15 OF THE BEST QUEER SFF ROMANCE BOOKS
R. NASSORJan 24, 2023
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If you swoon at the sight of queer dragons, werewolves, and robots, you have made it to the right place. The best queer SFF romance books not only have wonderful queer romance, but also the magic, mystery, and mayhem that accompany science fiction and fantasy. Are we here to wrestle with the meaning of humanity and love? Yes, of course we are. In my biased opinion, there is nothing better.
I want a forbidden love that is legitimately forbidden because if they fall in love an ancient magic rains hell upon the earth. Marriages of convenience simply work better when the two diverging kingdoms may destroy each other (with magic or robots) if your wedding doesn’t happen. Give me the introduction scene normal people receive when they learn about all the things that go bump in the night. I need all your secret societies that are actually vampires or werewolves or whatever else you want to throw at me.
I am a bit of a queer SFF romance fanatic. In general, if it has a romance with a ghost, reaper, werewolf, witch, robot, or spaceship, I want to read it. I love it all. Theoretically, I can read the same set of tropes and premises over and over, and I am not sure I will ever tire. I haven’t yet, and trust me when I say I could name 20 books about vampires and vampire hunters falling in love right now without breaking a sweat.
QUEER SFF ROMANCE IN CONTEXT
Publishing has made putting this list together a bit easier than it would have been even ten years ago. In an author interview with Tor about The Jasmine Throne, Tasha Suri said “There’s always been queer science fiction and fantasy. But there has been a change, I think, in its promotion and its support from [publishers]…in a way that just didn’t exist before.” I must agree with her. The structures for publishing queer stories have been around for a while, especially in small press and indie publishing. That doesn’t even touch older poems, myths, plays, and books that featured queer characters and love stories.
However, it is important to recognize we, as readers, now have a wealth of queer stories to pick from, especially in SFF romance, a place that didn’t always have hundreds of options. Big publishers like Tor, Tor.com, and Orbit have certainly done their part in publishing queer SFF romance, but queer indie publishers like Hansen House and self-published authors are also dedicated to the job. It is my hope that by continuing to support these books, we will have even more to pick from in the future.
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SORTING OUT QUEER MAGIC, MECHANICS, AND MONSTERS
Now, my selection of 15 of the best queer SFF romances has a bias. There is more fantasy romance than science fiction romance. There are also quite a few ace-spec books. The broad selection queer SFF romance books includes: queer werewolves, vampires, fairies, AI, magic users, mind readers, superheroes, monster hunters, mages, angels, and witches. So, you have “Bippity Boppity ‘Boo’: Queer Fantasy Romance” (yes that is a boo pun), “Love Bites: Queer Paranormal Romance,” and “Mechanical Hearts: Queer Science Fiction Romance.” Without further delay, I believe it is time to introduce you to my list of 15 of the best queer SFF romances I have to offer.
BIPPITY BOPPITY “BOO”: QUEER FANTASY ROMANCE
WITCHMARK BY C. L. POLK
This is the queernorm steampunk urban fantasy novel set in a magical, post-war Edwardian England you’ve been wanting. Miles is a witch in hiding who is currently working as a psychiatrist for wounded soldiers. At the hospital, he encounters a witch who leaves him with a deathbed wish to solve his murder. Soon after, a handsome man, who is certainly more than he appears, offers his help with his investigation. The secrets noble witch families Miles grew up with are trying to keep something hidden, and together, they will do all they can to uncover them.
Content warnings: suicidal thoughts, suicide, slavery, torture, parental death
CAN’T SPELL TREASON WITHOUT TEA BY REBECCA THORNE
If you are looking for a sapphic cozy fantasy romance featuring the private guard of the Queen and the most powerful mage in existence trying to retire and open a bookstore that serves tea, you have come to the right place. After her last thwarted assassination, Reyna has decided she has had quite enough of risking life and limb for the queen and country. It is time for her to finally take Kianthe up on her offer to disappear together and live a quiet life. Reyna will serve tea and Kianthe will sell books, and they have found the perfect place. Now all they have to do is successfully avoid all the dragons, mysteries, and murderous queens looking to spoil their new quiet life.
