18+ Wonderful Contemporary Romance Novellas and Short Stories

I love a good romance novella or short story. Not everyone does, and that’s okay, but in case you love them like I do, here are a bunch of my contemporary faves. Most of them are sadly overlooked, but working together we can change that! (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

Any story on this list I loved at the time I read it, whether I had a chance to write a review or not. Obviously a re-read years later might reveal a problematic aspect I didn’t pick up on back then. Please let me know via my contact form if you find something yikes in a book I recommend.

A Little Bit of Love’s Magic by Bambo Deen (Amazon / Goodreads)

I really enjoyed this first sapphic romance from Love Africa Press. Noura’s family is pressuring her to get married. She doesn’t want to marry without being in love, so she gets a charm to make her fall in love with her boyfriend (who is terrible). As could be expected, the charm goes sideways and Noura ends up in love with beautiful artist Bewaji. But was it really the charm? An engaging romance set in contemporary Nigeria, with some significant homophobia from various family members, but also significant support from others and a really sweet and special relationship.

Bonus: when a significant secondary character comes around to supporting Noura after learning she’s in love with a woman, they say “lesbian or bisexual” since Noura hasn’t yet specified. Given how often I see “in love with a woman” get immediately labeled “lesbian” in romances, my bisexual reader heart really appreciated this.

Life Saving Dal by Ada Maria Soto (Amazon / Goodreads)

A hopeful meet-cute / meet-sexy short story about Nathan, who needs to start getting closure on his previous relationship, and Shrikrishna, nicknamed Kris, who’s more than happy to help with that process. They meet in the bar where Nathan proposed to his husband, a year after their divorce, where Nathan is hoping for a grand romantic gesture that will reverse the end of his marriage. Instead Kris invites him to start accepting something positive from someone else. It’s a moment in time when Nathan’s life changes course for the better, and it left me with a warm little feeling in my heart.

The Truth About the Other Guy by Rhoda Baxter (Amazon / Goodreads)

A fun meet-cute short story about Aasha, whose Sri Lankan family lives in London, getting fixed up by her mother at a party. She’s been living a double life for years: good Sri Lankan girl in front of her parents, doing whatever she wants on her own time. She does NOT wants to go to this Sri Lankan party or meet this parent-approved Sri Lankan guy, who will obviously be terrible, ugh, why does everything have to be so complicated?

Figuring out the twist to the fix-up doesn’t spoil the entertainment value of this lighthearted look at the beginning of a relationship that just might be the perfect fit.

Content warning: One flippant joke about committing suicide to escape attending a party.

Trick or Treat by Sydney Blackburn (Amazon / Goodreads)

This Halloween short story is a meet-cute / meet-sexy. Genderfluid pansexual man Drew is answering his mother’s door for trick-or-treaters, when who should be on the other side but a handsome stranger. That would be bisexual dude David, whose niece has corralled him into trick-or-treat chaperoning.

Later that night, they meet up for dancing, and then another kind of dancing, so to speak. Drew worries about David accepting his identity, Drew worries about his family being jerks (because they are), but they fumble through it together and agree that hey, yeah, maybe this is the start of something.

It may be a Halloween romance, but you don’t have to wait until October to read it! Any time of year is just fine! ;)

Bring Me Home by Roz Alexander (Amazon / Goodreads)

Haven’t been able to get this steamy butch-for-butch story out of my head since I read it! Val finds a handsome butch bartender who offers a friendly ear… and then more… Especially if you love your erotic romances with plenty of emotion, this is a great pick.

“Val’s heart might finally be healed enough to get back out there, but her confidence is still in the gutter. So, like every good lesbian before her, she cries it all out to her friendly neighborhood bartender. It’s just her luck that the bartender is a handsome butch with a heart of gold — and a thing for other butches. When they wake up together on Saturday morning, neither of them will be the same.”

Division Bells by Iona Datt Sharma (Amazon / Goodreads)

Gorgeous contemporary M/M romance set in the UK, by one of my auto-buy authors, though previously I’d only read FSF by them. After this, I’m hoping they write more romance, any subgenre welcome! If you love a romance arc about two good people who got off on the wrong foot having to find out who the other really is, I especially recommend this one. (Or if, like me, you’re a former government employee, as both of the main characters work in government and *wow* was this so real.)

“It’s a bitterly cold winter in London and Jules Elwin has no idea what he’s doing. As the newest special adviser to a government minister, he’s drowning in arcane procedures and party politics, and the civil servant who’s supposed to be helping him is doing nothing of the sort. Ari is sarcastic, intolerant and has no time for a special adviser who’s only there because his father is a peer of the realm.

Jules is only one of Ari’s many problems. As well as nursemaiding a special adviser, he’s got to get a Bill through Parliament, keep his irrepressible minister happy and stop his esteemed colleagues from hiding alcohol in their filing cabinets. And there’s something else, too: a deep, unspoken grief, that’s consuming him like frost.”

