While cupcake-shop owners and Navy SEALs are ever-popular career paths for many a romance protagonists, there are an ever-growing number of characters pursing careers in STEM in both contemporary and historical novels. For example, in Alyssa Cole's new contemporary series, Reluctant Royals, the heroines of A Princess in Theory and Duke by Default are pursuing studies in STEM or STEM related-fields, and in Priscilla Oliveras's Her Perfect Affair the hero, Jeremy, is an IT-security professional Joanna Chambers and Cat Sebastian both have featured scientist heroes in their recent historical m/m novels (A Gathering Storm and The Lawrence Browne Affair). I personally love this trend, as I love inventor, scientist, and maker protagonists more than your more common CEOs or aristocrats.
The world of STEM and Geeky/Fandom are often intertwined in our pop culture, and romances are no exception. The #RomBkLove team has put together a list of favorite romances where Geek/STEM themes intersect.
What are your favorite novels that have great STEM and/or Geek representation? Who are the authors that get fandom?
Reply to us on Twitter and let us know your faves and what they get about Fandom/Geek/STEM right.
Melissa Blue's #dirtysexygeeks This series is devoted to gamers and fandom, and the glue that holds it all together is a group of men who have been friends since they were kids. At the center of the circle are are brothers Grady (To One Hundred) and Wade (Bluest of Blue). There is so much heart in this series, but it also tackles mental illness, examining how friends and lovers can support each other through times of struggle and pain. [m/f, Contemporary, AOC] (Jen)
Friends That Have Sex series by GL Thomas. The MCs of this story begin by trying to keep it casual with each other, but end up catching feelings. This is complicated by the secrets they keep from others and each other; one of the biggest ones being that she has cancer and doesn’t tell him. I fell so hard for the heroine in these books, and especially appreciated her geekiness; she is all about reading science fiction, and gets the hero into reading it as well. Both of the leads are bisexual, and I appreciated the incidental bi representation. The first book ends on a cliffhanger, the second brings the characters back together, and the third book is about later challenges in their relationship. [m/f, Contemporary, AOC, Rep: Afro-Cuban bisexual woman MC with cancer. Bisexual man MC. Genderfluid minor character. Queer Afro-Cubanx authors.] (Corey) Dating-ish by Penny Reid is a romcom, part of her Knitting in the City series, but works well as standalone too. The hero, Matt, is a robotics engineer who is socially awkward but with some hidden sex appeal. Penny Reid’s romances stand out with her unique sense of humour and over-the-top plots. In this book the journalist heroine, Marie, explores professional cuddling and dry-humping services, orgasm meditation, and more. As usual, a poignant social commentary is hidden behind all the fun times. [m/f, Contemporary] (Ellie)
The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood: I really enjoyed this fun, funny, geeky, hot, butch/femme romance, told from the POV of the femme character, who works for a gaming company. I love that basically everyone we meet in the book is queer. The butch love interest is a werewolf, which is ironic because it has a suspense plot around a stalker complaining that werewolves are misrepresented in the werewolf game the MC works on. [f/f, Paranormal] (Chubby femme queer woman MC. Butch queer woman LI. Queer woman author.) (Corey)
Cathy Yardley’s Fandom Hearts series is smart, funny, honest, portraying both the positives and negatives of fandom/STEM/Geek culture perfectly. I adored Level Up, in which Tessa Rodriguez is trying to work her way up to her dream job as game designer at a company that doesn’t value her skills as much as they should because she is a woman. Tessa’s HEA is as much about gaining the recognition and respect she deserves as from finding a supportive and loving partner who understands her passions. [m/f, Contemporary AOC, Rep: Latinx MC] (Ana)
Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde. Friends-to-lovers romance between a trans man and his longtime online non-binary best friend. They meet up for the first time to go to a scifi convention and fall for each other. I have a soft spot for this book, which has lovely trans and non-binary representation. The hero has anxiety, and the depiction is really resonant for me as a reader; it shows him having and coping with a panic attack. [m/enby with a trans man lead, Contemporary, Rep: Sri Lankan-American bisexual non-binary MC. Bisexual trans man MC. Non-binary trans author.] (Corey)
Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn is a debut contemporary romance with a STEM heroine: Kit is a scientist working in a university lab. I loved the complexity of the human relationships it presented, including the professional context of Kit’s job. She is super smart but at the same time prefers to stay in the background and not draw attention to herself. I absolutely loved how smitten Ben was with her and how proud he was of her professional accomplishments. It’s one of my favorite romances of 2017 and I can’t recommend it enough. [m/f, Contemporary](Ellie)
Gaymers series by Annabeth Albert. This m/m series are comfort rereads for me; well...re-listens, as I prefer them on audiobook. They are geeky and angsty and give me all the feels, and they each have an MC who works at the same gaming company. My favorite is the third book, Connection Error, which has two MCs with very different disabilities. This geeky romance is so compelling to me, particularly because of the moments of access intimacy between the disabled characters and the way they navigate the changing nature of their disabilities with regard to their sex lives. Naked Twister for the win! [m/m, Contemporary] (Rep: Gay man MC with ADHD. Gay man amputee MC with a mobility disability.) (Corey)
Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman: In this short and tender romance, Indie Yarn dyer Clara first finds inspiration in Danielle’s vibrant Floridian artwork and then finds herself falling for her new friend and collaborator. Their mutual love of fanfiction and their shared fandom for Captain Werewolf is one their many connection points. [f/f, Contemporary, Jewish MCs, Jewish bi author, fat rep] (Ana)
Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Kinky, funny, geeky. One of the few BDSM romances I’ve read with switch MCs, this begins as the characters bond at a con. The hero Daniel is bisexual and an amputee; I liked the incidental representation for both. Weatherspoon has a knack for writing heroines I want to be friends with, and Keira is just wonderful. I especially enjoyed watching her come into her own as a novice dominant. [m/f, Contemporary, AOC, Rep: Korean American amputee bisexual man MC. Black woman MC. Black queer woman author.] (Corey)
Emma Barry & Genevieve Turner: Earth Bound is the third book in their Space-Race era set romance series, Fly Me to the Moon. The previous protagonists have been astronauts and this book is a departure from the focus on the fly-boys to the engineers and computer scientists whose calculations are essential but much less lauded contributions to space program. Eugene and Charlie are grumpy and prickly, and their relationship is deliciously combustible. It was full of longing and explosive sexiness. [m/f, historical] (Ana)
My Darling Caroline by Adele Ashworth is a Regency historical where the titular Caroline is a botanist, and quite a good one. Then her father arranges a marriage for her, and neither she nor her new husband Brent trust one another to start. How they manage to merge their mutual needs into a compatible marriage is the heart of this book. But it’s certain scenes that stand out for me: Caroline’s shock (and initial complete lack of belief) when Brent is willing to use her savant math skills to help with the estate; Brent’s defense of Caroline and her abilities to her family (who have never encouraged her interests). It’s a great older (1998) example of a historical STEM heroine. [m/f, Historical] (Mary Lynne)
Folks, all I need to tell you about Tessa Dare’s When a Scot Ties the Knot is this: the Regency-era heroine is studying the mating habits of lobsters. If that doesn’t get you to read this enchanting geek-heroine historical romance, I don’t know what will. [m/f, Historical] (Mary Lynne)
The glory of The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan is how it deals with appearances and reality. This is another Regency historical with a STEM heroine, but Violet has completely hidden her talent, using her oldest friend Sebastian as her “front” to the world. He pretends to be the scientific expert; she does all the work and gets to share it publicly through Sebastian (because a mere woman cannot speak about scientific discoveries). The Countess Conspiracy shows Violet and Sebastian’s achievements and struggles, and how love builds their confidence to share their truths with one another and the world. [m/f, Historical, AOC] (Mary Lynne)
Still want more? Dig into Lacy Literacy's List of 100 STEM heroines.