If you’re a fan of historical fiction or romance, this week of new releases is for you! Even the literary fiction picks all have a historical element. And if you like romance AND historical fiction, then don’t miss the historical romance section. For more new sapphic releases, also check out 50 Bi and Lesbian Books Out This Month: June 1st was the big release day this month, so most of those are already out and waiting for you to pick them!
A mother’s secret past and her daughter’s present collide in this richly atmospheric novel from the acclaimed author of The Animals at Lockwood Manor.
In the summer of 1973, Ruth and her four friends were obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings—and a little bit obsessed with each other. Drawn to the cold depths of the river by Ruth’s house, the girls pretend to be the drowning Ophelia, with increasingly elaborate tableaus. But by the end of that fateful summer, real tragedy finds them along the banks.
Twenty-four years later, Ruth returns to the suffocating, once grand house she grew up in, the mother of young twins and seventeen-year-old Maeve. Joining the family in the country is Stuart, Ruth’s childhood friend, who is quietly insinuating himself into their lives and gives Maeve the attention she longs for. She is recently in remission, unsure of her place in the world now that she is cancer-free. Her parents just want her to be an ordinary teenage girl. But what teenage girl is ordinary?
Alternating between the two fateful summers, The Ophelia Girls is a suspense-filled exploration of mothers and daughters, illicit desire, and the perils and power of being a young woman.
(Lesbian main character)
In 1920, having persuaded her resistant mother to send her to college, Kate Croft falls in love with science. Painfully rebuffed by a girl she longs for, and in flight from her own confusing sexuality, Kate finds refuge in the calm rationality of biology: its vision of a deeply interconnected world, and the promise that the new field of genetics can explain the way people are.
But science, too, turns out to be marred by human weakness. Despite her hard work and extraordinary gifts, Kate struggles, facing discrimination, competition, and scientific theft. At the same time, a love affair is threatened by Kate’s obsession with figuring out the meaning of the puzzling changes she sees in her experiments. The novel explores what it takes to triumph in the ruthless world of mid-20th-century genetics, following Kate as she decides what she is—and is not—willing to sacrifice to succeed.
(Sapphic main character)
Quiet Village by Eden Darry (F/F Thriller)
When her sister dies, Collie Noonan gets custody of her ten-year-old niece. Hoping for a fresh start, they move to a small village on the outskirts of Suffolk. But in Hyam all is not as it seems. The locals are verging on hostile, and all the local shop seems to stock is meat – a problem for Collie’s vegetarian niece.
Emily Lassiter is also new to the village, and Collie is drawn to the mysterious schoolteacher. Unknown to Collie, Emily is an undercover reporter looking into the disappearance of her brother. He warned her something was wrong in Hyam. Something was watching him. Emily believes the answers lie in the village, and she’ll do whatever it takes to discover the truth.
But something not quite human is stalking Collie and her niece. It’s coming for them all, and they’ll need to work together if any of them want to get out of Hyam alive.
The only girl in a house of boys, Julia Martini worked extra hard to get noticed. That has made her business-minded and driven, and she’s determined to turn her family’s struggling bar around. Simple. All she has to do is remodel, re-staff, and rebrand the place, work insane hours and ignore the sexy blonde who comes in to…she’s flirting, right? ’Cause Julia’s rusty and has zero time for dating, even if their chemistry is off-the-charts steamy.
Savannah McNally’s needs always come last. A caretaker by trade, she also takes care of her widowed dad, her brother, her sister, and everybody else on the planet, it seems. When her dad finally starts dating, Savannah can focus on her own life for once―her career, her house, maybe even that super-hot bartender at Martini’s who has her thinking naughty thoughts.
When family feuds are exposed and a popular blog trashes the bar, the weight of business decisions, family loyalty, and life in general may outweigh their attraction that could lead to more.
They say opposites attract. They aren’t kidding.
When Casey meets Olivia—the actress she’s driving around for two weeks—she figures it’s going to be all business. Sure, Olivia’s hot and has women throwing themselves at her feet, but Casey is only interested in making the money she needs before going back to Portland. London is full of painful memories, and anyway, perfectly put together celebrities are not really her thing.
Olivia loves being “Susie,” her TV alter ego. She’s sassy, sexy, and never short of admirers, but living her life in the public eye is taking its toll. When her new driver turns out to be tall, dark, and undeniably handsome, Olivia is intrigued. But Casey seems like she has something to hide, and the last thing Olivia needs is someone she can’t trust.
