Casey McQuiston Recommends the Queer Romances Her Younger Self Needed

Posted by Sharon on February 8, 2021
 
Author Casey McQuiston took the romance world by storm with her 2019 debut, Red, White & Royal Blue. A double Goodreads Choice Award winner (in the Romance and Debut Novel categories), her heartfelt tale about an enemies-to-lovers situation between the son of the first female American president and the Prince of Wales is one of the most popular romances on Goodreads. Ever

McQuiston's next project is One Last Stop, a time-slip sapphic rom-com that's also equal parts love letter to New York City and found families. One Last Stop will be available in U.S. stores on June 1.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own teens a lot.
 
Maybe it’s because of what I’ve been writing recently, or because all of the alone time of the past year has slowed me down enough to finally take the lid off of that particular box. Either way, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that weird, intense, try-hard kid who swore up and down that she wasn’t gay and just wanted to survive her conservative Christian high school (and yes, as an adult, I spend a lot of time unpacking how the latter problem created the former).

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I’ve been thinking about the spaces where I used to feel safe back then, and the one I remember most fondly is my hometown Barnes & Noble.
 
We didn’t really have an indie bookstore. Instead, there was a shopping center containing a Barnes & Noble that shared one massive parking lot with a movie theater, and the thrill of a lifetime was convincing your parents to drop you off there for a whole afternoon of skulking around the aisles followed by a movie. I have a very vivid memory of doing just that with a screening of Revenge of the Sith, and I even still remember my outfit: rolled-up denim capri pants over argyle leggings, black Mary Janes, and a Vote for Pedro ringer tee (I know). I was pretty sure those Barnes & Noble afternoons were the most important thing I’d ever do, so I committed it all to memory.
 
Sometimes I’ve struggled to empathize with my past trying-to-be-straight self. She was very much a product of her times and her environment, and sometimes I want to reach back through time to grab her by the shoulders and shake her. “You silly little baby, I am begging you to consider why you feel so out of place and desperate for validation all the time,” I would say, except I would have to yell to be heard, because she was also so loud all the time for no good reason except overcompensation.
 
But she was doing her best. She was finding her places, picking out things that would lead her to herself. She was sitting on the scratchy carpet of a Barnes & Noble, creating inside jokes with her friends and reading single chapters of books. She was buying pots of ink and then camping out at a Starbucks table pretending she was in Austen-era London writing letters by candlelight. She was walking through the shelves and imagining herself there one day, one spine tucked alongside all the others, fitting in perfectly.
 
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In late 2019, after my first book came out, I stopped by that Barnes & Noble out of curiosity. I wasn’t sure if or how my queer rom-com would be stocked, and I honestly wasn’t even sure how it would feel to see it there, in the place where I attended midnight release parties in costume in middle school. The idea of coming back to my red state hometown as an openly queer author hadn’t settled with me yet.
 
But there my book sat, on an endcap romance display. I snapped a photo with my phone and tweeted about it, then I picked up a couple of books and headed home. I thought about it for the rest of the day, though.
 
I thought about what it would have meant to a teenager like me, stumbling around and grabbing onto anything that felt sturdy, to see a book like mine while loitering around the stacks. This pastel-colored confection, with a jacket copy describing a fantastical, frothy, happily-ever-after queer love story that sounded like so many of the rom-coms I loved. I think it would have helped her to know that stories like that could be prominently featured in her favorite place. Maybe she would have smuggled it home and hid it in the bottom drawer of her desk, or maybe it would have inspired her to stop hiding things sooner.
 
That’s the beautiful thing about queer romance to me: It doesn’t have to be about anything other than queer love and happily ever afters. They give people in search of themselves a brighter view of their destination.
 
I’ve put together a list of a few queer romances I’ve enjoyed more recently, as a queer adult who sometimes still needs a bit of queer escapism.

 
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Read this book if...you love Hollywood glamour and fake dating.

Available now.


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Read this book if...a royal cat-and-mouse game that turns into a Transatlantic voyage/fake marriage/romantic adventure sounds interesting to you.

Expected release date: May 25
 


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Read this book if...you're on the hunt for a historical about women who love science and other women.

Available now.


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Read this book if...you're looking for a queer Bridget Jones.

Available now.


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Read this book if...you don't have time for a full-length novel but want some historical lesbians plotting revenge.

Available now.


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Read this book if...you want a romance between a man and a woman who both happen to be super queer.

Available now.


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Read this book if...you want to dig into a contemporary series featuring lots of delicious food.

Available now.


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Read this book if...you're into steam, angst, and happy endings.

Available now.


What are some of your favorite queer romances? Let's talk books in the comments!
 

Comments Showing 1-44 of 44 (44 new)

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message 1: by Trang (new)

Trang Definitely check out Wilde Love by Lucy Lennox, Think of England by KJ Charles, Top Secret by Bowen and Kennedy, and all Eden Finley books (luv).


message 2: by Booklover (new)

Booklover Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a great book too!


message 3: by Hania (new)

Hania As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed.


message 4: by Céline~ (new)

Céline~ Booklover wrote: "Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a great book too!"

