Sapphic Character with a Disability or Mental Illness (IHL Reading Challenge #18)

Welcome to week 18 of the 2022 IHL Sapphic Reading Challenge.

LaKesha won April’s $25 Amazon gift card.

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 SapphFic 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

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 paired Character with a Disability or Mental Illness with Mental Health Awareness Month.

Below you’ll find reading suggestions. Better yet, 14 of them are on sale, so scoop up some fantastic reads at bargain prices. Before you click any buy buttons, please ensure the sale price matches. (Some international prices may vary.)

The following books are on sale for Disability or Mental Illness week: May 9 through May 13


Life in Bits

by Harper Bliss & TB Markinson

FREE $7.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

Can a Christmas romance mend a life that’s broken to pieces?

Eileen Makenna is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who has traveled the world for over two decades, chasing the next big story. She returns home for the holidays shattered by a life-altering event and facing the terrifying prospect she’ll never be able to work again.

When Eileen meets Naomi Weaver, a small-town girl who dedicates her free time to helping those in need, Eileen is entranced by Naomi’s zest for life. Can Eileen overcome her inner demons and troubled family relationships to let Naomi in?

Best-selling lesbian romance authors Harper Bliss & T.B. Markinson have teamed up to bring this touching age-gap love story to life. 


Pining & Loving

by Emma Radley

$0.99 $5.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

Pining and loving. Which one carries the highest cost? And what price is worth paying?

The quiet, tough Aya Lawson has been forced to leave her career as a professional boxer behind and now scrambles for a purpose.

Gwen Davies is a chatty barista, and artist in her free time, who lives with clinical depression.

They both have battles to fight but they also have something else in common – pining over the woman of their dreams.

When daydreams one day meet reality, things get complicated. Is it best to stay with what’s safe? Or to fall and maybe break? If they do take the chance and break, who will get back up?


Invisible, as Music

by Caren J. Werlinger

$0.99 $6.99 

Henrietta Cochran has spent nearly forty years dealing with the effects of the polio she contracted in 1945. Her braces and crutches restrict her, define her, but they also give her independence. Almost. She hates that she has become increasingly reliant on a series of live-in companions to help her. For some reason, the companions never seem to want to stay very long. So Henrietta retreats further and further into her art, where her physical limitations don’t matter.

Into her life sails Meryn Fleming: out, outspoken, and fiercely political. She’s young, enthusiastically diving into her first job as a history professor at the local college. When she falls, almost literally, into Henrietta’s path, she seems like a godsend.

Little does Henrietta know that this young woman is about to upend her carefully structured existence. Ryn challenges everything, barging right through the walls Henrietta has built to keep others at a distance.
To Ryn, Henrietta is an enigma: prickly and easily insulted at the slightest suggestion that she can’t do things for herself; a brilliant artist capable of producing the most beautiful paintings; and sometimes, when Henrietta doesn’t realize she’s letting her guard down, a tender and sensitive woman.

With Meryn’s youthful optimism pitted against Henrietta’s jaded acceptance of the world as it is, life will never be the same for either of them.


After Summer Ends

by Katie Mettner

$0.99 $2.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

My name is Willow Erwin, and I hate summer. My mother always said hate is a strong word, but in this case, it’s the right one. I haven’t found one good thing about the season. Most people tell me since I’m a teacher that reason alone should make it my favorite season, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For me, summer brings everything I abhor; bugs, heat, sweating, and painful memories of a woman I will never see again.

Then, in the wink of one very beautiful blue eye, all of that changed. This is the story of Summer and how she taught me to love her. It’s about her quiet, and sometimes fearful, way of teaching me to embrace the moment, and to live recklessly. It’s about how both of us learned to forgive, to hope, to pray, and to love, even after summer ends.


Roll With Me

by Elizabeth Andre

$0.99 $2.99 

Can they stop running long enough to let love catch up with them?

Chloe is a former runner turned wheelchair racer with MS who doesn’t want sympathy or to be saved. She just wants to fall in love. When she meets Rachel, a fellow runner with long hair and beautiful legs, they initially fall for each other, but Chloe is not a regular wheelchair user and is able to keep her disability a secret. Rachel senses that Chloe is holding something back, and this secret tears their relationship apart. For them to be together, Chloe has to let Rachel run past her denial and roll even closer to her heart.


WAGs to Bitches

by Bet Milner

$0.99 $3.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

A lesbian and bisexual story of love, social class, family, and breaking through boundaries. Expect some humor, drama, twists and turns, and a sprinkling of UK culture.

