By Nina Varela (HarperTeen)
A young adult novel that explores artificial intelligence, class conflict and queer romance, “Crier’s War” also sports an exquisite synopsis: “an impossible love between two girls — one human, one Made — whose romance could be the beginning of a revolution.” Hello! It’s perfect for the fantasy and sci-fi romance readers who love spy plots and incendiary character chemistry, yearn for queer love stories, and adore books that ask tough questions about what it means to be human.
"The Bride Test"
By Helen Hoang (Berkley)
Buy this book, and Hoang’s first novel, “The Kiss Quotient,” and you can thank me and your bookseller later. Why? It’s a Cinderella story that’s sweet and achingly funny, featuring a hero with autism and a heroine who journeys to the United States from Vietnam after his mother attempts to matchmake a marriage. “The Bride Test” weaves together themes of class, diaspora, immigration and sexuality inside a familiar, fantastic and utterly charming romance.
"The Right Swipe"
By Alisha Rai (Avon)
A tech CEO reconnects with the former NFL player who ghosted her when he becomes the face of the dating app company she wants to buy. Perhaps they can be more than colleagues and former lovers, if they can hurdle the haunting effects of their past experiences, which include a vindictive ex and the intricacies of traumatic brain injury. An ideal gift for the reader who loves comedy and emotional complexity, and who knows all too well the unique challenges of dating in the modern era.
By Jessie Mihalik (Harper Voyager)
This book is for any reader who has wished for more romance between captured runaway princesses and notorious criminals, in stories set amid political schemes, found family, forced proximity and family drama — IN SPACE. Those last two words are the key to many a science fiction romance reader’s heart, and this book will make them giddy. The sequel, “Aurora Blazing,” is also available — and also recommended.
"Can't Escape Love"
By Alyssa Cole (Avon Impulse)
Cole has published several terrific romances this year, including this sexy, delightful novella. A brilliant anime-obsessed insomniac tracks down the live-streamer whose voice was the only thing soothing enough to help her sleep. He’s creating an escape room based on a romance anime he knows nothing about — but she knows plenty. They’re both business-savvy neuro-divergent nerds whose negotiations are a highlight of this treat of a story.
Sarah Wendell is the author of three books and co-founder of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, one of the most popular and longest-running online communities devoted to romance fiction.