GS. vs. STA: Lesbian Romance

In the comments to the entry about the discrimination of the Romance Writers Ink published writers contest, DreadPirateRachel and Keri asked for a Good Shit vs. Shit to Avoid for f/f romance, or, in other words, lesbian romances.

Keri commented, “It's easy to find m/m, but I'm having a really hard time with f/f, especially fluffier kinds. I love Sarah Waters and Emma Donoghue, who are always suggested, but their writing tends to be more literary and heavy and less “romance novel”, and when I try to find others, I often just come across erotica meant for the male gaze. 🙁

(also a lot of f/f romance that I find are older YA novels that are less about the romance as they are about GLBT Issues, which is frustrating. I've seen plenty of m/m stories that aren't Issue novels and are more in the vein of what I think of as traditional romance, but not f/f. help help help! i love romance novels, but I want some that better reflect my own identity sometimes!)”

DreadPirateRachel added, “Yes, please! I'd love to read some good f/f romances, and I've been searching for some erotica (ANY erotica) that features f/f/m. It seems like all group-sex erotica is m/m/f. Not that there's anything wrong with that (far from it), but I'd like to see some quality examples of women deriving pleasure from each other.”

Book Cover Two that I can cautiously recommend, one by someone else's reading and one from my own: Ash, by Malinda Lo [ A | BN | K S] and Wildthorn, by Jane Eagland [ A | BN | K S ].

A friend of mine read Ash and really enjoyed it – it's a lesbian retelling of the Cinderella myth, though in the world in which two women fall in love, homosexuality and heterosexuality aren't dividing concepts.

I read Wildthorn awhile ago. It's a Victorian-set YA novel about a girl who is committed to an asylum because she is determined to reject the roles and limitations of women. The title character, Louisa, can be really boneheaded, but her relationship during the course of the story (I don't want to give away too much) is incredibly sweet and a beautiful thing in the middle of a hellish institution.

But both these novels are YA, and don't focus on the romance as the primary plot of the novel.

So, bring it on: which f/f romances have you enjoyed? Were there lesbian heroines or secondary characters in a book you loved recently? We need recommendations of awesome romances featuring women loving other women.


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Megan says:

    It doesn’t come out until the end of the month, and I know not everyone is a fan of anthologies, but we’re very proud of and excited for Vixens. They’re romantic f/f stories, emphasis on the romance, with little to no smut involved at all.

  2. 2

    I’d like to recommend RULEBREAKER by Cathy Pegau (sci-fi romance; kind of a futuristic WORKING GIRL) and WAR GAMES by KS Augustin (romantic SF; military space opera). Both books feature lesbian heroines.

  3. 3
    ?? keri ?? says:

    Thank you so much!

    Thanks to the previous post, I was directed to Bold Strokes Books and Bella Books, which I have been exploring this evening, but so far haven’t found anything where the descriptions + first chapters make me want to read further (usually bad writing clichés, yuck). And I’m finding it curious that my occasional attempts to search for lesbian romance on amazon never panned out, because there’s clearly much more than I have ever seen!

    I will disagree on Ash – I read the book and enjoyed Lo’s take on the Cinderella tale, but I was very disappointed in the characterisation. I felt like the love triangle was weak and the Huntress (whose name I’m forgetting) was little more than a pretty face. The world-building was good, though there were a lot of things brought up and then never touched upon again – kind of like the weak characterisation. There was a lot of promise, and then it sort of fizzled. I’m hoping that it was just a first-novel problem and the second in the universe shows improved skill.

  4. 4
    LoopsFroot says:

    There’s a line of books coming from Noble Romance featuring F/F. Its the Lesbian vs. Zombies: The Musical Revue. There are three out so far with more to come. Here’s the link to check them out:…

  5. 5
    Shapeshiftersinlust says:

    Dead Kitties Don’t Purr, act two of Lesbians vs Zombies: The Musical Revue, became available at ARe today.…

  6. 6

    Thank you very, very much for this post. I quite liked Ash by Malinda Lo, already mentioned above. On my to read queue are Huntress and Rulebreaker, (also mentioned above), and the following titles as well:

    Carina Press’s urban fantasy Last Car to Annwn Station.

