Happy Lesbian Visibility Day! Today we’re celebrating books explicitly starring lesbians, so come find some new great picks for your shelf! (Note: this post only includes books that were not featured in past posts. For even more visibly lesbian goodness, check out posts from past years, too!)
Books to Read Now
Out of Character by Jenna Miller
If you asked seventeen-year-old Cass Williams to describe herself, she’d happily tell you she’s fat, queer, and obsessed with the Tide Wars books. What she won’t tell you—or anyone in her life—is that she’s part of an online Tide Wars roleplay community. Sure, it’s nerdy as hell, but when she’s behind the screen writing scenes as Captain Aresha, she doesn’t have to think about her mother who walked out or how unexpectedly stressful it is dating resident cool girl Taylor Cooper.
But secretly retreating to her online life is starting to catch up with Cass. For one, no one in her real life knows her secret roleplay addiction is the reason her grades have taken a big hit. Also? Cass has started catching feelings for Rowan Davies, her internet bestie…and Taylor might be catching on.
As Cass’s lies continue to build, so does her anxiety. Roleplaying used to be the one place she could escape to, but this double life and offline-online love triangle have only made things worse. Cass must decide what to do—be honest and risk losing her safe space or keep it a secret and put everything else on the line.
The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson
Taylor Parker has always been a funny girl―but when she is accepted as a finalist for a diverse writers’ internship at Saturday Night Live, it turns her life upside down. If she wants a shot at winning in a little more than a month, Taylor will have to come out about both of her secrets: She wants to be a comedian . . . and she’s a lesbian.
With a mom who gave up a career in comedy to raise her, and a comedian dad who left for a younger woman, working in comedy is a sore subject in Taylor’s house. To keep her secret under wraps, she sneaks out to do improv and hides her sketches under the bed, and to distract from her anxiety about the competition, Taylor frequents Salem’s Museum of Witchcraft to pine for Abigail Williams from the back row.
It’s at the Museum of Witchcraft where Taylor falls deeper in love with the girl who plays Abigail Williams―Charlotte Grey, an out and proud lesbian at Nathaniel Hawthorne High. Charlotte radiates so much confidence in her acting and queerness that Taylor can’t resist her. So when Charlotte reaches out for help on a school project, Taylor readily agrees. As they spend more time together, Taylor sees what living her truth and pursuing her dreams could bring her, but Charlotte can’t understand why someone as funny as Taylor wouldn’t go all out to make the most of her opportunities. To live up to her own comedy dreams and become the person she wants to be, Taylor will have to find the confidence to tell everyone exactly who she is and what she wants.
Forget Me Not by Alyson Derrick
What would you do if you forgot the love of your life ever even existed?
Stevie and Nora had a love. A secret, epic, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. They also had a plan: to leave their small, ultra-conservative town and families behind after graduation and move to California, where they could finally stop hiding that love.
But then Stevie has a terrible fall. And when she comes to, she can remember nothing of the last two years—not California, not coming to terms with her sexuality, not even Nora. Suddenly, Stevie finds herself in a life she doesn’t quite understand, one where she’s estranged from her parents, drifting away from her friends, lying about the hours she works, dating a boy she can’t remember crushing on, and headed towards a future that isn’t at all what her fifteen-year-old self would have envisioned.
And Nora finds herself…forgotten. Can the two beat the odds a second time and find their way back together when “together” itself is just a lost memory?
Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything by Justine Pucella Winans
Sixteen-year-old Bianca Torre is an avid birder undergoing a gender identity crisis and grappling with an ever-growing list of fears.
Some, like Fear #6: Initiating Conversation, keep them constrained, forcing them to watch birds from the telescope in their bedroom. And, occasionally, their neighbors. When their gaze wanders from the birds to one particular window across the street, Bianca witnesses a creepy plague-masked murderer take their neighbor’s life.
Worse, the death is ruled a suicide, forcing Bianca to make a choice—succumb to their long list of fears (including #3 Murder and #55 Breaking into a Dead Guy’s Apartment), or investigate what happened.
