Ask the grumpies: recommendations for steamy romance novels for a newby?

xykademiqz asks:

I have a confession to make. I read some romance when I was a teen, and then pretty much nothing for like 30+ years. having moved toward horror and sci-fi genres, as well as miscellaneous literary fiction. Until a few weeks ago, when I picked up a couple of romance novels and haven’t looked back. I am pleased to report that my mood and will to live have been greatly improved by the re-introduction of this genre into my life. Who knew? (Clearly, you knew, as did romance readers everywhere.)

I am a relative n00b to the genre, but I read r fast, so I’ve managed to read a fair amount so far and some trends have emerged. It turns out I like my romance super steamy and explicit, mostly (not necessarily) contemporary, and mostly (not necessarily) funny. I would be delighted to get some recommendations.

The books I’ve liked so far, in my thus-far short excursion into the land of HEA and aided by the Amazon algorithms and Romance Rehab recommendations, were books by Melanie Harlow (After We Fall series and Cloverleigh Farms series), Avery Flynn (The Hartigans series), and a few books here and there by Nicole Snow (some stuff), Carian Cole (Rush), and a few others. The funniest book I’ve read in a long time is Hard Code by Misha Bell. I laughed out loud throughout.

How do you feel about genre mixing? (We asked)

Oh yes. Genre mixing FTW! Btw I also read mystery/suspense, thrillers, horror, sci-fi, so I am a sucker for a good plot (interesting, with tension, brain tickles, etc), and would absolutely love to see them mixed with humor and romance. Thanks!

#2 is more into erotica than #1 is, but she gets most of it from fan fiction (she’s especially into Holmes and Watson fanfic? Also star wars. )

I have not read any of the authors listed above, but now I’m curious.  They all definitely have similar covers, so there’s something going on!

The funniest Rom Com I’ve read recently was Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall.  Hall is supposed to have some highly rated extremely explicit stuff (Spires series, maybe?), but I haven’t actually read any of it yet.  The non-explicit stuff other than Boyfriend Material I’ve read has been pretty disappointing.  His Billionaire books have the same kind of cover vibe that the other books you’ve been reading have, so maybe those will fit?

The Harmony series by Jayne Castle isn’t erotic, but there are sex scenes.  I really like the spec fic set-up and world building in these.

KJ Charles is historical, but if you like plotting she is hard to beat.  If you’re into heists, Any Old Diamonds is a great place to start.  She’s also got paranormal.

Jordan Hawke has a large number of spec fic (mostly paranormal) series, some of which are extreme bargains as ebooks.

Courtney Milan is mostly historical, but she’s great with plotting.  The Brothers Sinister boxset is a good deal.

Jackie Lau gets towards erotica, but she’s more slow-burn than plot.

Rebekah Weatherspoon is not particularly erotic or plotty (there are sex scenes), but she’s definitely funny and cozy.  Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny is a good place to start.

A lot of Alexis Hall, KJ Charles, and Jordan Hawke are m/m (or occasionally m/nb).  There’s so little m/m stuff out there (more than there used to be, but still not a ton) that it’s really interesting to see how standard tropes get turned on their heads when both heroes are male.

I am positive that the readers of Grumpy Nation will have lots of excellent suggestions for you.  Grumpy Nation!  What should xyk read next?  What do you recommend?


13 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: recommendations for steamy romance novels for a newby?”

  1. Leah Says:

    I just read Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur. Both were good! Cute and fuzzy and sweet. First is a lesbian own voices one and second is hetero.

    I haven’t read much romance ever other than some Danielle Steele and misogynistic “historical fiction” when I was in high school. Both of those were low on consent and troubling. I was pleasantly surprised.

    If you are on Instagram, @whatkarireads is really into romance. I’ve read several books she’s recommended (romance and otherwise) and enjoyed all of them.

    Happy reading!

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Big send for letters to Virginia voters is tomorrow!:

  3. xykademiqz Says:

    Thanks for posting, N&M! Looks like everyone is shy commenting today! :-(

    OK, here’s one for academic readers. It’s adorable and captures well many facets of academic science, is written by a neurobiologist, and features a demisexual heroine. The Love Hypothesis. Upon reading the reviews, I found out the book had apparently arisen from Kylo Ren + Rey fanfiction, so the main characters definitely look like those two!

    Another one I liked by the same publisher (Berkeley) that has tons of action, an autistic heroine Stella finding her groove (written by an autistic writer), with both leads being POC and some great cultural details that give the story depth and color, is The Kiss Quotient .

    Don’t be shy, Grumpy nation! Please share some smutty recs — I know you have some!

  4. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    Not shy, just the end of a really bad week!
    I’m not specifically a romance reader in that I read almost anything funny or interesting or well written or any combination of the three, but I have enjoyed:
    Seconding Courtney Milan
    Tessa Dare
    Alyssa Cole
    Some Jasmine Guillory
    Does Ilona Andrews count? There’s romance/steaminess alongside the adventure
    Terry McMillan
    Malinda Lo
    Aliette de Bodard, Dominion of the Fallen Series isn’t strictly romance I suppose but it does have some interesting romance Dynamics? I dunno. Maybe not. (But the series is good)

    I hope you find some great reads!

  5. Steph Says:

    The erotica level of Rebekah Weatherspoon varies wildly – Rafe and Xeni don’t have a lot, but her older series (Fit, Beards & Bondage, So Sweet) have a lot more. They are also pretty kinky.

    Alisha Rai’s works have some explicit sex, though I’m not sure it tips over into erotica. Her earlier works and novellas have more sex – Hotter than Hades was recently re-released and that’s at least close to erotica.

    I really like Katrina Jackson. I wish her books had better proofreading, but she writes good characters and good sex scenes.

    Kit Rocha’s Beyond series probably counts, though it’s very kinky and the books get repetitive after a while.

  6. xykademiqz Says:

    These are great recommendations. Thanks everyone!

  7. Astra Says:

    T. Kingfisher’s Paladin’s Grace is the first in a three-part (so far) fantasy-romance series. I have recently fallen in love with this author and am reading everything she has written.

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