Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate a slow burn romance as much as the next fanfic reader. But getting together isn’t the only story you can tell about a relationship—and in my opinion, it’s not even the most interesting one. What about everything that comes afterwards? How do they maintain that relationship over time? This is where books that start with an already established relationship shine. They can dive into the complexities of a long-term relationship, or they can just have a cute couple without introducing needless drama to keep them apart.
With f/f relationships, there can be even more appeal to these stories. Sometimes you just want to read a story about two women in love, and skip over all the obstacles to getting together. If you haven’t seen a lot of representation of f/f relationships, it’s reassuring to see what that looks like: not just the lead-up and the fade out on a happy ending, but the day-to-day of that relationship. With that in mind, here are 8 books that start with the f/f couples already together.
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars by Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino, Irene Koh, and Vivian Ng
If you haven’t seen The Legend of Korra, stop reading and start there. If you haven’t even seen Avatar: the Last Airbender, clear your calendar for the next few days and do that first. Okay, now that we’re caught up and I can talk spoilers, the beginning of Turf Wars was exactly my queer heart could have asked for from a Korra sequel. It’s basically a Korra and Asami honeymoon, and they make it very clear for anyone not paying attention that they are a romantic couple. They only get more settled into this relationship as the series goes on (this is a trilogy, but you can get it collected in one volume). In some ways, it starts to fade into the background, but it’s nice to be able to take their relationship for granted.
Okay, I’m cheating a little bit with this one. They do get together in the first book, but from the second volume on, they’re an established relationship. Goldie Vance follows a teen detective, but the art style is so cute that I kept forgetting it wasn’t a middle grade comic. (And now there’s a middle grade novelization!) It has a ’50s feel, and Goldie falls for Diane, who is rocking a James Dean vibe. Their budding romance is very sweet, but I also appreciated seeing how they evolved as a couple: Diane is very supportive of Goldie’s non-stop detective work and all the trouble that she gets into because of it.
It may be surprising to see middle grade/YA comics on this list, but I’ve also got a YA title that begins with an established relationship! It’s hardly the main topic of this story, however. Under Threat is about Franny, whose parents are abortion providers, and they are receiving threats because of it. When she tries to lean on her girlfriend for support, she finds out that her girlfriend’s brother is vehemently anti-choice, and Franny is stuck between reporting him and possibly losing her girlfriend, or gambling with her family’s safety. This is part of the Orca Soundings series, which are hi-lo (high interest, low reading level) books, so it’s very short and quick to read, but it tackles a lot. It feels like it’s been stripped down to the essentials of the story, with no padding at all.
This may be my favourite comic/graphic novel of all time. It’s a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, with a f/f couple at the centre of it. The framing device is that Cherry’s husband has made a bet with another man, Manfred, that he can’t seduce Cherry in 100 nights. In order to save Cherry from being forced into this arrangement, Hero (her lover and maid) tells Manfred stories over the course of these nights, with the promise that once he seduces Cherry, the stories will end. These stories are engaging in themselves, and resemble folk tales. They revolve around women, often sisters, and as those characters tell their own narratives, the nesting story structure grows. The art is beautiful, and I was captivated just by the varied page layouts. And at the middle of this story is an epic and unshakeable love between two women.
This is another series that starts with the couple getting together, but you can just as easily start here. As the Mangoverse series continues, it gathers up more and more queer relationships and family structures. In this volume, Queen Shulamit and Chef Aviva have been a couple for years and are raising an infant princess together (with the help of a dragon, of course). Shira Glassman’s books are always queer Jewish happiness, and you can guarantee that you’ll finish her books with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Why not an established f/f/f triad? Chameleon Moon is a dystopian book, but a hopeful one. While their city descends into flames, surveilled by a police force, these superheroes band together to carve out some room for kindness in their hellish landscape. RoAnna Sylver centres representation and optimism in their work, and queer, trans, disabled characters as well as characters of colour are the heroes in these stories. And as for established relationships, this is another one where the couple is raising a child together, so you can’t get much more established than that.
Valentine and Alexa are poised to be a power couple. Valentine is wealthy and a medial student, while Alexa is a law student. Valentine is about to propose when she is attacked and turned into a vampire—I hate it when that happens. This is just a bump in the road, though, as they band together to find the vampires who did this to her, while dealing with the resultant PTSD and, well, change of diet. If you’re looking for lesbian vampire erotica, this has a fair amount of blood-sucking sex scenes here as well. If you’re a paranormal romance fan, give this a try.
From paranormal romance/erotica suitable for Halloween to an erotica just right for Christmas! Mistletoe Mishap follows two middle-aged women (both successful science professors) who are looking to reignite the spark between them. The premise is sexy, but most of the book actually explores their relationships, including how they navigate being semi-closeted at work. If you’re in the mood for a short, holiday-themed read that has sex scenes, but also some nuance around negotiating an established relationship, put this on your December TBR.
This is far from a complete list of established f/f relationships, but I hope this gives you a good place to start! From teenagers who have just started dating to middle-aged couples who have been married for many years, this proves that you don’t need to write an endless will they, won’t they to have a relationship story worth telling!
This post originally ran on Book Riot.
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