Tag Archives: Romance

5 Queer Romance Novels that Center on Art: a Guest Post by Roan Parrish

Today on the site we have Roan Parrish with her own Fave Five of sorts, recommending queer romance novels that center on art to celebrate the release of her own such novel, Heart of the Steal, which is out today!

Responsible, disciplined William Fox channeled his love for art and his faith in the rules into being an FBI Art Crimes agent. Right and wrong, justice and injustice—the differences are clear, and Will has spent his career drawing a line between them. Maybe his convictions have cost him relationships, but he’s not willing to compromise what he knows is right. Until the night he meets Amory Vaughn.

As the head of his family’s philanthropic foundation, Vaughn knows very well that being rich and powerful can get him almost anything he wants. And when he meets endearingly grumpy and slightly awkward William Fox, he wants him more than he’s wanted anything. Vaughn is used to being desired for his name and his money, but Will doesn’t care about either.

When Vaughn falls back on old habits and attempts to impress Will by stealing a painting Will admires, their nascent bond blows up in his face. But Vaughn isn’t willing to give up on the glimpse of passion he saw the night he took Will apart. Before Will knows it, he’s falling for the man he should have arrested, and Vaughn has to realize that some things can’t be bought or stolen. Love has to be given freely. But can a man who lives by the rules, and a man who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, ever see eye to eye?

Heart of the Steal is a standalone romance with a happy ending. It features a Southern gentleman who thinks he’s always right, a buttoned-up FBI agent who secretly likes his buttons unbuttoned, and wall sex. And desk sex. And picnic blanket sex.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * iBooks

Will Fox and Amory Vaughn might be on opposite sides of the law—Will stops art thieves, and Vaughn is one. But they share a deep love of art, even if they appreciate in different ways.

I love books that focus on art, music, dance—using one medium (writing) to describe other types of art always fascinates me. Here are my top five recs for queer romance novels that center on art.

  1. Shatterproof, by Xen Sanders

Grey Jean-Marcelin paints vibrant scenes of Haitian life and portrayals of his vodou faith, but now the color has been drained from everything and Grey wants to die. When EMT Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, their lives become linked together by more than coincidence. Saint is a fae, who survives by draining the life from his lovers, and since Grey wants to die anyway, it seems like a perfect arrangement. Grey can paint his last works and Saint can gain power. But when they’re finally faced with the reality of losing each other, they both have to reevaluate what they need. Shatterproof is a sad, gorgeous book, and Sanders’ prose is a perfect fit for the subject matter: lyrical, lush, and elegiac.

  1. Roads series, Garrett Leigh

Ash is a tattoo artist, newly arrived in Chicago from Philadelphia, where he lived on the streets—the same place he created huge chalk drawings. He spends most of his time drawing in his sketchbook—memories, dreams, tattoo ideas, his roommate, Pete. Pete is an EMT who is slowly drawn to the mystery of shy Ash. As they become close friends, and then lovers and partners, the secrets to Ash’s past (and Ash and Pete’s future) emerge from the drawings of Ash’s memories. This is one of my favorite series, period. Leigh renders Ash’s mental landscape with such dreamy, elliptical prose that he remains mysterious even as we get to know him through Pete’s more down-to-earth observations.

  1. The Glass House, Suki Fleet

Teenager Sasha is lonely, self-destructive, and has a wall around him that’s fairy tale high. He collects broken glass and uses it to make sculptures that are as beautiful as they are made to cut. Shy Thomas is drawn to Sasha, and little by little the two begin to trust one another, each seeing complementary qualities in the other. I love Fleet’s prose and the way it echoes the way she uses glass in The Glass House as something broken and full of potential, fragile and strong. This is a quiet, beautiful book about the ways that people speak to us sometimes in languages we didn’t know we knew.

  1. Rough Canvas, Joey W. Hill (Rough Canvas is technically the sixth book in Hill’s otherwise m/f Nature of Desire series, but can be read as a standalone.)

