I’m a sucker for a romance novel with wry humor, snark, high-quality banter, or the fun kind of bickering. Every single book on this list made me laugh out loud at least five times. So take a look, and hopefully you’ll find something new and fun to read!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this M/F romance between biracial Indian-American tech writer by day / romance novelist by night Lily Nayar and white Welsh actor Tom Morrison, brought together when Lily drunkenly mails him a copy of her book about a sexy hero clearly based on him. Tom needs a screenwriter to help him close a deal for a passion project, and because reasons it would help if Lily pretended to be his girlfriend too. The woman who road-tripped to his hotel and broke into his room to steal the book back isn’t going to say no to a ridiculous plan, but of course, complications ensue!
If you’re into the fake dating trope, heroines with fantastic female best friends, Hollywood glamour, lough-out-loud character voice, evil exes getting their just desserts, and romances that engage with racism and sexism, you should really check this out.
I wish I could figure how to send cupcakes through Twitter, because I would love to send one to the gal who recommended this to me. (I’ve already said thank you, but it doesn’t feel like enough!)
It’s an M/F opposites-attract romance by a black woman where both African-American leads are bi, so for this bi gal who loves to read more diversely, this checked so many boxes! And it was freakin’ hilarious. Eddie is a tattoo artist who prefers his partners corporate slick. Astrid is a smoothie-drinking yoga instructor and graphic designer who’s convinced Eddie wants to sleep with her. Eddie thinks Astrid is delusional. But Eddie’s getting a strange feeling that it’s time to break out of his comfort zone a little in life, so he takes a step into Astrid’s world, and then another… and two people who swear up and down they don’t want a relationship suddenly realize what they’re doing looks an awful lot like one.
Totally fun and amusing without sacrificing emotional depth between the two main characters. Superb handling of stereotypes about bisexuals. And I think I pulled a muscle laughing during Eddie’s battle of insults in the barber shop, and again when his mother read him the riot act about keeping his sister’s secrets. Love Eddie and Astrid together, especially when they snarked at each other, and I’m definitely trying out more of the books from this series.
I really enjoyed this F/F slow-burn opposites-attract romance between an Olympic snowboarder and an Olympic skiier. Elise, the skiier, is coming back from an injury and she’s all serious business all the time. Corey, the snowboarder, works hard too, but she’s also a colossal goofball. Half the time I was laughing at her jokes, half the time I was laughing just because she just kept making jokes – the “here she goes again” kind of laughter. I’m not much of a winter sports fan, but I didn’t feel like I had to be, I could still follow the book and enjoy the story. Watching Elise come out of her shell and learn to accept support from friends was lovely to watch, as was Corey’s decision to mentor a younger snowboarder even though it might negatively impact her own career. I didn’t quite understand their final conflict, but overall I still had a good time reading this book!
Diversity note: (1) Elise is Jewish, though the rep doesn’t have much impact on the story. (2) Spangler has a wife, so while I don’t label people unless I see them labeling themselves publicly, I feel safe this is #ownvoices.
Set in 1920s London, this sex-positive novella isn’t quite a romance, but it’s a love story with plot beats and an HEA that will please romance readers. Jade Yeo is a Malaysian writer who came to London seeking adventure, but hasn’t yet found it when our story begins. It’s told through entries from her diary, which are scathingly funny at times, especially when she’s messing with her rich Aunt Iris. Jade’s friend Ravi, a magazine editor, offers to pay her for a cutting review of the new book by literary darling Sebastian Hardie. Jade and Hardie meet and end up sleeping together with Hardie’s wife’s blessing, which is the kind of educational adventure Jade was hoping for from her London experience… except that Jade finds she’s more concerned than she predicted about Ravi’s feelings about it.
After our heroine faces great peril (or at least oppressive boredom), female friendship saves the day, and all ends as it should. Great fun to read.
Diversity Note: Cho is a Malaysian writer who lives in London.
Boss-employee romances usually get an eyeroll from me because OW the ethics, but this book is so ridiculous in such a good way that I gave it a pass. Milo Bautista, tattooed factory security guard, has recently realized he’s gay. Renner Bastion, the uptight CEO of his company, is an out, successful gay man. So of course, what makes sense is for Milo to ask Renner to be his role model in being confident with his sexuality so he can approach his crush, in exchange for Milo giving Renner lessons on how to relax. Which inevitably leads to Renner lying in a hammock in a park when it’s about to rain and Milo licking his abs because… well, basically, because these guys just can’t stop bickering and having sex (including mild D/S) in all the most inappropriate places and bickering some more. And it’s gloriously funny, so much good banter here. Then the conflicts as both men start to have feelings are messy and feel very real.
