I absolutely love romance novels. They may not be for everyone, but I adore them. Even when I’m reading a fantasy novel or a sci-fi or any genre book, I need to have at least a smidgen of romance to keep me invested. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoy those types of books without romance, so long as the writing and the characters and the world-building is great, but I always prefer romance.
So! I thought I’d share some of my favourite books with f/f romance — either as the main storyline or as a subset of the plot.
Here’s a little representation key so you know what rep to expect from each book!
💖 = lesbian
💜 = bisexual
💚 = pansexual
🧡 = characters of colour
💙 = gender non-conforming
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
“I realised, that she had been spoon-fed a story from the day she was born. She had been taught no other way to be. And yet, I saw that despite everything, some part of her was self-made. This part, small as it appeared at first, was forged in the fire of her own strength, and resisted her cage. And I understood…that this part was made of steel. The part who she truly was.”
The Priory of the Orange Tree just came out a few weeks back and its already an all-time favourite of mine! How do I even explain the perfection that is this book? Shannon’s prose is top tier, the plot is incredible, and the characters are now my children and if anyone says something bad about them, you’re dead to me.
But the romance! Holy hell, the romance is beautiful. It’s a slow-burn f/f romance that isn’t obvious until about 300 pages in. If you don’t want to know who the romance is between LOOK AWAY NOW! SERIOUSLY — SPOILERS ARE COMING. Are you gone? Okay. The romance is between Ead, a mage of the Priory, and Queen Sabran, and it kills me. Sabran is a queen so she’s used to getting everything her way and has never heard the word ‘no’, so Ead is a breath of fresh air for her … eventually. At the beginning of the novel, they don’t like each other much. But slowly, Ead proves her loyalty to Sabran and they begin to fall in love with one another. It’s so beautiful.
Check out my review!
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
“All that I am is a terribly brave small thing, with a terribly brave small life, and a terribly brave love that spans eons.”
Oh gosh! The Weight of Stars is genuinely one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read. K. Ancrum blew me away with her debut novel The Wicker King, but she literally stole my heart here.
I feel in love with Ryann Bird and Alexandria Macallough almost immediately. The girls don’t like each other too much at the beginning of the novel — in fact, Alexandria gets hurt partly because of Ryann — but as the story develops, they begin to fall for one another. Alexandria has made it her life’s mission to communicate with her mother, who, straight after Alexandria was born, was sent on a one-way journey out to the furtherest reaches of space with a small group of young women, to document and record their findings. Alexandria spends each night trying to receive signals from outer space, but when she gets hurt and ends up in hospital, Ryann takes over and soon they become very tentative friends.
Once Ryann realises that she’s falling for Alexandria, you can’t help but want to give her a massive hug because she thinks she’s not good enough for Alexandria, that because Alexandria is so pretty she’d want someone daintier than Ryann. This almost made me cry because both girls are so worthy of love but they don’t think so! ALSO … that ending!? Tears everywhere.
Check out my review!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Trigger/content warnings: underage relationship, domestic violence, death of a child, talk of suicide, abortion, talk of miscarriage, cheating, drunk driving, and homophobic slurs
“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realise you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’ — that’s intimacy.”
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of my favourite books of 2018. The bisexual rep in this book is probably the best I’ve ever come across. The novel follows a young woman named Evelyn Hugo from the age of 14 to 80 as she became a famous Hollywood actress, the seven husbands she had along the way, and her retirement. She chooses to tell her story to a semi-disgraced reporter named Monique, and soon Monique discovered her history is wrapped up in Evelyn’s.
Not many people know this, but this book does have a sapphic relationship. Evelyn and Celia’s relationship was probably one of the very first f/f romances that touched me and that I low-key became obsessed with. It’s a heartbreaking love, but it’s so worth it. The women have spent years together then years apart and then years together again. I adore them both so much.
Check out my review on Molly’s blog!
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
“When I see her,” I said, “it’s like — I don’t know what it’s like. It’s like I never saw anything at all before. It’s like I am filling up, like a wine-glass when it’s filled with wine. I watch the acts before her and they are like nothing – they’re like dust. Then she walks on the stage and — she is so pretty; and her suit is so nice; and her voice is so sweet… She makes me want to smile and weep, at once. She makes me sore, here.” I placed a hand upon my chest, upon the breast-bone. “I never saw a girl like her before. I never knew that there were girls like her…”
I just read this book recently and it was incredible! I liked Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, but Tipping the Velvet shits all over it. It’s about a young woman named Nancy who lives and works with her family, who are oyster sellers. One day, Nancy visits the dancing hall and sees a young woman performer, Kitty, who is dressed as a man and falls in love with her. Nancy follows Kitty to London and together they work as dancers, and are secret lovers.
