24 Romance Novels for Geeks of All Kinds

24 Romance Novels for Geeks of All Kinds

Summer is more than halfway over, but in no possible way is it winding down. There are many more weekends to spend at the cabin or hiding away inside air conditioning, whatever your preference is, and what’s the traditional kind of book to read by the pool? Romance novels, of course.

“But Stephanie,” you might say. “I don’t want to read about a billionaire cattle rancher or whatever and his supermodel girlfriend!”

Well, first, lay off my Harlequin Presents, friends—sometimes you want exactly what it says on the tin. However, if you do want to read romance novels with people you can relate to a little more, how about some recommendations for geek romance novels? I have over two dozen for you, all of which I’ve personally read and vetted. And that’s after paring down the list a lot. A thanks to Corey Alexander, who recommended several of these (including Looking for Group and Defying Convention) via Twitter.

A few notes. First, I’ve put some information under the title of each novel, and here are the parameters:

  • Length: novel or novella
  • Time period: historical or contemporary
  • Category/gender of the romantic couple: f for female, m for male, and nb for nonbinary
  • Heat level: sweet means no sex or they kick the door closed on their way into the bedroom; standard is what you’d expect in a traditionally published romance novel (one to three “on-screen” but not superexplicit sex scenes); and hot is probably an erotic romance

Second, I’m defining “geek” the way we do here at Twin Cities Geek: broadly. Maybe some of these characters wouldn’t consider themselves geeks, but they have geeky jobs, geeky passions, or maybe they’re just socially awkward. I’m counting them anyway.

Third, there’s a wide range of stories here—different lengths, different genders, different flavors of geeks, even different time periods—but none of these books would qualify as speculative fiction. I figure recommendations for science fiction, fantasy, or horror with romantic overtones is something you see every day and twice on Tuesdays, so let’s try something different, shall we?

Let’s go!

Queens of Geek, Sated, and Defying Convention

Swoon Reads/Rebekah Weatherspoon/Less Than Three Press

1. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Novel, contemporary, f/f and f/m, sweet

Pining for San Diego Comic-Con? Queens of Geek is a young-adult novel about three friends who go to (SupaCon, a thinly veiled stand-in for SDCC) and find self-acceptance and love. I enjoyed this one greatly, not least because one of the three leads—one who definitely finds love—is autistic and has anxiety problems, and they felt real to me.

2. Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Novel, contemporary, f/m, hot

This novel is about a fitness nerd and comic-book geek at a convention with a pyrotechnics expert. Make all the fire and sparks jokes you want.

3. Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde

Novella, contemporary, m/nb, standard to hot

Defying Convention follows a trans man and his nonbinary BFF who finally meet in person after five years of online friendship and become lovers at a convention.

Looking for Group, Strong Signal, and Tied Score

Riptide Publishing/Megtino Press/Pocket Star

4. Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

Novel, contemporary, m/m, sweet

Maybe you’d rather be playing video games than attending panels about them. How about a story of a college guy who starts having feelings for his guildie, who, as it turns out, is not an elf girl but another college guy? Author Alexis Hall uses a lot of MMO jargon in Looking for Group,  and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s made some of their best friends that way. (For the rest of us, there’s a glossary in the back.)

5. Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassel

Novel, contemporary, m/m, hot

A deployed army guy gets his ass kicked in an MMO by a twink “gaymer,” and they fall in love through the Internet. The twink character also suffers from social anxiety—and there’s no miracle cure, don’t worry.

6. Tied Score by Elia Winters

Novel, contemporary, f/m, hot

Book #2 in the Slices of Pi series focuses on a woman stuck working in human resources who dream of being an art developer for her gaming company. Her art is described as weird and surreal, and I was getting Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro vibes from it.

Level Up, Worth Waiting For, and Finding X

Swerve/Lyrical Shine/Miles Tan

7. Level Up by Cathy Yardley

Novel, contemporary, f/m, standard

Level Up: A Geek Girl Rom Com is about a woman in video-game audio design fighting her way onto the engineering team, with bonus fandom TV show and lots of great lady friendships. There’s also a great moment that Sherlock fans will love.

8. Worth Waiting For by Wendy Qualls

Novel, contemporary, m/m, standard

Maybe you’re interested in people with geeky talents or professions other than making video games. If so, try Worth Waiting For (out August 15), which features a second-chance romance between a sexy, bearded IT guy and a psych professor. The novel is set in small-town Georgia, and the author treats the variety of kinds of Southerners our heroes encounter with a lot of warmth and grace.

9. Finding X by Miles Tan

Novel, contemporary, f/m, sweet

An adorable novel about a web developer and a geologist in Manila who fall in love. The geologist has blue hair, to boot.

