There are always a ton of great covers in these monthly queer romance new release roundups, but I feel like this month is especially good on that front! Enjoy the eye candy, and I hope you find something new and interesting for your TBR as well.
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Why I’m excited to list it: I have much respect for covers that dare to do something artistic and different.
“Come and see the stars before they hit the sky!
At the age of twenty-four, Roxie is content to die miserable and alone. Once a passionate guitarist, failure to find success leaves her deep in debt and suffocating under the weight of a fifty-hour workweek.
Blondie is a brash and fiery drummer, exiled from her band after an awful revelation. Fueled by a fervid desire to see her name written in neon lights, she’ll do whatever it takes to reach stardom.
Their paths cross with the arrival of Starlight Spotlight, an enigmatic ‘Showcase’ competition that promises fame and fortune for musicians who can charm an insatiable crowd. Opposites in every sense of the word, the two women enter a tense partnership in a bid to dominate the Showcase Stage.
But critical acclaim does not come without sacrifice. Will the artists be able to navigate a minefield of passion and fear to find glory in the Starlight Spotlight? Or will they fail to put aside their differences, destined to be forever barred from stardom’s embrace?”
Why I’m excited to list it: More of the very welcome romance/mystery boomlet, and it’s M/M written by a queer guy.
“How far would you be willing to go to finish the job?
Declan Hunt is having a bad week. His kidnapping case is showing little progress, his office assistant has left him on short notice, and his latest investigation has left him literally battered and bruised. But things change when he hires twenty-four year old Charlie Watts to help out at the office. They form an unlikely partnership trying to solve two seemingly unrelated cases whose threads begin to weave together when the missing person case turns to murder.
The investigation takes them from the dark alleys, gay bars and bath houses of Calgary, to the richest parts of the city during the world-famous Calgary Stampede.
But will they be able to discover who the killer is before another life is lost? And will Declan be able to solve the mystery of his relationship with Charlie who is clearly attracted to him — especially since it is evident that the attraction is becoming mutual?”
Why I’m excited to list it: M/M written by an Afro-Indigenous, 2S transmasc author. If you haven’t tried the Gods of Hunger series yet, I recommend you do!
“Achilles loved playing the hero…
Being a mere man had never been enough for him. He wanted to be a great one. And when he finds out that Helen, his childhood best friend, has gone missing, taking the mission is instinct. Even if it meant returning to the place he was born and raised, a place he swore never to return to —Heraklion. But he goes nowhere without Patroclus.
Patroclus loved being one…
But being a hero was nothing like playing one. It was a senseless sequence of pyrrhic victories he’d carry forever. Yet when Achilles needs him to return to Heraklion and the arena he had been forced to claw his way out of, he says yes because… well, of course he does. He would follow Achilles anywhere.
Yet both had left more of themselves in Heraklion’s notorious arena than they’d taken. So returning would not require heroes but something else, something worse, especially when Helen is not the only one in need of rescue. They both must determine not only what it means to be a man, but what it means to be a good one.”
Why I’m excited to list it: Heads up that the romance here is marked as a subplot, but I’m always down to try a dystopian sapphic sci-fi. And it’s a series starter.
“One secret is deadly. The other will heal the world. But which is which?
Caught stealing medication for her illegal sister, Yara is forced to participate in RePay – a terrifying TV game show that will determine her sentence.
Her only hope for freedom lies in surviving a risky biotechnology trial within the sterile walls of Watch Over Me, where ruthlessly passionate head engineer, Ms Wilding, reveals an unnerving agenda.
When Wilding’s controlling obsessions turn curiously personal, Yara must summon every ounce of willpower to outwit her captor and resist the pull of forbidden attraction in their dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. If she fails, she’ll forfeit her only chance to save her sister in an off-record deal with Wilding’s celebrity arch-enemy.
But what Yara uncovers during her incarceration at Watch Over Me proves she’s not the only one closely guarding a life-changing secret that will challenge alliances, and alter the course of freedom.
But whose secrets should stay hidden and whose should be revealed to the world?
Only 30 days to decide.
With no way to know who’s telling the truth, you’ll be questioning who the real enemy is…”
Why I’m excited to list it: Trans woman MC, trans woman author, and also “tall and handsome” always catches my eye in a sapphic blurb!
“When an all female theatre academy opens up to trans women for the first time, Olivia Bishop is happy to apply. Having grown up in a family that breathed theatre, and having transitioned in high school, she feels well prepared to get top marks. There’s a lesson of womanhood she has not learned yet, however. One that the tall and handsome Eliza Haliwell is proving more than happy to teach her.
That lesson being that trans girls can be lesbians too.”
Why I’m excited to list it: The cover is just gorgeous, and I like what I’ve read so far.
“Would-be artist and romantic Elda Brown is shaken to the core when an encounter with hot-shot barrister Charlotte Mason disrupts the monotony of her daily grind.
