The best books with queer monsters who need a little kiss

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and performer born and raised in New York City. In my previous life, I was an Emmy-nominated journalist and digital media producer, covering sexual and reproductive health. In addition to writing, I love musical improv, opera, Olympic weightlifting, and spending time with my wife and dog.


I wrote...

A Long Time Dead

By Samara Breger,

Book cover of A Long Time Dead

What is my book about?

When Poppy, a London sex worker, awakes one evening to discover she's been turned into a vampire, she has some reservations. Mostly, she’s curious, and there's no greater mystery than Roisin, the woman tasked with caring for her. Roisin is a tight, lonely, buttoned-up woman, with kindness and care pressed up behind her teeth. The time the two women spend together is as transformative to Poppy as the changes in her body, and soon, she finds herself hopelessly, overwhelmingly attached. But Roisin has secrets of her own.

They encounter scores of vampires, shifty pirates, conniving opera singers, ancient nobles, glamorous French women, and a found family that throws a very particular sort of party. But overhead, threats loom—one woman who is capable of destroying everything Poppy and Roisin hold dear.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Unhallowed: A Novel of Widdershins

Samara Breger Why did I love this book?

Tentacles get a bad rap, which is a shame.

What most people fail to appreciate is that each new tentacle is another location for a little kiss. Vesper Rune, a warm-hearted eldritch horror, has tentacles, and, as librarian Sebastian Rath can attest, each could do with at least one little kiss.

Jordan L Hawk, author of the popular Whyborne and Griffin series, is a titan in the world of kissable monstrosities, and the cultist-turned-hero Vesper Rune is possibly my favorite. After a lifetime of hiding, he finally finds a place where he can be safe, open about both his queerness and his untraditional anatomy, and receive many little kisses. Widdershins knows its own. 

By Jordan L. Hawk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unhallowed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

Samara Breger Why did I love this book?

One appeal of falling in love with a monster is the knowledge that a creature more than capable of killing you has chosen to cherish you instead.

The tigers in this book are dangerous, as both Dieu, paramour of tiger Ho Thi Thau, and Chih, a cleric anxiously telling Dieu and Ho Thi Thau’s story to a trio of hungry tigers can attest. Luckily for Dieu, Ho Thi Thau finds her more interesting than appetizing, with the romantic impulse to see each of her moods—anger and joy and frustration—knowing she will adore them all.

While there may be quibbles over the details of the story, it is safe to say that tigers and humans alike will agree that Ho Thi Thau deserves a little kiss, and that Dieu is just the woman to deliver it.

By Nghi Vo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Locus and Ignyte finalist, Crawford Award winner, and bestselling author Nghi Vo comes the second installment in a Hugo Award-winning series

"A stunning gem of a novella that explores the complexity and layers of storytelling and celebrates the wonder of queer love. I could read about Chih recording tales forever."―Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Priory of the Orange Tree

"Nghi Vo is one of the most original writers we have today."―Taylor Jenkins Reid on Siren Queen

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache…


Book cover of Foxen Bloom

Samara Breger Why did I love this book?

Many books have kissing in the forest, but how many are about kissing the forest itself?

Fenton has watched countless hunters enter his forest to claim a wish by killing the white-tailed stag. Each hunter has taken: a sip from the stream, a flower from the vine, wood to light a fire. Each hunter has subsequently died.

Prior is different; he takes nothing, instead asking for a god’s assistance in waking his sister from her sleeping sickness. Fenton—who is the forest and the white-tailed stag and a son of Old Nan and also, definitely, a god—decides to pack up the forest and help Prior out.

Where I come from, that sort of thing will get you a little kiss or two at the very least.

By Parker Foye,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Foxen Bloom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Season after season, hunters have attempted to capture the white-tailed stag. Local legend holds that its capture promises prosperity, and in a land that is dying—to hunger, to war; to a magical curse, some say—even a whisper of hope is a powerful lure. Yet every hunter who tries fails, never to leave the forest. Fenton, god of the forest, yet imprisoned within its borders, watches from his place in the trees as the hunters first despoil and then fall to his land, dispassionate as his deadwood heart.

Prior doesn't hope to capture the stag or secure prosperity. He has a…


Book cover of Thorn

Samara Breger Why did I love this book?

The first time Rowan and the Huntress kissed, I half expected Rowan’s lips to stick to the Huntress’ face like a tongue on a light pole in winter.

Luckily, Rowan—the Belle in this Beauty and the Beast retelling—is a thawing influence, and the kiss progresses as kisses should. And thank goodness, as the Huntress desperately needs to be kissed. Isolated, cursed, and haunted by her own callousness, the lonely Huntress is separated from the world by her own past and a literal mile of frozen water.

But in the Huntress’ fortress of ice, love grows like the petals of a winter rose, and little kisses, like hope, spring eternal.

By Anna Burke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thorn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a cold day deep in the heart of winter, Rowan’s father returns from an ill-fated hunting trip bearing a single, white rose. The rose is followed by the Huntress, a figure out of legend. Tall, cruel, and achingly beautiful, she brings Rowan back with her to a mountain fastness populated solely by the creatures of the hunt. Rowan, who once scorned the villagers for their superstitions, now finds herself at the heart of a curse with roots as deep as the mountains, ruled by an old magic that is as insidious as the touch of the winter rose. Torn…


Book cover of Legends & Lattes

Samara Breger Why did I love this book?

Just because you’re a monster doesn’t mean that you have to be a monster professionally.

Viv is an orc who leaves her past as an adventuring barbarian behind in favor of opening a cafe. In focusing on enjoyment instead of terror, growth instead of destruction, and staying in one place instead of forever roaming, she gives herself and her community a place to find peace.

The romance is almost incidental; as Viv puts down roots, her bond with Tandri naturally blooms. Tandri, too, is tasked with shirking the expectations of a creature of her non-human nature. Together, they reaffirm that each of them is dictated by choice, not destiny: the more powerful force by far. And after coffee, little kisses.

By Travis Baldree,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Legends & Lattes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

High fantasy, low stakes - with a double-shot of coffee.

After decades of adventuring, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good. Now she sets her sights on a new dream - for she plans to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. Even though no one there knows what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the past behind her, she can't go it alone. And help might arrive from unexpected quarters. Yet old rivals and new stand in the way of success. And Thune's shady underbelly could make it all…


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Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

By K.R. Wilson,

Book cover of Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

K.R. Wilson Author Of Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Reader History enthusiast Occasional composer Sometime chorister

K.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When King Priam's pregnant daughter was fleeing the sack of Troy, Stan was there. When Jesus of Nazareth was beaten and crucified, Stan was there - one crossover. He’s been a Hittite warrior, a Silk Road mercenary, a reluctant rebel in the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, and an information peddler in the cabarets of post-war Berlin. Stan doesn't die, and he doesn't know why. And now he's being investigated for a horrific crime.

As Stan tells his story, from his origins as an Anatolian sheep farmer to his custody in a Toronto police interview room, he brings a wry, anachronistic…

Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

By K.R. Wilson,

What is this book about?

Long-listed for the 2022 Leacock Medal for Humour

When King Priam's pregnant daughter was fleeing the sack of Troy, Stan was there. When Jesus of Nazareth was beaten and crucified, Stan was there - one cross over. Stan has been a Hittite warrior, a Roman legionnaire, a mercenary for the caravans of the Silk Road and a Great War German grunt. He’s been a toymaker in a time of plague, a reluctant rebel in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and an information peddler in the cabarets of post-war Berlin. Stan doesn't die, and he doesn't know why. And now he's…


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