Saturday Smutty Six: More Accidental Marriages

Now that we’ve spent a whole week reading and talking about books featuring the Woke Up Married trope, we obviously can’t leave you hanging. If the recs from our podcast, or reviews by Erin, Holly, and Ingrid didn’t tickle your fancy, here are six more Woke Up Married books that we liked.

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren

Like Lick, Sweet Filthy Boy features a single 1st person narrator with a messy family life and a mysterious husband. It is as riveting—maybe even more so—as Lick, as it becomes clear that Ansel’s keeping secrets from Mia even though he says he really wants their marriage to work. Mia and her friends marry Ansel and his friends during a wild Vegas night, but while everyone else goes to dissolve the marriage the next morning, Ansel invites Mia to his home in Paris for the summer, and to escape her overbearing father, she goes. If you like books that make you think “Is their whole relationship about sex, or are they gonna talk?” I have a book for you.

Screwed by K.M. Neuhold

These guys get totally hammered while in Vegas for their brother’s/friend’s bachelor party and, left to their own devices after the couples go to bed, bar hop all the way to the chapel. They plan to end the marriage, but when Ollie’s friends give him hell for getting married AGAIN, Daniel steps in and declares they oive each other and the marriage is real and they’ll prove it. Amazing playing house fantasies ensue. If you love soft construction workers and supportive partners, this is a good bet. 

Just Married? by Natasha West

I’ll just say the audiobook narration for this book was awful. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a British person do a bad American accent until I listened to this audiobook. That said, this sapphic romance was pretty fun. The beginning, from the introduction of our protagonists to the waking up after a night on the town in Vegas, was fun and engaging, and the fact that one MC ran out on the other was a nice spin. As we got closer to the dark moment, some of the reasoning the characters used didn’t totally make sense, and our MCs didn’t like to talk about their feelings at all, but it pulled together in the end.

The Romantic by Riley Hart

This new release really hits the trope perfectly, and it’s soft and sweet with a dual POV narrative in which both partners are trying to figure themselves out with the fallout from a surprise marriage. Elliott is probably demiromantic (he never completely self-identifies) and has never fallen in love or felt the urge to do so, whereas Parker has been dreaming of a sweeping romance for his whole life. They have a fantastic meet-cute, but it doesn’t initially go anywhere because of Parker’s terrible dating history, so by the time they get drunk in Vegas, they already know each other enough to know they’re interested. See also: So. Much. Praise kink!

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

This one really leans into the whole “this marriage is making me rethink my entire life” component of the trope. After Grace wakes up with a wedding ring on her hand and a note on her pillow, she starts pushing back against the structure she’s build around herself. In the process of finding and getting to know her wife, Grace also finds herself. Recommended for those who love lush writing and journeys of self discovery.

A Forest Between Us by Allie Winters

So, Harper thought that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” was—a real thing? And that Vegas weddings were just a marketing schtick, but that they weren’t real. Imagine her surprise when she discovers that that wild night five years ago actually resulted in a legally binding connection with a stranger. Obviously, this requires that Harper head to a twee small town in Oregon to find her social-media-averse husband and get an annulment. Too bad the judge is busy until next week, and Harper has to stay in town—and Owen’s cabin only has one bed.


Saturday Smutty Six: Lesbians in Space

I recently discovered that a niche micro-genre that I really enjoy is sapphic sci-fi romances, aka Lesbians in Space. I don’t know these books tickle my fancy so much, but whenever I see one, I immediately drop everything and read it. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many books (that I’ve found) that fit the bill; many sapphic sci-fi books are more readily classified as science fiction with romantic elements. This list therefore leans a little more smut-adjacent than most of our Saturday Smutty Sixes, but rest assured, every one of these books does have a love story and a happy ending.

Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau

It all starts when Gennie drugs Natalia in a bid to convince Natalia to find dirt on the owners of a mining company (who happen to be her terrible in-laws, but let’s not mention that bit). One thing leads to another, and Gennie and Natalia are doing some forced proximity while working undercover and exposing a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy in this space-noir romantic suspense. (Book 1 in this series also features a f-f pairing; here’s my review of Rulebreaker.)

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

What if humans colonized a planet but there was a virus and all the men died and then women learned how to reproduce? And then several hundred years later, an anthropologist arrives to study the new societies that have developed there? Anyways, that’s the premise. This book is primarily about Marghe’s adventures as she tries to figure out how things work, but she does find love in the process. And the sex gets weird and metaphysical since it involves an inward journey to modify the DNA in the chromosome of your partner’s egg. Note that this book was published in 1992 and that Griffith was writing with the specific project of showing women as human characters in science fiction; gender here is a binary and there are no trans people in space. 

