Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tal Bauer

Looking for a new author to try? Here’s everything you need to know about Tal Bauer, whose books include You & Me, Secret Service, and The Team duology.


What He Writes:

Primarily dual POV M/M romance, especially romantic suspense and sports romance

What Makes Him Unique:

He combines a rather lyrical voice (lots of emotional drama) with intense tension, which makes the romance all heart eyes while the plot is a nail-biter. 

Writing Style:

Has shifted over time. Early books are usually though not always dual 3rd person in past tense, more recent releases are dual 1st person in present tense. He’s written a couple of single POV books as well. His books tend to be long and feature mature (40-ish) protagonists. He also typically hammers out the “I love you” component of the romance between 50-60%, so the third/fourth acts typically hinge on a different, external problem.

Why We Love Him:

There’s nothing quite like feeling all the butterflies of a beautiful romance while at the same time feeling the gut-clenching fear that they’re going to die. Or, in the case of the non-suspense books, while wondering how on earth they’re going to navigate their life problems.

Us Reading His Books:

He Might Not Be For You If:

Emotional rollercoasters stress you out, you don’t like being unsure that characters are going to live, graphic violence graphically described makes you queasy, crime dramas are not your scene, straight-forward language without dramatic flourishes and power words is your preference, long books are too much, you’re not into the idea of soulmates, cowboys and lawmen are not your fave

Notable Quotation:

What was better? Suffering in silence and hardening your heart against the world? Or owning what you wanted, what you needed? What would Wes be like if he’d turned away from Justin and said to himself, No, not him, not the guy who is my soul mate. What kind of man would he have become? 

Say yes. Don’t let go. Don’t walk away.

The Quarterback

The Bottom Line:

If you enjoy writing with intense, dramatic language and you need a bit of catharsis from second-hand stress, these books have it in spades

Content Warnings:

Homomisia and associated slurs (sometimes in non-English languages), graphic violence, extreme reactions to stress or fear such as emesis or urination, political and military conspiracies, death of or grief for a parent or spouse, a couple books deal with deadly contagious viruses, A Time to Rise is probably not technically a genre romance

Start With:

The Murder Between Us

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Alexis Hall

Looking for a new author to try? Here’s everything you need to know about Alexis Hall, whose books include Boyfriend Material, Glitterland, and Something Fabulous.


What He Writes: 

Queer romances, mostly (but not all) M/M, mostly (but not all) contemporary. Plus some mysteries. And some steampunk adventure stories. And some literary pastiches. He’s incredibly prolific.

What Makes Him Unique: 

He writes a new bio for every book he releases. 

But really, his voice is one of the most unique author voices we’ve ever found. No matter the particulars of a book, in terms of time period or subgenre, his books are recognizably his.

Writing Style: 

Hall’s books cater to a pretty broad range of audiences—historical romance fans, urban fantasy fans, rom coms that are actually funny fans…His books also span a range of heat levels, from no sex (Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble) to firmly closed door (Boyfriend Material) to waxing rhapsodic about the glories of anuses (Something Fabulous) to full-on erotic romance (Arden St. Ives).

However, his narrative voice remains remarkably consistent. Expect tongue-in-cheek literary and pop culture references, absurdist comedy, and single POV narration that, even when done in third person, really captures the unique voice of a character. His narrative voice is very very British; class conflict frequently plays a role in his romances. Also expect extremely messy POV characters who are dealing with trauma or mental health issues.

Why We Love Him:

Hall excels at writing books that are hilarious while simultaneously thoughtfully grappling with serious issues the characters are dealing with. When we pick up one of his books, we know we’re going to laugh at least once, and that we’re also going to be punched in the gut with emotion.

How We Feel When We’re Reading His Books:

He Might Not Be For You If:

Look, there are messy characters, and then there are Messy Characters, and Hall writes the latter. Being in someone’s head as they’re processing anxiety, depression, and trauma is not always pleasant or comfortable. This also means that his protagonists are not always particularly likable.

Sometimes the comedy veers into the too-absurd and silly territory, so if you prefer your comedy more understated, Hall may not be the author for you. 

Steer clear if you don’t like profanity. 

Notable Quotation:

“‘Polite and well reasoned’?” Oh God, now Tarleton had gone back to repeating everything Valentine said. “Have you not read a single novel?”

“I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

“Well, if you had, you’d know that ‘polite and well reasoned’ are not qualities people look for in marriage proposals.”

“For heaven’s sake”— Valentine tried, and failed, to keep the impatience from his voice—“if we lived life as though it were a novel, we’d spend all our time becoming embroiled in improbable adventures and spouting nonsense about filling our vast and empty souls with joyful aches.”

