This latest Rec League is inspired by a discussion I had during one of my romance book club meetings. I can’t remember what book we read, though I think it was a historical romance. But in a lot of cases, in books where there is a brother/sister sibling relationship, the brother is usually an asshole or even the bad guy.
They’re judgmental about their sister’s dating life, is ruining her financially, or is somehow impeding her independence and autonomy.
So I’m personally asking for romances with healthy brother/sister dynamics!
Claudia: That’s easy — Loretta Chase’s Carsington Brothers, and I always thought the earl dad deserved a prequel.
Carrie: Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie has a pair of brothers that start off somewhat codependent but who end up being mutually supportive.
AJ: The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer has a pretty good brother, as I recall, although he doesn’t get his own separate sequel.
Amanda: I THINK the original siblings in the first Maiden Lane books may qualify.
The brother is stuffy, but not an asshole.
Shana: If YA works, the younger brother in If It Makes You Happy is very supportive of his sister. He’s pushes her to stand up for herself against their controlling grandmother, and there’s some loving bickering. I think the fact that’s she’s older helps because she’s more protective of him.
Hold Me by Courtney Milan has a younger sister who ends up with her brother’s friend, but he’s not a dick about it. It’s an enemies to lovers plot, but the brother lets the heroine mostly fight her own battles, pointing out when the hero is being an ass but trusting his sister to handle the situation.
I feel like nontoxic brother/sister dynamics are more common in f/f stories, but right now I can’t think of great examples, except for The Alaskan Bride, where a brother and sister are trappers together until his mail order bride shows up. But, while the brother is caring and respectful of his sister’s pride, he also dies early in the book.
Maya: So, not a book, but I can’t help but think about the sibling relationship in Letterkenny (Canadian show available on Hulu). Bro is the lead, but he runs the family farm with his younger sister. They always have each others’ backs (often literally, like in a fight) and they are always supporting each other. I personally love the moments when sis is wandering around in a bikini and the brother asks her to put on more clothes. Her response is always “that’s not my style” and he’s always like “that’s fair” and drops it. The siblings sometimes have issues with the partners the other one has chosen, but it’s never about a brother controlling a sister’s sexual behavior. Everyone has autonomy and everyone is loved. Also, the show is deeply hilarious, extremely kind, and very smart.
I love that show so effing much. We had tickets to the live show in mid March. Didn’t happen but maybe someday
EllenM: I think several of the sibling pairings from Maiden Lane qualify…Maximus and Phoebe had a pretty positive relationship even if he was a bit overbearing. Same with the Battens. It’s been a minute but I do remember the overall tone of the brother-sister relationships throughout the series as being supportive.
Oh oh! Don’t the sisters in the Consortium Rebellion series also have at least 1 Very Good Supportive Brother?
ALSOOOO Psy-Changeling has some really good brothers as well who are again kind of protectively overbearing but not in an icky way—I’m thinking Brenna’s brothers off the top of my head but I think there are probably others.
Lol clearly this is my big Rec League Moment, I have sisters now, but growing up it was mostly me and my two brothers so I track this very closely in my reading.
Amanda: I have a pretty good relationship with my brother, so that’s always a bonus to see in my reading.
Maya: OHHHH what about the brother/sister relationship in The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan? I can’t remember if Oliver was a problem in Free’s book. All I remember is that Free is a delight and she let no one get in her way.
EllenM: If I recall correctly, he was a Worried brother but not like a Problem brother.
Maya: Yeah, I remember him trying to protect her during a protest and she was like actually I don’t need you, but also I think Brenna’s brothers are a good call
EllenM: I feel like brothers who are like laughs nervously, “I hope you know what you are doing!!!” qualify for this.
I’ve just thought of like 5 more brace yourselves everyone.
Maya: YESSSSS get it Ellen
EllenM: Okay so the first London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster actually has a nice brother-sisters relationship that develops a lot over the course of the series from moderately antagonistic to genuinely loving and supportive. There is also a very sweet younger brother-older sister relationship.
Moving from romance to romance-adjacent, the hero in the Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott has a nice relationship with his sister.
Also, in the Lady Darby Mystery series, Lady Darby has a really close, supportive relationship with her brother who is in the lord of the manor role.
I’m trying to think of good fantasy romance brothers, but I’m drawing a blank on that, for some reason it seems like the heroines are all either only children or their brothers are evil.
Catherine: Anne Gracie’s Marriage of Convenience series has a brother who starts out well-intentioned but rather rigid and uninvolved, but who develops over the series and is just lovely.
Definitely seconding Oliver in the Suffragette Scandal! He is busy being overprotective in The Heiress Effect, but by the time we reach Free’s story, he is great. And a shout out to Chermont, who desperately wants to be her brother, and does a pretty good job when the opportunity presents.
Which set of siblings would you recommend?