Preview two queer romances destined to capture your heart in 2020

Hoping to fall in love with a squee-inducing queer romance in 2020?

Two new titles from Sourcebooks are looking to win your heart in the new year: Annabeth Albert’s Conventionally Yours and Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material. EW can exclusively reveal the covers for both books, and also share an exclusive excerpt from each.

Conventionally Yours follows Conrad Stewart and Alden Roth, two mortal enemies who end up on a cross-country road trip together to the biggest fan convention of their lives. Both have extremely personal reasons for wanting to win the upcoming Odyssey game tournament, reasons so important they might be willing to give up the magical bond that’s forged between them as they travel across the country. The book hits shelves June 2.

Albert gushed about her colorful cover, telling EW in a statement, “What I love most about this cover are the little details — the almost touching hands, the overlapping shadow, the slightly apprehensive expression on Alden’s face, Conrad’s convention swag shirt, all the cosplayers in line — capturing a lot of the energy and fun of the gaming convention experience and also showcasing that bubbly ‘an adventure is about to happen’ feeling. This book truly is a love letter to everything I love about gaming, the fandoms that spring up around various games, road trips, first romance, and inconvenient feelings. I can’t wait to share it with the world!”

Readers can also journey across the pond with Boyfriend Material, which follows reluctantly famous son of a rock star Luc O’Donnell. When Luc is thrust back into the public eye, he’s in need of a normal relationship to clean up his bad-boy image, which leads him to painfully normal barrister Oliver Blackwood. The only trouble is the two have nothing in common, so they agree to become fake boyfriends for a publicity stunt. Except that fake dating tends to feel a lot more real in the moment, and the two quickly start wishing for something more. Boyfriend Material debuts July 7.

Hall, who hails from England, praised the very British nature of his cover. “There are actual proverbs about not judging books by their covers,” he said in a statement. “Then again, this cover is pretty rad so I’d be really happy if you… um… did, in fact, judge the book by it. And if the giant Union Jack wasn’t a clue, I’m British so I’m far too self-conscious to say anything else. Sorry. Thank you. Sorry.”

See the covers and read excerpts from both books below.

Excerpt from Conventionally Yours, by Annabeth Albert

CONRAD

“Want to do the photo booth?”

“Haven’t we been squashed together enough?”

Not nearly enough. I tried to push that thought away. “Come on. Have you ever tried it?”

He shook his head so seriously I wasn’t sure we were still talking about photo booths, but I didn’t need any further encouragement to drag him over and shove enough tokens into the machine to get us a strip of four pictures. We squeezed in, him in front of me again. With the curtain drawn, the temptation to touch him, to pull him close became almost unbearable. My hands didn’t seem to know where to go, hovering over his torso and thighs, refusing to listen to my command to mind their own business. Finally, the urge won as I gave into the impulse to rest my hand on his flat stomach, pulling him more against me. His scent filled all my senses, making my body hum like a space heater, warmth zooming everywhere.

The bare skin of his neck seemed to beckon me, made it too easy to lean in and—

“Do we make goofy faces or what?”

I pushed the start button hard enough to make the booth shake. “Yeah. Get silly.”

Silly was good. Silly would allow me to regain a grip on my sanity, remember all my very good reasons for not doing something truly ridiculous like kissing Alden’s neck. But man, how I wanted to.

ALDEN

We could have been squished into a file drawer and possibly had more available space than in the microscopic photo booth. Conrad’s hand on my abdomen seemed to burn a path straight to my brain, wiping out essential neurons. He said to be silly, but all I could focus on was his big hand, right there, pressing me tighter against him. I made myself smile as the camera flashed, hoping like heck that my inner turmoil wouldn’t be apparent in the pictures. This was probably how Conrad acted with all his friends. No way could I let him know how this was affecting me.

His breath was hot on my neck, warm prickles, more sparks of heat. I shifted and he inhaled sharply right before the final picture. He was so solid behind me, and the temptation to relax into him was almost overwhelming.

Almost.

I could still hear voices outside, kids laughing, parents calling after them. Despite how it felt, this wasn’t actually a private cocoon. And even with the curtain drawn, my muscles were tense with worries about misstepping—what would happen if I did sink into him? Let my head tip back the way it seemed to want to? What would happen next? That was where my brain kept short-circuiting. I prided myself on my ability to use probabilities and statistics to make predictions, and right then it seemed about fifty-fifty whether he would laugh and push me away or hold me tighter, inhale like that again, maybe…

No. I couldn’t let myself even daydream about it. This was Conrad being nice. Friendly. I couldn’t risk messing that up, risk a terminal case of awkward derailing our trip and distracting me from my reasons for being here.

