Book Recs: NA Romances

If you’re like me, then you’ll understand that sometimes, you really have to read a romance novel. And, of course, 99% of the time, you just can’t find a decent LGBT one – it’s all either sex-filled and lacking tension, or straight-up awful. So, the point of this list is to rec you ten of the best LGBT NA romances I’ve read (hopefully, to be the first part of many).

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Into the Blue

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Pene Henson
Goodreads
Rep: gay and demi mc, bi mc (lgbt author), Samoan characters

Tai Talagi and Ollie Birkstrom have been inseparable since they met as kids, surfing the North Shore of Oahu. Now they live with their best friends and Ollie’s kid brother in a pulled-together family, all of them piled into a run-down beach house. They share cooking, bills, and the saltwater running in their veins. They might have no money, they might argue, they might be in dead end jobs, but they live in Hawaii so it’s always summer. There’s always time for one last wave.

Tai’s spent years shutting down any feelings for Ollie. They’re friends. Their family depends on them. But with Ollie off on his first world tour, with Ollie’s dreams of a pro surfing career finally within reach, their steady world shifts. Is it worth risking their friendship, their family, their dreams for a chance at something terrifying and beautiful and altogether new?

Why Should I Read It?

Well, if you want a good best friends to friends with benefits to lovers story, with plenty of pining, this one is for you! Plus, it’s set to a backdrop of the most amazing found family. And that ending? Gets me every time.

inbtwn

Hold Me

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Courtney Milan
Goodreads
Rep: Thai/Chinese mc, bi mc, Mexican mc, trans woman mc (lgbt author)

Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.

But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…

Why Should I Read It?

If you’ve never read anything by Courtney Milan, you have honestly never lived. She writes the most exquisitely slowburning romances and the tension between her characters is always so intense. She’s easily one of the best romance authors out there.

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Falling into Place

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Sheryn Munir
Goodreads
Rep: Indian mcs, lesbian mcs (both ownvoices)

Romance is not for Tara. Embittered after a college fling, she vows to never fall in love again–especially since she believes there’s no future for same-sex love in her home in urban India. Then, one rain-drenched evening, an insane decision brings the bubbly Sameen into her life and everything changes. Sameen is beautiful, a breath of fresh air…and almost certainly straight. All Tara’s carefully built-up defences start to crumble, one after the other. But is this relationship doomed before it can even start?

Why Should I Read It?

It’s a quick and really fricking soft read. Like, the actual softest. Even when it’s angsty, it’s still soft. And I for one am so down for soft, slow development of friendships into romances. Also, the meet-cute is pretty amazing too.

inbtwn

Far From Home

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Lorelie Brown
Goodreads
Rep: lesbian mc and li (ownvoices), Indian li

TWs: eating disorder

My name is Rachel. I’m straight… I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calmness rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess – anorexia is not a pretty word – and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And, if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.

Why Should I Read It?

Who doesn’t love a good fake dating/marriage of convenience story really? And all the better when it’s a sapphic one, let’s be real. This one’s fairly heavy though, with the discussion of eating disorders and a scene where the main character relapses, but the relationship between the two characters is really cute, and there isn’t any miscommunication!

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That Could Be Enough

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Alyssa Cole
Goodreads
Rep: lesbian mcs (lgbt author), black mcs (ownvoices)

TWs: period typical racism

Mercy Alston knows the best thing to do with pesky feelings like “love” and “hope”: avoid them at all cost. Serving as a maid to Eliza Hamilton, and an assistant in the woman’s stubborn desire to preserve her late husband’s legacy, has driven that point home for Mercy—as have her own previous heartbreaks. 

When Andromeda Stiel shows up at Hamilton Grange for an interview in her grandfather’s stead, Mercy’s resolution to live a quiet, pain-free life is tested by the beautiful, flirtatious, and entirely overwhelming dressmaker. 

Andromeda has staid Mercy reconsidering her worldview, but neither is prepared for love—or for what happens when it’s not enough.

