Sapphic POC Character (IHL Reading Challenge #2)

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 tbm@iheartlesfic.com).

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:

 

THE LOVE DOCTOR

by S.W. Andersen

$0.99 $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.

 

WRITE FOR HER

by Kim Hartfield

$2.99 $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?

 

MATCH TO LOVE

by Johana Gavez

$2.99 $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.

 

THE TIME SLIP GIRL

by Elizabeth Andre

$2.99 $7.99 

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?

 

THE WOMAN WHO PRETENDED TO LOVE MEN

by Anna Ferrara

$2.99 $7.99 

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!

 

THE WOMAN IN 3B

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.

 

SHATTERED

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.

 

THE POWER OF MERCY

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.

 

GUARDED DESIRES

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.

 

STABILITY 

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?

 

ON THE SQUARE

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?

 

ICE MASSACRE

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.

 

SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES

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?

 

TAILOR-MADE

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.

 

LOVE AND LOTUS BLOSSOMS

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.

 

CHOOSING GRACE

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?

 

A FAIRER TOMORROW

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

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Friday Feels Fun: January 14th Edition

We made it to another Friday and it’s time to celebrate.

Below, you’ll find books, a song suggestion, life advice, and the pet of the week. We truly hope these tidbits help everyone slide into weekend mode.

Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom to see a beautiful dog. 

Here are the top 3 most clicked books of the week on I Heart Lesfic:

#3 

THE BOSS’S DAUGHTER

by Samantha Hicks

Vivian Westfall, CFO of Bridger Holdings, meets her boss’s estranged daughter, Lauren, when a disturbance at the company spring party piques her interest. Lauren is clearly drunk and making a fool of herself. To prevent embarrassment, Vivian forces Lauren away from the party. They have angry words, and things take an unexpected turn when Lauren kisses her. Months later Lauren pitches a proposal to her father to loan her the funds to start her own health club. Her father reluctantly agrees with a caveat; Vivian must go with her to Scotland to keep an eye on the money.It doesn’t take long for the sparks to fly in all emotional directions. When Gregory Bridger finds out about their relationship, he does everything in his power to break them apart.Trust is at the heart of this love story, a fragile emotion that without it, things can and do fall apart.

 

#2

LEARNING TO LOVE AGAIN

by M. E. Tudor

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Houstonian Ava White finds herself alone after her wife, Sheila, leaves her for a younger woman. Sheila verbally, emotionally, and physically abused Ava for more than thirty years. Drinking lots of alcohol became Ava’s way of coping with the pain and loneliness, but she is ready for change.

Ava’s friend, Emily Rios, convinces her to spend two weeks at Emily’s vacation home in Ouray, Colorado. Ava is excited about being away from Houston and Sheila. She wants to clear her head and reimagine her life.

Ava meets Emily’s friend and neighbor Melody Graves in Colorado. Emily asked Mel to encourage Ava to visit some interesting sites in and around Ouray. Mel is happy to help, but she didn’t expect to fall for Ava.

Ava discovers a new love for the outdoors and finds confidence in herself as she and Mel become close.

Ava returns to Houston feeling good about her life and ready to move forward, but Sheila is not giving up control. Ava must make some tough decisions to build a new life with the possibility of a relationship with Mel.

 

#1

MANY ROADS TO HOME

by Kaya LaSalle

Available in Kindle Unlimited

That stereotype about the mid-life crisis involving smoking-hot flings with younger women? Yeah, turns out that might be true after all…

Brooke has resigned herself to being single forever. She’s almost 40 and practically married to her career. When she decides to take some time off to renovate a run-down farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, everyone tells her she’s having a midlife crisis. Maybe she is, but she still thinks that buying the farmhouse is the best thing she’s done in years. Now if only she could get the roof to stop leaking…

Riley has always been a free spirit with nothing to her name besides the shirt on her back and a bag of tools. She’s resourceful and knows what she’s doing, but it turns out that it’s still hard to make it as a woman in the trades. So when she hears about a major farmhouse renovation taking place, she jumps at the opportunity. She never would have imagined her new employer would be someone like Brooke, though…

Sparks fly between Brooke and Riley as they’re thrown together. The intensity of their attraction is matched only by the barriers to their relationship.

Can two women who are polar opposites find a way to build a home together?

 

FREE BOOKS

 

PLAYING WITH FIRE

by Sue Graham

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Michaela is driven by ambition and her vast creative fire burns for expression and acclaim. Kim has been there, knows the cost, and has lost the spark of inspiration she once had. Their chance meeting and growing friendship sets in motion events that leads them through loss and heartbreak onto new paths of discovery, but will these paths bring them together?

 

NEW LEASE OF LOVE

by Arizona Tape

It only takes the right person to turn everything around. An evil stepmother drives Quinn away from home and desperate for money, she ends up working in Rainbow Central, a bar on the verge of going bankrupt. The only saving grace? The beautiful owner and divorcée, Olivia White. Despite their age difference, the two women work well together trying to breathe a new lease of life into the bar. But what about a new lease of love?

 

Author Miranda MacLeod suggests “Secrets” by Mary Lambert. 

 

Author Monica McCallan says: When helping others, always try to give more than you expect to get.

 

Meet Harper

Harper, Queen of the great outdoors, from Karen L, reader.

That’s all for this week.

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend!

Miranda & TB

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Writerly Wednesday: One Step at a Time

Welcome to another edition of Writerly Wednesday.

Last week, TB shared Be Like Mickey Mouse, where she said her motto is: just keep going.

This week she wants to share the backstory to learning that motto the hard way.

One Step at a Time

In 2013, I visited Malaysia, and one of the must-dos, according to our Malay friend we were staying with, was to climb Mount Kinabalu. I’ve been an avid hiker most of my life and lived in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains for over fifteen years. It wasn’t unusual for me to go hiking at five in the morning before heading to work. And, weekends were dedicated to being outdoors.

Although, going for a three-hour hike and climbing to the top of a 13,000-foot mountain in under forty-eight hours are not in the same category. That didn’t deter me from signing up for the challenge.

I should note that I half-heartedly trained for this challenge, since at the time, I lived in London and there weren’t a lot of mountains to tackle. I did join a gym and spent many hours on a mountain-climbing machine.

As it turned out, I didn’t spend enough hours on that dang machine, because Mount Kinabalu nearly killed me.

The climb took place over two days. The first day involved making it to base camp, where we stayed the night, and then waking at 1:00 a.m. to trek the final few thousand feet to the summit before sunrise.

Halfway to base camp on the first day, I knew I was in serious trouble. My legs hurt, my body was exhausted, and all I wanted to do was cry. I could have quit. One woman who twisted an ankle had to be carried down the mountain.

The thing is, I can be stubborn as hell, even when it’s dangerous. So, I kept going.

The following morning, in the cold and dark, I got up with the rest and started the climb to the summit. Given the darkness, my steps were tiny. My headlamp wasn’t very strong, but I couldn’t have taken larger steps even if I wanted to. Even so, I wanted to get to the top in time for the sunrise, so I kept my head down to illuminate my next teensy-tiny steps.

For the duration of this climb, we had a lovely guide who was assigned to me and my partner. He knew I was struggling while my partner wasn’t showing any signs of distress or exhaustion. The morning of the final ascent, he walked by my side, offering me encouragement. One of the lines he kept repeating was, “Take it one step at a time.”

I can’t remember how many times he said it, but his words helped me to keep going.

Not only that, I made it in time for the sunrise.