Taylor Braxton needs to get married, then divorced, with no strings attached.
Taylor, a physical trainer, has just inherited her grandfather’s B&B on Maui, but there’s a catch. She can’t have the deed until the day after her one-year wedding anniversary. She’d rather stick a fork in her eye than get hitched, but the B&B is a dream come true. So all she has to do is find a woman who will agree to fake a marriage. How hard can it be?
Jayden Wheaton could use a year in paradise to help her recovery. After a crippling accident, she hires Taylor in the hope of gaining back some mobility. When Taylor casually mentions her dilemma, Jayden jumps at the chance, hoping the warm island temperatures will help with her chronic pain. A marriage masquerade in exchange for a year in Paradise? Yes, please. After all, it’s not like either of them are looking for romance, so there’s zero chance of their feelings complicating the arrangement. Right?
Jaxon Lavigne left the small town of Chackbay, Louisiana, to escape disapproving parents and has never looked back. She’s now a popular English lit professor. Life is good. Really. The only problem is the invite in her mailbox. Who in their right mind has a fifteen-year high school reunion?
Iris Long’s days are predictable. She did the safe thing and married the high school quarterback. While her life isn’t a grand love affair, it’s comfortable, and as the secretary at the local high school, she can see her daughter and son throughout the day. Her family is great, but Iris longs for the one person she can’t have.
Jaxon comes back to town amid gossip that started sixteen years earlier and never really died down. After crushing on Iris in high school, seeing her again is a welcome surprise. But it’s Iris’s daughter, Sean, whose dark hair, blue eyes, and brilliant mind are startlingly like Jaxon’s own who exposes scars from small town secrets.
Jaxon has been kept in the dark by those she loves most, including Iris. But when the truth is finally revealed, will she leave for good?
Penelope Fletcher gave up everything to board the RMS Titanic.
Forced to travel to America for her father’s new job, Penelope left her home in Scotland, her beloved grandmother, and even her girlfriend, who promptly got engaged to someone else. Heartbroken, Penelope isn’t looking forward to the weeklong journey. Or that her parents want her to find a husband in America. To make matters worse, she also has to share a cabin with a complete stranger.
Ruby Cole, her spunky Irish roommate, is unlike anyone Penelope ever met. They become fast friends as they bond over crushing family expectations and sneaking into lush parties together. That Ruby likes women, too, comes as a surprise to Penelope, but she knows their affair can only be temporary. Because as soon as the Titanic arrives in New York, Penelope will have to marry someone of her father’s choosing.
Before long, though, they’ll both have to decide what–and who–is really worth fighting for.
Miss Beatrice Everson has managed to marry the Earl of Sinclair, solving her family’s disastrous financial problems for good. She should be the happiest woman in London, but a less than satisfactory wedding night has Beatrice fleeing her husband and planning an affair with the dashing Mr. George Smith.
Lady Georgina Smith has a secret she must keep at all costs: she divides her time running a bluestocking salon as Gina, and carousing across London as George. Captivated by Beatrice’s wit and charm, Georgina realizes that her secret is in danger—along with her heart.
When Beatrice discovers that her wedding night has resulted in an unexpected pregnancy, she sees an opportunity to have it all by divorcing Sinclair and marrying George. However, Georgina isn’t sure that a lifetime spent as a man is staying true to herself. Beatrice and Georgina must risk giving up their secrets to finally have their heart’s desire. But is the risk too great to take?
(Bigender main character with a female love interest)
1885, East London
Abigail and Gideon are under siege. Noxious fogs have been bringing their clinic waves of indigent patients with inexplicable symptoms, telling wild tales of a demonic presence in the fog. If that’s not enough, someone wants the clinic for themselves, and they’re using the force of law to get it.
On the other side of town, heiress Meg Eisenstadt and her brother Nat live a life of well-intentioned aimless luxury. She dabbles in social justice causes and he pursues alchemy. And in a secret lab in the depths of Whitechapel, disgraced physician Jin Wylie attempts to rebuild his shattered life by performing dubious research for a shadowy cabal.
They live in separate worlds on different trajectories until the mysterious fiend in the fog brings them together.