Falling Into You by Ruby Grandin (Amazon / Goodreads)

Sweet, adorable short story that begins when Astrid -literally- runs into a gorgeous blue-haired woman. She apologizes, hands over a gift card to make up for spilling the woman’s coffee, and goes on with her day. But on a hike with a friend, Astrid sees the woman again… is it a sign? Then again, Astrid has terrible luck, so who knows whether she’ll be able to make a real connection?

I really enjoyed the humor and misadventures here, as well as the zingy feeling between the characters. They just like each other so much, it’s so cute, aahhh! Well worth the read.

Plus One by Christina C. Jones (Amazon / Goodreads)

Adorable, hilarious M/F romance short story with two Black main characters (yay!) by a Black author (also yay!) about the meet-complicated between kinda-prickly Riley, a gal who works at the public library’s maker space, and very nice guy Hendrix, who’s moving forward from difficult times in his life and also a regrettable hairstyling decision.

Riley’s conversations with her best friend had me in stitches, and I see good things ahead for Riley and Hendrix now that their dating-app related misadventures have been worked out.

Jones has written some of my fave romances, and this is now one of my fave works by her – so if you haven’t checked her work out yet, this would be a great place to start.

Thank Me Later by Christina C. Jones (Amazon / Goodreads)

Yep, here’s another lovely Thanksgiving short romance by Jones. I enjoy them both so much.

Sadly for me trying to add it to this post (which needs a certain amount of text after each book or the foamtting goes bonk), this is the entire blurb:

“It’s the season of giving, so doing a solid for a friend of a friend isn’t that big of a deal.

That is… until it is.”

So I’ll tell you that this is a fake dating romance, and the guy and the gal in question are both lovely. The moment when they discover their unexpected connection is really heartwarming, and I thought this short novella did a fantastic job showing us the exact right amount of the beginning of this relationship for the length of the story.

I Didn’t Sign Up For This by Anita Kelley (Amazon / Goodreads)

“Sometimes, your girlfriend dumps you in Switzerland.

If you’re lucky, it’ll be right before Christmas.

To be specific, it just might be the day before you were set to go skiing in the Swiss Alps. As a Christmas present from said girlfriend.

And maybe Nicole didn’t expect me to still go skiing in the Swiss Alps without her, but you know what? You only live once. I will never in my life be able to afford a day like this again.

And sure, it’s possible I’ve never touched a pair of skis before, but I’m an adaptable person.

I’ll figure it out.”

Conversation Hearts by Avon Gale (Amazon / Goodreads)

The most lighthearted romance short story about a sex worker and an assassin that you’ll ever read.

(I feel like somebody just went and bought this based on that sentence.)

Levi Barron is a literature graduate student who pays for school with sex work. He likes his job! But when his client doesn’t show up and scary assassin Sinjin breaks into his room to use his window to shoot someone… they end up sleeping together. Because reasons! The story is so short that I’m not going to tell you anything else, but let’s just say that the ending had me smiling with delighted hope.

Truth or Dare by Brianna Ocampo (Amazon / Goodreads)

“Nine years in the friend zone. One night to break the rules.

Cassie Flores has been in love with her best friend forever. When she finally dares Santino to make a move, the truth will either break her heart…

…or capture his for good.”

Ocampo is part of the Filipino author group known as #romanceclass. She does a fantastic job blending the sexiness of the evening she describes with the significant feelings between the two main characters. Sexy and fun but also emotional – the conversation they both have to have near the end about why they haven’t been together all this time is a little heartbreaking in such a good way, while also laying a good foundation for their relationship to work out.

I feel like this is a fantastic example of erotic romance – a story about a romantic connection told through a plot driven by a sexual encounter. Really good writing and I look forward to reading more by this author.

Felix Navidad by ‘Nathan Burgoine (Amazon / Goodreads)

This gay, snowed-in novella gives us a charming little how-they-met romance between impulsive Felix and even-keeled Kevin. Love seeing queer folks in their late 30s find their person! And I appreciated what Burgoine did here with the only one bed trope. This book also deeply honors queer community & our elders/mentors. Perfect book, no notes.

“Felix doesn’t do impulsive anymore. But attending a friend’s wedding reminds Felix he’s the only one of his friends attending solo, and recent losses have him thinking he’s swung too far in the not-impulsive direction.

So, impulse decision number one? Cutting in on a dance with handsome farmer Kevin, the ex of one of the grooms, for a spin at the reception. Impulse decision number two? Planning his first holiday vacation off work. Christmas in Hawai’i will be a gift to himself.

