Top 10 Lesbian Books of 2016

This is Tara’s Top 10 Lesbian Books of 2016 list – Sheena

If we can agree on anything, it’s that 2016 was an excellent year for lesfic. I cannot believe the number of books that I enjoyed that came out this year, and I didn’t get to read nearly as many as I would have liked.

It pains me to choose only 10 books because I’ve read so many that I loved, but these are my absolute favourite books that were published in 2016. And for the record, it’s a four-way tie for best book of the year. I loved them all so much, I couldn’t pick just one or even two.

 


In the Distance There is Light by Harper Bliss1 In the Distance There is Light by Harper Bliss

Published by: Ladylit Publishing 

This book is: an unconventional age gap romance

What it’s about

Two women lose the man they love. All they have left is each other.

Sophie’s life is turned upside down when her partner, Ian, dies in a tragic accident. The only one who can understand her devastation is Ian’s stepmother, Dolores. Together, they try to make sense of their loss and rebuild their shattered lives. While their shared grief brings them closer, it also takes their relationship in an unexpected direction. Where does sorrow end and romance begin? Or has Ian’s death blurred the lines too much?

Why I love it

This book is deeply emotional and pulls no punches. With a premise like this, it’s not your typical romance novel, and the exploration of grief is superb. Harper Bliss published an unreal number of books this year, and this is not only the best of that lot, but it’s her best book ever.

See our full review here

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poppy jenkins by clare ashton2 Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton

This book is: chicklit that will make you want to book a flight to Wales

What it’s about

Two old friends, one hot summer, a whole load of confusion.

Poppy Jenkins makes everyone smile. She’s the heart of Wells, a beautiful village in mid-Wales, leaving light and laughter in her wake. She has a doting family, an errant dog and a little sister with a nose for mischief. But she’s the only gay in the village and it’s a long time since she kissed a girl: the chance of romance in sleepy Wells is rarer than a barking sheep.

If she doesn’t think too hard, life is cosy, until a smart sports car barrels into town with the last woman Poppy wants to see behind the wheel. Beautiful Rosalyn Thorn was once Poppy’s high school BFF even though she was trouble. Then one day she abandoned Wells and Poppy without explanation. Now the highflier is back and bound to cause fresh havoc in the village and with Poppy’s heart; folk are not happy.

Wells needs to wake up to the 21st century and Rosalyn can help, but old prejudices die hard. If they can be friends it could be the chance to make everyone’s happy ever after. Couldn’t it?

Why I love it

This book is an utter delight to read with a beautifully developed romance and exactly enough angst to make things interesting. This book almost didn’t make it on the list, but I finished it on December 31, and I couldn’t NOT include it! Sheena and I rarely read the same books and we often disagree on them, but this is one book we both loved.

See our full review here

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requiem for immortals by lee winter3 Requiem for Immortals by Lee Winter

Published by: Ylva Publishing

This book is: a thriller with a badass assassin

What it’s about

Professional cellist Natalya Tsvetnenko moves seamlessly among the elite where she fills the souls of symphony patrons with beauty even as she takes the lives of the corrupt of Australia’s ruthless underworld. The cold, exacting assassin is hired to kill a woman who seems so innocent that Natalya can’t understand why anyone would want her dead. As she gets to know her target, she can’t work out why she even cares.

Why I love it

It’s no secret that I loved Lee Winter’s debut novel (it even made it to the top of my Top 10 Lesbian Books of 2015), so Requiem for Immortals was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I’m so pleased to say that it more than delivered, blowing away all of my expectations. And it’s the other book Sheena and I agreed wholeheartedly about in 2016!

See our full review here

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 


Far From Home by Lorelei Brown4 Far From Home by Lorelie Brown

Published by: Riptide Publishing 

This book is: a rich girl/poor girl marriage of convenience romance

What it’s about

My name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calm rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess—anorexia is not a pretty word—and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.

