Fave New Romances Jan-June 2018

Here are my fave new-to-me romances I read in the first half of 2018, grouped by trope. I limited myself to selecting two at most from each author. A bunch of these books were by new-to-me authors! I love finding new backlists to check out.

This list definitely shows my bias towards contemporary romance, but also includes fantasy romance, paranormal romance, YA romance, and historical romance. 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. 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 stories with no on-the-page sex, I am putting three asterisks*** at the end of the description.

Angst, Angst, and More Angst

  • The Coyote’s Cowboy by Holley Trent (paranormal m/f romance novella)This m/f shifter romance novella packs an intense punch. Witnessing these two neuroatypical MCs (one with ADHD, one with PTSD) who both feel alienated from other people connecting and being sweet to each other as they try to extricate themselves from folks who were trying to control them gave me so many feelings. This is an intense whirlwind ride of a paranormal romance that I could not put down. (Rep: Black heroine with PTSD. Hero with ADHD. Black woman author.)
  • Riven by Roan Parrish (contemporary m/m romance novel) This rock star romance between a new rock star and a musician grappling with recovery from addiction that cost him his career, just blew me away. It was gorgeously written, deeply characterized, intensely compelling, and the way it sinks into the details of composing and performing music was so visceral, real, and beautiful. (Rep: Gay MC with addiction. Gay MC.)
  • Undone by the Ex Con by Talia Hibbert (contemporary m/f romance novel) I love Talia Hibbert’s writing, the way she does incidental fat rep, the way she engages with the complexities of class and trauma, the swooniness in her romances, and of course, the gorgeous heat and chemistry. This is one of my faves. The heroine’s arc is all about coming to terms w/accepting her diabetes, and as a diabetic reader, I really appreciated this kind of rep. (Rep: Fat Black woman MC with diabetes. Bisexual man MC with PTSD. Gay man secondary character. Black, Anglo-Romani, disabled autistic queer woman author.)

BDSM Romance

  • His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade (contemporary m/m romance novel) I devoured this #cockygate D/s romance in big gulps. It’s incredibly hot, and also angsty, complex and just beautiful. I adored these characters so much! (Rep: Gay man MCs. Native AmeriBlAsian POC demibisexual queer man author.)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (historical m/f romance novella) I loved this, for so many reasons. The heroine’s grandmother was a converso, and she is trying to reclaim her Jewish identiity, and struggling with that, and it was just wonderful to read a romance that held the complexities of that struggle. Also, I loved all the layers of stuff in this story about consent, not just the kinky bits, but so much of the story was about consent and that gave me so many feels. (Rep: Bisexual Jewish Portugese immigrant woman MC. Bisexual man MC. Jewish woman 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.)

Bringing the Humor

  • Pet Rescue Panther by Zoe Chant (paranormal m/f romance novella) I enjoyed this bodyguard/protectee fated mates panther shifter romance. The heroine works at an animal shelter and as they run from the dragon shifter assassin that is after her, she insists that they not leave the kittens behind. It has this wonderful rom com feel to it, and made a hard day a bit brighter. (Rep: Fat heroine.)
  • 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.)
  • Belly Up by Eva Darrows (contemporary YA m/f romance novel) I am lucky enough to have been an early reader for this wonderful YA romance centering a pregnant teen girl. It’s full of heart, and full of humor, and the characters are wonderfully complex and deeply drawn. I loved it. I especially appreciated the fat rep, and the hero Leaf in particular. He’s a total dreamboat. (Rep: Hispanic biracial fat pregnant questioning teen girl MC. Fat Romani teen boy MC who I read as demisexual. Gray ace secondary character. Butch trans lesbian secondary character. Femme lesbian secondary character with diabetes. Hispanic and Romani biracial bisexual fat author with diabetes, PTSD, and anxiety.) (Note: out 4/3019)

