SPONSORED POST: Launch Day for A Taste of Her: Bite-Sized Lesbian Romance Stories

the cover of A Taste of Her

It’s release day for A Taste of Her: Bite-sized lesbian romance stories!

Hey everyone, it’s Tiana Warner dropping in, the author of bestselling sapphic novels like Ice Massacre (Mermaids of Eriana Kwai #1) and The Valkyrie’s Daughter. 👋 I’m excited to be doing a sponsored blog post today!

A Taste of Her is a new collection of over 16 spicy and sweet sapphic short stories, and it’s on sale today for $0.99. The discounted launch runs until August 12th, and you can grab your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B4B1293Z Read on for a couple of excerpts!

Giveaway: I’m running a giveaway for a signed paperback copy. Just retweet/reblog my giveaway posts on my Twitter and/or Tumblr to enter:

https://tianawarner.tumblr.com/

Every RT/reblog is an entry!

About A Taste of Her

Indulge in this collection of 16+ sapphic short stories. These spicy and sweet romances will take you from a pirate town in the Caribbean to a modern-day nightclub to a faraway castle. Find a story to fit your mood: enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance, forbidden love, masc/femme, non-binary, and more. These stories are for a mature audience (18+) due to sexual content.

Learn more about this book and Tiana Warner’s other books at tianawarner.com

An excerpt from The Tasting Room

The interview room suddenly feels a lot smaller. Marie’s knee grazes mine. Have we been sitting this close the whole time or did we both lean in?

Her perfume is intoxicating. I drop my gaze to her lips, something primal threatening to overtake me.

Beyond the door, a bell chimes, and conversation erupts. We both start, like we’ve forgotten where we were.

Marie’s gaze darts to the clock on the wall. It’s rustic and trendy like everything else about this building. “I have a party to entertain.”

My insides hollow out. “Right. Of course.”

But she definitely made an advance a second ago, right? Is she regretting her words? Maybe she suddenly remembered that this is an interview, and flirting is a terrible idea.

I get up and step toward the door, flustered.

“Let me,” Marie says, hurrying ahead. She stops with a hand on the door. “Kiera, I like your resume. It’s why I called you here. I’m sorry if I…”

We’re standing close together, the air crackling between us.

“I hope you’re not sorry,” I say, the words barely a whisper. I’m not sorry at all. I’m embarrassed and confused, sure, but I don’t regret letting her know that I never got over her.

Her ruby lips part, and her sweet breath tickles my face. Her chest rises and falls more rapidly. There’s a flash of uncertainty behind her eyes, the first glimpse of something other than total confidence. She cups a cool hand to my cheek, leans in…

And our lips meet in a gentle, teasing kiss. It’s the kiss I’ve dreamed about since we met, and it’s better than I imagined. Her lips are full, her taste is sweet, and it sends a tingle all the way through me.

I feel her pulling back, as if she’s ready to gauge my reaction or apologize, but I don’t want the kiss to be over. I slide my hands around her waist, pull her close, and kiss her deeper.

An excerpt from The Knight and Her Princess

The last time we saw each other, we were hardly fourteen. Now, she’s an eighteen-year-old beauty, her face full, her waist curved, her curly red hair well-groomed. Her familiar features pull my memories forward, making my insides tingle—her soft skin beneath my palms, her lips against mine, the rush of something forbidden coursing through me. How often did we escape to the stables during that year together? Fifty, sixty, a hundred times?

Heat rises in my face. God, I thought my feelings had dissolved. With years to forget her, and knighthood to draw my focus, I’d hoped she could become my past and nothing more.

Seeing her now, I’m weak in the knees, and I know I failed to forget about her.

Remembering my duty, I dip into a bow. “Princess Enid, I have ridden here with the Knights of East Abria to rescue you.”

“Brianna?” she says, a hand on her chest.

My heart skips. “Yes. Hi.”

She’s frozen, taking me in with wide eyes. “You’re a knight!”

I look down at myself as if to check whether her words are true. The sight of my armor makes me stand taller. “Yes.”

“But I—I thought your father was going to make you marry that tailor.”

I almost smile. “Princess, do you honestly think I would have given myself over to a man?”

She flushes, possibly remembering how many times I proved to her that I wasn’t interested in men.

Get A Taste of Her for $0.99 until August 12: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B4B1293Z

Learn more about Tiana Warner’s books at tianawarner.com

Rachel reviews Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens

the cover of Briefly, A Delicious Life

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Nell Stevens’s debut novel, Briefly, A Delicious Life (2022), is a stunning historical novel about a centuries-old ghost who falls in love with one of history’s most infamous writers.

The novel is told from the perspective of Blanca, a ghost who has been fourteen for hundreds of years by the time the novel begins in the 1830s. After dying in childbirth in a hilltop monastery in Mallorca in 1473, Blanca spends her (after)life watching over the monastery and haunting those who harm others. When George Sand (1804-1876), a nineteenth century French author famous for both her novels and her penchant for wearing men’s clothes, arrives at the monastery with her two children and her lover, composer Frédéric Chopin, for an extended stay in Mallorca, Blanca falls instantly in love with George, although George has no idea Blanca exists. The novel narrates Blanca’s desire and devotion to George, as well as George’s writerly and motherly struggles in the present and in the past. Blanca quickly becomes an unseen part of the family’s life, and the novel unfolds against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mallorca.

