We may earn a commission through product links on this page. But we only recommend stuff we love.

12 Self-Published LGBTQ Books To Bring to the Beach This Summer

Heading to the beach this summer? Here are a few LGBTQ+ self-published books to pack in your beach tote. Please note that these are, essentially, all romance novels. Most of these titles have been selected because they are quick reads.


If you’re looking for something sweet, steamy, and contemporary

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon features a swirly lollipop on its cover. Almost Maybes by Anna D features two illustrated people embracing at a carnival. Bottle Rocket by Erin McLellan features a person wearing short shorts and holding a red pump.

Starting this list off strong with the short and steamy novella, So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Novellas are ideal for taking to the beach. They’re quick reads but long enough to give you a satisfying story arc. This one is a romance between a bisexual Black woman and her billionaire sugar daddy. It will be perfect for reading while you indulge in that sweet strawberry daiquiri on the sand.

Almost Maybes by Anna P. is a sweet and fun debut romance. It has some insta-love, a gorgeous female main character who is both unapologetically fat and unapologetically bi. It’s a fairly light read but one that doesn’t shy away from heavier topics. This book also features a food truck date, including a food truck that specializes in fancy milkshakes. What better way to end your beach day?

Bottle Rocket by Erin McLellan seems like an obvious choice for this week. It’s a Fourth of July themed romance and even if you didn’t celebrate the holiday this year, there’s a lot to enjoy about this short, steamy, and fun romance about a teacher who reunites with an old flame as she attempts to try new things. McLellan is always great for sex toy positivity in her books and all of her main couples are queer.


If you want a bit of kink with your steam

The cover of Cinnamon Roll by Anna Zabo features a man looking to the side wearing a popped collar shirt. The cover of Queen Takes Rose by Katee Robert features a crown and a rose. The cover of The Sea Witch by Katee Rovert features a woman standing between another woman and a man.

Cinnamon Roll by Anna Zabo is excellent. This one gets into s/D and pain play, so be prepared for that going in. There’s also some arospec representation which we love to see. It’s part of a multi-author series, so if you enjoy this one, the rest of the series is very fun too! It’s great for the beach because even though it’s part of a series, each book is a pretty fast read and works very well as a stand-alone.

The Wicked Villains series by Katee Robert offers several great options. Katee Robert has garnered attention on the traditional publishing side with her Dark Olympus series, but her self-published books are a great introduction to her work. Wicked Villains is a series of romance novels rewriting Disney villains as members at a BDSM club. They can be read in any order but for the purposes of variety, I’m going to recommend Queen Takes Rose which is F/F or The Sea Witch, which is F/F/M. All of her books are just plain fun, making them perfect for the beach.


If you want something that will keep you on the edge of your beach blanket

Prince of Killers by Layla Reyne features a man with his shirt unbuttoned holding his chest and looking down at a skyline

Layla Reyne writes fantastic romantic suspense. Prince of Killers is the first in her Fog City series with an assassin falling in love with his target. These books are fast-paced with a ton of great LGBTQ+ characters.


If you kind of want an escape but you’d like some rooting in reality

The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger and A Ferry of Bones & Gold by Hailey Turner

A Ferry of Bones & Gold by Hailey Turner starts off with the main character preparing for vacation and dreaming of drinks with umbrellas in them. Indulge in some umbrella garnished drinks of your own to bring the whole theme together while you read this one. It’s the start of a seven book series that is a non-stop page-turning adventure, filled with a cast of amazing characters.

If you want paranormal but with a lighter touch, try The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger. The entire San Andreas Shifters series is a complete delight. Carriger specializes in laugh-out-loud stories filled with delightful LGBTQ+ characters. This series can get a little angsty, but will still leave you feeling light-hearted. Also, one of my personal favorite characters is a merman and you can’t get beachier than that, right?


If you want to cut straight to monster territory

Feed by Aveda Vice features a monster blowing smoke up in the air. The Witch's Wolves by Ellie Mae MacGregor features a red haired witch facing away toward the woods.