Enemies to Lovers

  • The Art of French Kissing by Brianna Shrum (contemporary m/f YA romance novel) I loved this YA hate to love romance centered around a cooking competition for a scholarship to culinary school. It was engaging, complex, and funny. It had characters I fell hard for, and it made me feel so many things. (Rep: Japanese American queer boy MC with anxiety. Lesbian secondary characters. Indian American secondary characters. Queer Jewish woman author.)
  • Something Like Love by Christina C Jones (contemporary m/f romance novella)I loved this book! Both MCs had such strong voices, and so much complexity to their characterization. I was riveted, cared a lot about them, and was really rooting for them as a couple. It was very satisfying to watch the MCs go from being angry and glaring to caring about each other. There is a lot of heat and chemistry between them, and even when they shift away from being antagonists, their connection has this charge to it, where they dare each other and push against each other. (Rep: Black bisexual heroine. Black bisexual hero. Black woman author.)
  • A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper. (fantasy m/f romance) This is a completely gripping secondary world fantasy romance. Could not put it down. The romance bits are really swoony; I adored the central relationship. It pushes against so many classic tropes, unpacks them, shows their problems. I am still thinking about it several months after reading it. Will definitely be rereading this summer.(Rep: Woman of color MC with PTSD. Disabled man of color MC. Queer secondary character with limited sight. Lesbian secondary character. Asexual woman secondary character. Trans boy secondary character. Gay man secondary characters.)
  • Clean Breaks by Ruby Lang (contemporary m/f romance novel) Tough guarded heroine who is feeling her way into the life she wants after her cancer goes into remission reconnects with her brothers best friend from childhood who treated her badly as a kid, and romance sparks. I liked how he lets her be where she’s at, even if that means she’s angry or breaks social expectations, how he appreciates her armor. (Rep: Chinese American heroine with cancer. Taiwanese American hero. Asian American author.)

Foodie Romance

  • Idlewild by Jude Sierra (contemporary m/genderqueer romance novel) I enjoyed so much about this slow burn foodie romance. The pacing was meditative, the prose was lovely, and I felt wrapped up in the story and the characters as I watched them quietly grow and change and come together. Both of the MCs hide so much of themselves from the world, and are barely beginning to show certain pockets to each other as the book ends. I really liked that; it felt real. One of the MCs is closeted  about being genderqueer–he is out to nobody in the story (not even his love interest) and that doesn’t change or look like it will change anytime soon after the book ends, it’s just referenced quietly. That too felt very real, and worked for me as a genderqueer reader.  (Rep: Gay man MC. Black queer genderqueer MC. Latinx Bi-ro, demi/ace author.)
  • Perfect Pairing by Rachel Spangler (contemporary f/f romance novel)I really enjoyed this one. Wonderful food descriptions and details about food preparation and design, great chemistry, chosen family, hard-won happy ending, a bit angsty, full of humor, heat and heart. (Rep: Biracial POC butch lesbian MC. Femme lesbian MC. Lesbian 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.)

Forced Proximity

  • Snare by Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae (paranormal m/m/m romance novella) I loved this gorgeously written 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.)
  • The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre (Paranormal m/f romance novel) I was blown away by this intense, lovely, angsty romance with MCs that try to keep things casual but just really can’t, in a fraught warlike situation. They have such chemistry, and I loved the femdom D/s dynamic and the menage scene. (Rep: Bi man MC with chronic illness and PTSD, Demisexual biromantic autistic woman MC. Bi secondary character.)
  • Over and Over Again by Cole McCade (contemp m/m romance novel) Gorgeously written, quiet, slow burn, snowed-in angsty May/Dec holiday romance. With baby goats. This is an age gap romance with a taboo element, as the gentle giant older MC is a friend of the family and knew the younger MC as a child. (Rep: British-Hungarian Romani demisexual homoromantic man MC. Gay man MC. Native AmeriBlAsian POC demibisexual queer man author.) (Note: Out 7/23)

Geeky Romance

  • Counterpoint by Anna Zabo (contemporary m/m romance novel) I absolutely loved this meet-cute BDSM romance between a programmer and a rockstar who is really also a geek too. The BDSM was gorgeous, their arcs were so compelling, and I fell really hard for both heroes, was so grateful to see a careful, caring, vulnerable dominant character in particular. (Rep: Pansexual MC. Gay MC with anxiety. Bi/pan non-binary author.) (Note: 9/24/18)
  • Dirty Sexy Scot by Melissa Blue (contemporary m/f romance novel) I devoured this series centering Scottish heroes in the same family, and Black American heroines in big gulps, one right after the other. They are well plotted, deeply compelling, smoking hot romances with complex characters that I fell hard for, and romance arcs that were intensely satisfying. My fave was Dirty Sexy Scot, which has all these elements plus a geeky guarded heroine, a fabulous meet-cute, and this lovely complex romance arc that I found completely gripping. (Rep: Black heroine. Black woman author.)
  • Smoke Signals by Meredith Katz (fantasy m/m romance novella) I really enjoyed this geeky m/m romance, centering a knitter gay MC who works at a gaming company and a grumpy awkward dragon love interest 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.)

