Fave Romances I Read in 2017

This post gives a rather long list of my favorite romances I read in 2017. (Not all of them were published in 2017, of course.) It concentrates on new reads but includes a few notable rereads as well. (I tried not to include rereads that were on my 2015 and 2016 lists.) It definitely shows my bias towards contemporary romance, but there is a smattering of fantasy and historical romance too. I’m not including YA or MG because I am doing a separate post of my fave books I read from those genres.

I am grouping them by theme. Many could belong in more than one category. I link to reviews where I have written them; and also where I have only posted trigger warnings, so you can easily find those.

I’m listing rep at the end of my descriptions, which is a new thing for me. If you spot something incorrect, please do feel free to let me know. Also, I am not intending to out anyone; I get author info from the web and the book bio. If an author would like me to remove any info listed, please do let me know. I want to note that I use the word fat as a neutral descriptor when listing rep, and use the word queer when a character or author identify that way or when I am unclear about their identity but know they fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.

For folks looking for romance with no on-the-page sex, I am putting three asterisks*** at the end of the description.

He Just Adores Her

  • Better at Weddings than You by Mina V. Esguerra: This is competence porn at it’s finest. The heroine is intensely competent and the hero just worships her for it. (Rep: Filipinx MCs. Filipina woman author.)
  • Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai: Jackson has been pining for Sadia for a very long time, and I adored their low-key femdom dynamic, how much he wanted to be what she needed and take care of her and love her. (Rep: Bisexual Pakastani American heroine with anxiety. Japanese American & Native Hawaian biracial hero that I read as autistic. Desi author.)
  • Small Change by Roan Parrish: Christopher is just gone over the prickly angry Ginger and it was lovely to read. I adored her right along with him and would have brought her delicious sandwich surprises if I could. (Rep: Queer heroine that I read as neuroatypical. Trans and genderqueer secondary characters.)

Meet Cute

  • Take the Lead by Alexis Daria: Reality tv dance show centered m/f romance with a grumpy hero and a super competent heroine who refuses to get drawn into a showmance but then falls for the hero anyway. Meet-cute in this one involves a trip to Alaska and a bear. (Rep: Puerto Rican heroine. Latinx woman author.)
  • Madly by Ruthie Knox: This m/f erotic romance begins with a rather funny meet cute and is just breathtaking in the way it deconstructs heteronormativity, patriarchy, and sex norms. It’s also got a really tender heart, that drew me in deeply. I fell hard for the heroine.
  • Kings and Butterflies by Lina Langley: A fluffy fun m/m romance with a hidden trope I rarely see queer versions of. This trope often lends a fantasy fairy tale feel, and I got a kick out of reading a queer version of that fantasy. I enjoyed the D/s in this one. (Rep: Gay MC. Bisexual love interest. Queer Latinx enby author.)
  • His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras: Dance teacher clashes with a student’s father and then they keep running into each other in this beautiful single parent romance. Very much a holiday story, really holds that kind of sweetness and celebration, that centering of family and care. (Rep: Puerto Rican heroine. Mexican American hero. Puerto Rican-Mexican American woman author.)***

Sports

  • Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer: Angsty m/m NA romance about Olympic hopeful divers, one closeted, one out. I generally don’t like romances where the core conflict is around being out, but this one really grabbed me. (Rep: Gay MCs. Demisexual secondary character. Ace author.)
  • Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell: I adored this enemies to lovers m/m romance between a football player and his new personal assistant. This is in my top ten m/m romances I’ve ever read. (Rep: Gay man MC. Bisexual man MC. Bisexual man author.)  (For information about why I deleted this entry, see this post.)
  • Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn: I enjoyed this m/m romance where a pro hockey player falls for his professor. After the class is over, they start a D/s relationship that includes teacher/student role play. (Rep: Gay MCs. Latinx MC. Queer author. Latinx bi enby author.)

Age Gap

  • A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde: I adore this age gap romance between a younger trans man and an older genderqueer for so many reasons, but especially for the way consent and sexual negotiation happen in this story, and how trans and enby centered it is. (Rep: Bisexual genderqueer MC. Queer trans man MC. Non-binary trans author.)
  • Hold Me Down by Sara Taylor Woods: This m/f BDSM Daddy/girl romance blew me away. At its center its about Talia, the younger character, working to claim her kinky desires, despite judgment from the people around her. I needed this book so badly when I was a teen. (Rep: Jewish heroine. Jewish queer woman author.)
  • A Taste of Blessings by Suleikha Snyder: Age gap m/f romance centered around Durga Puja. Complex nuanced compelling characterization and conflict, deeply drawn cultural context, great secondary characters, lovely humor, and sizzling heat and chemistry between the MCs; so much UST. (Rep: Bengali heroine. Older Bengali hero. Desi woman author.)

