This list of romantic SFF books was originally published in our science fiction and fantasy newsletter, Swords & Spaceships. Sign up for it here to get science fiction and fantasy news, reviews, deals, and more!
As far as I’m concerned, two tastes that go great together are SFF and romance, which are two genres I love. Since it’s that time of the year, let’s highlight some romantic SFF — defined here as books that are primarily SFF but have a very strong romance plot line in them. Next week, expect SFF Romance, which are books written to romance genre specifications but take place in an SFF setting.
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
There is no way I could do a romantic SFF feature and not have this book as number one on my list. It is the book that caused my house to coin the term “disaster heteros” because we spent so much time clutching our faces and screaming about why can’t these two dorks just KISS already. PLUS it’s Mughal-inspired fantasy about the evils of empire! Its sequel, Realm of Ash is excellent and also hits the romance buttons, though not quite as strongly for me as this one.
The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
Let me be clear — any book by C.L. Polk fits this bill, and I heartily recommend them all. The Kingston Cycle (Witchmark, Stormsong, Soulstar) offers an entire bi pride flag of romance options. But this book is the newest one that’s currently out, and it’s about a sorceress who wishes to not marry despite family pressure because she doesn’t want to lose her magic…and then she falls in love.
This is How your Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Yes, this book really is as good as everyone says. Two soldiers in an endless post-human war begin writing letters to each other, and love finds a way. It’s gorgeous, it’s lush, and it deserves every award it’s gotten.
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
This is probably my second favorite of the Vorkosigan saga novels. It’s extremely funny, it has Miles playing Space Nancy Drew, and it’s about him absolutely flaming out because he’s desperately in love with a widow named Ekaterin, which gets them both tangled up in some twisty politics. I cannot do this book justice.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A young trans man out to prove he can be a proper brujo accidentally summons the ghost of a missing classmate. So then he has a mystery to unravel and a ghost to send to rest…but what if he messes things up even more by falling in love? This book is a lot of fun in general, but the romance is absolutely adorable.
Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton
Come for the gender-bent Shakespearian history crossed with fantasy, stay for the romance between Hotspur and Hal, both of whom are victims of circumstance and politics and fate…but their love might just be strong enough to conquer all of those things and save their kingdoms besides.
Given by Nandi Taylor
A fierce warrior princess who wants to save her kingdom and the life of her father. A shape-shifting dragon who claims her as his “Given” — his fated partner. They have very different goals, but maybe they can manage both romance and saving the day — if the princess can find room in her perceived destiny for both.
Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden
A trans woman who was once a prince in an enemy kingdom falls in love with a prince of her own — and then sets about reclaiming everything she gave up from her old life by saving the kingdom and her prince from a war started by her father. Everything in this book is kicked off by Razia’s romance with the prince, Arjun, and they make an epically cute couple.