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13 LGBTQ+ & BIPOC Love Stories to Read This Year

Meet Cute Romance Bookshop owner Becca Title shares swoon-worthy picks featuring traditionally underrepresented characters

By Erna Adelson


Originally published March 2023 | Updated June 2023

“We are dedicated to making sure that we are highlighting the voices of underrepresented authors—queer people, people of color, nonbinary people—and making sure that those coming into the store are seeing those books,” says Becca Title, owner of Meet Cute Romance Bookshop in North Park.

Now the third romance-themed bookstore in the US, Meet Cute is focused on stocking books with traditionally underrepresented characters at the center of the narrative.

“Even in the amount of time that I have been working on opening this bookstore, the climate in the US for marginalized people has really shifted. The amount of anti-trans legislation and book banning has been spiraling out of control,” she says. “It’s really important in genre romance to make stories with happy endings [available] … about and by people of color because the representation of BIPOC stories and queer stories is overwhelmingly about trauma and tragedy.”


But her space is for more than just books. In the future, she plans to host a full calendar of events, a podcast, and Romance for Reproductive Justice, a virtual auction set to support a national network of abortion funds. “It was one of the reasons to open an indie bookstore,” she says. “That’s one of the things we can do that Amazon cannot: be a place for organizing and catalyzing a community.”

We spoke with Title to share her recommendations for new, returning, or regular readers of the romance genre seeking stories of the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. Here’s what she had to say:


Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake 

Alexis Hall

“This is one of the funniest rom-coms I’ve ever read. Rosaline, a bisexual single mom (to one of romance’s least annoying children), is at the end of her rope. When she enters herself into a popular British TV baking competition that is, for legal reasons, definitely not The Great British Bake-Off, she has to deal with more than just soggy bottoms and accidentally phallic breads. But she may also find her very own cinnamon roll. As a side note, I will die on the hill that Alexis Hall is one of the best living writers.”


The Companion 

E. E. Ottoman

The Companion is a cozy read from trans author E. E. Ottoman. It’s ideal for an evening curled up in an overstuffed chair with a mug of tea. It’s 1949, and after years of trying to break into New York’s literary scene, trans woman Madeline Slaughter takes a friend up on the offer of moving to the woods upstate as a live-in companion to a reclusive best-selling novelist (and trans man) Victor Hallowell.

There, she becomes entangled not only with Victor, but with his neighbor, and ex, Audrey (who is also trans). Can the three of them make a go of it?”


A Caribbean Heiress in Paris

Adriana Herrera

“In this delightfully steamy novel, Adriana Herrera takes on classic historical romance tropes while expanding the genre’s scope beyond the traditional cast of titled White Brits.

It’s 1889, and Luz Alana has set sail for Paris from Santo Domingo with her two best friends and 300 casks of rum, intent on expanding her family’s successful rum business. Of course, hijinks ensue, and she ends up in a marriage of convenience with a brooding whisky distiller who also happens to be a Scottish earl.”


One Last Stop

Casey McQuiston

“Filled to the brim with wacky coworkers and lovably chaotic roommates, One Last Stop is a love letter to found family and the queer liberation movement from nonbinary author Casey McQuiston. The life of amateur sleuth, part-time college student, and 24-hour pancake diner waitress August Landry takes an unexpected turn the day she accidentally spills her coffee on a subway hottie.

She soon discovers that her new crush, Chinese-American Jane, doesn’t only dress like a riot grrrl—she’s actually been trapped in a time loop since the 1970s.”


After Hours on Milagro Street

Angelina M. Lopez

“Set in small-town Kansas, and woven through with the history of the traqueros, the Mexican and Mexican-American workers who helped build our cross-country railroads, this book features a sexy romance between a prickly Latina bartender who has come home from Chicago to lick her wounds and the sweet local professor who has been welcomed into her messy, sprawling family in her absence.”


The Kiss Quotient 

Helen Hoang

“From author Helen Hoang, a local San Diegan with Autism Spectrum Disorder, The Kiss Quotient is a sexy but surprisingly tender read.

Stella, an autistic Bay Area econometrician, hires an escort, Michael, to help her complete the lesson plan that she created in the hopes of becoming more comfortable with physical intimacy.

Vietnamese-Swedish-American Michael is happy to help, if only to take his mind off his own problems. His mother is sick, his father is absent, and his life is stuck in neutral. Of course, the more time they spend together, the more their practical partnership begins to feel like something more.”


The Queer Principles of Kit Webb 

Cat Sebastian

“This is a witty delight full of pining and sword fighting that also manages to interrogate the entire system of British aristocracy. Edward Percy, future duke, finds himself in the inconvenient position of needing to steal a book from his own father.

He enlists the help of grumpy coffee shop owner Kit Webb, a reformed highwayman whose last job killed his best friend and left him walking with the aid of a cane. When sparks fly, it’s not long before Percy decides that a book isn’t the only thing he’d like to steal.”


Sailor’s Delight

Rose Lerner

“In Sailor’s Delight, Rose Lerner expands the traditional scope of historical romance, featuring a love story between two men with regular jobs, one of whom is Jewish. This quiet, slow burn, friends-to-lovers romance set during the Jewish High Holidays is threaded through with impeccably researched historical detail about daily life and filled with enough pining to stock a forest.”


A Marvellous Light 

Freya Marske

“In this sparkling and swoony queer Edwardian-set fantasy romance, Marske gives us a beautifully constructed system of magic, a meditation on bravery and vulnerability, and enough classic tropes (slow burn, grumpy/sunshine, himbo/nerd, forced proximity) to satisfy any seasoned romance reader.”


Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Talia Hibbert

“Talia Hibbert is well-known for her British wit and characters who feel relatable and real, and this book is no different. Chloe Brown is a Black British woman with fibromyalgia and chronic pain who works from home as a web designer.

She’s grumpy and funny and has excellent taste in cardigans. After she almost gets hit by a car, she makes herself a bucket list and her sexy, tattooed neighbor, who sometimes paints shirtless, insists on helping her complete it.”


Winter’s Orbit 

Everina Maxwell

“This is the best kind of space opera: atmospheric, adventurous, and warm. Set in a queernormative world and complete with a colorful cast of a deftly drawn side characters, Winter’s Orbit features a slow burn romance between a scandalous prince and a dutiful scholar who have a hastily arranged political marriage, only to discover that one of them is a suspect in his late husband’s murder.”


Partners in Crime

Alisha Rai

“A cross between a romantic comedy and a thriller that takes place over the course of one long night in Vegas, Partners in Crime has it all: a kidnapping, a high stakes heist, and a second chance romance between accountant Mira Chaudhary and her rejected suitor, the perfectly boring lawyer Naveen Desai. It is a delightful romp of a book in which nothing is quite as it seems.”


Hana Khan Carries On 

Uzma Jalaluddin

“A charming You’ve Got Mail retelling brimming with the warmth of family, faith, and food. Hana Khan hosts a podcast and dreams of a career in radio all while waitressing part-time at her family’s restaurant—the only halal eatery in their close-knit Toronto neighborhood.

When a more upscale halal restaurant is set to open across the street, Hana adds sabotage to her lengthy to-do list. If only the new restaurant’s owner weren’t quite so handsome…or quite so familiar…”

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