Copper Dog Books and Shelf Love Podcast - both based in Beverly, MA - celebrate Romance fiction - its books, readers, and writers - and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community. We created a list of our favorite romances!
Contemporary Romance: cis F/ cis F
This is one of the most heart-warming books I've read in recent memory. It's incredibly gentle and loving throughout - while there are a few moments of angst as a result of misunderstanding what the other wants, the MCs treat each other with respect and care at every turn. Cade and Selena are characters you can root for while also having room for growth throughout the story. Selena's outlook on sexuality is a breath of fresh air and Stetz-Waters leverages her and her community of found family to infuse the book with an atmosphere that is welcoming, thoughtful, and loving. There's a satisfying build up to Cade and Selena's sexual relationship and the tone is a match for the story: it's frank, gentle, exploratory, and loving.
Disclosure: Karelia Stetz-Waters has been a guest on Shelf Love.
Historical Erotic Romance - Trans M/Trans F/Trans F
No plot, just vibes. Gothic, cottage core, coming of age, exploration of reclaiming sexuality for the self with two older, wiser lovers. Erotic, low angst. Instalust based on being seen and accepted. One long picnic of preserves soaked in rum interspersed with walks through dappled forests and artists immersed in their work, be it Victor's typewriter clattering, Madeline's ink-smudged notebooks, or Audreys paint. Oh and sex. A touch of power play. Audrey's sharp smiles being the earliest basis of her appeal.
Disclosure: EE Ottoman has been a guest on Shelf Love.
Sci-Fi Romance - alien M/cis human F
An insectoid alien and an accidentally abducted human woman romance? A talking dog? A hunger-games-esque mate qualifying competition on an alien planet? Don't let the out-of-this world plot fool you into thinking this can't also be a tender exploration of emotion and pleasure outside of the standard heterocentric sexual scripts we see most often in romance novels, because it is definitely that.
Contemporary Romance - cis M/cis M/cis F
Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon is the third book in her Beards and Bondage series, and it's about the relationship between Brooklyn, Shaw, and Vaughn.
A crime against Brooklyn's fiance and Shaw and Vaughn's partner leaves them grieving and their shared trauma also brings them together. I love this book and highly recommend it because the communication on page is truly lovely to witness. It's super sexy, and is a fantastic example of positive polyamorous relationship representation in romance and we witness the emotional evolution of each of their relationships with each other.
Disclosure: Rebekah Weatherspoon has been a guest on Shelf Love.
Contemporary Romance - cis M/cis F
How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole is an extraordinary example of what the romance genre can do. It's a modern fairy tale - but no fairy godmother is going to save the day. Shanti and Sanyu, our royal couple, have all the agency, emotional maturity, and chemistry that is required to cook up a deeply satisfying, emotional rollercoaster of a romance. Alyssa Cole continues to show her mastery in How to Catch a Queen - it's funny, heart-wrenching, sexy, and politically and psychologically resonant. (Book 1 in the Runaway Royals series, which takes place in the same world as the Reluctant Royals series.)
Disclosure: Alyssa Cole has been a guest on Shelf Love.
Who knew honesty could be so sexy. Anxious Hollyn has Tourette’s and strikes up a deal with her barista/improv actor to help overcome her isolation in order to save her job. Through opening up to each other, his matter-of-factness shows her his vulnerability and inspires her to expand her comfort zone. The romance story avoided trite machinations and navigated tropes with ease and without false black points. The cast of secondary characters are funny and supportive and I’m desperately hoping we can meet them in future books.
I throughly enjoyed immersing myself in modern world of Greek mythology in Neon Gods. Persephone found herself lost and alone after fleeing a publicly announced engagement to Zeus. Only desperation made her cross the River Styx but the freedom she finds gives her the courage to reevaluate everything she knows. A spicy hot romance and fantastic world-building makes me impatient for the next visit to Olympus.
Winter’s Orbit is a captivating space romance with action, adventure, and galactic politics. Prince Kiem knows himself to be a minor player of the royal family, best known for creating minor scandals. When the Empress commands him to marry a stranger for the good of the empire, he obeys his grandmother. Count Jainan, a diplomat from vassel planet who has separated himself from his family and compatriots, is enigmatic and desperate to support his husband and liege planet. A slowburn romance, there are lots of threads twisting through the book: a murder mystery, palace intrigue, sinister plots, and a fraying empire. Kiem and Jianan must discover the truth of each other as well as the danger surrounding them; the fate of their planets is at stake.