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This list of romantic SFF books was originally published in our science fiction and fantasy newsletter Swords & Spaceships. Sign up here to receive sci-fi and fantasy news, reviews, offers, and more!
For me, two flavors that go well together, SFF and romance, are two genres that I love. Since it’s this time of year, let’s highlight some romantic SFF – defined here as books that are primarily SFF but contain a very strong romantic plot line. SFF Romance awaits you next week, books written to romance genre specifications but set in an SFF setting.
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
There is no way I could do a romantic SFF feature and not have this book number one on my list. It’s the book that got my house to coin the term “disaster heteros” because we’ve spent so much time clutching our faces and screaming about why these two idiots can’t already PILLOW. PLUS it’s a mogul inspired fantasy about the evils of the empire! The sequel to Realm of Ash is excellent and hits the romance buttons too, though not quite as strongly for me as this one.
The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk
Let me be clear – every book by CL Polk fits this bill, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. The Kingston Cycle (Witchmark, Stormsong, Soulstar) offers a whole range of romance options. But this book is the latest to come out and it’s about a sorceress who, despite family pressures, refuses to marry because she doesn’t want to lose her magic … and then falls in love.
How to lose the time war of Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Yes, this book really is as good as everyone says. Two soldiers in an endless human war begin to write letters to each other and love finds a way. It’s beautiful, it’s lush, and it deserves every award it’s got.
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A civilian campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
This is probably my second favorite of the Vorkosigan saga novels. It’s extremely funny, Miles plays Space Nancy Drew, and the point is that he’s absolutely on fire because he’s desperately in love with a widow named Ekaterin, which embroils them both in twisty politics. I can’t do this book justice.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A young trans man trying to prove he can be a real Brujo accidentally evokes the ghost of a missing classmate. Then he has to solve a riddle and send a ghost to rest … but what if he messes things up even more by falling in love? This book is generally great fun, but the romance is absolutely adorable.
Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton
Come for the gender Shakespeare story crossed with fantasy and stay for the romance between Hotspur and Hal, both victims of circumstance, politics, and fate … but their love just might be strong enough to contain all of these things to conquer and save their kingdoms as well.
Given by Nandi Taylor
A fierce warrior princess who wants to save her kingdom and the life of her father. A shapeshifter who calls it his “given” – his fateful partner. They have very different goals, but maybe they can handle both romance and salvation of the day – if the princess finds room for both in her perceived fate.
Theft of Donner by Alina Boyden
A trans woman who was once a prince in a hostile kingdom falls in love with a prince of her own – and then sets out to reclaim everything she gave up from her old life by taking the kingdom and her prince in front of one of her father’s has saved the war that has started. Everything in this book is triggered by Razia’s romance with Prince Arjun, and they make an epically cute couple.