To this day, whenever the going gets hard, in writing, life, or whatever, I hear my guide’s voice in my head saying, “Take it one step at a time.” It was a tough way to learn the lesson, but it’s not one I will ever forget.

For example, I recently struggled getting a manuscript to my editor on time. While I loved writing the story, everything else in life was building up, draining every creative thought from my brain. I ended up moving the deadline and focusing on one word at a time, just like I did when climbing Mount Kinabalu one tiny step at a time. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish taking things slowly, but with consistency and determination.

So, here’s to going through life, one step at a time, and letting nothing stop you.

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Sapphic Age Gap Romances (IHL Reading Challenge #1)

Welcome to the first week of the 2022 I Heart Lesfic Reading Challenge.

Before we get to announcing our first week’s category, 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 tbm@iheartlesfic.com).

Second, we have created a Goodreads group where readers can discuss books, swap recommendations, and generally have a good time.

Now, to get to the task at hand. We wanted to launch the challenge with an all-time favorite sapphic trope: age-gap romances.

Its popularity isn’t the only reason we scheduled it for the week of January 10th. Did you know January 16th kicks off the Hunt for Happiness week? If you didn’t, now you do! We can’t think of a better reason to dip into an age-gap romance than finding happiness.

Below you’ll find reading suggestions for age-gap stories. Better yet, some of them are on sale, so scoop up an age-gap romance at a bargain and hunt for your reading happiness today.

The following books are on sale to celebrate I Heart Lesfic’s age-gap week. Before you click any buy buttons, please ensure the sale price matches. (Some international prices may vary some.):

 

NEW LEASE OF LOVE

by Arizona Tape

FREE $4.99 

It only takes the right person to turn everything around.

An evil stepmother drives Quinn away from home and desperate for money, she ends up working in Rainbow Central, a bar on the verge of going bankrupt. The only saving grace? The beautiful owner and divorcée, Olivia White.

Despite their age difference, the two women work well together trying to breathe a new lease of life into the bar. But what about a new lease of love?

 

MANY ROADS TO HOME

by Kaya LaSalle

$0.99 $3.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

That stereotype about the mid-life crisis involving smoking-hot flings with younger women? Yeah, turns out that might be true after all…

Brooke has resigned herself to being single forever. She’s almost 40 and practically married to her career. When she decides to take some time off to renovate a run-down farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, everyone tells her she’s having a midlife crisis. Maybe she is, but she still thinks that buying the farmhouse is the best thing she’s done in years. Now if only she could get the roof to stop leaking…

Riley has always been a free spirit with nothing to her name besides the shirt on her back and a bag of tools. She’s resourceful and knows what she’s doing, but it turns out that it’s still hard to make it as a woman in the trades. So when she hears about a major farmhouse renovation taking place, she jumps at the opportunity. She never would have imagined her new employer would be someone like Brooke, though…

Sparks fly between Brooke and Riley as they’re thrown together. The intensity of their attraction is matched only by the barriers to their relationship.

Can two women who are polar opposites find a way to build a home together?

 

There are plenty more age-gap romances to browse:

 

CRASH DANCE

by Elle Armstrong

Available in Kindle Unlimited

What happens when the worst day of your life turns into the best?

Retired dancer Gabriella De Luca’s day falls apart when her service car badly injures a young woman. Guilt, paired with a curious pull toward the attractive stranger, leads Gabriella to visit her in hospital, where an unexpected friendship begins.

Bailey Williams finds out that when your whole world crashes, a new dance can begin. Seriously injured and needing rehabilitation, Bailey is surprised when Gabriella offers her home for recuperation.

As Bailey’s injuries gradually heal, she starts to fall for the compelling Gabriella. As Gabriella’s feelings for Bailey deepen, she has to decide if she can ever trust a younger woman again.

A problem at Gabriella’s dance studio threatens their burgeoning relationship and a new enemy could bring it all crashing down.

Will Gabriella and Bailey waltz off into the sunset or quickstep apart

 

THE DELICATE THINGS WE MAKE

by Milena McKay

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Hitting rock bottom in the concrete jungle of Manhattan, investigative journalist Jamie Walker lands the assignment of a lifetime: Find the most elusive artist of a generation, who has enthralled the art and fashion world for over a decade.

This assignment is supposed to finally be Jamie’s ticket to journalistic fame and fortune. The quest, however, proves to be difficult, as—so far—nobody has managed to discover who the legendary DeVor really is.

As Jamie delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding the enigmatic artist, trying to salvage her stagnant career, she risks getting in over her head and losing her heart in the process.

 

WRONG NUMBER, RIGHT WOMAN

by Jae

Wrong Number, Right Woman is a light-hearted, slow-burn lesbian romance that embraces likable characters without all the drama.

A single text message can change everything!

Flirting has never been Denny’s strong suit, but so what if she’s too shy to ask women out? She’s content with her simple life, working as a cashier and helping her sister raise her niece.

But then she gets a wrong-number text message from a stranger named Eliza, asking her of all people for dating advice!

Eliza is Denny’s total opposite: witty, outgoing—and straight. Despite their differences, the accidental text sparks an unlikely friendship. Soon, Eliza—self-proclaimed queen of disastrous first dates—would rather banter back and forth with Denny than to keep trying her luck at online dating.

When they meet in person, there’s an instant connection. But what Eliza is feeling can’t be attraction, right? It doesn’t mean a thing that she’s starting to wish the guys she dates would be more like Denny. Or does it?

Can the wrong number lead to the right woman after all?

 

THE BOSS’S DAUGHTER

by Samantha Hicks

Vivian Westfall, CFO of Bridger Holdings, meets her boss’s estranged daughter, Lauren, when a disturbance at the company spring party piques her interest. Lauren is clearly drunk and making a fool of herself. To prevent embarrassment, Vivian forces Lauren away from the party. They have angry words, and things take an unexpected turn when Lauren kisses her. Months later Lauren pitches a proposal to her father to loan her the funds to start her own health club. Her father reluctantly agrees with a caveat; Vivian must go with her to Scotland to keep an eye on the money.It doesn’t take long for the sparks to fly in all emotional directions. When Gregory Bridger finds out about their relationship, he does everything in his power to break them apart.Trust is at the heart of this love story, a fragile emotion that without it, things can and do fall apart.

 

SIX FEET

by Michele M Reynolds

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Six Feet is a contemporary, pandemic romance with the emphasis on romance.

Henley Stones Smith, 42, is a psychologist with three foster daughters: Paloma, Jackie and Manhattan.

Nicki Zabelle, 28, is a professional video gamer who sleeps in late and always orders take-out.

The Covid pandemic hits and Nicki abruptly moves from Boston to Western Massachusetts where Henley is juggling working from home, remote school, and single parenthood.

Little Jackie’s early morning mishap brings Henley and Nicki together.
Henley sees Nicki as an incredibly young neighbor who is kind enough to share her pool.

Nicki sees Henley as an incredibly hot neighbor who she hopes is kind enough to share her bed.

 

HIGHLAND FLING

by Anna Larner

Eve Eddison describes her ideal woman to her best friend, Roxanne, over pints in their local pub a few days before she travels to the Scottish Highlands. There she falls head over heels for an enigmatic local, Moira Burns, and the usually reticent Eve wants more than a holiday romance. Forestry officer Moira Burns has no intention of letting go—either of past pain or for present pleasure. If that means she misses out on her chance at happiness, so be it. Convinced Eve is headed for heartbreak, Roxanne advises her to let Moira go…but has Eve found her ideal woman at last?