Stay with Me by Lily X

The New World series by Lily X are perhaps the most romance-y sapphic sci-fi books I’ve found. There’s a bit of adventure, but it’s used to underline the interpersonal conflict between the protagonists as they work towards their happy endings. In Stay with Me, Twyla has run away from home and thrown herself on Cedra’s mercy to get a fresh start—but the vast majority of the book is Twyla and Cedra focusing on each other as they figure out their blood mate bond. Yup, it’s a fated mates book, and yup, there’s some biting, and yup, one of them goes into heat. (If you’re interested in the series, I recommend starting with this one, the series opener, which sets some ground rules for the worldbuilding. Here’s my review of Book 2, Made for Me.)

Petrichor Blooms by Mindi Briar

If you’re looking for some New Adult style sci-fi adventure romance—heavy on the adventure—this might be the book for you. We’ve got kidnappings, space pirates, geneticists who are up to no good, and lots of blushing. And dragons. Can’t forget the dragons.

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

If you look up Goodreads reviews for this book, the number one thing that gets mentioned is that it is really weird. And, yeah, it kind of is; the premise is that humans now live as parasites in giant space beasts the size of moons, and there is therefore a lot of squish as our protagonists traipse around the beast’s spleen. The phrase “tentacle cooch” may or may not appear. But this is also a pretty straightfoward coming-of-age romance as Seske figures out her place in society—and how to make sure her best friend slash love interest from a different class is by her side. Romance readers be prepared: if you’re not down with the protagonists having secondary romantic relationships, skip this one. 

Abduction Seduction by D.J. Russo

Ok, technically this is bisexuals in space featuring an MMFF poly quad, BUT the two females have a long interlude with just the two of them in the shower (with a probe, no less!) (yes, that kind of probe), and Russo takes care to write their relationship as distinct from the ones our human heroine has with the two males of the group. Plus, it involves a human female/alien female pairing, which is hard to find.

Bonus: The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir

This series is not romance, but it is a great deal of fun. And is about lesbian space necromancers. Plus there’s a lot of love that transcends death (see: necromancers). The last book in the series hasn’t been written yet, but it doesn’t seem like a happy ending is really on the horizon for these guys. Be prepared for some serious gore and extremely unreliable narrators and not actually knowing what’s happening—but trust me, the ride is worth it.


Saturday Smutty Six: Short Christmas Romance

If you’re anything like us, you might find December getting a little…busy. It can be challenging to a) find time to read or even b) focus on a whole novel. Luckily, there are plenty of lovely Christmas shorts to enjoy! Here are six we’ve found for you this year.

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

It’s entirely possible we’ll offer up this novella every year because 1. It is the perfect Christmas romance (Really. It’s perfect.) and 2. It is always free and 3. Did I mention it’s perfect? Erin squees about it here, and Holly adds her two cents here. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a try. 

Handmade Holidays by ‘Nathan Burgoine

Gosh, Burgoine is such a pleasure to read. So evocative. The story travels through 15 years of Christmases, from the time Nick is a teen starting with nothing after getting kicked out of his family’s home, through years of ups and downs as he and his found family experience all the little steps that make life, well, life. And through it all, be he near or far, is Nick’s dear friend, Haruto. 

Note: This is a super slow burn that’s more about the journey Nick and Haruto travel to each other than about their romantic relationship as such. No sex, kisses at the end.

Stocking Stuffers by Erin McLellan

Sasha is suffering through the saccharine Christmas season, hating every sprinkle of faux snow after she was left at the altar on her Christmas Eve wedding last year, but she’s a gosh darn professional so she’s Ms. Claus AF while presenting a sex toy party at the local B&B…only to get snowed in. Perry hasn’t told his sister that he’s not just home for Christmas, he’s home permanently, and maybe it’s good because Sasha is amazing. And also offering Perry a fantastic sex-toy awakening while they wait for the roads to clear.

Holigay by K.M. Neuhold

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a best friends bi-awakening story that wasn’t filled with warm fuzzies, and this one is no different. Matt and Caspian already love each other deeply, it’s just that Caspian knows his unrequited love needs to stay buried while Matt thinks if he could just find a woman version of Caspian his life would be perfect. Then they end up on a Christmas vacation in Fiji that opens Matt’s eyes, but Caspian’s pretty sure things won’t last when they’re back home. Low key, low angst, high heat sweetness for days.

Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert

I’ll be honest—I didn’t agree with, like, anything these two think about love and romance and even life (like, has Cash ever heard of Patrick Stewart?), and I had FEELINGS about the dark moment (look, getting what you signed up for—insisted on!—should not be offensive), but honestly it’s nothing unusual for romance (please see this post). AND YET I was charmed by this holiday story about a famous but traumatized tattoo artist and a successful but traumatized university student getting their worlds turned inside out by each other.

All I Want for Christmas Is to Eat Out My Christmas Tree by Chuck Tingle

If you were intrigued when we did our Chuck Tingle deep dive, but all that butt pounding makes you nervous…did you know that Tingle also writes lesbian Tinglers? In this short story, Amy wants to find the perfect Christmas tree. In fact, she kind of wants everything to be perfect all the time. So she’s very excited to meet Noona, perfect Christmas tree, and they have perfectly imperfect sex, as well as a happy ending that will last at least until the end of the holiday season. (The bonus story features a sentient twice-baked potato.)


Saturday Smutty Six: Sweet, short, romance-y graphic novels

Taproot by Keezy Young

Heat Factor: Sweet little kisses

Character Chemistry: Lots of pining and angst

Plot: Ghost follows gardener home, Gardener can see ghost, things seem good, but darkness lurks

Overall: I read this in about 30 minutes and it was 100% worth it

Blue is a ghost who one day found Hamal and, believing that he was invisible, followed the interesting gardener home. But Hamal could see Blue, and they found comfort in each other as their unconventional friendship grew. 

Encouraged by Blue, Hamal gets a job at a garden shop and makes beautiful plants grow while also talking to all the ghosts that hang out with him that no one else can see, which is great until the ghosts start to experience episodes of finding themselves in a dark, dead forest. As the blurb states: “When Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means…leaving him.” Which makes it sound like this is Not A Romance. But, friends, BUT! I have read this book so you don’t have to worry. It is a romance. But how that all happens is kind of spoilery, so I can’t get into it. 

I’ll conclude by noting that the Reaper is extremely entertaining. And for a moment I thought this was maybe an episodic webcomic type thing because the first story is kind of…resolved…and then there’s a whole other story with a whole other problem. Just shorter. Presumably this is to resolve the question of a debt Hamal owes, as this is not a serialized story and there appears to be no plan for any sequels.

Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez et al.

Heat Factor: The kiss at the end of the movie

Character Chemistry: Ben has a crush

Plot: Having graduated with a degree in English and a goal of a writing-related career, Ben winds up working at a restaurant to make ends meet, only to learn what he thought he wanted maybe wasn’t right for him

Overall: Somehow serious and bonkers

This is a very new adult book. Ben loves to cook when he’s stressed or trying to impress a guy, but his whole life has been books and writing, and that’s where he’s planning for his career to be now that he’s out of college. He’s the only one of his roommates without a job when they move in together, but he has interviews lined up, so things are looking good. Ish. Except that everyone wants experience, which is not so good.

There’s a lot of relatable content for millennials and probably also Gen Z or whatever they’re calling themselves. Why are we spending all this money on a degree that’s supposed to make our lives better only to discover that getting a job is almost impossible and/or that we can get a job but not pay down the debt incurred to get the job? And why is working in a restaurant inherently worse than working in an office? 

On the other hand, there’s a pig that makes business decisions for the restaurant where Ben ends up working.

At the end of the day this book is fun and playful and a good reminder that sometimes we need to think harder about the choices we’re making in our lives instead of simply following the predetermined path.

Moonstruck by Grace Ellis et al.

Heat Factor: They’re too busy solving crime to get hot

Character Chemistry: Dating can be challenging when villainous monsters get in the way

Plot: Julie’s best friend, Chet, a centaur, has their horse form stolen in a sketchy magic show, so Julie, her new girlfriend Selena, Chet, and some others go all in on rescuing Chet’s magic and shutting down the criminal operation.

Overall: Cute, but the interstitials were kinda weird and distracting

This is an urban fantasy alternative world in which monsters are simply part of life (my kid thought the angry Medusa character was hilarious), and the color palette is very soft and pastel, which is a good match to the content.

Julie has just started dating Selena, and is super into her, but she’s also pretty shy/awkward and sensitive. So of course why wouldn’t she bring her best friend Chet along on their date to act as a buffer?! In the course of the date, Chet’s magic—which is to say their centaur body—is stolen by the villain, and the rest of the narrative ends up being an absolute bananas quest to take out the villains and restore Chet’s magic. Along the way, Julie and Selena have to figure out how to navigate their differing approaches to solving the problem, and things don’t always go great. It’s definitely fun, but maybe not super substantive. I did like that a character who was more sensitive than what’s usually portrayed got to be herself and still have her romance. 