    For the SF/F inclined, J.A. Pitts also has an urban fantasy series with a lesbian blacksmith heroine. Book 1 of this is Black Blade Blues.

    Sarah Diemer’s The Dark Wife, a retelling of the Persephone/Hades myth, recasting Hades as a goddess in disguise.

    If you dig you some steampunk, the Steam-Powered anthologies, edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft, are good. I’ve read the first of these and in particular very, very much liked the story by N.K. Jemisin in it.

    And if you’re really ambitious and have access to good used bookstores, hunt down Gael Baudino’s Gossamer Axe, a very early urban fantasy, with lesbian protagonists.

  7. 7
    J.S. Wayne says:

    As a matter of small interest, the Red Roses and Shattered Glass antho is NOT predominantly f/f oriented, but it does contain “Espiritu Sancti.” Dark Gothic f/f romance. Just wanted to clarify that. Thanks to LoopsFroot for the shout out! 😀

  8. 8
    Cathy Pegau says:

    First of all, thanks for the shout-out, Heather! I loved WAR GAMES too.

    And yes, Sarah Diemer’s THE DARK WIFE was one of my favorite reads last year as well. Enjoyed Michael Merriam’s LAST CAR TO ANNWN STATION.

    Some other authors, romance and not, I read for great lesbian characters: Carsen Taite, Nicola Griffith, Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue, Catherine Lundoff, Georgia Beers, Kirsten Saell.

    Thanks for doing this, Sarah! I’ll be adding some new books to my TBB list : )

  9. 9

    Ooh, and I would be remiss if I did not also mention Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic. Originally published in ebook form by my own (sadly now defunct) publisher, Drollerie Press—now available in print from Lethe Press!

  10. 10
    kathy cole says:

    I don’t think it’s available in ebook, but Michelle Martin’s Pembroke Park is an f/f Regency (with a secondary m/m couple), that I found after I’d read her m/f regencies. (goodreads:

  11. 11
    Jody Wallace says:

    Another thumb’s up for Rulebreaker by Pegau.

  12. 12

    Coming out this spring or summer is Rica ‘tte Kanji!? ~ Tokyo Life, a graphic novel about a young lesbian finding life and love in Tokyo from ALC Publishing. It’s a retrospective of 20 years of lesbian-themed manga stories by Rica Takashima, from ALC Publishing. Keep your eyes peeled for it!

  13. 13

    I was going to mention Pembroke Park.  Is it still in print?

  14. 14

    I don’t know if it gets the f/f romance label, but Jacqueline Carey’s Santa Olivia urban fantasy has a lesbian protagonist.  I believe the sequel is out now, but I haven’t read it yet.

  15. 15
    kathy cole says:

    I don’t think so – I got mine used at Amazon.

  16. 16
    Keziah Hill says:

    Leah does reviews of f/f work on her blog. http://bi-curious-romancenovel…

  17. 17
    Rei says:

    I just finished The World Unseen, by Shamim Sarif; I’m not sure how romance-novely it is, but I definitely found it very sweet, very subtle and very moving – it’s also the only novel I’ve read set in apartheid-era South Africa, and it handles the setting excellently.

    Catherine M. Wilson wrote the When Women Were Warriors series, which I also really enjoyed.

  18. 18
    Jill shultz says:

    Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa Scott, an early cyberpunk novel, features a terrific love story. I’m not sure if everyone would call it a romance, because the love story is secondary to the SF plot, but it’s one of my favorite novels.

  19. 19
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    Wow! I love the SBTB community. My TBR pile is growing at an alarming rate. 🙂

  20. 20
    Kate Frowzy says:

    Yep! Just bought it used from B&N

  21. 21
    LVLMLeah says:

    The Gunfighter and the Gear Head by Cassandra Duffy- really good sci-fi/steampunk/western

    I second or third Sarah Diemer’s Dark Wife- it’s a YA

    Marie Elise-Bassett- Song of Sappho series- nicely written f/f historicals

    Best Friends by Kai Lu- YA-ish but erotic. Disregard the pornish cover. Story inside is really sweet, Also Je Me Rends- very erotic bi story.