“Yes,” said Tarleton, “and?”

Something Fabulous

Content Warnings:

Struggles with mental health (depression, anxiety), trauma, and characters who act like general wankers.

The Bottom Line:

Hall is a brilliant writer whose books don’t always make us swoon, but they do always make us feel.

Start With:

Boyfriend Material probably has the largest crossover appeal.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Elizabeth Hoyt

Looking for a new author to try out? Here’s everything you need to know about Elizabeth Hoyt, whose books include The Leopard Prince, The Maiden Lane series, and Not the Duke’s Darling.


What She Writes: 

Historical M/F romances set in the Georgian period (mid- to late-1700s). Frequently occurring tropes include cross-class romance and morality chain.

What Makes Her Unique:

While Hoyt’s books, like many historical romances, feature the British aristocracy, she also writes about London’s underbelly. Many of her characters live and work in the slums of London, so the world she creates in her series feels bigger than those of other historical romance novelists. Within this setting, she writes epic, sweeping romances with utterly ludicrous, tropey plots.

Writing Style:

Dual-POV in the third person, with occasional scenes from the perspective of a secondary character or the villain. Most books include a short fairy tale, told in snippets at the beginning of each chapter, that highlights a theme of the central relationship (The Leopard Prince and The Serpent Prince do not; instead characters tell each other a fairy tale that highlights a theme of the book). The explicit fairy tale connection signals to the reader that the stories play in the realm of fantasy and wish fulfilment, which is underlined by the over-the-top plots and characterizations. Her books lean towards suspense plots, so expect some bloodshed and acts of derring-do. Also expect some gender essentialism: male characters are dark and hard (even the morally upright ones), female characters bring light and softness.

Why We Love Her:

Her books are utterly cracktastic bonkerballs romances. Her plots might be ludicrous and tropey, but she leans all the way in to the nonsense, which makes them so much fun to read.

How we feel when we’re reading:

She Might Not Be For You If:

You find plot-heavy romances tedious, or morally grey protagonists don’t work for you. Avoid these books if you prefer your romances without violence. Also note that a few of the multi-book arcs involve really dumb secret societies (Lords of Chaos in the last few books of Maiden Lane, Wise Women in Greycourt).

Notable Quotation:

“This is who I am, Séraphine. Naked, with blade and blood. I am vengeance. I am hate. I am sin personified. Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.” 

And he laid his lips over hers and pushed his hot tongue into her mouth and kissed her until she couldn’t breathe and it was only later that she found the bloodstains on her dress.

Duke of Sin

Content Warnings:

Many of her books include sexual violence, bloodshed, child abuse, and the grim realities of poverty. Not to mention some of the worst Bad Dads of Romance we’ve encountered.

The Bottom Line:

If you like your historical romances to have that Old Skool feeling, but without some of the troubling or abusive dynamics between the hero and heroine, Elizabeth Hoyt hits the spot.

Start With:

Wicked Intentions. Just be prepared to immediately read the rest of the twelve-book Maiden Lane series.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Annabeth Albert

Looking for a new author to try out? Here’s everything you need to know about Annabeth Albert, whose books include Conventionally Yours, Sailor Proof, and the Out of Uniform series.


What She Writes:

Contemporary M/M character-driven romance primarily written in dual POV (sometimes 1st person, sometimes 3rd person).

Expect: geek-love, domesticity, and competence porn.

See also: age gaps, size difference, and virgin heroes

What Makes Her Unique:

If you’re looking for certain kinds of rep, she’s likely to write it. Demisexuality, bisexuality, heroes using wheelchairs, heroes with ADHD or other neurodiversity, and so on. Her protagonists also work through their issues by talking them out on page – literary stand-ins for healthy communication and conflict resolution need not apply. Her military romances are very popular, but often her protagonists (including many of the partners of the military protagonists) have unique or unglamorous jobs. 

Writing Style:

The tension in her stories tends to come from a situational problem or long-held idea. Think vacation romance (one is going home eventually) or eternal bachelor (can have bedroom fun, can’t do emotional connection). Most often it’s more of an AND, actually, with emotional hang-ups compounding the situational conflict. This results in a relatively calm narrative voice with a focus on internal processing, domestic scenes that demonstrate what the future could be like, and gray moments that allow the protagonists to consider their life choices and desires after a fight. Some drama may occur (like escaping a flash flood by climbing a cliff face or surviving an avalanche), but it doesn’t drive the story.

How I feel when I’m reading:

Why We Love Her:

Her books are calmly, domestically, charmingly satisfying. And she leans into the geeky.

