Please give me the best of lesbian romance novels
September 17, 2022 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Lesbian romance (novels) me please! What are the best books in the genre?

I've got some time to kill, and reading pretty prodigiously. My current interest is lesbian (wlw, female protagonist only bisexual, everything that fits in the big umbrella.) I'm ok with everything from kissing and 'fade to black' to adult content, kink, some drama and sad stories. Just nothing super depressing or with animal cruelty.

Modern, historical, fiction, scifi, fantasy, doesn't matter. Thank you! English only, prefer ebooks over paper or audio.
posted by Jacen to Writing & Language (19 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I quite enjoyed The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
posted by signsofrain at 6:44 PM on September 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Snow Falls and No Strings by Gerri Hill are both fun and fluffy romances set in a Colorado mountain town. The stakes are low, and they get pretty steamy, which to my mind means they’re terrific romance novels.
posted by theotherdurassister at 6:55 PM on September 17, 2022

Best answer: My friends will not stop talking about One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston.

Proper English, by K.J. Charles, is one of my favorites. It's an English country house mystery historical lesbian romance.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:37 PM on September 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Two suggestions! 1) I read the first book in this trilogy which is about a male couple, the second sounds amazing but is not out yet: A Restless Truth- Freya Marske
Second, does fanfiction count? How about gender-swapped, historical period swapped, Sherlock fanfiction? Pretty sure I originally learned about this one here so this is full circle: How the Mouth Changes its Shape
posted by katieanne at 8:40 PM on September 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shira Glassman's Cinnamon Blade (superheroine and the damsel she's always saving) and Knit One, Girl Two (super-sweet knitting romance).

Karelia Stetz-Waters's Satisfaction Guaranteed (grumpy-sunshine set in the sex shop grumpy has inherited).
posted by pised at 8:46 PM on September 17, 2022

Best answer: I've just been reading pretty much everything by Jae. I paused in the middle of the Departure from the Script to write this comment. I particularly enjoyed Perfect Rhythm (there's an Ace protagonist!), Wrong Number, Right Woman, and Chemistry Lessons. She seems to mostly write in a shared world, and I enjoy getting occasional glimpses of characters from the other books.

Other things I've enjoyed recently (all borrowed as ebooks from the library via Overdrive)...
- I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (YA mystery-ish)
- She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen (also YA)
- The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner (fantasy, mystery, opposites-attract) is technically a sequel to Unnatural Magic (not lesbian) but I read The Ruthless Lady's Guide first and didn't feel like I was missing anything
- The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (YA, enemies-to-lovers, deals with cultural appropriation)
- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde has both lesbian and straight romance plots set at a Con (YA)
- Passing Strange by Ellen Klages is set in 1940s San Francisco and is very poignant

Tell me how you Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi gets it's own paragraph because I liked it so much I read it twice in a row. It's YA, hate-to-love with a film nerd and a cheerleader, and I just enjoy Safi's writing.

Finally, maybe: Small Miracles by Olivia Atwater is funny and cozy and sweet, and one of the protagonists is (supernaturally) genderfluid. Skip it if having one of the romantic leads sometimes be male is a complete dealbreaker for you, though.

I am looking forward to adding everything in this question to my reading list! Right after I finish this collected set of Jae's Hollywood series. *sticks nose back in ebook*
posted by sibilatorix at 9:18 PM on September 17, 2022

Best answer: For novels with a bit more literary bent you might want to try Sarah Waters.
posted by brookeb at 9:33 PM on September 17, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Capital-R Romance: I wanted to enjoy The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics but didn't find it very engaging; however, the second book by the same author (Olivia Waite), The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, was great fun.

Other books that have f/f romantic subplots, regardless of happy ending: A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine; Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir; This is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone....there's actually a ton of recent science fiction and fantasy with wlw protagonists.

Seconding Sarah Waters.
posted by wintersweet at 9:38 AM on September 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Patience and Sarah
posted by brujita at 9:44 AM on September 18, 2022

Best answer: Boy, I was coming in here to make recommendations, but I see most of my recommendations have been made! Seconding:
- literally anything by Olivia Waite, if she scribbles something on the back of an envelope I will read it. Each one is better than the last; The Hellion's Waltz is the third book in the series and is just fantastic. It has some Leverage vibes if you've ever watched that show.
- One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston - this blew me away
- Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters is a classic
- The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner is fantastic - the author is an incredible world-builder, does great romance and also does fantastic intrigue. I wanted to read it a second time as soon as I finished it.

