7 Queer Romantic Novels

Liz Parker, author of "All Are Welcome," recommends rom-coms that break out of the confines of heteronormativity

Still from The Happiest Hour

I can say with certainty that my first love was romantic comedy fiction. While the past few years have born some wonderful queer romantic comedies, we need more. 

When I set out to write my debut, All Are Welcome, I wanted to write a rom-com teeming with gay characters that anyone could relate to. I wanted these characters to be funny and complicated and tortured, with none of that humor, complication, or baggage coming from being gay.

What would happen if the main characters, two women who identified as lesbians, were perfectly comfortable with their sexuality, but their families were the ones trying to keep up? Would it be too on the nose if these characters came from a world that eschewed talking about anything real, lest it offend? It was worth the risk: a lesbian destination wedding goes hilariously awry in Bermuda, and a new book can be added to the queer rom-com bookshelf. 

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

The Guncle by Steven Rowley 

We should all be so lucky to have a Gay Uncle Patrick. Rowley is the author of two other novels, Lily and the Octopus and The Editor, and he returns here with The Guncle, a heartfelt and deeply funny novel about what happens when you’re thrown into the driver’s seat of a car you never expected to drive. While Patrick has always adored his niece and nephew, he’s also loved his life of independence in Palm Springs, California. He looks forward to their visits, and he looks forward to their return home. But when a tragedy and a health crisis calls for Patrick to become his niece and nephew’s primary guardian, he realizes that what works as a Guncle does not work as a Dad. Patrick rises to the occasion, and in the process, becomes his truest self. 

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

The author of The Assistants returns with a workplace romantic comedy fit for any beach reading. When Katie Daniels—fresh off a break-up with her fiancé and transplanted to New York from Kentucky—first meets Cassidy Price at the law firm where they both work, she’s not sure what to make of it. Cassidy is all confidence in a men’s suit, unlike any other woman Katie has met. Cassidy is equally skeptical of Katie, thinking she’s met plenty of straight women in New York before. And yet, when their paths keep crossing, a mutual attraction grows, and soon both women realize they should never let first impressions win the day. Equal parts humorous and touching, this one should be adapted for the screen! 

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet Milagros Palante has just come out to her family, and whether they speak to her again is up for debate. She leaves her hometown of the Bronx for Portland, Oregon determined to get this “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. First up? An internship with a famous author named Harlowe Brisbane who is an expert in all the subjects Juliet needs to learn: feminism, women’s bodies, and all that other stuff gay people are supposed to know. As Juliet embarks on finding herself, she realizes maybe the answers to all the questions she’s asking other people are questions she needs to ask herself. 

Red, White & Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

We’ve seen this set-up before, but we have not seen this set-up with these characters before. Alex Claremont-Diaz is pretty much American royalty as the son of American President Ellen Claremont. He spends most of his time with his sister and the Veep’s granddaughter, and together they form a dynamite millennial marketing team. But when Alex finally hashes it out with his nemesis, Prince Henry, and photos leak to the international press, damage control goes into full effect. Alex and Henry stage a friendship tour in efforts to mend American/British relations, no easy feat for these foes. Luckily for them, and for us readers, their fake tour soon turns real, and we sit on the edge of our seats as these two young men figure out what (and who) they really want. 

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

For anyone who has struggled to marry who they are with who their parents want them to be, Honey Girl is for you. Grace Porter is any parents’ dream: straight As, a Ph.D. in astronomy by 28-years-old, the type of kid who worked every summer. But when Grace goes to Vegas and drunkenly marries a woman she’s just met, and then moves to New York with her new wife, Grace realizes there is a lot of her she’s been trying to ignore. This is at once a finding yourself tale and a story about how love still pops up and demands your attention. 

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

A will-they-won’t-they for the ages. Jo is a Hollywood powerhouse director. Emma is an aspiring director and Jo’s assistant. When they’re photographed on a red carpet looking awfully couple-like, the tabloids have a field day and rumors abound. At first it’s unequivocal denial. They have a working relationship, and that’s it. But as Jo’s newest film is ready to launch, the pair are spending more and more time together. Sure, two people can get along and speak honestly and laugh through the crevices of the day. But what’s the line between a good working relationship and something much deeper? For Jo and Emma, they’re about to find out. 

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

Comedy and pain have always gone hand-in-hand. That’s absolutely the case for Jessa-Lynn Morton, a young woman who steps in to run her family’s failing taxidermy business after her father’s suicide. While Jessa tries to get the business up and running again, her family continues to fall apart around her: her brother completely withdraws, her mother starts to create increasingly provocative animal art, and her brother’s wife—the only person Jessa has ever been in love with—walks away without a word. However, every action demands a reaction, and Jessa soon sees her world opening up in ways she never imagined. This is a story about family and love and how we weave loss into our paths forward. 

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