Erin Beauchamp, a New York writer with a mysterious past, is offered a chance to venture across the pond to ghostwrite a soccer wife’s biography. The idea fills her with dread and sheer boredom at the thought of listening to another rags to riches story but she reluctantly agrees to the challenge, hoping it will finally lead to the promotion she’s always wanted. Her high society life Manhatten is safe, albeit, limited. Her parents expect excellence, and so does Erin, but on her own terms. The trip is a far cry from what she expected and connections are made that will change her life forever. Old wounds surface and heal, secrets emerge, and London seems a lot more colorful than the gray skies and concrete blocks she initially sees flying into the city.

Layla Reynolds is a soccer wife with a secret to share with the world. For her entire adult life she’s said and done exactly what people expect of her and boxed herself into a label that doesn’t quite fit. She needs Erin to help her break free.

Gladys Payne is a successful british business woman with a work hard, play hard philosophy. She rents houses for a living, but is yet to make her first personal purchase without the help of Daddy.

A romantic comedy about three women with different life perspectives, and on different stages of their journey.


North Coast

by Dorothy Rice Bennett

$0.99 $4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

An artist/landlady in Eureka, on California’s North Coast, takes in a renter who is a Ph.D./waitress.

The landlady tries to remain emotionally uninvolved with the much younger tenant. But curiosity and attraction have something to say, as do local lesbian friends. The two women have nothing in common, except maybe the dog named Sam, but…


Must Love Silence

by Lucy Bexley

$1.99 $5.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

What happens when a misanthrope meets the one person she doesn’t want to be without?

Reese Walker doesn’t like people. What she likes is silence and being left alone. The thing she loves most about recording audiobooks is that she doesn’t have to leave her Chicago apartment to do it. And she hasn’t for nearly a year. But with an unavoidable bill going to collections that puts her sister’s treatment at risk, she has no choice but to take a job that pushes her out of her comfort zone.

After a disastrous blow to her career, Arden Abbott needs a comeback. Step one: a successful book launch, including an audiobook. She doesn’t trust anyone else to oversee every aspect of the project. It has to be flawless. Arden knows she’s ready to resume the life she had before her dreams fell apart, all she has to do is prove it to everyone around her.

When Reese and Arden meet, sparks fly and then they combust. Will Reese crack under the constant pressure from Arden? Can she possibly read a sex scene with the woman who wrote it interrupting to correct her pronunciation of words she is saying 100% correctly? Or can they step outside their comfort zones long enough to meet in the middle…


Hers to Keep

by Anna Stone

$2.99 $5.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

Lindsey had big plans for her post-art school life—a successful career as an artist, travelling the world, meeting the man of her dreams. She never expected she’d end up joining a sugar baby website to pay off her crippling debt. And she definitely didn’t expect her first client to be an alluring older woman named Camilla.

Camilla has an unusual proposal for Lindsey—move into her mansion for three months as her girlfriend and submissive, and all of Lindsey’s financial woes will disappear. It’s the perfect solution to Lindsey’s problems. And how can she say no to three months of luxury and pleasure beyond her wildest dreams?

Camilla has made it clear that it’s just an arrangement. A difficult life has left the solitary woman hesitant to let anyone get too close. And Lindsey isn’t attracted to women anyway. It’s all just a charade.

Until it isn’t. As Lindsey’s feelings toward her Mistress grow into something she never thought possible, she runs the risk of losing everything. It was all supposed to be pretend. One big lie.

What happens when the lie becomes the truth?


Before She Left

by Alison R. Solomon

$2.99 $5.99 


Ella Jay has vanished without a trace. Her passionate, strong-willed fiancée, Breezy Carmichael, is terrified that something sinister has happened to her. The detective assigned to the case thinks Breezy should accept she’s been dumped. But Breezy senses something strange going on. For no apparent reason, in this small town of Gulfport, Florida, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, husbands and wives are deserting their spouses. Could Ella’s disappearance be part of the same mystery? When the detective makes a shocking discovery about Ella, Breezy must decide whether to listen to her head, which tells her to walk away, or to her mostly unreliable gut which tells her to keep searching. The decision she makes could be the difference between life and death.



by Maria Jackson

$2.99 $4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

Yolanda is a talented DJ and a devoted mom. She’s also straight, despite frequent assumptions otherwise. When a friend has a gig at a gay bar one night, Yolanda goes along. But she’s not comfortable – especially after Whitney, her beautiful ex-Marine coworker, asks her to dance.

