Welcome to week 21 of the 2022 IHS Sapphic 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 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 email@example.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 paired Loss / Grieving with Memorial Day.
Below you’ll find reading suggestions. Better yet, 7 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 Loss / Grief week: May 23 through May 27
by Lucy Bexley
$5.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
Fun is the one thing Elsie Webb takes seriously. Though she’d be having a lot more of it if Haelstrom Media paid her enough to actually get out of debt. She’s determined to hold out on contract negotiations for her kids’ television show Fangley Heights until she gets what she deserves. There’s only one problem, the head of the network just died and left her future more uncertain than ever.
Forty-eight hours and one funeral–that’s all Jones Haelstrom has to get through before she can return to her life in LA that’s as ordered and sparse as an IKEA showroom. When she steps in as CEO of her father’s media company, Elsie Webb is her first problem to deal with. Elsie ends up challenging Jones in ways she never could have predicted, starting with an attraction neither can avoid.
As their attraction teeters on the edge of something more both agree to keep it casual. A no-strings agreement and disclosure to HR should be enough to keep things between Jones and Elsie from getting tangled, right?
by Miranda MacLeod
$5.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
After tragedy strikes, can love blossom out of grief?
As an emergency room doctor, 41-year-old Hadley Moore has spent a decade perfecting the art of shutting down her emotions to focus on saving lives. But when her younger sister and brother-in-law die tragically, the pain of loss is too great to ignore. Reeling from guilt over letting her family take a back seat to her career, Hadley seizes the opportunity to make things right by returning to her hometown to raise the infant son her sister left behind.
At 29, Tyne Briggs knows firsthand how hard it is to grow up without a loving family. After being saved from a hostile foster home as a queer pre-teen, the young artist dotes on her large and boisterous adoptive family. When she loses her brother and sister-in-law in a car accident, her top priority is to make sure her baby nephew has the happy childhood she was denied.
Shared grief and mutual attraction bring the two women together, where they find solace and passion in equal measure. But they are soon at odds when each decides she is the best choice to give baby Owen a permanent home. Without a will to guide them, and with the two aunts unable to reach a compromise, a lengthy custody battle looms.
Cooperation and a common purpose could lead to true love and the creation of a new family together, but not if impulsive decisions and unsavory lawyers tear them apart first.
by Caren J. Werlinger
Everything can change in a second and nothing is ever the same.
Emily had to rebuild her life… her sense of self. How far would she go to hold onto a dream?
Emily Warner moves to Vermont hoping for a fresh start. Anything to forget the past four years. She didn’t plan on the past finding her. And she didn’t plan on Ann Hight. Ann helps Emily through a crisis, and re-awakens emotions Emily thought she would never experience again. For Ann, what she begins to feel for Emily promises everything she never knew she needed. Just when it seems they’ve found the love they’ve yearned for, fate conspires to tear them apart. Even if they can somehow hang on despite all the obstacles thrown at them, Emily still has to face the biggest obstacle of all – herself.
by Alysia D. Evans
$2.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
It had only taken Lucy two weeks to fall in love with Jaz. She had shown Lucy what love truly was and saved her from an abusive husband. But living away from her home town is making Lucy feel insecure. She needs more of Jaz’s time and attention to help her find a way through her new life.
But Jaz is merrily enjoying her days, busy working, helping out her family and coming home to the love of her life. Jaz doesn’t realise that she and Lucy have problems, and through her actions is repeatedly letting Lucy down. Causing their relationship to fall from wonder to despair.
Will the two of them be able to reconcile and re-align their lives to take on the challenges the future may bring.
by Nicole Higginbotham-Hogue
After a devastating health issue, Macy loses her best friend Henry and finds out that he left the custody of his daughter in her hands. Without any experience, Macy instantly becomes a mother to three-year-old Ally and attempts to put back the pieces in the little one’s life. Just when she thinks that she is getting everything under control, she meets her new supervisor, Lynn. Within one meeting with the new woman, the two clash, and to make matters worse, Macy finds out that the woman is a member of her support group. Macy does her best to not mix business with pleasure, but as time goes by, she realizes that she might have a lot more in common with Lynn than she had originally thought.
by Callie Hall
$4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
A storm brought them together, but their grief could just as easily tear them apart.