    Rulebreaker and War Games have been mentioned but I agree to include them.

    Share, Share Some More- by Leigh Ellwood- contemp

    Friends and Lovers:Two Erotica Tales by Keziah Hill

    Widow’s Weeds by Beth Williamson- contemp

    The Garden House by Mia Cherish and Jacqueline- paranormal/vampire

    Beguiled by Paisley Smith – historical

    Karin Kallmaker- All the Wrong Places- contemp

    Some Kind of River- Andi Marquette- contemp

    Kaydee and the Tramp- contemp bisexual

    A Curious Wine- Katherine V. Forrest

    Dancing With Venus- Roscoe James- contemp.

    Snowfound- by Connie Wilkins- Historical

    As for f/f/M- Almost all of these feature stories with an HEA or HFN even if erotica.

    Kirsten Saell’s- Crossing Swords, Healer’s Touch, and Bound by Steel- all fantasy

    A Future for Three- by Rachel Clark- she has other f/f/m as well. Contemp

    Higher Learning by Kris Starr- contemp erotica

    Secrets Revealed by Katrina Strauss- medieval/fantasy—mainly a m/f love story but has strong f/f/m and f/f elements to it. Plus, it’s a hot, intense book!

    Paisley Smith- Birthday Girl, Soft Swap

    Adrian Kraft- almost any of this author’s books. All feature a bisexual character and many a f/f/m relationship. – all erotica and contemp.

    Open Proposal- By Rosemary Dunn- contemp

    Rules of Attraction by India Masters – contemp

    Jesse’s Girl by Amber Scott- contemp

    *****A favorite of all of us who like reading f/f is La Bonne by Michele de Lully

    Deux by Em Petrova- contemp, erotica

  22. 22
    LVLMLeah says:

    Also, Good Lesbian Books is a newish review site for lesbian. And they have links by genre so it’s easy to find what you want!…

  23. 23
    mssarahb says:

    I also recommend Nicola Griffith’s The Blue Place and Stay (haven’t read the third, Always, but it’s in the TBR).  Published in 1999, the heroine is one of the earliest examples of a totally bad-ass, uber-competent noir-ish female detective.  They are a dime a dozen now, but what a revelation when it came out (no pun intended). And it’s a sexy love story.

  24. 24
    Tabs says:

    I absolutely loved “La Bonne” by Michelle De Luly.  f/f/m erotic romance.  Have never been able to find anything else comparable.

  25. 25
    Amelia Lewis says:

    Nicola Griffiths’ books are completely to die for, mssarahb.  But to be fair, _Stay_ isn’t really a romance, at least in my opinion.  Neither, I think, is _The Blue Place_ … you really can’t call that an HEA, can you?  _Stay_ has a hint of HEA, but no romance.

    But _Always_ kicks ever-lovin’ *ass*, for lesbian romance.  Romance (with life-changing bits, and miscommunication resolved), *and* an HEA (though not a saccharine one).

    It seems to me that one way to decide whether something is romance-y and GS (vs. STA) might be to look for romance + HEA (lesbian fiction has death of one of the partners as a cliché), and then apply the Bechdel test:… (hope that shows up as a linky).


  26. 26
    Becky says:

    And Playing the Role of Herself by K.E. Lane was good.

  27. 27
    wedschilde bunneh says:

    Gossamer Axe is an incredible book.

  28. 28
    Cathy Pegau says:

    I LOVE this series by Griffith (have read Always—OMG good stuff!) and her SF Ammonite is amazing!

  29. 29

    The Lesbrary is a pretty good lesbian review blog. Also, not strictly a romance, but I read a really fun book last year called Retirement Plan by Martha Miller (there are little old lady paid assassins!). It was among the Rainbow Award finalists for lesbian fiction, I believe.

