The Rec League: Cozy Space Opera Romance

The Rec League - heart shaped chocolate resting on the edge of a very old bookThis Rec League request comes from Sasha:

I’m a recent (since the pandemic started) but voracious HR reader, but have also really enjoyed what I think is probably labeled as sci-fi-lite/space opera romance. I LOVED Everina Maxwell’s Winter’s Orbit and also really liked Edge of Nowhere (Felicia Davin) and Dark Space (Lisa Henry). I still need to read the rest of those series but would love other similar books. When I search sci-fi romance I seem to find a lot of series that include a lot of violence or battles or assassins, not necessarily my thing. I don’t mind some world building but I really like character driven romance. Also, despite the fact that all my examples are, doesn’t have to be MM romance, I’m up for anyone falling in love.

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On a Sunbeam
A | BN | K
Sarah: All of Becky Chambers’ books, especially A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

EllenM: On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden is a graphic novel that I think fits – it’s a cozy sort of melancholy found family sci-fi with a romance

Amanda: I feel like Rory Thorne is a little on the cozy fun, rompy side.

Sarah:  I think that Murderbot can be somewhat cozy, though there is some violence and fighting, the characters are what drive the story

Do you think Linnea Sinclair’s books would fit?

Amanda: It’s been so long since I’ve read them, so I can’t remember how cozy-ish they are.

Tara: I think Fletcher DeLancey’s Chronicles of Alsea series might fit. It starts with The Caphenon. ( A | BN | K | G | AB )

What about This Is How You Lose the Time War?

This Is How You Lose the Time War
A | BN | K | AB
Shana: It’s definitely got the sci fi romance part down

Lara: I’ve only read one space opera – Only Bad Options by Jennifer Estep and I loved it. Some violence but nothing that stuck with me. Lovely suspense and slow burn romance.

But I am going to be reading all your recs!

Susan: On a Sunbeam was my first thought too!

Space Battle Lunchtime by Natalie Reiss ( A | BN ) is about a baker who has to has to short-notice fill in on a bake-off show IN SPACE, that might work. The second volume has a lot more peril, but the first one is pretty cozy.

Iona Datt Sharma, THAT’S the author I was trying to remember! They primarily write short fiction, but their stuff sounds very like what’s being asked for – I feel like I recommend “Archana and Chandni” at every opportunity, but it’s my favourite story about weddings and family.

Which books would you recommend? Let us know below!

Comments are Closed

  1. Michelle Diener’s Dark Horse could fit this request really well! And I don’t know if it would stand alone, but Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign is just the loveliest, coziest space opera romance.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Maybe How Rory Thorne destroyed the multiverse by
    K Eason

  3. SandyH says:

    I think Michelle Diener’s Dark Horse or Verdient String series would work. There is some violence but not too heavy. Also Jesse Mihalik has two series that might be of interest.

  4. omphale says:

    I’m not sure it counts as space opera, but Ann Aguirre’s Strange Love is a sweetly bonkers alien abduction romance which is definitely character-driven. #thedogtalksinit

  5. Escapeologist says:

    Seconding Lois McMaster Bujold. I believe A Civil Campaign needs at least one previous book for context (considerably less cozy, though still character driven). Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance should stand alone just fine, it focuses on a different main character, with a marriage of convenience and a heist.

  6. Alli says:

    Murderbot is a wonderful series, but it’s got a lot of violence in certain installments, and also is not a romance. Linnea Sinclair’s books vary a lot in terms of violence and action scenes, but I think An Accidental Goddess would fit the original query pretty well. To get into a Civil Campaign, you would need to read Komarr first (also a very good book, although a bit more violent). I also suggest Sharon Shinn’s Archangel and Janet Kagan’s Mirabile.

  7. Michael I says:

    I read “A Civil Campaign” without having read “Komarr” (although I do know the basics of the plot of “Komarr”) and I thought it worked fine.

  8. DiscoDollyDeb says:

    More of erotic SF than space opera, but I enjoyed Jane Diamond’s duet, DEEP & DEEPER. Lots of sexy times on a space station.

