Welcome to the second week of the 2022 I Heart Lesfic Reading Challenge. Before we get to the books, we want to remind you of two ways you can interact with other readers to enhance your experience during the challenge this year.
First, you can join the I Heart Lesfic Facebook reader group. Every Monday we will announce the category for the week, and every Wednesday you will have the opportunity to post what book you are reading and be entered into the monthly drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. (For those who are not on Facebook and still want to enter, remember you can email your reading selection to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Second, we have created a Goodreads group where readers can discuss books, swap recommendations, and generally have a good time.
One final thing before we get to this week’s category. Author Roz Alexander created some graphics for the IHL reading challenge. Visit the page here if you want visual aids for the categories scheduled each week. Thanks so much Roz!
Now, to get to the task at hand. We paired POC (person of color) character week with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Below you’ll find reading suggestions for POC character stories. Better yet, some of them are on sale, so scoop up a fantastic read at a bargain. Before you click any buy buttons, please ensure the sale price matches. (Some international prices may vary some.)
The following books are on sale to celebrate POC character week:
by S.W. Andersen
$4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
Sofia Delacruz is her name and love is her game.
Despite the tragic end to her own story, she hasn’t given up on happily ever after. At least, not when it comes to other people. With her best friend, Reyna, by her side, they’ve built a successful business helping others make their one true connection.
When a new client hires them in hopes of kindling a relationship with her long-time crush, life takes an unexpected turn. Personal desires burn like bonfires and professional boundaries are pushed, putting the duo in uncharted territory.
For Sofia, however, that tantalizing burn also pierces like a stake through the heart. Can she finally shake the pain of her past and heal? Or will she spend the rest of her days cursing the powers that be?
S.W. Andersen delivers a heartwarming story about the healing power of opening oneself up to love after loss.
by Kim Hartfield
$4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
When Roselle returns to her hometown, her only plan is to care for her ailing mother – but the beautiful owner of the local coffee shop shifts her priorities. Jacqui is unique and fascinating enough to be the main character of Roselle’s next book. Now Roselle’s dreaming up the story of an author falling for a baker. But her life isn’t actually a romance novel… is it?
by Johana Gavez
$4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
An internet friendship becomes so much more in this light-hearted lesbian sports romance.
World-renowned tennis player Daniela Martínez has everything she could wish for, except love. When romance knocks on her door, she will have to find a balance between her athletic ambitions and her desire for a relationship or risk sacrificing one for the other.
Law student Ari Núñez is struggling with managing the expectations of her family and dedicating her life to a profession she dislikes more every day. Her relationship with Daniela, full of international travel and vacations, is the perfect escape, even if it feels too good to be true.
Follow their journey from a chance online meeting to power couple taking on the world together.
by Elizabeth Andre
What if the woman you loved was more than a century away?
Dara, a computer programmer from Chicago, is visiting London when she opens a door in an Edwardian house and slips into Edwardian England. Agnes, a beautiful London shop girl, takes in the bewildered 21st century American lesbian, but, as Dara begins to accept that she is stuck in 1908, she also begins to accept that she has feelings for Agnes that go beyond gratitude. And the longer Dara stays, the harder Agnes finds it to hide her growing love for the accidental time traveller from the future.
Will they overcome grief and prejudice to acknowledge their true feelings for one another? Or will Dara be snatched back to the 21st century before they can express their love?
by Anna Ferrara
In 1999, Fleur de Roller walked into a tea house in Hong Kong and introduced herself to Milla Milone, daughter of a New York mob boss. Sparks flew.
Despite the obvious chemistry, Fleur repeatedly denies having any feelings for Milla because she has secrets—another identity and a job she can’t talk about—that might get her into big trouble if the possibly dangerous younger woman ever found out.
Trouble comes anyway when the frustrated Milla moves on, starts dating other women, and leaves Fleur all by herself amidst a fervour of loss and wanting.
Fleur has to decide if the career she worked so hard to establish is worth the lies she has to put on to get ahead or if the ‘alternative lifestyle’ she read so many negative things about is worth giving up her well-paying job for.
She also has to decide if Milla is safe to love because Milla seems to be hiding a whole assortment of secrets of her own.