Another novella to try is The Witch’s Wolves by Ellie Mae MacGregor. It’s a sweet, soft romance between a witch and two wolfmen. Basically think cottage core mixed with wholesome monster smut and you’ve got a good idea. This is perfect if you want a quick read that makes you feel cozy. Arguments could be made that this is more of a fall read but coziness is important all year round.

Feed by Aveda Vice is getting more firmly into monster territory and also gets into some kink realms as well. But like the recommendation above, it’s a good short read (although less sweet) and perfect if you want something steamy while you’re steaming on the beach.


If you’re in the mood for something more historical

Letters to Half Moon Street by Sarah Wallace features a desk under a window. The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting features two people in sillhouette and playing cards around them.

KJ Charles excels at queer historical romance. Read The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting for a solid stand alone romance. Her books have humor and heart and a ton of well-researched details.

Want a bit of magic to go with your historical romance? Try my book Letters to Half Moon Street. Told entirely through letters, most of the chapters are pretty short making it perfect for reading in between cooling off in the water or pouring yourself another drink.


Before you go! Did you like what you just read? We keep Autostraddle majority free-to-read, but it isn't free to create! And yet most readers don't support this indie queer site. Will you be one of the people who do? A+ membership starts at just $4/month or $30/year and they literally keep us from closing. Will you join? Cancel anytime.

Join A+

Sarah Wallace

Sarah Wallace lives in Florida with her cat, more books than she has time to read, a large collection of classic movies, and a windowsill full of plants that are surviving against all odds. She only reads books that end happily. You can find her at sarahwallacewriter.com or on Instagram at @sarah.wallace.writer.

Sarah has written 2 articles for us.

8 Comments

  1. “a series of romance novels rewriting Disney villains as members at a BDSM club”

    ok, shut-up-and-take-my-money.gif

    Thanks for the list.

    I’ve read quite a few of these books and/or authors. My very favorite is The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting.

    I liked Sugar Baby – I thought it was perhaps the most realistic seeming billionaire romance that I’ve ever read (the billionaire is ridiculously busy and scheduling time with him is complicated) and that didn’t make me completely buy the HEA (happily-ever-after ending).

    I don’t remember which of the San Andreas Shifters series by G.L. Carriger I read but I wasn’t impressed by it.

    • Thank you! Wicked Villains is so fun! I hope you enjoy it! And The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting is my favorite KJ Charles book so far as well. I haven’t read Sugar Baby yet. I’ll have to add it to my list! Thank you! I’m sorry you weren’t impressed by the San Andreas Shifters. That series is one of my comfort reads. Then again, I’m a major Carriger fan and I don’t think I’ve disliked anything she’s written.

  2. 2 recently self-published sapphic romances, for those that are into that genre, I would recommend at the beach:

    – Howl by Lucy Bexley. Coyotes Ugly + sapphic romance, and Bexley brings her usual humor to make it a great read while you’re just trying to enjoy vacation.
    – Guava Flavored Lies by JJ Arias. Terrible title, not a great cover, but this was such a great read without getting too heavy. Generational enemies to lovers tale of two women who run competing Cuban bakeries in Miami, both families insisting that the other stole the recipes from them. Arias spends a lot of time building the characters so the enemies to lovers feels earned, and it’s definitely funny and sweet without any overly contrived conflict at the end that romances sometimes do.

    (Also out recently if you want something a little more emotional is Down to a Science by Haley Cass, a sapphic romance novella about a neurodivergent scientist and an emotionally closed-off firefighter being idiot lesbians over the course of a couple years. It’s definitely more intense, though, so if you want fun and frothy, this ain’t it)

  3. kind of surprised to see “the sumage solution” as a recommendation tbh. that series is increasingly full of racist and homophobic stereotypes, even if they might be less obvious in the first book. the author historically does not engage with/actively ignores any crit about this.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!