Why the Top 15 Lesbian Books of 2017, when we usually do top 10 lists? Because 2017 was such an amazing year for lesbian fiction that I couldn’t narrow it down to only 10! Even with this supersized list, there were so many spectacular stories that I still agonized over which books to include. And because a couple of authors released two books that were so wonderful I couldn’t choose between them, I didn’t and you’ll see that they’re tied for the same place. I truly loved each of these books and will be reading all of them again and again.

What books did you love in 2017? Let me know on Twitter!

An Outsider Inside by RJ Samuel1 An Outsider Inside by R J Samuel

This book is a: literary mystery that explores issues of identity and prejudice

What it’s about

For Irish-Indian lesbian activist, Jaya Dillon, an outsider who craves belonging over all else, survival depends on hiding the truth of who she is and who she loves – from herself.

In the heated run-up to Ireland’s referendum on same-sex marriage, she finds herself trapped between the “Yes” and “No” sides. And Jaya’s got a boulder on her shoulder about bisexual women and being brown in Ireland.

While clearing out an Indian couple’s rental house in Galway, she discovers a manuscript, written by the wife, Lana, who disappeared in worrying circumstances. When Jaya travels to France, she comes closer to the characters in Lana’s unfinished novel than she ever imagined possible. And she is shoved back into contact with her ex- fiancée, Chloe, who is planning her own wedding. To a man.

Jaya is drawn into a fictional world that may be truer than reality. As she fights to uncover the truth, everything she thought she knew about her politics and her place in the world turns on its head as she falls for the elusive Lana, is attracted to the charming, gay French-Algerian Ishmael and his beautiful sister Isabella, and confronts her unresolved feelings and dread over the choices Chloe is making.

Can she find Lana and the truth in time to save Chloe … without losing herself?

Why I love it

An Outsider Inside is the last book I read in 2017 and it is also the best. It’s beautifully written with an intricate mystery, unusual story structure, and memorable characters. It tackles difficult subject matter like biphobia, racism, identity, and domestic violence, challenging readers to rethink their preconceived notions while delivering a damn fine tale.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

Read my review here


Goldenrod by Ann McMan audiobook2 Goldenrod by Ann McMan

Published by Bywater Books

This book is a: general fiction story that takes us back to the town of Jericho

What it’s about

Welcome back to Jericho, a small town tightly tucked into the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, where life and love have as many twists and turns as a winding mountain road. Join Syd, Maddie, David, Michael, Henry, Celine, and the irrepressible Roma Jean Freemantle as they band together to navigate the minefields of their ever-changing world in this newest Jericho novel.

Why I love it

While I loved Jericho and Aftermath, Goldenrod is on a whole other level. McMan’s use of warmth and humour offset the darker issues of homophobia, racism, and child abuse, all with lyrical prose that’s spellbinding. This is Ann McMan at her finest.

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Check out my full review here 

 


3 & 4 Eyes Like Those & Strawberry Summer by Melissa Brayden

Published by Bold Strokes Books

Eyes Like Those is a: rich girl/poor girl, workplace romance that takes place in the writers room of a TV show

Eyes Like Those by Melissa BraydenWhat it’s about

When it comes to love, no one is in charge.

Isabel Chase is reeling. She’s just been offered her dream job as a staff writer on one of the hottest shows on television and quickly trades in the comfort of New England for sun, sand, and everything Hollywood. While stoked for what could be her big break, the show’s stunning executive producer has her head spinning and her feelings swirling.

Taylor Andrews is at the top of her career. Everything she touches turns to gold and the studios know it. Just when she’s on track for total television domination, Isabel Chase arrives in her office and slowly turns her world upside down. Isabel is intelligent, sarcastic, and dammit, downright beautiful. Unfortunately, she’s the one person that can take away all Taylor has worked for.

Will Isabel’s success lead to Taylor’s downfall? Or perhaps Isabel is all she needs…

Why I love it

Between the TV series setting, the realistic depiction of anxiety with Isabel, and the beautiful female friendships in the book, Eyes Like Those felt like it was made for me. Melissa Brayden wrote a hell of a romance that I fell totally in love with, not to mention my giant character crush on Taylor.