Why I love it

It’s a beautiful romance with excellent character work. Telling the story in the first person from Rachel’s perspective as her illness is relapsing is beyond brilliant and something I’ve never seen in lesfic before.

See our full review here

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5 The Liberators of Willow Run by Marianne K. Martin

Published by: Bywater Books

This book is: a WWII historical novel

What it’s about

1943.

America is the Arsenal of Democracy.

Ships. Tanks. Airplanes. Munitions. With nine million men away fighting in Europe and the south Pacific, it’s up to America’s women to produce the tools of war—and victory rests on the wings of America’s Liberator, the B-24 bomber.

Audrey throws herself into the war effort. Hard work and long hours are just what she needs to keep the past at bay. Nona joins Audrey’s crew at the Willow Run Bomber Plant outside Detroit. She’s left her home in Kentucky to do her bit, and buys all the war bonds she can afford—she has a plan for her life. Ruth seizes the opportunity to create a new life for herself—a life her mother would not recognize.

Set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world, these women capture the spirit of the times through their determination, ingenuity, and enduring courage.

Why I love it

Marianne K. Martin vividly depicts a time when women could step out of their homes and into unconventional roles, sometimes allowing an independence that wasn’t available before or after the war. The standout element for me was the way she looked at identity and discrimination, and the differences in experience between people who could or could not choose to reveal the parts of themselves that would invite bigotry. It’s a gentle book, despite sometimes difficult content, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

See our full review here

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 


Flinging It by G Benson6 Flinging It by G. Benson

Published by: Ylva Publishing 

This book is: a workplace romance with an affair at the centre

What it’s about

Frazer, head midwife at a hospital in Perth, Australia, is trying to make her corner of the world a little better by starting up a programme for at-risk parents. Not everyone is excited about her ideas. Surrounded by red tape, she finally has to team up with Cora, a social worker who is married to Frazer’s boss.

Cora is starting to think her marriage is beyond saving, even if she wants to. Feeling smothered by a domineering spouse, she grabs hold of the programme and the distraction Frazer offers with both hands. Soon the two women get a little too close and find themselves in a situation they never dreamed themselves capable of: an affair.

As the two fall deeper, both are torn between their taboo romance and their morals. But walking away from each other may not be as simple as they thought.

Why I love it

Cheating is a total no-go for a lot of readers, especially when it’s part of the central romance, but this book totally won me over. It’s often hilarious, the character work is excellent, Cora’s bisexual awakening is realistic and handled well, and the cheating is depicted in a way that is nuanced and neither censures nor endorses it. If you can at all get past the premise, I would urge you to read this book.

See our full review here

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 


A Return to Arms by Sheree L Greer7 A Return to Arms by Sheree L. Greer

Published by: Bold Strokes Books 

This book is: general fiction about the intersection of the personal with the political

What it’s about

When Toya meets Folami and joins the activist collective RiseUP!, she thinks she’s found her life’s purpose. Folami’s sensuality and her passion for social justice leave Toya feeling that, at last, she’s met someone she can share all parts of her life with. But when a controversial police shooting blurs the lines between the personal and the political, Toya is forced to examine her identity, her passions, and her allegiances.

Folami, a mature and dedicated activist, challenges Toya’s commitment to the struggle while threatening to pull her back into the closet to maintain the intense connection they share. However, Nina, a young, free-spirited artist, invites Toya to explore the intersections between sexual and political freedom.

With the mounting tensions and social unrest threatening to tear the community apart, can Toya find a safe place to live and love while working to uplift her people?

Why I love it

I can think of no better way to describe this book than to call it important. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, it examines the intersection of racism, sexism and homophobia, reminding us that in some communities, it’s still a radical act for women to love other women. This book had me gutted at the end and it should be read by everyone.

See our full review here

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 


Alaskan Bride by D Jordan Redhawk8 Alaskan Bride by D Jordan Redhawk 

Published by: Bella Books

This book is: a historical romance that’s heavy on the historical and light on the romance

What it’s about

Finding a husband after the American Civil War isn’t easy.