Stevens is a prominent memoirist, with her memoirs Bleaker House (2017), Mrs. Gaskell and Me / The Victorian and the Romantic (2018) winning multiple awards. With Briefly, A Delicious Life, Stevens’ first attempt at fiction, she does not disappoint. This novel is full of the emotional and intellectual vigour of the best historical fiction. Stevens’ novel is poetic without being overwrought, and full of humour and delight as much as it is of sadness and female rage. Although Stevens adapts an episode in the lives of real individuals, she does so with postmodern humour, and Blanca’s perspective was unique and refreshing.

This is a novel to linger over, and it’s one that I was thinking about long after I’d finished it. With this text, Stevens promises to become one of the most prominent authors of queer historical fiction. Briefly, a Delicious Life is unlike any ghost story I’ve read before, and it is a novel of hope, renewal, and the female voice.

I highly recommend this book to fans of Sarah Waters’s or Emma Donoghue’s fiction, or of Emily M. Danforth’s Plain Bad Heroines.

Please add Briefly, A Delicious Life to your TBR on Goodreads.

Rachel Friars is a writer and academic living in Canada, dividing her time between Ontario and New Brunswick. When she’s not writing short fiction, she’s reading every lesbian novel she can find. Rachel holds two degrees in English literature and is currently pursuing a PhD in nineteenth-century lesbian literature and history.

You can find Rachel on Twitter @RachelMFriars or on Goodreads @Rachel Friars.

Vic reviews Valiant Ladies by Melissa Grey

the cover of Valiant Ladies

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Melissa Grey’s Valiant Ladies, inspired by two real seventeenth-century vigilantes, centers around two teenage girls’ quest for justice and love for each other. While Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza spend their days in the fine home of Kiki’s wealthy father, they spend their nights on the streets of Potosí, engaging in gambling and fighting and other “unladylike” activities. After the murder of her brother on the night Kiki’s engagement to the viceroy’s son is announced, Kiki and Ana set off to discover what really happened while also confronting their feelings for each other.

Perhaps because it is based on real people, this book delights in being separate from actual history, which served the book very well. The characters speak and think in more modern language (though not distractingly so), and the girls are free to be brazenly in love with each other with little more than a scandalized gasp or a “hey, that’s wild” from the people around them, which allowed me, as a queer reader, to also indulge myself in the fantasy of kicking ass, taking down the patriarchy, and getting the girl in the end. (It also means I don’t feel like I’m snooping on real people, because obviously it didn’t happen like this, but it’s still really cool either way.)

That being said, it is not a rosy, completely-divorced-from-history fairy tale either. The world felt well-drawn from the rigid and wasteful aristocracy to the bars and brothels where Ana grew up, and while I always trusted this book would have a happy ending, it also did not pretend life is great for teenage girls at this time. Ana’s background in particular gave the novel plenty of room for acknowledging and criticizing the ways the nobility and specifically Spanish colonizers suck, which, for the most part, it took.

As for the characters, both Ana and Kiki were delights. Their voices were distinct (and so funny), and while they were certainly badass, they were badasses who felt like people, with feelings and vulnerabilities as well as snark. Their romance was likewise really sweet. This is friends-to-lovers at its best. They had the established camaraderie of lifelong friends, as well as some of my favorite pining that I’ve seen in a while, and while romance and crime-solving can be difficult to balance, the one never distracted from the other.

I would not have known about this book if it hadn’t been recommended to me, but I’m so glad it was because it was so good. I didn’t realize before I started reading, but this is the book I have been wanting to read for I don’t know how long. It was fun, it was funny, it was sweet, it was badass. I just had an all-around great time while reading it. I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves badass historical sword lesbians with a little bit of mystery (and really, how could anyone not love that?)

The Top Four Times DC Did Poison Ivy Justice

In honor of the new season of Harley Quinn (squee!!!), I’ve decided to show some love for everyone’s favorite homicidal ecoterrorist and Ph.D who really needs all the hugs Harley has to offer. Below, in order of when they were first published, are the top four comic runs where DC actually did Poison Ivy’s character justice (no surprise, they’re all by women).

1. Batman and Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows by Ann Nocenti and John Van Fleet (2004)

the cover of Batman and Poison Ivy Cast Shadows

Vintage, classic Poison Ivy at her finest. A short, contained collection that perfectly captures the conflicted heart and noirish origins of the character. Ann Nocenti and JohnVan Fleet don’t shy away from the violent capabilities of Poison Ivy’s powers, or the true power of her intellect. But the art style lends the whole affair a sort of gaslamp, dreamlike quality that brings home how, for all her violence, there is true love motivating Ivy’s actions. At this point in her characterization, it was largely love for the planet (and some lingering feelings for Bruce?). But it is one of the earliest comics that gives her a driving role in the narrative while bringing to life the same melancholy, calculating, brilliantly warped mind masking a heart of gold that Harley comes to love.

(Granted, the art did have its detractors, but I think it works so well in bringing the reader into certain characters’ experiences. Which is all I can say without spoilers!)

2. Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death by Amy Chu, Clay Mann, and Seth Mann (2016)

the cover of Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death

If it took half a century for someone to really start writing her right, it took another decade for lightning to strike twice. And it did so with Amy Chu’s colorful, Frankenstein-esque take on the character.

