A brief note of introduction: I had the great fortune of sitting on an erotic romance panel with award-winning author Kate McMurray last month. She had valuable insights into the current state of gay romances, and I asked her to share some of that with us here. One issue that was discussed was while there is a mainstream embracing of m/m romance, there hasn’t been a huge breakout yet for authors of f/f stories. Kate has some suggestions to help get that ball rolling. — Logan Belle
I am a fan of all manner of romance, and that includes books in all sorts of niches. Lesbian romance—or f/f, for female/female—hasn’t caught on the same way that gay male (m/m) romance has, but I think its time is coming. I predict that we’ll see a fantastic breakout lesbian romance in the next year or two. But in the meantime, there are already some wonderful writers who are putting out great books that deserve more attention.
This list is by no means comprehensive, as these are mostly books I’ve stumbled upon when looking for things to read, so please feel free to add your own recs in the comments. Consider these “books Kate likes” more than an authoritative list.
1. Cathy Pegau’s Sci Fi books, Rulebreaker and Deep Deception
Pegau writes kickass heroines in futuristic settings. Strong worldbuilding and adventurous plots make for some pretty fun books. Sexual orientation seems to not be an issue in this future universe, so the gender of the characters doesn’t matter as much as the sexual tension between them, which… boy, howdy. These books are 1 and 3 in a series set in the same world but can be read as standalones. (Book 2, Caught in Amber, has a heterosexual pairing but is no less good.)
2. Ann McMan’s Jericho and Aftermath
Jericho is the story of Syd, a recently divorced woman who gets a job in the small, rural town of Jericho, Virginia, where she becomes friends with and then has a reluctant romance with Maddie, a local doctor. Their story continues in Aftermath when a tornado strikes Jericho and destroys a good chunk of the town. McMan excels at witty banter, and Syd and Maddie have a tremendous amount of chemistry with each other that is fun to read. The whole town is populated by a group of wonderfully drawn and sometimes silly characters. Aftermath is, I think, an underrated book; it’s laugh-out-loud funny despite its subject matter (a town recovering from a natural disaster) and it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2013.
3. If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
I picked this up as an ARC at BEA last year; the editor praised it highly and wasn’t wrong. The book is beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a story of two girls who have loved each other since they were children, but they’re living in Iran where the punishment for homosexuality could be imprisonment or death. Things become really complicated when one of the girls’ parents announce they’ve arranged for her marriage. This is a YA novel that becomes an exploration of gender and strict cultural norms.
And a few other honorable mentions:
When I asked around a little, a few readers talked about Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden as a sentimental favorite. It’s a YA novel about a girl who comes of age when she falls for another girl, originally published in 1982.
I wouldn’t call Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet a romance exactly—it’s really more about Nan’s journey—but there are definitely romantic elements, and any fan of historical romance will find a lot to like in Waters’s books. It’s set in Victorian England, and Nan begins the book as an oyster girl in a little seaside town and doesn’t seem to realize there’s more to life than oysters until she meets a cross-dancing singer named Kitty Butler, whom she follows to London before she finds herself in the city’s underbelly. This is where Nan really comes into her own. It’s such a great book, my favorite of Waters’s work.
And Kelly Rand’s Pearl is worth mentioning as well. It’s really a heterosexual romance, as the hero Clark is a transman, but I’d love for more readers to find this gem. The story is short and gorgeous and full of period detail—it’s set in the Jazz Age—and I loved everything about it.
Like I said, this is not a comprehensive list, and there are many other great books out there. So let’s all raise a glass to the lady-loving ladies!
Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She’s currently serving as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America. Her most recent novel is The Stars that Tremble. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at www.katemcmurray.com.