Happy Valentine’s Day, book friends! Whether you are in the mood to cuddle up with a long-term partner or go out on a date with a special new friend, zero in on the good stuff immediately or just enjoy some quality time with yourself during this celebration of Romance, we can all agree: there’s nothing that can get you in the mood for love quite like a hot and heavy quick hookup!
Being a Romance lover, you know exactly the kind of hook-up I mean. The kind where it’s down and dirty, hot and heavy, overtly salacious and totally, one hundred percent fictional. That’s right, today I’m talking about quick hookups in Romance because short stories offer us the very best kind of quickie. They provide just enough of a glimpse into characters’ lives to invest in their future happiness before tapering off right as they head into the beautiful sunset of an HEA. With only a few scenes, a well-crafted short story will hook you, suck you in, and leave you rooting for happiness, love, and sexy shenanigans before having to say good-bye. So here’s a handy list of some phenomenal novellas, anthologies, and standalone shorts that are quick enough to be read in one small bite but full of all the heat and passion you need to get you ready to enjoy this Valentine’s Day.
Queerly Loving: Volume 1. Edited by G Benson and Astrid Ohletz
When a book promises “queer characters getting their happy endings” and “a queer adventure” just waiting to happen, you know that it is here to deliver. Queerly Loving: Volume I is one of those awesome collections that is chock full of various queer couples living, loving, and honing their identities together. There is honestly a bit of something for everyone here – contemporary, fantasy, historical, YA. You name it, it has it and you will not be disappointed. A standout story for me is Sacha Lamb’s Miss Me With That Gay Sh*t (Please Don’t) which features a trans Jewish teen discovering that a kid from his Hebrew school has come back from a trip to Israel blessedly acne free and inexplicably smoking hot. Their interactions are adorable and their attraction undeniable. It’s a fabulous read that will have you rooting for them to finally figure out their underlying attraction and ultimately will leave you with one huge smile on your face (spoiler: THEY FALL IN ADORABLE HIGH SCHOOL LOVE).
Happily Ever After by Jae
Author Jae gives readers thirteen of her own stories full of love, romance, and eroticism that are not to be missed! While there are many standalones, there are also several bite-sized introductions to characters from her full length novels which will definitely leave you craving more. As an avid Romance reader, I loved all of the stories but was especially thrilled to see Jae point out the grossly incorrect assumptions many have for Romance by featuring a Romance novelist defending the genre (and also falling in love herself!). Jae’s writing is consistently playful and highly engaging. I suggest you start with this collection and move right on over to her full length novels…as if you’d be able to stop yourself!
The Rogue Anthologies: Rogue Desire, Rogue Affair, Rogue Acts, Rogue Hearts, Rogue Passion, Rogue Nights. Edited by Tamsen Parker, et al.
Bursting with quality writing from Romance heavy hitters and well-known up and comers alike, this series of anthologies focuses on resistance fighters, protesters, and those who are determined to right the world’s wrongs. It already clocks in at six distinct collections and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon! The stories are multi-faceted and complex, featuring a multitude of characters from all walks of life – professors, presidents, school counselors, artists, secret service agents, reporters, small town council women, actresses, and so many more. You name it and you will find the story you’ve been searching for within this series’ pages. The writing is consistently excellent and the common thread that links each short puts the focus firmly on civic duty, yes, but also on the Romance found while standing up for what you believe in.
Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall
When an Environmental Agency worker is sent to investigate flooding in the British countryside, he encounters a reclusive young man gutted by a terrible break-up and unable to get past the hole his partner left behind. As the two men grow inexorably closer and the floods threaten to destroy homes, the opportunity for their relationship to become something infinitely more meaningful leaves both at a crossroads. With a deft hand, Alexis Hall takes this simple premise and weaves it into a sweeping tale full of love, redemption, romance, and hope. In fact so much meaning and nuance are found in these pages that you’ll feel gutted by the end. The book packs quite the punch, all thanks to Alexis Hall’s masterful writing and spot on character building. I can guarantee that you will fly through this one only to be utterly surprised to discover it only spans a brief 100 pages or so.
The Psycop Series by Jordan Castillo Price: Among the Living, Criss Cross, Body and Soul, Secrets, Camp Hell, GhosTV, Spook Squad, Skin After Skin, Agent Bayne + Psycop Briefs: Volume 1.
Calling all Paranormal Romance Lovers! Here is one mega series of novellas and shorts that is just waiting to be discovered. Agent Victor Bayne is a psycop who can communicate with ghosts and Jacob Marks is the totally average human cop who is partnered with him. Together they solve psychic crimes while battling the darkest parts of the paranormal…and also forge an uneasy truce with one another that eventually leads to something more intimate. Each novella builds off the last so you should start with number one but with each acting as a complete story, you can devour one or more at a time before heading back for more.
**Note: if you love Jordan Castillo Price’s writing after trying out Psycop, you are in luck! She wrote another long standing Paranormal Romance series called Channeling Morpheus which features a hot-blooded rough and tumble vampire named Wild Bill and a scrappy human named Michael. That set of novellas is also exceptionally well-written and builds on the blood-fueled sexual relationship book by book.
The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins
Pub trivia, bar shenanigans, and an ingenious plot to get the fabulously dressed girl on campus into bed take center stage in The Belle vs. the BDOC. This novella is everything fun, flirty, and reminiscent of college, harkening to a time when high stakes meant nothing more than losing a campus-wide trivia game and possibly letting the girl of your dreams slip through your fingers. Amy Jo Cousins is a master at writing killer relationships between seemingly real people. Her entire Bend or Break series is a testament to her ability to flesh out characters so completely you feel as if they are old friends by the time the book ends. Her short stories are no different and even with fewer words to work with, in this one Amy Jo manages to create a wholly encapsulated world and people it with characters that seem one hundred percent authentic.
**Note: Amy Jo Cousins has at least two other short novellas that will wow you! Full Exposure features a bad boy rocker, a photographer’s assistant, and a naked photo shoot that is anything but decent. Five Dates spotlights a May-December relationship between a man whose sister sets him up on a date with a stranger…using a picture that is at least 15 years old. It is a delightful look at how sometimes what we want isn’t exactly what we thought it would be.
Mended With Gold by Lee Welch
When a photographer living with PTSD discovers a younger man asleep on the sofa of the house he’s planning to buy, crazy ideas of why he’s there and who he could be run rampant. It’s not until they encounter each other again much later at a local artist circle that their unusual relationship truly begins. What starts as friendship blossoms into attraction and finally transforms into something else as each man mends his own broken pieces and learns to trust again. Lush and richly told in just under 100 pages, Lee Welch is able to capture the jolting awkwardness of first love and the deepening of that into a very real relationship. It’s a quick read that will leave you mesmerized with its descriptions of far flung New Zealand beaches and the vibrant cast of locals that slowly start to mesh with both their lives.