Bianca enlists the help of their friend Anderson Coleman, but the two have more knowledge of anime than true crime. As Bianca and Anderson dig deeper into the murder with a little help from Bianca’s crush and fellow birding aficionado, Elaine Yee (#13 Beautiful People, #11 Parents Discovering They’re a Raging Lesbian), the trio uncover a conspiracy much larger—and weirder—than imagined. But when the killer catches wind of the investigation, Bianca’s #1 fear of public speaking doesn’t sound so bad under the threat of being silenced for good.
Life is Strange: Steph’s Story by Rosiee Thor
Setting the stage for her appearance in Life is Strange: True Colors, this official Steph Gingrich novel sheds light on the Drugstore Makeup years and the story of how Steph crash-landed in Haven Springs, Colorado.
Steph Gingrich has finally run out of couches to surf. Now she’s back at her dad’s place in Seattle to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
When running an RPG session for her local gamer café, Steph meets Izzie. Izzie is electric: a punk, a girl who likes girls, and a hella good guitarist. Steph finds the punk life is exactly what she needs, she loves the music, the art and the fashion, but most of all she likes the girl. Entranced, she offers to drum for Izzie, forming the band Drugstore Makeup.
A hit in more ways than one, Drugstore Makeup compete in a battle of the bands before deciding to tour the offbeat punk venues of America. But Steph and Izzie soon find themselves on different wavelengths, unable to communicate, and wanting different things.
A Life Worth Living by Monica McCallan
Nora Gallagher can begrudgingly admit that she and Gray Ferris are both stellar Philadelphia real estate agents, but that’s the beginning and the end of the similarities between them.
Nora’s life has been in a self-imposed holding pattern for half a decade. Depending on people in her personal life only leads to disappointment, and she has no plans of making that mistake again.
Gray Ferris is extroversion personified. Bubbly. Conversational. Vibrant. She’s trying to make the best of life, even if it hasn’t always gone her way.
When the two women begin to learn that maybe they’re not as different as they think, they may finally figure out the most important thing they have in common when it comes to finding a life worth living.
Buy it: Amazon
Dreaming in Color by Uvile Ximba
In her debut novel, Dreaming in Color, Uvile Ximba explores with subtlety, humor, and probing insight the connections between the joyful reclaiming of pleasure and the healing of buried traumas.
As students at university in Makhanda, South Africa during the #RUReferenceList campaign, Langa and her lover Khwezi have a passionate and complex relationship. Puzzling gaps in her memory haunt Langa, yet her dreams are vivid with colors and symbols that hint at a nightmare of forgotten violations and losses. So many secrets—and Langa has had enough of secrets and silences. Who can she turn to? Her mother? Her grandmother? Khwezi? Or herself?
Dreaming in Color is Langa’s story of coming out to herself, of discerning the history behind the closed door of conscious memory.
Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea by Rebecca Thorne
All Reyna and Kianthe want is to open a bookshop that serves tea. Worn wooden floors, plants on every table, firelight drifting between the rafters… all complemented by love and good company. Thing is, Reyna works as one of the Queen’s private guards, and Kianthe is the most powerful mage in existence. Leaving their lives isn’t so easy.
But after an assassin takes Reyna hostage, she decides she’s thoroughly done risking her life for a self-centered queen. Meanwhile, Kianthe has been waiting for a chance to flee responsibility–all the better that her girlfriend is on board. Together, they settle in Tawney, a town nestled in the icy tundra of dragon country, and open the shop of their dreams.
What follows is a cozy tale of mishaps, mysteries, and a murderous queen throwing the realm’s biggest temper tantrum. In a story brimming with hurt/comfort and quiet fireside conversations, these two women will discover just what they mean to each other… and the world.
The Last Lavender Sister by Melissa Brayden
When your parents name you and your three siblings after flowers, the world is stacked against you. At least, that’s how Aster Lavender feels. The youngest daughter, Aster always keeps her head down and lets her siblings stand in the spotlight. She sells her gourmet doughnuts from Hole in One, the small drive-through stand in sleepy Homer’s Bluff, Kansas, and daydreams about seeing the big beautiful world. Love is never going to happen, especially when the only other lesbians in town are already married to each other.
