Happy Bisexual Awareness Week! If you have no idea what it is, visit the GLAAD site to learn about what this week’s all about. Also check out #BiWeek on Twitter to see what others are saying. Today is Celebrate Bisexuality Day / Bi Visibility Day! If you identity as biromantic/bisexual, panromantic/pansexual, fluid, or any type of multi-gender romantic/sexual attraction, this one’s for you. ^_^
This year, I’ve decided to share a list of some of the romance books I love that feature bi/pan+ characters. As someone who identifies as bi/pan, with a partner who also identifies as pan, seeing these characters represented means a heck of a lot. So often we see heterosexual characters at the fore, with homosexuality as the only other option. The books on this list embrace the fact that sexual identity, like gender, is not binary. No one has to be one or the other. Like so much of the world and the rest of the universe, there are spectrums. Mixes. Variety. And it’s more than okay: it’s GREAT. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a significant proportion of our species was actually on the bi+ spectrum — a lot more than we realize — especially considering the amount of diversity in nature, much of which tends to hang out around middle-points as opposed to the extremes.
But enough rambling. Here are some of my favourite books, several of which are also polyamorous… and high fantasy, because that’s my jam.
The Fantasy Set + An Itty Bitty Pinch of Sci Fi!
Megan Derr – Tales of the High Court (series)
Bisexual, High fantasy/Fantasy
There are so many of Megan’s books that I adore for reasons^10, but this is a series I wish I could hug. It’s a fantasy-gasm. I’ve had way too many nights of “just one more chapter…” that turned into staying up for hours and hours, followed by sleep and the itch to get back to the book because I must know. They’re a blend of everything I love: personality, relationships of all sorts (romantic, familial, friendship, and more), excellent world-building that spans an entire empire, humour, moments where s%#t hits the fan so bad on top of other fun (and not-so-fun) things, and the covers are drool-worthy. Also, not only does book #3 feature a trans character, one of the best things in the series is the inclusion of all genders without making it a big thing — because being trans or any other gender in their world isn’t an issue. Everyone’s just people
I also appreciate the inclusion (and respectful treatment) of serious issues, notably the abuse Allen suffered in his past (in The High King’s Golden Tongue) and the domestic abuse experienced by Kamir in his previous marriage (in The Heart of the Lost Star). These take characters into places that are terribly honest and very real because of situations that people face in real life (including my partner in her past, which gives these a personal meaning to me). But these characters have strength and they’ve found their way forward. It’s a beautiful thing — just how I love my fantasy, because I’m not really one for fluffy or sugar-coated. Give me conflicted and tough any day.
Megan Derr – The Harem Master
Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Poly (M/M/M/M/M and F/F/F/F), High fantasy/Fantasy
This was the first book that I read from the Tavamara series and I had no idea what to expect, though the prospect of all the poly was every reason for me to read it.
Whoa. Talk about a book that’s going to stick with me for a lonnnnnng time. Harems that are beautifully represented without it being all about sex. Multiple partners that not only can get along, they protect each other and take care of one another. I truly appreciate how Ihsan and Euren are married but have their own respective harems, and they aren’t at each others throats about any of it. It’s all cool. They all get along. This is a jealousy-free, possession-free zone where the romantic relationships are concerned. And once more, there’s loads of world-building and antics to keep me glued to the page. Also, there’s Kitt. I mean, Demir’s beautiful, and I enjoy the other characters, but I’m a sucker for assassins, especially those who know how to get dirty in all the worst ways and somehow survive to tell. Whenever there’s a scene with Kitt and any of the guys in the harem, I die. Just thunk, gone, stuck on the floor. So I’m twisted, okay?!
A.M. Valenza – The Zhakieve Chronicles (series)
Bi/pan+, Asexual, High fantasy/Fantasy
As I’ve mentioned above, I’m not usually one for fluffy or sugar-coated fantasy (though I have my moments), and this series is certainly up my alley. More hardcore high fantasy, with some of its own serious world-building — like painstaking, teensy-detailed oriented, and lyrical. The books also have their moments when things are just straight up macabre, but all of that makes them special, unique. Those elements plus the characters the stories revolve around give these books personality. They’re not like other fantasy books, and it’s fantastic. I’m also deeply appreciative of A.M.’s characters — they’re not stereotypical, they’re not always easy to take, and they go through so much on their journeys to grow as people and find their redemption. The main characters experience difficult issues that thousands of people have to deal with: Alexey has to deal with the joys of anxiety and depression (in Alexey Dyed in Red) and in Katerini’s case, there’s PTSD and IED, or Intermittent explosive disorder (in Breakfire’s Glass). These also have personal meanings to me, as anxiety is an issue I have to deal with, while both my father and my partner have been diagnosed with PTSD. These are rich stories with deep souls.
Also, Nikolai and Katerini are just ridonculous together. So are Alexey, Vasiliy, and Porfiry. All of the relationships in these books are incredibly important.
