Fave Romance Novellas and Novelettes I Read in 2018

This year, I am splitting off my favorite romances into two posts: favorite romance novels and favorite romance novellas and novelettes. This post gives a rather long list of my favorite romance novellas and novelettes I read in 2018. (Not all of them were published in 2018, of course.) It focuses on new reads. It definitely shows my bias towards contemporary adult romance, but there is a handful of fantasy, paranormal, YA and historical romance too.

If you want to see books from prior years best romance reads, here are my 2015, 2016,  and 2017 lists, which included all lengths. If you want to see prior recs lists for shorter form books, try this May 2018 list that focuses on romance, this 2017 list that includes multiple genres, and this 2016 list that includes romance and erotica.

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. 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.

Ace-Spectrum Rep I Adore

  • 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.)
  • His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto (contemporary m/m romance novella) This contemporary romance between two ace spec spies has this wonderful measured pace to it that soothes me, perhaps because its told from the POV of a demisexual MC, and centers a new relationship. (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.)***
  • Help Wanted by J Emery (paranormal m/questioning romance novella) An NA romance novella set at a magic college with a gender and sexuality questioning ace-spec MC, and a prickly adorable love interest who can turn into a bird. It was sweet and fluffy and I fell really hard for the characters. (Rep: Ace spec questioning, gender questioning MC. Lesbian secondary character. Aromantic secondary character. Queer author.)***
  • Mr March Names the Stars by Rivka Aarons-Hughes (contemporary m/m romance novella with a trans lead)*** A sweet homey cozy romance. 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.)

Anthologies and Collections

  • Meet Cute (YA anthology) I especially appreciated the f/f and geeky meet cutes in this anthology. There are some lovely romance 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.)
  • Rogue Acts (contemporary romance anthology) I enjoyed this anthology of resistance romance, 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.)
  • Dil or No Dil by Suleika Snyder (romance story collection) I’d read and previously adored the two novellas included in this collection and I’m thrilled that they are back in print and really enjoyed reading them again. I was blown away by the shorter erotic romance stories included in this book (which were new to me); they pack a really intense punch and were such an incredible joy to read. So much characterization, so much romantic and sexual tension. I especially loved the tease of femdom dynamic in some of them. (Rep: Multiple stories with Desi MCs. Queer desi woman author)
  • Rogue Nights (contemporary romance anthology) There were some really lovely stories in this anthology of resistance romance. I especially loved the romances by Talia Hibbert and Hudson Lin, they are worth the price of the anthology alone. (Rep: see review, too much to list.)

D/s Romance

  • Perfect Match by Cecil Wilde (contemporary m/m romance novella) I really enjoyed this BDSM romance that was focused on D/s and sensation play and included no pain play at all. It was lovely and full of tenderness and I liked how vulnerable the dominant MC was, and how nervous the novice submissive MC was about catching feelings. (Rep: Gay MC. Bisexual MC. Non-binary trans 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.)
  • 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 with 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.)
  • In Her Service by Suleikha Snyder (contemporary m/f romance novella ) This resistance romance novella is gorgeous; full of heat, heart, and hope. With a sizeable slice of femdom D/s to wrap it all together. It’s worth it to get the collection for this story alone. I loved spending time in a world with an amazing Black woman vice president who was planning on running for the presidency in a few years. And the hero of this story grabbed my heart. (Rep: Black woman MC. Indian American Muslim man MC. Queer Desi woman author.)

Food themed stories

  • Small Town Secrets by Katrina Jackson (contemporary f/f romance novella) This is one of my favorite f/f romances ever! I love the long term pining, the foodie elements, the small town setting, the way Black characters and families are centered, the family secrets arc, and the smoking hot sex scenes, which include a strap-on scene that I’m particularly grateful for, as they are all too rare in f/f romance. (Rep: Black lesbian MCs. Black queer woman author.)
  • Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder (contemp m/f romance novella) I absolutely loved this romance novella between a biker gang leader and a woman who’s helping out at her family’s Indian restaurant. Smoking hot, with a core of sweetness, wonderful food details that made me hungry, and brilliantly captures life in a small town. I fell hard for both MCs. I’ve been a Snyder fan for years and I think this is her best work yet; it’s a masterful romance novella. (Rep: Desi woman MC. Queer desi woman author)
  • Holly & Oak by R Cooper (fantasy m/m novella) I loved this second installment to Coopers Familiar Spirits series. Seriously wonderful, heartbreaking, angsty, with a lovely resolution. Gutted me in the best way. The MC makes the most amazing ice cream, I was so hungry after reading. (Rep: Gay MC. Black queer man love interest.)