Beautiful Brynn Garrett arrives to fill in for Homer Bluff’s only veterinarian, and suddenly every pet in town is sick. Brynn’s older, smarter, and way out of Aster’s league. Plus, she’s only in town temporarily and definitely running from something. Aster didn’t plan for a connection so strong it knocks the wind right out of her, but Brynn makes her feel like anything but a wallflower.
Rooting for You by Roz Alexander
Botanist Fisch’s life in Clover Hill is small. Getting physical distance from her tense relationship with her mother was supposed to give her room to breathe. Instead, she’s created a new cage for herself, spending most of her time isolated and working on other people’s projects instead of her own dreams. Admitting she’s lonely is the first step. Doing something about it seems much harder.
When traveling photojournalist Jaeeun Kupperman comes to town, it’s a wake-up call like no other. Jaeeun’s hot, talented, sweet, and the proud cat parent of one perfect angel named Dan. Faster than Dan can take down a dandelion, the two butch women are mutually smitten. But the sun is setting as both of them search for their next assignments and Fisch realizes it’s past time to branch out just as Jaeeun considers planting roots.
They might both be eager to sow the seeds of love, but will they be brave enough to keep it growing? Or will Jaeeun leave Fisch in her rearview mirror when the golden hour is over?
Buy it: Amazon
Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin
Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.
Barring Complications by Blythe Rippon
It’s an open secret that the newest justice on the Supreme Court is a lesbian. So when the Court decides to hear a case about gay marriage, Justice Victoria Willoughby must navigate the press, sway at least one of her conservative colleagues, and confront her own fraught feelings about coming out.
Just when she decides she’s up to the challenge, she learns that the very brilliant, very out Genevieve Fornier will be lead counsel on the case.
Genevieve isn’t sure which is causing her more sleepless nights: the prospect of losing the case, or the thought of who will be sitting on the bench when she argues it.
Solo Dance by Li Kotomi, trans. by Arthur Reiji Morris
This novel was originally published in Japanese.
Cho Norie, twenty-seven and originally from Taiwan, is working an office job in Tokyo. While her colleagues worry about the economy, life-insurance policies, marriage, and children, she is forced to keep her unconventional life hidden―including her sexuality and the violent attack that prompted her move to Japan. There is also her unusual fascination with death: she knows from personal experience how devastating death can be, but for her it is also creative fuel.
Solo Dance depicts the painful coming of age of a gay person in Taiwan and corporate Japan. This striking debut is an intimate and powerful account of a search for hope after trauma.
Buy it: Amazon
A Game of Hearts and Heists by Ruby Roe
Two enemies, one goal: steal each other’s hearts.
Scarlett Grey, disgraced assassin, is determined to get revenge.
Quinn Adams, medic turned-poisoner for hire, is her deadliest rival.
For years, they’ve stolen each other’s clients, sabotaged each other’s business, and occasionally… slept together.
When the Magician Queen offers an irresistible deal, Scarlett and Quinn are forced to work together. But this is not a simple job.
With an impossible heist ahead, they’re going to have to trust each other…
And that’s not easy when they both have secrets to hide.
Harder still when those secrets will betray the ones they love.
Now neither woman is sure if it’s a heist they want to win or a heart.
Two women, two deadly professions, and a romance that could be their downfall.
Capturing Tess by Anna Stone
Tess Bennett has never dared to dream of a better life. With no family and working a dead-end diner job to make ends meet, she’s just another twenty-something struggling to get by.
Until she’s kidnapped one night by a mysterious older woman. Ava is seductive, commanding, beautiful as sin. She takes Tess to her secluded island mansion, insisting it’s to keep her safe.
Ava provides her with every luxury she could ever dream of, but all Tess wants is answers. In a gilded cage, she must place her trust in a woman as cold and distant as she is irresistible. A forbidden kiss is all it takes for the spark between them to ignite.
Her protector, torn between a promise and desire…
A long time ago, Ava Vidal made a vow. She intends to keep it. Rescuing Tess was only the beginning. Now, Ava must keep her safe from those who mean her deadly harm.
But what’s even harder is keeping her hands off the woman she swore to protect. Especially with Tess determined to tempt her. She thinks she can handle Ava’s twisted tastes. With every tantalizing moment spent in Tess’s presence, Ava’s iron will unravels.
