapped for cash and Loren’s inheritance is right there, as long as she’s married. It’ll all work out, right? This is a short little novella with little to no angst, the right amount of fluff, and excellent chemistry. The perfect pick up when you need something short and sweet.
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
So your grandmother supposedly once had a fling with a runaway prince back in the day and now there’s a hot AF investigator at your door, bringing chaos into your well-organized life and insisting you go with her, too. Which you steadfastly refuse to do, regardless of what she says about a lost heir. Until your grandma’s livelihood is threatened and you’re forced to accept the royal duty dropped in your lap. Which means a transatlantic trip with plenty of hijinks, a fake marriage, and a weird lovable crew. And y’all, there’s only one bed. If you want a tender slow-burn sapphic romance with tons of chemistry and laughs, you don’t need to look any further.
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan
Like I said, life doesn’t end when you hit 30 — there are things to still be done, and this book proves it. Set in Victorian England, widowed Mrs. Martin is 73 and is trying to keep her youthful experience, mainly by ignoring her god-awful nephew. Until proper Miss Violetta, 69, enters her life demanding Martin’s help at getting rid of said god-awful nephew who is currently staying at Miss Violetta’s rooming house. And thus begins the heist and some revenge. This isn’t as sex heavy as some other romance books, though there is some, and it definitely has some anger (isn’t Victorian era patriarchy fun?), but still plenty of fun to read the two get up to antics together. Content warning, though: there are some mentions of rape in the book, as well as some arson.
Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon
Jordan has a book club dedicated to steamy romances that’s losing it’s own steam. The employee at his local bookstore that constantly rags on him for reading “granny books” really isn’t helping. And then that same employee walks into Jordan’s living room asking to join the book club. Which Jordan can’t say no to, because if this book club is to survive he can’t exactly turn anyone down. No matter how obnoxious and ridiculously handsome they are. No matter how much Rex, the employee, turns out to not be as much of a troll as Jordan thought. And no matter how much Jordan tells himself he doesn’t need a man. Cue the fluffy, absolutely adorable, causing you to constantly grin enemies-to-lovers romance between a cynic and a romantic.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
This YA romance takes place in 1950s San Francisco. 1954 was not a great time for everyone, especially for two queer girls living in Chinatown. Deportation is a constant threat, made worse by the Red Scare. The local lesbian bar, The Telegraph Club, is a perfect sanctuary for two girls trying to figure out exactly who they are. This is definitely a heavier read, by simple nature of the historical era it’s based in, but it’s still sweet and endearing reading about Lily and Kath coming into themselves, navigating their identities, and creating a family of their own that is willing to help guide the girls in this brave new world of theirs.
If you’re still looking for more, queer romances or not, I recommend you check out our list of must-read LGBTQ fiction, how to make a Meet Cute book club of your own, and some audiobooks by queer Black women.