Short and Sweet

  • Green Toes by Avery Flinders: A lovely short centering a bi woman who moves to the city for queer community, finds magic boots, and falls for a genderqueer person who lives down the road. (Rep: Bisexual woman MC. Queer non-binary love interest. Queer non-binary author.)***
  • A Night at the Mall by M. Hollis: Adorable fluffy meet cute f/f femme/femme romance short that’s all about fashion. (Rep: Lesbian heroine, bisexual Latinx woman love interest. Brazilian sapphic author.)***
  • Summer Research by Rain Merton: Gorgeously written meet-cute m/m romance set at a conference. The dialogue and descriptions are everything. (Rep: Gay MC. Gay Black MC. Genderqueer author.)

Great Neurodivergent Representation

  • An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles: I fell incredibly hard for the autistic MC in this kinky m/m historical romance. I especially appreciated the pacing, the beautiful writing, and the depiction of D/s in this story. (Rep: British Indian dyspraxic autistic gay man MC. Gay man MC.)
  • Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn: This m/f contemporary romance has so much in it that I enjoyed! I liked all the disabled characters in it, really resonated with the neurodivergent hero, loved all the stuff about fixing up the house, and felt the representation of ACOA issues was just spot-on. (Rep: Trauma survivor heroine. Hero with ADHD. Secondary disabled characters.)
  • Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai: This angsty family drama-filled m/f romance is my favorite romance I read in 2017, and my new favorite by this author, who is one of my most favorite romance authors ever. It wins all the faves, basically. So much heat, so much angst, so much heart. Gave me so so many feels. I love the depression representation in this story, and I fiercely adore the heroine. (Rep: Japanese American & Native Hawaiian biracial heroine with depression. Hero with PTSD. Desi woman author.)
  • Queen of Dauphine St by Thea De Salle: This m/f romance balances humor, heat, heart, and hard stuff  incredibly well. There is a gorgeous scene where the heroine supports the hero through a panic attack by talking about how she handles them that totally stole my heart. (Hero with PTSD. Pansexual heroine with PTSD and anxiety. Hispanic and Romani biracial bisexual fat author with PTSD and anxiety.)

Historical

  • Hamilton’s Battalion with novellas by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan and Alyssa Cole: I loved all three of these historical romances, which are m/f, m/m and f/f. That Could Be Enough was my personal favorite in the collection, and one of my favorite f/f romances that I’ve ever read. (Rep: Jewish MCs. Jewish woman author. Gay MC with ADHD. Black gay MC. Bisexual hapa woman author. Black lesbian MCs. Black woman author.)
  • The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian: I really liked this enemies to lovers m/m historical romance. I especially appreciated the disability representation in this story, and the complexities of how the MC’s fell for each other. (Rep: Gay MC. Gay disabled MC with PTSD.)
  • Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss by Lydia San Andres: Sweet free historical f/f romance short about two women who share a room at a boarding house (and a secret attraction to one another). (Rep: Latinx lesbian MCs. Latinx woman author.)

So Much Heat

  • Beyond Ruin and Beyond Surrender (the whole Beyond series, really) by Kit Rocha: I devoured the Beyond series this year. I’d read the first few books, but this year I read them ALL. I especially appreciated Beyond Ruin, which centers a m/m/f/f kinky foursome of queers who all have trauma and angst. (Rep: Latinx bisexual hero. Desi bisexual heroine. Bisexual hero. Bisexual heroine.) I also adored Beyond Surrender which has a heroine with ADHD who I adored, even if it brings a bit less heat. (Rep: Black hero. Vietnamese heroine with ADHD. Author with ADHD.)
  • Hardcore by Dakota Gray: The heat in this book is glorious and relentless and I really enjoyed the flawed characters and the hero’s POV. I liked the fat rep in this one; it was lovely to read the MC’s unabashed attraction to the heroine. (Rep: Chubby heroine. Black woman author.)
  • Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell: I adored this Staten-Island set age gap romance between a older bi vet single dad and a younger bi man who is just out of the military. The audiobook for this is one of my most favorite audiobooks ever. (Rep: Bi MCs. Author with anxiety. Bisexual man author.) (For information about why I deleted this entry, see this post.)
  • Wild Ones by Kristine Wyllys: This is not a light book; it’s set in a violent world, it’s full of teeth and claws and intensity, and it did not let me go. Some of the hottest sex I have ever read on the page; it felt raw and ferocious and matched the whirlwind nature of the book itself. This book centers a tough, ferocious sexual woman who is a trauma survivor, and it wasn’t about looking at her from the outside or getting titillated. It insisted on centering her perspective. And it was hopeful. (Rep: Trauma survivor heroine. Native American woman author.)