A secret that binds their hearts…
But the truths Ava hides could shatter them both. Because their lives have always been connected. As danger looms, can the two women risk everything for each other?
Buy it: Amazon
Wrong Number, Right Woman by Jae
A single text message can change everything!
Flirting has never been Denny’s strong suit, but so what if she’s too shy to ask women out? She’s content with her simple life, working as a cashier and helping her sister raise her niece. But then she gets a wrong-number text message from a stranger named Eliza, asking her of all people for dating advice! Eliza is Denny’s total opposite: witty, outgoing—and straight. Despite their differences, the accidental text sparks an unlikely friendship. Soon, Eliza—self-proclaimed queen of disastrous first dates—would rather banter back and forth with Denny than to keep trying her luck at online dating.
When they meet in person, there’s an instant connection. But what Eliza is feeling can’t be attraction, right? It doesn’t mean a thing that she’s starting to wish the guys she dates would be more like Denny. Or does it? Can the wrong number lead to the right woman after all?
Buy it: Amazon
From Fan to Forever by Tiana Warner
Talented A-lister Cate Whitney is the gorgeous middle-aged movie star almost every lesbian has a crush on.
Rachel Janssen, an introverted medical physics student, is no exception. So when her celebrity crush starts filming near her Vancouver apartment, she can’t believe her luck.
A chance encounter with Cate leads to a little swooning, small-talk, and a shock offer to help the star as a science consultant on her Marie Curie film. And, wait, could Cate actually be flirting with Rachel?
However, as the chemistry sizzles between them, Rachel struggles with the harsh reality of being linked to a famous actress. Paparazzi keep dragging her into the spotlight when all she wants is to be taken seriously in her medical career.
Is falling for a superstar too much to handle? Even if sexy Cate Whitney is the one everyone wants? Even if she’s everything Rachel needs?
Buy it: Amazon
The Family Outing by Jessi Hempel
Jessi Hempel was raised in a seemingly picture-perfect, middle-class American family. But the truth was far from perfect. Her father was constantly away from home, traveling for work, while her stay-at-home mother became increasingly lonely and erratic. Growing up, Jessi and her two siblings struggled to make sense of their family, their world, their changing bodies, and the emotional turmoil each was experiencing. And each, in their own way, was hiding their true self from the world.
By the time Jessi reached adulthood, everyone in her family had come out: Jessi as gay, her sister as bisexual, her father as gay, her brother as transgender, and her mother as a survivor of a traumatic experience with an alleged serial killer. Yet coming out was just the beginning, starting a chain reaction of other personal revelations and reckonings that caused each of them to question their place in the world in new and ultimately liberating ways.
Prelude by Brynne Rebele-Henry
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.
Buy it: Amazon
Changing Spaces by Karmen Lee (May 2, 2023)
Star has spent the past five years making Clover Hill’s Anisse & Clover Diner her home away from home. She’s turned her job there into a fulfilling career and has never felt more content. If her dating life is a little lackluster, well, that’s just how it’ll have to be. But when ownership of the diner changes hands from mother to daughter, Star finds herself scrambling to keep up…and to keep far away from the attractive woman who’s now at the helm.
Anisse moved back home to reconnect with her roots after too many years in the city, and she’s excited to bring the diner her family founded into the current decade. Unfortunately, she might have more to worry about than just reinventing the recipes she grew up with. Star, the gorgeous manager whose cooperation she needs to make the refreshed Anisse & Clover a success, hardly gives her the time of day.
But once Star and Anisse are pushed into sitting down together, their mutual attraction is undeniable. Going from coworkers to dating would be tricky, but neither of them wants to walk away from what might be the relationship they’ve always wanted.
Can these two women navigate their burgeoning connection, or will too many changes too fast leave both of them singed beyond repair?
Buy it: Amazon
Homebodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst (May 2, 2023)
Mickey Hayward dreams of writing stories that matter. She has a flashy media job that makes her feel successful and a devoted girlfriend who takes care of her when she comes home exhausted and demoralized. It’s not all A-list parties and steamy romance, but Mickey’s on her way, and it’s far from the messy life she left behind in Maryland. Despite being overlooked and mistreated at work, it seems like she might finally get the chance to prove herself–until she finds out she’s being replaced.