Career-minded fixer Charlie Mason has forged a solid reputation inside the courtroom and between the sheets. She’s accustomed to inviting people into her bed rather than her head, but meeting Elda challenges her outlook.
As Elda and Charlie navigate their newfound connection, an unexpected friendship blossoms that gives them a renewed sense of purpose to confront the scars of their past.
Will Elda and Charlie, flawed and haunted by their own histories, dare to seize the opportunity for romance? Can they gather the courage to unlock their hearts and find the happiness they truly deserve?”
Why I’m excited to list it: Nonbinary LI. Also, short stories don’t get enough respect in the romance genre, and free is a great price.
“I’ve traveled the world, but I’ve never met anyone quite like them.
After a difficult day at a photo shoot in New York, I’ve just settled in for a quiet evening at the hotel with my book when a knock startles me. Who just barges into someone’s room and starts conversations about art and philosophy?
Daisy, that’s who. And I think there might much more to this makeup artist than meets the eye.
Grab this story now if you like text flirting, affirming banter, and one steamy night neither of them will ever forget.”
Why I’m excited to list it: Art thieves! Nonbinary MC, queer nonbinary author.
“Love always shows your true face.
Jillian Rhodes lies to everyone she meets. As one of the world’s best art thieves, a life of infiltration and con artistry has left her flying solo, which is exactly the way she likes it. When Jillian is hired to steal a collection of photos belonging to the late—and deeply controversial—Russell Key from the Art Institute of Chicago, everything should be business as usual.
Except she has two problems: first, fellow master thief Sloane Caffrey also has their eye on the photos. Second, Sloane is her smoking hot ex.
Three years have passed since a messy breakup, but Jillian and Sloane have been getting vengeance on each other ever since. When the Key theft becomes their latest competition, love and loathing ride a fine, shaking line.
Trying to destroy each other should be simple. But confronting past mistakes is hard, especially when the entire job is starting to look like a setup to put Jillian and Sloane behind bars…”
Why I’m excited to list it: Fake dating queer M/F (she’s bi). Latina author.
“Pretending to date my rich, sexy, and caring friend Gabriel could grant us the deal of a lifetime… or ruin my chances of ever running my family’s company.
Gabe is handsome and surprisingly down to earth for a billionaire. Teaming up with him for a massive project shouldn’t have required us to fake a relationship.
My machista Latine family is to blame for forcing us into it. They think my goal should be to settle down and make babies, not run a corporation.
But I won’t let anything come between me and my career plans…
Until Gabe becomes my refuge. We blur the lines and break the rules. He surprises me by taking control when no one else is around, and knows exactly what to do with my curves.
Yet our deal has a deadline and our breakup is imminent.
I can’t let my family think they were right and he’s my future. Do I risk my goals for the sake of my heart?”
Why I’m excited to list it: Have you ever read a lesbian romance set in the Neolithic era? If you have not, now is a great time to remedy this.
“Arriving in a new village on her first ever trading voyage, Laki immediately feels unsettled by some of the rude and bullying behaviour and the loss of her necklace – and attracted to Bokka, who is both helping and hindering. As they start to work together to escape the situation, will Laki’s naive ideas and Bokka’s struggles with communication make it impossible to carve out a space in their society which is the perfect shape for them?
Set in the Neolithic village of Skara Brea and around the Orkney Islands, Carving a New Shape is an evocative exploration of an ancient society, the power of love, and the ability of humanity to adapt. Featuring central characters who would be described today as lesbian, bisexual, and autistic, this is a warm-hearted story which doesn’t play down the challenges they face but leads to a happy ending.”
Why I’m excited to list it: New adult M/M trans romance debut by a gay trans man author. I’ve started reading it and finding it very entertaining.
“He’s completely insufferable. He’s going to get me fired. If only he wasn’t so hot.
Ever since he was thrown out of his parent’s home for being trans, John balances on a knife’s edge. He’s unwilling to draw attention to himself, lest he lose his scholarship and job as an RA.
Hayden asks for forgiveness, never permission. Why bother when he can charm his way out of trouble with a smile and a wink?
When Hayden’s mischief entangles John in a white-lie, their fake friendship is the only thing holding back University higher-up’s suspicion. Locked in a stalemate, John is on the line, breaking more rules than he believed possible. Hayden pushes John to the edge, toeing the line of the most infamous Campus Housing rule: absolutely no romantic relationships between an RA and their resident.”
Why I’m excited to list it: Sapphic paranormal by a Black lesbian author.
“Cassiel has given up the family tradition of demon hunting, leaving behind her sacred angelic duty and fated sword. What she can’t leave behind are the scars. To cope, she spends her days immersed in work, pouring all her attention into New Haven Books, her small bookstore and anchor in the new world she’s carved for herself.