Speculative Fiction

  • The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood: I really enjoyed this  fun, funny, geeky, hot, butch/femme romance, told from the POV of the femme character. I love that basically everyone we meet in the book is queer. Oh, and the butch LI is a werewolf. (Chubby femme queer woman MC. Butch queer woman LI. Queer woman author.)
  • Peter Darling by Austin Chant: This queer trans retelling of Peter Pan blew me away, and is in my top three trans romances ever. It’s seriously brilliant and I hold it close to my heart. (Rep: Queer trans man MC. Disabled queer man MC. Queer trans man author.)
  • Beary Christmas, Baby by Sasha Devlin: Fun, playful boss/assistant snowed in friends to lovers m/f romance with a polar bear shifter hero and a dragon shifter heroine. (Rep: Black woman author.)
  • Hearts Alight by Elliott Cooper: Sweet geeky romance between a gay man and his long time crush, who turns out to be a golem. Loved the scene where they play D&D, and the Chanukah family gathering. (Rep: Jewish bi hero. Older queer love interest. Jewish trans man secondary character. Bi trans man author)***

Geeks I Fell For

  • Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman: I adore this fun fluffy f/f contemporary romance between two Jewish queer girl artists. Wonderful fat rep, rugelach, geekiness, and a mischievous kitty. (Rep: Lesbian Jewish MC. Bisexual Jewish MC. Bisexual Jewish woman author.)***
  • Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans: I love so much about this moody contemporary meet-cute romance, including the fact that they bond over watching bad monster movies. It’s one of my favorite trans romances ever, and I really enjoyed rereading it this year. (Rep: Disabled POC MCs, one is a trans man, one is non-binary. Genderqueer author.)
  • Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert: Geeky guarded heroine meets brooding grumpy tattoo artist hero, both are trauma survivors who struggle to trust each other. So much angst, so much heat in this m/f erotic romance, plus lovely fat rep. (Rep: Fat Black heroine with PTSD. Hero with PTSD. Black queer woman author.)
  • Team Phison by Chace Verity: I loved this fluffy age gap m/m romance so much. Grumpy meets sweet, both of them super geeky and awkward and adorable and I was rooting for them so hard. (Rep: Bisexual MC. Gay MC. Pansexual author.)

Hate to Love

  • Acting On Impulse by Mia Sosa: There was such an amazing spark between the MCs in this m/f romance! So much humor, and so much heart, and this wonderful pace that had me devouring it in big gulps. (Rep: Latinx heroine. Latinx woman author.)
  • Insert Groom Here by K. M. Jackson: This m/f romance balances fluffy with some heavier notes and a bunch of hotness. I especially liked the heroine, and how complex she was, all the layers of her armor, emotions and motivations. (Rep: Black heroine. Black woman author.)
  • A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole: I love Cole’s writing style, and this modern royalty m/f romance was beautifully done. I fell for both the MCs so hard, and was rooting for them even as I couldn’t see how they could possibly figure things out til the very end. (African diaspora heroine. African hero. Black woman author.)

D/s Romance

  • Tactical Submission by Ada Maria Soto: Easily in the top three of any BDSM romance I’ve ever read. The BDSM was gorgeous and deeply realistic and just a tremendous joy to read. Lovely polyamory and bi rep, as well. (Rep: Bisexual man MC. Gay man MC. Bisexual woman secondary character. Mexican American woman author with dysgraphia and phonological dyslexia.)
  • Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker: I especially enjoyed the femdom D/s dynamic in this musician/athlete meet-cute romance with a fake relationship. Loved the way he was so into submitting to her and adoring her. (Rep: Latinx hero.)
  • King of Bourbon Street by Thea De Salle: I love this book for the wonderful D/s, the fabulous fat rep, for a novice dom I adored, and because it made me laugh. Just wonderful, the entire series, but this book has a special place in my heart. (Rep: Bisexual hero. Fat heroine. Hispanic and Romani biracial bisexual fat woman author with PTSD and anxiety.)

Grief themed stories

  • Tender With A Twist by Annabeth Albert: I really enjoyed this kinky foodie m/m romance with a grief arc. I especially fell for the novice top MC so hard. (Rep: Gay man MCs.)
  • Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant: This steampunk Western m/f romance with trans leads just wrecked me. Intense grief arc, witch heroine, and the hero just adores her in this really lovely way. (Rep: Trans man hero. Trans woman heroine. Queer trans man author.)
  • Overexposed by Megan Erickson: This is my favorite of the ace spectrum romances I read in 2017, a quiet m/m with a demisexual lead, a grief arc, and lovely characterization. (Rep: Gay MC. Demisexual homoromantic love interest.)

Food themed stories

  • The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish: This is my favorite holiday story I read this year, a beautiful rather angsty m/m romance with so much baking, a lovely Chanukah feast, and characters that stole my heart and gave me so many feels. I especially appreciated the autistic artist MC, and the kink, and also the dogs. (Rep: Jewish gay MC. Gay autistic MC.)
  • North to You by Tif Marcelo: This has everything I would want from a food-themed romance, plus an emphasis on familial relationships. And it made me hungry. (Rep: Filipinx hero and heroine. Filipinx author.)
  • Wrapped by Rebekah Weatherspoon: Baker heroine reconnects with sweet hero former coworker to try romance again after divorce. Glorious food details, so much Christmas sentiment; full of heat, heart and humor. (Rep: Fat Black heroine. Black queer author.)
  • A Little Familiar by R Cooper: Gorgeously written witch/familiar romance complete with long term pining, pagan community, a ghost, and so much cooking it made me ravenous. I fell hard for the genderfluid familiar, and had so many feels for the witch hero who thought he’d always be alone. (Rep: Gay MC. Genderfluid love interest.)
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