Four years ago, Beth had it all. She had a loving wife, a beautiful home, and the promise of a child to call their own. However, after a devastating loss, Beth’s ex walked out on her, leaving Beth to pick up the pieces of their broken family.
Now, at forty years old, Beth spends her days walking the empty halls of a house that no longer feels like home. Comfortable in her solitude, Beth’s night is interrupted when a woman shows up on her doorstep asking for shelter from the cold.
Stranded and drenched by the pouring rain, 28-year-old Abby’s night has gone from bad to worse. From her cheating ex to a fallen tree that’s blocked her path, Abby’s had it with the rest of the world. The company could be also better, but with nowhere else to go, Abby must depend on the kindness of a stranger that, while rough around the edges, can be quite warm if given the chance.
by Lindsey Pennington
$4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)
Award-winning photographer Georgia Quinn lost her family years ago for loving the wrong person. A woman who became her everything without them in her life. After her passing, Georgia’s lost. Now she is back in Minnesota to help her mom through cancer treatments, giving her something to focus on. Because her camera has lost all its appeal.
Staying at her family’s lake house should be relaxing, but her mom isn’t exactly a good patient and her sister is avoiding her. Add to that, her mom demands she hide that she’s gay, something she hasn’t done since leaving them behind. Making getting out of the house a priority, her walks on the beach with her dog a lifeline. Running into the daughter of her mom’s best friend gave her something to look forward to.
Her silly teenage crush is all grown up and still oblivious to how Georgia sees her. Which is fine, because Georgia’s not over her wife. What she needs is a friend, and Olivia Janes is someone she can talk to when her family won’t. In return, Georgia pushes Liv to take her first tentative steps into the dating world after her divorce.
But what happens when Georgia starts to see Liv as more than a friend? Will her family send her away again, this time for good? Is she willing to risk her heart that is just starting to heal?
Keep scrolling for more suggestions!
by G Benson
A successful anaesthetist, Anna is focused on herself, her career, and her girlfriend. Everything changes abruptly when her brother’s and sister-in-law’s deaths devastate her and her family. Left responsible for her young niece and nephew, Anna finds herself dumped and alone in Melbourne, a city she doesn’t even like. She tries to navigate the shock of looking after two children battling with their grief while managing her own.
Filled with self-doubt, Anna feels as if she’s making a mess of the entire thing, especially when she collides with a long-legged stranger. Anna barely has time to brush her teeth in the morning, let alone to date a woman—least of all one who has no idea about the two kids under her care.
Just when Anna finally starts to feel as if she’s getting some control of the situation, the biggest fight begins and Anna really has to step up once and for all.
by Amanda Radley
Romance is in the air on this detour to love.
High-flying executive Celia Scott is on her way to Tokyo to accept a prestigious award heavy with emotional baggage. She’ll make the trip, but she doesn’t have to like it, and she certainly doesn’t have to make nice with a stranger on a plane.
Artist Lily Andersen is excited to finally meet her online crush, the only person in the world who truly gets her. She just needs to survive the eleven-hour flight from London to Japan with a testy seatmate who by turns annoys and fascinates her.
Fate, upgrades, and a troupe of travelling clowns bring them together for a journey memorable for all the wrong reasons. Not only do they have nothing in common, they really can’t stand each other. But people are not always as they seem, and Celia and Lily are about to realise, there’s more than one path to love.
by Anna Larner
Newly appointed art curator Molly Goode is committed to diversifying her museum’s collection. When Georgina Wright, the museum’s aloof benefactor, asks for Molly’s help in identifying the provenance of a 19th century portrait of social activist Josephine Brancaster, Molly welcomes the opportunity, even if it means spending time with the standoffish financier. But passions soon flare as the women uncover the heartbreaking story of doomed lesbian love behind the watercolor painted by Josephine’s lover, Edith Hewitt.