  9. leda says:

    Promised Land by Cynthia Felice and Connie Willis

    The action doesn’t take place in space but space travel plays a role in the plot. It’s set in a backwater planet with complicated laws on land inheritance. The heroine goes home to sort things out and falls in love with a really sweet guy.

  10. CaroA says:

    Kai Butler’s Imperial Space Regency series (3 so far). I enjoyed these alot and her paranormal series San Amaro Investigations is great too!

  11. sweetfa says:

    Perhaps Julie E. Czerneda? I read some of her novels a loooong time ago and vaguely remember them as being cosy. I can’t remember much about them, but I enjoyed them. She seems to have written a lot since then, so yet more to add to my TBR, which is now into four figures.

  12. Laura George says:

    Another set of votes for both Linnea Sinclair and Jessie Mihalik. Linnea’s books do have exciting action sequences, but without any horrifying or gory bits. And her ship commander/heroines are always outstanding pilots who just bark things like “2 minutes to hard edge!” and expect (and get) everyone on their ship jumping to follow orders immediately. Which is to say, I really love her heroines, and if I could be a space pilot, I would want to Trilby or Chaz.

    I would also describe Mihalik’s books as cozy in quite the way Becky Chambers’s books are — there is some danger and there are evil doers — but there are also family members who stick together and comfortably happy endings in each one.

  13. Stasi says:

    There are some battles, but it doesn’t seem overly gorey to me – Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews. It just feels cozy and there’s a good amount of humor. Plus Ilona Andrews are just amazing writers and you end up going down a rabbit hole. There are also graphic audios for the entire series (except the one that just released) and they are great as well and available on hoopla!

  14. Sunflower says:

    Lindsay Buroker has quite a few. She writes space romance as Ruby Lionsdrake, I think her Mandrake company series of interconnected standalones might be worth checking out.

  15. Brianna says:

    Maybe not “cozy” enough, but I feel like several of Anne McCaffrey’s series may work? Nimisha’s Ship, Freedom’s Landing, The Rowan could be good starting points. Michelle Diener’s “Class 5” series is also on Kindle Unlimited, and while there’s some violence, it’s pretty mild/quickly resolved. I feel like Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man fits too.

  16. MelMc says:

    Stephen Miller and Sharon Lee’s Liad books are about relationships, both romantic and familial, of a family of traders and explorers tangled up in planetary and intergalactic shenanigans. (I am not doing them justice with such a watered-down description but it’s hard to summarize such a long series). The first book of both the first and second major arcs are free in the Baen Free Library.

  17. Loramir says:

    Seconding omphale’s rec for Strange Love by Ann Aguirre. Not quite a space opera, but definitely fairly warm and lighthearted sci-fi romance, very character driven, sometimes laugh out loud funny. There’s a review of it on here from 2020. It’s sooooo not my usual thing (only occasionally get into sci-fi and never alien/xeno romance) but it’s so good that I loved it anyway. There’s some politics and cultural stuff creating external conflict and a bit of danger and violence but the romance itself is pretty low-angst and light-hearted. Also, there’s a talking dog and he is *delightful*.

  18. catscatscats says:

    Nthing A Civil Campaign. It was the first Bujold I read, and although it was clear to me that I was missing context from not having read Komarr or the other books, it was still exceptionally enjoyable, and I think coming new to the characters and the world added to the interest.

    I read a lot of space opera, but struggling to think of anything else that is consistently cosy.

    Tor is having Space Opera week at the moment and has a post about S/O by women and non-binary writers.

  19. MaryK says:

    I think Catalyst by Jody Wallace would qualify as cozy SF. The hero gets dumped on a planet that’s a big junkyard with a recycling industry and is rescued by the heroine. There are telepathic cats.

    I also thought of Carol van Natta. Her books are SFR, but not necessarily cozy. Though, Cats of War might qualify.

  20. KatiM says:

    Spacer’s “Cinderella by Adria Rose might fit. It’s been a long time since I read it and while it is a take on Cinderella, I don’t recall any really heavy scenes.