From the breathtaking Highlands of Scotland to the buzz of a Leicester gay bar, family and friendship are tested to breaking point, as letting go proves painfully hard.

 

LOST IN LOVE

Emily Banting

Available in Kindle Unlimited

A heart-warming, quintessentially English village novel, centred on the ruins of Nunswick Abbey…

Historical tour guide Anna Walker is determined to make a good impression on her new bosses, but juggling a full-time job with caring for her ailing father is putting her own health – and potentially his – at risk.

When she meets Dr Katherine Atkinson, a charming yet intimidating new arrival to the village, Anna is infuriated by the doctor’s attempts to convince her that her father needs professional, full-time care. She’s even more frustrated by her growing attraction to the classy, wealthy doctor.

Anna’s determination to prove she can cope forces Katherine to divulge a painful event from her past that still haunts her, hopeful it will make Anna see sense before it’s too late.

With Katherine’s heart lost to the past and Anna’s overwhelmed in the present, can the two women help each other overcome their anxieties and move forward? Will a curtain-twitching busy body curtail any blossoming attraction before it even has a chance to bloom?

LOST IN LOVE is a titillating enemies to lovers, age-gap romance to add to your collection.

 

SPRING’S WAKE

by Aurora Rey

Nora Calhoun keeps her life just like her Provincetown B and B, neat and tidy. She’s thrilled when her niece Graham comes to stay with her while completing her graduate fieldwork aboard the Dolphin Fleet. She’s less than thrilled when Graham starts hanging out with Willa Lange, a sexy wanderer who works for the Fleet and seems to have her sights set on Graham.

At the encouragement of her sister Emerson, Will’s short stay in Ptown becomes a fresh start. She’s doing great—a decent job, a place of her own, and new friends. But when she meets Nora, she finds herself pining for more. The only problem? Nora is fifteen years her senior and doesn’t like her. Can the women overcome past hurts and find love or will their affair leave battered hearts in its wake?

 

INKED WITH A KISS

by Jennie Davids

Sometimes everything you shouldn’t want is exactly what you need.

Tattoo artist Jamie Winston is used to caring for others. Between her assistant manager position at a tattoo parlor, single-parenting her twelve-year-old daughter, and supporting her alcoholic parents, Jamie rarely prioritizes her own needs—unless Sierra Clark is in her chair. The bubbly, younger woman somehow manages to make Jamie feel like the carefree teenager she never got to be, making anything seem possible.

For Sierra, time with Jamie is a much-needed escape. She takes her work as a social worker seriously, but with budget cuts threatening her job, there’s a lot riding on the fundraiser she’s planning with Jamie. The fact that it means working closely with the sexy, older tattooist is a bonus—a deliciously tempting bonus. Sierra isn’t one for relationships, but she’s never felt such a strong desire to mix business with pleasure.

Sizzling chemistry quickly erodes Jamie’s fears of being too old for Sierra, but navigating a romance with someone who’s at such a different stage in life is no easy task. They’ve each come to rely on themselves more than anyone else, but having a future together will mean letting their guards down, and accepting each other as a safe place to fall.

 

MRS MIDDLETON

by Melissa Tereze

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Their love could heal their hearts…but destroy the relationships they both hold dear.

Emma Bradley is trembling. And not because of the climate difference between England and Africa, where she’s just ended an 18-month stint teaching sports to kids. She’s about to see Vanessa again.

Golden hair, luminous blue eyes, a smile to light up a room. The woman Emma loves. The woman she spilled her heart out to, then ran away to another continent to avoid a humiliating scene—because Vanessa is her best friend’s mum. If Emma is lucky, maybe Vanessa chalked it up to too much wine. Or better yet, forgot all about it.

Vanessa Middleton is fighting a serious case of uncertainty. Emma’s confession is crystal clear in her memory, and now that Vanessa is divorced from her cheating husband, the strongest barrier between them is gone. But there are others no less challenging.

Because if Vanessa couldn’t keep her husband’s attention, what could bright, beautiful, much younger Emma possibly see in her? Worse, if the two of them act on their attraction, their affair could jeopardise the relationship they both hold dear: Vanessa’s daughter—Emma’s closest friend.

 

ACTS OF CONTRITION

by Elena Graf

Available in Kindle Unlimited

This Golden Crown Literary Society and Rainbow Book Award winner in historical fiction continues the story of the von Stahle family as it deals with the aftermath of World War II.The Russians have invaded and Berlin is in ruins. Nearly everything Margarethe von Stahle has sworn to protect has been lost. After being brutally abused by occupying Russian soldiers, Margarethe must rely on the kindness of her friends to survive. Fortunately, the American Army has brought her former protégé, Dr. Sarah Weber, back to Berlin. Slowly, Margarethe heals and begins to rebuild her life, but as she confronts painful events that occurred during the war, she must learn to forgive and be forgiven. Acts of Contrition is the fourth novel in the Passing Rites Series, which follows the aristocratic Stahle family through the 20th century. Set in Berlin during the aftermath of World War II, this book shows how survivors struggled with their guilt over the war and the evil perpetrated by the Nazi regime. It tells the inspiring story of how, despite sexual violence, crushing losses and grief, someone can be brought back from the brink by personal determination, friendship and love.

NOTE: TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE.

 

SILVER THREADS

by Lyn Deninson

The life of Mel Jamieson, illustrator of best-selling children’s picture books, is not going well. Her relationship with Terry, her partner of six years, is over, and moving in the same circles as Terry and her new girlfriend is becoming too difficult for Mel. What she needs, Mel tells herself, is a change of scene, and returning to her family in Queensland would be just the ticket. All very simple, surely?

However, her mother is just about to leave on a trip with her stepfather, her sister is tied up with her own family and her father and his new family are overseas. Mel assures her worried mother she will be fine on her own and she drives north to her childhood home. When she arrives she learns her mother has arranged for her to go down to northern New South Wales to help out her mother’s long-time friend, Crys Hewitt, on her farm.

Mel is horrified, and not just because farming is way out of her sphere of reference. Mel’s mother is unaware that Crys, attractive, sensuous Crys, older than Mel by fourteen years, was the object of Mel’s first teenage crush. How was Mel going to face Crys again after that so embarrassing moment all those years ago?

 

COMING HOME 

by KJ

Available in Kindle Unlimited

What would happen if your regular, ordinary, safe, everyday existence suddenly became…not any of those things? When Samantha Markson, Ordinary Person, is thrust into the life of Abigail Taylor, Not At All Ordinary Person, it proves to be an experience like she’s never had before. World famous actress, Abigail Taylor, is in Melbourne filming her new movie, and is accompanied by her nine year old daughter, Grace, because Abigail wants her to experience an Australian education for three months. Sam Markson is a teacher at one of the best schools in Melbourne, and is perfectly happy doing that, thank you very much, when she’s suddenly redirected from the classroom into the job as Grace’s teacher; a move so fast that even blinking would feel like slow motion. Sam has never met anyone like Abigail Taylor, and she starts to realise that her ordinary life might actually be missing something extraordinary.

 

HUNGRY FOR IT

by Fiona Zedde

SOME HUNGERS DEMAND TO BE SATISFIED…

Rémi’s had a crush on her best friend’s mother since she knew what lust was. Claudia is everything she wants in a lover but doesn’t think she deserves – sophisticated, brilliant, and a woman of substance. But Rémi has resigned herself to only lusting from afar.

Instead of reaching out for what she really wants, Rémi takes the easy pleasure offered by the many women she meets around Miami and at her exclusive jazz club, burying her desire for Claudia in their willing bodies and shutting down the part of herself that craves more. It works for a while.