As their love blossoms, Molly is determined to display Edith’s portrait of Josephine and to tell their story in the museum, but she needs the influential Georgina to help convince the board. When an unforeseen twist in the painting’s provenance forces Georgina to confront her own painful past, will history repeat itself, or can Molly and Georgina’s love prevail?
by Scarlett Knight
Available in Kindle Unlimited
When Leilani finds herself at a major crossroads in her life, she takes a chance by reaching out to her old lover, JC. Although JC still holds a grudge about the way their relationship ended, she agrees to go on a road trip with Leilani. While they travel together, Leilani desperately hopes to repair their friendship. She also secretly hopes to rekindle their old college romance. But the primary reason for the road trip, which is to deliver three sets of boxes as part of honoring her late mother’s last wishes, may be the very thing that ends up tearing the two apart again.
by Gemma Johns
Melissa’s world was shaken when her three children were taken by Child Services. A few suburbs away, a couple were excitedly preparing to become foster parents. Zara and Renee have been busily preparing their home and their lives to become mothers. Despite their preparation, their world is shaken by the arrival of their children. Their first placement, three siblings needing a loving home turn the couple into an instant family. But while the couple are rejoicing their new roles, Melissa is spiralling into depression she fears she’ll never get out of.
As Zara learns more about the children’s background, she is touched by Melissa’s story. In contrast, Renee has grown to become a fiercely protective stay-at-home-mother determined to do everything for the children, with no regard to their birth mother. As Zara’s motivations for foster care shift, the couple find themselves battling with questions such as “Why are we doing this?”, “What is the right thing to do?” and whether their relationship is as secure as they first expected. Could the very thing they thought might bring them even closer together actually tear them apart?
Narrated by three voices—the birth mother, Melissa, and the two foster carers, Renee and Zara, Shaken Worlds is a novel about what it means to be a mother and the way three women view their role for the same three children.
by Clare Lydon
Would you give your first love a second chance?
Justine Thomas and Maddie Kind met at university and were the couple most likely. Everybody said so. That is, until Maddie left without saying goodbye.
Ten years later the pair are reunited at a friend’s funeral, and now Justine can’t shake Maddie from her life. But why is she back? Why did she disappear? And more importantly, is she interested in the whole cake, or just one last slice of Justine?
Strap in for a novel that deals with life’s big topics: love, death & cake. Clare Lydon is the queen of British romantic comedy, and this stellar lesbian romance is guaranteed to give you all the feels.
Quite simply, it’s unputdownable.
by Morgan Lee Miller
Unexpectedly, loss can teach us how to love.
For Eliza Walsh, life is full of risk. She knows a thing or two about pain, and not just from her job as chief resident at the hospital. She’s reeling from a car accident that took the life of the only woman she’s ever loved, and her parents’ betrayal has strained their relationship to the point of nonexistence.
But Blake Navarro enters the picture and challenges Eliza’s cautious way of living. Blake’s everything she isn’t: open, carefree, and a little reckless. When Eliza discovers that Blake, too, is healing from a huge loss, she feels seen, understood, and less alone.
As Eliza and Blake fall for each other, they heal in ways they never expected. But when Eliza’s troubled past catches up with her, it changes everything, and she has to decide if fully opening her heart is worth the risk.
by DJ Fronimos and Elke Lakey
Classy but somewhat naïve, Gweneth Worthington is horrified when she walks in on a drug deal gone bad while searching for her partner. As a witness to the murder of a notorious gang member, Gwen fears for her life and flees Chicago. To the city girl, taking an office job on a remote guest ranch in Texas seems the perfect way to hide out with her new identity. Reality sets in when her feisty boss has Gwen, now going by Nicole, scrubbing toilets and making beds on top of her other duties.