Distraught and enraged, Mickey fires back with a detailed letter outlining the racism and sexism she’s endured as a Black woman in media, certain it will change the world for the better. But when her letter is met with overwhelming silence, Mickey is sent into a tailspin of self-doubt. Forced to reckon with just how fragile her life is–including the uncertainty of her relationship–she flees to the last place she ever dreamed she would run to, her hometown, desperate for a break from her troubles.
Back home, Mickey is seduced by the simplicity of her old life–and the flirtation of a former flame–but her life in New York refuses to be forgotten. When a media scandal catapults Mickey’s forgotten letter into the public zeitgeist, suddenly everyone wants to hear what Mickey has to say. It’s what she’s always wanted–isn’t it?
If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come by Jen St. Jude (May 9, 2023)
Avery Byrne has secrets. She’s queer; she’s in love with her best friend, Cass; and she’s suffering from undiagnosed clinical depression. But on the morning Avery plans to jump into the river near her college campus, the world discovers there are only nine days left to live: an asteroid is headed for Earth, and no one can stop it.
Trying to spare her family and Cass additional pain, Avery does her best to make it through just nine more days. As time runs out and secrets slowly come to light, Avery would do anything to save the ones she loves. But most importantly, she learns to save herself. Speak her truth. Seek the support she needs. Find hope again in the tomorrows she has left.
If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come is a celebration of queer love, a gripping speculative narrative, and an urgent, conversation-starting book about depression, mental health, and shame.
This is the Way the World Ends by Jen Wilde (May 9, 2023)
As an autistic scholarship student at the prestigious Webber Academy in New York City, Waverly is used to masking to fit in—in more ways than one. While her classmates are the children of the one percent, Waverly is getting by on tutoring gigs and the generosity of the school’s charming and enigmatic dean. So when her tutoring student and resident “it girl” asks Waverly to attend the school’s annual fundraising Masquerade disguised as her, Waverly jumps at the chance—especially once she finds out that Ash, the dean’s daughter and her secret ex-girlfriend, will be there.
The Masquerade is everything Waverly dreamed of, complete with extravagant gowns, wealthy parents writing checks, and flowing champagne. Most importantly, there’s Ash. All Waverly wants to do is shed her mask and be with her, but the evening takes a sinister turn when Waverly stumbles into a secret meeting between the dean and the school’s top donors—and witnesses a brutal murder. This gala is harboring far more malevolent plots than just opening parents’ pocketbooks. Before she can escape or contact the authorities, a mysterious global blackout puts the entire party on lockdown. Waverly’s fairy tale has turned into a nightmare, and she, Ash, and her friends must navigate through a dizzying maze of freight elevators, secret passageways, and back rooms if they’re going to survive the night.
And even if they manage to escape the Masquerade, with technology wiped out all over the planet, what kind of world will they find waiting for them beyond the doors?
The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz (May 9, 2023)
Lady Camembert wants to live life on her own terms, without marriage. Well, without marrying a man, that is. But the law of the land is that women cannot inherit. So when her father passes away, she does the only thing she can: She disguises herself as a man and moves to the capital city of the Kingdom of Fromage to start over as Count Camembert.
But it’s hard to keep a low profile when the beautiful Princess Brie, with her fierce activism and great sense of fashion, catches her attention. Camembert can’t resist getting to know the princess, but as the two grow closer, will she able to keep her secret?
A romantic comedy about mistaken identity, true love, and lots of grilled cheese.
The Rules of Us by Jennifer Nissley (May 9, 2023)
Jillian and Henry are the kind of couple who do everything together. They take the same classes, have the same hobbies, and applied for the same super-competitive scholarship so they can go to the same dream college. They even come out as gay to each other on the same night, after junior prom, prompting a sudden breakup that threatens their intertwined identities and carefully designed future. Jillian knows the only way to keep everything on track is to approach their breakup with the same precision and planning as their scholarship application. They will still be “Jillian and Henry”—even if they’re broken up.