Rough canvas begins in media res, with the backstory of rural North Carolina painter Thomas and flashy New York City art agent Marcus unfolding slowly. When his father dies, Thomas was forced to move home to North Carolina to help his mother and siblings run the family store, leaving behind his burgeoning art career, and his lover Marcus. Thomas is miserable there, his guts twisted up without Marcus, his art, or feeling like he can be himself. When Marcus comes to North Carolina to find him, and try to begin their relationship again, Thomas falls easily back under Marcus’ spell. But while he knows what he wants, his sense of duty is stronger than his desire, and they both have to fight to start over again. Rough Canvas is an uncompromising book, and I love that about it. Neither character is easy to like all the time—Marcus is brittle and exacting; Thomas is longsuffering with a bit of a martyr complex—and yet through art, they worship one another, and the relationship that grows out of the ashes of those imperfections is beautiful.

  1. Bellingham Mysteries, Nicole Kimberling

This series of six mystery novellas features Peter Fontaine, a newspaper reporter in Bellingham, Washington, who finds himself at the center of the murder investigation of a local artist. Also caught up in the investigation is reclusive artist Nick Olson, with whom Peter begins a relationship. Each novella features a different art-related mystery. I haven’t read these yet, but they come highly recommended by a friend with excellent taste, so I cannot wait to dive in. Art-related mysteries, amateur sleuthing, the Pacific Northwest, a reclusive artist? It’s all my favorite things.

Fave Five: M/M Historical Romance

Prosperity by Alexis Hall

Enlightenment series by Joanna Chambers

Mechanical Universe series by E.E. Ottoman

Society of Gentlemen series and pretty much everything else by KJ Charles

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (YA)

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New Releases: March 2017

Insight by Santino Hassell (13th)

30364791Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

Buy it: Riptide | Amazon | B&N

Born Both by Hida Viloria (14th)

born-bothA candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love from one of the world’s foremost intersex activists.

My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex–meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female–I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders–to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing–but it could also be isolating.

I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to “correct” their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it–and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.

Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

Star Crossed by Barbara Dee (14th)

star-crossedMattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (14th)

queens-of-geekWhen BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’Beirne (15th)

33849121“Finn’s solid. Not in body, but in being. She’s gravity and kindness and all those good things that anchor.”

“Willa’s confusing. Sometimes she’s this sweet, sensitive soul. Other times she’s like a flaming arrow you hope isn’t coming for you.”

Finn and Willa have been picked as team leaders in the future leader camp game. The usually confident Finn doesn’t know what’s throwing her more, the fact she’s leading a team of highly unenthusiastic overachievers or coming up against fierce, competitive Willa. And Willa doesn’t know which is harder, leaving her responsibilities behind to pursue her goals or opening up to someone.

Soon they both realise that the hardest thing of all is balancing their clashing ideals with their unexpected connection. And finding a way to win, of course.

Buy it: Ylva

Growing Pains by Cass Lennox (20th)

Gigi Rosenberg is living his best life: performances in the big city, side gigs at a dance company, a successful drag act, and the boy of his childhood dreams who now adores him. Even if the boyfriend part isn’t the sparkly ride of passion he expected it to be, life is sweet. So when his sister’s wedding calls him back to his hometown, he sees an opportunity to show the hicks from his past how wrong they were about him. Only, his boyfriend isn’t quite on board.

Brock Stubbs left their hometown and his parents behind for a reason, and the prospect of facing them again is terrifying. He swore he’d never go back, but Gigi has made it clear refusal isn’t an option, and Brock will do nearly anything for him. There’s just one deal-breaker of a problem: Brock promised Gigi he was out to everyone, including his parents. He lied

It’s magical to run into the sunset together, but staying the course takes work. For Gigi and Brock, going home feels like the finale of a long, disappointing year. Sometimes love isn’t all you need.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Smashwords

Strays by Garrett Leigh (27th)

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg (28th)

In the companion to Openly Straight, Ben confronts pressure at school, repression at home, and his passion for two very different people in figuring out what it takes to be Honestly Ben.

Ben Carver is back to normal. He’s working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He’s even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except . . .

