As a reader who prefers open door romance, usually high heat, I have a lot of options available to me, but seeking out a wider variety of authors and character representation has helped me better understand and celebrate myself and others. Inclusivity can cover many facets, but in the recs below I've focused on indie works that I think can use more love and recognition.
Matzo Match by Roz Alexander - This high heat sapphic Passover novella - a debut! - was just released in March 2021. The main characters are Ashkenazi and Persian Jews, and one of them may be the most delicious butch I've read to date. Just as I felt when I read my beloved novellas from Erin McLellan's So Over the Holidays series, I wanted to be in this story at the Seder with the queer friend group. Overall, this novella was very sexy and it also made me laugh out loud - my favorite combo!
Rep: both main characters (MCs) are Jewish lesbian cis women (one from a Persian family), queer Jewish author
CWs: Divorce, closeted and secret relationship, cheating ex, mentions of fertility struggles and pregnancy, racism
Heartbeat Braves by Pamela Sanderson - When Henry ends up working with Rayanne at the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center, they have instant attraction but getting together is more of a slow burn. The story focuses heavily on some of the immediate goals and challenges of the center. I was rooting for Rayanne and Henry both professionally and as a couple. This isn't as high heat as my other recs but it is open door and I loved how protection was handled. The supporting characters felt so true to life, and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Rep: Native cis man MC, Native cis woman MC, Native author (a member of the Karuk tribe)
CWs: microaggressions, racism
Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West - I absolutely loved this sapphic Chanukah friends-to-lovers romance with kink lessons. This book immerses the reader in the world of two fat queer women who are kinky, autistic, and Jewish, and a community of kinky queer people by proxy. I have read romance novels with kink, but this delves into non-sexual kink in a way that is rare, in my experience, and I would say the same for self love and acceptance. I finished this book feeling profoundly changed by the treatment of boundaries, comfort, and communication. It was like a giant hug.
Rep: white Jewish fat autistic gray ace queer femme MC, white Jewish fat autistic stone butch queer MC, white Jewish autistic queer fat genderqueer author with disabilities
CWs: provided in detail by the author https://xanwest.wordpress.com/eight-kinky-nights/
Truth or Dare by Danielle Allen - If you are into sexy times in public spaces, whew! This friends-to-lovers story is not to be missed. A destination wedding provides a backdrop for a reunion among a friend group with a tangled history, and a game of Truth or Dare ignites some serious sparks. Some of the scenes from this book have lived rent-free in my mind since I finished, and I will definitely be rereading.
Rep: cis Black woman MC, cis Black man MC, Black author
CW: sex without a condom
The Companion by E.E. Ottoman - a loving and tender historical (1948) instalust story of three kindred spirits finding finding love and acceptance while safely secluded in upstate New York, away from the literary scene in the city. Full of sexual discovery with little or no angst, this polyamorous HEA shows that in the right environment, your HEA can be radically within reach. Released April 2021.
Rep: trans woman MC, trans woman MC, trans man MC, trans author
CWs from the author: references to rape culture, sexual exploitation of trans women, feeling unsafe in certain spaces, internalized transphobia, smoking weed, more included at the front of the book
If you want to follow along on my reading journey, check out my bookstagram at http://instagram.com/charlottelovestoread.