  21. TessaB says:

    Would 2nd/3rd/4th/5th the recs for Murderbot, Ann Aguirre, Jessie Mihalik and Lois McMaster Bujold and would also suggest:

    Valerie Valdez’s Chilling Effects series (3 books and counting) features found family, an interspecies romance (all about the pheremones) and there are telepathic cats.

    TA White’s Firebird series is excellent with plenty of action and intrigue but definitely not cozy (the back story in particular goes to some dark places). Would also steer clear of KB Wagers. If you want action, drama and to be dragged through the emotional wringer then 100% yes (I love their books) but definitely about as far from cozy as you can get.

  22. Jiobal says:

    This is one of my favorite sub-genres and my TBR just exploded 🙂 Besides anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, the early of the Liaden novels (I lost track a while ago), and of course Murderbot I’d like to add Rachel Bach’s Fortune’s Pawn. It’s the first book in a (finished) trilogy, it was recommended by Ilona Andrews a while ago and has a great protagonist, a swoony love interest and a rollicking plot.

  23. JenM says:

    I’d recommend The Best of all Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. It’s a SF road-trip romance, very much character rather than plot driven, between a rational Spock-like character whose planet, culture, and most of the women, have been destroyed, and a more emotional, sunshiny linguist on the planet where the remnants of his race have settled. They set off with a couple of other crew on a journey to the rest of her planet to try to find other races with a compatible genetic background.

    Also mentioned above was Carol Van Natta, who has a fun, probably not “cozy” but also not too violent space opera romance series, the Central Galactic Concordance series, starting with Overload Flux. She is also the editor of a great yearly anthology called Pets In Space, which is exactly as the title states with novellas by different authors all featuring space opera-ish romances and pets or other space creatures. It’s published yearly in October, but the latest (#7) has already been taken down so that the authors can publish their stories separately.

    Also seconding Spacer’s Cinderella, as well as Jessie Mihalik’s books, both her Consortium Rebellion series and Starlight Shadow series. Again, hers aren’t really “cozy” but I think they’d fit in with this rec league because of the emphasis on family/friend relationships. There is some violence but the focus is more on political machinations and on smart people being smart and competent.

  24. Courtney M says:

    The Aurora Cycle trilogy: Aurora Rising, Aurora Burning, and Aurora’s End. Especially in audio. It’s YA, but there are several prominent romance plots, and while there’s lots of action I’d consider it at least cozy-adjacent for the focus on the inter-character dynamics.

  25. PamG says:

    I love Bujold, and both A Civil Campaign and Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance are favorite comfort reads of mine. Another favorite is Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen which is basically the final Vorkosigan book. In many ways, it is a departure for Bujold, as it is not truly space opera in the usual sense, but rather an unconventional love story set on a distant planet. Judging by Amazon reviews it is not her most popular book, but it definitely grew on me. I will say that I had trouble imagining a reader unfamiliar with the Vorkosigan Saga getting the most out of this book, but it does take you on a grand tour of a number of Bujold’s major themes.

    If you haven’t read the Vorkosigan Saga, I would totally recommend taking a chance on it. It is totally character driven, is often exquisitely funny, and combines space opera with really interesting social and political commentary. The first two books (chronological not publication order), Shards of Honor and Barrayar offer an excellent entry point. Shards of Honor is another favorite comfort read of mine, and its sequel, Barrayar, is definitely edgier but offers commensurate rewards. If you chose not to read the latter, you’d miss some harrowing bits but you’d also miss the best “shopping trip” in sci-fi history.

  26. Sandra says:

    Someone mentioned Connie Wills upthread. Would to To Say Nothing of the Dog count? Future Earth, not space, but still…..

  27. Darlynne says:

    @Jiobal: I’m a big fan of FORTUNE’S PAWN. There is a fair amount of violence, iirc, at least in the last book(s).

  28. BethanyNM says:

    I LOVED A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine and I’ve heard it called a Space Opera. The romance is secondary, but sweet. F/F.