There’s Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There’s his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there’s Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

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Backlist Book of the Month: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I know, I know, you’re definitely thinking, “Ummm, everyone has already read that.” But one thing I learned from starting this site? NOT EVERYONE HAS READ IT. (Even though it’s beautifully written, even though it’s a glorious story of friends becoming more, even though it’s intersectional, even though it has great parents, and even though it’s got awards up the wazoo.)

Of course, I also have an ulterior motive to making it this month’s Backlist feature: I want to draw your attention to the fact that Benjamin Alire Saenz has a brand-new book out this month as well! While the protag of The Inexplicable Logic of My Life isn’t under the rainbow umbrella, his wonderful adoptive father is (as are other characters).

So do yourself a favor and bump Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe to the top of your TBR if you haven’t yet, and if you’ve already read it, pick up The Inexplicable Logic of My Life when it releases on March 7 and/or get ready for upcoming companion, There Will Be Other Summers!

12000020Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

Fave Five: Queer Theater MGs and YAs

Better Nate Than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle (MG)

Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton (MG)

Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry (YA)

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner (YA)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, and Hold Me Closer, Tiny Cooper by David Levithan (YA)

Bonus: Coming in March and September, respectively: Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee (MG) and Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta (YA)

Double Bonus: The Art of Wishing and The Fourth Wish by Lindsay Ribar (YA) have a cishet MC, but a bi LI

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TBRainbow Alert #9!

Peter Darling (February 15)
Author: Austin Chant
Genre/Category: Romance
Rainbow details: Queer Trans guy MC
Why put it on your radar? PETER PAN WAS ASSIGNED WENDY DARLING AT BIRTH AND NOW HE’S AN ADULT TRANS GUY WHO’S INTO CAPTAIN HOOK. THEY DO NOT MAKE CAPS LOCK BIG ENOUGH FOR THE EXCELLENCE OF THAT PREMISE.

Noteworthy (May 2)
Author: Riley Redgate
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: Bi MC
Why put it on your radar? Because Riley Redgate already brought the awesome in 2016 with Seven Ways We Lie, which had pan and ace MCs, and she’s back with a bi MC of color who crossdresses for personal gain with care never to invalidate transness.

Cottonmouths (June 6)
Author: Kelly J. Ford
Genre/Category: Adult Contemporary
Rainbow details: Lesbian MC
Why put it on your radar? Queer girl living in a small town in the Ozarks? Childhood crush returns…and has a meth lab? Comparisons to Daniel Woodrell and Sarah Waters? Take your pick!

Ramona Blue (May 9)
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: Lesbian MC
Why put it on your radar? Because while we often get books with MCs who ID as straight and find they have an exception to the rule that starts them questioning, only to maintain a hetero identity, we almost never see the opposite with a character who questions but maintains a queer identity.

Island of Exiles (February 7)
Author:
Erica Cameron
Genre/Category:
YA Fantasy
Rainbow details:
Bi MC
Why put it on your radar?
Since we revealed the cover, Erica can answer that for you here!

TBRainbow Alert #8!

We Are Okay (February 14)
Author: Nina LaCour
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: lesbian MC, major bi secondary
Why put it on your radar? Because everything Nina LaCour touches turns to gold and this isn’t remotely an exception. I cried like a freaking baby after reading this one.

Wanted: A Gentleman (January 9)
Author: KJ Charles
Genre/Category: Historical Romance
Rainbow details: Gay MC
Why put it on your radar? Let’s be real: if you’re into queer historical romance at all, anything by KJ Charles is already on your radar.

A Good Idea (February 28)
Author: Cristina Moracho
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: Bi MC
Why put it on your radar? Those looking for more queer YA in which sexuality/coming out aren’t “issues” will find a perfect match in this twisty noir about friendship and betrayal

Perfect Ten (June 6)
Author: L. Philips
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: Gay MC
Why put it on your radar? Because it’s cute as helllll but also does a really nice job capturing why monogamy can feel especially difficult for queer kids who suddenly have options for the first time in their lives

Meg & Linus (April 18)
Author:
Hanna Nowinski
Genre/Category:
Contemporary YA
Rainbow details:
Gay MC, Lesbian MC
Why put it on your radar?
Gay and lesbian MCs who are BFFs? Two main characters who are already out? Relatively low angst? Nerds? Come on.

