This post is something I love putting together every season and also hate putting together because it’s such a huge project! But I do love getting to shout about the books that I love. I always worry I’m a little repetitive in shouting out the same books over and over, but I figure y’all probably know what you’re in for at this point. So, let’s talk about some recommendations for the #SnowInLoveBingo prompts!
These are five of the more recent Black Love romances I’ve read and would recommend. Wins and Losses by Alexandra Warren is a romance between a woman who just lost her dad and her fiancé is useless and the man who coaches her younger brother’s basketball team. It deals with some heavy topics, but also strikes a balance between the heavy and showing how these two can lean on one another in good times and bad. Surrender by Rilzy Adams is a short erotic romance and it is fantastic. Basically, these two people made a deal that if they were both single in twelve years, they would get together and have a sexy weekend somewhere. It’s now 12 years later and guess what’s happening? It’s a delight. A Thorn in the Saddle by Rebekah Weatherspoon is Jesse’s book and I would definitely recommend it. You can read my ARC review if you would like more thoughts. Reel by Kennedy Ryan is yet another gorgeous book from Kennedy and this one is about an actress and the director who casts her. It is such a fantastic book, one of my favorites of the year, for sure. Content warnings for lupus and organ transplant. Also family issues. And death of a parent. Love Notes by Christina C. Jones is a brilliant introduction to her Equilibrium series and has me so hooked on wanting to read about every single person in this community. It’s about a photographer who is new in town falling for her one night stand over a period of time and the barber who is looking for a wife. It’s a great time. Content warnings would have to do with adoption, parental misdeeds, and reference to an abusive parental figure.
‘Tis the Damn Season
The two actual Christmas books I would recommend for this are Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert and Christmas in Rose Bend by Naima Simone. Wrapped Up in You involves two friends both returning to their “hometown” for Christmas and falling in love while worrying the other person is going to leave again. Then Christmas in Rose Bend, while not about two people who both lived in the same place, really looks at the idea of leaving but enjoying one another for a “short” time (obviously that doesn’t work out so good). Plus, the female lead is a super grump about Christmas.
Looking outside of holiday books, I also want to mention that A Lot Like Adios perfectly captures the returning to the hometown vibes of the song and the concern about the other person leaving, specifically to go back to L.A. I mean, legitimately, a nearly perfect match for the song. Also, all three of these recommendations are based on the Taylor Swift song, but you really can just read a book that is (a) about returning to one’s hometown for whatever reason and then falling in love while there so the character can’t leave or (b) about a person who is grumpy about the holiday season. And really any other interpretation you can come up with!
Here is a very tiny selection of books that you could take inspiration from. We’ve got Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren and any of the books in this Wild Seasons series should definitely work. I love the merging of the friend groups through this series and I have very much enjoyed reading the books this year. The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian is a book that certainly does a lot of exploration of what family really means and I think is a good m/m romance that works for this prompt. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston is a contemporary romance with a speculative element and the queer found family in this is a delight. Just a Heartbeat Away by Cara Bastone, alongside the rest of this brilliant series is a perfect found family series. It’s also just perfect. And finally, one of my absolute favorites of all time is A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole. Personally, I would argue that all three of the main books include a found family element, but I really love the addition in this book of the group texts of the international friends.
This selection of books is quite an adventurous mixture, in my opinion. Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell is a sci-fi romance with a lot of political intrigue and also very intricate and inclusive world building. It’s got a m/m romance at the core of it based on a marriage of convenience, but these two go through a lot to get their HEA. Content warnings for past domestic violence (very light on the description, in my opinion) and death of various people. A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane is a glorious and bloody, old school-esque romance and everything about it captivated me. I don’t really know how to describe the content warnings so I would recommend you look up some other people’s reviews who are much better about those than me. Chaos Reigning and really, the whole of the Consortium Rebellion series is another sci-fi romance series that I absolutely love. The sibling dynamics are so great and I love the world building. I really want more of these characters and all of their adventures, if I’m being honest. Song of Blood and Stone is the first book in an epic fantasy series with a super strong romance in each of the books. So far Song of Blood and Stone has been my favorite of the romances, but I still need to read book four, Requiem of Silence. Content warnings in this book would mostly center around death, I think. There are a lot of characters that die in this book. Finally, A Rogue to Remember by Emily Sullivan was such a fun road trip with some intrigue thrown in type of book that I couldn’t not include it on this list. It’s definitely one of my favorite historical romances this year!