I particularly appreciated Bailey’s deft handling of the backstory for Milo, who had long thought he was straight, had sex with women and had a fairly good time, but finally realized he was gay. It didn’t feel like bi erasure for even a second.
A bitingly funny enemies to lovers BDSM romance between two bisexual men: Avery Hextall, a caustic architect, and the reserved project manager at his company, Malin Lacroix. Avery decides Malin is his nemesis, but after yelling at man in his office, saying terrible things about Malin while drunk and unaware the guy is right behind him, and… fantasizing about Malin dominating him? Well, that was unexpected. By Avery, that is. Part of his charm is that he often lacks about 10% of the self-awareness he’d need to manage his life properly. The other part is his acerbic inner dialogue, one of the most crisp, sharp character voices I’ve read in romance.
I was slightly unprepared when their relationship started to take a more serious turn, but wow, yes, things get heavy. Avery and Malin’s relationship gets dangerous, both emotionally and physically, because of its growing intensity without emotional honesty. Neither of these guys are skilled with letting anyone close, especially Malin, who is carrying serious baggage. As Avery’s feelings change, Gale doesn’t throw out either man’s personality (or the humor), but she lets them both flail around until they figure out how to connect and move forward, even if imperfectly.
Diversity Note: Gale is queer.
Thank you, Supreme Court, for giving us the opportunity to read gay “Got Drunk and Married in Vegas” romantic comedies. This one is especially fun, because the authors went trope-tastic. Not only did Will Patterson and Dr. Patrick McCloud get drunk Vegas married, but Will’s father is part of the very Catholic Molinaro crime family, and he’s not allowed to get divorced EVER or all the money for the charitable foundation he runs will DISAPPEAR! And Patrick turns out to be one of the neurosurgeons that Will’s foundation’s hospital was trying to hire! And Thanksgiving and Christmas with Will’s family is coming up and their fake marriage has to withstand scrutiny! And Will and Patrick sleep together and claim it’s just sex, really there are no feelings here!
Totally unrealistic in many ways, but ridiculously entertaining, and packs a wallop of real feelings and issues mixed in with the hilarity. Will is an alcoholic and has diabetes, and his abusive ex (who Will’s not really over) still lives in town and has gotten together with another man. Also, MINOR SPOILER, Patrick is on the autism spectrum, which he generally hides from people, and he had a messed up childhood that he’s somewhat refused to process. Beyond all that, there’s the development of actual love between two very different men who really clicked on some level and who go to bat for each other when bad things happen.
Originally a serial published in six parts, it’s available that way or in collections of three parts each. I read the first one on Kindle Unlimited and was so engrossed that I bought both.
A delightfully entertaining supposed-to-be-just-summer romance between two guys in small town Ohio. First we have Nick Stahlnecker, 18, gay, Lord of the Rings Fanboy, who has panic attacks whenever he thinks about college and writes haiku about the sex he imagines with his hot coworker. Second we have that coworker, bisexual 25 year old Jai Hazenbrook, who works construction to finance his world travels and really doesn’t need a directionless 18 year old boyfriend. They don’t stay coworkers for long, because getting caught mid-blow job in a port-a-potty on a work site isn’t how one wins friends and influences people.
Lisa Henry often writes dark, serious books, so I was surprised and delighted by the scatterbrained hilarity that is Nick’s character voice. He doesn’t have his head together even a little bit, lacks a filter, and has terrible impulse control! But he’s so damn sweet and enthusiastic, and he has a good heart even if he needs much practice at thinking about other people. In my mind, he’s kind of a poster child for how the added burdens of being gay in a homophobic society, and also having mental health issues, can slow down your maturation. However, he’s not the only 18 year old to graduate from high school and feel overwhelmed by external demands that he already have the rest of his life planned out.