  30. 30
    Nicky says:

    I was going to suggest The Dark Wife, too.

  31. 31
    Cara says:

    Seconding La Bonne.

  32. 32
    Alyssa Hoey says:

    My favorites that haven’t been mentioned…

    Jericho by Ann McMann: Awesome contemporary romance about a librarian and a doctor.

    Awake Unto Me by Kathleen Knowles: Turn of the century romance between a nurse and a cook.

    Tropical Storm by Melissa Good:  First in a series about two computer geeks 😉 Available for sale and on her website. 

    Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters:  I like this the best of her works.  Oyster girl becomes a cross dressing performer, then a roue, before finding love.

  33. 33
    Dayle says:

    Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories, Lethe Press, 2008 (not erotica or strictly romance, although some of the stories are very romantic)

    Kiss Me Hello: Lesbian Erotic Romance, Andrea Dale, Soul’s Road Press, 2011 (link is to Amazon, but also available via Barnes & Noble and Smashwords)

    And many novels and anthologies by Cleis Press, including their Best Lesbian Erotica and Best Lesbian Romance series (serieses?).

  34. 34
    Susan says:

    Followup to Alyssa Hoey—and, of course, Tipping the Velvet was made into a Brit miniseries—available on DVD.

  35. 35
    Christine d'Abo says:

    Delphine Dryden’s Roses and Chains is f/f/m and is fantastically written. There is also Bitten in the Big Easy by Delilah Devlin and Paisley Smith (Heck, anything by Paisley is awesome). Delilah also edited the Girls Who Bite: Vampire Lesbian Stories anthology. There is also a new one coming this summer, She-Shifters. Both of those are from Cleis Press.

  36. 36
    Carrie says:

    Any bisexual romances/books or bisexual hero/heroines? Awesome as this is, as a bisexual myself I feel we get just as left towards the wayside as much as m/m and f/f romance. The number of times I’ve gotten people reacting like they hadn’t even considered my orientation as an option is more than a little frustrating.

  37. 37
    Sophie says:

    I’ve had real trouble finding f/f romance novels, so will definitely be checking out these recs, thanks for making this post! I can recommend some manga: Girlfriends by Milk Morinaga, Strawberry Sweet Shake by Hayashiya Shizuru, and lots of cute one shots by Morishima Akiko. You can find scanlations at
    I also really enjoyed the Harry Potter-esque dating sim Magical Diary.

  38. 38
    Pam Regis says:

    Patricia Highsmith.  The Price of Salt.  First published 1952.  Norton reprinted in 2004.  F/f, but dark.  Don’t miss her Afterword.

  39. 39
    Jill Sorenson says:

    For lesbian romance, I recommend Radclyffe (Innocent Hearts is my favorite), Georgia Beers, and Karin Kallmaker. I’ll second Awake Unto Me by Kathleen Knowles.  Really enjoyed it.

    For f/f/m, I adore La Bonne by de Lully. There is no comparison. Also enjoyed The Lovers by Eden Bradley and Love Me by Kelly Jamieson. I don’t think any of these characters identify as bi. La Bonne is kind of a “gay for you” story.

    Alex Sanchez’s Boyfriends with Girlfriends (YA) has a bisexual boy character and it’s very well done. There are two budding romances, one m/m, the other f/f.

    Sister Mischief by Laura Goode, also YA, is fantastic, with the most engaging lesbian character I’ve ever read. Not technically a romance.

    I’m drawing a blank on f/f. Haven’t had much luck with it. I’ve enjoyed a few short stories in anthologies. Forbidden by Em Petrova, and Enchanted? by Nancy Madore. One of Madore’s stories, The Goose Girl, is fantastic. Actually, it ends up f/f/m though. I’ll mention Lacey Alexander here also. Her books are mostly erotic f/m. What She Needs has a lot of hot f/f scenes.

    Thanks for the topic, Sarah.

  40. 40
    Jill Sorenson says:

    Oh! Kirsten Saell’s fantasy series has a bisexual heroine. I really enjoyed Bound by Steel (f/f/m).

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