Lesbian Fiction: Best Books Of 2016


Now is a fabulous time to be reading lesbian fiction: fact. Why? Because never before has there been such variety in the genre, such a wealth of titles to serve every possible niche. Romance, fantasy, sci-fi, western, horror, paranormal, mystery, thriller, rom-com – it’s all here! Just take your pick and settle back. To that end, I thought I’d pick my top five lesfic books I’ve read this year. They include romance, drama and mystery, which is not a bad spectrum for five books. So step this way as I tell you what I loved and why…

5. Flinging It – G. Benson

It’s no secret that G. Benson is one of my favourite new authors, and this book carries on where her debut, All The Little Moments, left off. I mean, they’re very different books, but both are done with the same effortless prose and cracklingly good dialogue – seriously, this author knows how to make her characters chat.

Benson’s debut was a weepy about a lesbian left to look after her deceased brother’s kids; this one is about a lesbian having an affair with her boss’s wife – see what I mean about different? So this one might not be for everyone, seeing as the whole book is about their affair and how they deal with it.

But what’s the same is the authenticity this author brings to her writing: you feel what the characters are feeling, you live their lives. Is it uncomfortable when Fraser and Cora are carrying out their affair at work in front of prying eyes? Of course, that’s the point. If it wasn’t, the book fails. But it doesn’t.

The one downside is that the ending’s rushed, and that was a shame – otherwise, this could have been a stellar novel. But overall, I still loved it.

4. Clare Ashton – Poppy Jenkins

This book has been lighting up the lesfic charts around the world this year, and probably the Welsh tourist board should offer Ashton some commission for the undoubted visits she’s encouraged with her lingering prose. Put simply, this is a corker of a lesbian romance.

The story concerns the eponymous Poppy Jenkins, a small-town girl and the only gay in the village who still lives at home and runs a local cafe with her family. Enter Rosalyn, her first love from high school, back in the village to deal with family matters with her high-falutin’ city ways. Her arrival throws Poppy off her game, but will they rekindle their long lost love?*

Clare Ashton weaves a gorgeous, uplifting tale that involves unrequired love, along with culture & class clash – always a winning mix. The book just flows, it’s the literary equivalent of the Great British Bake Off: charming, fun, frothy, delicious. If you’re after a traditional romance set in the Welsh valleys, this is for you.

*Spoiler alert: yes.

3. Cari Hunter – Cold To The Touch

I read mysteries and thrillers rarely – I enjoyed Girl On The Train, but I’ve read a few this year (lesfic and otherwise) that left me cold. So I came to Cari Hunter’s books with some trepidation. I needn’t have worried – turns out, I love them!

This is the second in the Dark Peak series (new one out in Jan 2017), and both are brill. This one has a series of gritty murders and a violent brother to keep you on the edge of your seat – and both do the job. But for me, the crime and mystery are incidental.

What I love about this book are the two leads and their on-off relationship. And because this isn’t a romance, there really was an element of ‘will they get together?’ Which, I’ll be honest, kept me on the edge of my seat more than the crimes. What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart.

Cari does character and dialogue superbly, and her descriptions of the bleak surrounding landscapes are always a treat. If northern crime-thrillers with a dash of romance are your thing, give this a go.

2. The Language Of Hoofbeats – Catherine Ryan-Hyde

This is a book that kept coming up time and again at the top of the US lesfic charts – so naturally, I had to read it. And yes, it was released in 2014, but I read it in 2016, so I’m counting it as this year. Look, it’s my list ;p

This is the story of a lesbian couple and their everyday lives with a family of foster-kids and the ups and downs they bring. They move to a new neighbourhood with a job change, and their particularly troubled foster-daughter strikes up an unlikely relationship with their cantankerous neighbour’s horse, and then with the old lady herself.

The story is as much about the neighbour and her struggles to cope with life and the lesbians on her doorstep, as well as the family and their everyday trials and tribulations. It’s beautifully told and paced, and I still think about the family months later. It’s not really a genre book – it’s purely a family drama, and the fact the leading couple are lesbians is almost incidental.

1. HP Munro – Saving Grace

My stand-out book of this year is HP Munro’s Saving Grace, the follow-up to her best-seller Grace Falls. If you read the first, you’ll love this. However, I hadn’t read the first, but fell in love anyway!

Grace Falls reminded me of Stars Hollow, home of the Gilmore Girls. And just like Stars Hollow, the town has a wide cast of kooky characters who all bring something to the table: her characters are real humans, flaws and all.

HP Munro’s USP is humour, and this book delivers in spades, with many laugh-out-loud moments scattered through the pages. Plus, the central romance between Charlotte and Erin truly pulls on the heartstrings and by the end, you’ll be on your feet, hollering for them, just like Sully and the gang.

Grace Falls is a town I really want to visit. I want to go to the lesbian night at Sully’s. Unfortunately, it’s made up. Sometimes, I hate fiction.