Content warning: death of a loved one
A SONG OF SILVER AND GOLD BY MELISSA KARIBIAN
When a siren warrior and a pirate who is secretly a princess cross swords, they quickly discover they would rather kiss each other, not kill each other. Princess Kaelyn has vowed to avenge her brother’s death by killing sirens that cross her path and has adopted a disguise as a male pirate captain to do so. Aqeara has also adopted a disguise. But the magic deal she made to become human relies on her taking the pirate captain’s heart to bring her dead princess back to life. In this sapphic retelling of The Little Mermaid, the high seas will test the cut of their jib as they fall dangerously in love.
Content warnings: death of a loved one, homophobia
A STRANGE AND STUBBORN ENDURANCE BY FOZ MEADOWS
Velasin never wanted a political marriage to a woman. He was mostly happy living in a city with male partners, even if their country’s laws and customs closeted him. But when the visiting envoy who was sent to settle the marriage contract and collect Vel finds out he prefers men, the unmarried brother in the family, Caethari, is presented as an option. Now the two will have to figure out if their unexpected marriage of convenience can work, especially since assassins appear to wait around every corner. Certainly take heed of the content warnings, but Meadows handles them all with the appropriate level of care.
Content warnings: rape, suicidal ideation, homophobia, abusive ex-partner, abusive parent, and self-harm
A RESTLESS TRUTH BY FREYA MARSKE
There’s been a murder on this cruise ship and it is up to Maud and Violet to fall in love…I mean, solve the murder. After learning of her brother’s magical exploits, Maud is ready for adventure to come her way on board a ship bound from the British Isles to New York. She did not expect to meet magician, actress, and beauty Violet who is far more interesting than she first appears. They will have to rely on each other though if they want to solve the murder and magical conspiracy before they make it to shore in this queer historical fantasy romance.
Content warnings: torture, past child abuse
BISCLAVRET BY K. L. NOONE
A demisexual king and a bisexual werewolf lord fall for each other in the heart of Brittany. Bisclavret was a noble knight who had to shift into a wolf during the full moon, but when he is betrayed by those closest to him, he is cursed to live as a wolf. Luckily, he comes upon the scholarly king, Andreas, who sees the wolf’s kind eyes and decides to trust the threatening beast and help him find a way to break his curse. This retelling of Marie de France’s “Bisclavret” is so excellent. As a medievalist who studies Marie and a lover of paranormal romances, I cannot recommend this book more.
WICKED BEAUTY BY KATEE ROBERT
Helen fights for her own hand in a tournament where marriage to her is tied to winning the role of Ares on the ruling council of the city of Olympus. Achilles and Patroclus knew becoming Ares would be difficult, but between Achilles’s martial prowess, Patroclus’s ability to discern probabilities, and their long-time partnership, they thought they had a shot. With Helen in the mix, nothing is as straightforward as they hoped and neither of them can resist her singular charm. This polyamorous romance has it all: tournaments, caring relationships, only one bed, and assassins. What more could you want?
Content warnings: abusive parent, assault, abusive ex-partner, miscarriage
LOVE BITES: QUEER PARANORMAL ROMANCE
FROSTBITE BY J EMERY
Ezra wanted freedom from his family compound for a single night where he could chat up a cute guy. Instead, a vampire clan looking to extort his family abducts him, so he escapes into a blizzard and finds a vampire hunter’s empty cabin. To make matters a bit worse (or better depending on your point of view), the day Morgan picked to quit the family monster hunting business and embark on a weekend cabin retreat unexpectedly includes a frozen vampire in residence. Gosh, it looks like we have a romance with a vampire and a vampire hunter who are forced to share a cabin in the middle of a snowstorm together. I wonder what will happen?
Content warning: kidnapping
WOLFSONG BY T.J. KLUNE
When a werewolf boy moves into town, he meets his neighbor who smells like pinecones and epic and awesome. Ox never expected to get much in his life after his dad left him and his mom behind, but he found a job with a mechanic and a few people who proved his dad wrong. When Joe and the Bennetts move next door, he gets a new best friend and a mysterious but lovable family in one go. But all good things cannot remain unchanging, as a threat to the Bennetts creeps into Green Creek and breaks them all apart. If you are looking for a friends-to-lovers queer werewolf romance, this is the book for you. I promise you will not be able to stop once you’ve started, so get ready to read the whole series.
