Whether you’re (finally) going on holiday or just relaxing in your back garden, these reads are perfect for a sunny afternoon
BY POLLY ANGELOVA
As the famous Grease song goes, summer lovin’ does happen so fast, especially if you’re the main character in a romance novel. What’s more exciting, however, is that the past couple of years have seen a definitive rise in queer stories. And now, with Pride month well and truly underway, and a fresh influx of LGBTQI literature hitting the shelves, there’s never been a better time to stock up your summer reading pile with some sapphic romance.
Meggie Gates writes for Collider that the term “sapphic love” was originally coined back in the 18th century to describe women who engaged in romantic relationships with other women. Named after the famous Greek poet Sappho, the term was used as an alternative to “lesbian”, which at the time described a very narrow set of sexual relationships.
The language we use to describe romantic and sexual relationships between women has undoubtedly evolved since then, backed up by three centuries of (relative) progress on LGBTQI issues, but the term “sapphic” still remains very much in use, especially when it comes to the portrayal of these relationships in literature.
Daily etymology lesson done, let’s dive into the exciting part – DIVA’s list of sapphic romance novels to pick up this summer.
Featuring a black lesbian protagonist and queer found family, Honey Girl offers a fresh take on the “accidentally married” trope and portrays the challenges of navigating adulthood.
The plot revolves around Grace, a straight-laced overachiever who drunkenly ties the knot with complete stranger Yuki in Vegas, then moves to New York with her new wife in an attempt to escape her daunting future.
One Last Stop
Following her internationally beloved debut Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston comes back just in time to kick off Pride month with another contemporary romance – this one with a time travel twist! The story follows August, a bisexual character, as she meets punk lesbian Jane on her New York subway commute, before the two proceed to fall in love while solving Jane’s time displacement from the 70s.
Follow Your Arrow
Despite being pegged as a Young Adult contemporary romance, Follow Your Arrow offers some great discussions on the pitfalls of social media, the harmful impact of biphobia on young queer people, and the validity of being a bi woman dating a man. We follow social media influencer CeCe as she deals with losing her first love Silvie, falls for internet-clueless Josh, and tries to balance her life in the public eye with her private affairs.
How To Find A Princess
From popular adult romance author Alyssa Cole comes a queer Anastasiaretelling which throws together two black, sapphic main characters in a whirlwind of lost heirs, fake marriage and the burden of royal duties. Adding to the romance tropes we all love, the synopsis promises “one-bed hijinks on the high seas”. Ahoy!
Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Romance readers’ favourite Talia Hibbert brings in a bisexual protagonist to the second book in her series The Brown Sisters. Career-focused Danika has no time for romance, but she does have time for fake dating with charming Zaf, in exchange for some sweet, sweet friends-with-benefits perks. Book Riot included this title on their list of best books with bi wife energy, and we couldn’t agree more.
Something To Talk About
In their debut novel Meryl Wilsner tells the story of Hollywood celebrity Jo and her assistant Emma as they navigate the tabloid rumours that they are dating, while slowly realising that they do, in fact, have feelings for each other. Along with the swoony romance, the book features some more serious topics, including an incredibly self-aware age gap, racism, sexism and sexual harassment. Instead of being somewhat of a downer though, it’s incredibly empowering!
While LGBTQI romance is still a way off from its straight counterpart when it comes to publicity, more and more queer stories are entering the mainstream, making waves and generating noise online. From Book Pride Fest to Casey McQuiston’s Time interview, we’re taking over the conversation, and popular literature itself, one bestseller at a time!
For more sapphic book suggestions, check out our list of lesbian must-reads.
DIVA magazine celebrates 27 years in print in 2021. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.