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Check out my full review here 

 

 

Strawberry Summer by Melissa BraydenStrawberry Summer is a: smalltown, second chance romance that will rip your heart out and put it back together

What it’s about

Just because you’re through with your past, doesn’t mean it’s through with you.

Margaret Beringer didn’t have an easy adolescence. She hated her name, was less than popular in school, and was always cast aside as a “farm kid.” However, with the arrival of Courtney Carrington, Margaret’s youth sparked into color. Courtney was smart, beautiful, and put together—everything Margaret wasn’t. Who would have imagined that they’d fit together so perfectly?

But first loves can scar.

Margaret hasn’t seen Courtney in years and that’s for the best. But when Courtney loses her father and returns to Tanner Peak to take control of the family store, Margaret comes face-to-face with her past and the woman she’s tried desperately to forget. The fact that Courtney has grown up more beautiful than ever certainly doesn’t help matters.

Why I love it

Melissa Brayden totally upped her writing game with Strawberry Summer. She somehow managed to deliver a totally coherent, wonderful story while giving us the feel of a YA novel when Courtney and Maggie are in high school, a new adult romance when they’re in college, and a contemporary romance when they reunite in the present. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and it was impressive as all get out.

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Check out my full review here 

 


Storm Season by Pene Henson5 Storm Season by Pene Henson

Published by Interlude Press

This book is an: Australian “rained in” romance (like snowed-in romances in colder parts of the world)

What it’s about

The great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and she’s certain a giant spider is going to sneak into the tent she’s sharing with friends on her way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.

Why I love it

The gorgeous, atmospheric writing is not to be missed, with the third person present tense writing working well to immerse the reader into the story. Everything about Storm Season worked for me—the romance, the characters and their respective arcs, the way the author writes friendship, and the sex writing are all perfect.

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Check out my full review here


Bitterroot Queen by Jove Belle6 Bitterroot Queen by Jove Belle

Published by Dirt Road Books

This book is a: contemporary drama about finding life in a new place

What it’s about

When Sam Marconi packs up her home and leaves Las Vegas behind her, she pictures an idyllic life waiting for her and her daughter, Beth, in Bitterroot, Idaho. After saving for years, Sam finally has enough to chase her dream of owning and operating a small roadside motel. When she arrives, she finds her new business in a derelict state that makes Sam second guess her decision to move.

For Olly Jones, home has always been in the stretch of road between houses. As a child, her parents raised her to embrace a nomadic life, a practice she continues as an adult. Unlike her parents, Olly doesn’t view the movement as her birthright. She feels an inexplicable, irrepressible tug pulling her ever forward, searching for…something. She trusts she’ll know it when she finds it.

Sam and Olly’s first meeting is explosive with accusations of trespass and vandalism, backed up by mace. But when Sam puts up a flyer seeking skilled labor at an unskilled labor price, Olly is the only one who shows up for the job. Despite her initial reservations, Sam hires her and eventually realizes Olly is exactly what she needs.

Charmed by Bitterroot and drawn in by Sam’s fierce independence, Olly lingers longer than normal. For the first time, she sees a potential for home and family. Will they find a way to build the life they’ve both been searching for? Or will they cling to the ties holding them to the past?

Why I love it

Jove Belle’s character work in Bitterroot Queen is not to be missed and is what really makes this book shine. Whether a lead character or a supporting one, she brought each person to life with a vibrancy that made me want to befriend some and slap others. I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us in Bitterroot.

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Check out my full review here

 


7 & 8 Close to Home & Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler

Published by Bywater Books

Close To Home by Rachel SpanglerClose to Home is a: smalltown, thawing the ice queen romance

What it’s about

Kelly Rolen is a CPA—she’s smart, she’s focused, and she’s worked hard to build an orderly career and a respectable life in her hometown of Darlington, Illinois. Everything is precisely as it should be. Well, it is until her father suffers a debilitating stroke during the busiest time of her year—tax season. Suddenly, Kelly finds herself overworked, exhausted, behind schedule, and forced to hire an intern to meet her deadlines.

Elliot Garza is young and brash, but she’s also a talented accounting student who is charismatic, driven, and solely focused on completing her internship so she can escape from the bleak Midwestern town to Washington, DC and her dream job. She knows she has the professional skills necessary to do the job well, but she is less certain about her ability to handle her beautiful, prickly, demanding, and compelling new boss.