    I keep looking up all y’alls recs here and the Libby doesn’t have them!

  29. Sasha says:

    Thanks everyone!! This is my rec league request and I’m so excited to add to my TBR. The Bitchery always comes through. 🙂

  30. Karin says:

    Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell was VERY cozy space travel adventure, a really soothing read. But it’s a coming-of-age story, not a romance. Maybe someone who has read more of the series can say whether romance enters into the later books.
    Jayne Ann Krentz wrote a little sci-fi romance long ago, the titles I remember are Sweet Starfire and Shield’s Lady. If you read JAK you know what to expect.
    Bujold’s Shards of Honor and Barrayar do have some violence, but I am very violence averse and it didn’t bother me. Plus, the romance is great. I’ve reread it several times.
    Michelle Diener has another series called The Rising Wave, which is set on another world, but it’s more medieval than sci-fi futuristic.
    I second everything by Jessie Mihalik. Her Starlight’s Shadow series has a real Firefly vibe.

  31. Phyllis says:

    I think S.K. Dunstall’s books have a similar feel to those of Everina Maxwell, interesting and character driven. S.K. Dunstall is actually two sisters, and I think they might have stopped writing during the pandemic, but I keep hoping for more.

  32. Kareni says:

    The Nathan Lowell series (which is a favorite) does have romance but it does not end happily.

    Linesman by SK Dunstall has a VERY slow romance that develops over the course of the trilogy.

    Take a look at the Claimings series by Lyn Gala. It has a male/alien male romance set in space and two wonderful characters.

    Also take a look at Stray by Andrea Höst. (The book is permanently free to Kindle readers.) This has romance but admittedly it does have many battles. It’s epistolary (a journal of a 17 year old who, on her last day of high school walks home and into another world).

  33. Kareni says:

    @Phyllis: The K (Karen) in SK Dunstall has a blog at She will be having knee surgery this month but said she retired from her job and writing is happening.

  34. Kris Bock says:

    Kayelle Allen writes “exciting and character-driven Sci-Fi and Sci-Fi Romance (both straight and MM).” I haven’t read her books, since I’m not much of a Sci-Fi fan, but I’ve read excerpts and I’d say she’s a good writer.

  35. Alli says:

    Catherine Asaro writes really gripping space opera romances. I haven’t revisted the series in a while so I can’t judge if they have more violence/action than you’re looking for.

  36. Charl says:

    Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Castle, has a number of books that might fit. There’s a series that begins with Amaryllis, and another longer running one. They are more paranormal, but are set on other planets.

  37. PamG says:

    I’ve read some Catharine Asaro, and they are gripping, well written books, but her Skolian Empire books feature one space-faring culture that runs heavily to empaths and another culture that mentally feeds on suffering, especially yummy empath suffering. There are reasons for the evolution of these characteristics, but there is sometimes an overpowering thread of sadism involved in the clash of these two cultures. The interactions can be extremely harrowing. So definitely not cozy.

  38. BrandiD says:

    I recently read The Spare Man by Marie Robinette Kowal and I think it might fit? Technically not a romance, but the main couple is recently married and struggling to honeymoon in relative privacy on a space cruise while a murder caper happens around them. There are nods to Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, as well as other mystery/sci fi tropes. I don’t know how “cozy” other people would find it, but it was a pleasant read with minimal violence and the end result was very satisfying. The secondary characters are amazingly well fleshed out and often very funny. For those who need to know, spoiler alert:

    the dog is ok.

    Also, Strange Love by Ann Aguirre starts a trilogy and I recall all of them being lovely, fish-out-of-water sci-fi romances.

  39. Heather Greye says:

    Some of my favorite space opera book are the Mageworlds by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald. First book is The Price of the Stars. It’s been forever since I read them, so I don’t know how cozy they are but I don’t recall a lot of violence.

  40. Denise says:

    Eileen glass write a series called pkyh , it’s m/m/m/ and it’s 2 aliens and one human. It’s a delightful read.

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