She Might Not Be For You If:

You prefer plot-driven romance to character-driven romance. Or you like high drama. Or if characters not acting in their own best (romantic) interests drives you up the wall. Also: Most of her protagonists want marriage, and though some of her couples don’t have or discuss children, kids or a desire for kids is not unusual.

Notable Quotation:

Tipsy. Ah, that was it. Dylan was definitely buzzing, and the usually rock-solid Apollo had to be doing the same. That explained the laughing and the touching and the unrestrained eagerness. Darn it. Dylan wished that just this…whatever it was between them was enough, that it could be the sole source of Apollo’s sudden mood shift, that he alone could intoxicate Apollo to this affectionate state. 

The lights of downtown beckoned as the boat approached the dock. Wanting more with this man was as foolish as trying to harness the flickering lights of the tall buildings. And yet… 

I want it all.

At Attention

The Bottom Line:

These books are not GIANT EMOTIONAL FEELS books that will knock your socks off. They are pure comfort reads that feel good like: I’ll be reading that whole backlist now.

Content Warnings:

While these sometimes angsty protagonists often don’t feel particularly high-angst, they still may be dealing with various kinds of trauma including: homophobic families or colleagues, internalized homophobia, disabilities from new injuries, personal chronic illnesses, family members dealing with chronic or terminal illnesses, grief from recent death in the family, financial instability or insecurity, etc. Several of her books also include (difficult) coming out narratives (see homophobia). 

Start With:

Sailor Proof

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kelly Bowen

Looking for a new author to try out? Here’s everything you need to know about Kelly Bowen, whose books include I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm, Last Night with the Earl, and A Good Rogue is Hard to Find.


What She Writes: 

Regency romance, usually with some suspense elements. 

Please note: Bowen’s most recent book, The Paris Apartment, is a split-time World War II / present-day story that is firmly historical fiction, not romance. We haven’t read that one because 1) we are smut-lovers first and foremost and 2) we suspect that it differs dramatically from her other books.

What Makes Her Unique: 

Bowen writes unconventional heroines – like, really unconventional. Not like, “Oh, I like horses and the outdoors instead of embroidery.” More like, “I like horses and therefore fix horse races to fleece unscrupulous nabobs who don’t pay their tailors.” Her characters tend to be very morally upright, though they also tend to operate outside the letter of the law. 

Writing Style: 

Alternating 3rd person POV. Gritty details. (Think: children dying of poverty or horses dying on the battlefield.) Steamy sex that is well integrated into the plot and character development. Humor breaks things up so that her books aren’t overwhelmingly broody (which they *could* be, given the other content). 

Why We Love Her: 

We like that her books tend to have a strong moral center without getting preachy. We love her bad-ass heroines. And she does an excellent job writing sex scenes with good steam that’s not just there for fun, but also works to advance the characters’ relationship. 

Her Books as a Gif:

She Might Not Be For You: 

If you like your Regency romances to stick to ballrooms, Bowen is probably not the author for you. Her characters spend a lot of time in the underbelly of society, and Bowen doesn’t gloss over these bits. 

Also, if you definitely prefer your book titles and covers to be relevant to the book you’re reading, you might find Bowen’s books challenging. Two of the books with “Duke” in the title are not about dukes at all. And both of the “Rogue” books are actually about aristocrats (including one very staid, responsible duke who is not a rogue at all). 

Notable Quotation: 

“Have you given any thought to the formula you would like me to run?”

Alex nearly lost his grip on the decanter. “I beg your pardon?”

“At least a few of your patrons will need to achieve moderate success, and the occasional player will need to achieve considerable success at the vingt-et-un table if you hope to attract those individuals whose pocket books match their greed and belief that the next hand will change their fortune. I will require instruction as to how you wish me to deal in order to maximize both prophets and popularity.” She withdrew a small square of paper from a hidden pocket somewhere in the folds of her skirts and held it out to him.

“I’ve run some scenarios, allowing for a margin of error that I will not be able to avoid. It’s all basic accounting worked into a matrix of probabilities, but I thought you might want to review it.”

Alex very carefully replaced the heavy crystal on the surface of his desk struggling to draw a breath. This was not good at all. Forget his alarming charge into the fray on a white horse, he was rather afraid he had just fallen in love.

—Between the Devil and the Duke

The Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a well-balanced historical romance that includes humor, suspense, and sex, Bowen might just be the author for you!

Content Warnings:

Books include references to extreme poverty, spousal abuse, child abuse, and deaths of family members. Usually these references are not oblique. 

Start With:

I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm. Just ignore the cover.