When twenty-two-year-old Bostonian Clara Stapleton discovers the address of a likely bachelor in the wilds of the Alaskan bush, she throws caution to the wind and sends him a letter. Soon she’s on the adventure of her life, leaving the comfort and stability of a well-to-do family for a man she’s never met and a life of uncertainty.

Callie Glass isn’t happy with her brother Jasper’s proposal to a mail-order bride, though she knows it’s not her call. And when a tragic accident takes Jasper Glass’s life, Callie doesn’t hesitate to call off the wedding in a letter to Clara. Callie is soon surprised to find a strange woman settling into her cabin, a stranger who had never received news of Jasper’s demise.

While Callie insists that the other woman should return home, Clara digs in her heels. If Callie can live without a man in this isolated land, why can’t she? Both headstrong women struggle in the ashes of their dashed hopes and dreams, slowly coming together to forge an alliance for which neither is prepared.

About

Why I love it

The writing in this book is excellent, using the language and syntax of the time to support the worldbuilding in a way that’s still easy for readers to understand now. The characters are also wonderful, and I particularly loved the grit Callie showed as she adjusted to life in Alaska.

See our full review here

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 


Camp Rewind Meghan O Brien9 Camp Rewind by Meghan O’Brien

Published by: Bold Strokes Books 

This book is: a contemporary romance with a spicy side to it

What it’s about

Alice Wu is at Camp Rewind only because her therapist thinks it’ll help her overcome the social anxiety she’s battled since childhood. She’s not sure she believes that theory, but will try anything to make a real friend. A casual fling would also be nice, but she’s not holding her breath.

Rosa Salazar hopes camp will be an escape from a life permanently altered. Eviscerated online for her feminist critique of a popular video game, Rosa has endured months of anonymous threats over social media, doxxing, and, worst of all, the posting of graphic, sexually explicit material stolen from her cloud storage—including a dirty video she made for an ex. Using a fake name, she enrolls in camp craving a return to a simpler time, before the shame.

Alice and Rosa soon discover that at Camp Rewind, anything is possible. Even an unlikely friendship that swiftly becomes something more.

Why I love it

Let’s get the obvious out of the way—not only are the sex scenes super hot in this book, but so are the scenes where Alice and Rosa are just making out. Good. Lord. That aside, I loved how she realistically dealt with serious issues like online harassment and anxiety disorders against the backdrop of adult sleepaway camp. This book knocked The Night Off out of the top spot for my favourite Meghan O’Brien book ever.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 


Final Cut by Lynn Ames10 Final Cut by Lynn Ames

Published by: Phoenix Rising Press

This book is: a romantic suspense novel that’s a whole lot of fun

What it’s about

Nearly three decades ago, Katherine Kyle and Jamison Parker saved the life of the President of the United States, in the process exposing an exceedingly dangerous, powerful shadow organization. The entire episode came at great personal cost and forever changed the trajectory of the couple’s lives.

Now at the peak of her career as one of the preeminent novelists of the day, Jay is finally ready to put the past to rest in a fictional treatment…until powerful government forces intervene.

Oscar-winning actress Dara Thomas and her new wife, screenwriter Rebecca Minton, may hold the key to disseminating the truth.

Two of the most visible, formidable power couples in the country stand against the might of a government hell-bent on keeping secrets.

From the hallowed halls of the White House to the glittering streets of Hollywood, this is one adventure for the books.

Why I love it

Although I had read All That Lies Within, this was the first book I read with Kate and Jay. I loved reconnecting with Dara and Rebecca and getting to know Kate and Jay, and this book truly does stand alone. It’s fun and interesting, and I may have paid less attention to my family than usual because I couldn’t put it down.

See our full review here

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BUT WAIT!

We all know by now that I can never just have 10 books on a top 10 list. There’s always a bonus book, and this time I’m even breaking that rule to give you 2 bonus books! Why? Because much like the 4 books at the top of this list, I can’t possibly choose only one bonus book.

