News & Politics

Romance Novels Set in DC? We’ve Got the Hookup.

Three steamy writers you should know.

DC dating can be notoriously difficult—especially if you’re the protagonist of a romance novel. Here’s a quick guide to three writers whose books might snap you out of your hookup rut (or help pass the time if you’re home alone on a Saturday).

Nikki Payne

Photograph by Frank W Images.


The Bowie writer has a day job at Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. Not surprisingly, social media plays a big role in her books.

Book cover courtesy of Nikki Payne.

Latest Novel

Pride and Protest, a Jane Austen–­inspired story about DJ and activist Liza Bennett as she fights to save her community from developer (and, duh, love interest) Dorsey Fitzgerald.

Thoughts on DC Dating

“I’ve been married for 12 years, nearly 13. But every person I know who’s single has come to me hair disheveled, the walking dead—it is hard out there!”

Up Next

Another contribution to the JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) community, this time based on Sense and Sensibility.

Devon Daniels

Photograph by Pete Albert Photography.


Raised in California, Daniels moved to Odenton for her own real-life romance story—her now husband, whom she met at a wedding, lived there. They have four kids, so Daniels taps out chapters during their sports practices. “This book was written in the car,” she says of her most recent work.

Book cover courtesy of Devon Daniels.

Latest Novel

Meet You in the Middle, an enemies-­to-lovers romance between Democrat and Republican Senate staffers that was inspired by the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.

Thoughts on DC Dating

“When I was researching, I found a large percentage of people on dating websites were filtering out people of the opposite political party. I was like, ‘You’re really limiting your dating pool!’ ”

Up Next

A book about a writer at a female-­oriented website who tests her grandma’s husband­-hunting tips on the founder of a men’s platform.

Thien-Kim Lam

Photograph courtesy of Thien-Kim Lam.


Lam, who lives in Silver Spring, started Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription service that pairs romance novels with sex toys. “Why not put the two tools together,” she says, “and give people an opportunity to explore their fantasies?”

Book cover courtesy of Avon.

Latest Novel

Happy Endings, which follows sex-toy vendor Trixie Nguyen as she falls back in love with her ex-­boyfriend, the owner of a soul-food restaurant in a gentrifying DC neighborhood. Personal, professional, and cultural complications ensue.

Thoughts on DC Dating

“It’s all secondhand stories from friends. It sounds really hard to date in DC, honestly, because people are so career-­driven. This city is so busy.”

Up Next

A spinoff focusing on a secondary character from Happy Endings. Her lover’s not-so-sexy DC job? Data analysis.

This article appears in the November 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.