Whitney enjoys her job as a flair bartender, and her support dog helps her deal with the scars still left from her time in the service. She can’t resist Yolanda’s dark good looks, so she’s willing to be patient in the face of her friend’s resistance. But even though Whitney’s open about her sexuality, she has secrets of her own that she can’t bear to expose.

Will Yolanda finally admit the attraction between them? And if she does, can her acceptance heal Whitney’s hidden shame?



by Roz Alexander

$2.99 $3.99 

Where do dreams go to wait?

Tali Blue is definitely going back to finish her last semester of rabbinical school…eventually. When she moved back to her hometown seven years ago to help her grandparents raise her younger sisters, she planned on it being temporary. Now though, she has a stable job and a stable life surrounded by the people she’s known forever. It’s all just fine – and then there’s the incredibly annoying surprise of Maple.

Maple never meant to be successful. She just wanted to make weird art and practice her Ladino. And just like that, 15 years of adulthood has built a solid career, a great reputation as an art instructor, and a lackluster love life. It doesn’t help that she’s been spending all her free time consumed with making it as a Sephardic Jew into the Jewish art world that never seems to have space for her. And it definitely doesn’t help that she’s strictly a butch for butch lesbian. And then comes a sex goddess in the form of short, chunky, smoking hot, and incredibly nervous, butch, Tali Blue.

When Tali’s love of family, Maple’s art ambitions, and a Rosh Hashanah effort to #savethebees force these two together, both of them may learn that the only way out is up, together. This new year the honey is dripping on a lot more than apples. Higher is a steamy, butch for butch, grump-sunshine sapphic romance about what happens when you choose to take your dreams higher.


Around the World

by Nicole Pyland

$3.99 $7.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

Lauren Newton had a mission, and that mission was the most important thing in her life. It was giving her purpose. She’d been searching for that purpose for as long as she could remember, and she was finally on that path, enjoying her life, when a well-timed break in her mission to save up the money to continue the job, led her to a woman she never thought she’d have anything in common with.

For the past few years, Jamie Todd had been going through her life on fumes and poor decisions. She’d been blessed with enough money to be able to do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted to, and that included her love life – or, at least, her sex life. While home in Boston, she sees a beautiful woman standing in front of a monument to a past tragedy and takes the chance to strike up a conversation.

Lauren is a woman with purpose. Jamie is a woman who hasn’t had one of those and doesn’t know how to act when one is thrust upon her. Both women will have to learn and teach the other as they grow together, if that’s something both of them are willing to try.


Yesterday Once More

by Karen Badger

$3.99 $8.49 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

It’s the year 2105. Dr. Jordan Lewis, paralyzed from the waist down in a childhood accident is part of a research team working to create a device that will restore her mobility. While recovering from surgery, Jordan finds the diaries of Maggie Downs, a woman who died in an accident strangely similar to Jordan’s own, but more than one hundred years earlier.

Maggie begins to haunt Jordan’s dreams, and Jordan becomes convinced that she is trying to contact her. Can love bridge the barriers of death and time? Jordan is determined to find out.


Keep scrolling for more reading suggestions!


This Used to Be Easier

by Katia Rose

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Meg Doyle did not intend to return home from college with a suitcase and nowhere else to go.

Ideally, she would have rolled up to her tiny home town in a limousine and jumped out wearing a designer tuxedo. She would have shaken a few hands, signed a few autographs, and maybe kissed a few girls before riding off into the sunset of her glorious, post-grad future in set design.

Instead, she’s stuck spending the summer in her childhood bedroom, trawling the internet for job listings after a last minute internship cancellation in Europe.

It’s anything but triumphant. Her friends in the city won’t stop reminding her what she’s missing, her mom won’t stop researching lesbian slang terms to seem more ‘relatable,’ and around every corner in the small town of Chapel Creek, there’s Connie Shipley.

The girl Meg used to know better than anyone in the world.

The girl she spent countless nights huddled under the blankets with for sleepovers and movie marathons.

The girl who leaned in and kissed her four summers before.

The girl who hasn’t spoken to her since.

…Which makes it very inconvenient that Meg’s heart still stops every single time she sees her.



by Serena J. Bishop

To find love another way would be illogical.

After having her travel papers stolen to research in India, Dr. Persephone ‘Perse’ Teixeira succumbs to living in her sister’s basement and working in retail. Just as she’s about ready to hit rock bottom, Perse is offered an opportunity to teach anthropology and history at Chesapeake Bay University. Perse is thrilled; now her only worry is managing her anxiety. However, that changes once she meets a science professor, Dr. Stefanie ‘Stef’ Blake.

