I’m supposed to be sending this to you from Florida, where I’m attending NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launch. Alas, the stars and planets did not align for me to attend this NASA Social event — but I did still pull together some of my favorite romances featuring heroes or heroines involved in STEM work.
I’m not a scientist, or an engineer, and the most advanced technology I use is my iPhone, but there’s something extraordinarily compelling about STEM in romance. Maybe because society seems to have framed the intellectually curious in the STEM fields as unsexy in so many mediums. Like the rest of society’s bullshit, romance novels are proving that society’s pre-conditioned labels and expectations are just that — bullshit. These heroes and heroines are smart, sexy, and open to discovery (can you see me waggling my eyebrows? I am).
So here are some of my favorite Romances that touch STEM fields — some more than others, but all of them in fantastic ways.
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
The Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan is one of my favorite series ever, and I revisit this particular book the most. I love that the heroine, Violet, is the scientist here, and in a time period where women aren’t supposed to be doing science. I love that she’s not the only one (this isn’t a spoiler, I swear). Sebastian, the hero, is presumed to be the scientist by the public because he’s the face of Violet’s scientific discoveries which aren’t just groundbreaking – they’re causing moral debates. Sebastian’s been in love with Violet a long time, but her late husband did a number on Violet’s confidence and trust. Science, hope, romance, and a deep abiding friendship underpin this gorgeous historical romance. I suspect you, like me, will revisit this book again and again.
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
I’ll try not to make this all Courtney Milan books (she has at least three that feature STEM in some way!) but this one’s too outstanding not to mention. Not only does this feature Maria, a trans Latina heroine who runs an extremely well-researched and very popular apocalypse blog, but it features one of my favorite tropes in the entire world: enemies to lovers. Because our heroine’s favorite commenter? Is Jay, the guy she despises in real life. Apocalypse! Hate to love! Blogs! Feminism! THIS IS SO GREAT. It’s literally all of my favorite things. I’d be remiss not to note that Jay, the hero, is Thai & Chinese, and bi. This book has it all, folks. You will laugh. You’ll hold your breath. You’ll yell WILL YOU TWO JUST KISS ALREADY at them. It’s so great.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
I know this book’s been on every list you’ve read this year but honestly? It’s because it deserves it. An absolutely delightful sexy romp, this book stars an autistic econometrician (so stats + math = predictive economy models) who decides to hire an escort to teach her how to kiss, flirt, date, and have sex. And the escort she picks, Michael Phan, is more than up for the job. But fake dating turns into real feelings (you see where this is going right? I love all of it), complicated by Michael keeping his job a secret from his tight-knit but cash-strapped Vietnamese family and Stella’s lack of confidence keeping her from being totally honest with Michael. This book got a ton of hype, and it lives up to all of it. One of my favorite romance reads ever, and one of my favorite reads of 2018.
The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden
This is the first in a series called the Science of Temptation, so go ahead and buy all of them. I’ll wait. You’re back? Fantastic. Please enjoy this sexy, steamy, kinky romance about a rocket scientist who’s uncomfortable in social situations but very comfortable taking control in the bedroom. He asks his neighbor for her help – departmental events aren’t kind to people with social anxiety and trouble reading other people – but their relationship spins to so much more. This book can be slow to start for some readers, but hang in there! I promise the payoff is worth it. (And then meet the rest of the lab. They’re fantastic.)
The Doctor’s Discretion by E.E. Ottoman
A criminally underread book, The Doctor’s Discretion is a historical romance set in the early 1800s in New York City. William is a Black doctor—which is not an easy journey or path—who falls for Augustus, a trans man who is a surgeon at the same facility. Then Moss enters the picture, committed to an asylum for living life as a man when he was assigned female at birth. Augustus and William conspire to break him out, and in doing so, explore a side of New York they hadn’t seen before. Seedy, dark, murky, and full of spies. Though this romance touches on racism, transphobia, homophobia and more, it does so without losing a certain lightness (Augustus helps. He’s a delight.) Science! Spies! Queerness! It’s like Ottoman wrote this book for me. And perhaps, for you too!
A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Pair this one with The Countess Conspiracy, my m/f historical romance loving friends. This historical romance features a geologist heroine who is determined to present her findings at all costs at this rock conference, a great deal of grumpy banter, a road trip in a carriage and only one bed at inns (will I ever get over this trope? I hope not), a fake elopement (historical romance’s version of fake dating), hijinks that will make you cackle aloud on your train (not that this happened to me *shifty eyes emoji*) and one of the best head-over-heels falling in love ships you’ll ever read.
Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon
I’ve been reading Weatherspoon for a couple years now, but only recently dove into her backlist. And boy was that a worthy dive because this gem of a book was sitting there, waiting for me to love it. Treasure is the story of Alexis, a computer science major who feels like a total failure who can’t live up to anyone’s expectations, and Treasure, a stripper who doesn’t think she has room in her life for another person. After meeting at Alexis’ sister’s bachelorette party where Treasure dances, they end up sharing a college class together. They both fall hard, overcoming each other’s pasts while dealing with different and complex family dynamics. This book is sweet, sexy, and swoony from start to finish. Both leads are women of color, it’s ferociously feminist, and full of sex positivity. Honestly a delight.