Poison Ivy is tired of being lonely. Not physically, not mentally. But there’s a particular isolation in knowing you are the only one of your kind, the only plant-human hybrid on the planet (well, the only one who isn’t prone to being a fatalistic, moralizing pain in the rear, anyway). So she decides to do what every middle aged woman reconsidering the meaning of life would:

Get a new job, get a new apartment and grow some new daughters.

Yeah, it’s a weird one, but the kind of explorative weirdness that more comics need to come back to, in my opinion. This run is also a standout for Chu’s sense of humor and interesting side characters. When non-MCs get hurt or die in this, I actually felt something! Which is not something DC’s comics for grown-ups had been doing much of at the time. There is also no romance, but Harley shows up to cause a ruckus, as usual!

3. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy by Jody Houser and Adriana Melo (2019)

the cover of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy

Speaking of Harley, here’s a classic. Sure, it was released only a few years ago. But it’s still a classic.

Following in the footsteps of Chu’s novel, experimental take on Poison Ivy’s powers and conflicted sense of humanity, Jody Houser’s run delves deeper into her connections with both The Green and Harley Quinn. We see them as a canonical couple doing cute couple things for the first time! There is mayhem and chaos and fluff and…then things get dark.

Like, I-was-teary-even-though-I-know-how-this-works dark. You don’t get to become a comic fan without your suspension of disbelief building up some tolerance, but stories like this remind you that sometimes, it is the lore that makes the bleak moments sting all the worse. But it’s also that lore that keeps you hoping right alongside Harley, rooting for her and Ivy to find a way through it all.

It’s got poignant moments of dialogue, tonally consistent art and a true love that is messy and complicated and held between two flawed, hurting women who find they hurt just a little less with each other.

Also, really fun fight scene panels.

4. Poison Ivy by G. Willow Wilson, Marcio Takara, and Arif Prianto (2022)

the cover of Poison Ivy #1 (2022)

The time between lightning strikes is getting progressively shorter, and I am living for it. While it’s only a couple issues into the run, G. Willow Wilson’s take on the character reminds me why I loved her Ms. Marvel run when it was still in publication. She is the sort of writer who knows how to write a character to fit the character’s context. And Poison Ivy’s context is, well, scientifically-informed ecoterrorism with a sympathetic heart beating beneath the bloodied blooms and explosions. From Ann Nocenti to Jody Houser, we’ve seen her grapple with everything from her humanity to her heart, watched her struggle between her desire for violent justice and her hope for ecological harmony.

Now, it all is building up into a climactic showdown rooted in the grim reality of climate change. What I’ve read so far has been a visceral narrative that has been leaning very hard into the horror without losing track of the compelling characterization. It is dark, it is deep, and it is building into something I am really excited to watch unfold. Part of DC’s recent slate of Pride month releases, this comic has had me buying single issues again for the first time since high school.

Harley and Ivy have one of the most complex, fascinating romances I have ever read, sapphic or otherwise. Their equally brilliant intellects and capacity for, ahem, “creative” problem solving keep storylines from stagnating, and the depths of their respective histories allows for some lovely explorations of relationship dynamics.

These are my personal favorite takes on Ivy, a uniquely compelling, conflicted character (correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe she was comics’ first major woman character to have a STEM background), and the truly strange places her consciousness can go.

44 Bi and Lesbian Books Out In August 2022!

a collage of the book covers listed, with the Sapphic Books Out In August!

Would you believe that more than 44 sapphic books come out this month? It’s true! Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find out which books have queer representation, or what kind of representation they have. So here’s a big list of bi and lesbian books out this month, sorted by genre. I’ve highlighted a few of the books I’m most interested in and included the publisher’s description of those, but click through to see the other titles’ blurbs!

As always, if you can get these through an indie bookstore, that is ideal, but if you can’t, the titles and covers are linked to my Amazon affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, I’ll get a small percentage. On to the books!

Adult

Fiction

the cover of Dogs of Summer by Andrea Abreu

Dogs of Summer by Andrea Abreu, translated by Julia Sanches (Sapphic Fiction)

My Brilliant Friend meets Blue is the Warmest Color in this lyrical debut novel set in a working-class neighborhood of the Canary Islands—a story about two girls coming of age in the early aughts and a friendship that simmers into erotic desire over the course of one hot summer.

High near the volcano of northern Tenerife, an endless ceiling of cloud cover traps the working class in an abject, oppressive heat. Far away from the island’s posh resorts, two girls dream of hitching a ride down to the beach and escaping their horizonless town. 
 
It’s summer, 2005, and our ten-year-old narrator is consumed by thoughts of her best friend Isora. Isora is rude and bossy, but she’s also vivacious and brave; grownups prefer her, and boys do, too. That’s why sometimes she gets jealous of Isora, who already has hair on her vagina and soft, round breasts. But she’s definitely not jealous that Isora’s mother is dead, nor that Isora’s fat, foul-mouthed grandmother has her on a diet, so that she is constantly sticking her fingers down her throat. Besides, she would do anything for Isora: gorge herself on cakes when her friend wants to watch, follow her to the bathroom when she takes a shit, log into chat rooms to swap dirty instant messages with strangers. But increasingly, our narrator finds it hard to keep up with Isora, who seems to be growing up at full tilt without her—and as her submissiveness veers into a painful sexual awakening, desire grows indistinguishable from intimate violence.
 
