Our Definitive List of the Best Lesbian Romance Books

Published: 1 May 2023 | Last updated: 19 August 2023
Written by Penny Somerset

The compelling narratives in lesbian romance books center women and their emotional journeys, offering readers a captivating experience. Losing yourself in a well-crafted lesbian romance novel is pure magic. These books, charged with passion and emotion, help us explore our sexuality and the fascinating dynamics of an intimate relationship between women. As an avid reader who loves lesbian fiction to bits, I've gathered my favorite lesbian romance books that aren't only thrilling but also celebrate the intricate beauty of lesbian literature.

Lesbian Romance Books

Whether you're after warmth or adventure tinged with steaminess or want your heartstrings pulled by lesbian books exploring different themes at various periods - my list has something for everyone!

Our Pick of the Best Lesbian Romance Books

Tipping the Velvet (2000)

Tipping the Velvet
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by Sarah Waters

In a single beam of warm, pink light, a mesmerizing girl commands the stage, capturing the heart of Nan King, an oyster girl from Canterbury. Utterly captivated by Kitty Butler, a male impersonator taking the music hall world by storm, Nan seizes the opportunity to meet her idol through a well-connected friend. Before long, Nan becomes Kitty's personal dresser, and the duo set off for Leicester Square, where they rise to stardom as an alluring double act, dazzling audiences with their singing and dancing. As their success blossoms, so too does their love, with Nan and Kitty acknowledging their mutual attraction and embarking on a passionate affair behind the curtain.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (1987)

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
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by Fannie Flagg

In the heartwarming and captivating novel "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," readers are introduced to two remarkable women: Evelyn, grappling with the melancholy of middle age, and the wise, elderly Mrs. Threadgoode, who shares her extraordinary life story. As she recounts the spirited adventures of tomboy Idgie and her companion Ruth, who operated a small cafe in 1930s Whistle Stop, Alabama, the narrative weaves a rich tapestry of love, laughter, and even the occasional mystery. This timeless tale of friendship and resilience not only brings the past to life, but also leaves an indelible impact on the present.

The Price of Salt (1952)

The Price of Salt
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by Patricia Highsmith

Two lonely women, Therese, a young sales clerk striving to find her footing, and Carol, an elegant older woman and homemaker navigating a tumultuous divorce, unexpectedly discover a passionate romance. Escaping the confines of their daily lives, they embrace the liberating open road, allowing their love to flourish. However, their newfound happiness is threatened when Carol faces an agonizing choice between her child and her lover.

Renowned for her psychological thrillers, author Patricia Highsmith presents a groundbreaking portrayal of complex characters defying stereotypes surrounding homosexuality. Originally published in 1952 under a pseudonym, this eloquent and suspenseful story offers a candid exploration of self-acceptance and love amidst societal disapproval. "The Price of Salt" also inspired the critically acclaimed 2015 film "Carol," featuring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

The Color Purple (1982)

The Color Purple
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by Alice Walker

"The Color Purple," a poignant and transformative cornerstone of modern American literature, delves into the lives of African American women in early 20th-century rural Georgia. Sisters Celie and Nettie, separated in their youth, maintain an unwavering bond of loyalty and hope despite the distance and silence between them. Through two decades of heartfelt letters - initially from Celie to God and later between the sisters themselves - the novel immerses readers in the vivid, unforgettable experiences of characters such as Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery, and Sofia. Alice Walker's masterful narrative breaks the silence surrounding domestic and sexual abuse, chronicling the women's journey through suffering and companionship, growth and resilience, as they bravely confront their challenges. This deeply empathetic and artfully crafted tale takes readers on an inspiring journey towards redemption and the power of love.