Content warnings: kidnapping, torture, death of a loved one, past child abuse
HUMAN ENOUGH BY E.S. YU
Sometimes love comes when you least expect it. Like when you are at work killing vampires and get captured, only to find yourself in the company of a kind vampire who has been trapped for far longer. Noah is a vampire hunter, but even he knows Jordan deserves to be free, so when he escapes, he takes the vampire home with him. Now, Jordan has time to understand his vampirism and asexuality in peace, but when his new vampire support group friends start disappearing, he turns to Noah for help. Noah not only has to deal with a difficult office that isn’t accommodating of him being autistic, but also must uncover his coworker’s new plot to harm innocent vampires while hiding his relationship with Jordan from them. They certainly have a bloody problem on their hands.
Content warnings: kidnapping, abusive ex-partner
HEROINE’S JOURNEY BY SARAH KUHN
Beatrice is the youngest member of San Francisco’s Avada Jupiter Crime Fighting Squad who studies the supernatural byproducts of the interdimensional portals that opened up. She may be a bisexual legend who works as a bookseller and supernatural researcher, but she wants to use her emotional manipulation abilities to fight crime. So, when a mysterious voice gives Bea information on the next demonic attack, she gets Sam’s help. He is her fiercest academic rival, her best friend, and the love of her life. Together they might be able to save the world.
Content warning: racism
NINE MOONS IN A RIVER OF STARS BY XEN
The ’80s were a strange time, but this version of the ’80s is about to get stranger. One day, the sun went down on a coastal Californian town in 1982, and it never came back up again. Soon after, the people began to change, and childhood best friends Sho Asawa and Naoki Okubo are not exempt. They thought if they could just escape together, things would be better, but when monsters and myths rest in the darkness, escape feels impossible. Xen is Cole McCade’s pen name, and fans of his writing will not be disappointed with the first book in this slow-burn best friends–to-lovers queer paranormal romance series that manages to be dark, haunting, and sweet all at once.
Content warnings: racism, past child abuse, and body horror
BETTER OFF RED BY REBEKAH WEATHERSPOON
This sapphic vampire new adult romance novel is deliciously bloody and the start of a series you do not want to miss. Ginger is a straight-A student who never considered joining a sorority in college, but when she gets introduced to a mysterious sisterhood on campus, she cannot resist them. Camillia is bound by blood to serve six bloodthirsty demons with her sisterhood as their immortal queen, but even she can fall for fresh blood. Now, Ginger and Camillia are dealing with a forbidden love that might change both their lives forever.
MECHANICAL HEARTS: QUEER SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE
THE CYBERNETIC TEA SHOP BY MEREDITH KATZ
Before AI was illegal, Sal was made. Now, she is a tea shop proprietor who is determined to make the most of her time before she breaks down. That is, until Clara walks into her shop and helps her. Clara is an AI technician who never lingers in one place for long after living in a migrant worker family, but she cannot leave Sal behind. This ace sapphic cozy fantasy romance novella set in a tea shop is just the thing for everyone who knows the value of finding a place that will always accept you.
OCEAN’S ECHO BY EVERINA MAXWELL
In this queernorm space opera, Tennalhin, a rich socialite who can read minds, is non-consensually conscripted into military service by his aunt and paired with Lieutenant Surit, a duty-bound soldier who can manipulate others. It is against the law to force someone to permanently sync up with a stranger, and it is unheard of for it to happen between a civilian and a low-level officer, but it is happening anyway. Tennal and Surit decide to trust each other, fake a sync, and find a way out of their tricky situation together. But the chaotic flirt and stoic soldier will have to do their best if they want to survive a plot far bigger than either could imagine.
Content warnings: death of a loved one, self-destructive thoughts
MORE ADVENTURES AWAIT LOVERS OF QUEER SFF ROMANCE
If there is any justice in this world, there will be a whole new list of queer SFF romance books out next year. I do hope that this selection gives you more than a few books to pick up. Queer SFF romances allow readers to experience romance and adventure and magic. If you are looking for more, try these queer SFF romantic reads, queer fantasy romance books, and even more queer fantasy romances.