Recommended Reading: Queer SFF Romance

For our first Glasgow in 2024 book club meeting, the book we read was Silk and Steel, a collection of SFF short stories each of which was structured around an F/F romance.  Some of the attendees mentioned not having read much or any romance before, so I volunteered to write a list of recommendations.  

In honour of Pride Month this list is entirely focussed on queer romances.  

The first section are romances in the classic sense, meaning that they have the growing relationships as a major focus of the story and that they end with the characters together in a Happy Ever After or a Happy For Now.

Image shows cover of KJ Charles's The Magpie Lord. 2 male figures are silhouetted in black in the left foreground - one in a top hat and one in a bowler- behind them there is a green railing gate that is ajar. A flock of magpies fly above the gate circling the title 'The Magpie Lord' which is in flowing script.KJ Charles – Charm of Magpies series – M/M – historical fantasy
No queer romance rec list would be complete without KJ Charles.  The series (starting with Magpie Lord) is set in a gothic fantasy version of Victorian London.  Lucian Crane is an exiled and disgraceful peer recently returned to Britain and suffering from a curse; Stephen Day is the overworked underpaid magic user resentfully trying to help him.

Image shows the cover of Heather Rose Jones's 'Daughter of Mystery - A Novel of Alpennia'. There is a flowing drape of red material the diagonally covers the left hand side of the book. On the right hand side in the background there is a small stack of books, a red candle burning low in an antique candle holder and a pink roles on top of some letters.

Heather Rose Jones – Alpennia series – F/F – historical fantasy
These are sword and sorcery F/F romances set in the Ruritanian european nation of Alpennia.  The first one is Daughter of Mystery, in which heiress Margerit Sovitre inherits both a fortune and a bodyguard, Barbara, who is trapped in servitude.

The image shows the cover of May Peterson's 'Lord of the Last Heartbeat' In the centre of the book is a top down view of a pale blue chrysanthemum, fading in and out behind it and crossing the rest of the cover are silver chains against a grey background.May Peterson – Lord of the Last Heartbeat – queer non-binary – fantasy
Historical-ish fantasy with a strong Italian feeling and an opera singer main character.  Hugely atmospheric.

The image shows the cover of Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone's 'This is How You Lose the Time War'. In the centre of the book there is a bright red cardinal bird (red body with a black face and red beak), reflected below it is a bright blue western blue bird - (a blue body with a bright white chest). The cardinal is facing right, the bluebird is facing left. Both images have been split and realigned slightly out of synch.

Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone – This is How You Lose the Time War – F/F time loop SFF
This is so good, and like nothing else I’ve ever read.  The language and the settings are absolutely lush.  Red and Blue are secret agents for opposite sides, learning to love each other, and fighting to get free from the organisations they represent.

Image shows the cover of Alexis Ha;;'s 'There Will be Phlogiston'. In the forefront of the cover on the right there are 2 male figures in a state of undress. In the back left side of the book there is a blond woman in a pink riding jacket, on a demonic looking shire horse. She is watching the male figures salaciously.Alexis Hall – There will be Phlogiston – M/M/F steampunk
Alexis Hall is another writer who ends up on every queer romance recommendation list.  This one has Lady Rosamund Wolfram breaking out of her society role as an eligible maiden, and finding happiness with the nouveau riche Phlogiston Baron, Anstruther Jones, and the scandalous aristocrat Lord Mercury

Image shows the cover of Aliette De Bodard's Fireheart Tiger. The cover's central image is a woman in a beautiful red and gold robe - reminiscent of a fire. In her hands there is a tea cup out of which a glorious set of flames blazes. Only the chin, mouth and nose of the woman's face is visible, along with the edges of a gold headdress. Faded into the right sleeve of the role there is an overlaid image of siheyuan style buildings. Behind the woman is the fade image of 4 pillars.

Aliette De Bodard – Fireheart Tiger – F/F historical fantasy
This is a novella set in a fantasy version of Vietnam.  Princess Thanh has to learn how to stand up to her domineering mother and domineering ex and find her own happiness.

The image shows the cover of A.J Fitzwater's 'No Man's Land'. 2 eels - one blue with a mountainous landscape overlaid across its silhouette - on the left, one a burnt orange with a no mona's land landscpe - barbed wire and planes overhead - on the right. On the snout of the right eel a female figure in blue reaches out her hand to the blue eel.AJ Fitzwater – No Man’s Land – F/F historical fantasy
Dorothea ‘Tea’ Jones is a young New Zealand woman with aboriginal ancestry, working as part of the Land Service as a farm girl during WW2.  This book is explicitly rooted in LGBTQ+ and feminist history.

Image shows cover of Everina Maxwell's novel 'Winter's Orbit'. The silhouette of 2 figures cast against a pale sky takes up the whole cover. The silhouettes are filled by 2 different sky-landscapes: the one on the left shows a moon and planet in the distance in a night sky while a figure in the forefront has rocks orbiting them; the one on the right shows a setting sun over a mountain range with the outlines of city skyline, a figure on a distant cliff looks towards the sun.