I was surprised by how much I loved this book! It’s not like you think it would be — its very involved in Nancy’s life as she discovers more facets of her identity and tries to find a place for herself. Following along with Nan’s journey is both fun and educational. But I think my favourite part is how you get to learn about the long, proud history of queer women. I’ve read a few Victorian m/m romances about the underground society of queer men but never any f/f books. I’m so glad I finally found one, because it means so much to know that sapphic women have come before me and reaffirms that we’ve always been there — just shoved to the sides of history.
Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner
Trigger/content warnings: graphic violence, gore, death, murder, graphic depiction of a baby mermaid being killed.
“But my heart felt swollen, and I finally just knew. It was as obvious as if I’d known it my whole life. I was in love with a mermaid.”
I just recently read Ice Massacre and it was as amazing as the cover looks. It’s about a young woman named Meela who, along with a group of female warriors, is sent on the Massacre: an annual hunting trip the warrior of Eriana Kwai undertake to wipe out the mermaids that threaten their way of life. And Meela begins to put everyone in danger when, as a child, she starts up a friendship with a mermaid.
This book is a lot of action with a scenes of friendship and subtle flirting. The romance is definitely on the low side, and even then Meela struggles to accept her feelings for Lysi. So it features a girl trying to come to terms with her sexuality, partly because she’s queer but also because the girl she has feelings for is her people’s mortal enemy. It’s a slow burn between friends turned enemies turned friends again who are solely becoming romantic. All of my favourite tropes!
Black Iris by Elliot Wake
Content/trigger warnings: outing, homophobia, talk of rape, suicide, bullying, abuse, addiction, drug use.
“Girls love each other like animals. There is something ferocious and unself-conscious about it. We don’t guard ourselves like we do with boys. No one trains us to shield our hearts from each other. With girls, it’s total vulnerability from the beginning. Our skin is bare and soft. We love with claws and teeth and the blood is just proof of how much. It’s feral.
And it’s relentless.”
Black Iris is a very heavy and dark book, but it’s so freaking worth it (if you can handle the content). It follows a woman named Laney who was horribly bullied in high school and seeks a new chance for herself in college … a chance to get revenge on those who hurt her, by using her new friends Blythe and Armin.
Laney is probably one of my favourite characters ever — she’s violent and full of revenge, and ambitious as all hell. I kind of love her. And I love her relationship with Blythe. At the beginning, it’s not exactly healthy but as the two girls grow closer, their relationship is just amazing to me. I can’t say much more without spoiling it, but I love where the two women end up by the book’s conclusion.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Content/trigger warnings: rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, sex trafficking, sex with a minor (off-page), slavery, murder, torture, violence, animal death.
“Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. You are mine. And, always, most important: You are yours.”
Despite the heavy content in this book, it also features one of the most beautiful sapphic romances I’ve ever come across. The book is about a young woman named Lei who lives in a world run by demons. Demons control everything and everyone, with half-demon creatures just below them on the power scale, and humans at the very bottom. Lei is a human and one day she’s kidnapped by a demon general who has heard of her golden eyes, in the hope she’d make a good gift to the demon king whom he has fallen out with. Lei then becomes one of the kings Paper Girls, a group of human concubines. There, Lei meets Wren, another Paper Girl who holds a secret.
I just love everything about Lei and Wren’s relationship, but mainly how soft it is in the face of a violent novel. The girls become friends first before romance blooms between them. It’s also important to note that this book is about survivors of sexual assault learning that they are worthy of love, as they reclaim their autonomy together.
Check out my review!
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
“Partnerships can be built, but love can’t be coaxed. Love should feel like the first time you gallop a horse flat out. It should make your blood sing. It should terrify you. And some part of you should recognise it the first time you meet the other person’s eyes.”
