This week is a mix of genres, including a few from Bold Strokes Books, as well as a couple of poetry collections! These all use the publishers’ descriptions. What are you reading this week?
Vagabonds! by Eloghosa Osunde (Queer Fiction)
In the bustling streets and cloistered homes of Lagos, a cast of vivid characters—some haunted, some defiant—navigate danger, demons, and love in a quest to lead true lives.
As in Nigeria, vagabonds are those whose existence is literally outlawed: the queer, the poor, the displaced, the footloose and rogue spirits. They are those who inhabit transient spaces, who make their paths and move invisibly, who embrace apparitions, old vengeances and alternative realities. Eloghosa Osunde’s brave, fiercely inventive novel traces a wild array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance: a driver for a debauched politician with the power to command life and death; a legendary fashion designer who gives birth to a grown daughter; a lesbian couple whose tender relationship sheds unexpected light on their experience with underground sex work; a wife and mother who attends a secret spiritual gathering that shifts her world. As their lives intertwine—in bustling markets and underground clubs, churches and hotel rooms—vagabonds are seized and challenged by spirits who command the city’s dark energy. Whether running from danger, meeting with secret lovers, finding their identities, or vanquishing their shadowselves, Osunde’s characters confront and support one another, before converging for the once-in-a-lifetime gathering that gives the book its unexpectedly joyous conclusion.
Blending unvarnished realism with myth and fantasy, Vagabonds! is a vital work of imagination that takes us deep inside the hearts, minds, and bodies of a people in duress—and in triumph.
Mysteries and Thrillers
Secret Identity by Alex Segura (Queer Historical Mystery)
It’s 1975 and the comic book industry is struggling, but Carmen Valdez doesn’t care. She’s an assistant at Triumph Comics, which doesn’t have the creative zeal of Marvel nor the buttoned-up efficiency of DC, but it doesn’t matter. Carmen is tantalizingly close to fulfilling her dream of writing a superhero book.
That dream is nearly a reality when one of the Triumph writers enlists her help to create a new character, which they call “The Lethal Lynx,” Triumph’s first female hero. But her colleague is acting strangely and asking to keep her involvement a secret. And then he’s found dead, with all of their scripts turned into the publisher without her name. Carmen is desperate to piece together what happened to him, to hang on to her piece of the Lynx, which turns out to be a runaway hit. But that’s complicated by a surprise visitor from her home in Miami, a tenacious cop who is piecing everything together too quickly for Carmen, and the tangled web of secrets and resentments among the passionate eccentrics who write comics for a living.
Alex Segura uses his expertise as a comics creator as well as his unabashed love of noir fiction to create a truly one-of-a-kind novel–hard-edged and bright-eyed, gritty and dangerous, and utterly absorbing.
Whereabouts Unknown by Meredith Doench (Lesbian Thriller)
Theodora Madsen has everything she’s ever hoped for: a distinguished career as a homicide detective with the Dayton Police Department, a woman she loves, and a baby on the way.
While Theo and Bree nest and plan for their family’s future, two sixteen-year-old Ohio girls vanish—one from Dayton and the other from Brecksville—each leaving behind a bloody handprint. Then a routine interview goes disastrously wrong, and Theo’s injured and facing a lengthy recovery.
With her professional future uncertain and the cases growing cold, Theo scrambles to piece together the links between the girls. But the clock is ticking and time is running out.
Exclusive by Melissa Brayden (F/F Romance)
Her new job as an on-air reporter in sunny San Diego is a big break for Skyler Ruiz. No more covering small-town softball games or vegetable growing competitions. She’ll be working at the same station as her TV mega-crush and longtime idol, anchorwoman Caroline McNamara, and that doesn’t hurt either.
Unfortunately, people don’t always live up to expectations.
Skyler’s hopes of impressing Caroline are dashed when she discovers Caroline has little time for newbie reporters and is downright unwelcoming. But when Caroline drops her guard, Skyler is left with her head happily spinning, her heart wide open, and oh-so ready to explore a romance she never saw coming.
So, of course, the network pits them against each other.
It’s only when Skyler is ready to sacrifice everything she’s ever dreamed of for Caroline does she begin to suspect love is nothing but fake news.
The Game by Jan Gayle (F/F Romance)
Ryan Gibbs was the best thing to hit the LPGA from New Mexico since Nancy Lopez, but that was two years ago when her rookie year tour made the history books. Since she left the world of professional golf to be with her sick mother, she hasn’t played outside of her home course in Los Alamos, where she now works as a coach.
Katherine Reese has the drive to be the best, but since her second season, when she landed herself in the top ten in nearly every tournament, she’s barely been able to make the cut. Unable to let go of her ghosts, Katherine is in danger of tanking her career before it even begins.
Ryan and Katherine are natural competitors thrown together by their swing coach, Maggie Hart. Both have so much to prove and so little time for the inconveniences of falling in love. But if they can figure out how to work together, they just might be a force for women’s sports and a beautiful match for each other.
Her Duchess to Desire by Jane Walsh (F/F Historical Romance)
Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is tired of her reputation as the Ice Queen of London society. She resolves to leave behind her cold-hearted marriage to the duke—and to find a woman to keep her warm at night. Perhaps the dashing designer she hires to transform her Mayfair estate can also help her to transform her life.
Letitia Barrow has big dreams of running her own interior design business. The opportunity to reinvent the Hawthorne estate is the job that will finally establish her as a leading designer among the ton. The duchess might make her weak in the knees, but giving in to temptation could risk everything she’s working so hard to build.