There are these peculiar, comedic interstitials that are supposed to be like a Q&A newspaper article that made absolutely no sense, and there’s also a comic within the comic that both women love and bond over, but that didn’t seem to add to the story. 

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Heat Factor: They’re eventually sharing a bed, but if anything’s happening, the door’s closed

Character Chemistry: Former best friends to feelings are blooming

Plot: Nova’s minding her magical business when her childhood bestie, Tam, reappears. Together, and with the help of Nova’s grannies, they battle dark forces trying to unleash in their small town.

Overall: This is so sweet. And the story was exciting!

This is a single volume with one narrative plot arc that I really enjoyed. Nova is a young adult witch who works in her grandmothers’ magic bookstore and investigates magical happenings in their small New England town. She hears of a mysterious and dangerous wolf in the woods and goes to investigate, discovering her childhood friend—and crush—Tam battling a demon horse. Tam has been wandering alone for a long time, but they also remember Nova and that childhood friendship fondly, so they accept Nova’s invitation to stay as long as they’re in town. 

The story is about the young people finding themselves and their place in the world, but there’s also the sinister subplot of how to capture the demon and save the town. There’s a lot of pressure on Nova to solve the mystery, and on Tam to figure out how their magic is tied to the demon, but when it comes to the climactic moment, our favorite characters pull together to save Tam and the town. It’s charming, especially when both young people are so wholeheartedly supported by Nova’s grandmothers.

Punderworld by Linda Šejić

Heat Factor: Life keeps getting in the way

Character Chemistry: a whole forest of pining

Plot: Workaholic Hades has been pining for Persephone for ages, and the same is true of Persephone, although she doesn’t know Hades’ real identity. Zeus, being Zeus, decides to stir the pot.

Overall: I am so charmed and really want Vol. 2

This one’s firmly adult graphic novel, but it’s also the most charming, low-key Hades and Persephone retelling I’ve ever seen. Hades and Persephone have been pining for each other for two-hundred years, NBD. It’s not like anything can come of it anyway, because Hades is a workaholic and Demeter never lets Persephone do anything. Of course, Zeus finds out Hades’ little secret and decides to help the relationship along, in questionable Zeus fashion. 

The fun part of this is that Demeter told Persephone that Hades was just a minor deity when she was trying to discourage Persephone’s interest, so Persephone has no idea who Hades is when he sweeps in to try to fix Zeus’ “helpful” mess. Because she has no idea what she’s dealing with, she makes some foolish mistakes while blowing off Hades’ attempts at explanation. It’s at once frustrating and completely relatable and it’s definitely entertaining. 

This story ends, though, with Hades and Persephone coming to a difficult understanding that should segue into the next volume of trying to figure out how to convince Demeter to give her blessing so they can actually be together, but this project was a spontaneous side project by Šejić, so there seems not to be a set publication date for any further volumes.

Twelfth Grade Night by Molly Horton Booth et al.

Heat Factor: Prom kiss (except it’s the 12th Grade Night dance, not prom, but w/e)

Character Chemistry: Honestly, I thought Vi and Olivia had better chemistry than Vi and Orsino

Plot: Shakespeare retelling pretty true to form but with more self-aware queerness and gender identity components

Overall: A good, inclusive retelling for the high school crowd. 

This Twelfth Night retelling is set in an alternate universe of humans and fairies and fauns, which is actually very similar to the original, now that I think about it. In this version, Vi is starting high school at the public school, and she thought her twin brother would be joining her there, but he’s staying back at the private school they attended together. No one at her new school knows Vi is a twin, of course, in part because she’s trying to find her place in all the social groups, but also she’s mad at her brother for abandoning her when they’d been together all the time in the past. 

The romance between Orsino and Vi is probably not developed to adult romance levels, but if we consider that these are high school kids (and young ones, at that), then Orsino’s flopping interest from Olivia to Vi makes a bit more sense. Orsino is a tortured artist poet who Thinks Big Thoughts, Olivia is the most popular girl in school and also a LARPer. Vi, a budding musician and a geek, connects to both Orsino and Olivia thanks to an overlapping friend group. Instead of Olivia believing that Vi is a boy, as in the original, the kids all make assumptions about Vi’s sexual orientation based on her androgynous style of dressing, so, both believing Vi to be into girls, Orsino writes her off while Olivia develops a crush on her. 

If you like retellings and are content with a narrative full of charming teen angst, this one’s cute.

