It’s weird, Gentle Reader, to try to figure out what people like about one’s own books. But after ten years I have some idea, so I hope you’ll humor my list attempts.
I believe that people read my stuff for comfort, because I’m gentle to my characters, and light and fluffy and funny. People come back to my books because I have queer representation, and because they know there will be romance, found family, and an HEA – basically lots of Heroine’s Journeys.
I tend to think of my stuff in terms of what it is not: gritty, dark, tragic.
So with that in mind, I have some book recs for you that I tried to organize loosely by what you might be looking for next. I chose two per category to focus on, but there’s also longer lists at the bottom.
For lovers of the Parasolverse…
In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Scott Westerfeld called this book:
“A sinewy mosaic of Haitian sky pirates, wily street urchins, and orisha magic. Beguiling and bombastic!”
Nikki Woolfolk‘s series of steampunk novellas
Based in an amazing alternate historical USA world. Worth checking out for the world building alone, her characters are also immensely tough, charming, and queer AF. She also has a cozy mystery series (start with Mise en Death) featuring, you guessed it, FOOD! I mean come on, what is not to love? She knows what she’s talking about too, she is ALSO the genius behind Belle Monde Chocolates. Which are, without question, my favorite chocolates in the world.
Something with strong tricky female main characters?
For lovers of the Delightfully Deadly series…
LL McKinney‘s A Blade So Black (The Nightmare-Verse series)
Is a thrilling YA urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland, if you or your teen reads Marissa Meyer, then this series is for you.
The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
Alyssa Cole‘s historical spies series, The Loyal League
Cole writes romantic historical, scifi, and contemporary with lots of queer rep. Honestly she has something for everyone. Her historical series is period-drama-delightful full of machinations and spies, so if the Finishing School was your jam, try this series.
Something whimsically alt history?
For lovers of the floof…
C. L. Polk‘s acclaimed Witchmark
Witchmark (followed by Stormsong) with more to come, was described as “a stunning, addictive fantasy that combines intrigue, magic, betrayal, and romance.” Polk’s novella The Midnight Bargain is described as a “fantasy of manners.” Yes please!
Rebel Carter’s Gold Sky series
This is the first in a Western shared town series all of which feature different interracial couples and groupings, fluffly alt-history of the best kind. This first one is two men who love each other and their mail order bride, the second features is a mail order groom, and the third a best friends to lovers romance.
Fun & Sexy?
If what you really love of my books is when I get all over with the sexy, then here are some authors who bring on the heat with a side of humor and romance.
Via’s gay romances featuring tough military-types with soft squishy centers are some of my favorites, I chronically reread. The sex scenes are numerous and extremely hot, and written with such skill. I would take a master class from her on how to do sexy and emotional at the same time. If you’re a chronic romance reader Via will have hit up at least one of your favorite tropes. I happen to be a big May December fan, so the first Promises book is one of my favorites. Tough bounty hunter with self-worth issues is pursued by a much younger lawyer who came back into town expressly to reconnect with the man of his dreams. Gah, so good.
Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date series
Guillory’s rom coms are (so far) het central, but her supporting cast of characters is always super representative and queer friendly. Lots of found family themes and a ton of humor. Start with The Wedding Date:
“A swoony rom-com brimming with humor and charm.” ~ Entertainment Weekly
“What a charming, warm, sexy gem of a novel….One of the best books I’ve read in a while.” ~ Roxane Gay
YA with serious girl power?
For lovers of the Finishing School series…
Dhonielle Clayton‘s The Belles series
Okay if you like Hunger Games or The Selection then you need to read these books RIGHT NOW. No, seriously, start with the first one and just keep going. If you have a teen who liked either of these, hell I’ll chuck Maas into “also like” mix, they should be reading these books. They are THAT GOOD.
Brittney Morris‘s debut SLAY
“Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther – inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers.”
For lovers of the San Andreas and Supernatural Society series…
Alyssa Cole‘s Reluctant Royals series
Already on this list once, here Cole is again, this time for her reluctant royals series. More light-hearted than her historical stuff and mostly with het central characters, I would start with the adorable lesbian novella, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy.