Friends to Lovers

  • Christmas at the Wellands by Liz Jacobs (contemporary m/m romance novella) This is a beautifully rendered rather intense and angsty romance between two BFFs/college roommates, one of whom is in recovery from psych crisis and dealing with grief, who goes home with his BFF for Christmas. This made me decide to read the author’s backlist. (Rep: Black gay man MC with depression. Bisexual man MC.)
  • Darkling by Brooklyn Ray. (fantasy m/m romance novella) There is a central friends to lovers m/m romance arc in this gorgeously written novella, but at its core, this is Ryder’s story, about him coming to terms with his identities as a witch, about the way magic moves and shapes things for him, and about him coming out about his magical heritage and the shape his magic will take in the future. The romance sort of gets swept along in the blaze of all the angst and confusion and the explosion of Ryder’s secrets. (Rep: Queer trans man witch MC. Queer man witch MC. Queer POC woman secondary character. Queer woman secondary character. Asian American queer man secondary character. Queer man secondary character. Enby secondary character. Non-binary queer witch author.)
  • Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R. Cooper (contemporary 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.)

Geeky Romance

  • Ms. Behave by Cathy Yardley (contemporary m/f romance novella) I absolutely adored this latest edition to Yardley’s geeky romance series. This is a second chance friends to lovers romance between a lawyer and an actor who were best friends for most of their youth, had one intense bout of making out in high school and then were out of contact for years. It’s got this lovely romance arc that begins at a Halloween party, and a bi heroine who loves to wear suits that I fell really hard for. (Rep: Bisexual woman MC. Biracial Asian American woman author.)
  • Six String Sass by Leigh Landry (contemporary m/f romance) This was lovely, and fun. I cared about the heroine a lot, and enjoyed the arc of this romance, liked the complexity in their interactions. I am definitely going to check out other books by this author. (Rep: Bisexual heroine.)
  • One Bed for Christmas by Jackie Lau (contemp m/f romance novella) This brought a lovely mix of humor, heat and heart and made me want to devour the author’s backlist. I fell hard for both of the MCs. (Asian MCs. Biracial woman author.)
  • Smoke Signals by Meredith Katz (fantasy m/m romance novella) I really enjoyed this geeky 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.)

Historical Romance

  • A Midnight Kiss by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner*** (historical m/f romance novella) My favorite New Years romance ever. Such a satisfying arc, lovely swoony moments and a heroine I completely adore. I love this series so much.
  • 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.)
  • 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.)***

Holiday Romance

  • Holiday Homerun by Priscilla Oliveras (contemp m/f romance novella)*** I adored this meet-cute forced proximity Christmas romance between a baseball player and a woman who was glad to finally rid her life of baseball. (Rep: Puerto Rican heroine. Mexican American-Puerto Rican woman author)
  • Merrily Ever After by Jenny Holiday (contemp m/f romance novella) This was my favorite book so far in the Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series. I loved the way the central couple work to resolve the conflict in the story, and really appreciated the endometriosis representation. (Rep: Heroine with endometriosis. Trauma survivor hero.)
  • Casper Gets His Wish by R Cooper. This Christmas m/m romance is a gem; grumpity sweater wearing accountant elf Casper is (he thinks) hopelessly into a green haired skater elf who is the rockstar in Santa’s workshop for his toy designs and never gets his reports on time. Casper always has to go up to his office to demand them personally and deal with his jokes and charm, every single month. I adored this sweet fluffy enemies to lovers romance. (Rep: Gay MCs.)
  • Unwrap Me by Jack Harbon (contemp m/m romance novella) This feels like a very queer NA Christmas romance, complete with an MC home from college for Christmas, supportive siblings, queer antagonism from parents, lovely holiday traditions, and an intense attraction to dad’s queer colleague who is staying with the family over Christmas. At it’s core, its about working through internalized shame to claim queer desire, and I love that about it. (Rep: Gay man MC. Latinx gay man MC. Black gay man author.)