Beginner's Guide, Vision in White, and The Countess Conspiracy

Six de los Reyes/Berkley/Courtney Milan

10. Beginner’s Guide by Six de los Reyes

Novel, contemporary, f/m, sweet to standard

Beginner’s Guide: Love and other Chemical Reactions is the story of a scientist who tries to find a boyfriend through an experiment. Both this one and Finding X (#10, above) are written by Filipina authors and set in the Philippines.

11. Vision in White by Nora Roberts

Novel, contemporary, f/m, standard

The heroine in this novel is a photographer and not super nerdy, but the hero is a sexy, nerdy schoolteacher. Any list of contemporary romance not containing Nora Roberts is wrong, and Vision in White is universally considered one of her best novels.

12. The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Novel, historical, f/m, standard

Into geeks throughout history? Definitely start with The Countess Conspiracy, which stars a very dedicated scientist heroine working in genetics and the man who she’s convinced to present her papers in public. Readers, I cried when I finished this one. It’s part of a series, but it stands alone.

The Other Guy's Bride; To Sir Phillip, with Love; and Your Wicked Ways

Montlake Romance/Avon/HarperCollins

13. The Other Guy’s Bride by Connie Brockway

Novel, historical, f/m, standard

If you want the Indiana Jones feel, The Other Guy’s Bride is the story of an Egyptologist and a treasure hunter. Connie Brockway is a local Minneapolis author, as a bonus!

14. To Sir Phillip, with Love by Julia Quinn

Novel, historical, f/m, standard

To Sir Phillip, with Love is about a man who finds a bride via letters, as he feels he’s too awkward to court in person. He also happens to be a botanist. It’s book five in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, but as it takes place at a physical distance from the Bridgerton estate or London, it stands alone.

15. Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James

Novel, historical, f/m, standard

This romance  features a countess who’s a brilliant pianist and her genius composer husband. This one is book four of four, but it stands alone the best of the four in the series.

An Unseen Attraction, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and Connection Error

Loveswept/Berkley/Carina Press

16. An Unseen Attraction by K. J. Charles

Novel, historical, m/m, standard

Queens of Geek (#1, above) isn’t the only book on this list featuring a neurodivergent character. An Unseen Attraction by K. J. Charles is the beginning of a new series that stars two gay Victorian geeks, one of whom is autistic, and one of whom is a taxidermist. (Yes, a taxidermist. No, it’s not that weird.)

17. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Novel, historical, f/m, standard

The titular “madness” in this book is actually an ignorant historical view of autism. Although I recommend it, be warned that Lord Ian’s back story includes horrible “treatments” meant to cure him of being autistic.

18. Connection Error by Annabeth Albert

Novel, contemporary, m/m, hot

Book 3 of the #gaymers series, about a game designer and an amputee veteran falling in love, contains ADHD treated seriously and not just as a “quirk.”

An Extraordinary Union, For Real, and Yes, Roya!

Kensington/Riptide Publishing/Iron Circus Comics

19. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Novel, historical, f/m, standard

This one may not be geeky by everyone’s standards, but Elle’s ability to remember everything she hears, word for word, is certainly a thing. Also, it’s about a black female spy for the Union during the Civil War, and it’s very well done.

20. For Real by Alexis Hall

Novel, contemporary, m/m, hot

For Real is probably the book on this list that I enjoyed the most. It’s a RITA Award–winning erotic romance about two socially awkward men meeting and falling into BDSM-flavored love, and author Alexis Hall—who also wrote Looking for Group, #4 above—is a master of his craft. Chapters alternate between the two leads, who are very different people, and the pitch-perfect control the Hall has over the voices is breathtaking.

21. Yes, Roya! by C. Spike Troutmann and Emilee Denich

Graphic novel, historical, f/m/m, hot

The only graphic novel on this list, Yes, Roya! is about an aspiring comic artist in the 1960s who goes to visit his hero and ends up in a kinky threesome with that hero and his wife. The relationship among the three is surprisingly sweet.

Knit One, Girl Two; Radio Silence; and Tash Loves Tolstoy

Shira Glassman/HarperTeen/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

22. Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman

Novella, contemporary, f/f, sweet

This story about an indie dyer and a painter, both Jewish, bonding over fandom and falling in love is set in Florida; the author grew up there and gave it a real sense of place. Watching the two characters bond over fandom was adorable.

23. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Novel, contemporary, sweet/platonic

A love story about two people falling into friendship over a podcast. No, seriously: it has all the beats of a romance, but the leads are in platonic love. It’s a little different, but I recommend it, especially for readers who are on the ace or aro spectrum.

24. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

Novel, contemporary, f/m, sweet/platonic

Another YA novel, Tash Hearts Tolstoy is about a trio of childhood friends who make a web series based on Anna Karenina and deal with its sudden success, along with the end of childhood. Our heroine, the titular Tash, is asexual, which she views as a complication for her burgeoning romance(s). (At least one other person doesn’t, but no spoilers!)

So! Do you have any favorite geek-flavored romances that I didn’t include in this list? Leave your recommendations in the comments!


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