(Oh you know, books and stuff)
Here a few of my favorite romances, divided by sexiness level, so you know what you’re getting into.
(Little to no sex)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion– Funny and charming, this novel follows a male narrator (rare in straight romance) who’s probably on the autism spectrum but doesn’t know it and his quest for the “perfect wife.” And of course, the imperfect woman who fall in his lap.
Crosstalk by Connie Willis– A sci-fi near future opposites attract romance about the future of communication, and how it can both isolate us and bring us together. It’s a long book but a quick and engrossing read.
Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole– An uplifting historical romance novella set during the Civil Rights Movement featuring a black woman who’s trying to find her place in the Movement and a white Jewish boxer who’s loved her since they were kids. Really, everything I’ve read by Alyssa Cole is great, though.
(Definite sex, but not super erotic)
The Edge Series by Ilona Andrews– A series of pretty much standalone urban fantasy romances set in a swampy pocket universe in the rural South where there’s magic but you still have to cross over to our world to go shop at Walmart. Badass heroes and heroines abound.
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer– Grumpy cook/columnist meets a mafia hitman sent to protect her and beans him with a frying pan in a case of mistaken identity. Add in a Southern mob wedding, a mystery, the hilarious insanity of a good Crusie/Mayer book and… hold that thought, I’m going to go order that book from the library.
Riveted by Meljean Brook– Though it’s technically the third book in the Iron Seas Trilogy, this steampunk romance adventure can stand alone. It’s my favorite in the series and explores mechanical replacement limbs, homophobia, and a secret women-only town in Iceland.
(Not Safe For Work. Sexy times ahoy!)
Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai– Say you have a hot artist neighbor who never keeps his curtains drawn. Say you’re lonely and he’s not exactly shy. You know where this is going, every voyeur does. Now say he’s watching you right back.
Telling Tales by Charlotte Stein– I am a little bit in love with the way Charlotte Stein writes. It’s beautiful yet blunt. This erotic tale about four old college buddies who have to spend a month living together in their dead professor’s house for a vaguely believable reason is no exception. This is probably got the highest sexy times per page ratio of anything on this list.
Hot Head by Damon Suede– Two male best friends and New York Firefighters, one of whom has been nursing his unrequited love for the other since the Twin Towers came down. It’s angsty and sexy and damn hard to put down.
Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance by Sarah Wendell– Your fun, stereotype-busting introduction to the romance genre as a whole from the co-founder of the amazing site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.
Queer Heartache by Kit Yan– If you’re looking for poetry, try this raw, beautiful exploration of gender identity and love.
(Music and podcasts and the like)
Smart Podcast Trashy Books– Speaking of the Smart Bitches, here’s Wendell’s awesome podcast where she interviews romance writers, readers, and reviewers as well as recommends books and media. Not at all safe for work.
Authorized: Love and Romance– Hosted by Faith Salie, this season of the Audible podcast (available on Itunes) talks about the sex, love, and romance in literature. It’s lots of fun even though Salie sometimes talks over the guests.
(movies and things found around the internet)
Post Secret– This isn’t a new blog, but it’s always worth mentioning. Post Secret started as an art project where people mailed their secrets to founder Frank Warren and he’d publish them. Now it’s turned into a show, a TED talk, an exhibit and the Smithsonian and a series of books. But I still love seeing a new selection of secrets show up on my WordPress every Sunday.
Bawdy Bookworms– Take a quarterly book, base it around a romance book and add sex toys and tips and you get the brainchild of founder Thien-Kim Lam. It’s like a toy party and a book club in a box. I haven’t tried it, but it just looks like so much fun that I may have to.