Just like last year’s list, I’ve chosen bonus books that were not published in 2016, but absolutely stood out for me. If you haven’t read them, I hope you do and that you love them as much as I do.

backcast by ann mcman review on the lesbian reviewBonus Book 1: Backcast by Ann McMan

Published by: Bywater Books

This book is: a general fiction novel about identity and storytelling

What it’s about

When sculptor and author Barb Davis is given an NEA grant to pair original feminist sculptures with searing first-person essays on transitions in women’s lives, she organizes a two week writing retreat with twelve of the best, brightest, and most notorious lesbian authors in the business. But in between regularly scheduled happy hours and writing sessions, the women enter a tournament bass fishing competition, receive life coaching from a wise-cracking fish named Phoebe, and uncover a subterranean world of secrets and desires that is as varied and elusive as the fish that swim the inland sea.

Set on the beautiful shores of Vermont’s Lake Champlain, Backcast is richly populated with an expansive cast of endearing and outrageous characters who battle writer’s block, quirky locals, personal demons, unexpected attractions, and even each other during their two-week residency. For Barb and each of her twelve writers, the stakes in this fast-moving story are high, but its emotional and romantic payoffs are slow and sweet.

Filled with equal parts laugh-out-loud humor and breathtaking pathos, Backcast serves up a sometimes irreverent, sometimes sobering look at the hidden lives of women, and how they laugh, love, lose, and blunder through their own search for meaning.

Why I love it

This is the first book I ever read by Ann McMan and it instantly made me an embarrassing super fangirl. The way she tells the story while simultaneously interrogating storytelling as an act of identity building—and sometimes survival—is masterful. Information is delivered so carefully that I would sometimes go from laughing to feeling like I was suckerpunched. After rereading Backcast, I’m particularly struck by a central theme I somehow missed the first time: so many of us share the same story, even if we never know it. This book makes me think and it makes me feel, and its contents and themes could easily fill a graduate level literature course for a semester.

See our full review here

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Hoosier Daddy by Ann McMan and Salem WestBonus Book 2: Hoosier Daddy by Ann McMan and Salem West

Published by: Bywater Books

This book is: a gentle, hilarious romance about real people

What it’s about

Jill Fryman (Friday to her friends) is a Line Supervisor at a truck manufacturing plant in a small southern Indiana town—and life on the assembly line is almost as predictable as her love life. When it comes to matters of the heart, Friday always seems to be making the wrong choices.

Things go from bad to worse when El, a sultry labor organizer from the UAW, sweeps into town to unionize the plant right after it’s been bought out by a Japanese firm. Sparks fly on and off the line as Jill and El fight their growing attraction for each other against a backdrop of monster trucks, fried catfish dinners, Pork Day USA, and a bar called Hoosier Daddy.

Why I love it

I know, I know, another Ann McMan book, but I wasn’t kidding when I said I couldn’t choose between them! I love literally everything about Hoosier Daddy. It’s funny, well written, with compelling characters, and a perfectly paced, interesting story. The first time I listened to it, I felt like the authors had written the book just for me, with jokes about Warren Jeffs dropped in alongside people just like the ones I grew up with. The second time I listened to it, I felt like I was coming home. Hoosier Daddy has enormous heart and is not only my favourite book that I read in 2016, but is my favourite book ever.

See our full review here

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

I hope you liked this list of the Top 10 Lesbian Books of 2016. Are there books you loved in 2016 and want to let me know about? Find me on Twitter or come join us at The Lesbian Review Book Club.

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Reviewer at The Lesbian Review
Tara Scott lives in Calgary, Canada with her family. If you don't find her with her Kindle in her hand, she's probably busy talking about what she's currently reading.

Tara Scott

Tara Scott lives in Calgary, Canada with her family. If you don't find her with her Kindle in her hand, she's probably busy talking about what she's currently reading.

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