For #RomBkLove today, it’s all about romance shorts and novellas!
What do you like about reading shorter romance stories?
What are your favorite short stories and novellas?
What makes a shorter romance work?
Who is brilliant at writing shorter romances?
For the purposes of this post I am defining different lengths of short form fiction in this way, based on the assumption of approximately 250 words per page.
Novella: 20,000-40,000 words (80-160 pages)
Novelette: 7,500-20,000 words (30-80 pages)
Short story: 1,000-7,500 words (4-30 pages)
I love reading short form fiction. It is often the only thing I can read when I have brain fog or am dealing with a disability flare, and I know other spoonie readers who say similar things.
Short form romance works really differently from longer forms, in terms of pacing and characterization and the complexity of the arc, the number of sub-plots and conflicts to resolve. Shorter romances often have less characters and settings, have one clear arc, and if they are done well, are shaped to fit the length of the story. They are more likely to be HFN than HEA, though that varies.
This list leans heavily towards contemporary romance, but there is a smattering of paranormal, historical, fantasy, NA and YA romance as well. I list pairings/groupings right after the titles, and link to reviews with content warnings where they exist. I have grouped by trope/theme.
I’m listing rep at the end of my descriptions. 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 LGBTQIAP+ umbrella.
For folks looking for stories with no on-the-page sex, I am putting three asterisks*** at the end of the description.
- Double Exposure by Chelsea M Cameron (contemporary f/f romance novelette with a trans lead) Adorable fluffy meet-cute romance between a photographer and a barista, set in the context of a queer coffee shop. (Rep: Pansexual woman MC. Bisexual trans woman MC. Queer demigirl author.)
- Ghost by Robin Covington (contemporary m/m romance novella) is a tropetastic whirlwind that is tightly plotted. I cared about the MCs, and wanted them to figure out how to be together. It was deliciously geeky (focused on comics), and the characterization was fairly complex. I liked the one night stand in the past, now you have blown your shot trope, it worked well, as did the workaholic daddy issues angst. (Rep: Native American disabled (has essential tremor) gay man trauma survivor MC. Biracial Korean American-Irish American bi man MC. Native American woman author.)
- Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (contemporary f/f romance novelette): 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.)***
- Whip, Stir and Serve by Caitlyn Frost and Henry Drake. (contemporary m/enby romance novelette) Amazing short contemporary kink meet-cute romance centering an autistic bisexual demigirl submissive MC w/anxiety and a careful, sweet, very hot dominant man MC who makes cinnamon rolls. Hot realistic BDSM scene full of consent. (Rep: Autistic bisexual demi-girl MC with anxiety. Chubby man love interest. Autistic bisexual non-binary demi-girl author with anxiety. Autistic man author.)
- Thirsty Boy by Elliott Cooper (contemporary m/m romance novelette) I enjoyed this D/s novelette so much! Its this lovely mix of hot and sweet, and very much about wanting to belong, wanting to be claimed, wanting to be seen and accepted in your desires. I adored both MCs, loved the strength in the boy and the vulnerability in the dominant. A real treat all the way through. (Rep: Gay MCs. Bi trans man author.)
- Challenge Accepted by Annabeth Leong (contemporary m/f romance novella) BDSM erotic romance. Novice submissive man works to prove he’s up for a date with a dominant woman who’s wary and has been burned too often. The BDSM in this book is delicious. (Rep: Chinese American man MC. Latinx woman MC. Multiracial Chinese-Hawaiian woman author.)
- Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert (contemporary m/m romance novella) Friends to lovers kinky m/m romance between an introvert grump geeky experienced submissive and a novice dominant extrovert who bets that he can help him find the Christmas spirit again. Long term crush, intertwined families, grief arc. (Rep: Gay MCs.)
- Letters from Cupid by Ari McKay. (contemporary m/m romance novella) I enjoyed this cute, light, fluffy m/m epistolary romance between English professors, with a secret admirer plotline. One even recites poetry to the other! (Rep: Gay MCs.)
- The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar by Rose Lemberg (fantasy romance short story) I adore this fantasy epistolary romance between two artisans who exchange letters over long distances discussing their magical artistry, and slowly fall for each other. (Rep: I read both the MCs as non-binary; their genders are never stated. Queer Jewish immigrant, autistic disabled trauma survivor, bigender non-binary trans author.)***
- Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh (contemporary m/f romance novella) I enjoyed the slow build over email exchange between a publicist and her musician client who has been pining for her forever and is finally making his move. (Rep: Latinx man MC. Biracial Indonesian woman MC. Fijian woman author.)