Saturday Smutty Six: “Before you give up on audiobooks, try these” with partial covers for Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews, Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, Silver Silence by Nalini Singh, Goal Lines & First Times by Eden Finley and Saxon James, and From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

Saturday Smutty Six: Before You Give Up On Audiobooks, Try These

I don’t read nearly as fast as Holly or Ingrid, and I really like to multitask in certain areas (embroidery and movie night, anyone?). Holly and Ingrid were recently bemoaning (might be a strong word, but if they weren’t, they should have been) the fact that they can’t process audiobooks, and there I sat, wondering how on earth I’d live without them. (I mean, I would, but my shopping trips would be less fun.)

Aside from one’s ability to process audiobooks or not, there’s the matter of narrators. A narrator can make or break an audiobook. I’m sure I’ve listened to audiobooks that I might have thought were just okay if I had read them, but the narrator brought the story to life in such a way I thought it was fantastic. I might do another smutty six featuring narrators I like to listen to, but for today we’re looking at the combination of great stories brought to life with great narration. 

I decided to organize these more or less (how does one even compare apples and oranges, anyway?) in order so we end with my absolute, top, I-squee-to-everyone recommendation. So without further ado, before you give up on audiobooks, try these:

From Lukov With Love by Mariana Zapata

Narrated by Callie Dalton and Teddy Hamilton

Zapata’s books are all first person from the heroine’s perspective, and typically that narration would simply be done by a woman reading the whole book, but in this case, Callie Dalton narrates the story, and Teddy Hamilton voices only Ivan’s lines. The style is unusual and absolutely not for everyone, but I enjoy Dalton’s calm tones with enough intonation to give us Jasmine’s attitude, and Teddy Hamilton’s voice is mellifluous, bringing Ivan to life even though he’s not reading any full chapters. Plus, Lukov is one of Zapata’s most popular books.

Goal Lines & First Times by Eden Finley and Saxon James

Narrated by Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma

I have listened to so many books narrated by Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma, and I typically  find the combination delightful, but this is the one I’m suggesting. Both narrators have very distinctive voices (Cendese especially), so YMMV, but Cendese as the cuddly but clueless hockey himbo, Cohen, and Toma as the academically superlative but romantically sidelined grad student, Seth, in a playful college romance, really lets those voices shine. 

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Narrated by Angela Dawe

Did I listen to 19 Psy-Changeling books in a row? In a month? I sure did. Angela Dawe is so easy to listen to. Why am I recommending Silver Silence instead of Slave to Sensation? Well, it’s the beginning of Psy-Changeling, Part II a.k.a. Psy-Changeling Trinity, so it’s a good place to start, and without some dated stuff from the earliest books. But really? The bears. 

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Narrated by Mary Jane Wells

Mary Jane Wells has narrated many books, but I just listened to this one to prep for our Back to Old School duel, and, look, I stan Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. I could have listened to a satisfactory narration of the book, and it would have been fine if he weren’t quite right, but let’s face it: I would have left unsatisfied. Luckily, I listened to Mary Jane Wells, who absolutely nailed the assignment. She had me chuckling out loud at Sebastian’s outrageousness because she captured him perfectly.

Slippery Creatures by K.J. Charles

Narrated by Cornell Collins

It’s possible I have accent envy, but really, kudos to Cornell Collins for managing all the different accents in this whole series (there are quite a few). The way he brought Will and Kim to life… So fun. And I legit gasped when Will and Kim kissed for the first time. It’s so fun when a narrator pulls you into the story so completely that you react out loud to what’s happening. Another winning combination: KJ Charles is an exceptional storyteller, and this series deserved—and got—an exceptional narrator.

Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews

Narrated by Renée Raudman

I have enjoyed many an audiobook, but I do not think I have ever heard a better narration than Renée Raudman’s in this trilogy. Some of the voices she creates for the secondary characters seem not to be from the same person who is voicing the narrator. The first time I listened to this book, I made excuses to keep cleaning my house so I could binge all three almost straight through. It doesn’t hurt that the story is riveting, too.

Bonus points:

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Narrated by Neil Gaiman

I know it’s not romance, it’s actually a short children’s book (<1hr), which is how I found it: desperately searching for something to occupy my kids on a drive. It. Is. Amazing. Gaiman simply brings to life this witty and outlandish story about a father explaining to his children why he was late coming back from the corner shop with their milk for breakfast. It involves a stegosaurus, a hot air balloon, a Really Good Moves Around in Time Machine, and, of course, the milk.

Want to give audiobooks a try? All of these romances are available on Audible. (Or support your local library by seeing if they’re on Hoopla!)