Jesse Garcia struggles with survivor guilt after losing her partner in a skiing accident. Holed up in her mom’s spare room, she barely makes it through each day. The chance to escape Germany and her memories brings her to Texas, where her mother’s friend owns a ranch. Shoveling horse manure in exchange for her room and board forces Jesse outside, and she slowly begins to heal, especially once she bonds with one of the horses.
Still, Jesse is no joy to be around, and Nicole’s life becomes even more challenging when she is forced to room with her. Jesse has this uncanny ability to make her feel foolish, yet Nicole can’t help it, she falls for her. Just when she suspects the feeling may be mutual, a revelation from Jesse’s past shatters that illusion.
Can Jesse make a fresh start in time to stop Nicole from abandoning her cowgirl façade and running back to the city?
by Joy Argento
Artist Carrie Martin is struggling with the probability of profound loss when she meets Hope Garret in a grief support group. Hope is warm and easy to open up to, not to mention beautiful. Hope makes the perfect model for a series of figure paintings, and they build a friendship that helps Carrie find meaning in life again. Carrie is determined to keep things professional though, even if she can’t deny her attraction.
Temptation may prove impossible to resist and Carrie’s heart is on the line when she discovers Hope has secrets of her own. When a past mistake puts everything at risk, can the truth win out and love conquer all?
by Donna K. Ford
Autumn Landers, a beautiful, successful business owner, thought she had life figured out until one little word, cancer, changed everything. When Caroline Cross answers Autumn’s ad for a live-in caregiver, Autumn is instantly drawn to her. But Caroline has suffered her own losses and isn’t about to risk her heart. Autumn knows the odds are against her. But for the first time in her life she is going to do things her way. The first thing on her bucket list? Falling in love.
Autumn and Caroline question the fairness of life, the cruelty of loss, and what it means to love as they navigate the complicated minefield of relationships, grief, and life-altering illness.
by Lois Cloarec Hart
Erin has retreated from the world after the loss of her wife, Gwen, in a hit-and-run accident. Her best friend, Mariel, who is also her late wife’s sister, is the only person she’s interacted with for years. Finally, Erin dips her toes back into the dating pool, only to find that very odd things begin to happen. Mariel’s medium, Zahra, insists that Gwen is trying to reach her with a warning. Erin has no use for psychics, but as the incidents mount, she reluctantly turns to Zahra for help and finds herself swept into a maelstrom of danger and intrigue. Can the love of her life save her? Or will she join Gwen, beyond and begone?
by PJ Trebelhorn
When faced with the loss of everything you hold dear, you run.
After a drunk driver took the lives of her lover and unborn child, that’s exactly what Devon Conway did. Three years later when offered a business opportunity she can’t pass by, she decides it’s finally time to return home—even though she’s far from sure of her welcome.
Katherine Hunter took a different path in the face of loss, throwing herself into her work to fill the emptiness in her heart. She doesn’t have the time to date, even if she wanted to. But then fate drops Devon on her doorstep—literally—and Kat begins to question if the life she has painstakingly rebuilt is really enough.
Despite Devon and Kat’s powerful attraction, the past stands between them—preventing them from taking a chance on the future. Will what is growing between them be enough to convince them that from this moment on, anything is possible, even love?
by Elena Graf
Available in Kindle Unlimited
In this fifth volume of the series, the residents of Hobbs, Maine, are relieved to have gotten through the summer relatively unscathed by the pandemic. Town doctor, Liz Stolz, is warning about a fall surge, but everyone is ready to get back to normal. Liz has agreed to help her friend, architect, Sam McKinnon, build a sound-proof practice room over Erika Bultmann’s garage. As the days grow shorter, Erika is worried about her wife, former opera singer and Episcopal rector, Lucy Bartlett, who walks alone on the beach before dawn. Fortunately, the early Christmas gift is ready before tragedy strikes. In the process of keeping a promise to a friend, Liz antagonizes her wife. Their marriage has been rocky since an impulsive kiss last summer. As the women of Hobbs pull together to help a beloved friend heal from her loss, the dark winter brings tension and realignment to their small community.
Miranda, Em, Faith, and TB
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