Meet-Cute Romance

  • Relationship Goals by Christina C. Jones (contemporary m/f romance novella) One of the best examples of chronic illness rep I have read in a romance. I fell really hard for both the MCs, & for the author’s writing. I will be checking out her backlist! (Rep: Black trauma survivor heroine. Black hero with sickle cell disease. Black woman author.)
  • What Kind of Day by Mina V. Esguerra (contemp m/f romance novel) I really enjoyed this romance, fell really hard for the heroine, and liked the way they navigated rocky waters together. It felt real, and it was lovely to see two characters in their thirties trying to navigate career crises. (Representation: Filipino MCs. Filipino 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.)***

Second Chance Romance

  • Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan (historical m/f romance novella) I loved this book, a lot. It has everything I have come to expect from a Milan romance: beautiful writing, complex characterization, high stakes, a nuanced exploration of class, brilliant dialogue with lots of lovely banter, a tightly woven arc, flawed MCs doing their best who win me over by the end, a story that’s steeped in feminism. The way this couple imploded the first time, I was doubtful that they would be able to repair their relationship. Untangling the way they parted and finding a path to apologizing to and forgiving each other was the core conflict, and the way it unfolded really worked for me as a reader. (Rep: Black-Indian British multiracial bisexual hero. Disabled secondary character with a chronic pain condition (likely arthritis). Black queer woman secondary character. Bisexual hapa woman 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.)
  • A Season for Wishes by Lydia San Andres (historical m/f romance novella) I enjoyed this second chance romance, it was quiet & sweet. I liked the characters a lot, and am looking forward to reading more in this series of historical romances set on a fictional island in the Carribean. (Rep: Latinx MCs. Latinx woman author.)***

Slow Burn Romance

  • Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R. Cooper (contemp m/m romance novella) I loved this book! Such a sweet story, the MC pines so intensely for his gay bear baker best friend & has no idea how to even approach dating because he spent his youth taking care of his family. (Rep: Gay Latix MC. Gay fat MC. Latinx lesbian secondary character.)
  • Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert (contemporary m/f romance novel) I really loved this friends to lovers romance. It felt like it went really deep, and was extremely satisfying and complex. It has beaten out my other favorites by this author and is her standout, thus far, in my opinion. One of the best books I’ve read in 2018. (Rep: Fat Black British bisexual or pansexual heroine. Desi biracial Muslim hero. Black, Anglo-Romani, disabled autistic queer woman author..)
  • Invitation to the Blues by Roan Parrish (contemporary m/m romance novel) Still not sure I have words to adequately describe this gorgeously rendered, deeply characterized, utterly heart-wrenching, deliciously queer, simply beautiful romance. Except to say its one of the best books I read in 2018, and my new fave by this author. (Rep: Queer man MC with depression and PTSD who I read as autistic. Gay Black man love interest. Queer woman secondary character. Trans man secondary character.)

Workplace Romance

  • 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.)***
  • Get at Me by Krystal A Smith (contemporary f/f romance novelette) When CJ, the butch MC, spots a femme arriving at the community center, she is into her pretty much immediately, and they have lovely flirty moments with great chemistry, but Fatima, the femme MC is trying to focus on putting up the murals she was hired to do, and thinks C.J. is too much of a distraction. (Rep: Black butch lesbian MC. Black femme lesbian MC. Black lesbian author.)***
  • Thrown off Track by Tamsen Parker (contemporary m/m romance novella) This book just wrecked me. I was a puddle on the ground by the end. It’s all about layers of relationship and being seen and known and held in the fullness of self, and has this beautiful arc that felt complex and gut wrenching, and has a hard earned happy ending. I adored the MCs in this bandmates/friends to lovers romance so much, who they are as people, and who they are together as a couple. The demisexual representation resonated so deeply and intensely for me; I was utterly undone by it. (Rep: Bisexual demisexual man MC. Gay man MC.)
  • Making Up by Lucy Parker (contemporary m/f romance novel) It was just lovely to read a romance that had such a nuanced portrayal of trauma recovery and gave a trauma survivor a love interest that really held and respected Trix where she was, supported her autonomy, saw her strength while also being gentle with her vulnerability. It made me feel hopeful, as a trauma survivor reader. (Rep: Black British hero with a knee injury and anxiety. Heroine with PTSD.)

3 thoughts on “Fave New Romances Jan-June 2018

  1. That’s a wonderful list of recommendations 😊😊😊 When will I ever get to them….
    I’ve only read Riven from this list and it was so beautifully written… I really cried a lot 😜😜😜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah Riven made me cry too. So much emotional intensity in that book. The writing is gorgeous. Given your love for that book, I’d esp rec Invitation to the Blues, Over and Over Again and Counterpoint.

      Liked by 1 person

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