By Gaby (Content Editor)
It’s the time of the year when people look back and reflect on the events in the past twelve months. And for the die-hard book readers, it’s time to choose the best of the year. I’ve personally read lots of good books but only a selected few left an indelible mark. My list of Best Women Loving Women Books of 2021 reflects this and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
The Tell Tale by Clare Ashton
Historical Fiction / Mystery
This novel is so hard to categorise, it’s a mystery, it’s historical fiction, and there’s romance too. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because despite these labels Ms. Ashton manages to produce an epic feminist tale that will grab you by the throat, put a lump there, and make you hold your breath until the very end.
The Secret Poet by Georgia Beers
This book is very loosely based on the Cyrano de Bergerac play, in the idea of a secret admirer sending love letters signed by someone else. I loved this trope and I don’t recall reading it before in lesfic.
Night Tide by Anna Burke
Love and hate relationships are complex and intense. In this book, Ms. Burke captures their emotional ambivalence perfectly and uses the tension as a buildup for the benefit of the romance. The beauty of this story is that Ms. Burke adds more layers to this complexity through matters of race, class and privilege that gives us food for thought.
The Clinch by Nicole Disney
This is hands-down the most underrated book in this list which is unfortunate because it deserves all the praise it can get. Ms. Disney is a Martial Artist herself and describes the sport with precision so the reader can form a picture in their mind’s eye. The reader also gets the full experience of the sport from the athlete’s point of view, so they can empathise with their struggles, their sacrifices and feel their pain. Reading the fighting scenes was like reading an action story, fast-paced and exciting. The romance is hot too.
The Commitment by Virginia Hale
This is a very character-driven book, it explores difficult issues such as bereavement, divorce, body image and unrequited love. The reader suffers along with the leads in their struggle to make sense of it all, in their journey of discovery while facing their own demons. There are multiple facets of all the pain and suffering, weaving complex webs in already complicated relationships. But somehow, beyond all the angst and drama, Ms. Hale manages to leave a message of hope.
Big London Dreams by Clare Lydon
Historical Fiction / Romance
Big London Dreams manages to describe how it might have been to be a lesbian in the 1950s in a way that feels authentic but, at the same time, leaving a positive feel-good message. This book is equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting and will leave you both sad and happy but the full journey is oh so worth it.
The Headmistress by Milena McKay
Romance / Mystery
When you read 100+ women-loving-women titles per year it’s incredibly exciting to witness the arrival of a new special talented author to our small community. This is definitely Milena McKay’s year. If you are looking for an exquisitely written book with beautiful metaphors, well-fleshed characters, a little of action/intrigue and a beautiful romance, look no further. The Headmistress is one of a kind.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
New Adult / Science Fiction / Rom-Com
This is a fantastic coming-of-age book mixed with science fiction, romance and adventure all wrapped up in a beautiful writing style. I love the way the story is presented in the format of rom-com but allowing an in-depth exploration of queerness through recent history, racism, family ties, identity, and new beginnings.
Go Around by EJ Noyes
Romance / Thriller
This is a second chance romance with a crime thriller thrown into the mix which is a novelty for this author. I found that I enjoyed the thriller as much as the romance. The story starts with a great action scene and, after that, I found myself reading the rest of the book waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ms. Noyes gives some chilling hints of what was to come that gave me the creeps. I won’t say more than Ms. Noyes delivered with a bang.
The Fifth Surgeon by Faith Prize
This is the only debut in this list and deservedly so. The Fifth Surgeon is not a typical medical romance. Starting from the title and continuing to the plot twists, to the main characters’ relationship, and even the amount, type, and detail of the medical scenes. The author’s approach is fresh, original, and brave. Ms. Prize doesn’t shy away from controversy both in the medical scope and in the relationship aspects. It’s a blunt approach that might not satisfy every reader but will make this novel hard to forget for those of us who liked it.
Thrust by Rachel Spangler
Clever title, clever plot, clever book. This novel takes you through strong and complex emotions such as angst, courage, fear, love… These emotions intertwine in a tangled web but as one of the characters put it, the secret to untie them is to “just start picking at different spots all at once until eventually something gives and shows you some hidden place where the whole thing is connected.” Like so, the complexities of the characters’ relationships slowly but surely start to make sense in the chaos. Seeing those knots untie and connect is one of the best things about this book.
Holiday Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses by M. Ullrich
This book follows four couples in four different holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. The arcs of each couple interconnect throughout the book and it increases the build-up for the last story. The stories are also very diverse, from established couples to no-strings, age-gap, and second chances. There’s something for everyone and, of course, it’s full of holiday wishes and celebrations.