Romance With A Twist
Three lesbian romances that deliver a fresh take on a popular genre.
Lesbian romances are my ultimate comfort reads. I love sinking in and enjoying the ride for “girl meets girl, attraction, kissing, conflict, more kissing, happy forever!”
These days, however, I also love it when I can pick up a romance novel and get blown away by something new. These three romances go beyond the usual tropes and conventions of my favorite genre, and are some of the best stories I’ve read all year.
Flinging It by G Benson
When Frazer is thrown into planning a project for at-risk parents with a social worker who is her boss’s wife, she doesn’t expect to like the standoffish woman. The more Frazer gets to know Cora, however, the more she likes her, and a night of way too much alcohol leads to the one thing neither woman expects: a friends-with-benefits style affair. They know what they’re doing is wrong, and can’t seem to stop themselves, but it’s just sex—isn’t it?
I didn’t expect to like a romance with cheating at its core, but having loved the author’s first book, All the Little Moments, I gave this one a try, and I’m so glad I did. Rather than retread the old lesfic ground of “she’s cheating on her husband because she’s a lesbian,” Benson offers a thoughtful, nonjudgmental exploration of why and how infidelity can occur, alongside a realistic depiction of bisexual awakening. Despite its heavy subject material, it’s also very funny in parts, balancing angst with levity, and has excellent character diversity with women of color as both leads and a trans boy as a side character.
In the Distance There is Light by Harper Bliss
When Sophie’s partner, Ian, dies, her life is over as she knows it. Barely able to function and no longer comfortable staying with her best friend, Sophie shows up on the doorstep of Dolores, Ian’s stepmother. Days turn to months as they nudge each other through their shared grief, until it eventually makes enough space for other feelings to grow. Is their relationship romantic or are they just trying to survive their despair? Only time will tell.
In the Distance There is Light is a brilliant book with some highly taboo material. Not only is the age gap between Dolores and Sophie huge, but the stepmother-in-law relationship will be a boundary for some readers. The romance is not an easy or comfortable one to read, but it simply works, fully colored by the women’s shared grief without ever being exploitative or salacious.
Far From Home by Lorelie Brown
Rachel Fizel may have found the answer to her debt problems when she meets Pari Sadashiv. Originally from India, Pari is in the US on a work visa and can't start her own consulting practice without a Green Card. Pari is gay and Rachel is straight, but a temporary marriage can solve both of their problems. Pari takes it surprisingly well when she learns that Rachel is living in recovery from anorexia, and it isn't long before Rachel finds herself attracted to a woman for the first time.
I haven't come across many marriage of convenience stories in lesbian romance, so I was immediately interested in the premise of this one. The characters were interesting, the pacing was perfect, and the story well plotted, but what took Far From Home from good to great was the way it was told in the first person from Rachel's perspective. Everything is interpreted through the lens of her illness as her coping strategies stop working, and what should be a depressing story is ultimately beautiful and satisfying, yet realistic.