 

TBRainbow Alert #3

For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with three reasons why you should know them. If you missed the earlier alerts, you can check out those titles here. And now, a few more coming up in 2016!

Title: Tattoo Atlas (October 18)
Author: Tim Floreen
Genre/Category: YA Near-Futuristic Thriller
Rainbow details: gaaaaay
Why put it on your radar?
1. Well, I it got on mine because Shaun David Hutchinson effusively recommended it, which is a pretty good reason.
2. The first three words of the blurb are “A teenage sociopath,” which, honestly, is about all it takes to get me to read something.
3. I was promised kissing. We were all promised kissing. Let’s read kissing.

Title: Looking for Group (August 29)
Author: Alexis Hall
Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance
Rainbow details: m/m
Why put it on your radar?
1. Hi, this is Alexis Hall, author of For Real? That little book that just won a RITA?
2. Nerd books are my crack, and I know I’m not alone. I’m not even into gaming but somehow gaming romances are just the best.
3.
It’s reportedly fairly light on the romance aspects, so if you’ve been looking for that (as I know many of you have), you can feel safe about picking this one up!

Title: Beast (October 11)
Author: Brie Spangler
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: trans LI
Why put it on your radar?
1. Trans romance in YA! Yeah, needless to say, those are not common, even with a cishet MC. (And I personally like that the MC is decidedly straight rather than further reinforcing that only queer people date trans people.)
2. It’s an interesting look at dysphoria all around and the many different ways it manifests.
3. Retelling alert! Beast is actually a Contemp YA Beauty and the Beast, with the exceedingly large, hirsuite MC as the Beast and the LI as Beauty.

Title: The Other Boy (September 20)
Author: M.G. Hennessey
Genre/Category: Contemporary MG
Rainbow details: Trans boy MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. Not to be predictable, but…it’s a trans boy MG, which is practically nonexistent. (And it’s really heartening not to see a deadname in the title or blurb, besides.)
2. The main character, Shane, is already out to his family and on hormones, which is something we’re only just starting to get in YA, but really did not have in MG.
3. Has a supportive parent and a therapist. Bless.

Title: Labyrinth Lost (September 6)
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Genre/Category: YA Fantasy
Rainbow details: bi female MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. Bi girl of color! Bi girl of color! And there’s an interracial f/f romance where neither character is white.
2. This book is so vividly drawn, it feels like a Brooklyn Brujas version of Alice in Wonderland.
3. So. Much. Cultural infusion. And it is awesome.

Cover Reveal: Cinnamon and Cigarettes by Samantha Kate!

So excited to have our very first cover reveal on LGBTQ Reads! Cinnamon and Cigarettes is Samantha Kate’s first novel, and it releases June 1st from Torquere Press. Here’s the story:

Sara Clarke, recent college grad, is sweet, demure, and cautious in all things, but especially romance—until she meets Moira Estrada, a bold amateur pilot and patron at the library where Sara works. Their intimacy blooms rapidly as they share everything from a sudden medical emergency to Christmas with the Estrada family. With her dashing new girlfriend by her side, Sara learns to overcome some of her greatest fears, whether they be acknowledging her own bisexuality, flying across the sky in a Cessna, or falling in love for the first time.

But Sara’s fear of confrontation is harder to conquer. When asked about her relationship, she finds herself lying to her family, pretending to date a man so she can avoid conflict with her straight-laced and image-conscious parents. But her attempts to please everyone cannot last forever and could result in far worse than her parents’ disapproval: she might lose the respect of her new friends at the library, or become estranged from her sister—or, worst of all, Sara might lose the only person she’s ever truly loved.

Aaaand here’s the lovely cover!

CinnamonAndCigarettesCover

Preorder it! Or just add it to your Goodreads TBR here.

SamanthaKateAuthorPhoto

Samantha Kate works as a paralibrarian (that’s library support staff) for her day job. In her free time, she tries to pursue more creative projects than is humanly possible. Her short story “Bottom of the River” was published in Torquere’s Twisted Fables anthology in February 2016. Cinnamon and Cigarettes is her first novel.