Evarina Maxwell – Winter’s Orbit – M/M space opera
Space princes in an arranged marriage, learning to love and trust each other against a background of interstellar politics.

Image shows cover of C.L. Polk's novel 'Witchmark'. Everything is rendered in tonal shares of blue. The scene showers a street with frame of trees in the background. In the centre of the image a male figure in a bowler hat rides a bicycle, where the reflection would be there is instead an inverted image of a couple talking.

CL Polk – Witchmark – M/M, sequels F/F and F/NB – fantasy
Edwardian fantasy with politics, with the worldbuilding based on uprooting unjust systems and healing the damage.


The second section is for SFF with queer elements, but where either the relationships are established before the start of the book, or aren’t the focus, or don’t resolve happily.

Image shows cover of Katherine Fabian and Iona Datt Sharma's 'Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night' The title is in the lower centre at the forefront in white. There is a small spring of holly - green leaves and red berries - near the o of the of. Behind the title black trees are silhouetted against a dark blue sky in which there are a multitude of stars.Katherine Fabian and Iona Datt Sharma – Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night – F/M/NB urban fantasy
London based fantasy, where Layla and Nat have the same boyfriend, Meraud, who has gone missing.  They have to team up to find him in time.

The Image shoes the overs of Melissa Scott and Jo Graham's 'Order of the Air' series. The first on the left is 'Lost things'. The title 'Lost things is in black writing across the top of the book. There is a bright lit sky with large suncast clouds. Across the centre of the image, near the top, a silver zeppelin moves across the sky from left to right. The second cover, in the centre of the 3, is for 'Steel Blues'. The title is in bright blue letters across the top of the book. The cover shows a stromy greay sky. In the centre of the sky a silver monoplane propels itself across the sky from left to right. The final cover, and the right image, is for 'Silver Bullet'. The title is in silver slightly metalic lettering across the top of the cover. The cover shows a sky mid lightening storm, all greys and whites and yellow bolts. A small silver monoplane is in the throws of the storm. It is on the right handside of the cover, pointing left. At the bottom of the image is a mountain range and what looks to be a tower.Melissa Scott and Jo Graham – Order of the Air series – queer found family – historical fantasy
Historical fantasy set in the US between the wars.  The protagonists solve mysteries and try to keep bad guys out of power, while keeping their small aviation firm running.

The image shows the cover of Tessa Gratton's 'Queens of Innis Lear'. The title is in the centre of the cover in gold writing. Golden brzone leaves trail up the bottom left and top right of the cover. The background is a dark blue star filled sky.The image shows the cover of Tessa Gratton's 'Lady Hotspur'. The background of the image is a grey purple smoke filled sky. In the centre of the image a figure stands, back toward us, in red armour, orange flames edge it in places. Overlaying this is an inverted triangle in the centre of whitch is a sword through the centre of an ornate crown. These are all in white flame. The title 'Lady Hotspur' is in golden lettering along the bottom of the cover, behind witch sharpened pikes point towards the figure.Tessa Gratton – Queens of Innis Lear and Lady Hotspur, fantasy.
These are two loose Shakespeare retellings, of King Lear and Henry V respectively, with magic and lots of female agency.  The first has a transman character dealing with dysphoria, the second has WLW protagonists.

Image shows the cover of Michelle's West's 'The Broken Crown' - book 1 of The Sun Sword series. In the centre front of the image a woman stands in the water, her long white and gold robes trailing beneath the blue. She is holding in her hands a long slightly curved silver sword with a black pommel and gold filigree. Her shoulders are bare and her hair is tied up and adored with jewels and flowers. There are white lilies and lily pads around her. In the background there is a gorgeous building with a 3 tiered pagoda style roof and corner towers. There are trees and a mountain range in the background.Michelle West, Sun Sword series – epic fantasy
This series is the answer to lots of recommendation lists, with complex cultures and magic systems and lots of fascinating characters.  One of the main viewpoint characters is a lesbian, another is asexual.

The image shows the covers of April Daniels' novels 'Dreadnought' and 'Sovereign'. Dreadnought is on the left and shows a feminine silhouetted in black standing on a black hillside. She is wearing a blue flowing cape that is blowing sideways to the left, and is looking towards a city skyline that is rendered in pastel pinks and greys. Above the city is a blue sky. The cover for 'Sovereign' is on the right. There is a similar silhouetted figure with a blue cape, however this time they are inspace, witht he light of the sun behind their head on the right, what looks to be the planet earth is on the left handside beanth their feet. they look like they have been blown side ways. In the back right of the image a small moon is visible.April Daniels – Dreadnought and Sovereign – F/F superheroes with trans girl MC
The main character starts the book as a trans teenage girl who is not out to anybody.  Getting her superpowers gives her the outward appearance she wants, which also necessarily outs her.  The book is split between super heroic fun and the much more serious issue of dealing with all the consequences from family, friends and other supers.


This article was brought to you by Kate Towner in association with Promotions.

Kate Towner (she/her) is a lifelong reader and fan, and occasional cosplayer and fanfic writer. You can find her on Twitter @katepreach, or co-running

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