But when a dangerous business rival starts making trouble for Rémi, she finds herself unexpectedly turning to Claudia for comfort. The heat that flares between the two women quickly becomes too explosive for either of them to ignore. Soon, their nights are devoted to pleasure – sex, food, and the sweetness of discovering each other in new ways. But Rémi knows very well they are loving on borrowed time. Because once her best friend finds out what she’s been doing, and who, it will put more than just their friendship at stake.

 

THE MUSIC AND THE MIRROR

by Lola Keeley

When new dancer Anna isn’t nervous as hell around her ice queen ballet mentor Victoria, she’s falling in love with the beautiful and powerful woman. This age-gap, workplace lesbian romance is a sizzling, award-winning page-turner, whether you’re into ballet or not.

Anna is the newest member of an elite ballet company. Her first class with her mysterious idol, Victoria, almost ruins her career before it starts. When she shows she might be a potential star, Victoria chooses Anna to launch a new season around.

Now Anna must face down jealousy, sabotage, and injury, not to mention navigate the circus of friends and lovers within the company. The pressure builds as she knows she must pour everything she has into opening night and prove to her rivals and herself that Victoria’s faith in her is not misplaced.

In the process, Anna discovers that she and the daring, beautiful Victoria have a lot more than a talent for ballet in common, and that not every thrilling dance can be found on stage.

 

A LOVE TO STAY FOR

by Amy DeMeritt

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Joyce Peterson is an international bestselling historical fiction author, who’s often accused by her friends as being a workaholic. Joyce knows finding a balance between work and leisure helps feed her creativity and ensures steady productivity. However, she is stubborn and often fights against the reality that she needs to take a break.

Avery West is a travel journalist looking for a place to lay roots. While she’s out exploring Harbor City, the small lakeside town that she’ll call home for at least a year, she clumsily plants herself in Joyce’s life.

Since happenstance often fuels her creative muse, Joyce happily accepts the role of welcome wagon and helps Avery get settled in. The more time they spend together, the more attached they become to each other. But with fifteen years separating them, and the fact that Avery is a wanderer, Joyce is hesitant to allow herself to acknowledge her feelings for the younger woman.

And when the dark and dangerous secrets surrounding a lost local treasure come to light, their relationship becomes further imperiled.

Can Joyce and Avery survive their curiosity of the past so they can have a future together?

 

THE POLITICS OF LOVE

by Jen Jensen

Is it possible to love across the political divide?

Shelley Whitmore is a successful attorney, working on behalf of her Evangelical parents’ faith-based organization, championing conservative values of individual liberty and limited government. Everything’s totally fine, except that it really isn’t. Shelley manages depression and crippling anxiety because of the secret she can never reveal: she’s gay.

Rand Thomas is a psychotherapist, transgender rights activist, and political liberal. Widowed and struggling with her wife’s toxic parents, Rand isn’t going to allow herself to love again.

When Shelley and Rand meet in Manhattan, neither one expects to find that the other is exactly who they need.

 

SEALED WITH A KISS

by Sam Skyborne

Available in Kindle Unlimited

To what lengths would you go for love? If you had a second chance with your first love, would you take it?

Jacquie Lyon fled the island she grew up on as a teenager, crushed with a broken heart, vowing never to look back. Now, two decades later, she has the opportunity make amends with the love of her life. Will she return, and risk opening those old wounds?

Dorothy Rowland has been a conscientious mother and teacher for most of her life, always doing ‘the right thing’. Now, in her later years, when faced with a final chance at love, will she take it?

Will Jac and Dot find true love in this, the first book in the new “Lesvos Island” lesbian love stories collection?

 

BEGINNER’S BET

by Fiona Riley

Ellison Gamble owns the most successful luxury real estate firm in Boston, but the accomplishment feels hollow when she comes home to an empty house.

Institutionalizing her mother for her own safety was the hardest thing Katie Crawford has ever done. The costs are becoming more than she can manage, and her only solution is to sell her childhood home that has fallen into disrepair.

After a tense first interaction with Katie, Ellison eventually finds herself in an unlikely friendship and makes a risky offer to help Katie sell her mother’s home. Katie will do anything to help her mom, but being attracted to a woman for the first time was not in the plan.

Will the risks they take be worth the reward? Or have they wagered on a losing bet?

 

LOVE WALKED INTO THE LANTERN

by Nicole Pyland

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Summer Taft is a twenty-seven-year-old billionaire, who founded a tech start-up with her brother while she was still in college. As that company’s CEO, she feels stuck and underappreciated. She also has to take care of the company while her brother goes off exploring the world, leaving her holding the bag. The company recently opened an office in Chicago, where Summer has met some new friends. As Summer decides to uproot her life and make the move to Chicago, she meets Lena.

Lena Tanner has had no luck in her love life after divorcing her husband of several years before, after finally admitting to herself that she was gay. Lena had been exploring and having fun in the new life she’d made for herself. But now, she’s ready to find the one and settle down. After a blind date gone wrong, she ends up at The Lantern where she spots her group of expanding friends and a newcomer.

Lena had never been brave in her personal life. And Summer has always had difficulty making decisions, small and large. The two women settle into a quick friendship that turns more flirtatious. But is either of them ready to dive right into something new that could be lasting?

 

FORGING A DESIRE LINE

by Mary P. Burns

Charley Owens is content with her life. She has her super-organized job, her super-clean apartment, her long-time friends, and her cats. That’s all she needs after the crumbling of her twenty-five-year relationship, even if her friends keep trying to set her up with someone new. But when she meets the handsome and aloof Joanna, she’s forced to reevaluate what it is she wants, and maybe what’s been missing…

Everything seems to be going well until Charley’s ex-wife, Tricia, calls with devastating news and Charley’s hope for a quiet life is overturned. While trying to take care of Tricia, Charley is determined to get Joanna to take a chance on her. But is she ready to take one herself?

 

THE ROAD HOME

by Erin Zak

When she’s passed over for the role of a lifetime, Hollywood actress Gwendolyn Carter is absolutely crushed. That’s when things go from bad to worse. Home to celebrate her dad’s birthday, Gwen discovers her mom is sick and might not have much time left. She stays to help and to repair the emotional rift that has kept them apart for so long. That’s easier said than done, though, because oh-so-perfect Lila Machowicz has all but replaced Gwen as Carol Carter’s surrogate daughter.

Gwen and Lila are forced to work together to support the woman they both care about, even though they’re rivals for a place in Carol’s life. The last thing either expects is an attraction as undeniable as it is inconvenient. When Lila helps Gwen rebuild trust with her mom, Gwen’s heart begins to thaw. But every family has a closet full of skeletons, and when she discovers the family secret, will she ever be able to trust Lila again?

 

JUST MY LUCK

by Andrea Bramhall

Genna Collins works a dead end job, loves her family, her girlfriend, and her friends. When she wins the biggest Euromillions jackpot on record everything changes…and not always for the best.

When Abi Kitson fell in love she always knew it would go unrequited. The woman of her dreams was so close yet seemingly untouchable for so many reasons. Reasons like – they are best friends, or the big age gap, or the ‘other’ woman, nevermind Abi’s own baggage.

And even when those reasons crumble it seems luck just isn’t on her side.

It’s a learning curve for both of them. But what if money really can’t buy you everything you want? What if the answers aren’t hidden in a big, fat bank balance? What if happiness is right in front of them? They just have to reach out…

 

Next week is POC character week.