In this fresh new romance from one of the genre’s top young authors, will Kelly’s past and Elliot’s future add up to something greater than the sum of their escalating attraction, or will the answer to their equation end up hitting too close to home?

Why I love it

Rachel Spangler somehow managed to take one of her least likeable characters ever and give her a romance that’s believable, heartwrenching, and beautiful. This book made me see that Spangler is quickly becoming the queen of thawing ice queens even while I fell for the dapper butch Elliot.

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Check out my full review here

 

Edge Of Glory by Rachel SpanglerEdge of Glory is an: Olympic sports romance

What it’s about

Corey LaCroix only wanted to snowboard, but Olympic medals and world championships only carry you so far when your knees ache and you’re suddenly an underdog for the first time in her career. Elise Brandeis doesn’t need a training partner, especially an unorthodox has-been snowboarder with an attitude. But Elise has already lost a full season to injury, and she’s struggling to make the Olympic ski team. Can teaming up with Corey give her the edge she needs to go for gold, or will the snowboarder’s infuriatingly cocky smile and rock hard abs prove a distraction she simply can’t afford?

Both champions brace themselves for the run of a lifetime. Putting their broken bodies on the line, they fight the competition, the clock, and the frozen terrain for one more chance at glory. But this time, as they ride the razor’s edge between victory and defeat, the stakes are steeper than any mountain they will ever face when legacies and hearts collide.

Why I love it

The interplay between the ice queen Elise and the playful Corey is too good for words. And yes, both of Rachel Spangler’s 2017 releases feature ice queens, but Elise in Edge of Glory is VERY different from Kelly in Close to Home, demonstrating Spangler’s versatility and mastery of character development even as she writes similar themes.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

Check out Anna’s full review here

 


Five Moons Rising by Lise MacTague9 Five Moons Rising by Lise MacTague

Published by Bella Books

This book is a: paranormal romance with a werewolf and hunter

What it’s about

Unknown to regular citizens, nightmarish creatures lurk in the dark underbelly of human civilization. The presence of these supranormals (“supras”)―werewolves, vampires, demons―is a closely guarded government secret, as is the existence of a cadre of specially engineered Hunters charged with exterminating them.

Code-named Malice, Hunter Mary Alice Nolan was genetically modified and rigorously trained to use her great strength, heightened senses, and killer instincts to track and eliminate supras who prey on the innocent. A loner by choice, her only real link to the human world is her close connection to her mother and sister―until the unthinkable happens…

Ruri Samson has been a werewolf for more than a century and is comfortably situated as the Beta of her peaceful pack. Until she is betrayed by the woman she loves and an evil outsider massacres her Alpha and his most loyal followers. Barely escaping with her life, Ruri is forced to tread the perilous path of a lone wolf while vowing vengeance against the usurper and his minions.

Although these two powerful women should rightfully despise each other, fate will soon compel them to join forces on a dangerous quest to avenge their loved ones―and will ignite a forbidden passion that neither of them ever imagined.

Why I love it

I enjoy a good paranormal romance, so I was thrilled to see that Five Moons Rising is one of the very best. The leads are both swoonworthy ass-kicking ladies, the story’s plotting and pacing are tight, and the sex is hot—all of which add up to me being a very happy reader. I can’t wait to read more in this series!

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

Check out Sheena’s full review here

 


Right Here Right Now by Gerogia Beers10 Right Here, Right Now by Georgia Beers

Published by Bold Strokes Books

This book is an: opposites attract, girl next door romance

What it’s about

Accountant and financial advisor Lacey Chamberlain doesn’t consider herself a control freak. She’s merely a planner-orderly, neat, and content in her tidy little life. When a marketing firm moves into the empty office next door, the loud-music-playing, stinky-food-ordering, kickball-in-the-hall staff make Lacey crazy.

Marketing expert Alicia Wright is spontaneous, flies by the seat of her pants, and lives in the moment-all the things Lacey is not. She’s also gorgeous, thoughtful, and seems determined to make Lacey like her.

They say opposites attract, but for how long? And is that really a good idea?