Holley Trent/H.E. Trent pick your joy, she’s got it all
Seriously, what does this woman not write? She’s amazing. Whatever your preference, she’s probably written you the romantic joy you crave: scifi, paranormal, contemp with poly, menage, gay, het). I like scifi romance a lot, so I would start with Wager.
More Black Authors Writing Queer Joy here:
Authors from above will also appear on this list, for ease of copy/paste and printing.
More Black Authors Writing Genre Fiction
Mostly SciFi & Speculative Fiction
- Maurice Broadus – everything he does is gold
- Octavia Butler – many times recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards, and in 1995 the first science-fiction writer ever to receive a MacArthur Fellowship
- P. Djèlí Clark – steampunk (try The Black God’s Drums)
- Gerald L. Coleman – philosopher, theologian, poet, and scifi-fantasy author
- Samuel Delaney – his work includes science fiction, memoir, criticism and essays on science fiction, literature, sexuality, and society
- Nalo Hopkinson – speculative fiction (try Brown Girl in the Ring in which a young woman must solve the tragic mystery surrounding her family and bargain with the gods to save her city and herself)
- Nnedi Okorafor – scifi, (try her Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella series about Binti, a young Himba girl with a talent for mathematics that earns her the chance to attend a prestigious university)
- C. L. Polk – alt history fantasy (try Witchmark)
- Nisi Shawl – best known for her short stories, Shawl has a wonderful alt-history steampunk too: Everfair
- Rivers Solomon – sci-fi with queer rep (try An Unkindness of Ghosts about Aster who lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South)
- Nikki Woolfolk‘s – steampunk & cozy mystery with lots of queer rep and optimistic feels
Mostly Fantasy & Horror
- Tomi Adeyemi – epic fantasy (West African-inspired fantasy, #1 New York Times Bestseller, perfect if you like Leigh Bardugo)
- Charlotte Nicole Davis – magical western (try The Good Luck Girls)
- Tananarive Due – horror
- Justina Ireland – alt history with ZOMBIES (try Dread Nation)
- Valjeanne Jeffers – horror
- N. K. Jemisin – epic fantasy, dark, gritty and multi award winning
- Marlon James – epic fantasy (try Black Leopard Red Wolf described as an African Game of Thrones)
- Nicole Givens Kurtz – weird west & pulp
There tends to be more romance on my lists than other books because I gravitate so strongly towards the heroine’s journey, and romance is a guaranteed HEA. These days I read more romance than ever before, so I have a better understanding on what’s happening in this field.
- Melissa Blue – contemporary high heat
- S. Renée Bess – mostly f/f romantic fiction, some romance
- Rebel Carter – contemporary (try Heart and Hand)
- Lauren Cherelle – f/f romance and essays
- Alyssa Cole – historical, scifi, contemporary rom com with queer rep
- Robin Covington – contemporary & PNR
- Jasmine Guillory – contemporary het romance with lots of queer characters (try The Wedding Date)
- Mason Dixon – lesbian romance
- Ava Freeman – lesbian romance (found family)
- Alix B Golden – lesbian romance (strong friendships)
- Sheree L. Greer – lesbian romance (right NOW read A Return to Arms about meeting the love of your life at an activist collective, police shooting, sexual, and political freedoms)
- Jack Harbon – gay contemporary and rom com (try Meet Cute Club)
- Nikki Harmon – lesbian romance & sf/f essays
- Talia Hibbert – contemporary (try The Brown Sisters rom com series or That Kind of Guy which features a woman who is in her 40s and a younger demisexual hero)
- Chencia C. Higgins – het & queer romance
- Piper Huguley – historical
- Katrina Jackson – romantic suspense, high heat, diverse, and mostly queer (try Pink Slip)
- Meka James – contemporary, erotic, LGBTQ+
- Beverly Jenkins – mostly historical but has a HUGE back catalog including YA (try Night Hawk)
- Christina C. Jones – contemporary modern and complex (bisexual main character in Something Like Love)
- Alexa Martin – contemporary sports with comedic bent