Happy reading, peeps!

Miranda and TB

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Friday Feels Fun: January 7th Edition

We made it to another Friday and it’s time to celebrate.

Below, you’ll find books (including a free one!), a song suggestion, life advice, and the pet of the week. We truly hope these tidbits help everyone slide into weekend mode.

Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom to see two adorable dogs. 

Here are the top 3 most clicked books of the week on I Heart Lesfic:

#3

A CLOSER LOOK

by Michele L. Rivera

Available in Kindle Unlimited

With Boston’s queer community teeming with single women, professional dating coach Harley Cooper’s incomparable match-making abilities are in high demand. Harley attributes her success to her unwavering resolve to maintain professional boundaries with her clients. Of course, her cool demeanor and charming smile don’t hurt. But when Harley meets her newest client, she not only loses her cool, she wavers.

Tessa Pearson is one of Boston’s most acclaimed wedding photographers. And although she has a talent for capturing love on film, she has no desire to be in a relationship. She’s happily committed to her bachelorette lifestyle. Tessa’s best friend, however, has other plans for her.

The last thing Tessa wants is to work with a dating coach. Harley is Tessa’s worst nightmare: prying, overly confident, and guarded. Yet somehow she’s become the star of Tessa’s fantasies.

The last thing Harley wants is to waste her efforts on someone who doesn’t want to date. Tessa is jaded, stubborn, and uncooperative. So why can’t Harley stop thinking about her?

All Harley has to do is her job. All Tessa has to do is play along. But the more time they spend together, the more blurry the lines between work and play become.

2022 IHL Reading Challenge Categories: Enemies to Lovers, Forced Proximity, POC Character, & Grief. 

#2

SOMEDAY, MAYBE

Moonflower Cove Romances

by Addison Clarke

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Walker Forsyth is two years sober and back in her hometown of Moonflower Cove after two years away. She’s made her amends with her sisters and friends and is ready to start a new chapter in her life. More than anything though, she’s hoping to have a second chance with the love of her life.

Maddie Carlson has spent two years wondering what it would be like when Walker came back to the Cove. The last thing she expected was for things to fall into place so perfectly and naturally. Of course, her depression takes the opportunity to make Maddie question everything.

Will Maddie be able to overcome the darkness surrounding her and let Walker into her world again?

2022 IHL Reading Challenge Categories: Second Chance, Return to Hometown, Cute Animal, Sweet, & Loss/Grieving.

#1

DIAMONDS

by Ellie Green

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Emma didn’t want to be tied down. Until Cordelia tied her up.

Emma has spent her adult life travelling, partying and refusing to put down roots. Whenever her money runs out, she returns to Los Angeles to work a few months until she has enough cash to leave again.

Waitressing at an exclusive party for the rich and infamous, her gaze is caught by an elegant woman with an English accent. Once she’s seen her, it’s hard to look away. She spends her shift watching the other woman drink champagne, win at poker and charm everyone around her.

Beautiful, successful and wealthy, Cordelia is used to getting what she wants, in any way she might want it. That usually means with her in complete control. When the free-spirited Emma catches her attention, there is no exception.

Emma can’t stay away from Cordelia, even when she discovers the other woman’s darker preferences in the bedroom. If anything, it fuels the fire of her attraction.

Their physical relationship burns brightly. But with pressure on Cordelia to return to England and Emma’s reluctance to commit to anything, a future between them seems impossible.

Is there a chance for them to find lasting love?

2022 IHL Reading Challenge Categories: Age Gap, Rich Girl / Poor Girl, & BDSM.

 

FREE BOOK

 

ALL MANNER OF HATS

by Elva Birch

Available in Kindle Unlimited

All Manner of Hats is a short, sweet lesbian enemies-to-lovers romp of manners with magic, ghost horses, and cunning hats, in a steampunk-flavored world of dirigibles, duels, and cityships.

Free though January 11th.

 

Author B.W. Hope suggests “Fantastic Voyage” by Lakeside.

 

Author Jae has some great life advice to kick off 2022: Write down one positive thing that happened that day on a slip of paper every day and put it in a jar. On December 31, open all the slips of paper to remind yourself of all the wonderful moments you experienced in the past year.

 

Meet Gia & Anna

These adorable doggies below to Diane, a reader.

 

That’s all for this week.

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend!

Miranda & TB

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Writerly Wednesday: Be Like Mickey Mouse

Hello and welcome to the launch of a new feature on IHL called Writerly Wednesdays. TB and Miranda will share about some part of their creative adventure, whether it be inspirational, nitty-gritty how-to, or anything in between. Today, TB’s kicking it off with Mickey Mouse.

Be Like Mickey Mouse

Growing up, I received a lot of praise for success. A lot. In addition, I was always encouraged to be the best. On one hand, it was a good thing. Parents should encourage their children. However, it’s important to point out it wasn’t put to me to be the best I could be, but to be the best, as in better than everyone else.

This was a ton of pressure for a kid. When I fell short, even by the tiniest of margins, I was made to feel like a total failure. Getting an A on a test wasn’t good enough. Why didn’t I get an A+? If I scored two goals in a soccer game, why didn’t I score three?

As a child, this messed me up beyond belief. Most people who have reached adulthood have learned failure is a part of life. In many cases, failure is how we learn.

My parents didn’t see it this way. Failure wasn’t an option. EVER.

While they demanded I be the best, I started focusing on failure. It kinda became an obsession for me. Not just failing but bouncing back afterward. I sought out stories of well-known people who epically failed and then clawed their way back.

To this day, I still struggle with setbacks. When it happens, no matter the reason, it’s like I’m transported back in time, reliving the moment when I was six years old, dribbling a soccer ball all the way down the field, with no one but the goalie in my way, taking my shot, and the ball hitting the goalpost, never going into the net.

Not all misses are from my own actions, but when I face a setback, it causes a terrible moment of dread. Sometimes, it takes me time to get past it.

Recently, with my latest Lizzie release, Amazon deranked the book. It had nothing to do with me or with the book. It was just a glitch in their system that stripped away the ranks from books that had been released within a certain time frame. Unfortunately, rank is a vital metric for a new release. It’s a book’s rank that allows it to chart on Amazon (meaning to have a spot on lesbian fiction or lesbian romance charts, etc.) and become more visible to readers.

Amazon wasn’t doing this on purpose. It wasn’t like they targeted Lizzie and said, “No rank for you!” It was happening to many books across many different genres. Even so, the loss of rank pretty much killed the launch of A Woman Unhinged. (Below, you’ll find a list of other sapphic books that were also hit by the deranking fiasco. Please note, this is not a complete list, just the ones IHL has learned of. If you know of others, please let us know.)

The same day this happened (it continued for well over a week), I sat down to watch a documentary on Walt Disney. As a creative, I enjoy learning from other creatives. Disney had many setbacks during his career (many from his own doing), but the one that struck me as I was wallowing about the deranking of Lizzie hit close to home.

I love Disney characters, especially Mickey Mouse. What can I say? I grew up a stone’s throw from Disneyland. During the summer, the nightly fireworks display at Disneyland was my curfew. I could watch, and then I had to go inside.

Watching the documentary, I learned something crucial about Mickey Mouse that helped me deal with my Lizzie setback. Before Mickey Mouse, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Walt Disney and his team created many cartoons starring Oswald, but Disney didn’t own the rights to Oswald. Universal did.

I won’t go too much into the particulars as to why Universal took Oswald away from Walt Disney (he was a difficult boss to please), but I will share the nugget that helped me during this particular time of despondency.

