Modern Queer Love Stories
Thursday, July 7, 2022, 4:07 p.m.Staff Picks
Modern Queer Love Stories
Contemporary Romance with LGBTQIA+ Protagonists
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
Delilah left her small hometown to make her name years ago, and has rarely returned since. She lives the life of a starving artist, waiting for her big break. She’s done with the step-family who doesn’t want her, except for photographing her step-sister’s wedding. She’ll be in and out before the bouquet is caught, and deal with a minimum of drama and stepmother nonsense. Bookshop owner Claire loves her small-town life, and the stability it offers her pre-teen daughter. She isn’t interested in Delilah Green, no matter how gorgeous she turned out. Claire just has to ignore this inconvenient attraction until Delilah leaves town after the wedding.
Claire is a sweet, fun character who has had a hard road and deserves to be treated well, but it’s not certain at first if that’s something Delilah can provide. Delilah has a lot of baggage, from her difficult childhood to an unsettled adulthood without a support system. It’s obvious that they both have a lot of work to do, and they need to decide if they want to make space for each other in their lives. Delilah is at a bit of a crossroads in her life, while Claire has big choices she needs to make about her child’s father. It’s clear that they could be happy together, but both of them have to be willing to take the leap, and be brave enough to ask for what they want.
The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun
Dev is a lovelorn reality television producer, recently dumped mercilessly by his long-time partner. Charlie is a withdrawn, awkward tech developer in need of an image overhaul. Charlie agrees to appear on a reality dating show to make himself seem more relatable, but he’s as stiff as a cardboard cutout. Dev has to try to make good TV, but Charlie is a deer in the headlights. While Dev tries to make Charlie more comfortable, it becomes more and more difficult to deny that the real chemistry isn’t being caught on camera.
Dev is a real soft guy, vulnerable and open, which is very endearing. He also struggles with his mental health, and that makes it difficult for him to take risks. Charlie is emotionally unavailable and has his own issues, but he’s been hurt pretty badly, and in some of the same ways as Dev. It’s really wonderful to read about two people who really need unconditional love and affection who come to care for each other deeply. The story also allows the characters to grow internally, and each nudges the other into making a stand for themselves in a really satisfying way.
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
This Pride and Prejudice retelling is an excellent opposites-attract romance. Darcy is a practical actuary, disinterested in dating, while Elle works in social media astrology and dreams of true love. Not an ideal blind date on paper, but it goes even worse in real life. Imagine Elle’s surprise when she hears Darcy thinks the date went well. Queue a fake relationship that will hopefully satisfy Darcy’s meddling brother and Elle’s nosy, finicky family.
Darcy is a prickly character with reasonable fear of intimacy, and it makes sense that she would pursue a fake relationship rather than put her heart at risk. Elle is secure in herself, but feels so trivialized by her family, and comes across to the reader. Despite being successful and happy with herself, Elle can’t feel confident with her family, even if they love her. Fake dating is hard to pull off, but I think it works well here, and the dual points of view are great for conveying the changing, complex feeling of both protagonists.
If you Love Something by Jayce Ellis
DeShawn and Malik have been divorced for years- right? Turns out, not so much. They find out about the little legal snafu when DeShawn’s grandmother drops another bomb: she’s had a recurrence of cancer, and she’s not going to get treatment. She’s also splitting the estate between DeShawn and Malik. In order to avoid any unpleasantness with the will, they’ll have to pretend to have reconciled. DeShawn’s uncle is definitely going to contest the will, and both of them are going to have to really commit to the charade. For DeShawn, that means moving into Malik’s suburban home, and bringing his husband on his arm to functions. For Malik, it means coming clean to his family about his marriage, one of the things that tore the couple apart in the first place.
This is a great second chance romance, because it really sells you on the couple. DeShawn and Malik never really had closure after they separated, and this story shows you how much they yearn for each other, and how they have dealt with it as individuals. Malik wasn’t ready to be out to the whole world, and DeShawn was on the path to becoming a public figure as a chef. They were too young, and when they come together again years later, it’s up to them how real their ruse gets. Both of them have grown a lot, and they have to decide if being together is worth the compromises it will require. DeShawn also has his own journey of learning to accept care from the people who love him, when he doesn’t take the best care of himself.
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
A picture is worth a thousand words, and one picture can start a lot of rumors. Jo is a former child star and current director, and a picture of her making her assistant laugh on the red carpet sets the rumor mill spinning. Emma has worked under Jo for a year, and now that her time as Jo’s right hand is comin to an end, she’s wondering if she should act on her feelings. Only problem being, Jo is still her boss, ten years older than her, and does not seem remotely interested in Emma.
I really enjoyed the use of the workplace romance trope, especially between women. I loved the behind the scenes element, given the popularity of celebrity romance, it's fun and fresh. This is a slow-burn romance between two people who are at different stages of coming to terms with themselves, but on the same page when it comes to love.