Stef is cute, quick-witted, and a touch neurotic. She’s also very interested in dating Perse. When Perse declines her romantic advances because it is imperative that she focuses on her new job, Stef explains she has a relationship system that consists of six levels, which will ensure perfect compatibility before marriage. It’s casual, slow, and, really, what are the odds of getting to level six?

Perse is amused, yet intrigued by Stef’s analytical approach, and agrees to go out with her. But logic only goes so far and when feelings start to grow, Perse must contend with her anxiety issues, because history has taught her nothing good comes out of falling in love.

Are Perse and Stef compatible enough to get through the levels? Will Perse’s past cause her to run before they can find out? Or did Stef create the perfect system for happily ever after?


Sweet Surprise

by Jenny Frame

Flora Buchanan doesn’t think a relationship is an option. A variety of mental health issues—anxiety, OCD, and PTSD—make it seem impossible to find love. Instead, she seeks joy in the one thing that is safe and ordered: her sweetshop in Glasgow.

Mack Sharkey is ready to start a new life after being released from jail. As part of the infamous Sharkey family, she took care of business on the edge of the law for the once criminal, and now legitimate, empire. After being sentenced to jail time her cousin should have shared, she’s promised a quiet life running her dream barbershop.

Flora and Mack are bound together by a night that changed their lives two years before and never thought they’d ever see each other again. But when Mack opens up her barbershop right next to Flora’s sweetshop, their connection comes roaring back.

Content advisory: This book contains instances of violence against women.


Seneca Falls

by Jesse J Thoma

Seneca King is alone in life, the pain of her past her only companion. The idyllic confines of the women’s college Seneca attends prove more isolating than she imagined possible, and her scars, emotional and physical, deter everyone from getting close to her. Until she meets Dylan Walker. Dylan, a college senior, sees more to Seneca than the fragile body and tortured soul. Dylan is looking for something real in her life, not the unattainable expectations of her family, or the superficial friendships she thought would last a lifetime. There is nothing more real than Seneca King. Carefully, slowly, they begin a delicate courtship, helping each other learn the meaning of true love. But when her dark past once again steps out of the shadows, Seneca is dragged back into the world that broke her in the first place. Can Dylan and Seneca stand together to vanquish the past once and for all, or this time, will it end up breaking them both?


No Experience Required

by Kimberly Cooper Griffin

Izzy Treadway has a reputation as a love guru. She knows exactly what ignites the spark for others, but she has no desire to find love herself. You see, Izzy’s bipolar and not only fears being seen as damaged goods but is terrified that if anything goes wrong, it might just send her back to the hospital. Nevertheless, her best friend decides Izzy’s the perfect person to write The Idiot’s Guide to Love.

While researching and writing the book, Izzy finds herself falling for Jane Mendoza, the new intern at work. Everything’s perfect until Izzy tells her she’s bipolar and Jane leaves her, claiming the dreaded “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Izzy’s devastated, but heartbreak teaches her she’s stronger than she gives herself credit for. As Izzy and Jane learn their pasts don’t define their future, they’ll need to get out of their own way to discover love can overcome any obstacle.


The Long Way Home

by Roslyn Bane

Major Samantha Davies is a warrior. After being abandoned by her father and raised in a foster home, she has made the Marine Corps her life. As a helicopter pilot she has excelled under the demands of her career. Always a fierce competitor, she now faces her toughest challenge…living with a disability that threatens her career and dealing with survivor’s guilt that threatens her emotional stability.

Lieutenant Commander Kristine Matthews is a highly skilled, combat experienced Navy Surgeon well accustomed to handling the worst destruction war can do to a person.

One fateful afternoon their paths cross and their lives change forever.
In a world where independence and strength are as valued as teamwork, and these two women struggle through rehabilitation, will they heal enough to live again and find happiness? Or will their shared experience destroy them?



by Genevieve McCluer

How does a centuries-old vampire suffering from severe PTSD take her parrot to the vet? With Olivia’s intense fear of humans, what sounds like the start of a joke is instead the start of therapy. Only when she has help can her parrot receive his.

Veterinarian Mia Sun knows all about being damaged, and she and Olivia slowly build a friendship that develops into something a lot more intriguing. When a figure from Olivia’s past surfaces, hell-bent on ruining any happiness she’s managing to find, Olivia must fight back if she wants to forge a new life with Mia. Will she be strong enough to face her own worst fears for love?


Happy reading!

Miranda, Em, & TB

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About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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