Meet Cute Romance

  • Dance All Night by Alexis Daria (contemporary m/f romance novella) I loved the premise and set-up for this story, it’s a classic set of tropes, and perfect for a holiday novella. Daria delivers on tropetastic goodness in so many ways, and this story has wonderful pacing, complex nuanced characterization, MCs I fell hard for, and an approach to holiday romance that I really appreciated. It was all about what Christmas meant to each of them as specific people, and the traditions they created together. (Rep: Immigrant man MC. Black woman MC. Puerto Rican woman author.)
  • Fight Fire with Fire by Sionna Fox (contemporary f/f romance novella ) blew me away. It was beautiful, nuanced, deeply characterized, full of glorious details about art and creativity and curating art exhibits. It was delightfully insistently queer in a way that just took my breath away and felt so intensely resonant. It made me cry, I felt so much for these characters, felt so held by the story. I loved the fat rep to pieces, it was truly wonderful and felt so real and resonant for me as a queer fat activist. I was rooting for them as a couple so hard, and was cheering when they got to their happy ending. It’s worth it to buy the collection for this story alone. (Rep: Queer fat femme woman MC. Butch lesbian MC. Non-binary secondary character.)
  • Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss (contemporary f/f novella)*** This is an NA college-set holiday romance and it was lovely. I really enjoyed the way the characters moved from meet cute to best friends to dating. It was a lovely arc, and this is definitely a satisfying Christmas romance, with family gathering, a mistletoe moment, and lots of foodie moments. (Rep: Fat Puerto Rican lesbian woman MC with anxiety. Panromantic asexual woman MC with ADHD. Panromantic asexual woman author with ADHD and anxiety.)

Polyamorous Romance

  • 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. I liked the open polyamory in the story quite a lot. (Rep: Bisexual Jewish Portugese immigrant woman MC. Bisexual man MC. Jewish woman author.)
  • 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.)
  • Her Christmas Cookie by Katrina Jackson (contemp m/m/f romance novella) This book was exactly what I needed from a queer polyamorous holiday story, as it centers the way all three partners support each other through the complexities of going home for the holidays, and shows a range of family experiences. (Rep: Black woman MC. Black bisexual man trauma survivor MC. Latinx pansexual man MC. Black queer woman author.)

Second Chance Romance

  • The Coyote’s Comfort by Holley Trent (paranormal f/f romance novella) I loved this book so much! It has a light touch with the holiday aspect and this lovely intensity of a second chance romance with a prickly survivor MC I completely adored. This series is wonderful! (Rep: Lesbian MCs. Black woman author.)
  • Sacred Son by Robin Covington (contemporary m/m romance novella) This is an intense read, a second chance single parent romance that leans towards angst. I felt for Judah, really connected with him as a character, and the pain of wanting to be there for a child and struggling in a custody situation to do what is best for the kid. (Rep: Native American, formerly incarcerated, trauma survivor, bisexual man MC. Native American gay man MC. Native American 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.)

Shifter Romance

  • Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert (paranormal m/f romance novella) This is my most favorite of all the Halloween romances I’ve ever read. I adore the heroine so much, and found it hilarious, smoking hot, and full of heart. It disrupts shifter romance tropes in wonderful ways and is deeply about the importance of consent. I also just love how much the hero adores the heroine for being bloodthirsty and violent and strong. (Rep: Black woman MC. Black, Anglo-Romani, disabled autistic queer woman author.)
  • 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.)
  • The Coyote’s Cowboy by Holley Trent (paranormal m/f romance novella) This shifter romance 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 romance that I could not put down. (Rep: Black heroine with PTSD. Hero with ADHD. Black woman author.)

Social Media Mavens

  • 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 have been checking out her backlist and will continue to do so for a while, as it’s very long! (Rep: Black trauma survivor heroine. Black hero with sickle cell disease. Black woman author.)
  • Soft on Soft by Mina Waheed (contemporary f/f romance novella)*** A lovely, lighthearted swoony low-heat fluffy romance that was comforting to read. This is a romance between two fat queer women of color, and it has fat representation that made me happy. I appreciated the demisexual rep and the anxiety rep as well, and loved the way they were both so gone for each other, and kind to each other. (Rep: Middle Eastern Muslim anxious fat pansexual woman MC. Black extroverted fat demisexual woman MC. Non-binary secondary character. Middle Eastern Muslim queer author.)
  • Layover by Katrina Jackson (contemporary m/f romance novella) This book wrecked me and made me cry, in the best way. The MCs have amazing chemistry, and there is so much heart in this, and also this pace to the arc (which is as much a grief arc as a romance arc) that really feels right for these people. I fell so hard for them both and especially appreciate how gone he is over her, and how central music is to the story. (Rep: Black woman MC. Muslim Black man MC. Black bisexual woman secondary character. Black woman author.)

 

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4 thoughts on “Fave Romance Novellas and Novelettes I Read in 2018

  1. Such a good list! I love that you divided it into categories. I’ve only read some of these, but Smoke Signals was great, Learning Curves and Soft on Soft were adorable, and I loved the first Familiar Spirits book so I’m looking forward to Holly and Oak.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holly and Oak was wonderful. I liked book 3 as well in that series. Though I must admit book 1 is still my fave.

      Learning Curves, Soft and Soft, and Smoke Signals were all such soft fluffy goodness. I adore those books.

      Hope you found some good new reads to try!

      Liked by 1 person

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