Braiding prose poetry with bachata lyrics and the gritty humor of Canary dialect, Dogs of Summer is a story of exquisite yearning, a brutal picture of girlhood and a love song written for the vital community it portrays.

the cover of All This Could Be Different

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Sapphic Fiction)

Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha is one of the fortunate ones. She’s moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women—soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach.

But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be truly close and open with anybody, even as her friendships deepen, even as she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance with Marina. It’s then that Tig begins to draw up a radical solution to their problems, hoping to save them all.

A beautiful and capacious novel rendered in singular, unforgettable  prose, All This Could Be Different is a wise, tender, and riveting group portrait of young people forging love and community amidst struggle, and a moving story of one immigrant’s journey to make her home in the world.

the cover of Ben and Beatriz

Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra (Pansexual Much Ado About Nothing Reimagining)

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

Beatriz Herrera is a fierce woman who will take you down with her quick wit and keen intellect. And after the results of the 2016 election worked hard to erase her identity as a queer biracial woman, she’d be right to. Especially if you come for her sweet BFF cousin, Hero. Beatriz would do anything for her, a loyalty that lands Beatriz precisely where she doesn’t want to be: spending a week at the ridiculous Cape Cod mansion of stupid-hot playboy Ben Montgomery. The same Ben Montgomery she definitely shouldn’t have hooked up with that one time… The things we do for family.

White and wealthy, Ben talks the talk and walks the walk of privilege, but deep down, he’s wrestling with the politics and expectations of a conservative family he can’t relate to. Though Beatriz’s caustic tongue drives him wild in the very best way, he’s the last person she’d want, because she has zero interest in compromising her identity. But as her and Ben’s assumptions begin to unravel and their hookups turn into something real, they start wondering if it’s still possible to hold space for one another and the inescapable love that unites them. 

This retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is both razor-sharp and swoon-worthy: the perfect love story for our time.

the cover of Mademoiselle Revolution

Mademoiselle Revolution by Zoe Sivak (Bisexual Historical Fiction)

A powerful, engrossing story of a biracial heiress who escapes to Paris when the Haitian Revolution burns across her island home. But as she works her way into the inner circle of Robespierre and his mistress, she learns that not even oceans can stop the flames of revolution.

Sylvie de Rosiers, as the daughter of a rich planter and an enslaved woman, enjoys the comforts of a lady in 1791 Saint-Domingue society. But while she was born to privilege, she was never fully accepted by island elites. After a violent rebellion begins the Haitian Revolution, Sylvie and her brother leave their family and old lives behind to flee unwittingly into another uprising—in austere and radical Paris. Sylvie quickly becomes enamored with the aims of the Revolution, as well as with the revolutionaries themselves—most notably Maximilien Robespierre and his mistress, Cornélie Duplay.
 
As a rising leader and abolitionist, Robespierre sees an opportunity to exploit Sylvie’s race and abandonment of her aristocratic roots as an example of his ideals, while the strong-willed Cornélie offers Sylvie safe harbor and guidance in free thought. Sylvie battles with her past complicity in a slave society and her future within this new world order as she finds herself increasingly torn between Robespierre’s ideology and Cornélie’s love.
 
When the Reign of Terror descends, Sylvie must decide whether to become an accomplice while a new empire rises on the bones of innocents…or risk losing her head.

the cover of Small Angels

Small Angels by Lauren Owen (Lesbian Gothic Fiction)

The woods are stirring again…

Lucia and her sisters grew up on the edge of Mockbeggar Woods. They knew it well—its danger, but also its beauty. As a lonely teenager, Kate was drawn to these sisters, who were unlike anyone she’d ever met. But when they brought her into the woods, something dark was awakened, and Kate has never been able to escape the terrible truth of what happened there. 

Chloe has been planning her dream wedding for months. She has the dress, the flowers, and the perfect venue: Small Angels, a charming old church set alongside dense, green woods in the village that her fiancé, Sam, and his sister, Kate, grew up in. But days before the ceremony, Chloe starts to learn of unsettling stories about Small Angels and Mockbeggar Woods. And worse, she begins to see, smell, and hear things that couldn’t possibly be real. 

Now, Kate is returning home for the first time in years—for Sam and Chloe’s wedding. But the woods are stirring again, and Kate must reconnect with Lucia, her first love, to protect Chloe, the village, and herself. An unforgettable novel about the memories that hold us back and those that show us the way forward, this is storytelling at its most magical. Enter Small Angels, if you dare.

the cover of The Women Could Fly

The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings (Bisexual Dystopia)

Josephine Thomas has heard every conceivable theory about her mother’s disappearance. That she was kidnapped. Murdered. That she took on a new identity to start a new family. That she was a witch. This is the most worrying charge because in a world where witches are real, peculiar behavior raises suspicions and a woman—especially a Black woman—can find herself on trial for witchcraft.  

But fourteen years have passed since her mother’s disappearance, and now Jo is finally ready to let go of the past. Yet her future is in doubt. The State mandates that all women marry by the age of 30—or enroll in a registry that allows them to be monitored, effectively forfeiting their autonomy. At 28, Jo is ambivalent about marriage. With her ability to control her life on the line, she feels as if she has her never understood her mother more. When she’s offered the opportunity to honor one last request from her mother’s will, Jo leaves her regular life to feel connected to her one last time.

