There was a time when portrayals of LGBTQ romance in a book would result in banning of the book itself. Homosexuality was illegal in India until last year and remains so in many countries around the world. This Valentine’s Day, let’s celebrate love by highlighting books that represent LGBTQ romance as well as show the trials and tribulations that many members of the community face simply for falling in love. Here, we have nine novels that do just that. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Blue Is The Warmest Color

Julie Maroh

This French graphic novel is the tragic love story of two girls- the rebellious, blue-haired Emma and the docile Clementine. After Clementine’s untimely passing, Emma finds Clementine’s diaries and the story is told through her journal entries. Emma reads how Clementine, in her younger days, dated a boy as she thought she should be ‘normal’, and how she had to deal with homophobia from her classmates once they knew she was a lesbian. The novel touches upon multiple themes such as coming out, cheating, addiction, and most importantly, love.

Buy it here.


Call Me By Your Name

André Aciman

While already popular in the LGBTQ community, Call Me By Your Name shot to mainstream fame when it was made into a film and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards. It is the sweet but sad love story of Elio, a young 16-year-old boy and his father’s research assistant, Oliver, a 24-year-old man. The two have a passionate affair over one summer. Through Elio and Oliver’s relationship with both each other and other women, the book explores themes of bisexuality, passion, romance, religion, and unrequited love. Fair warning: the book contains vivid sex scenes.

Buy it here.


Cobalt Blue

Sachin Kundalkar, Jerry Pinto (Tr.)

Sachin Kundalkar’s first novel, Cobalt Blue, revolves around a Marathi family and a paying guest who comes to live with them and changes their lives forever. Both brother and sister fall in love with him, which shatters the traditional family. When he disappears, they are left to pick up the pieces. Told through the voices of both Tanay and Anuja, Cobalt Blue is a beautiful tale of love and heartbreak and showcases the power of love and how far we are willing to go for it.

Buy it here.


The Well Of Loneliness

Radclyffe Hall

Published in 1928, The Well Of Loneliness was banned in the U.K. for being obscene because it “defended unnatural practices between women”. The novel follows the life of Stephen Gordon as she discovers that she is a “sexual invert”, becomes a novelist and eventually falls in love with Mary Llewellyn whom she met while driving an ambulance during World War I. As they begin living together once the War ends, they are happy in the beginning but their happiness is dampened by their rejection by polite society and increasing social isolation. The novel portrays homosexuality as natural and, through its poignant storytelling, makes a plea to “Give us also the right to our existence”.

Buy it here.


The Price Of Salt

Patricia Highsmith

The inspiration behind the movie Carol, Patricia Highsmith’s The Price Of Salt was published in 1952 and is based on a true incident from her own life. Therese Belivet is working at a department store when she meets Carol Aird, a bored housewife and mother. They fall in love and go on a cross-country road trip to explore their relationship. However, they discover that a private investigator hired by Carol’s husband has been following them around and has evidence that can be used against Carol in the upcoming custody hearings. Carol returns to New York to fight for her daughter, leaving Therese heartbroken. The Price Of Salt is a cult lesbian classic which broke new ground simply because it had a happy ending at a time when “homosexuals male and female in American novels have had to pay for their deviation by cutting their wrists, drowning themselves in a swimming pool, or by switching to heterosexuality.”

Buy it here.



E.M. Forster

Published posthumously in 1971, E.M. Forster’s Maurice is an LGBTQ romance set in 20th Century England. Maurice is heartbroken after his two-year affair with his classmate, Clive, ends and he is driven to find a cure for his homosexuality. However, he soon meets Alec Scudder, and after a series of misunderstandings, they finally acknowledge their love for each other and Maurice leaves his life behind in order to be with Alec. An important work of modern gay literature, Maurice is as much a love story as it is a censure of British society’s attitude towards homosexuality.

Buy it here.


The Danish Girl

David Ebershoff

The Danish Girl is loosely based on the life of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to have sex reassignment surgery, and is set in Copenhagen. Painters Einar and Greta Wegener are happily married. One day, when a friend cancels her sitting, Greta asks Einar to dress up as a woman and model for her. They decide to call him ‘Lili’and thus begins, Einar’s transformation into Lili, culminating in sex reassignment surgery. This “unusual and affecting love story” is a fascinating look at marriage and questions the very nature of what love means.

Buy it here.


Under The Udala Trees

Chinelo Okparanta

Okparanta’s debut novel, Under The Udala Trees, is the story of friendship and love against the backdrop of war in Nigeria in 1968. After her father dies, Ijeoma is sent to work as a servant in a friend’s house. There, she meets Amina, another displaced girl, and they end up falling in love. When their love is discovered, they are separated and Ijeoma is forced to hide this part of her identity, and eventually ends up marrying a man. As Okparanta writes in her author’s note, this book is intended to give “Nigeria’s marginalized L.G.B.T.Q. citizens a more powerful voice, and a place in our nation’s history.”

Buy it here.


Tipping the Velvet

Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters’ 1998 novel is set in late 19th Century England and tells the tale of Nan, a working-class girl who becomes enamoured with Kitty, a male impersonator, after seeing a show at her local theatre. Eventually, Nan follows Kitty to London where the latter teaches her how to impersonate men on stage and they begin an affair in secret. Upon discovering Kitty in bed with her manager, she is devastated and spirals downward until she finds true love with a social activist called Florence. Tipping The Velvet is a frank portrayal of lesbian desire and features graphic lesbian sex. 

Buy it here.

Which of these LGBTQ romance novels have you read and liked? Are there any other books you would recommend? Share with us in the comments below.

Devanshi Jain

Devanshi Jain

Devanshi has been reading ever since she can remember. What started off as an obsession with Enid Blyton, slowly morphed into a love for mystery and fantasy. Even her choice of career as a lawyer was heavily influenced by the works of Erle Stanley Gardner and John Grisham. After quitting law, and while backpacking around India, she read books on entrepreneurship, taught herself web design and delved into social media marketing. She doesn’t go anywhere without a book.

She is the founding editor of The Curious Reader. Read her articles here.