Love&Bubbles: A Collection of Queer Underwater Love Stories, edited by Jaylee James & Jennifer Lee Rossman
Dive into romance with these twelve stories of queer love under the sea!
Love & Bubbles is a short fiction anthology of love stories united by an underwater theme and featuring characters from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
Go on a deep-sea voyage to study a brand-new species alongside a cute, distracted scientist. Discover your magic with a water witch and the help of a cute mermaid. Explore the waters of an alien ocean. Get summoned to the surface with a grumpy old merman and his non-binary water demon neighbor. Swim with a catfish goddess, rescue a dolphin… and so much more!
So. Cute! The anthology is a lovely collection of sweet stories, and definitely worth picking up if you need the equivalent of a warm hug. I love the sheer range of protagonists, places, romance choices and possibilities; from the one central theme, the authors have all gone in very different directions, while still keeping the thread of romance and sweetness throughout.
Summoned by Minerva Cerridwen is about a very sweet elderly couple; a grumpy merman meets his strange neighbour and accidentally ends up going along for his next job…which, incidentally, made me laugh that you’d summon the equivalent of a demon for it! In the second story, Worlds Between Us by Riley Sidell, I love the dual-world nature; it’s got long distance relationship issues alongside communication and “will this magic even work?” problems, and I love the complex relationship and cultures hinted at – and the nosy whale, who is adorable.
Some of the stories have similar themes; Color and Pressure by Evvan Burke follows undersea scientists, and I like the worried and reserved nature of the protagonist. Stuck by Mharie West has a similar premise, but taken in a more sci-fi direction as it follows scientists working undersea, getting hung up on an ex…and what happens if your attention gets distracted by a colleague! The Dwindling Forest of Kelp by Victoria Zelvin also has a sci-fi feel, alien and yet familiar; a visitor to the planet trapped along with an inhabitant, learning to communicate and also wondering where/how they’re going to go…
The Selkie Wife by Lia Cooper is a very sweet story; I love the idea of a selkie in the modern world, and the changes in the seas that make coming back to the one place that much harder! Familiar Waters by VS Holmes has a similar feel; it’s very poetic and beautiful, with a mix of mythology and romance – the idea of migration and leaving, and the changes that happen over time, but the relationship remains. Shallows by Jennifer Lee Rossman has a more modern theme, with dolphin shapeshifters and romance – what’s not to like? Signing Under The Sea by Lizzie Colt is also quite modern, following a slowly growing relationship between an ocean dweller and human visitor.
Some of the stories are more human-centric; possibly my favourite story, Tanner and the Water Nymph by Jaylee James, has a non-binary protagonist and a problem with the shower which means meeting an unexpected visitor, and I love the conclusion to this story! It’s so sweet. A Happy Place by Maggie Derrick follows a witch in exile because she hasn’t yet found her magic, and the realisation that maybe she doesn’t have to stick within the confines of what she’s expected to do…especially as she meets someone she’d like to know better… And the last story, Ondine by M Hollis, follows someone returning home after their mother’s death, remembering former history and an old love, and wondering if it’s something they want to return to.
So, overall – a very sweet and unexpected anthology, and definitely worth a read if you want a diverse and light-hearted, romantic read.