Except they hadn’t planned on Henry meeting the boy of his dreams or Jillian obsessing over a cool girl at school. Jillian is desperate to hold on to her best friend when so much else is changing. But as she and Henry explore what—and who—they really want, it becomes harder to hold on to the careful definitions she has always lived her life by. Stuck somewhere between who she was with Henry and who she might be on her own, Jillian has to face what she can’t control and let go of the rules holding her back.
Graveyard of Lost Children by Katrina Monroe (May 9, 2023)
At four months old, Olivia Dahl was almost murdered. Driven by haunting visions, her mother became obsessed with the idea that Olivia was a changeling, and that the only way to get her real baby back was to make a trade with the “dead women” living at the bottom of the well. Now Olivia is ready to give birth to a daughter of her own…and for the first time, she hears the women whispering.
Everyone tells Olivia she should be happy. She should be glowing, but the birth of her daughter only fills Olivia with dread. As Olivia’s body starts giving out, slowly deteriorating as the baby eats and eats and eats, she begins to fear that the baby isn’t her daughter at all and, despite her best efforts, history is repeating itself.
Soon images of a black-haired woman plague Olivia’s nightmares, drawing her back to the well that almost claimed her life―tying mother and daughter together in a desperate cycle of fear and violence that must be broken if Olivia has any hope of saving her child…or herself.
Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis (May 16, 2023)
Sasha and Jesse are professionally creative, erotically adventurous, and passionately dysfunctional twentysomethings making a life together in Brooklyn. When a pair of older, richer lesbians—prominent news host Jules Todd and her psychotherapist partner, Miranda—invites Sasha and Jesse to their country home for the holidays, they’re quick to accept. Even if the trip includes a third couple—Jesse’s best friend, Lou, and their cool-girl flame, Darcy—whose It-queer clout Sasha ridicules yet desperately wants.
As the late December afternoons blur together in a haze of debaucherous homecooked feasts and sweaty sauna confessions, so too do the guests’ secret and shifting motivations. When Jesse and Darcy collaborate an ill-fated livestream performance, a complex web of infatuation and jealousy emerges, sending Sasha down a spiral of destructive rage that threatens each couple’s future.
Unfolding over ten heady days, Dykette is an unforgettable love story at the crossroads of queer nonconformity and seductive normativity. With propulsive plotting and sexy, wickedly entertaining prose, Jenny Fran Davis captures the vagaries of desire and the many devastating places in which we seek recognition.
From Here by Luma Mufleh (May 16, 2023)
In her coming-of-age memoir, refugee advocate Luma Mufleh writes of her tumultuous journey to reconcile her identity as a gay Muslim woman and a proud Arab-turned-American refugee.
With no word for “gay” in Arabic, Luma may not have known what to call the feelings she had growing up in Jordan during the 1980’s, but she knew well enough to keep them secret. It was clear that not only would her family have trouble accepting who she was, but trapped in a religious society, she could also be killed if anyone discovered she was gay. Luma spent her teenage years increasingly desperate to find a way out. After two suicide attempts, she finally realizes that to survive, she must leave the Middle East for good. While attending college in the United States, Luma endures the agonizing process of applying for political asylum, which ensures her safety—but causes her family to break ties with her.
Suddenly becoming a refugee in America is a rude awakening. Disowned, depressed, and broke, Luma must rely on the grace of both friends and strangers as she builds a tenuous new life finally embracing her full self. Slowly, she forges a new path forward with both her biological and chosen families, eventually founding Fugees Family, a nonprofit dedicated to the education and support of refugee children in the United States.
Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon
Lesbian Love Story by Amelia Possanza (May 30, 2023)
When Amelia Possanza moved to Brooklyn to build a life of her own, she found herself surrounded by queer stories: she read them on landmark placards, overheard them on the pool deck when she joined the world’s largest LGBTQ swim team, and even watched them on TV in her cockroach-infested apartment. These stories inspired her to seek out lesbians throughout history who could become her role models, in romance and in life.