20th Century Vibes
I have a few different options for you and a couple of others that I got too aggravated to include pictures of for this prompt. Round Midnight and the entire Fly Me to the Moon series is set during the 1960s during the Space Race and I have found each installment I’ve read so far incredibly compelling. Then there is Sheryl Lister’s 1920s set Love’s Serenade about a Black couple who are both in the music scene in New York. Y’all know I can’t get enough about books dealing with music themes. Then we have two Alyssa Cole novellas, only one of which is pictured. Let It Shine is set during the Civil Rights movement (1960s) and features a Black woman and white Jewish man who are fighting for voting rights. She also has Let Us Dream, which is, I think, my favorite of her novellas. Set in 1917 Harlem, this book also sort of features voting rights, but more importantly, it’s this incredible story about Bertha being amazing and I loved her falling in love with Amir. I can’t really give any justice to this novella, but I recommend it with my whole heart. And finally, there is Cat Sebastian’s brilliant Tommy Cabot was Here, a m/m romance set in 1959 Massachusetts. It’s an estranged friends to lovers situation and it’s really, really wonderful.
I’m only going to cover two prompts here, but a quick plug that if you’re desperate and running out of time for a romantic gesture, I really love The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand and it would absolutely work for that prompt.
So, there are several ways you can interpret this prompt. Personally, I am obsessed with the relationship in trouble trope and you get that in The Bromance Book Club, You Deserve Each Other, Ever After Always, One Last Chance (with a special dual timeline twist), and Love Her or Lose Her. Or you could use a series that follows the same couple over time and choose one of those books. For example, Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh is a Raphael and Elena focused book in the Guild Hunters world, but you could also do Wildfire by Ilona Andrews or a Kate Daniels book after Kate and Currin are together. This is not something that is exclusive to fantasy though we see it there most often. Still and The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan are both second (or 2.5) books that are contemporary novels that continue on a couple’s story from the first book. There are pretty intense content warnings for both of those books though. Feel free to reach out if you need specifics. And then I think friends to lovers can often count if you want to look at this a little more broadly. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry does such a great job really establishing that friendship because of the way it flips back and forth in timeline and my favorite friends to lovers romance, Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone is also brilliant at establishing the pre-existing friendship.
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh is a decent intro point to the first installment of the Psy-Changeling world, but you could also totally catch up on the whole series if you wanted! Obviously book ten, Kiss of Snow is my actual favorite (also I’m just realizing I’m due for a re-read…), but if you’re not there yet, you should probably read in order. I wanted to have a contemporary option in case paranormal is not your jam and The Belle and the Beard by Kate Canterbary makes so many references to wolves, it’s wild. So there’s a paranormal equivalent if you need. Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews is another pretty solid option and I’m very much looking forward to them continuing in this particular series. I’m looking forward to too many books from them, if I’m being honest. It’s becoming an issue because I almost couldn’t decide what to vote for the other day when they ran a poll. (I went with Hugh book 2, but making that choice was agonizing.) Another option is A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole or several other Immortals After Dark books, but please check out book specific content warnings before diving in. Finally, I would recommend Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert, an utterly delightful paranormal novella that it sounds like she’s working on making a series. I’m quite excited about this prospect.
All the Tropes
I’ve been thinking about this prompt for a while because it turns out it’s really hard to think of books that fit this category, or at least it is for me. But I think I’ve finally come up with a few. We’ve got First Comes Like by Alisha Rai, which threw a whole bunch of tropes into the book and twisted a lot of them. It certainly fits the prompt! I saw Willa used All the Feels by Olivia Dade for this prompt the other day and I have to say that is a brilliant choice. This one is more of a joke than a literal interpretation, but also, Dade does pull in a few tropes and she does it well! And finally, I’m going to go with Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur because there is a grumpy/sunshine and fake dating situation. I mean, you can really twist this prompt in a lot of ways. So have fun!