Sasha L Miller – The Kingdom Curses (series)
Bisexual, High fantasy/Fantasy, Fairy tales
Fairy tales aren’t usually my thing, but I loved these. I think what I love best about them is that while they remind me of traditional fairy tales, such as the callback to Snow White with the magical items and so on, these aren’t retellings. They’re their own entities with a sprinkle of this, a helping of that, and a spin of something else entirely. One of the most pleasant surprises was finding dwarves and elves thrown into the mix without having any idea they’d be there, and they’re not like the dwarves and elves I’ve seen in The Lord of the Rings or the Shannara series. They had all the familiarity of high fantasy that I know and love with a touch of I-didn’t-expect-that. Both books have their own flavour, with The Heart of the Kingdom being a touch lighter than The Northern Heart. They’re lovely cozy Sunday afternoon reads.
Sasha L Miller – How Not to Summon Your True Love
Panromantic, Asexual, Urban fantasy
This was fun! It’s an urban fantasy, M/M, not terribly angsty, and it involves a road trip that isn’t quite the road trip from the most epic of epic nightmares, but certainly a road trip from somewhere-you-shouldn’t-be. I totally admit that one of the reasons I immediately bought it was because it featured asexual characters. It’s such a happy read. Cy’s freak outs. Dig’s oh-so-chilled groove later, after the soap and the suds. Plus the cover just says awwwwwkward so perfectly. ^_^
Victoria Zagar – The Best of Both Worlds
Bisexual, Poly (FFM), Science fiction
I loved this book because I really didn’t see a lot of it coming. It kept me wondering and on my toes. It was grimy, gritty, and creative. It was also very wrong and strangely right and just this side of ludicrous sometimes. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you don’t. Also: poly! And for those who dig alien life and those you-really-wish-you-weren’t-here moments, this might just be up your alley. Warning: It can get a little graphic in the blood department, but it all works.
And Now for the Contemporary World…
Jo Raven – Hot Candy (series)
Bisexual, Poly (FMM)
Fun, sexy, FMM stories. However, they’re not funny, “ha, ha” comedy as the book details might suggest; rather, they’re poly stories with a sense of humour, a lot of sex, and personal issues. They have their sweet moments, and other moments where I’d love to knock the guys over the head. At the end of the day, though, they kept me glued to the page. I got the first book, Candy Boys, just for kicks, especially since I don’t usually love contemporary but I do love a well-told poly relationship, especially when jealousy isn’t a big thing, if it’s a thing at all — because there are poly and/or open relationships that do work. I didn’t know what to expect, though the premise sounded fun. I really couldn’t put it down. I re-read it, too, and fell in love with the relationship.
When I found out there was a second — then a third book with different characters — I one-clicked those faster than I could think. I particularly love the little surprises that come up in Dirty Princes. I’m also grateful for the way these books are written, where they’re more balanced between the MF and MM relationships than other FMM/MMF stories. I’m dying to see a fourth book, no joke. I wants. I wannntsssss.
Rivka Aarons-Hughes – Mr. March Names the Stars
Panromantic, Asexual, Homoromantic, Trans
This lovely story is M/M, Wiccan, and set at events like the ones my friends go to. There was a very sweet tone to it, plus a moment where I just sat there going “Nooooooo!” I really got this story. And bonus points for Nash, who is black, panromantic, asexual, trans, AND Pagan — he’s a mix of marginalized on marginalized on marginalized group, and I’m thankful for that, because we need to see more of this representation. YES. YES. YES.
Also, a big thank you to Rivka for writing this, and to LT3 Press for publishing it! I can’t adequately express my gratitude. Way too often, when pagans admit our beliefs or share our ways, we’re laughed at and criticized, ignored and avoided, harassed by people wanting to convert us, and otherwise shoved to the fringes of society because we don’t play inside the monotheistic boundaries of Abrahamic religion. Saying we’re pagan is sometimes the quickest way to kill a conversation, whether we’re Wiccan, Druid, Asatruar/Heathen (Norse pagan), Hellenic Greek, Kemetic (Egyptian pagan), or any of the other polytheistic traditions. So when this book went up for sale, it was an automatic buy for me, and I wasn’t disappointed. Representation MATTERS. ♥
Zoey Derrick – Books #1, 2, and 3 in 69 Bottles (series)
Bisexual, Poly (MMF)
Okay, I’ll be honest: I didn’t LOVE this series as much as the ones above, partially because how it was written and partially because I find contemporary incredibly boring, especially when it’s about rock stars (like this series) or billionaires or stereotypical bad boys or [enter trendy stereotype here]. But I wanted to mention it anyway because I appreciated it for the fact that, by the end, it became a legit polyamorous relationship *with* family. (Yeah, that’s a spoiler, but it’s difficult not to talk about it without mentioning it.)
I see so many polyamorous/open threesomes, foursomes, and whateversomes, but most of them focus on adults who don’t have kids or don’t plan on having a family together. I’d like to see more poly relationships that have families, showing that yeah, they can raise kids, too, and everyone’s okay. It’s not weird. It’s not bad. It can be done. And that’s where this ends up going, even though most of the books are a lot of sex with relationship stuff thrown in. These books have their moments where everything grooves along. It’s also good to see someone writing a character with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
And that’s all for this year. I’m hoping to share more books for next year’s Bi Visibility Day. Have a fabulous day, folks!