Centered around seven love stories for the ages, this is Possanza’s journey into the archives to recover the personal histories of lesbians in the twentieth century: who they were, how they loved, why their stories were destroyed, and where their memories echo and live on. Possanza’s hunt takes readers from a drag king show in Bushwick to the home of activists in Harlem and then across the ocean to Hadrian’s Library, where she searches for traces of Sappho in the ruins. Along the way, she discovers her own love—for swimming, for community, for New York City—and adds her record to the archive.
At the heart of this riveting, inventive history, Possanza asks: How could lesbian love help us reimagine care and community? What would our world look like if we replaced its foundation of misogyny with something new, with something distinctly lesbian?
Where Echoes Die by Courtney Gould (June 20, 2023)
Beck Birsching has been adrift since the death of her mother, a brilliant but troubled investigative reporter. She finds herself unable to stop herself from slipping into memories of happier days, clamoring for a time when things were normal. So when a mysterious letter in her mother’s handwriting arrives in the mail with the words Come and find me, pointing to a town called Backravel, Beck hopes that it may hold the answers.
But when Beck and her sister Riley arrive in Backravel, Arizona it’s clear that there’s something off about the town. There are no cars, no cemeteries, no churches. The town is a mix of dilapidated military structures and new, shiny buildings, all overseen by the town’s gleaming treatment center high on a plateau. No one seems to remember when they got there, and the only people who seem to know more than they’re letting on is the town’s enigmatic leader and his daughter, Avery.
As the sisters search for answers about their mother, Beck and Avery become more drawn together, and their unexpected connection brings up emotions Beck has buried since her mother’s death. Beck is desperate to hold onto the way things used to be, and when she starts losing herself in Backravel and its connection to her mother, will there be a way for Beck to pull herself out?
In her sophomore novel Courtney Gould draws readers into the haunting town of Backravel and explores grief, the weight of not letting go of the past, first love, and the bonds between sisters, mothers and daughters.
The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa (July 11, 2023)
The dust may have just settled in the failed war of conquest between the Holy Vaalbaran Empire and the Ominirish Republic, but the last Emperor’s surrender means little to a lowly scribe like Enitan. All she wants is to quit her day job and expand her fledgling tea business. But when her lover is assassinated and her sibling is abducted by Imperial soldiers, Enitan abandons her idyllic plans and weaves her tea tray up through the heart of the Vaalbaran capital. There, she will learn just how far she is willing to go to exact vengeance, free her sibling, and perhaps even secure her homeland’s freedom.
Wound by Oksana Vasyakina (September 5, 2023)
From one of Russia’s most exciting new voices, Wound follows a young lesbian poet on a journey from Moscow to her hometown in Siberia, where she has promised to bury her mother’s ashes. Woven throughout this fascinating travel narrative are harrowing and at times sublime memories of her childhood and her sexual and artistic awakening. As she carefully documents her grief and interrogates her past, the narrator of Oksana Vasyakina’s autobiographical novel meditates on queerness, death, and love and finds new words for understanding her relationship with her mother, her country, her sexuality, and her identity as an artist.
A sensual, whip-smart account of the complicated dynamics of queer life in present-day Siberia and Moscow, Wound is also in conversation with feminist thinkers and artists, including Susan Sontag, Louise Bourgeois, and Monique Wittig, locating Vasyakina’s work in a rich and exciting international literary tradition.
We Met in a Bar by Claire Forsythe (October 10, 2023)
Wealthy nightclub owner Erica turns undercover bartender on a mission to catch a thief. The ridiculous idea seemed comical when her brother proposed it. After all, Erica has never worked a day in her life. But when her pushy mother plays matchmaker with yet another woman Erica isn’t interested in, she escapes on a train to London, to a club she hasn’t set foot in since inheriting it. There she meets no strings, no commitments Charlie, who couldn’t be further from Erica’s type. Erica has never met anyone who gets under her skin so much, and that’s surely a bad thing, right?
Charlie lives for the thrill of the chase. She loves women a little too much to imagine herself settling down. The very thought of a relationship is a terrifying prospect. It doesn’t matter anyway because she’s never met anyone who has held her interest for anything longer than a quick fling. All that changes when she meets the mysterious new bartender at her local club. Getting to know the obnoxious yet beautiful woman is a challenge she can’t resist. She just hadn’t bargained on her heart getting involved.