Why Should I Read It?

Everyone loves a good historical romance, especially one with a happy ending for the LGBT characters. And Alyssa Cole definitely ranks in my top 5 romance writers. So that’s a match made in heaven. It’s also a romance where neither of the couple is white.

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Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust

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Lin Darrow
Goodreads
Rep: genderfluid mc, pan li

In Temperance City, the streets are ruled by spelled-up gangsters, whose magic turf wars serve as a constant backdrop to civilian life. With magic strictly regulated, Eli Coello—whip-smart jewelry salesman by day, sultry torch singer by night—has always found it advantageous to hide his magical affinity for ink. 

All that goes up in smoke the day Eli is forced to use his magic to foil a jewelry heist, and in doing so unwittingly catches the eye Duke Haven, leader of the fire-flinging Pyre gang. Seeing a useful asset, Duke promptly blackmails Eli into providing unregistered spellwork. 

Duke needs Eli’s ink-magic to help him pull a dangerous con against a rival gang. As the heist comes together, Eli finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the Temperance underworld—and, perhaps most dangerously, to Duke himself.

Why Should I Read It?

Okay, so this is kind of tenuously romance, because there is the whole heist element to it, but who doesn’t like a heist, right? But, the meet cute is so iconic I just had to rec it. And, for a short story, it develops the tension and relationship between Eli and Duke so fricking well.

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The Love Song of Sawyer Bell

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Avon Gale
Goodreads
Rep: bi mc (ownvoices), lesbian mc

Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.

Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.

But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.

Why Should I Read It?

This one has the friends-with-benefits to lovers trope, done properly well. It’s probably my favourite book by Avon Gale – I love every one of the characters, and Sawyer and Vix are so cute together.

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Wanted, A Gentleman

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K. J. Charles
Goodreads
Rep: gay mcs, black mc

Theodore Swann is a jobbing writer, proprietor of the Matrimonial Advertiser lonely hearts gazette, and all-round weasel. He’s the very last man that Martin St. Vincent would choose to rely on—and the only one who can help.

Martin is a wealthy merchant who finds himself obliged to put a stop to a young heiress’s romantic correspondence in the Matrimonial Advertiser. When she and her swain make a dash for Gretna Green, Martin drags Theo on a breakneck chase up the country to catch the runaway lovers before it’s too late.

Theo guards his secrets. Martin guards his heart. But as the two of them are thrown irresistibly together, entanglements, deceptions, and revelations come thick and fast…

Why Should I Read It?

K. J. Charles writes some really good slowburning historical romance. This is probably one of my favourites I’ve read so far – in less than 150 pages, she manages to develop the relationship so subtly and wonderfully.

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The Pursuit Of…

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Courtney Milan
Goodreads
Rep: black mc, gay mcs (lgbt author)

TWs: period typical racism and homophobia

What do a Black American soldier, invalided out at Yorktown, and a white British officer who deserted his post have in common? Quite a bit, actually. 

• They attempted to kill each other the first time they met. 
• They’re liable to try again at some point in the five-hundred mile journey that they’re inexplicably sharing. 
• They are not falling in love with each other. 
• They are not falling in love with each other. 
• They are… Oh, no.

Why Should I Read It?

See above reasons why Courtney Milan is one of the best romance writers out there. Not only can she do it in 300 pages, she can do it in less than 150! If you want more reasons why you should absolutely, definitely read this, have a peek at Anna’s review.

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Storm Season

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Pene Henson
Goodreads
Rep: Chinese mc, lesbian mcs (ownvoices)

The great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and there are spiders in the toilet of the cabin she is sharing with friends on the way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.

Why Should I Read It?

You know that trope where two people who don’t know each other are stuck in a cabin without outside contact because of freakishly bad weather? And they fall in love? This is one of those ones, and it’s really really good.

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So, I hope you find something to read on this list. There will be a part two, eventually, but in the meantime, what are your favourite LGBT NA romances?

charlotte

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