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 faves. Most of them are sadly overlooked. The way my life is organized these days, it’s tough for me to write reviews. So some of the books below have them, some do not, but I love them all and at least I’m blogging them. Enjoy!
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I really enjoyed this first f/f 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. 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, but also significant support and a really sweet and special relationship.
I might have wished for a *tiny* bit more line editing, but I liked the characters and the story so much that I could forgive it. I would read another f/f romance by Deen in a heartbeat.
Bonus: when a significant secondary character comes around to supporting Noura after learning Noura’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.
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.
Diversity note: Soto is Mexican-American, and has dysgraphia and phonological dyslexia.
Perfect little gem of a novella about the wedding between Londoner Kim and her Brazilian expat fiancée Gabi. (It’s unfortunate that this was published under the generic cover of the collection, and so it reads as two generic white gals. Yes, I know many Brazilians are white but you know what I mean.) Everything you can think of goes wrong: the weather, the traffic, the rental car, the rest stop, the catering… and lurking behind it all, Gabi’s fear that her not-so-accepting parents won’t show up. When they finally make it to the Scottish castle where they’re supposed to marry, more problems arise, but friends and even strangers jump in to help them save the event.
Through it all, it’s so clear that these two women have each other’s backs. Whatever happens, even when they’re annoyed with each other, they’re a team. I am not a big crier when I’m reading, but I did tear up a couple of times here. In fact, I’m getting a little misty just remembering it while writing this. So tissues might be a good idea!
“When public defender Trevor Ortega finds himself dateless for his ex’s wedding, faking a relationship seems like the perfect solution. Less perfect is his thoughtless impulse to invite Sebastian Greer—friend, federal judge, and former boss—as his plus one. It would be a solid plan if not for one problem: Trevor’s been in love with Sebastian for years, and each fraudulent touch will remind him of everything he can’t have.
Trevor doesn’t know why Sebastian agreed to his scheme, but there’s no backing out now. It’s only one night after all, and what’s a little heartbreak between friends?”
Diversity Note: Kleinn is asexual.
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.
Diversity note: Baxter is a woman of color.
Perfectly crafted little short story, funny and bittersweet by turns, about processing the end of a former relationship while starting a new one.
College student Jacob is putting up ads around campus for a roommate, but someone is taking them down. He writes to the flier thief, who writes back, and they start a banter-tastic flirtation by letter that complicates Jacob’s roommate search and keeps him (and readers) guessing about the identity of “Mr. X”. Meanwhile, Jacob’s first love and ex, Scott, has pressed Jacob into being his partner for a film class project, which Scott seems to be using to try winning Jacob back.
It’s a lot to put into a short piece, but Sunday handles it nicely. The contrast between Jacob’s lingering feelings of loss around Scott and the excitement and mystery with Mr. X make the whole thing richer than it would have been as just a quirky little mystery / romance. Short stories can be hard to do well, but Sunday fits this together like a charming little puzzle box.
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! ;)
Diversity note: Blackburn uses she/he/they pronouns.
“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.”
Diversity note: Ari is bi and British Indian. Datt Sharma is a British-Indian writer who uses they/them pronouns.
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.
Diversity note: Grandin is a lesbian.
“An ordinary morning. An eye-catching customer. One cup of coffee can change everything.
It’s a stroke of luck when handsome customer from the café is the same the stranger Cal meets at the hotel bar. As their evening together draws to an end, Cal’s relieved this chance meeting won’t change his normal routine of early mornings and solitary nights. But with his phone ringing with another invitation to meet up, Cal’s carefully cultivated routine starts to crumble. Can he keep his life on track or is he going to be forced to take a chance on someone new?”
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.
The most lighthearted romance short story about a rentboy 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 by working as a prostitute. He likes his job. 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.
Diversity Note: Gale is queer.
“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.
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?”
[Cover has changed, post will be updated when I can.]
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! Both characters are delightful and I rooted for them all the way.
This last recommendation is way sexier than the others, but I love these stories so much…
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.
And then I hope you can forgive me for including my own story here, but I do love it! It’s my second published novella and my first contemporary, a second chance-y F/F 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.”
You can also get a free story from me!
“When Will Strauss went out to hear a band, he didn’t expect to get knocked down during a political argument. He also couldn’t have known that the (possible) greatest love of his life would arrive on the scene in the form of a gorgeous, charmingly grumpy brunette almost a head taller than his 5’4”. If only he’d gotten her number…
A second chance meeting and one very good date, though, just might be the beginning of something beautiful.
A short story featuring a pansexual guy falling head over heels, a straight gal who desperately needs a new career, and more than one incident requiring first aid.”
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!