The One Woman (2022)

The One Woman
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by Laura May

Julie, a talented graphic designer, finds her life and relationship with her boyfriend Mark to be unremarkable, despite her best efforts. That is, until a chance encounter with the alluring and accomplished Ann ignites a spark between them. Fate reunites them in Barcelona, and the undeniable connection between the two women grows even stronger. But when tragedy strikes, Julie faces a heart-wrenching decision - should she remain loyal to Mark, or follow her heart and pursue her love for Ann? This emotionally charged story explores the power of love and the challenges it faces when confronted by imperfect timing.

Gold (2018)

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by E.J. Noyes 

Former pro alpine skier Aspen Archer, whose career met a devastating end during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, now leads a life of obscurity, coaching tourists at ski resorts and avoiding her own demons. An unexpected encounter with Cate Tierney during a ski trip to Australia sparks an intense attraction between the two women. Despite Cate's initial reluctance, stemming from a painful past relationship and a desire to protect her teenage daughter, their connection deepens.

However, with Cate's vacation drawing to a close and Aspen's unwillingness to settle down, the possibility of their relationship being anything more than a fleeting romance seems uncertain. When Cate uncovers Aspen's hidden past, Aspen must confront her fears and rediscover what she truly desires. Faced with the reality that life's journey is rarely straightforward, Aspen must determine how to find her way back on course, once and for all.

Lies We Sing to the Sea (2023)

Lies We Sing to the Sea
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by Sarah Underwood

Ithaca faces a devastating annual ritual where twelve maidens are sacrificed to appease the wrathful Poseidon for the execution of Queen Penelope's twelve maids centuries prior. When Leto, one of the condemned, finds herself not facing death but awakening on an enigmatic island, she encounters Melantho - a girl with emerald eyes and the power to control the sea. Melantho reveals that a single death can put an end to the relentless cycle of sacrifice: the prince of Ithaca must perish, or the tides of fate will engulf them all. This enthralling tale of deception, love, and tragedy, masterfully woven by Sarah Underwood, will captivate fans of Madeline Miller, Alexandra Bracken, and Renée Ahdieh.

Warming Trend (2009)

Warming Trend
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by Karin Kallmaker

Anidyr Bycall finds herself trapped in the past, haunted by unspoken words and a reckless decision that cost her everything. Fleeing both public and academic scrutiny in Fairbanks, she lands in Key West. Though the nights are sweltering, she feels colder than the Alaskan glaciers she once studied. By night, she tends bar, and by day, she delves into her sole remaining passion: researching Alaska's ice fields.

As news from home suggests those she hurt may have moved on, Ani hopes to recover her precious books and papers. However, winning back the admiration and warmth she once saw in Eve Cambra's eyes seems impossible. When unexpected questions cast doubt on the events of three years prior, Ani realizes she might have the opportunity to redeem herself and reclaim her career. Yet, there's no evidence that Eve's feelings have thawed or that their once fiery connection can be reignited. In this heartfelt tale set against the icy backdrop of the north, Karin Kallmaker explores the all-consuming passion that can melt even the coldest of hearts.

Lesbian Fiction

Reservations of the Heart (2019)

Reservations of the Heart
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by T.B. Markinson

41-year-old doctor Stella Gilbert once had everything she desired: a thriving career and a perfect family. However, her life changed drastically when her wife betrayed her. Three years post-divorce, Stella's friends and family worry about her nonexistent personal life and her steadfast belief that her career and raising her daughter are all she needs for fulfillment.

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Aurora Shirley is reeling from a shocking family secret and questioning everyone's honesty. Love is far from her mind as she takes a temporary job at a medical school, yet she must find a date for her best friend's wedding to avoid being the worst maid of honor in history. When Stella and Aurora's paths cross unexpectedly, they experience a powerful connection that neither anticipated. Can these two wounded women, who believe love is the last thing they want, overcome their fears and find healing together?

