Happy Pride Month, y’all!
Since this month is about celebrating the LGBT community and the freedom to be who you are and love who you love, I thought I’d recommend some sweet LGBT romance books. Each of these love stories features an LGBT protagonist — whether their identity is the crux of the story or not. This month may be coming to a close, but these are fantastic (and romantic) reads for any time of year.
Sweet LGBT Romance Books
1. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
This is the first entry in the superhero series, Sidekick Squad. Our heroine is Jessica Tran, the daughter of two C-list superheroes. Having given up on ever developing superpowers of her own, Jess is just looking to beef up her college applications.
She happens upon a fantastic internship… for the local supervillains. Motivated partially by the fact that the internship is actually paid, and by the fact that her crush Abby is working there, too, Jess takes it anyway.
A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. (And a little part of her can’t help but think that this will be really funny.)
Unlike the other books on this list, the love story isn’t the main focus of this LGBT read. Jess’ crush on Abby provides an absolutely adorable backdrop to the action-packed shenanigans going on.
If you’re looking for a hilarious, heartwarming sendup of your favorite comic books, I highly recommend you check out Sidekick Squad. As a bonus, the sequels introduce even more LGBT romance and representation.
2. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
This is an introspective, quietly heartbreaking story about Amanda, a trans girl who’s recently moved in with her father in his Tennessee small town.
Hoping for a fresh start, Amanda intends to keep her head down. With any luck, she can ride out the rest of high school in peace. This all changes when she hits it off with a boy named Grant. As Amanda falls in love, she begins to want to open up to Grant and tell him about her life before. But she’s terrified that if she tells him the truth, he won’t love her anymore.
This is one of the few mainstream romances with a transgender protagonist — and it’s written by a trans author, too. Most LGBT literature focuses only on the first three letters of the acronym. (Or the first two.) Trans characters are becoming more and more prevalent, but are still uncommon.
While this book is sad and at times hard to read, especially when Amanda describes the years and months before her transition, it’s also a very honest story about love and self-acceptance.
Amanda is a wonderful heroine, and her story is one that resonates with many LGBT readers, especially trans readers — but I think she’s relatable to everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender. There’s also a nice touch with the author including two letters at the end of the book; one for trans readers, one for cis readers. If you’re looking for more #ownvoices fiction, I highly recommend this one.
3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This novel tells the story of Aristotle (“Ari,” for short) and Dante, two Mexican-American teenage boys in the 1980s. Meeting one summer at the local pool, the two strike up an unlikely friendship, one that continues via letters when summer ends.
As their friendship develops, Ari and Dante both come of age. As they get older, they find that their feelings for each other aren’t quite platonic — and they both react in wildly different ways.
I read this book all in one go. That was over five years ago, and it still sticks with me to this day. Ari’s narration is absolutely fantastic, and his romance with Dante is one of the best love stories I’ve ever read. His dynamic with his family is also great, especially his mother, who’s by far my favorite side character.
This book boasts an extremely developed and realistic cast of characters, as well as some beautiful prose. I’ve heard rumors that this might be getting a movie soon, but nothing concrete — here’s hoping it’s true.
4. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Studious, introverted Liza meets a free-spirited girl named Annie at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Despite their contrasting backgrounds and interests, they hit it off, and become the best of friends in record time.
After a kiss on the beach during an outing, Liza and Annie realize that their connection isn’t just spiritual, and begin to navigate the possibility of a relationship. When their romance becomes public knowledge in the worst possible way and at the worst possible moment, the fallout threatens to force them apart.
This is a classic of LGBT romance books. Banned and even burned in some places, Annie on my Mind was highly controversial when it first came out for daring to have sympathetic lesbian protagonists — that didn’t die at the end. Even now, almost forty years later, it still holds up, both as a wonderful portrayal of being gay, and a wonderful love story in general.
If you haven’t read it yet, I implore you to pick it up. It’s a landmark of LGBT literature for a reason.
5. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Alice has sworn off dating. Like… forever. Her ex-girlfriend dumped her when Alice confessed she’s asexual. So that’s sort of turned her off to the whole “being vulnerable around other human beings” thing. And, honestly, she’s fine with that. She’s happy to spend her summer working at the local library and marathoning all her favorite TV shows. That is until she meets Takumi. Developing a crush on this adorable, nerdy boy was literally the last thing Alice asked for, but it looks like she doesn’t get a choice in the matter. Typical.
Asexuality is one of the most widely misunderstood sexual orientations, and stories with asexual protagonists are rare — especially love stories. So, this book is a huge step forward in the right direction. And regardless of your orientation, I’m pretty sure most of us can relate to Alice’s “I’M DONE, DATING IS STUPID, FORGET IT” moments. This book is sweet, funny, and a great summer read.
6. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The basis of the hit movie Love, Simon! This is the story of closeted teen Simon, who begins a secret romance with a boy whose name he doesn’t even know. Communicating via anonymous email accounts, Simon is hopelessly in love with his penpal “Blue,” and is constantly wondering who he could be.
Simon intends to wait until he’s in college to come out. But that all changes when his classmate Martin finds his emails — and threatens to leak them unless Simon sets him up with his friend Abby.
Both the movie and the book are modern classics in LGBT romance, and it’s easy to see why. The story is funny, heartwarming, and compelling, and Simon is a fantastic hero. (And he’s played perfectly by Nick Robinson in the movie.) If you’ve only seen the movie, I implore you to give the book a read, too — and check out the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat!
7. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
This is a hilarious, action-packed, historical romp, following Henry “Monty” Montague on his Grand Tour of Europe. Monty is what you’d call a disaster area, as well as the family disappointment. (Hard work, but someone’s gotta do it.)
Seeing the Tour as his last hurrah before he has to retire to a boring life as a respectable gentleman, Monty begins on what he hopes will be a fun-filled adventure with his best friend (and secret crush) Percy and his younger sister Felicity in tow.
Unfortunately, things quickly get thrown off-track when one of Monty’s stupider stunts sparks a manhunt all throughout Europe, forcing the three travelers to go on the run.
This book is absolutely hysterical, with what is probably the best-written bisexual protagonist I’ve ever seen. The romance is a wonderfully torturous slow burn, and the historical setting is both vivid and well-researched — a few anachronisms notwithstanding.
Monty is easily one of my favorite narrators in fiction. He’s sarcastic, reckless, and spends about 80% of the story out of his depth. All of this makes him a great hero to follow and root for. The book also has a follow-up, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. That one focuses on Monty’s sister Felicity and her own adventures. If you love period romances, this is the one for you.
These are just seven of my favorite LGBT romances. Both the YA and adult fiction market have literally hundreds of more titles to offer, and they’re all in need of more love. Even as Pride month comes to an end, I hope you’ll check out the titles I’ve listed here, and ones I didn’t.
What are your favorite sweet LGBT romance books? Tell me about them down in the comments!