Haven't read that one but I just finished What If It's Us by the same author (collab) and I really enjoyed it ! Nice and cute story about young love.


message 5: by Céline~ (new)

Céline~ Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

I'm wishing you all the courage and all the best for you to one day be in a context where you can display any and all book on your shelves, just as you might wish ! ;)

If you ever need to talk, feel free to reach out!
(Might be something odd to suggest on such a public platform, but sometimes it's just nice to talk to strangers when we need an open ear)


message 6: by Emily (new)

Emily Marie Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

This just hit really hard. I wish you all the best and hope you feel safe enough to display all the things you love soon.
Thinking of you.


message 7: by Roxana (new)

Roxana Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

I'm excited for that day for you, too, and hope you're able to get it really soon. <3 seriously, lots of love from a stranger on the internet


message 8: by Becky (new)

Becky Did you know two years ago I went to a libary two give a book back from a person I got bullied from school birthday and the librarian said no book lover should go home without a book so I choose the midnight sun.


message 9: by Anna (new)

Anna A Little Light Mischief is awesome. You could honestly just recommend anything by Cat Sebastian. A great one is The Lawrence-Browne Affair if you're interested in a m/m romance featuring a neurodivergent hero.


message 10: by Laure-Anne (new)

Laure-Anne Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

What a powerful message! I don't have the words to express my solidarity with you, but I send you lots of love and courage <3


message 11: by Anna (new)

Anna Avian Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

I remember those days. Might seem like nothing can ever change but it does. Life and people can change for the better. Stay strong and don't be afraid to reach out and talk to someone if you need to.


message 12: by Rat (new)

Rat Dream Boy is my absolute favorite, though it's incredibly dark


message 13: by Mathilda (new)

Mathilda I would recommend The House in The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune! Love queer escapism and found family trope, with a bit (or a lot) of magic and supernatural mixed in? Look no further :)


message 14: by Tess (new)

Tess Taylor Great list! I think Jen Wilde's books are also so good! She writes YA with strong LGBTQIA+ characters. Such an underrated author! Her books are light and enjoyable! The Brightsiders is my favorite work of hers.


message 15: by Andy (new)

Andy Tess wrote: "Great list! I think Jen Wilde's books are also so good! She writes YA with strong LGBTQIA+ characters. Such an underrated author! Her books are light and enjoyable! The Brightsiders..."

Jen's pronouns are they/them not she/her


message 16: by Andy (new)

Andy This list is great but Casey is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns


✨I N T O  Y O U✨ Autoboyography by Christina Lauren is really good! So is We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson.


message 18: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Andy wrote: "This list is great but Casey is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns"

I noticed that too- I was thinking the person who wrote the intro messed it up, but Casey uses she/her pronouns in the piece, referring to their teenage self. It made me wonder if Casey changed to using she/her, or if they think of their past self as a she/her.


message 19: by Emily (new)

Emily Rachel wrote: "Andy wrote: "This list is great but Casey is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns"

I noticed that too- I was thinking the person who wrote the intro messed it up, but Casey uses she/her pronouns ..."


Casey's Twitter bio says she uses "any pronouns."


Bookishnymph *needs hea* I loved Red, White, and Royal Blue--and I have now made my TBR list much heavier. 😘


message 21: by Abby (new)

Abby Griffith Personally no other book has had the needed rhythm, dynamics, and ease that Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has. It shows how fiction can be written for Lgbtq members without making it outside hetero norm society. It also beautifully explores the dimensions of being bisexual and the challenges labels put on individuals to declare one way or another.


message 22: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Martin If you love fantasy (like I do), the Priory of the Orange Tree is an incredible epic fantasy that features a lesbian sorceress and her lover, who is actually a Queen. It's such a good read and has such a well-crafted world, I would 100% recommend it.


message 23: by Leah (new)

Leah Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

I completely understand and I am in the same situation but just remember the you are not alone in that feeling! I hope that some day that you will be able to express yourself and proudly display your books. Take strength from your dream of the future! <3


message 24: by Tesca (new)

Tesca Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

Hang in there! We're all rooting for you! :)


╟ ♫ Tima ♪ ╣ ♥ Andy wrote: "This list is great but Casey is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns"

Casey's twitter does say "any pronouns" and doesn't seem to (publicly) specify a preference of they/them over others. Similarly, Jen Wilder's twitter says "She/They" so the use of she/her isn't incorrect. I'm glad you're making it a priority to get people using the correct pronouns, it's a great thing :)


message 26: by Joseph (new)

Joseph I've recently discovered an absolutely fantastic author for lesbian love stories. Every book I've ready by Meghan O'Brien I've given at least four stars. She touches on a bunch of different genres, but her realistic fiction could be nonfiction, they are so well written. Check her out.


