With the release of the film adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s hit gay rom-com novel, Red, White, and Royal Blue, people have fallen in love with the epic love story of Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry. While summer may be almost over, there is still no better time to pick up a good book than right now. Here are five novels to dive into after watching Red, White, and Royal Blue.
Sapphire Storm by Christopher Rice writing as C. Travis Rice: The third installment of Rice’s Sapphire Cove series focuses on the resort’s pastry chef, Ethan Blake, who has a past as an escort. Here is the official description for Sapphire Storm:
Ethan Blake has dedicated his life to satisfying other people’s appetites. At forty-three, he’s finally landed his dream job—head pastry chef at an exclusive resort. Now he’s got a jet-setting career that’s taken him to romantic locations all over the world. But years before, after his parents threw him out for being gay, Ethan supported himself in a manner he’d rather keep under the covers today.
Roman Walker is a twenty-five-year-old fitness celebrity awash in thirsty followers. But when he walks through the doors of Sapphire Cove, it’s not just to oversee the menu for his celebrity client’s wedding. Decades ago, Roman and Ethan crossed paths on a New York street corner during a terrible, life-changing moment that scarred them both. Now Roman’s back for revenge.
But when his plan goes wildly off the rails, Roman suddenly finds himself at the center of an even stranger and darker plot concocted by his most famous client. Well-versed in the ways of the wealthy and the entitled, Roman’s former target offers to be his strongest ally during a moment that might derail the young man’s newfound career. But the experienced older man’s offer also ignites an irresistible and forbidden attraction that threatens to consume them both, even as it exposes old secrets and incurs the wrath of the powerful and the famous.
Like the two previous books, Sapphire Storm draws readers in with its steamy sex scenes and delivers on the “forbidden attraction” as described. Once again, Rice delivers a solid, steamy romance novel for gay men. Also, good news for those who have been following the Sapphire Cove series, there will be a book four. More details can be found below a tweet by Rice.
…But for Donnie to find love, he'll have to face his greatest challenge yet. Other than keeping it in his pants for longer than 10 mins. On a new podcast ep. of "TDPS Presents CHRISTOPHER & ERIC" @EricShawQuinn & I will tell what lies ahead for the guy they call Sex Monster
— Christopher Rice/ C. Travis Rice (@chrisricewriter) April 14, 2023
The Celebrants by Steven Rowley: Coming off winning the 22nd Thurber Prize for American Humor for his previous novel, The Guncle, Steven Rowley returns with his fourth novel, The Celebrants. The publisher’s official description of the book is as follows:
It’s been a minute—or five years—since Jordan Vargas last saw his college friends, and twenty-eight years since their graduation when their adult lives officially began. Now Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle find themselves at the brink of a new decade, with all the responsibilities of adulthood, yet no closer to having their lives figured out. Though not for a lack of trying. Over the years they’ve reunited in Big Sur to honor a decades-old pact to throw each other living “funerals,” celebrations to remind themselves that life is worth living—that their lives mean something, to one another if not to themselves.
But this reunion is different. They’re not gathered as they were to bolster Marielle as her marriage crumbled, to lift Naomi after her parents died, or to intervene when Craig pleaded guilty to art fraud. This time, Jordan is sitting on a secret that will upend their pact.
A deeply honest tribute to the growing pains of selfhood and the people who keep us going, coupled with Steven Rowley’s signature humor and heart, The Celebrants is a moving tale about the false invincibility of youth and the beautiful ways in which friendship helps us celebrate our lives, even amid the deepest challenges of living.
The Celebrants is largely about celebrating life and having the courage to say goodbye, whether it’s to a part of your past, your family, or in some other cases in the book which are too good to be spoiled. What Rowley has captured in this book is the importance of lasting friendships and why having these friendships might end up being the lifeline needed at a turning point in one’s life. The Celebrants was also the June 2023 pick of The Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager’s Read With Jenna who said, “it’ll make you cry on one page and laugh hysterically on the other.”
In related Steven Rowley news, the author posted an announcement about his next book on his social media, which you can see below.
— Steven Rowley (@mrstevenrowley) August 23, 2023
Big Gay Wedding by Byron Lane: Byron Lane follows up A Star is Bored, his debut novel, with Big Gay Wedding. Lane’s sophomore novel focuses on Barnett Durang, a gay man raised in rural Louisiana but is now living in Los Angeles with his boyfriend. When Barnett lets his mother know he is coming home to Louisiana to tell her something, this sets off a chain of events that will have a big impact on not only mother and son, but the whole small town where Barnett grew up. The official description from Macmillan Publishers states:
Two grooms. One mother of a problem.