Some that I did not see on this list:
- Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan is a historical romance featuring two elderly women who have decided it's time to take back what they deserve. It is absolutely wonderful.
- Once Ghosted Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole is a lot of fun. It is set in modern NYC, and one of the main characters is the aide to the Prince of Lesotho (basically Wakanda). She's also written a historical called That Could Be Enough, which I have not read but have been told by everyone is amazing.
- Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki is a novel that has SF, fantasy and romantic elements. Two of the main characters are female and have a romance. There's a lot of other plot threads too. The end of this book was like the biggest, warmest hug.
- We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia - this is set in something like our world with a few important differences and has a great lesbian romance. First in a series. Technically YA but I'd categorize it more as NA.
posted by rednikki at 10:32 AM on September 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lesbian romance novels were my mainstay when I moved to Northern Colorado in the early 80s after college.

I especially liked Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest, Bittersweet by Nevada Barr, and Report for Murder by Val McDermid. Both Val and Nevada found commercial success writing novels with hetero female protaganists.
posted by elmay at 11:36 AM on September 18, 2022

Best answer: Anything and everything by Ann McMan. Romance and humor.
posted by onair at 7:22 PM on September 18, 2022

Best answer: I went through a bad breakup and found myself obsessively reading lesbian romance novels over the last 8 months or so.

These are some I liked:

Guava Flavored Lies JJ Arias
Tryst Six Venom Penelope Douglas
Grace Falls HP Munro (also enjoyed their other books)
Poppy Jenkins Clare Ashton (also enjoyed their other books)
Delilah Green Doesn't Care Ashley Herring Blake
Those Who Wait Haley Cass (also enjoyed their other books)
Waiting in the Wings Melissa Brayden
The Gravity Between Us Kristen Zimmer
A Family Affair Harper Bliss (also enjoyed their other books)
Dating Sarah Cooper Siera Maley (also enjoyed their other books)
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower Erica Ridley (also enjoyed their other books)

There are a lot of self published lesbian romance novels on Amazon, some are better than others.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:58 PM on September 18, 2022

Best answer: From my daughter:
I enjoyed Roller Girl by Vanessa North, in which a trans wakeboarder-turned-personal-trainer falls in love with her cis derby coach. I adore Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden, in which two teenage girls slowly fall in love in early eighties New York while dealing with homophobia from all directions. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman, in which a young queen falls in love with a warrior disguised as a boy and goes on an adventure with her, is a fun read. Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers is a lesbian romance that's tremendously popular at the moment, though I haven't read it. Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner is a fairly predictable but still enjoyable story about a Chinese American actress who falls in love with her assistant while trying to stay closeted. The Lies We Tell Ourselves is a YA book I absolutely loved in middle school, about a Black student integrating a white school who falls in love with the white daughter of a prominent segregationist.

The Beebo Brinker series is a lesbian classic for a reason, though whether it's actually good is somewhat debatable. It's also debatable whether Beebo is a butch woman, a nonbinary person, or a trans man, though there are a few books in the series where the romantically paired characters are unambiguously both cis women. The chronologically first book, Beebo Brinker, is probably the best one.

Also nthing almost everything in the thread.

Please do let us know if you're open to fanfiction and, if so, which fandoms. The Sherlock Holmes fandoms has some of the best sapphic love stories I've seen on the Internet.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:59 PM on September 18, 2022

Also More Dykes To Watch Out For, the second volume of Alison Bechdel’s iconic comic strip.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:03 PM on September 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Also she has more some recommendations if your definition of lesbian is inclusive of nonbinary people.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:08 PM on September 18, 2022

Best answer: Seconding recommendations for:
Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

And adding:
possibly a spoiler, but the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
posted by SeedStitch at 7:02 AM on September 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones---just totally delightful.
Also thirding or fourthing Sarah Waters, although some of them are happier than others. Tipping the Velvet is a good place to start.
posted by exceptinsects at 4:29 PM on September 20, 2022

Best answer: The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith is the novel that Carol was based on and is excellent.
posted by ikahime at 9:19 AM on September 21, 2022

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