“Let’s see the pictures.” My voice came out low and husky, something wrong with my vocal cords.

“Yeah. Let’s do that.” Conrad seemed to have the same issue, voice rough as he inhaled and exhaled like we were at a yoga class.

I exited first, grabbing the strip as the machine spit it out.

“Oh, wow.” Conrad peered over my shoulder, still way too close. “Not silly at all.”

No, they weren’t funny pictures in the slightest. Instead, we looked…happy. Like my-oldest-sister’s-wedding-pictures happy—like a couple radiating the kind of affection that seemed to transcend paper and ink. It was…unsettling. Like seeing my deeply hidden private wishes exposed for public consumption, leaving me raw and vulnerable.

“Want me to snap a copy of it?” Conrad asked, still looking himself. I wondered what he saw, if I was hallucinating about the happiness in our eyes.

“We don’t need to bother the others with a picture right now.” I tried to sound decisive, but when I went to tuck the strip of pictures in my pocket, Conrad plucked it from me.

“I want to keep it anyway.”

Well, so did I, a private souvenir to obsess over later, and not inevitably lost to the laundry as it would be with Conrad, but I let him keep it, not wanting to give away too much by taking it back.

“What next?” I asked, my voice somewhat back to normal.

“Pinball.”

[Conventionally Yours will include illustrations done by artist Lauren Dombrowski, like the one above.]

Excerpt from Boyfriend Material, by Alexis Hall:

After a long afternoon, six cups of Fairclough standard coffee, twenty-three drafts, and three breaks—in each of which I had to give the same explanation to Rhys Jones-Bowen about how to do double-sided photocopies—I’d composed an appropriately diplomatic email and sent it off. To be honest, I probably wasn’t going to get anything back. Then again, it’s amazing what rich people will do for free food. So, if I was lucky, I could probably convince at least a couple of them to be less busy on the night of the Beetle Drive than their diaries had hitherto suggested.

Giddy from a rare sense of accomplishment, and swept along by a rush of something that was either optimism or masochism, I unlocked my phone and pinged a message to Oliver: do fake boyfriends fake text

I’m not sure what I was expecting in return, but what I got was Not when one of them is due in court. Including the punctuation. Which was mildly better than no reply at all, but mildly worse than flat no since he’d basically said “no, thanks, also don’t forget I’ve got a better job than you.”

It was close to nine that evening, and I was in eating kung po chicken in my socks, when he followed it up with, Sorry to keep you waiting. I’ve thought about it and we probably should text each other for the sake of verisimilitude.

I left him hanging for a while to show that I, also, had important life stuff to be getting on with. Never mind that I actually watched four episodes of Bojack Horseman and had a vindictive wank before replying Sorry to keep you waiting and no wonder you’re single if the second text you send a guy includes the word verisimilitude.

There was no reply. Even though I sat around til half one definitely not caring. I was unexpectedly de-sleeped by a buzzing from my phone at five am: My apologies. Next time, I’ll send a photograph of my penis. And then several further buzzings.

That was a joke.

I should probably make it clear that I’m not intending to send you any pictures.

I’ve never sent that sort of thing to anybody.

As a lawyer, it’s hard not to be aware of the potential consequences.

I was awake now, which normally I’d have found profoundly objectionable. But you’d have to be a way better person than me not to enjoy the hell out of Oliver losing his shit over a purely hypothetical dickpic.

I also realise you’re probably asleep at the moment. So perhaps if you could just delete the previous five messages when you wake up.

Of course, I should emphasise that I am not meaning to imply any judgement about people who do choose to send intimate photographs to one another.

It’s just not something I’m comfortable with.

Of course if it is something you’re comfortable with I understand.

Not that I’m suggesting you have to send me a picture of your penis.

Oh God, can you please delete every text I’ve ever sent you.

The influx of messages paused just long enough that I could pop off a reply. Sorry I’m confused am I getting a dickpic or what

No!

There was another pause. Then, I’m very embarrassed, Lucien. Please don’t make it worse.

I honestly don’t know what possessed me. Maybe I just felt sorry for him. But he had kind of, admittedly accidentally, made my morning? I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow

Thank you.

Okay, now I wish I hadn’t bothered. Except a second or two later, I got I’m looking forward to seeing you too.

And while that felt better, it was, if anything, even more confusing.

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