After losing Oswald in 1928, Walt Disney didn’t toss in the towel, even when the distributor kept on making Oswald cartoons. Failure also played a big role in Walt Disney’s life. His father had a string of them and had become more and more depressed. Walt didn’t want to be like his dad.

Instead, Walt Disney decided to create a cartoon character that was even better than Oswald. Disney, along with a handful of employees who stayed after the Oswald incident, brainstormed and brainstormed until they came up with Mickey Mouse.

Out of one failure came a character who has not only impacted millions of lives but mine in particular. Especially on the afternoon when my launch of A Woman Unhinged was derailed.

For many days, while communicating with Amazon and hitting a brick wall, I kept thinking, “Be like Mickey Mouse.” Given the trajectory of this story, I should have been saying, “Be like Walt Disney,” but he had some negative qualities that I’d rather not emulate. I want to learn from his story, but I would rather be like the plucky mouse who makes millions of people smile.

And, it was a good reminder that even people who achieved success had failed at some point and didn’t give up. My motto, not just in writing but in life, is Just keep going. Sometimes, though, I need to be reminded of this.

These were the other sapphic books that were deranked that IHL knows about:

The Number 94 Project by Cheyenne Blue
Guarded Desires by Anna Stone
A Closer Look by Michele L. Rivera
The Awkward Truth by Lee Winter
Partners by Jae
At First Glance by Melissa Tereze
Fool for Love by Rachael Sommers
A Woman Unhinged by TB Markinson
Just One Mistake by Jade Winters
Champagne Kisses by MJ Duncan
Christmas Shorts by Jade Winters
Cuffing Season by Monica McCallan

If you know of other sapphic books that were deranked, please let us know so we can add them to the list to help with exposure.

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November Book of the Month Winners

We’re thrilled to announce the Book of the Month Awards for November. For the first time, we have a tie in one of the categories.

Without further ado, here are the winners:

 

November 2021 Winners

 

ROMANCE 

 

HAT TRICK

by Ali Spooner & K.L. Gallagher

Alexandra “Alex” Hawthorne is on the fast track to the top of one of the most formidable, white-collar, criminal defense law firms in New York. She can ill afford any distractions, especially those with dark-brown eyes, who can rock a power suit while coaching professional hockey players. Not now. Not when Alex is so close to making senior partner. Not after all she has sacrificed.

After a devastating end to her playing career, Janelle Leblanc channeled her passion into coaching and reached the pinnacle of success as the first female head coach in NHL history. Despite her accomplishments, she hears whispers that she was hired as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Janelle’s focus needs to remain on the ice if she is to prove them wrong, not on a certain curly haired attorney with the most arresting emerald-green eyes she has ever seen.

Once the spark is lit, their chemistry is impossible to ignore. Can Janelle break down Alex’s walls to give them a real chance? Or will Alex’s past heartache be too much for them to overcome?

 

ALWAYS ALLIE 

by Melissa Tereze

Available in Kindle Unlimited

When leaving feels like it’s forever, but home is always right there waiting for you to come back…

Cassidy Lewis had always dreamed of following in her mother’s footsteps, opening an award-winning florist. But Cassidy wanted bigger and better. She wanted to be thriving amongst the hustle and bustle of London; something her sleepy town of Plumstoke lacked. Finding the perfect store for her dream to flourish was easy, what was hard was moving to a whole new city and leaving behind the one person she thought she’d never be without. Allie. When her mother passes away suddenly; she’s forced to head back home alone to deal with the hardest goodbye a person ever has to say.

Allie Campbell, resident sweetheart, has been pushing through loss after loss. When she watched Cassidy—the woman who should have been her wife—drive away three years ago, Allie never thought she’d see her again. Sadly, the most dreadful of circumstances has brought her back. Can Allie be the friend that’s needed, the shoulder to cry on, the hand to hold? Will Cassidy realise that she doesn’t want to let go this time?

 

EROTICA

 

THE CLUB REVISITED

by A. L. BROOKS

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Lesbian erotica sizzles in this return to The Club, where the clients watch and make love to each other in the UK’s sexiest women-only nightclub.

Welcome back to The Club. The rules are the same but the players have changed. Mandy still runs her unique nightclub. These days she’s ready to bring love and passion back into her own life, but finding it? Well, maybe the universe has a sense of humour. Lindsey has come out late in life and is looking for a confidence boost, and a club regular is only too happy to help her out. Caitlin would love to test her limits after being shamed by an ex for her desires. Jody thinks no one will want to be intimate with her again after a tragic accident left her body forever changed. Her best friend Kris has other ideas. Joanna and Suzanne have been together for years. They’re still in love but something’s missing. Maybe The Club can help add some zest to the bedroom? Laura has overcome most of her grief from losing her wife, but wonders if she still has it in her to be intimate with someone.

Whatever they need, they can find. Anonymity, sweetness, sexiness, and unexpected opportunities abound at The Club, as Mandy watches over them all.

This tantalising follow-up to the award-winning The Club can be read as a standalone book.

 

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

 

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

Oregon: Book 5

by Jae

Together, Luke and Nora survived the hardships and dangers along the Oregon Trail in 1851. What started out as a marriage of convenience between a woman living as a man and a former prostitute slowly grew into love.

But now that they have arrived in Oregon City, the real adventure is just beginning. Winter is approaching, and they need to claim a piece of land and build a cabin, all while trying to establish their new roles as life partners and parents.

Will they find a place to call home and, more importantly, a way to grow as a couple?

“A Place to Call Home” is a lesbian historical romance short story that continues Jae’s award-winning Oregon series. It picks up directly after the end of Backwards to Oregon.

 

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE 

 

LADY KILLER

Fox County Forensics: Book 5

by Cara Malone

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Opposites attract when a forensic investigator dying to fit in teams up with a detective with a major case of wanderlust.

Maya Ross has worked hard to cultivate a tough, no-nonsense reputation as ‘one of the guys’ in a male-dominated field. As lead investigator, she’s at the peak of her career – and she can’t admit to anyone that it’s making her deeply unhappy.

When femme, gorgeous Detective Arlen Rose blows into town on a killer’s trail, she’s everything Maya never knew she needed – and the answer to the gnawing emptiness inside her. They team up to catch the prolific serial killer before he strikes again, but the closer they get to him, the sooner Arlen will move on.

Can they bring the Rideshare Creep to justice, or will their own hearts become casualties of the chase?

 

FANTASY

 

THE WOLF YOU FEED

The Hercynian Forest Series: Book 3

by Reba Birmingham

Panda and Mitzi Fowler’s much-needed family vacation is rudely interrupted when a Merryville police officer pulls them over before they’ve even left town. Shocking allegations against Ekk and Panda follow, and the Fowlers and their friends are under attack yet again, only this time by legal means.

At the same time, an epic war is heating up in the Hercynian Forest. Seizing the opportunity to bring the war to his opponents’ doorstep, “Pastor” Wolfrum and his miscreants appear in Merryville to sow chaos and take power once and for all.

As the Free Creatures from Germany’s Hercynian Forest arrive to help, Panda is in serious trouble, in jail, and lacking Mitzi’s usual support. She comes to realize she must master her newly-found sensing magic. But how deep does it go?

And will she be able to use the magic in time to save herself, their friends and Merryville?