In this powerful and timely novel, Megan Giddings explores the limits women face—and the powers they have to transgress and transcend them. 

the cover of Boulder
the cover of Parallel Paradise
the cover of An Archive of Brightness

Romance

the cover of Kissed by Her

Kissed by Her by Chelsea M. Cameron (F/F Romance)

I was so looking forward to this summer. My job as a nanny for eleven-year-old twins means never a dull moment, and I’m excited about hanging out with my best friend, Joy, and reading all the books we can get our hands on next to my employer’s fabulous pool.

Then my boss goes and hires a new assistant who is clearly gunning to be his second wife. Honor Conroy could not be more obvious in her motives and I can’t understand how he doesn’t see it.

She keeps getting under my skin, and even the twins are pulling pranks to try and get her out of their lives. I deny any involvement when their father finds out about their hijinks.
Then Honor decides to invade my book club—my sanctuary. I’ve had it, so I decide to confront her and, somehow, in the heat of the moment, her lips end up on mine in the fiercest kiss I’ve ever had in my life.
Turns out the gold-digger I imagined isn’t the real Honor, and my heart may never recover from finding out who she really is under that ice-queen facade.

[This is like Parent Trap, but Chessy and Meredith get together!!]

the cover of In the Event of Love

In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae (F/F Romance)

Fans of Casey McQuiston and Alexandria Bellefleur will adore this queer romcom that combines everything people love about Hallmark-style holiday romances with laugh-out-loud humor and a sweet and steamy love story between two women.

With her career as a Los Angeles event planner imploding after a tabloid blowup, Morgan Ross isn’t headed home for the holidays so much as in strategic retreat. Breathtaking mountain vistas, quirky townsfolk, and charming small businesses aside, her hometown of Fern Falls is built of one heartbreak on top of another…
 
Take her one-time best friend turned crush, Rachel Reed. The memory of their perfect, doomed first kiss is still fresh as new-fallen snow. Way fresher than the freezing mud Morgan ends up sprawled in on her very first day back, only to be hauled out via Rachel’s sexy new lumberjane muscles acquired from running her family tree farm.

When Morgan discovers that the Reeds’ struggling tree farm is the only thing standing between Fern Falls and corporate greed destroying the whole town’s livelihood, she decides she can put heartbreak aside to save the farm by planning her best fundraiser yet. She has all the inspiration for a spectacular event: delicious vanilla lattes, acoustic guitars under majestic pines, a cozy barn surrounded by brilliant stars. But she and Rachel will ABSOLUTELY NOT have a heartwarming holiday happy ending. That would be as unprofessional as it is unlikely. Right?

the cover of Cherry On Top
the cover of Royal Exposé
the cover of Score to Love
the cover of Just a Touch Away
the cover of Set in Stone by Stela Brinzeanu
the cover of The Inconvenient Heiress
the cover of Perfectly Matched
the cover of A Taste of Her

Mystery/Thrillers

the cover of A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette

A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette (Lesbian Cozy Mystery)

Jay Allan and Cindy Cooper were soap opera stars in the late ’90s, a wholesome young husband-and-wife duo who combined musical talent with humor and charisma. When the truth about their sexual orientations came to light, their marriage and TV careers ended, but decades later they have remained friends. Together, they open Palm Springs’ chicest movie memorabilia store, Hooray for Hollywood–but no customers and dwindling finances spell trouble.

A Hail Mary arrives in the form of Yana Tosh, a ninety-year-old diva of the silver screen who has amassed a valuable collection of costumes and props and is looking to sell. But first, Jay and Cindy have to beat their competition, a vice president from a mega-auction house with ten times their resources. And when he winds up dead, they become prime suspects in the murder.

With their freedom and livelihoods on the line, Jay and Cindy desperately need to clear their names. There are plenty of other potential suspects, but they’ll have to solve it soon before they’re forced to trade in their vintage costume collection for two orange jumpsuits.

the cover of Dirt Creek

Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor (Lesbian Mystery)

When twelve-year-old Esther disappears on the way home from school in a small town in rural Australia, the community is thrown into a maelstrom of suspicion and grief. As Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels arrives in town during the hottest spring in decades and begins her investigation, Esther’s tenacious best friend, Ronnie, is determined to find Esther and bring her home.

When schoolfriend Lewis tells Ronnie that he saw Esther with a strange man at the creek the afternoon she went missing, Ronnie feels she is one step closer to finding her. But why is Lewis refusing to speak to the police? And who else is lying about how much they know about what has happened to Esther?

Punctuated by a Greek chorus, which gives voice to the remaining children of the small, dying town, this novel explores the ties that bind, what we try and leave behind us, and what we can never outrun, while never losing sight of the question of what happened to Esther, and what her loss does to a whole town.

In Hayley Scrivenor’s Dirt Creek, a small-town debut mystery described as The Dry meets Everything I Never Told You, a girl goes missing and a community falls apart and comes together.

the cover of Real Bad Things

Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford (Queer Thriller)

Beneath the roiling waters of the Arkansas River lie dead men and buried secrets.

When Jane Mooney’s violent stepfather, Warren, disappeared, most folks in Maud Bottoms, Arkansas, assumed he got drunk and drowned. After all, the river had claimed its share over the years.