Why I love it

I’ve long been a fan of Georgia Beers and her fiction, and this book still somehow took me by surprise. The first person storytelling worked brilliantly, allowing for narrative possibilities that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Lacey and Alicia are also so wonderful that they’ve become my favourite of all of Beers’s couples.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

Check out my full review here

 


Reintegration by Eden S French11 Reintegration by Eden S. French

Published by Queer Pack

This book is a: dystopian sci-fi novel

What it’s about

Streetwise cyborg Lexi Vale brokers deals for gang lords in the anarchic city of Foundation. Her mind-reading implant gives her a crucial edge—but it also makes her brain a hot commodity. When she’s targeted by an augmented hunter, Lexi joins a group of rebels: a murderous vigilante, a daredevil smuggler, a drug-addled surgeon, and a revolutionary whose shared past with Lexi endangers them all. A queer, dystopian sci-fi about piecing together purpose from the fragments of love and loss, even while the world itself is tearing apart.

Why I love it

I read the second edition of Reintegration, which was released in 2017, and it left me breathless. The worldbuilding is worth the price of the book alone, plus we get an interesting story, an excellent and diverse cast of characters, and the kind of crisp, sharp writing that I adore.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

Check out Lise’s full review here

 


Who’d Have Thought by G Benson12 Who’d Have Thought by G Benson

Published by Ylva Publishing

This book is a: workplace, marriage of convenience romance

What it’s about

Top neurosurgeon Samantha Thomson needs to get married fast and is tightlipped as to why. And with over $200,000 on offer to tie the knot, no questions asked, cash-strapped ER nurse Hayden Pérez isn’t about to demand answers. The deal is only for a year of marriage, but Hayden’s going into it knowing it will be a nightmare. Sam is complicated, rude, kind of cold, and someone Hayden barely tolerates at work, let alone wants to marry. The hardest part is that Hayden has to convince everyone around them that they’re madly in love and that racing down the aisle together is all they’ve ever wanted. What could possibly go wrong?

Why I love it

I’m a huge fan of G Benson’s romances, so I wasn’t surprised that I loved this one too. Not only does it have a lot of my favourite themes all in one place (age gap, medical romance, workplace romance, rich girl/poor girl pairing, marriage of convenience), but it has that classic Benson balance of humour and fun writing with the right amount of angst to keep things interesting.

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Check out my full review here

 


Chef’s Special by Susan X Meagher13 Chef’s Special by Susan X Meagher

Published by Brisk Press

This book is a: contemporary foodie romance

What it’s about

After years of slowly working her way up the ladder, Emily Desjardins is finally poised at the next step—cooking at the kind of restaurant she’d love to one day own.

Her new boss is classically trained, has stunningly high standards, and effortlessly designs delicious, creative cuisine. She’s also demanding, inflexible, ridiculously confident and so hot it’s almost silly.

Emily is determined to spend her time learning all of the tricks and tools she’ll need to keep moving up. But keeping her mind on the job with the enigmatic Blake Chadwick pervading her thoughts and her dreams proves much harder than she could have ever imagined.

Why I love it

Between the boss/employee relationship, character development for both Emily and Blake, and Meagher’s engaging writing style, there’s a lot to love about Chef’s Special! And topping out at a touch more than 500 pages, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this book. Make sure to have food on hand when you’re reading it though, because all the food descriptions are sure to make you hungry.

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Check out my full review here

 


Between The Lines by KD WIlliamson14 Between the Lines by KD Williamson

Published by Ylva Publishing

This book is a: thawing ice queen romance with a cop and a doctor

What it’s about

Psychiatrist Dr. Tonya Preston lives a life of cool detachment, often sacrificing her personal needs to appease her opinionated father. She often finds it easier to deal with patients than confront her family or her own issues. When her path dramatically crosses that of irrepressible rookie police officer Haley Jordan, she’s thrown out of her comfort zone.

Things have come easy for Haley, who has a drama-free life filled with love and friends that Tonya finds as alluring as the irreverent woman behind the badge. An attraction simmers between them, drawing them to each other. But will it be enough when work, family and a confronting police case starts to tear at their fledgling relationship?

Why I love it

I’ve been a fan of all of KD Williamson’s books and Between the Lines is her best yet. Williamson is the queen of going deep in her character work and those skills are on full display with Tonya and Haley as they interact with the people around them. It’s the third book in her Cops and Docs series, but it totally stands alone and is well worth checking out.

