Ed. note: We have a new monthly feature! Dahlia Adler will be highlighting new queer romances on the first Friday of every month here at the hot pink palace. Dahlia (she/her) is an editor by day, a freelance writer by night, and an author and anthologist at every spare moment in between. She’s the founder of LGBTQReads.com, and a former columnist for the now-defunct BuzzFeed Books.
Her novels include the Kids’ Indie Next picks Cool for the Summer and Home Field Advantage, and she is the editor of the anthologies His Hideous Heart, That Way Madness Lies, At Midnight, and, with Jennifer Iacopelli, Out of Our League (forthcoming from Feiwel & Friends). Dahlia lives in New York with her family and an obscene number of books, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @MissDahlELama.
Dahlia was also a guest on podcast episode 475. Badass Anthologies and Vintage YA with Dahlia Adler and episode 347. Becoming My Own Audience: An Interview with Dahlia Adler.
(Dahlia note: Excited to be here, thank you!)
All the Right Notes
In this hilarious and joyous rom com, sparks fly when a piano genius and a Hollywood heartthrob are thrown together for a charity performance of solos, heartfelt duets, and a big, showstopping finale.
Quito Cruz might be a genius piano player and composer in New York City now but it doesn’t mean that he’s any closer to his Broadway dream. Although Quito knows what the problem is. Or rather who. Because ever since that night in college—with pretty-boy jock Emmett Aoki—his inspiration has been completely MIA . . .
Now Quito’s dad wants him to put on a charity performance in his hometown. And there’s one hella big string attached: convince Emmett—now one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities—to perform.
It’s all shaping up to be the biggest musical fiasco of Quito’s life. Especially when Emmett agrees to attend, and Quito realizes that undeniable vibe between them is stronger than ever. Because there’s nothing simple about falling for a movie star . . . even when he’s pitch-perfect.
“Hilarious and joyous” is always welcome in queer romance, but it’s the rare Filipino representation in this m/m that shoots this one to the top of my TBR. Add a second chance with a one-night stand, set it in the world of music, and add a celebrity hook? Truly, how can you not??
We Could Be So Good
Nick Russo has worked his way from a rough Brooklyn neighborhood to a reporting job at one of the city’s biggest newspapers. But the late 1950s are a hostile time for gay men, and Nick knows that he can’t let anyone into his life. He just never counted on meeting someone as impossible to say no to as Andy.
Andy Fleming’s newspaper-tycoon father wants him to take over the family business. Andy, though, has no intention of running the paper. He’s barely able to run his life—he’s never paid a bill on time, routinely gets lost on the way to work, and would rather gouge out his own eyes than deal with office politics. Andy agrees to work for a year in the newsroom, knowing he’ll make an ass of himself and hate every second of it.
Except, Nick Russo keeps rescuing Andy: showing him the ropes, tracking down his keys, freeing his tie when it gets stuck in the ancient filing cabinets. Their unlikely friendship soon sharpens into feelings they can’t deny. But what feels possible in secret—this fragile, tender thing between them—seems doomed in the light of day. Now Nick and Andy have to decide if, for the first time, they’re willing to fight.
Sebastian is a well-known queen of queer Regency, but she’s every bit as skilled with 1950s American newsmen as she is English lords, beautifully balancing cozy domestic vibes with midcentury realism. It’s the kind of romance that feels like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, and if a Newsies world is your jam, you need this one yesterday.
Perfect for fans of Alice Oseman and Red, White, & Royal Blue , Darkhearts is a hilarious, heartfelt, enemies-to-lovers romance about love, celebrity, and what happens when the two collide.
When David quit his band, he missed his shot at fame, trapped in an ordinary high school life while his ex–best friend, Chance, became the hottest teen pop star in America.
Then tragedy throws David and Chance back into contact. As old wounds break open, the boys find themselves trading frenemy status for a confusing, secret romance—one that could be David’s ticket back into the band and the spotlight.
As the mixture of business and pleasure becomes a powder keg, David will have to Is this his second chance at glory? Or his second chance at Chance?
Fantasy and game writer Sutter brings his talents to YA for a thoughtful music-centric romance that examines what happens when people get a second chance at the life they thought they wanted, only to find that sometimes dreams change. (While also learning that sometimes we dream new dreams we never saw coming, like, say, falling for your former bandmate when you didn’t even know you were queer.) It’s both fun and compelling while honestly acknowledging that both FOMO and envy can turn us all into beasts.
A debut novel “as astute, funny, and loving as your best friend from college”* about a young bisexual woman who is pulled between a new sense of community and loyalty to a friendship she’s outgrown
Savannah Sav Henry is almost the person she wants to be, or at least she’s getting closer. It’s the second semester of her sophomore year. She’s finally come out as bisexual, is making friends with the other queers in her dorm, and has just about recovered from her disastrous first queer “situationship.” She is cautiously optimistic that her life is about to begin.
But when she learns that Izzie, her best friend from childhood, has gotten engaged, Sav faces a crisis of confidence. Things with Izzie haven’t been the same since what happened between Sav and Izzie’s older brother when they were sixteen. Now, with the wedding around the corner, Sav is forced to reckon with trauma she thought she could put behind her.
On top of it all, Sav can’t stop thinking about Wes from her Gender Studies class–sweet, funny Wes, with their long eyelashes and green backpack. There’s something different here–with Wes and with her new friends (who delight in teasing her about this face-burning crush); it feels, terrifyingly, like they might truly see her in a way no one has before.
With a singularly funny, heartfelt voice, Old Enough explores queer love, community, and what it means to be a sexual assault survivor. Haley Jakobson has written a love letter to friendship and an honest depiction of what finding your people can feel like–for better or worse.
While Jakobson’s debut novel is more lit fic and coming of age than genre romance, the absolutely adorable friendship and ultimately romance that forms between heroine Sav her gorgeously green-eyed nonbinary classmate Wes cannot be ignored. (Seriously, if you love watching people turn into complete goofy nerds around each other, you will adore this pair.) At its heart, this is a coming-of-age about forging a path forward in the aftermath of trauma and outgrowing friendships that no longer let you be who you need to be, and a perfect example of “New Adult” at its finest.
Alex is a young man in the employ of James McCain, founder of McCain Applied Computing and old family friend. But when their trade show models fall ill just days before the event that could make or break the company, someone has to step in and fill their shoes… and their dresses.
A romance, and a journey of self-discovery.
Look, at this point, you publish a romance novel starring a trans woman, I’m gonna shout about it. Transfem rep is waaaay too rare in publishing right now, and UK author Greaves’s story of a (male, he thinks) employee named Alex discovers a whole lot about identity when being a team player sounds like the perfect antidote to this particular deficiency. Plus the promise of cute romance? I’m in. I’m so in.