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Greasepaint by Hannah Levene (October 10, 2023)
Set against a backdrop of 1950s New York, this experimental novel follows an ensemble cast of all-singing, all-dancing butch dykes and Yiddish anarchists through eternal Friday nights, around the table, and at the bar.
In one of many bars, Frankie Gold sings while Sammy Silver plays piano after a day job at the anarchist newspaper. The Butch Piano Players Union meets in the corner next to the jukebox. Laur smokes on the back steps, sweaty thigh to thigh with Vic. Frankie’s childhood sweetheart, Lily, turns up at yet another bar to see a second Sammy play every Friday night. And before all that, there’s always dinner at Marg’s. Fabulated out of oral histories, anthologies, as well as the fiction of the butch-femme bar scene and Yiddish anarchist tradition, Greasepaint is a rollicking whirlwind of music and politics―the currents of community embodied and held inside the bar.
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Leather, Lace, and Locs by Anne Shade (November 14)
Melissa Hart is a shy, mousy introvert, afraid to step out of her comfort zone until she dons a mask and leather as the dominatrix persona Mistress Heart. Living a double life, she develops an intimate relationship with a mysterious client who chips away the wall separating Ms. Hart from Mistress Heart to show Melissa the woman she really is.
Golden Hughes had one goal, to turn her passion for dance into a professional career. Then tragedy strikes and Golden sets her dreams aside for a regular job and steady paycheck. Now that she has everything she needs, her passion for dance is reignited in burlesque performance, putting her in the path of two unique and sexy women.
Zoe Grant has spent most of her adult life putting her wants and needs on the back burner to focus on raising her daughter, her career as a beautician, and expanding her family’s natural hair care products business. When a woman running from a painful past comes to the salon for a life-changing haircut, Zoe finds what she wants and needs in the most unexpected way.
Three friends, each on their own path, discover love could lead to happily ever after.
Ugly Sweater Christmas by Shannon O’Connor (December 6, 2023)
Emma and Jess have been best friends forever, despite how different they are. This year Jess’ life starts falling apart, starting with losing her job, her apartment and her girlfriend. But leave it to Emma to make this the best Christmas ever. Starting with an ugly sweater Christmas party. But when they both end up under the mistletoe, dared to kiss, and sparks begin to fly, who knows what will happen?
Determined to turn things around for her best friend, Emma tries to show Jess there’s still magic in Christmas. As the two move in together, go job hunting and find the magic of Christmas, they start to see each other in a new light. But will they open their hearts and their mouths to tell the other the truth? Or will they pretend their feelings aren’t real and lose what could be the best Christmas ever?
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Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend by Emma R. Alban (January 9, 2024)
Gwen has a brilliant beyond brilliant idea.
It’s 1857, and anxious debutante Beth has just one season to snag a wealthy husband, or she and her mother will be out on the street. But playing the blushing ingenue makes Beth’s skin crawl and she’d rather be anywhere but here.
Gwen, on the other hand, is on her fourth season and counting, with absolutely no intention of finding a husband, possibly ever. She figures she has plenty of security as the only daughter of a rakish earl, from whom she’s gotten all her flair, fun, and less-than-proper party games.
“Let’s get them together,” she says.
It doesn’t take long for Gwen to hatch her latest scheme: rather than surrender Beth to courtship, they should set up Gwen’s father and Beth’s newly widowed mother. Let them get married instead.
“It’ll be easy” she says.
There’s just…one, teeny, tiny problem. Their parents kind of seem to hate each other.
But no worries. Beth and Gwen are more than up to the challenge of a little twenty-year-old heartbreak. How hard can parent-trapping widowed ex-lovers be?
Of course, just as their plan begins to unfold, a handsome, wealthy viscount starts calling on Beth, offering up the perfect, secure marriage.
Beth’s not mature enough for this…
Now Gwen must face the prospect of sharing Beth with someone else, forever. And Beth must reckon with the fact that she’s caught feelings, hard, and they’re definitely not for her potential fiancé.
That’s the trouble with matchmaking: sometimes you accidentally fall in love with your best friend in the process.
Buy it: Amazon
Add to Your TBR
- Hammajang Luck by Makana Yamamoto