- Mr March Names the Stars by Rivka Aarons-Hughes (contemporary m/m romance novella with a trans lead) The sweetest homiest cozy romance I’ve read in a while. It felt like a hug. I really liked the trans and enby rep, the ace rep, the pagan rep. I loved the epistolary nature of the romance. It’s one of the only ace/ace pairings I’ve read and my fave so far. (Rep: Homoromantic asexual pagan man MC. Black panromantic asexual pagan trans man MC. Non-binary secondary character.)***
- A Night at the Mall by M. Hollis (contemporary f/f romance novelette) Adorable fluffy meet cute forced proximity femme/femme romance that’s all about fashion. (Rep: Lesbian heroine, bisexual Latinx woman love interest. Brazilian sapphic author.)***
- Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant (fantasy m/f romance novella with two trans leads): This fantasy Western romance 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.)
- A Touch of Sugar by Christina C Jones (contemporary m/f romance novella) I really enjoyed this snowed in Christmas romance, complete with long term pining, hilarious tree-cutting antics, and lots of heat. I adored the heroine so much. This is part of a series of linked novellas and I plan to read them all! (Rep: Chubby Black woman MC. Black man MC. Black woman author.)
- Snare by Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae (paranormal m/m/m romance novella) I loved this gorgeously written polyamorous romance about a middle aged chubby ordinary looking vampire and the two beautiful younger men who fall for each other and adore him. This has so much in it; a lovely meet-cute, a snowed-in start and then a longer forced proximity due to vampire politics and an accidental bite, and polyamory representation that made me swoon. (Rep: Gay MCs. Gay chubby middle-aged MC. Queer non-binary author. Queer woman author.)
Friends to Lovers
- Opening Act by Suleikha Snyder (contemporary m/f romance novella) Lovely friends to lovers m/f contemporary rock star romance. I adored the heroine. (Rep: Desi woman MC. Desi woman author.)
- For Better or Worse by R Cooper (contemporary m/m romance novella) I really enjoyed the way this felt so much like a demisexual story in the structure and pacing of it. It resonated for me. I also liked how cooking together was a big part of their relationship. (Rep: Latinx biromantic demisexual MC. Gay MC.)
- Beary Christmas, Baby by Sasha Devlin (paranormal m/f romance novelette): 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.)
- Always With You by Talia Hibbert (contemporary m/f romance novelette) I enjoyed this steamy friends to lovers romance short. It has sweetness to it, to go with the substantial heat. (Rep: Chubby Black British woman MC. Black autistic queer woman author.)
- Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde (contemporary m/enby romance novelette with a trans man hero): Friends to lovers trans m/non-binary romance with a character who has anxiety. Longtime online friends meet up at scifi convention & fall for each other. I have a soft spot for this book. (Rep: Queer genderqueer MC. Queer trans man MC. Non-binary trans author.)
- Team Phison by Chace Verity (contemporary m/m romance novella): 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.)
- Level Up by Cathy Yardley (contemporary m/f romance novella) This sweet geeky romance has a geeky introverted heroine aching to get recognized for her high quality work at a tech company. I fell so damn hard for her. (Rep: Latinx woman MC. Biracial Asian American woman author.)
- Looking for Group by Alexis Hall (contemporary m/m romance novella) This adorable geeky romance is one of my favorite comfort reads. Hall built a game world that I wanted to hang out and flirt in, and I am not a gaming person. (Rep: Questioning man MC. Queer man MC. Pansexual secondary character. Queer man author.)***
- Be My Fantasy by Alisha Rai (m/f contemporary romance novella): Smoking hot erotic m/f BDSM romance between two characters with longtime attraction to each other. He can’t resist the bosses daughter anymore, not after he realizes how kinky she is. (Rep: Italian-Brazilian American man MC. Desi woman author.)
- Wild Ones by Kristine Wyllys (contemporary m/f romance novella) 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. It’s also 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. (Rep: Trauma survivor MC. Native American woman author.)
- Natural Enemies by Roan Parrish. (contemporary m/m romance novella) As always with Parrish’s work, the language is gorgeous, the details are lush and engaging, the characters are complex, and there’s a large helping of angst that reaches inside me as a reader. I adored them both as characters, and enjoyed the romance arc quite a lot. Their chemistry was glorious, and the sex scenes are full of heat and complexity and just a touch of kink. (Rep: Black queer MC who I read as autistic. Latinx queer MC)
- Star Dust by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner (historical m/f romance novella) Quietly lovely historical romance centering an astronaut and a divorced mom. I find this series especially soothing to read. I liked them all, but this is my fave.
- Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan (historical m/f romance novella) A rake has to prove himself to a woman who’s serious about astronomy. I really enjoyed the pace and tone of this one. (Rep: Black woman MC. Bisexual hapa woman author.)
- Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole (historical m/f romance novella) Beautiful historical m/f romance between two civil rights activists. This is worth reading for the Chanukah scene alone. (Rep: Black woman MC. Jewish man MC. Black woman author.)
- Hearts Alight by Elliott Cooper (m/m fantasy romance novelette): 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)***
- The Mountain Lion’s Valentine by Lola Kidd (urban fantasy m/f romance novelette) Adorable, fun, sweet Valentine’s Day themed shifter romance, complete with mail order bride trope and insta-mating. (Rep: Fat Black woman MC. Woman of color author.)
- A Taste of Blessings by Suleikha Snyder (m/f contemporary romance novelette): Age gap m/f romance centered around Durga Puja. Older single dad hero that she’s pined for forever. 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.)
- Keeping the Cookies by Briana Lawrence (contemporary m/m novelette) A Christmas novelette that was wacky, hilarious and really wonderful. Plus, it has an awesome BFF and a fat love interest who I completely adored. (Rep: Black gay MCs. Black gay secondary character. Black woman author.)
- So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon (contemporary m/f romance novella) I adore Kayla so much and want to be friends with her. This book is a lovely example of incidental fat rep and the whole series of books are comfort rereads for me. The meet cute is great. (Rep: Fat Black bisexual heroine. Trans woman secondary character. Black queer woman author.)
- Looking for a Complication by Tamsen Parker (contemporary f/f romance novelette) Meet-cute swoony butch/femme romance. One character is bisexual and just coming out. Light kink. (Bisexual woman MC. Lesbian woman MC.)
- Gridiron Heartbreaker by Melissa Blue (contemporary m/f romance novella) Pro quarterback is taking care of his mom who is sick and suddenly is much less of a fun-seeking guy; so he hides out in her kitchen at a party (she’s a caterer); the meet-cute banter is wonderful. I love how she gives him so much shit. They try to keep it casual but catch feelings. Really hot chemistry and stellar sex scenes with a touch f kink. (Rep: Black woman author)
- Summer Research by Rain Merton (contemporary m/m romance novelette): Gorgeously written meet-cute m/m romance set at an academic conference. The dialogue and descriptions are everything. (Rep: Gay MC. Gay Black MC. Genderqueer author.)
- Full Exposure by Amy Jo Cousins (contemporary m/m romance novelette) Delicious rock star BDSM m/m romance where the rock star is the submissive in the D/s dynamic (which I especially appreciate). (Korean American gay man MC. Bisexual man MC.)
- Maxx Neon by Lina Langley (contemporary m/enby romance novella) I fell really hard for the rock star MC, and I enjoyed the way this book talked about performing. I appreciated the back pain representation, which mostly resonated with my own experience of chronic back pain. (Rep: Afro-Latinx disabled queer man MC. Non-binary queer love interest. Queer Latinx enby author.)
- The Trouble by Daria Defore (contemporary m/m aromantic comedy novella) I enjoyed this book so much! It centers a gay aromantic musician who is into his TA, and its hilarious and sweet and the characters are drawn in beautifully complex ways, have this awesome chemistry together, and the MC is endearingly flawed in the ways he makes spectacular mistakes. Really lovely domestic scenes and the band feels very much like a chosen family. (Rep: Korean American gay allosexual aromantic MC. Korean American gay MC. Aromantic author.)
New Adult Romance
- Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (Contemporary f/f romance novella) Meet-cute butch/femme contemporary NA romance. I adore the meet-cute in this one so much. (Black lesbian sex worker MC. Black lesbian MC with mental illness. Black queer woman author.)
- Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans (contemporary m/enby romance novelette with a trans man hero): 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.)
- Second Chance by Chelsea M. Cameron (contemporary f/f romance novella) I enjoyed this first summer after starting college second chance with your high school girlfriend who broke your heart story. It felt very NA in all the right ways, so specific to that time of life. I love the queer haven the characters create/find away from their parents. (Rep: Demisexual Demiromantic bisexual woman MC. Lesbian woman MC. Queer demigirl author.)
- Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall (contemporary m/m romance novella) Very British, beautiful, rather quiet and melancholy romance with a grief arc and, of course, a flood. The main POV character has a stutter, and it runs through the way he thinks in every interaction in this way I really appreciated. (Rep: Gay man MC with a stutter. Gay man MC. Queer man author.)
- Smoke Signals by Meredith Katz. (fantasy m/m romance novella) I really enjoyed this quiet geeky romance, centering a knitter gay MC who works at a gaming company and a grumpy awkward dragon love interest customer whose hoard is all games. It was cute, sweet, and fluffy, had a lovely satisfying romance arc. Plus there was a kitty I adored! (Rep: Gay MC. Bisexual MC. Lesbian author.)