message 27: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

Hi Darling! It might take time but whenever you're ready display that book with pride. You can't change who you are and you shouldn't have to. I believe in you. Coming out is kind of dumb anyway. Straight people don't have to come out but everyone else does. It doesn't make sense. If you decide to not even come out that's completely fine because it's your decision. I speak from experience. I kind of just told my friends I'm sexually fluid which is essentially bisexual and then I moved on. The chances are the people who pay attention to you already know your orientation. You've got this. Be you. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Good luck! I'm sending a lot of love and support your way :))


message 28: by Caitie (new)

Caitie Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed." I see you. And I wish you all the best.


message 29: by Azzurra (new)

Azzurra hey, there's a really good 1890s lesbian romance called Tipping the Velvet and like,, not only does it tackle being queer in the 19th century but it ALSO goes in-depth about gender identity and i recommend it so much <33


message 30: by Stef (new)

Stef Rozitis Lee Winters writes hot but intelligent sapphic stories


message 31: by Ron-Michael (new)

Ron-Michael My favorite book of any genre, happens to be in the LGBT/YA realm, History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera


message 32: by Diane (new)

Diane Red, White & Royal Blue was not at all what I expected. It was sooo much more. I loved every bit of it and would love another book with those characters. I recently read They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and really enjoyed it.


message 33: by reunixxx (last edited Mar 02, 2021 07:02PM) (new)

reunixxx RWRB has held a special place in my heart since I read it, at the beginning of 2020. It's my out-and-proud book. It always makes me laugh, every time I read it. I never get tired of it. It's my queer dream book, my comfort book, the book I can quote on command. I love it, so so so much.

If I had to recommend a queer book that I loved as much as RWRB, that'd be The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It's a retelling of the Iliad and I ugly cried for half an hour after finishing it.
I also would recommend Adam Silvera's books. He's a gay (I think) author.


message 34: by reunixxx (new)

reunixxx Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

I'm rooting for you!


message 35: by Ronnie (new)

Ronnie Chase Connor’s “A tremendous amount of normal” and Nash Summers’ “Arrows through Archer” are books not to be missed either. They’re so good you’ll be sad to put them down when you’re finished reading them.


message 36: by Chris (new)

Chris Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."
I wish you love and support when you decide the time is right for you. If you don't find it where you need it, when you need it, please know there are many reputable organizations that are there for you. As the parent of a young gay man, I share my love and support with you as well.


message 37: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

I understand where you’re coming from. I’m a queer person with autism, and I’ve struggled with internal ableism and trying to bury the less pretty parts of my mind for a good portion of my life. I can’t emphasize how happy it makes me to have characters like Seraphina from Seraphina and Wylan from Six of Crows to empathize with. I have yet to see any books about autistic queer people, but maybe someday I will find one. It’s a special kind of magic finding media that you can connect with when the people around you really can’t.


message 38: by Jenn (not Lily) (new)

Jenn (not Lily) Bonnie wrote: "...I have yet to see any books about autistic queer people, but maybe someday I will find one. It’s a special kind of magic finding media that you can connect with when the people around you really can’t...."

Try Dead in the Garden by Dahlia Donovan -- cozy murder mystery with a committed couple, one of whom is on the spectrum.


message 39: by João Pedro (new)

João Pedro Vale Here The Whole Time by Vitor Dias is a great book too


message 40: by Shubhangi (new)

Shubhangi Ojha We all deserve the love in the world,. I AM ROOTING FOR US ALL.


message 41: by Miriasha (new)

Miriasha Hania wrote: "As someone who is still in the closet, who is still grasping for anything sturdy, rwrb means the world to me and I'm excited for the day it can have its place on my bookcase instead of under my bed."

This hit hard for me too, and I'm sending good thoughts to you, and look forward to that day! I also know there are a lot of queer books that are less explicitly queer on the outside than Red White and Royal Blue, that you might be able to keep on your bookshelf already!

Here are some links to find "stealth" queer books, if that's something you're interested in,

https://coolcurrybooks.tumblr.com/pos...
https://simmonslis.libguides.com/c.ph...
https://lgbtqreads.com/?s=under+the+g...
https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/...
https://queersff.theillustratedpage.n...


message 42: by Laura (new)

Laura Alexandria Bellefleur has one book, Written in the Stars, that is f/f. It's totally good. I just read an arc of her next book and the heroine is a bi woman. She does great bi representation.


message 43: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Immediately adding all of these books to my queer to read shelf


message 44: by Hailey (new)

Hailey Dawn (page_pixie) RWRB means the world to me. As someone who is 30 and still questions things about their sexuality, it's uplifting to read a book about a world that is supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community. I needed that book so much, and I've never cried like that after an ending because I know, we as people, deserve to have that kind of happiness, and have deserved it for a long time. With everything that's happened politically, and with Covid, RWRB managed to forge a place in my soul that I can hope for a world like that, and while it's a slow process, I can see it happening. I absolutely cannot wait to read absolutely everything else you write.


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