For Girls in Capes’ Diverse Reads Week 2015, we’re joined by Emily London, the editor and publisher of Oktopus Ink, who shares five books featuring F/F romances with happy endings we should be reading.
I’m a sucker for good romance, especially romance between two ladies. But the sad truth is that there aren’t many F/F books out there with happy endings. Too often we see that the Happily Ever Afters sacrificed for an ending that is “more realistic,” or some sort of life lesson about unrequited love.
Which is fine in some cases — those stories have their place, and it can be an important one at that. But sometimes I’m like, UM, NO. Ladies need and get their happy endings too, damn it!
So below are five of my favorite ladies-loving-ladies stories WITH happy endings. The characters might have had to gone through hell to get them, but they end with love none the less.
EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour
A YA contemporary romance set against the backdrop of Hollywood, EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU is one of the cutest, happiest YA lesbian romances I’ve read to date (and not just because the main character and I have the same name). Emi is a film buff and an aspiring set designer, determined to make a name for herself in the industry. But when she finds a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend at a house sale, she embarks on a side quest to find its rightful owner. Eventually this mission leads her to Ava, daughter of a deceased Hollywood Legend. The two have an instant connection, and even though Emi is a romantic at heart, part of growing up means learning that true love in real life is a little more complicated than what you see in the movies. (Well, almost.)
I think what makes this book stand out in my mind is that it’s one of the few YA F/F relationship books out there that isn’t an “issue” book. Emi is already out, surrounded by loving family members and friends who accept who she is. The fact that she likes smooching chicks is only part of her character, not her defining trait, and the relationship she develops with Ava is sweet—but far from easy.
Ava’s past is complicated and something Emi has to help Ava accept before the two can find their way into each other’s arms. Their relationship felt very authentic (despite the bit of movie magic that brings them together), and by the time I turned the last page I found myself nodding and thinking, “Yes. Yes that’s how you do it. High five Nina LaCour. All the high fives.”
GIRL FRIENDS by Milk Morinaga
When it comes to school, Mariko Kumakura is at the top of her class. Socially, however, she could use some help. Shy and lonely, she spends most of her time by herself.
That is, until Akko Oohashi walks into her life, her goal to befriend Mari and transform her into the cute girl Akko believes she can be. The girls become best friends, and the manga follows them as they gradually fall in love and come to terms that they have romantic feelings for each other.
Milk Morinaga is basically the Queen of Yuri Manga, and at this point her series GIRL FRIENDS is a classic in the genre. Illustrated with a cute, light, and humorous style, this series is one that not only captures the complexities of romantic feelings, but how friendships change and develop over time in high school. It embraces the idea that through the love and acceptance of our friends can we find ourselves.
Not only did Mari and Akko feel very human, stumbling through boughs of confusion and jealousy as they try to separate their feelings of friendship from love, but the cast of friends supporting them could be found in your own friend group. So if you’re in the mood for adorable yuri with actual plot (although it may be slow at times), please do yourself a favor and pick up GIRL FRIENDS.
SUNSTONE by Stjepan Sejic
- WARNING: this series contains lots of graphic nudity and sexytime pictures.
SUNSTONE is an ongoing graphic novel series written and illustrated by Stjepan Sejic about two women who fall in love after meeting through the BDSM community.
Now, stop right there. I know you’re thinking it—so before you start comparing it to Fifty Shades, let me drop some knowledge. Unlike Fifty Shades, SUNSTONE actually educates the reader, portraying BDSM as a healthy exploration of sexuality based on consent and trust. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did, and even though BDSM isn’t really my thing, I will defend the importance and quality of this book with my last dying breath.
Lisa and Ally meet online and begin a friendship through their preferred roles as sub and domme. And even though this series is gorgeously illustrated and erotic, it’ll honestly be the last thing you think about as you read. The story features a cast of very loveable and human characters that any reader should be able to relate to, regardless of their personal kinks. Told mostly through Lisa’s perspective, it first and foremost a story about friendship and true love, especially when it shows up when you least expected it. I can’t recommend it enough.
THE GRAVITY BETWEEN US by Kristen Zimmer
THE GRAVITY BETWEEN US is a title that often gets recommended in the community—and with good reason! Another story set in Hollywood, this THE GRAVITY BETWEEN US follows two best friends who fall in love. It’s new adult and contains some graphic sexytime scenes, so it might not be the best book for the younger ones out there, but is still a fun read for those who don’t mind that kind of stuff.
At 19, Kendall Bettencourt is Hollywood’s hottest starlet and Payton Taylor has been Kendall’s best friend since they were kids. But when Payton moves to Hollywood to keep Kendall sane, Kendall begins to realize that she loves Payton as more than just a friend. Just one problem: how can she be with Payton when the press watching her every move? Kendall must decide what’s more important: her love or her career.
THE GRAVITY BETWEEN US is definitely on the fluffier side of romance, ending with a happily ever after delivered with a tightly-wrapped bow. But that’s perfectly okay. It’s a story about friendship, standing up for the people you love, and being honest with yourself—things that are always good to read about. Told between Kendall and Payton’s perspectives, it’s a book that you can easily read in one setting, and is sure to leave you beaming.
FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters
If Milk Morinaga is the Queen of Yuri, Sarah Waters deserves the title of Queen of Historical Fiction… with Lesbians. Not only is she a master of crafting complicated and compelling female characters, she’s also a master of bringing the past to life.
FINGERSMITH is the ultimate romantic con book set in the Victorian Era. Sue Tinder, an orphan raised in a den of thieves, is sent to assist Richard “Gentleman” Rivers seduce a wealthy heiress named Maud Lilly. Acting as her maid, Sue forges an unlikely friendship with Maud, eventually falling in love with her despite the fact that both women have set each other up from the start. And when Sue discovers she’s actually the one that’s been duped, it takes quite the journey for the two to find their way back to each other.
The strength of this novel lies in the world building. Under Waters’ hand, the setting comes alive and is just as much a character as the two women manipulating their way through it. The crimes both women commit is truly twisty, but in the end they find their way back to one another. Regardless of your desire to see two ladies smooching, if you are big into historical fiction and dark crime drama, then get your fingers on FINGERSMITH!
What are some of your favorite f/f romances? List your recommendations in the comments below!
Emily London has always been a crewmember of the S.S. Korrasami and spends a good chunk of her time dreaming about lady kisses aboard other various ships. In the remaining free time that she has, she cultivates her farm in Story of Seasons and plans dream vacations to Walt Disney World. You can find her on A Spoonful of Words and on Twitter @london_emi.
During last year’s #WeNeedDiverseBooks week, Emily contributed with a great list of diverse middle grade reads for everyone. She has also previously contributed as a guest during NaNoWriMo on fantasy & sci-fi world-building in 30 days.