If you're close to me, or even just moderately acquainted with me, you know I'm a sucker for sci/fi and fantasy fiction. Make the primary romance in those fantasy fiction novels f/f-centered ones and you'll find me doing happy cartwheels in my living room. (Not really. I can't do a cartwheel to save my life. But I WOULD, if I could.)
What I'm actually capable of looks something like this.
And there's your obligatory Xena GIF.
If you're like me, you're starting to get a little antsy being cooped up. So, I thought to myself, why not share these favorites with you?! It took me years to find these gems, and gems they indeed are! Like tiny little shining stars in the WLW fiction firmament. Five of them are true fantasy fiction books, one is more of an urban fantasy, one is thoroughly sci-fi, and there's an outlier that qualifies for the historical romance genre. (But I love it so much, I couldn't exclude it.)
8. Crier's War, Nina Varela
I read Crier's War late last year. It is somehow strangely familiar and original in a way that all stories that I fall in love with are. It also falls somewhere on both the fantasy and sci-fi spectrum. Set in a medieval-type universe ruled by superior, "made" hominids called the Automae, it follows two young women: one human and one Automae.
This lovely book included a vengeance plot, political intrigue, and a budding forbidden romance. I read it one single evening. Haha. The only downside?
"... a vengeance plot, political intrigue, and a budding forbidden romance."
It ends on a MASSIVE cliffhanger. AND it's written to be a trilogy and the next one isn't due to be out until November 2020.
An accurate depiction of my reaction after I finished the book and Googled if I could order the second one as an ebook, RIGHT NOW.
7. Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir
Interplanetary space travel. Necromancy. Bad ass action sequences with awesome sword fights. And, not just one, but two heroines that are everything little girls have been told heroines can't be. Gimme that. I want it.
Gideon the Ninth was truly unlike anything I have ever read. I might classify it more on the dark/horror end of the sci-fi spectrum. Tamsyn's Gideon is hilarious. She falls in the category of tool-bag butch lesbian who secretly is just terribly lonely and has a heart made of absolute effing gold. She's somehow made even cooler by the fact that she's wicked good with a blade in her hand.
"...not just one, but two heroines that are everything little girls have been told heroines can't be."
Tamsyn's writing is engaging and gritty. Gideon is genuinely funny. She had me laughing out loud (the surprised guffaw). Not only that, but the depth of her that Tamysn put to paper. *fans self* And, Gideon's and Harrow's (the other heroine) character arcs had me weeping in the end.
The downside? I could have done with some WLW action. Everything is relative subtext. And, don't get me wrong, I'm all about the slow burn. But, is it too much to ask for one kiss and declaration of love?
But, I mean, that's also just me. I'm super gay. So.
6. Backwards to Oregon, Jae
Okay, so Backwards to Oregon is the one historical romance I included on this list mostly because I just loved it so much. I won't say much about it, except that our main character is woman who has survived life posing as a man in the mid 1800s. Going by the name 'Luke' since she was an adolescent girl, she fights in the Mexican American war and retires looking to head west with a caravan for a plot of land. To go out west, Luke needs a wife. Through a series of interesting events, she finds one in Nora.
They do indeed run into the same kind of trouble some of us did in grade school.
The unlikely pair strike out west under the understanding that their situation is only temporary for survival and that they will go their separate ways at the end of the trail. However, of course, they slowly find themselves falling for one another. It's beautifully done. The book is well-researched and believable and it made me wonder how many 'Luke' Hamiltons there actually were during such a time.
"...it made me wonder how many 'Luke' Hamiltons there actually were..."
This book was smart, well-written, funny, heart warming, and I fell in love with both the characters. It is one of the best books I have read in the WLW historical romance genre.
5. Breaking Legacies, Zoe Reed
Breaking Legacies follows Kiena, a poor hunter who provides for her mother and small brother. Set in a high fantasy world, she lives in a land impoverished by war. Her best friend hooks her up with a job of a lifetime tracking down the wayward, runaway princess. One with a payout that would set her family up in comfort and wealth for the rest of their days. She doesn't anticipate that perhaps the princess ran away with good reason.
"This book made me, broke me, and then remade me."
Calamity ensues. Dark, ancient magic. Buried secrets. Curses. More action sequences. Love. Betrayal.
This book made me, broke me, and then remade me.
4. Tiana Warner's Ice Massacre, Ice Crypt, & Ice Kingdom
Right, technically, this is three books. Whatever. We're splitting hairs because it is a trilogy that you must read all together! The Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy was also one I picked up on a whim.
"This trilogy places love, loyalty and friendship in the spotlight."
This is a tale of an unlikely childhood friendship tested and tried by adult prejudices. The main characters, a mer-girl named Lysi, and a native human girl named Meela, meet accidentally as children, become best friends and, discovered by the adults in their lives, are forbidden to see one another ever again. Meela trains as a warrior meant to slaughter mer-people and Lysi is trained as a warrior to defend her people.
This trilogy places love, loyalty, and friendship in the spotlight. It is clever, fast-paced, and includes a tight plot.
3. Sword of the Guardian, Merry Shannon
Sword of the Guardian is a gift to queer, questioning, fantasy-loving girls everywhere. I've read this book three times. Twice by myself and once out loud to my wife. I've only loved it more each time. This book was everything I needed when I was about fifteen.
"...a gift to queer, questioning, fantasy-loving girls everywhere."
The story follows princess Shasta and her unlikely bodyguard Talon. Talon is, once again, a woman surviving a tough, this time medieval-like, environment by disguising herself as a man.
It has everything I loved from the fantasy novels I read as a teenager: swashbuckling and stubborn princesses, an honorable low-born hero, epic battles, world building that lights the imagination, and an epic love story.
Bonus Xena GIF
2. Of Fire and Stars, Audrey Coulthurst
Of Fire and Stars tells the story of two princesses. One shy and gifted with cleverness, bravery, and hidden magic, the other is independent, stubborn, rash and bold, an accomplished equestrian. Both are unhappy with the lot they've been born into in their patriarchal kingdoms.
An assassination. Forbidden magic. Impending war. More political intrigue.
Both princesses are torn between duty and their hearts. These courageous princesses have some mighty hard decisions to make. They must find a way to save their kingdoms and one another.
"...princesses torn between duty and their hearts..."
I read this entire book on a sunny, summer Saturday morning. The second time I read it, I read it out loud to my wife. I loved it even more the second time.
1. The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon
That brings us to my new number one, all-time favorite book that I've ever had the pleasure of reading and then re-reading, The Priory of the Orange Tree. I don't even know how to sum this up in a way that does it justice.
Shannon gives us a f/f led epic feminist fantasy complete with dragons, dragon-riders, mages, enchantresses, both noble queens and pirate queens, and such world building! This book touches every part of my heart.
"... a f/f led epic feminist fantasy...this book touches every part of my heart."
The f/f romance takes center-stage but isn't the center of the story. There's SO MUCH going on in this book. Not to mention, Shannon's writing is exquisite.
The heroines in this book are flawed, powerful, and believable.
Do yourself a favor. Read this book. I'm serious. What are you waiting for? Go. Read it. NOW.
Then come talk to me about it. Please. I need you to.
After writing this, I feel the need to re-read all of these. That should keep me busy for a while. And! It should keep you busy for a while, too.