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Check out my full review here

 

 


In Her Court by Tamsen Parker15 In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

This book is a: sweet “falling for her best friend’s sister” romance

What it’s about

Newly minted professor Evangeline “Van” Thompson’s academic dreams have turned into nightmares. She can’t wait to escape the pressure cooker of the university to spend the summer at Camp Firefly Falls with her bestie, Nate.

Unfortunately, Nate breaks his leg halfway through the season, and his little sister Willa fills in for him as resident tennis instructor. Van has fond memories of the blonde moppet, but when Willa shows up at camp, she’s not so little anymore. She’s grown into a bombshell and a menace on the tennis court—why do those skirts have to be so short, anyway?

Willa Carter has had a crush on Van Thompson since the third grade but Van’s always been more interested in hanging out with Willa’s older brother. Not much seems to have changed—Van’s managing the camp’s web presence while Willa rocks her tennis whites.

Camp will be closing in a few weeks, and Van’s barely spoken to Willa despite sharing a cabin. But when the two get thrown together to plan the last session of camp, s’mores might not be the only thing getting sticky and sweet before the season’s out…

Why I love it

I immediately fell for both Van (the ultimate geek girl) and Willa (totally supportive sweetheart) and the crushes they had on each other. This book is sweet, sexy, and downright hilarious at times, and I felt like it came out of nowhere. I hope we see a lot more f/f romance from Tamsen Parker, because I enjoyed this one so thoroughly.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

Check out my full review here

 


BUT WAIT!

There’s always a bonus book or two whenever I do a list, and this is no exception! These are the two best lesbian fiction stories I read in 2017 that were published in other years.

Rainbow Gap by Lee LynchBonus Book 1: Rainbow Gap by Lee Lynch

Published by Bold Strokes Books

This book is a: period piece about being a lesbian and finding yourself in the 1960s

What it’s about

Jaudon Vicker and Berry Garland are polar opposites yet know they are meant to be together. Growing up in steamy backcountry Central Florida, they fight each other’s battles: Berry protects boyish Jaudon from bullies, Jaudon gives the abandoned Berry roots. They pledge that nothing will part them, not a changing Florida nor a changing America, not Berry’s quest for her spiritual path, nor Jaudon’s ambition for her family’s business. When the war in Vietnam, politics, police, rough times, society itself, and other women threaten to come between them, their bond grows deeper. In the safety of their secluded tree house hideaway, they learn to dream, dance–and to make love.

Why I love it

Literally everything about Rainbow Gap is wonderful. The character work is compelling, the writing is gorgeous and evocative, and it shares so much about the lesbian experience of the 1960s without making it feel a history lesson. This is a book that should be handed out in classrooms and I cannot overstate its importance.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

Check out my full review here

 


Letters Never Sent by Sandra MoranBonus Book 2: Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran

Published by Bedazzled Ink Publishing

This book is a: drama about choices and the effects they can have

What it’s about

Three women, united by love and kinship, struggle to conform to the social norms of the times in which they lived.

In 1931, Katherine Henderson leaves behind her small town in Kansas and the marriage proposal of a local boy to live on her own and work at the Sears & Roebuck glove counter in Chicago. There she meets Annie—a bold, outspoken feminist who challenges Katherine’s idea of who she thinks she is and what she thinks she wants in life.

In 1997, Katherine’s daughter, Joan, travels to Lawrence, Kansas, to clean out her estranged mother’s house. Hidden away in an old suitcase, she finds a wooden box containing trinkets and a packet of sealed letters to a person identified only by a first initial.

Joan reads the unsent letters and discovers a woman completely different from the aloof and unyielding mother of her youth–a woman who had loved deeply and lost that love to circumstances beyond her control. Now she just has to find the strength to use the healing power of empathy and forgiveness to live the life she’s always wanted to live.

Why I love it

Letters Never Sent is unspeakably beautiful, even as it deals with some of the toughest issues out there. The shifts between Joan’s perspective in 1997 and Katherine’s at various times in her life build a narrative structure that is masterful, with mother and daughter struggling with similar issues. This is a book that left me changed and I highly recommend it.

Get It On Amazon

 

 

 

Check out my full review here