When dancing doesn’t work out, Felix keeps high hopes for his vacation right up until the first flight cancellation. After bumping into a stranded Kevin, who lost his flight home, Felix gives impulse a third try: Why not drive to Toronto together? But after ice rain strands them halfway, it looks like Felix isn’t going to get to give himself his gift after all. Instead, this Christmas is a small cabin—and Kevin.

Then again, sometimes unexpected gifts turn out to be the best.”

Volatile Reaction by Magnus Thorne (Amazon/KU / Goodreads)

I’m not usually an erotic romance reader, but I really enjoyed this M/M short story with an assassin POV MC. Transmasc LI, transmasc author. HFN.

The author bills it as an erotic suspense thriller rather than erotic romance, but the suspense didn’t strike me as that suspense-y, idk. The aesthetic is more “two kinda messed up people clicking unexpectedly in gritty low-rent apartment building” than “sleek jetsetting assassin loses his heart” so if the former sounds like your jam, check it out. (And note, the neighbor guy is initially thought of by the assassin as “a kid” but he’s in his early 20s.)

Granddad’s Cup of Tea (Amazon / Goodreads)

I haven’t had a chance yet to write a review, but this romance between two widowers has become one of my comfort re-reads:

“Widower Ewan lives a quiet life in his country village, helping out with his grandchildren and dodging his daughter’s attempts to improve his social life by signing him up for every retirement club she can find.

When he meets Alex, newly bereaved and taking his first tentative steps into living out and proud after a lifetime in the closet, Ewan reaches out to offer sympathy. As their friendship deepens, Ewan finds himself questioning both his own identity and the nature of his feelings for Alex. But is it too late for a second chance at love?”

Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins (Amazon / Goodreads)

Charming little age-gap romance novella between Devin Hollister, who’s put his love life on the back burner to help his sister raise her child, and Jay Gomez, a younger man who usually dates older men, but has decided hell no to that, he’s tired of being condescended to for his age and his job in a retail store. If only Devin’s sister hadn’t used a photo of him from years ago on the online dating profile she set up for him before setting him up on a date with Jay.

Most of the story is will-they-won’t-they because Jay is initially furious about being tricked, Devin is seriously enamored with Jay but valiantly trying to find someone else to date, Jay is trying to stick to his guns on the “no older guys” front and struggling with insecurity, but they can’t keep their hands off each other. And Jay is so mad about it (in a fun way)! Both characters are delightful and I rooted for them all the way.

The Gentleman’s Rentboy Service, a series of novellas by Randi Luxe (Amazon / Goodreads)

The Gentlemen’s Rentboy Service is a series of somewhat interconnected novellas, four out so far. The format is a little unusual, which each novella being (presumably) the first installment about a different young man working as a prostitute for the same high-end service. Each story only hints at an HFN later rather than ending with each man paired up.

Stories 2-4 are some of my fave sexy romance shorts of all time. The second story is about Wayne, an indie punk rocker, who’s sent to wealthy silver fox Kevin. All Wayne was hoping for was enough money to keep his band on the road, but he doesn’t expect his instant attraction to Kevin or not being able to put the guy out of his mind afterwards. I LOVED Wayne.

The third story is about bubbly, generous Marti being sent as a gag gift to the office of panicking businessman Victor, whose brother is trying to destroy his company. Marti’s mission in life is to make others happy, so he wrangles a solution to the business problem (with a cameo by Shane) before also, you know, relieving Victor’s personal stress. Job well done!

In the fourth story, former street prostitute Peter is sent to Elias, a billionaire who seems to want a… date? Like, dinner and talking and watching a movie on the couch and stuff? Peter is confused and skittish, struggling with what the Gentleman wants him to learn from his first job with this gentle, gorgeous client. His emotional arc in this one is just beautiful.

Luxe starts each story with what seems like a straightforward sex-based plot, but then takes each to a totally different emotional place. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a straightforward sex-based plot!) This is true within each novella, but also a progression across the four. I’m worried that she won’t keep going, because each of the books in this series is clearly just the beginning of the characters’ stories. Signing up on her mailing list got me a free bonus after-story for Wayne’s novella that clearly points to there being a next installment in his story, though, so I’m hopeful.

Get It Right by Skye Kilaen, who is me (Amazon / Goodreads)

My second published novella and my first contemporary, a second chance-y sapphic contemporary that kicks off my Love at Knockdown series! Here’s the beginning of the blurb…

“A butch lesbian parolee. The pretty pansexual nurse who got away. Is this their second chance at a happily ever after?

Finn is finally out of prison, which is great. Having no job, no car, and no place to sleep except her cousin’s couch? Not so great. Plus, her felony theft conviction isn’t doing wonders for her employment prospects, so she can’t afford her migraine meds without the public clinic.

The last thing she ever expected was for the gal who stole her heart to come walking down that clinic’s hallway: Vivi, the manicure-loving nurse who spent two years fighting the prison system to get proper medical care for her patients, including Finn.”

And that’s the list! 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!