- A.M. McKnight – lesbian romantic suspense
- Selena Montgomery – romantic suspense (try Hidden Sins about a scam artist and a forensic anthropologist) * you might know her better as Stacey Abrams
- J. Nichole – contemporary romance, het & f/f, queer rep
- Sheryl Lister – sweet, sensual, contemporary (try A Touch of Love which tackles hearing loss)
- Tracey Livesay – contemporary small town
- Nikki Rashan – lesbian romance
- Farrah Rochon – sexy contemporary
- Naima Simone – edgy, sexy, contemporary sports & billionaire
- Skyy – only one book so far but it’s an AMAZING lesbian romance so I’m hoping for many more
- Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar – have one co-authored book and there is some question as to whether it qualifies as romance (it’s on my TBR) but it’s getting rave reviews particularly from within the LA and BlaQ community: In Case You Forgot
- Holley Trent/H.E. Trent – scifi, paranormal, poly, menage, gay, het
- Yolanda Wallace – lesbian contemporary & suspense
- Rebekah Weatherspoon – contemporary BDSM, erotic, f/f, het, PNR (try Xeni for some delicious comedy)
- K.D. Williamson – lesbian contemporary (self described nerd)
- Nikki Winter – contemporary romance, some f/f
- Elle Wright – contemporary high drama
- Fiona Zedde – wide range of novels, some f/f romance
- Rena Barron – dark epic fantasy & middle grade (try Kingdom of Souls)
- Dhonielle Clayton – dystopian near future (try The Belles)
- LL McKinney – urban fantasy (try A Blade So Black)
- Brittney Morris – geeky girl fighting back (try SLAY)
- Tochi Onyebuchi – dystopian try War Girls
- Claire Kann – LBGTQ+ rom com (try Let’s Talk About Love featuring and ace main character)
- Ibi Zoboi (try Pride a Pride & Prejudice retelling that is smart, beautiful, and funny, starring all characters of color, from a National Book Award finalist)
- 20 Must Read African Fantasy Novels
- Black Romance Authors
- Black Bi & Lesbian Books
- Reading Black Joy: F/F Romances by Black Authors
- 19 Black Children’s Books by Black Authors
- 25 Fantastic Middle Grade Books by Black Authors
- YA Pride posted a Queer YA Books by Black Authors Spreadsheet
More we can do?
- Order Books from Black-Owned Bookstores
- This Black Woman-Owned Bookstore Has an ‘Ally Box’ Subscription
- Buy books with POC on the cover! Read amazing romance author Naima Simone‘s article about this. I’ve noticed it in my own sales and it is a horrible, rarely discussed prejudice in buying behavior (and publisher reactive behavior).
- Write to and urge major book bloggers and taste makers (I’m looking at you BookBub) to consider more books by Black authors.
- Are you an author? Nisi Shawl is also the co-author of Writing the Other: A Practical Approach
- Not all the authors in this collection are Black, but I find that a good way to get started and find new authors is to read anthologies, so here’s New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color
- Not feeling like books right now? How about tea? Or chocolate? Or more tea?
If you are a member of the Parasol Protectorate Facebook Group there is a long ongoing list available:
(Hot link not permitted, you’ll need to copy and paste into your browser, and you need to be a member of the group. Sorry, it was the best way to organize the fans, I do pull from there to update my lists here.)
Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),
- Want more book recs? Get ’em monthly in the Chirrup, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
- Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!
Note, this is an ever growing list, as I find more I’ll add more, I promise!
Where possible I linked directly to the author’s main website. For the book links, some of these authors write indie, and some of those are Amazon exclusive, in which case the link I shared goes straight to Amazon. Otherwise I’ve included links to as many platforms as possible, including audio when I find it. At no extra cost to you these links have affiliate codes. Anything I earn from them I will double and donate to NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.