 

YOUNG ADULT

 

KISSING PRACTICE

Pike High School Book Club: Book 1

by Jordan Meadows

Available in Kindle Unlimited

The year is 1987, it’s Nicki’s sixteenth birthday party and she’s having a great time with her best friends, hanging out in a hot tub and listening to the radio while snow falls all around. When a playful practice kiss with one friend, Connie, suddenly turns into more and Nicki likes it — really likes it — she starts down a path of self discovery.

Will she have to keep this a secret from everyone? Does Connie feel the same way or is this really just practice for her? How should Nicki navigate the winter formal and Christmas with a new…girlfriend?

In this coming of age lesbian romance, Nicki finds support, hurt, and ultimately a new sense of self in more ways than one.

Content warning: While Kissing Practice is overall a positive and uplifting book, there is some homophobia (as is only realistic in middle America in the 80s), and a coming out results in the loss of a friendship.

 

AUDIOBOOK

 

NO MORE SECRETS

Lovers Landing Series: Book 2

by Jamey Moody

narrated by Amanda Wrege

When Krista Kyle’s world is turned upside down, there’s only one person who can save her.

First love is a mighty strong emotion. Krista knows this and has been given several chances over the years to have the life she dreamed of, but something always got in the way.

Melanie Zimmer has loved Krista Kyle for over half her life. She now has the courage to do something about it. All she has to do is help Krista find hers, and she knows just the place.

Does Lovers Landing still have the magic that brought them together over 30 years ago? Will Krista finally be brave enough to hold on to her true love?

This is the second book in the Lovers Landing series. Come along on this first love, second chance romance and see if Krista and Melanie can find their courage in one another.

 

Meg won the $15 Amazon gift card giveaway.

 

VOTE FOR DECEMBER’S

BOOK OF THE MONTH

It’s time to vote for your favorite December 2021 books.

Voting is open until the end of January.

Results will be announced in February.

Best of luck authors!

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2022 IHL Reading Challenge

2022 IHL Reading Challenge

TB still remembers the first book she read on her own. She can’t remember how old she was because numbers are her nemesis, but she does remember reading The Hobbit when home sick from school. This magical story changed TB’s life, instilling a lifelong passion for reading. And, she likes to encourage others to read as well.

Also, TB is really competitive. It was probably inevitable these two qualities would combine eventually, and thus, the reading challenge was born.

So, what exactly is the 2022 IHL Reading Challenge?

The short answer is it’s a fun event to get readers to read more Sapphic books. It runs from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022. A reader can join the challenge at any point during the 365-day span.

The purpose of the challenge is to encourage readers to read a variety of women-loving-women stories. To achieve this, the IHL team has selected 50 categories, ranging from age-gap romance to sci-fi, and everything in between. The full list of the categories can be found below.

You can read in any format, meaning ebook, paperback, and audiobook are all acceptable. And, if you have a favorite book (or a hundred) you love to reread, as long as it fits one of the categories and you read it again during the calendar year, it qualifies.

To help readers discover lots of new books from all our different categories, IHL will feature a different category each week and will share book suggestions we’ve compiled for that category. This doesn’t mean you have to read one of the books IHL features to count. They’re merely suggestions, and by no means do we pretend to offer a comprehensive list.

You also don’t have to read from a particular category during the week it’s featured. That’s just our way of putting categories and books in the spotlight. Read in whatever order you’d like. If you’re the type who likes to know what’s coming, click here for the complete category schedule for the entire year.

Bottom line, read whatever the heck tickles your fancy! The point is to have fun and immerse yourself in stories.

Why Should I Get Involved?

Because reading is fun! But, if you’re the type who likes a challenge, we’ve crafted different levels to tackle, depending on how many books you want to read during the event.

Also, IHL is not against bribery, so there will be a monthly prize drawing, with a whopper of a prize at the conclusion of the event.

Tell Me More About the Prizes…

Every month, we’ll award one reader a $25 Amazon gift card. To enter, look for our post each Wednesday on the IHL Facebook page (join here) to ask what book peeps are reading for the challenge that week. Tell us the title and what category the book is in. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a book from that week’s category as long as it’s one of the 50 for the year. You can enter every week of the month, which on average is four entries, but some months have five Wednesdays just to keep us at IHL on our toes.

If you’re not a fast reader, and it takes you more than a week to read a book, that’s fine, too. As long as you reply to the new post the following week (or weeks) to say you are still reading that book, we will count it as a new entry toward the monthly drawing.

And, for the speed readers, if you read more than one book in a week (go you!), you may enter once for each book you read.

If you don’t use Facebook, no problem. You’re more than welcome to email us your info. Please send an email to tbm@iheartlesfic.com, put “Monthly IHL Reading Challenge Giveaway” in the subject line, and tell us the name of the book and the category. Just like the Facebook peeps, you can enter every week of the month. All entries for the drawing will need to be received by midnight Eastern time on the last day of the month to qualify. Entries received after that will roll over to the next month’s drawing.

You cannot enter on Facebook and via email to double your chances. Let’s keep this fair, folks. Remember, the point is to have fun.

We’ll assign a number to every entry we receive, and then we’ll use a random number selector to choose the winner.

In December, we’ll ask readers to email their completed cards with all the books they read for the challenge. Depending on how many books and categories were completed, you will qualify for one of five different levels for the end-of-the-year prize drawing.

  • Garnet Level — $50 Amazon gift card
  • Topaz Level — $75 Amazon gift card
  • Sapphire Level — $100 Amazon gift card
  • Amethyst Level — $150 Amazon gift card
  • Emerald Level — $250 Amazon gift card

Remember, you will only be entered once in the end-of-the-year drawing based on the highest level you achieved (meaning you cannot send in multiple cards to try to enter all five).

Okay, What Are These Levels?

I’m so glad you asked!

There are five levels with increasing difficulty. For the purposes of this challenge, you may only count a book in one category, even if it fulfils the elements of multiple categories. If you read an age gap sci-fi with a pinch of suspense, you’re going to need to choose one of those categories for this book and read a different book to check off the other category. You can download the badge by right-clicking on them and feel free to display them on social media, websites, and/or blogs.


 

 

 

Garnet Level: Read at least 8 books from 8 different categories.

 

 


 

 

Topaz Level: Read at least 15 books from 15 different categories.

 


 

 

 

Sapphire Level: Read at least 25 books from 25 different categories.

 

 

 


 

 

Amethyst Level: Read at least 50 books from 50 different categories.

 

 


 

Emerald Level: Read at least 100 books from 50 different categories. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. You don’t have to read two books in every category if they’re not all your cup of tea. As long as you read one book in each of 49 categories, you can even binge on 51 books in your favorite category and still qualify. No matter how you slice it, reading 100 books in a year is a big achievement!


Remember how we said you only get entered once for the end-of-the-year drawing? There’s one exception to that. For all you super readers out there, and we know there are a few, for each additional 100 books you read after reaching Emerald, you will get another entry for the $250 Amazon Gift Card grand prize drawing. (Just be aware that the more books you say you’ve read, the more we’re gonna want some proof. If you say you’ve read 1000 books in the year, that’s spectacular, but make sure you’ve been listing them in the weekly Facebook posts throughout the year to back up your claim, or we might have to raise an eyebrow and ask you to give a book report in front of the class.)

How Do I Get Involved?

That’s easy. Pick up a book and read. There is no need to register before you start, and you don’t need to declare your level right out of the gate. You can, but no pressure. You have an entire year to decide. Remember, this is for fun.

How Can I Chat to Others Who Are Participating?

One of the best things about reading is talking about what you’re reading. IHL has a Facebook group where we would love to hear about your reading progress. We’ve also set up a Goodreads group (it’s currently under construction and will be available shortly) for those who prefer that platform.