But the past hasn’t let go of Cassiel yet. When a succubus named Avitue arrives to claim her angel-touched soul, Cassiel’s old hunter instincts flare, forcing her to choose between old knowledge and her truth. What should be a fatal seduction becomes a bargain neither woman expects. As they grow closer, Avitue is surprised to find her own pain reflected in Cassiel, a nephilim deemed fallen by her own family’s standards.
By choosing trust, they reveal the lies that bind them. Falling for each other begins a path towards healing. But exorcising the effects of trauma is harder than naming it, and to explore the unfettered possibility Avitue represents, Cassiel must find a way to reclaim and redefine her angelic heritage.”
Why I’m excited to list it: Sapphic horror romance with a middle-aged MC. Sapphic trans masc author.
“Love changes you. So do the Outer Gods.
Now: Alone in a cottage, Lavinia writes to the woman she loved.
Fifteen years ago: Middle-aged Lavinia Whateley escapes her hilly Massachusetts town when the townsfolk decide to sacrifice her on Halloween. After almost dying in the woods, she’s saved and housed by the stoic and mysterious Asenath Waite, or Azzie. On the coastal outskirts of East Providence, they start to fall in love.
However, things change when Azzie, with her secret past and the strange “scars” on the side of her neck, begins to transform into an eldritch creature of the deep.”
Why I’m excited to list it: This newsletter is focused on self-pub and small press, but I could not pass up listing this Black romance between a queer woman and an ace man, by a Black author, even though it’s published by Montlake (Amazon).
“Maya Davis is living in paradise until her apartment, her career, and her dreams fall away in a horrible and dramatic fashion. Suddenly she’s packing her life into two suitcases and heading back to her parents’ home in Maryland, scrambling for a plan B. Happy thirty-first birthday, Maya.
Right beside her is Ant, Maya’s best friend. While she’s returning home, Ant’s leaving his for the first time. Even though he moved away to start his own adventure, Ant can’t seem to separate himself from Maya—and he’s not sure he wants to.
Thinking practically for once, Maya makes her top priority finding a career—or at least a job with health insurance. But when she’s drawn into the orbit of Emme Vivant, the influential girlboss decides Maya has potential. Suddenly there are new contacts, new clothes, and the possibility of a shiny new future that could make this move home worthwhile. But is Maya finally in control of her life, or is she losing it?
Just as Ant’s platonic feelings for Maya deepen, his best friend in the world seems to be moving on without him.
In this tender and vibrant novel, Maya learns that finding the right path might not matter as much as finding herself—and who’s beside her on the journey.”
Why I’m excited to list it: Polyam / why choose that’s queer M/F due to the M/M component. This isn’t up my personal alley, but the title made me laugh, I love the cover, and I also love an author who does thorough content warnings.
“You’d think having the gift of second sight would make my life feel more secure. Instead, I’m left with sleepless nights, a body count higher than my bestie, Herculeia, and an unfinished five-year plan.
Was a juicy benefits package with an entire stable of Skarsgards too much to ask for?
Officially burned out, I decide to extend my business trip to Stockholm by two weeks — determined to forget my troubles by stuffing my face with Swedish meatballs.
And I’m not just talking about the food.
When I meet the sexiest meatball right out of the gate, I think the tides are finally turning in my favor.
Too bad my prophetic visions failed me once again.
Now I’m the one on hot-bod monster island, but instead of being chained to the bed for fun, it’s more a hostage situation.
I can still work with that.
The question is, can I convince my three mythological captors to abandon their doomsday plot for eternity with me? Or is our fate already set in stone?”
Why I’m excited to list it: I haven’t read the book yet so can’t speak to the representation, but there are very few romances with MCs who use wheelchairs. Based on the disability rep I’ve read by Celia Lake previously, I’d expect good things.
“In 1884, Gil wakes in the Temple of Healing with a life changing injury. Nothing in his life is ever going to be the same. He now has to figure out where he’ll live and what he’ll do. All his choices are all miserable in their own way.
Magni becomes curious when his old friend’s name comes up several times. After discovering Gil’s return to Albion and his injuries, Magni is more than willing to visit, remembering how Gil was the spark of wit in gatherings while they were both apprentices. But of course, Gil would never be interested in him as anything other than a friend in a time of need.
When Magni has to leave town for a few weeks due to a complex case, he rents a house at the Brighton seashore. He even welcomes Gil’s company, as Gil regains strength before another needed surgery.
Neither of them expected the minor mystery of the house across the street and a fortnight in close quarters to change both their lives.”
Why I’m excited to list it: Bi4bi queer M/F. Book 1 in the series was M/M, and y’all know I love a series that mixes the gender combos between books! Author’s pronouns are they/them.
“My landlord is going to hate me for what I’m about to do.
