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8 New York Romance Books to Put You in an Empire State of Mind

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In the Heights
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  • Still from 'In the Heights' Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Is there anything more iconic than a New York romance? The passion, diversity, and ever-changing nature of the five boroughs make them the perfect backdrop for stories with heart and heat.

In celebration of the movie adaptation of In the Heights, the Tony Award-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda about Washington Heights, we’re reading these eight New York romance books. Whether you’re a New Yorker yourself or not, these stories of connection in the concrete jungle will have you swooning faster than August on the 42nd A train platform. Stand clear of the closing doors, and prepare for romance!

One Last Stop

One Last Stop

By Casey McQuiston

The latest novel from Red, White, & Royal Blue author Casey McQuiston has been praised as “swoony, thoughtful, hilarious” by Jasmine Guillory

New York transplant August doesn’t have any romantic delusions about her new life in the big city. She knows she functions better alone, so she keeps her head down and her feet moving forward in her new home. That is, until she sees Jane on her subway commute. 

Heartbreakingly handsome, Jane looks like a drop-dead-sexy punk straight from the 70s. Turns out, she is. Jane is trapped outside of her own New York timeline, and August must help her get back, and try not to get her heart broken in the process.

Pride Ibi Zoboi


By Ibi Zoboi

This modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen explores gentrification and generational differences in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 

When a rich family called the Darcys move in across the street from Zuri Benitez, she can’t stand their teenage sons. Her four sisters feel differently. 

As Zuri prepares for college and major transitions in her own life, she also feels unmoored by the rapid changes in her neighborhood, and the feelings she reluctantly develops for Darius Darcy. 


Once Ghosted, Twice Shy

By Alyssa Cole

Likotsi is in New York so her heart can heal after a breakup. But second-chance romance sparks on a subway platform for Likotsi and her ex, Fabiola. 

Fab asks Likotsi out for a cup of tea, and Likotsi agrees against her best judgment, hoping to gain some clarity about why Fab abruptly ended their romance. But tea might not be enough for these two. 

Lesbian Romances

The Price of Salt

By Patricia Highsmith

This is the classic 1952 lesbian pulp romance novel that inspired Carol

Therese aspires to be a stage designer, but for now she’s stuck in a department store job. It’s there she meets Carol, a compelling woman from the suburbs in the midst of a difficult divorce.

This New York romance was groundbreaking at the time of publication for giving its lesbian leads a happy ending

Tailor Made Yolanda Wallace


By Yolanda Wallace

Grace makes bespoke suits for privileged clients at her father’s shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since most of the clients are men, Grace has never been tempted to mix the personal with the professional. 

Then Grace meets Dakota Lane, who makes a living as both a bike messenger and a model. Dakota has never been interested in commitment. But Grace makes Dakota want to tame her wild ways, or at least bring on a partner in crime.

the doctors discretion

The Doctor's Discretion

By E.E. Ottoman

This queer historical is set in 1831 New York, and follows doctors William and Augustus, lovers who find secret solace in each other. 

But their private paradise changes when a trans man arrives at New York Hospital. The patient is threatened with institutionalization, and William and Augustus are compelled to intervene. Their mission sends them on an odyssey through the upper crust and underground communities of New York. 

honey girl

Honey Girl

By Morgan Rogers

For her first 28 years on Earth, Grace has avoided trouble. Then she takes a trip to Vegas after earning her PhD; and before she can say “Elvis lives,” Grace is married to Yuki Yamamoto, a woman she barely knows. 

Grace should immediately go into damage control mode: annul the marriage, focus on finding a job where she can use her degree. Instead, Grace moves to New York with Yuki for the summer. There, Grace begins to fall in love—with herself, and her wife—for the first time.

Hamilton's Battalion

Hamilton's Battalion

By Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole

After he wrote In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda went on to pen Hamilton, the iconic musical about New York, the power of immigrants, and the history of America. Inspired by the musical, Hamilton’s Battalion is an anthology from Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole. 

It features three novellas set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War. This historic context provides the perfect setting for crossdressing, love across enemy lines, and attraction between Eliza Hamilton's maid and a beautiful dressmaker. Truly, how lucky we are to be alive right now!