Jai, quieter and more reflective, manages to both take Nick seriously as an equal and also step into a mentor role. He’s quietly surprised to have affectionate feelings for Nick, but he doesn’t struggle against them. Henry doesn’t then trope out their relationship by having them declare undying love. The story recognizes that each having their first boyfriend, and Jai allying with Nick to help him find a next step that won’t mess him up more, is important enough on its own.
p.s. But what is WRONG with all the people in this book who walk in on Jai and Nick having sex and then just stand around being appalled or embarrassed? Why wouldn’t you leave?
Lady Olympia Hightower is supposed to get married to a duke. Instead, she gets drunk, climbs out the window, and runs away. In her wedding dress. Said duke’s best friend, also a duke, feels it’s his responsibility to make sure she doesn’t come to harm, even though in his opinion, she’s not making a lick of sense. I think y’all can predict what happens to this couple, what with it being a romance novel. Anyway, I recommend this if you aren’t hardcore anti-cheating – because they don’t do things in the right order of (a) break engagement and (b) get it on, though they do realize they’ve done wrong and apologize. The character voices and the dialogue are exceedingly funny, and the adventure these two end up on is often hilarious. Chasing dogs through muddy fields, anyone?
There are a lot of what I call “men are from Mars and dumb, women are from Venus and incomprehensible” type comments, which I could have lived without. To be honest, I mentally armor up for gender essentialism when I read mainstream traditionally published non-queer romance, either contemporary or historical, because it’s so rampant. But overall, I liked so many things about this book, and these characters were so clearly meant for each other, that I really enjoyed reading it even with those flaws. It’s light entertainment done right.
A (really) laugh out loud romance between a stoner video store clerk named Gustavo Tiberius, who has a pet ferret named Harry S. Truman, and an asexual hipster bakery employee guy named Casey, who decides to woo Gus for reasons Gus can’t even begin to understand.
The setup sounds too quirky to work, but it does, because TJ Klune is absolutely gifted at wrapping comedy around real emotion. Gus’s misadventures using the internet to figure out how to be normal are hilarious, but his underlying loneliness and grief are deeply touching. Casey is a ray of sunshine, and his patience with Gus made my heart all melty. This book is so many good feelings. Ace readers will extra appreciate that Casey is 100% okay with his asexuality, the main characters do NOT have sex, and Gus finds his physical and romantic relationship with Casey deeply fulfilling.
Diversity Note: Klune is a queer asexual man.
I’m lucky C-Man didn’t tell me to read this in another room, given how much I was laughing out loud while reading it. The setup is like so: actuary Min Dobbs hears the guy who just dumped her making a bet with gorgeous playboy Cal Morrisey that he can’t get Min into bed. Min doesn’t hear Cal turn down the bet, and she needs a date to her sister’s wedding so her mother doesn’t freak out that she’s single, so she decides to string Cal along. Whereupon Cal and Min discover, to their mutual horror, that their bickering is basically foreplay and they can barely keep their hands off each other.
Crusie adeptly juggles a HUGE cast, including Min’s 2 female best friends, her mother, her sister, Cal’s two male best friends / business partners, both Cal and Min’s conniving exes, Cal’s lesbian bartender neighbor/friend, and various other secondary characters. It feels like a great big found/chosen family, and a self-aware dialogue with the idea of fairy tale endings, and it’s also an examination of how families can judge and control people, and how to find allies that help you push back. That’s probably why it’s 430+ pages long. I barely noticed because I was so immersed. Characters tell each other uncomfortable truths, relationships begin and end, and the truckload of humor is well mixed with some serious emotions, particularly around Cal’s relationship with his emotionally abusive family of origin (which is inflicting itself on his nephew) and the pain he still carries from growing up with dyslexia in that unsupportive environment.
Loved it. Very motivated to work my way through Crusie’s backlist now. (Okay, her anti-Trump blogging didn’t hurt that motivation. ;)
Content notes: (1) I didn’t take down specifics, but there’s probably some gender essentialism and whatnot in here, given it’s a mainstream non-queer romance. (2) Min is fat, and her overbearing mother has somewhat terrorized her into not eating carbs because Bridesmaid’s Dress, to which Cal’s response is to feed Min donuts and encourage her acquisition of clothes that show just how awesome she looks exactly as she is. There’s something very trope-y about the donuts and not in a good way, and Min definitely doesn’t start the book feeling good about being fat, though she does end up there. So if that would be uncomfortable for you, skip it!
And that’s the list of my favorite romance novels that made me laugh! Hope you found something interesting. If you have any reading suggestions, let me know, and as always, if you found this post helpful, please share it!