When Jane confessed to his murder, she should have gone to jail. That’s what she wanted. But without a body, the police didn’t charge her with the crime. So Jane left for Boston—and took her secrets with her.

Twenty-five years later, the river floods and a body surfaces. Talk of Warren’s murder grips the town. Now in her forties, Jane returns to Maud Bottoms to reckon with her past: to do jail time, to face her revenge-bent mother, to make things right.

But though Jane’s homecoming may enlighten some, it could threaten others. Because in this desolate river valley, some secrets are better left undisturbed.

the cover of The Artist
the cover of Strange Attractors

Fantasy

the cover of The Book Eaters

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean (Lesbian Fantasy)

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

the cover of High Times in the Low Parliament

High Times in the Low Parliament by Kelly Robson (Lesbian Fantasy)

Lana Baker is Aldgate’s finest scribe, with a sharp pen and an even sharper wit. Gregarious, charming, and ever so eager to please, she agrees to deliver a message for another lovely scribe in exchange for kisses and ends up getting sent to Low Parliament by a temperamental fairy as a result.

As Lana transcribes the endless circular arguments of Parliament, the debates grow tenser and more desperate. Due to long-standing tradition, a hung vote will cause Parliament to flood and a return to endless war. Lana must rely on an unlikely pair of comrades―Bugbite, the curmudgeonly fairy, and Eloquentia, the bewitching human deputy―to save humanity (and maybe even woo one or two lucky ladies), come hell or high water.

the cover of Kalyna the Soothsayer
the cover of The Oleander Sword
the cover of A Flood of Blood to the Heart

Science Fiction

the cover of Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai

Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai (Queer Frankenstein Retelling)

Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, gender-swapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist, who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation who, painstakingly brought into the world, is abandoned due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk?

the cover of Furious Heaven
the cover of The Last Hero
the cover of Dance with the Devil
the cover of Fault Tolerance
the cover of Made for Me

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of Bolero

Bolero by Wyatt Kennedy & Luana Vecchio (Bisexual SFF Graphic Novel)

A woman running away from a broken heart discovers a mother-key into parallel universes. The rules are:

The key can work on any door.
The mother will only let you visit 53 universes.
Do not ask to speak to the mother.
Never hop more than 53 times.

Collects BOLERO #1-5

Young Adult

YA Contemporary

the cover of Dancing Barefoot
the cover of Bad At Love

YA Horror

the cover of Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

Dead Flip by Sara Farizan (Lesbian YA 90s Horror)

Edge-of-your-seat YA horror perfect for fans of Stranger Things
 
Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine?
 
These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns—still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen—Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all . . .

the cover of These Fleeting Shadows

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall (Sapphic YA Horror)

The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out in a bid for an inheritance that will leave Helen Vaughan either rich…or dead.

Helen Vaughan doesn’t know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven’t spoken to their extended family since. So when her grandfather dies, she’s shocked to learn that he has left everything—the house, the grounds, and the money—to her. The inheritance comes with one condition: she must stay on the grounds of Harrow for one full year, or she’ll be left with nothing.
 
There is more at stake than money. For as long as she can remember, Harrow has haunted Helen’s dreams—and now those dreams have become a waking nightmare. Helen knows that if she is going to survive the year, she needs to uncover the secrets of Harrow. Why is the house built like a labyrinth? What is digging the holes that appear in the woods each night? And why does the house itself seem to be making her sick?
 
With each twisted revelation, Helen questions what she knows about Harrow, her family, and even herself. She no longer wonders if she wants to leave…but if she can.

the cover of Slaughter at Seabridge

YA Fantasy

the cover of Dauntless

Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

the cover of The Drowned Woods

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Bisexual F/M YA Fantasy)

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.
 
The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.

Children

Middle Grade

the cover of The Devouring Wolf

The Devouring Wolf by Natalie C. Parker (Sapphic Middle Grade Fantasy)

A queer tale about kid werewolves, big bad mistakes, and terrifying creatures, perfect for fans of Katherine Arden and R.L. Stine.

Little wolf, little wolf, here I come.
 
It’s the eve of the first full moon of summer and twelve-year-old Riley Callahan is ready to turn into a wolf. Nothing can ruin her mood: not her little brother Milo’s teasing, not Mama N’s smothering, and not even Mama C’s absence from their pack’s ceremony. But then the unthinkable happens—something that violates every rule of wolf magic—Riley and four other kids don’t shift.

Riley is left with questions that even the pack leaders don’t have answers to. And to make matters far worse, it appears something was awoken in the woods that same night. 

The Devouring Wolf.

The elders tell the tale of the Devouring Wolf to scare young pups into obedience. It’s a terrifying campfire story for fledging wolves, an old legend of a giant creature who consumes the magic inside young werewolves. But to Riley, the Devouring Wolf is more than lore: it’s real and it’s after her and her friends.

Check out more LGBTQ new releases by signing up for Our Queerest Shelves, my LGBTQ book newsletter at Book Riot!

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Larkie reviews The Girls are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh

The Girls Are Never Gone cover

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I love a good horror movie, and can never resist a classic haunted house, so when I heard that The Girls are Never Gone is about a podcast host investigating a 30 year old murder and possible haunting of a dilapidated old mansion, and it’s sapphic, I jumped on it. This book was a lot of fun, first of all. It had a fairly lighthearted tone overall, as the story followed three friends caught up in solving a 30 year old mystery and unveiling some of the even older history in the house.