Abigail and Meg discover a shared passion for social justice, and for one another. But where does that leave her plans with Gideon? And what of the future of the clinic? Gideon has his own monster. Can he keep it in check without Abigail’s constant presence? Does Dr. Wylie’s research hold the solution to Gideon’s problems, or is it the cause of them? And could Nat’s own dabblings be the key to defeating the vicious killer in the fog?
The quiet village of Bradfield should offer Dr Sylvia Marks the refuge she seeks when she returns home from her time in a field hospital in France in 1918. However, she is still haunted by the disappearance of her lover, ambulance driver Anna Masters, two years previously. Settling back in as the village doctor alone in her large family house is more difficult than she realised it would be after the excitement of front-line medicine. Then curious events at a local farm, mysterious lights, and a hallucinating patient’s strange illness make her revisit her assessment of Anna’s death on the battlefield.
Lucille Hall-Bridges is at a loose end now her nursing work is finished. Her Mama and Papa are perfectly happy for her to pursue any or no career or social round; but she felt useful as a nurse and now she really doesn’t know what to do with her life. She hopes going to stay with her friend Sylvia for a while will help her find a way forward. And if that involves staying at Bradfield with Sylvia … then that’s fine with her.
But Sylvia is still focused on finding out what happened to her very good friend Anna three years ago; and the unbelievable events at a local farm over the course of the last year don’t seem to have helped her let that go.
Will the arrival of Lucy in Bradfield be the catalyst that allows both women to put their wartime stresses to rest? Can Sylvia move on from her love affair with Anna and find happiness again with Lucy, or is she still too entwined in the unresolved endings of the past?
NOTE: This story contains mention of domestic violence that happens to side characters off-screen.
Captain Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fights. She fights the King’s Navy. She fights to balance power in oppressive Vioria. She fights for respect as a female, bisexual, pirate captain. But she’s losing her biggest fight: to escape her secret past as a lost Princess.
With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.
When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most-dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law.
In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves. Her choices will make powerful enemies; good thing Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fighting those.
(Bisexual main character)
The blockbuster sequel to Charlotte Nicole Davis’s alternate Old West-set fantasy adventure.
The Good Luck Girls are free. Aster’s sister and friends have new lives across the border in Ferron, while Aster remains in Arketta, helping more girls escape. But news of a new welcome house opening fills Aster with a need to do more than just help individual girls. And an unexpected reunion gives her an idea of how to do it. From there, grows a wildly ambitious plan to free all dustbloods, who live as prisoners to Arketta’s landmasters and debt slavery.
When Clementine and the others return from Ferron, they become the heart of a vibrant group of fearless fighters, working to unite the various underclasses and convince them to join in the fight. Along the way, friendships will be forged, lives will be lost, and love will take root even in the harshest of circumstances, between the most unexpected of lovers.
But will Arketta’s dustbloods finally come into power and freedom, or will the resistance just open them up to a new sort of danger?
(Bisexual main character)
Tightly plotted and razor sharp, Work for a Million is hard-boiled detective noir stunningly rendered against a 1970s urban backdrop.
When Helen Keremos, Private Detective, is hired by a beautiful recording artist who has just won a million dollar lottery prize, her plan for a quiet life on the West Coast is quickly diverted. Helen is fiercely loyal, an independent woman whose magnetic personality and storied career make her the city’s premier private eye, suspicious of all stereotypes and not afraid to bend the rules. Rising star Sonia Deerfield has been receiving blackmail threats from an anonymous caller, and though she is surrounded by her keenly invested business team of “friends,” Helen wonders how trustworthy they really are. As the stakes get higher and attempts are made on their lives, the two women are drawn closer together through the twists and turns of the blackmailer’s dangerous pursuit–and their chemistry is no mystery.
In 1978 Eve Zaremba introduced detective Helen Keremos to readers in a pulp fiction series. The 1987 instalment of the series, Work for a Million, featured the first openly lesbian detective in genre fiction. The novel was adapted into a graphic novel in 2019 by television and comic book writer Amanda Deibert, and will be published more than forty years after readers fell in love with Helen Keremos and Eve Zaremba.
Vivid historical research into Toronto of the late-1970s and a dazzling cast of familiars and foes are brought to life on the page by Canadian artist Selena Goulding in a mixture of full colour and black and white illustrations.
Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier, illustrated by Val Wise (YA Graphic Novel)
A sweet, queer teen romance perfect for fans of Heartstopper and Check, Please!
Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications.
Her former friend BeBe is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition.
Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.