I read this book last year and I feel like I’ve been waiting for the sequel for 10 years. It has everything I want in a book and more: sapphic romance, princesses, magic, and friends to love. It’s about a magic princess called Denna who is sent to another country (one where magic is illegal) to marry the prince for a political alliance, but once she’s there, she starts to fall in love with her fiancé’s sister, Mare.
I adore Denna and Mare so much. Denna is a proper princess: she does everything she’s told and she constantly tries to make everyone around her happy — even though she’s trying to hide her magical powers. And Mare is a wild princess: she doesn’t listen to anyone and she much rather wear pants than dresses. But even so, they fit really well together and their budding romance is so sweet to read and watch come to life.
I just really need the next book now, so I can see what my girls are up to.
Proper English by KJ Charles
Rep: 💖 (possibly 💜)
“I don’t think you think much of yourself, do you?”
Pat felt her face heat, with embarrassment or disappointment, she wasn’t sure which. “There’s not much to think of,” she muttered, gruffly.
Fen leaned forward, studying her face, then raised a brow. “Eye of the beholder,” she said, and kissed her.
I was so lucky to receive this book as an advance reading copy by the author and let me tell you, it’s glorious.
The book is set two years before the events of Think of England, KJ’s m/m novel where Pat and Fen, the main characters, first make their appearance as side characters. In Think of England, Pat and Fen are in a committed relationship and Proper English is their origin story.
And it’s so amazing! The book has a Agatha Christie-type country-house murder mystery with our girls as the investigators. What I absolutely love is how Pat goes from thinking about Fen as like “Yeah, she’s pretty and has some nice boobs, but there’s really nothing up there” to “I would die for Fenella Carruth” in the space of a few days. It’s a soft, lovely romance between two incredibly intelligent, wonderful women.
Check out my review!
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
“And it sucks, because I want to kiss her. It’s infuriating how perfect it would be to kiss her right now, perched on a cannon on a pirate ship under the stars. That sounds like something off the pages of an adventure novel. But my life isn’t one of those stories. My story is a hurricane, and here with Swift is just the eye.”
A book about lesbians and sea monsters and matriarchal pirate queens? Yes please! The main character, Cassandra, works for her family raising genetically modified sea monsters to protect ships as they cross the ocean, which is swarmed by pirates. But Cas is quickly kidnapped by a pirate queen and forced to train a baby sea monster to protect the pirate ship. Amazing!
I think my favourite thing about this book is the fact that it features an enemies to lovers relationship and if you don’t know, that’s literally my favourite trope ever. I even wrote a whole post about why. The women are really complex and morally ambiguous, and they can’t stop themselves from falling for the other. So good!
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
“The way she muddles my thoughts with a single brush of her lips, making the whole mad world disappear and every part of me achingly, perfectly, wonderfully alive, is all the encouragement I need to survive.”
I love this book, and one of the main reasons why is because it features a bisexual protagonist who is with men and women throughout the book. Odessa, the main character, is one of her country’s master necromancers, and spends most of her time reanimating the Dead. But someone in her city is purposely creating Shades, horrible creatures made if a Dead’s body is seen by someone who isn’t dead.
I’m not going to say what happens between Odessa and her ex-boyfriend, as that is a spoiler, but I absolutely love that her sapphic love interest is her ex’s SISTER. That is so freaking cool and adds another element to their relationship as Odessa feels so guilty for falling for Meredy. But amazingly, this book is about healing and how someone can help you heal, even when you think you can’t.
The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale
“I came home and informed my parents … They thought it was a phase. I think they still do. When they met Jeff, they were like, ‘Oh, what happened to being a lesbian?’ and I told them I was still bi, but they thought I was staying it to be edgy. A lot of people think that, actually.” Vix glanced over at Sawyer. “I’m not trying to be edgy. That’s what the purple hair and tattoos are for.”
If you want a really fun f/f romance, then look no further than The Long Song of Sawyer Bell. It’s seriously so much fun and you’ll have a big smile on your face the entire time you’re reading it. It’s about a young woman named Sawyer who joins Vix’s band, and the two women slowly fall for one another. At the beginning, it’s just a friends with benefits situation, but eventually they fall for each other, while Sawyer deals with her insecurities.
I just love how happy this book is and how happy it makes me feel. Vix and Sawyer genuinely like each other and their romance scenes are filled with laughter and light, which makes you happy too.
Have you read any of these books? What’s your favourite f/f novel? Let me know!