The friendship in this book was one of my favorite parts. Of course I was expecting a bit of romance and tension, since I did pick up a sapphic horror book, but I wasn’t expecting to have so much fun as the three girls (Dare, Quinn, and Holly) worked to restore the Arrington estate. It made me want to grab a couple of friends and go explore somewhere spooky and then have a sleepover because we’re too nervous to be alone afterwards.

I will say that I do kind of wish the book was a bit scarier. There were some excellent spooky scenes, but they were mostly sandwiched between more lighthearted aspects of three teenagers having fun and exploring together (and shenanigans with Waffle, the blood sugar signaling dog who does a better job at detecting ghost activity). With all the creepy elements, you’d think that this book would be scarier overall, but it wasn’t really. This might be a good thing if people enjoy horror aesthetics without wanting to be terrified, but it missed the mark slightly for me. However, lots of the scary lake aspects were excellent. I love it when people vomit up lake water, what can I say?

Danika reviews Florida Woman by Deb Rogers

the cover of Florida Woman

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Jamie has always lived a bit of a bumpy life. Her dad left when she was young, and her mom took off with a new boyfriend not long afterwards. She and her brother weathered the foster care system together until he was arrested for dealing drugs. Since then, she’s been working minimum wages jobs with very few connections, just scraping by.

But one strange night changed her life forever, and not for the better. A combination of bad decisions and unlikely circumstances turned her into Twitter’s main character of the day: A “Florida Woman” headline. All she wants to do is put her head down, serve her time in community service, and wait for it to blow over.

In this worst time in her life, though, she’s stumbled on some luck: a lawyer who’s taking her on pro bono, and a sweet community service opportunity that seems more like voluntourism than something comparable to jail time. Her lawyer has arranged for her to volunteer for a macaque monkey sanctuary. She’ll have her room and board paid for, and she’ll serve out her time in the Florida jungle helping prepare the monkey’s food, clean up after them, and generally be helpful.

Jamie was fully expecting to spend time behind bars, so this is an incredible opportunity, even if she does have to wear an ankle monitor. When she arrives at the sanctuary, Atlas, she finds the three full-time staff members are a very close-knit group of women. They’re definitely hippie types, and they believe the monkeys have spiritual wisdom to share with them. Jamie can’t help but be envious of the way they move through life, and she yearns to belong in this community.

Meanwhile, interspersed with Jamie’s chapters are excerpts from the sanctuary’s website, which include ominous lines like “We are a supportive circle, but remember: circles are closed for safety and wholeness. You are either with us or against us. There is no other way.” Jamie sleeps in her own hut deep in the jungle, away from the other women. She swears she can hear the monkeys screaming at night, but she’s told she’s dreaming it or confusing it with other noises.

This is a story that has a creeping sense of unease, which pairs well with the oppressive, dizzying heat and humidity of Jamie’s surroundings. Atlas feels a little cult-like, but Jamie is completely bought in. She’s vulnerable on multiple levels, and she desperately wants to be part of this community who seem to accept her and value her, even knowing her embarrassing headlines. She devotes herself to them and Atlas, ignoring the red flag that pop up, and as readers, we’re just waiting for this house of cards to come down.

I feel like with slow burn suspense like this in a story, it can turn out a couple of ways. One is that you get exactly what you were anticipating the entire time, and it feels like they were just dragging out the few plot points they had. Or, as is the cast for this book, it can slowly keep gathering steam towards an explosion at the end. While this book start off fairly slow-moving, it is effective in building tension, and that is definitely paid off.

I will also say this has a sapphic main character, but it’s far from a romance.

I wasn’t sure exactly what genre this was going into it: horror? Litfic? Thriller? And to be honest, I’m still not sure by the end. I’d say thriller meets litfic would probably be the closest to accurate.

This was a compelling read, especially with the fascinating setting. And I was invested in Jamie, who is so hungry for connection that she’s willing to overlook a lot to find it. This is a thriller, so I recommend looking up content warnings, because some of them would be spoilers for specific reveals.

Meagan Kimberly reviews The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

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Every year the witch queen of Caldella must choose a lover from the town to sacrifice to the dark tide, saving the island and its people from annihilation. Every year another boy is taken and everyone accepts it. But when Lina’s brother is in danger of becoming the sacrifice, she can no longer sit idly by. Tomas—her crush and the only boy who ever escaped the witch queen’s sacrifice—helps her keep her brother safe, but ends up being taken again. Feeling guilty and not wanting to lose him, Lina sets out to his rescue and takes his place. Lina and the witch queen, Eva, butt heads at first, but they soon come to know each other better until they’re willing to fight for changes.

Perhaps it was the audiobook narration, but the overall story was underwhelming. The world-building and magic were the strongest aspects of the story. Magic is established straightaway as a luxury to be bought as spells and potions. It’s also shown that the dark tide is only kept at bay when the witch queen’s sacrifice is truly a sacrifice, meaning she has to love them.

The characters’ relationships never feel organic. On paper, they’re written as falling in love, with all the familiar markers of enemies to lovers. But the connection between Eva and Lina never feels authentic. Similarly, Lina’s love for Tomas is more of a crush. But this speaks to Lina’s tendency to romanticize everything. She lives in fantasy, thinking the world works as good and evil, with good prevailing and true love winning the day.