Keeping You A Secret (2003)

Keeping You A Secret
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by Julie Anne Peters

Holland Jaeger appears to have it all: a steady boyfriend, the role of Student Council President, and a shot at attending an Ivy League college. However, when Cece Goddard arrives at her school, Holland's life takes an unexpected turn. The undeniable attraction between Cece and Holland leaves them questioning their feelings and wondering how others will react to their blossoming relationship. This tender and captivating love story, reminiscent of Nancy Garden's iconic young adult novel "Annie on My Mind," showcases Peters's engaging humor and breezy writing style while capturing the powerful emotions of young love.

Annie on my Mind (1982)

Annie on my Mind
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by Nancy Garden

In Nancy Garden's trailblazing lesbian romance novel "Annie on My Mind," first published in 1982, readers witness the heartfelt story of two teenage girls, Liza Winthrop and Annie Kenyon, whose friendship evolves into love. Despite facing challenges from their families and school that jeopardize their connection, they vow to remain loyal to each other and their emotions.

When Liza meets Annie at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she instantly senses their special bond, and together, they navigate the complexities of love. As the first young adult author to craft a lesbian love story with a positive outcome, Garden's work encourages readers to embrace their true selves. The 25th Anniversary Edition includes a comprehensive interview with Garden by Kathleen T. Horning, delving into her personal experiences, the book's creation, censorship, and its lasting impact on generations of readers.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
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by Emily M. Danforth

Cameron Post experiences a whirlwind of emotions when her parents die in a car accident, feeling an unexpected sense of relief that they'll never discover she had been kissing a girl just hours before. However, her relief is short-lived as she moves in with her conservative Aunt Ruth and old-fashioned grandmother, realizing her life is now changed forever. To survive in Miles City, Montana, Cameron learns to blend in and keep to herself. When the stunning, quintessential cowgirl Coley Taylor arrives in town, Cameron unexpectedly finds herself drawn into a deep, intense friendship that hints at the possibility of something more. But as their connection grows, Aunt Ruth intervenes to "correct" her niece, forcing Cameron to face the consequences of denying her true identity - even if she's still figuring out who she is.

Living (2019)

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by Lise Gold

Yoga instructor Cam Saunders unexpectedly rescues a young woman who appears to be attempting to end her life in the sea. When Cam discovers that the woman is a famous actress, she vows to keep her secret. Fast forward six months, and Ella Temperley, America's beloved actress, is working to rebuild her life after losing her twin sister and battling severe depression. Despite her fame, she feels isolated and can't forget the woman who saved her. As fate brings Ella and Cam together once more, they form a bond stronger than either could have imagined. Yet, when friendship evolves into attraction, they must navigate the complexities of their feelings. "Living" is a heartfelt, slow-burning coming-out romance that explores loss, love, and the intricacies of life.

The Gravity Between Us (2013)

The Gravity Between Us
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by Kristen Zimmer

Kristen Zimmer's "The Gravity Between Us" tells the story of 19-year-old Kendall Bettencourt, Hollywood's latest sensation who, despite her fame, craves a normal life. Payton Taylor, Kendall's childhood best friend, serves as a grounding force and a reminder of her true self amid the chaos of stardom. As Kendall's career skyrockets, she brings Payton to LA for support. However, Payton harbors a secret that could complicate their relationship: she's in love with Kendall. As they confront the blurred lines between friendship and love, they must also grapple with the mounting pressures of fame. "The Gravity Between Us" is a bold and emotional tale of love, friendship, and the courage to embrace one's true identity in a whirlwind world.

The Night Off (2012)

The Night Off
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by Meghan O'Brien

Emily Parker, a woman with a tightly controlled life, shaped by her upbringing with drug-addicted parents. Emily has spent years prioritizing the needs of others, but she decides it's time to explore her own desires by surrendering control for one night. Enter Nat Swayne, a skilled and dangerously alluring high-priced escort who specializes in fulfilling fantasies without emotional attachment. However, as their night of intense passion evolves into something deeper, Emily and Nat find themselves navigating the complexities of a real-world connection. As they face their old habits and the challenges of love, they must determine if their bond is strong enough to last.