The designer and the duchess embark on an affair, with renovations to the house in full swing—and the renovations in their hearts well underway. Then, unexpectedly, the duke returns home and their feelings are tested. Can London’s hottest new designer melt the Ice Queen forever?
Dying for You by Jenny Frame (F/F Vampire Romance)
Victorija Dred, Principe of the Dred clan, is one of the most feared vampires to walk the earth, but since her unwanted blood bond with Daisy, she’s slowly losing herself to blood sickness. Her clan is dismayed by her reluctance to order Daisy brought to her. The old Victorija would have used her for her blood without a second thought. However no one knows of the age-old vow holding her back.
Daisy MacDougall is struggling to cope with the vampire bite that is urging her to seek out Victorija. Secrets and history bind them in unfathomable ways, and when she discovers her family’s past and a very different Victorija, she vows to find the truth even if she must force their meeting.
Victorija and Daisy travel a dark and seductive path even as Victorija fights every instinct to take Daisy’s blood, and love seems all but impossible. As if that wasn’t bad enough, neither expects the real threat to Daisy’s life to be hiding inside the Dred clan.
Lead Me Astray by Sondi Warner (Queer Polyamorous Paranormal Romance)
Welcome to Overlay City in New Orleans—a shadowy in-between where the paranormal and the real world meet. Its newest resident: Aurie Edison.
A victim of a hit-and-run, Aurie now exists as a ghost in this mysterious realm. Convinced there is more to her death than what she remembers, Aurie sets out to uncover the truth. She soon finds herself in the company of Mys, a psychic empath, whose need to help others trumps all else, and Zyr, a werewolf detective able to work both the human and occult worlds.
As they begin to piece together the events leading up to her death, Aurie can’t deny the deeper connection developing between them. Yet, with each new secret suggesting a more sinister danger at play, they realize they may not make it out (dead or) alive.
Undeniably queer and devilishly sexy, Lead Me Astray will take you to the shadowy depths of New Orleans and never let you go.
Take Her Down by Lauren Emily Whalen (Queer YA Thriller)
In this queer YA retelling of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,stakes at Augustus Magnet School are cutthroat, scheming is creative, and loyalty is ever-changing.
Overnight, Bronwyn St. James goes from junior class queen to daughter of an imprisoned felon, and she lands in the care of her aunt and younger cousin Cass, a competitive cheerleader who Bronwyn barely knows. Life gets worse when her ex-best friend, the always-cool Jude Cuthbert, ostracizes Bronwyn from the queer social elite for dating a boy, Porter Kendrick.
Bronwyn and Jude are both running for student body president, and that means war. But after Bronwyn, Porter, and Cass share a video of Jude in a compromising position, Jude suddenly goes missing. No one has seen her for weeks and it might be all Bronwyn’s fault. Will Jude ever be found? Or will Bronwyn finally have to reckon with what she’s won—and what she’s lost?
Content Advisory: Depictions of sexual assault.
Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga
My Wandering Warrior Existence by Nagata Kabi (Lesbian Manga Memoir)
The newest diary manga from the Harvey Award-winning creator of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.
After attending a friend’s wedding, Nagata Kabi decides she wants one of her own. That’s not the only thing she wants—she longs to love and be loved. But she has three major problems: she has no partner, no dating experience, and her only sexual encounters are limited to a lesbian escort service. With the help of a photoshoot, a dating app, and more, the author embarks on a journey to seek the love and happiness she so desperately desires.
Cane Fire by Shani Mootoo (Queer Poetry)
From internationally celebrated writer and visual artist Shani Mootoo comes Cane | Fire, an immersive and vivid collection that marks a long-awaited return to poetry.
Throughout this evocative, sensual collection, akin to a poetic memoir, past and present are in conversation with each other as the narrator moves from Ireland to San Fernando, and finally to Canada. The reinterpretations and translation of this journey and its associated family history give meaning to the present. Through these deeply personal poems, and Mootoo’s own artwork, we begin to understand how a life can not only be shaped, but even reimagined.
Prelude by Brynne Rebele-Henry (Lesbian Poetry)
Prelude delineates the gay female experience through a poetic reconstruction of the girlhood of Catherine of Siena, a Catholic saint who lived in 1300s Italy and disobeyed her parents by refusing marriage to devote her life to God.
Through a historical lens, Brynne Rebele-Henry examines the erasure of gay women’s lives and offers a perspective of medieval queer girlhood while considering themes such as violence, desire, and the lesbian body.
Outrageous!: The Story of Section 28 and Britain’s Battle for LGBT Education by Paul Baker (Nonfiction)
A personal and impassioned history of the infamous Section 28, the 1988 UK law banning the teaching “of the acceptability of homosexuality.”
On May 23, 1988, Paul Baker sat down with his family to eat cake on his sixteenth birthday while The Six O’Clock News played in the background. But something was not quite right. There was muffled shouting—“Stop Section 28!”—and a scuffle. The papers would announce: “Beeb Man Sits on Lesbian.”
The next day Section 28 passed into UK law, forbidding local authorities from the teaching “of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” It would send shockwaves through British society: silencing gay pupils and teachers, while galvanizing mass protests and the formation of the LGBTQ+ rights groups OutRage! and Stonewall.
Outrageous! tells its story: the background to the Act, how the press fanned the flames and what politicians said during debates, how protestors fought back to bring about the repeal of the law in the 2000s, and its eventual legacy. Based on detailed research, interviews with key figures—including Ian McKellen, Michael Cashman, and Angela Mason—and personal recollection, Outrageous! is an impassioned, warm, often moving account of unthinkable prejudice enshrined within the law and of the power of community to overcome it.