The Rules:

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?

  1. The IHL Reading Challenge runs January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022.
  2. A book must fit one of the 50 categories that have been chosen for this year’s challenge and will only be counted once, even if it fits several categories.
  3. A book must be started and finished during the calendar year to count.
  4. The format can be ebook, Kindle Vella, paperback, hardcover, or audio.
  5. Size doesn’t matter, meaning it doesn’t have to be a novel. Graphic novels, Kindle Vella episodes, short stories, novellas, novelettes, and anthologies count.
  6. Rereads count as long as they’re read in full during the calendar year.
  7. Different books in a multi-book series can be counted toward different categories, but remember, each individual title can only be counted once.
  8. If you initially put a book down for age-gap that can also count as ice queen but then read another age-gap, you can move the first to ice queen. Again, we want to stress, a book only counts once, but it can be moved around accordingly before you turn in your final sheet at the end of the year.
  9. Each book must have one character with a woman who loves/is attracted to a woman, though it is not necessary for the book to have a romance or romantic subplot. This includes those who identify as lesbian, queer, bisexual, pansexual, and homoromantic asexual women. This also includes nonbinary, trans, and intersex individuals who identify as Sapphic in some manner. We welcome the very broadest interpretation of this definition as long as it keeps to the spirit of the challenge.
  10. The level goal you reach for is up to you and can be changed throughout the year. For example, if you start off aiming for Garnet but blast by it, you’re more than welcome to keep aiming higher. Or, if you aim for Emerald but don’t hit it, no one will judge you. The goal is to read for pleasure, not drive yourself crazy. Whichever level you have reached by December 31, 2022 is the one you will get credit for when it comes time to enter the final drawing.
  11. Even though we’ll be showcasing one category per week, that doesn’t mean you have to read according to the category schedule or choose only from books we suggest. Read what you want, when you want. Just keep track of it and keep us updated on the IHL Facebook page or by email if you want to have a shot at the monthly prizes.

Now for the 50 categories. We’ve listed them below, but you can also download a PDF right here. Fill in the title for each category and hold on to your title sheet until the end of the year.

  1. Age-Gap Romance: A story where one character is at least 7 years older than the other individual.
  2. POC Character: One of the main characters is a person of color.
  3. Slow Burn Romance: Where the characters develop romantic feelings at a slow pace.
  4. Magical Realism: A story depicting a realistic version of the present-day world but has added magical elements to blur the lines between reality and fantasy.
  5. Love After 50: Where one of the main characters falls in love at the age of 50 or older.
  6. Fake Relationship: Where the pairing in the novel starts off faking a relationship but end up falling in love.
  7. Fantasy Romance: A fantasy story with a romantic subplot.
  8. Suspense: A story with suspense and doesn’t necessarily have a romantic subplot. (It can, but there’s also a Romantic Suspense category.)
  9. Girl Next Door: One of the main characters has the qualities of the “girl next door”—sweet, wholesome, and everyone’s friend.
  10. Toaster Oven: A story when one of the mains comes out later in life (after the age of 29), because they either didn’t know or didn’t want to confront their identity.
  11. Fantasy: A story with a fantasy plot. It can have a romantic subplot, but it doesn’t have to.
  12. Medical Character: One of the main characters is in the medical profession (doctor, nurse, dentist, etc.).
  13. Cute Animal / Pet / Wild Animal: A story where an animal plays a small role in the story.
  14. Rich Girl / Poor Girl: A story where there’s a wealth discrepancy between the two mains.
  15. Second Chance Romance: Where a couple had been in a relationship and failed, but then try again later in life with an HEA.
  16. Celebrity: A story where one of the main characters is a celebrity (movies, television, social media, etc.).
  17. Single Parent: One of the main characters is a single parent.
  18. Character with a Disease or Mental Illness: One of the main characters has a disease or mental illness.
  19. Romantic Suspense: A story with suspense but also has a romantic plot or subplot.
  20. Enemies to Lovers: The main characters who fall in love start off hating each other or are rivals (political, sports, work, etc.).
  21. Loss / Grieving: One of the main characters is dealing with loss or grief.
  22. Historical Fiction: A story that is set in the past by at least 30 years.
  23. Neurodiverse Character: A story where one of the main characters is on the autistic spectrum or has dyslexia, ADHD, etc.
  24. Sweet Romance: A romance that doesn’t have sex on the page.
  25. Ice Queen: A story where one of the main characters comes across as cold, indifferent, and prickly. Usually, by the end of the story, she thaws somewhat.
  26. Hot & Steamy: Stories that include all the juicy elements of physical intimacy.
  27. BDSM: Stories that involve BDSM, which typically includes elements of roleplaying, dominance, submission, etc.
  28. Historical Romance: A story that takes place at least 30 years in the past that has a romance or romantic subplot.
  29. Forced Proximity / Stranded Together: A story where the two main characters are forced to be around the other, such as by being stranded in a cabin in the woods, or they end up working together.
  30. Friends to Lovers: A story where the two mains start off as friends and end up falling in love.
  31. Grumpy / Sunshine: A story where one of the mains is the grumpy sort and the other is cheery.
  32. One Night to Forever: When the two characters share one night together thinking it won’t lead to anything, but it ends up with a HEA.
  33. Return to Hometown: One of the main characters returns to their hometown after spending years away.
  34. Young Adult / New Adult: YA stories feature characters between the ages of 12 and 18, and NA has characters who are just entering adulthood, usually 18-25, although some think this goes up to 30.
  35. Paranormal Romance: Stories that usually lack scientific explanation (witches, werewolves, psychics, etc.) with a romance or romantic subplot.
  36. Mystery: Stories around an unsolved element that attempts to solve the mystery.
  37. Sci-Fi Romance: A science fiction story with a romance or romantic subplot.
  38. Musician: One of the main characters is a musician of some type (singer, drummer, celloist, etc.).
  39. Vampire: Someone in the book is a vampire. Think Twilight or Interview with a Vampire.
  40. Coming Out: A story that involves one of the main characters coming out as LGBTQIA.
  41. Ghosts: The story involves a ghost(s) in some fashion.
  42. Asexual / Demisexual: A story with an asexual or demisexual main character. An asexual person typically doesn’t have sexual feelings or desires for physical intimacy. A demisexual individual experiences sexual desire after developing a strong emotional connection with someone. For all the nuance types of attraction and a more thorough explanation, here’s an article to read.
  43. Holiday Romance: A story revolving around a holiday, such as Christmas, Passover, Hannukah, etc.
  44. Ladies in Uniform: One of the main characters wears a uniform, such as police, firefighter, military, etc.
  45. Dystopian / Apocalyptic: Dystopian is a futuristic and imagined story that has oppressive societal measures and seem like they’ve created a perfect society, but they are enforced via totalitarian control. Apocalyptic involves stories that show either the collapse or collapsing of civilization.
  46. Sports: One of the main characters is a sports player, such as soccer, softball, archer, etc.
  47. Sci-Fi: A science fiction story that doesn’t have romance or a romantic subplot, but it can.
  48. Speculative Fiction: A story set in a world entirely different from reality with fantastical, supernatural, or futuristic elements. Some refer to them as what-if stories that involve changing the laws of what’s possible and/or real and what that outcome would look like.
  49. Thriller: A story that is fast-paced with action scenes and is suspenseful.
  50. Erotic Romance: A story centered on the romantic nature of a relationship through sexual intimacy. Sex plays a strong role in the romance and character development.


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