For my recommendations on this post, I really focused on sports romances that work for the Winter Olympics because that’s one of the things I am (was?) excited about for this year. From Lukov with Love is pairs skating partners falling in love excruciatingly slowly (but I loved it); After the Gold is about ice… dancers, I think who won gold and are now trying to figure out what comes next; Love on the Tracks is sort of set at a fictionalized Winter Olympics situation; and Heated Rivalry is a m/m hockey romance where the love interests are on opposite teams. The exception to this sports romances from the Winter Olympics is Dance All Night by Alexis Daria, which is a romance novella that starts on NYE and then there’s this challenge to basically make Jess, a Scrooge, believe in holiday magic. It’s a delight.
Robin Covington has two books featuring an Indigenous (specifically Cherokee) lead out from Harlequin, which is honestly so exciting. I’ve read Taking on the Billionaire and enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the second soon. Trail of Lightning and Storm of Locusts are the first two books in Roanhorse’s Sixth World Series and I, personally, am obsessed with both the books themselves and my ship. But somehow, that love pales in comparison to my shipping energy toward Xiala and Serapio in Black Sun. I am truly obsessed with them. Then we have Heartbeat Braves by Pamela Sanderson, which is the first book in her Crooked Rock series. While not my favorite overall, it did get me interested in continuing on in the series and I’ve heard good things about the second book in the series. Finally, while A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair doesn’t feature an Indigenous lead, St. Clair is Indigenous so I wanted to make sure to include that.
This is another opportunity to read a good many Guild Hunters books and several of the Kate Daniels books involve Kate and Currin sparring. Plus there’s the ever brilliant scenes with Catalina and Alessandro, which are probably more verbal sparring than literal sparring, but I love them regardless (from Sapphire Flames and Emerald Blaze). Other great options include The Cornerstone by Kate Canterbary that includes this line: “There was always a tipping point when Will and I were together, a moment that crossed the line from sparring into sex.” Finally, in terms of verbal sparring, I think there are several Laura Florand books that would work, but the one I’m going with for this pick is The Chocolate Kiss, which still might be my favorite. Magalie and Phillipe have very different goals but wow, their chemistry!!
I’ve got five books visually represented here, three because they have the word star in the title, and I’m going to use a list format to talk about them and list a few other books to show other ways to interpret this prompt.
- Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur – contemporary, ff
- The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller – historical, paranormal element, mf
- Star Dust by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner – historical, Space race, mf, entire series would count because astronauts — space — stars
- All the Feels by Olivia Dade – contemporary, celebrity romance, Alex is a TV star, mf
- Grip by Kennedy Ryan – contemporary, famous musician romance, mf (please check CWs)
- Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone – contemporary, sports star (QB), mf, friends to lovers
- Rock Hard by Nalini Singh – contemporary, workplace romance, but Gabriel is a retired very famous sports person (aka sports star)
- Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik is literally set in space so again, space = stars
Are you tired of me mentioning All the Feels yet? Because All the Feels has a great road trip montage and a fantastic hotel scene. One of my all time favorites also is a good choice for this, Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai because the sexy times in the various hotels are excellent. Top notch. Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert is more or less set at a bed and breakfast, which I think counts under the hotel/inn umbrella. And y’all know, I love the entire Brown Sisters trilogy. Speaking of series, you could definitely read any of the first three in the Wild Seasons series considering the premise of the series involves the meeting at/staying in a hotel in Vegas. I would say the strongest books for the neatly fitting into this box would be Sweet Filthy Boy and Dirty Rowdy Thing, but you do you if you’d rather read Dark Wild Night. Or you could pick up The Hitman by Katrina Jackson and delight in this fantastically delicious mafia romance where they meet in a hotel and it’s just sexy and fun and amazing. And to deviate slightly from this contemporary only recommendation set, you could also read Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews!
Non-Binary or Trans Representation
First of all, let me just say I’m really thrilled we made this a prompt on our bingo board this year because in looking over my reads of all time, I mostly just have books that either written by non-binary authors but feature cis characters or books written by cis authors featuring a trans character. So rather than give you a list of my own recommendations, I am instead going to provide you with several resources with other people’s recommendations because mine just aren’t up to snuff.
- Reads Rainbow made this incredible post of 2021 Books with Non-Cis Protagonists and it’s brilliant. The post also has links to similar posts for 2020 and 2019 releases.
- Dahlia Adler wrote this post called 10 Romance Books Featuring Trans and Non-Binary Characters.
That is admittedly a very short list, but the two contain a lot of books so I hope you can find something you’ll like!
As always, please feel free to reach out with any personalized requests for a prompt that’s giving you trouble!