When you’re Black and queer, you’ve spent a long time avoiding literature about people with those identities, because they haven’t always ended happily. (Okay, this “you” I speak of is me, because I like love stories that have happy endings; it’s why I have to work to spend time outside of romance.) But the past few years have offered us a wealth of choices in Black romance featuring queer couples, and it’s been a joy to see. (Okay, when I say “wealth” I am heavily exaggerating because there could be more — so much more — but comparatively speaking, you could sit down and read nothing but queer Black romance for a few months, at least.)
Once upon a time, authors like Ann Allen Shockley and E. Lynn Harris offered insightful looks into the Black queer experience of their day, sometimes letting their characters fall in love, always making them fight for their right to express that love and keep it. Sometimes, that last bit didn’t happen, other times it did — at least until the sequel. As the decades passed, and romance became a bigger machine under both the traditional and independent umbrellas, we got tiny hints of romance here and there featuring queer Black characters, especially when it comes to actual BLACK Black romance — romance in which everyone involved is Black, instead of interracial romance. But it’s only been in the past five years or so that we’ve seen an upswing in the number of romances in which Black folk have been casually queer and falling in love in regular ways. Sure, thanks to the socially conservative bent many Black people have experienced with family, friends, and neighbors, sometimes there is conflict in which their queerness has a role, but it’s usually a problem for other people, not the protagonists.
All this to say: there are some really great queer Black romances out there, y’all. They’re sweet, and often sexy, and feel a lot like you’re hanging out with family. Some are hilarious; others are a little darker. But they all will make you feel things, and that’s what we go to romance for, right?
So here are some to try! Some are newer, some a little older, but all are excellent!
D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins
My first Chencia book was Things Hoped For, and I will squee about that one offline if you want, but D’Vaughn and Kris is her most recent release, and her first with Carina Adores. This one ticks a million perfect boxes for me, including a reality TV setting (which is hilarious because I don’t actually watch reality dating shows), a fat protagonist, and the creme de la creme: fake dating. D’Vaughn and Kris do have to plan a wedding, but they only meet after they’ve been cast on Instant I Do. They have to convince everyone they know that they’re in it for real, and it doesn’t hurt that they have smoking chemistry.
Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon
While the third in a series, this book is easy to pick up on its own, and certainly the most angsty and the sexiest of the three. After her fiancé is murdered, Brooklyn isn’t in the best place. And what she really doesn’t want or expect is to be approached by the boyfriend of the lover her fiancé was murdered with. But after a few encounters over a stretch of time, Brooklyn is willing to hear him out — and, it turns out, his other partner as well. The three of them, oozing with chemistry, begin a hesitant relationship, and learn to lean on each other as they heal from their own tragedy.
I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson
YA author Kosoko Jackson makes his adult romance debut with this novel about two exes coming back together after months apart. Only, they’re not actually getting back together; Hudson needs Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town. But of course, that’s not the end of it, and suddenly the two each have to address their own feelings. Is this a bad idea? Most certainly. Could it lead to something that will end well for everyone? Well, only time will tell.
(Transparency note: Kosoko is a contributor in a book I edited.)
Fall Into You by Georgina Kiersten
This short novella invokes the feeling of Autumn and seeking your own joy. Imari has recently moved to a new town in Texas, needing a fresh start from her old life in Houston — including her overbearing, ignorant mother and the perfectly nice man she left at the altar. When she runs into a childhood friend, it’s maybe the best fresh start she can think of. And it doesn’t hurt that her friend has grown into a gorgeous woman.
Drag Me Up by RM Virtues
Looking for something completely different? How about a reimagining of the Hades and Persephone myth set in a high-class underworld? Hades works in the shadows, and likes it that way. Letting his brother Zeus take the limelight allows him to do what needs to be done in the underbelly of Khaos Falls. But when he sees the gorgeous Persephone hanging from the silks one night, he knows only one thing: he wants her. He needs her, and she will be his. He’s already hers.
That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole
While Alyssa Cole’s more popular queer romances are in her Reluctant and Runaway Royals series, this one is my favorite. Originally written as one of three novellas collected in Hamilton’s Battalion, this story features an assistant of sorts to the now elderly Eliza Hamilton as she collects stories from men who fought with her husband in the Revolution. When Andromeda comes in her ailing grandfather’s stead, the two women are thrown together, much to Mercy’s chagrin. Andromeda herself is a whirlwind, and Mercy would rather not get caught up in that storm.
Femme Like Her by Fiona Zedde
Fiona Zedde is a veteran author writing queer stories with and without HEAs. But this one is promised to be a romance, and lives up to that in spades. Nailah is a femme lesbian who only dates butch women. And then comes Scotty. Scotty who is not just femme, but a femme fatale for Nailah’s heart. They both have baggage, but their chemistry could blow off the roof.
Also, can we talk about the gorgeous dark-skinned woman on this cover?
Neighborly by Katrina Jackson
What happens when two couples move into adjoining duplexes? Especially if they have…relatively thin walls? All kinds of things. Heaven and Tasha are in wonderful relationships with wonderful men, but they can’t help their attraction to each other. And their partners? Well, they just want them to be happy, right? So…shenanigans ensue.
(Transparency note: Katrina is a contributor in a book I edited.)
American Sweethearts by Adriana Herrera
This is the fourth book in a series about a group of Afro-Caribbean friends living in the New York Area, and you should definitely check all of them out. This one features fan favorite Juan Pablo, or JuanPa, and the woman he’s been in love with for as long as he can remember. The pair have a lot of stuff to deal with, but eventually have to figure out they were made for each other.
(Transparency note: Adriana is a contributor in a book I edited.)
Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (yes, again)
I usually try to stick to one book by each author when I’m making these lists, but Treasure was it for me: that first book that spoke to me, that really showed me that Black queer women could have the HEA. After Alexis gets a dance from a gorgeous stripper at her sister’s bachelorette party, she’s surprised to find the woman in one of her classes. The two begin an easy friendship, which slowly becomes something else. It’s almost criminally short, but so adorable.
Being Hospitable by Meka James
When Kiki invited Charley to stay with her while working in town for an internship, she didn’t expect much besides her friend’s younger sister living in the same house. What she definitely didn’t expect was for Charley to walk around wearing barely there outfits and flirting with her every chance she got. Charley has had a crush for a long time, and she’s hoping their time alone will help Kiki see that she’s not just a kid sister anymore; she’s a woman.
Something Like Love by Christina C. Jones
Eddie and Astrid don’t get along. Anytime they encounter each other, there is sniping, sarcasm, and just the tiniest bit of enjoyment in their banter. What neither of them wants to admit is how much they find the other one attractive. But eventually, their chemical antagonism comes to a head, and they find an interesting way to relieve that pressure. I don’t get to read a lot of Black romance featuring a mixed gender couple in which both of them are bisexual, so that was particularly a treat.
(Transparency note: Christina C. Jones is a contributor in a book I edited.)
Sips of Her by Karmen Lee
Coffee shop owner Cameran looks forward to working every day, in part because she gets to do what she loves. But it doesn’t hurt that she gets to interact with Julie on a regular basis. Neither can bring themselves to ask the other out in the shop, but when a chance encounter leads to the assumption that they’re dating, they take advantage.
There can always be more queer Black romance. (Seriously. Publishing. Get on that. The indies are beating y’all to death.) But these are a great place to start, and most of these authors have more books to check out, whether they’re Black romance or interracial.