Barnett Durang has a secret. No, not THAT secret. His widowed mother has long known he’s gay. The secret is Barnett is getting married. At his mother’s farm. In their small Louisiana town. She just doesn’t know it yet.
It’ll be an intimate affair. Just two hundred or so of the most fabulous folks Barnett is shipping in from the “heathen coasts,” as Mom likes to call them, turning her quiet rescue farm for misfit animals into a most unlikely wedding venue.
But there are forces, both within this modern new family and in the town itself, that really don’t want to see this handsome couple march down the aisle. It’ll be the biggest, gayest event in the town’s history if they can pull it off, and after a glitter-filled week, nothing will ever be the same. Big Gay Wedding is an uplifting book about the power of family and the unconditional love of a mother for her son.
Big Gay Wedding brings an amazing story with a remarkable cast of characters that are directly tied to the protagonists and gives them all their individual moments to shine. Lane created a remarkable testament to the different loves in one’s life, whether it be the love of a mother for her son or vice versa or romantic love (whether straight or gay).
Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style by Paul Rudnick: Paul Rudnick is a writer of screenplays, the stage, as well as some of the snarkiest, satirical, and hilarious stories. In his latest novel, Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style, Rudnick creates a love story that spans five decades. The description of the book reads:
Devastatingly handsome and insanely rich, Farrell Covington is capable of anything and impossible to resist. He’s a clear-eyed romantic, an aesthete but not a snob, self-indulgent yet wildly generous. As the son of one of the country’s most powerful and deeply conservative families, the world could be his. But when he falls for Nate Reminger, an aspiring writer from a nice Jewish family in Piscataway, New Jersey, the results are passionate and catastrophic.
Together, the two embark on a unique romance that spans half a century. They are inseparable—except for the many years when they are apart. Moving from the ivy-covered bastion of Yale to New York City, Los Angeles, and eventually all over the world, Farrell and Nate experience the tremendous upheaval and social change of the last fifty years. From the freedom of gay life in 1970s Manhattan to the Hollywood closet, the AIDS epidemic, and the profound strides of the LGBTQ+ movement, this witty and moving novel shows how the world changes around us while we’re busy doing other things.
Written with “engaging wit, side-eyed perceptiveness, and barbed elan” (Michael Chabon), this modern classic proves that style has its limits, love does not.
What makes Farrell Covington such a poignant read is Rudnick’s ability to not only subvert the reader’s expectations but shatter them. While you may think in one part of the book the most obvious thing will happen, Rudnick takes a different path. It is this clever plotting of his story and the rich qualities of the characters that makes Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style the instant masterpiece it is.
All the Right Notes by Dominic Lim: Dominic Lim’s debut novel, All the Right Notes, is the product of Lim’s love of romantic comedies and stories about gay men especially ones about Filipinos or other Asians. The official description of All the Right Notes is:
Quito Cruz might be a genius piano player and composer in New York City now but it doesn’t mean that he’s any closer to his Broadway dream. Although Quito knows what the problem is. Or rather who. Because ever since that night in college—with pretty-boy jock Emmett Aoki—his inspiration has been completely MIA . . .
Now Quito’s dad wants him to put on a charity performance in his hometown. And there’s one hella big string attached: convince Emmett—now one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities—to perform.
It’s all shaping up to be the biggest musical fiasco of Quito’s life. Especially when Emmett agrees to attend, and Quito realizes that undeniable vibe between them is stronger than ever. Because there’s nothing simple about falling for a movie star . . . even when he’s pitch-perfect.
In his freshman outing, Lim brilliantly weaves through Quito’s past and present to form a story that tugs at the reader’s heart. This is one of those books that simply cannot be put down after reading a couple of chapters. While this is considered a romance novel, it goes a whole lot deeper than a romance novel. The abundance of interesting secondary characters made All the Right Notes feel very inclusive and interesting, especially Quito’s best friend, Ujima, who steals the show in every part of the book they are in.
What books of these five have you read or sound good to read to you? Let us know in the comments or on our social media accounts.
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one contributing writer and may not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.