- His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto (contemporary m/m romance novella) I fell hard for this quiet ace romance between two government agents, one of whom is ace and one of whom is demi. I loved the quiet slow pace of it, the respectful way Arthur courted and cared for Martin. I read Martin as autistic, though it’s not named on the page, and have a whole host of complex feelings about this characterization, while also loving him so much and wanting to hold him close to my heart. (Rep: Biromantic demisexual man MC. Asexual man MC who I read as autistic. Lesbian secondary character. Mexican American woman author with dysgraphia and phonological dyslexia.)***
- Six String Sass by Leigh Landry (contemporary m/f romance novella) This was lovely, and fun. I cared about the single mom heroine a lot, and enjoyed the arc of this romance, liked the complexity in their interactions. Definitely going to check out other books by this author. (Rep: Bisexual heroine.)
- All You Can Handle by Farrah Rochon (contemporary m/f romance novella): Small town romance about a motorcycle shop owner raising his baby sister and the pastry chef who he had a one night stand with who ends up being his new tenant. (Rep: Black MCs. Black author.)
- Fearless by Shira Glassman (contemporary f/f romance novelette) Butch/femme romance between a band mom and an orchestra teacher while snowed in at All-State. (Rep: Jewish lesbian women MCs. Bisexual Jewish woman author.)***
- Under His Kilt by Melissa Blue (contemporary m/f romance novella) I fell hard for this series centering Scottish heroes in the same family, and Black American heroines. They are well plotted, deeply compelling, smoking hot romances with complex characters that I fell hard for, and romance arcs that were intensely satisfying. This is the first one, a workplace bucket list fling romance with a wonderful dog, that sucked me in and made me decide to read them all. (Rep: Black heroine. Black woman author.)
- Coffee Boy by Austin Chant (contemporary m/m romance novelette with a trans lead) Workplace m/m romance between a campaign strategist and an intern that’s full of sparks and grumpiness and (possibly) unrequited crushes. The MC is trans, and one of the main threads in the story is about being out as trans in the office. (Queer trans man MC. Bisexual man MC. Queer trans man author)
- Beyond Possession by Kit Rocha (dystopian m/f romance novella) This is one of my faves in the Beyond series, for the romance arc itself and the way Zan really gets her and honors what she needs. I love how they talk through consent, and navigate her past experiences where coercion was embedded in the D/s dynamic. (Rep: Bisexual Latinx woman MC with PTSD. Man of color MC. )
- Hamilton’s Battalion with novellas by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan and Alyssa Cole (historical romance anthology) I loved all three of these historical romance novellas, 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.)
- Meet Cute (YA romance anthology) I especially appreciated the f/f and geeky meet cutes in this anthology. There are some lovely romance short stories, that made me laugh, made me ache for the characters, and made me swoon. Truly worth getting for the Nina LaCour and Meredith Russo stories alone. (Rep: see review, too much to list.)
- Start Here ed by Ronald S. Lim and Brigitte Bautista (contemporary queer romance anthology) I enjoyed this anthology of queer Filipinx romances that includes m/m, f/f, and f/enby stories. #Romanceclass romances are generally wonderful and this anthology is no exception! (Rep: Filipinx queer MCs. Filipinx authors.)
- Rogue Acts (contemporary romance anthology) I enjoyed this anthology of resistance romance novellas, particularly because it included resistance at the community and neighborhood level. I loved Ruby Lang’s story, and really enjoyed the stories by Molly O’Keefe, and Olivia Dade. It’s worth getting the book for these alone. (Rep: see review, too much to list.)
- Solstice Miracle by Alexis Daria (contemporary m/f short story): Cute story where a librarian heroine who does witch improv as a side gig has two kids grieving their mother show up at her door with their very cute uncle requesting a solstice miracle. (Rep: Latinx hero. Latinx author.)***
- The Spinner, the Shepherd, and the Leading Man by Kris Ripper (contemporary m/m/m romance novella) Fluffy fun summer theater romance complete with a long term pining friends to lovers arc that includes a new crush and ends in a triad. (Queer men MCs. Genderqueer author.)
- Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss by Lydia San Andres (historical f/f romance short story): Sweet free historical 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 author.)
- Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live by Sacha Lamb (m/m fantasy YA romance novelette with two trans leads): This free YA romance between two trans boys is one of the standout books in my reading of 2017. One of the MCs has depression and at various points in the story is suicidal. It’s also a tremendously hopeful book. (Rep: Jewish trans boy MC. Trans boy MC. Lesbian secondary character. Lesbian trans woman secondary character. Jewish bisexual non-binary trans boy author.)***