I’ve never had a father and never wanted one either. To my dismay, I do have a father, Arthur le Fay – a crime lord witch. Afraid for not just my safety, but the safety of my friends and coven, I have no other choice but to make a deal with a devil. A little drastic? Maybe, but it’s certainly effective.
At least it would be–if the devil would agree to make a deal with me!
Now I have a devil in my apartment and no idea what to do about the le Fays. I just want them to leave me alone… or maybe I want them afraid of me. Fear is one hell of a motivator. But no amount of fear will get this devil of mine to behave. He’s much more partial to exchanges, my body for his benevolence. Nothing good can come from feelings, especially when he insists he has none.”
At the end of each newsletter, I take the liberty of recommending a few of my recent favorite queer reads, from romance to SFF to graphic novels and comics. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite book here! These may not always be self-published or small press; it just depends on what’s gotten to the top of my TBR lately.
If you like your small towns supernatural, queer, and full of danger, pick up this novella series starter with an aroace MC, by an ace author. It didn’t take me far into this before I was hooked and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I mean, obviously I can, because I have to, but I would have bought the second one immediately if it was available.
1) Havens for the supernatural, including vampires, shifters, and paladins
2) Protection for the world from build ups of untamed magic
Merry Moon doesn’t know what a transmutown is when she flees to Mercury, Missouri–and her estranged mother–following sudden unemployment from her first post-college job. Her mother doesn’t take long in relating the unbelievable peculiarities of Mercury, and Merry is ready to flee again, this time out of town. Before Merry leaves, she agrees to run a quick errand: deliver a cast iron key to her mother’s pawn shop. She doesn’t learn until it’s too late that the vampires whose existence she scoffed at are real. They want that key, and they’re willing to do anything to get it.
With the help–or hindrance–of her childhood friend-turned-shifter and a frustratingly stoic paladin, Merry must find a way escape the danger. Along the way, her beliefs about Mercury, her mother, and herself are put to the test as she makes life-or-death choices affecting her and everyone else threatened by the vampires.”
I didn’t discover Wasserstein’s writing until the announcement about her novella coming out in 2024, and having read this collection now I’m even more excited about it.
“In her debut collection, Izzy Wasserstein pries the lid off fourteen different worlds from an already impressive short fiction career. In these pages, you’ll meet ne’er-do-wells and orphans, investigators and revolutionaries, diplomats and doctoral students. Wasserstein has a gift for putting her finger on the meaty parts of grief, the catalysts of change, and the pain points of community.
This collection contains fourteen stories, two of which have never been seen before! Case of the Soane Museum Thefts unveils a crime of magical curation for its protagonist to puzzle over, while Blades, Stones, and the Weight of Centuries brings us the heir to an empire poised at the threshold of change.”
I found this fairly randomly as an Etsy recommendation after I’d purchased another queer comic. It’s a lovely short sapphic romance story that left my heart feeling so warm! Duong is fantastic at bringing character expressions to life. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of her work.
“A short queer fantasy romance comic that begins with the myth of the Chinese Zodiac, and the tale that happens afterwards.
Devastated at being betrayed by her friend the Rat, the Cat withdraws into herself, becoming bitter, cynical and angry. However, the Dog is relentless in her attempts to befriend her, and they soon form a new tradition, meeting every year for Chinese New Year’s dinner.
What follows is a story of misunderstandings, delicious food and the rebuilding of trust.”
I was really taken with this supernatural/magical realism YA graphic novel about a teenage boy trying to cross the U.S. border from Mexico. The author clearly had points to make about the immigration issue (all of which I agree with) but the characters’ opinions and experiences are shared pretty organically within the course of events. Good storytelling there! Salcedo’s art is also lovely.
“As long as he remembers to stay smart and keep his eyes open, Mateo knows that he can survive the trek across the Sonoran Desert that will take him from Mexico to the United States. That is until he’s caught by the Border Patrol only moments after sneaking across the fence in the dead of night.
Escaping their clutches comes at a price and, lost in the desert without a guide or water, Mateo is ill-prepared for the unforgiving heat that is sure to arrive come sunrise. With the odds stacked against him, his one chance at survival may be putting his trust in something, or rather someone, that he isn’t even sure exists.
If you’d asked him if ghosts were real before he found himself face-to-face with one, Mateo wouldn’t have even considered it. But now, confronted with the nearly undeniable presence of Guillermo, he’s having second thoughts. Having spent his afterlife guiding migrants to safety, Guillermo knows things about the Sonoran Desert far beyond what could be explained by a mere hallucination. But even as Mateo forms an uneasy partnership with Guillermo, survival is still uncertain.
The Sonoran Desert, with its hostile temperatures and inhabitants, is teeming with danger as the Border Patrol and rogue militias prowl its deadly terrain. As his journey stretches on, Mateo will have to decide exactly what and who he’s willing to sacrifice to find home.”