Lina’s relationship with her brother, Finley, is one of the more interesting dynamics that only touched the surface. Coming from her point of view, it seems like she and Finley fight like normal siblings. However, it’s established from the beginning that his anger was so violent that he ended up hurting her, leading to her broken ankle. Every time she thinks about the incident, she makes excuses saying she shouldn’t have made him angry and that he really loves her, but his temper gets the best of him. It’s the narrative her family has been telling her whole life, so of course, she believes that his actions are mistakes and not abuse. It’s not until Eva tells her that Finley abuses her and that she doesn’t have to accept that abuse that Lina begins to see their relationship differently.

Lina, with her head in fantasy and giving people the benefit of the doubt, plays the role of the “good girl,” while Eva, the literal witch who doesn’t allow others to disrespect her boundaries, is “evil.” These dynamics are the more intriguing storyline, but the book gets bogged down in trying to make their eventual romance the focus.

Content warning: abuse

Til reviews My Whole Truth by Mischa Trace

the cover of My Whole Truth

Trigger warnings: sexual assault, gore, pregnancy, abortion

My Whole Truth tells the story of Seelie, who readers meet in the aftermath of a vicious attack. She’s bleeding, scared, and teeth-gritted determined to survive. As the novel progresses, Seelie recovers physically with therapy and emotionally through support from her friends, but faces both a legal trial and harassment at school.

Because Seelie survived. And she did so by ensuring her attacker was dead.

Just as a book, this is a quick but just-okay read. It’s fast-paced with a twist or revelation around every corner. Relationships between Seelie and her friends were another positive; they felt genuine. As I read, I felt like I could see the author’s plotting, and it’s not inherently bad. Threads are introduced and resolved in a reasonable timeframe. Multiple storylines overlap—they just didn’t feel cohesive. One in particular related to drug-dealing. It took up a fair few pages, yet seemed mostly to provide context, not to impact the story itself. This proves most problematic at the conclusion: marked by dramatic yet unimpactful revelations, it felt silly.

The representation is balanced far better than the story itself. Seelie’s queerness, disability, and size all felt very organic to me. Anyone who’s ever been an awkward teenager will recognize themselves in her under-articulated crush on her best friend. Seelie’s recovery from a stab wound to the leg is slow and requires her to use mobility aids for much of the story. Reading it, the pain and frustration seem palpable. Finally, her feelings about her size are well-incorporated and feel realistic from little details like self-consciousness regarding specific body parts. People who have never been fat rarely understand just how personal it can be to hate one’s knees.

Most impressive of all, this is never a story about a queer girl or a disabled girl or a fat girl, it’s a story about Seelie. The narrative doesn’t feel the need to handhold readers. Instead, it’s very normalizing.

This was a just-okay book, but its representation is excellent. So despite the just-okay-ness, I had a good time reading it.

Rachel reviews Devotion by Hannah Kent

the cover of devotion

From the highly acclaimed author of Burial Rites and The Good People comes Hannah Kent’s latest novel, Devotion (2021), a historical lesbian fiction set in 1830s Prussia that has quickly become one of my favourite reads of the year.

Beginning in Prussia in 1836, the novel is the bildungsroman of Hanne, a fifteen-year-old girl who quickly finds herself pulled further and further into the social and domestic rules dictated by her gender and her class. But Hanne is more drawn to nature and the world around her than her domestic life dictates, unlike the other girls in her village. When she meets Thea, however, Hanne feels as though she has finally found someone who understands her. As Old Lutherans whose faith is threatened in Prussia, Hanne’s family is secretly devout. When they are granted passage to Australia to begin a new life, Hanne departs along with her family, Thea’s family, and much of her village to start fresh in a new land. However, the journey does not go as smoothly as planned, and Thea and Hanne will be forced to hold onto one another through life, loss, and time.

When I initially heard about this book, I was immediately interested. Hannah Kent’s fiction is always beautifully written and well-researched, and Devotion is no exception. In this novel, however, Kent’s lesbian characters take center stage in a gorgeously poetic and heart-wrenching novel. This book is Kent’s best work yet, and no one who picks this book up—whether they are lovers of historical fiction, literary fiction, lesbian literature, or all three—will be disappointed.  

I was unable to put this down and read it in about a day, with plans to read it again as soon as possible! Kent’s writing strikes a balance between literary and plot-driven prose, and there is a twist around the halfway point of this novel that had me gasping aloud! This book is exactly the kind of fiction I wish I could read all the time. In the style of writers like Sarah Waters with the haunting twists of Emily M. Danforth, Devotion is an unmissable novel.

My hope is that Kent will continue to write queer stories set in historical time periods, because her voice in this novel is so unique and poignant. As an avid fan of her fiction to date, this novel is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend.  

Please add Devotion on your TBR on Goodreads.

Rachel Friars is a writer and academic living in Canada, dividing her time between Ontario and New Brunswick. When she’s not writing short fiction, she’s reading every lesbian novel she can find. Rachel holds two degrees in English literature and is currently pursuing a PhD in nineteenth-century lesbian literature and history.

You can find Rachel on Twitter @RachelMFriars or on Goodreads @Rachel Friars.