Reaping the Benefits (2020)

Reaping the Benefits
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By E.J.Noyes

Morgan Ashworth, a supernatural being and Death's Head Minion, finds herself struggling as her chances for the Minion of the Year award wane. Things get even more complicated when she must deliver an afterlife package to Jane Smith, a human employee she's attracted to. Jane's day takes a turn for the worse when she learns that her attractive boss is immortal and responsible for determining her afterlife fate.

Hoping to make the best of the situation, Jane strikes a bargain: she'll sign the afterlife document if Morgan helps her complete her bucket list. As the two women tackle the list, which includes "Sleep with my boss," they discover that their connection goes far beyond simple attraction. However, the question remains: can Jane mend Morgan's centuries-old broken heart, and is Morgan willing to risk another painful loss by loving a mortal?

Weeping Walls (2013)

Weeping Walls
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by Gerri Hill

A small town near Houston witnesses a second murder at an old, abandoned house, bearing a striking resemblance to an unsolved case from fourteen years ago. FBI Agents CJ Johnston and Paige Riley join forces to uncover the connection between these two chilling crimes. Alongside their teammates Ice and Billy, the duo realizes this case is far from cold. Amidst the investigation, CJ and Paige grapple with the challenge of keeping their blossoming romance a secret, a task as difficult as deciphering the long-hidden evidence.

Breaking Character

Breaking Character
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by Lee Winter

British A-lister Elizabeth Thornton finds herself in a tangled mess. As an icy, closeted actress playing America's most-hated villain on a TV medical drama she despises, her life takes another complicated turn when she's falsely linked romantically to her cheerful co-star, Summer, due to an unintentional mishap.

Desperate for her dream movie role, Elizabeth must navigate the eccentric French filmmaker's demand to meet her supposed "girlfriend" Summer. Meanwhile, Summer is heartbroken by Elizabeth's rejection, yet infuriated by the audacious request to pose as her lover for the role. Despite the animosity, Summer can't help but harbor a secret crush on the seemingly unapproachable Elizabeth. "Breaking Character" is a captivating lesbian celebrity romance about finding love, shedding facades, and staying true to the script.

A Family Affair

A Family Affair
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by Harper Bliss

Kate's ten-year marriage to Kevin is on the brink, as their unsuccessful attempt at parenthood has taken its toll. While Kevin focuses on renovating their home as a means of healing, Kate ends up residing with her mother in law in her pool house, inevitably spending more time with Kevin's pampered sister, Stella. As an aspiring actress, Stella is gearing up for a crucial audition but warmly welcomes her brother and sister-in-law into her home, despite sensing Kate's apparent dislike for her.

As Kevin is preoccupied, Kate and Stella find common ground, sharing confidences about secret crushes, attractive movie stars, and glamorous celebrity events. However, one fateful night, after indulging in too much tequila, their newfound bond unexpectedly crosses a line they never imagined.

Sapphic Stories to Swoon Over

Whew, what a wild ride it's been exploring the world of lesbian romance books! From heart-pumping passion to slow-burning love stories, these books take us on a journey that is both romantic and empowering. It's no secret that representation in literature is essential when coming into our own sexuality. That's why reading about strong women who center their relationships around each other provides such an impactful experience.

But let's not forget one crucial aspect: the happy ending. As readers crave this deeply satisfying conclusion where all loose ends are tied up; we want those same victories for lesbian characters too! It goes without saying that lesbian romance novels don't just provide entertaining storylines but also act as social commentary by showcasing themes of self-discovery and discrimination within society & personal lives.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like our selection of FF superhero romance novels and our guide to historical lesbian romance novels.

Portrait of the article author, Penny Somerset
Penny Somerset

I'm an avid reader and bibliophile. With an unquenchable thirst for stories, I love nothing more than burying my nose in a good book - whether it's curled up on the sofa or out in nature. My deep curiosity and appreciation of diverse writing means that there's no one genre that I prefer, but I'm especially keen on books full of adventure and vivid imagination.
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