Keep scrolling for more reading suggestions!
by Eliza Lentzski
Available in Kindle Unlimited
The challenge was supposed to be simple. Spill a drink on an airline passenger and be one square closer to winning the company’s secret bingo card game. Twenty-five different challenges, at various levels of difficulty, had to be accomplished within a month’s time. After nearly eight years of being a flight attendant, Alice Kaminski had spilled drinks on plenty of passengers, mostly on accident and during rough air. She didn’t particularly like the idea of the bingo card, but she had massive student debt; the financial incentives were enough to make her momentarily forget the questionable ethics of it all. The challenge was supposed to be simple—that is, until Alice saw her intended target—the beautiful woman seated in 3B. And after that, nothing was simple ever again.
by Lee Winter
Earth’s first black, lesbian superhero has had enough of humanity and disappeared. A stubborn tracker is sent to bring her home…any way she can.
Shattergirl is a brilliant but aloof black, alien superhero who can hurl and destroy large objects. The world reveres her and other guardians like her, yet she’s suddenly refusing to save people and has suddenly disappeared.
Lena Martin, the street-smart human tracker with a silver tongue and a disdain for the rogue guardians she chases, has only days to bring Shattergirl home.
As the pair clash heatedly, masks begin to crack, and brutal secrets are exposed that could shatter them both.
An award-winning, opposites-attract, lesbian science fiction story about embracing the special people who pass through our lives and change us forever.
by Fiona Zedde
To her family, Mai Redstone is weak. Her shape-shifting power is nowhere near as impressive as their abilities to literally alter the world around them. But when she puts on the costume to become Mercy, a rooftop-climbing chameleon with a thousand disguises and at least nine lives, she feels almost invincible.
When a local politician is murdered and the police call Mercy in to help, the stability Mai has built out of past pain threatens to crumble. The dead politician turns out to be her uncle, a man who made her childhood a living hell. Caught between giving a medal to the killer and being forced to find the murderer for her family, Mai must make the difficult choice between family loyalty and self-preservation.
Mercy is a blade that can cut both ways.
by Anna Stone
Available in Kindle Unlimited
A headstrong bodyguard. An heiress who expects to be treated like a queen. A dangerously hot combination.
Bodyguard Carmen Torres is a professional. She gets the job done, she doesn’t get attached to her clients, and she does not mix business with pleasure. When she gets a job as personal bodyguard to domineering heiress Amber Pryce, she has no intention of breaking those rules, no matter how enticing she finds her client. But Amber has other ideas.
As the sole heir to the Pryce family fortune, Amber is accustomed to being treated like royalty. Anything she wants, she takes. That includes Carmen, the stubborn bodyguard Amber hired to protect her from a mysterious stalker. Amber is determined to have Carmen bow to her. And even though Carmen won’t allow herself to admit it, she craves the sweet surrender that Amber commands.
Engaged in a fiery game of seduction, tensions heat up between the two women. But with an unhinged stalker on Amber’s trail, the stakes keep rising, putting both women’s lives at risk, along with their hearts.
by Emily Alter
Available in Kindle Unlimited
For a relationship to work, it is not just love which is demanded. Stability is, too.
Paige is a free spirit, used to never staying in the same place for long and always keeping the ones she loves at a distance, but when she meets Zaira during a research trip to Andalusia (Spain), that fight or flight instinct may be about to shift.
All Zaira’s ever known is her family, and singing her heart out as a cantaora. Things change when she meets an impulsive American girl who fills her head with promises of a place and future where she doesn’t have to compromise her identity, but will that future be a stable one?
by Brenda Murphy
Dropped from her television show after a very public split with her cheating ex, celebrity chef Mai Li wants nothing more than to reopen her parents’ shuttered restaurant and make a fresh start in her former hometown. So what if twenty years of neglect has left the building in need of a major renovation?
Seduced by Mai’s charm and determination, hard-edged contractor Dale Miller agrees to take on her renovation project.
After a spring storm causes significant damage to the building and renovation costs exceed Mai’s budget, Dale offers her a deal, but is it a price Mai is willing to pay?
by Tiana Warner
The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai, an island in the North Pacific. Every year, they send warriors to battle the mermaids that are driving them into poverty. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, they must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.
Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood: a mermaid by the name of Lysi. When she reunites with Lysi in battle, her worst nightmare comes true. She must decide between fighting for the mermaid she loves and becoming the ruthless killer her people trained her to be.
By Aldrea Alien
Stepping out in borrowed shoes has never been so dangerous.
Stripped of her inheritance as a child by a greedy stepmother, Alla’s future hovers between drudgery and slavery. Having spent years toiling in the mansion that was once her happy home, tending to her stepmother’s every whim, she has long since put aside any thoughts of a better future.
When a chance encounter in the marketplace leaves her with an invitation to the upcoming ball, her only opportunity to play out an old dream of seeing inside the palace walls is by being someone she’s not. A farce that could see her executed or sold.
But will she be able to maintain the illusion once she meets Princess Viktoriya?
by Yolanda Wallace
Before Grace Henderson began working as a tailor in her father’s bespoke suit shop in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, she established a hard and fast rule about not dating clients. The edict is an easy one for her to follow, considering the overwhelming majority of the shop’s clients are men. But when Dakota Lane contacts her to commission a suit to wear to her sister’s wedding, Grace finds herself tempted to throw all the rules out the window.
Dakota Lane works as a bicycle messenger by day and moonlights as a male model. Her high-profile career, gender-bending looks, and hard-partying ways garner her plenty of romantic attention, but she would rather play the field than settle down. When she meets sexy tailor Grace Henderson, however, she suddenly finds herself in the market for much more than a custom suit.
by Anne Shade
Janesse Crawford spends her teenage and young adult years trying to balance her tomboy, girl-loving side with being the picture-perfect daughter her mother wants. It’s difficult, and Janesse is full of self-doubt, but she manages to find a way to make it work. Then Janesse meets sexy, confident Maya Lawson, who is everything she didn’t realize she wanted, and her world is turned upside down. But Janesse makes a choice and doesn’t look back.
Thirty years later, Janesse is married to a man who loves her, has raised two wonderful children, and has a successful career doing what she loves. But when a chance meeting with Maya brings her past rushing back, the lie Janesse has been living comes crashing in on her. She let Maya get away once, but her second chance at true love could cost her the picture-perfect world she’s spent a lifetime building. It’s not too late for Janesse to blossom into the woman she’s always wished to be. But on her path to self-acceptance, she will risk everything—and possibly everyone—she loves.
by Regina Jamison
As a young African American woman from Durham, North Carolina, Sky Valentine is tired of being boxed in by small minds and Southern expectations. To escape the restraints of her Southern upbringing, Sky flees to Rhode Island to attend college. Once there, Sky doesn’t just work on her degree, she also works on shedding many of the things that peg her as a Southerner.
Sky also falls head over heels with the sexy and vibrant Zenobia, solidifying what she had felt in her heart all along—that she loves women. But their affair is brief and interrupted by Zenobia’s sudden departure from school.
With college completed, Sky returns home to find that her domineering mother has promised her hand in marriage to a rich and arrogant man. But it’s 1986, and Sky is determined to live her own life. So she gathers her courage and flees to New York City, where she lands a teaching job and an apartment.
In time Sky meets Grace Webster and it’s love at first sight. But then Zenobia comes back into Sky’s life and Sky is faced with an impossible choice—finish what she started with Zenobia years ago, or fight for the relationship she is building with Grace. What will she choose?
by Kathleen Knowles
Maddie Weeks and Gerry Stern leave their homes when Uncle Sam calls for help winning the Second World War. Maddie is desperate to escape the economic and racial oppression of the Jim Crow South. Gerry doesn’t see a future for herself as a farmer’s wife in California’s Central Valley. When they meet by chance in a blues club in San Francisco, not even their differences can prevent them falling in love.
But love doesn’t solve every problem as Maddie and Gerry struggle to hold on to their identities and livelihoods as the war comes to an end and their independence is threatened. The war brought them together, but it could wind up destroying everything, including their future.
Happy reading, peeps!
Miranda and TB