Hi everyone! I’m writing this post on the eve of Biden being announced as President, and even though I’m across the Atlantic in Scotland, I’m definitely letting out a sigh of relief! Sapphic Recommendations is a series that I really love doing on my blog, but that I kinda accidentally put on the back-burner. Back in August I posted one with a few Autumnal reads that I love and so, now that it’s November, I thought I’d do some Wintery ones. This will be a mixture of books that I associate with Winter – i.e. high fantasy and historical fiction – and some Christmassy books too, so that there’s a little something for everyone! A quick disclaimer – I haven’t read all these books yet but for those I haven’t, I have heard promising things! Without further ado, here are the books!
Starting off with the high fantasy, and one that I think is quite apt, what with the frozen setting, is The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett! The Winter Duke follows Ekata, who dreams of leaving behind her murderous family after her brother is named heir. However, a magical and mysterious curse puts all her family, bar her, asleep. So, Ekata must take her brother’s title, and her brother’s wife, and rule in his stead, while also trying to figure out how to lift the curse. This is one I’ve been super excited about reading, and I have an ebook copy waiting for me, thankfully! It’s a 2020 release and I’ve heard amazing things, specifically about the romance in this one!
Next is another fantasy book with a perfect wintery setting – Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson! Robbergirl follows Helvig, who was raised by her thief father to steal whatever she wanted. One day, her and her men ambush a girl with pale hair and a raven on her shoulder – a witch. Helvig quickly learns that the witch, Gerda, plans to find the Snow Queen and kill her, and although most would not believe in the tale of the Snow Queen that is told to children, Helvig decides to join her on her journey, whilst dealing with her own past at the same time. I’ve heard great things about S.T. Gibson’s writing, and I’m super excited for their next novel, A Dowry of Blood, so I’m definitely going to try and get my hands on this one to read during the Christmas period!
This next book is a great mix of fantasy and historical fiction that I know will appeal to so many of you! Mary, Everything follows Courtney who is spending her Summer working in her university’s archives where she becomes obsessed with a yearbook from the 1920s in which there are so many strangely familiar faces. Courtneyends up having a chance encounter with a girl dressed in extremely old-fashioned clothes – Sadie – which turns her world upside down. Sadie, after returning to 1921 with Courtney in tow is racing against the clock to save her best friend alongside a rather unusual group of allies, but a psychopathic stalker is slowly closing in on them…. This one sounds like a perfect bridge between the spooky season and the winter season and I for one can’t wait to dive into it – I’ve been dying to read about sapphic flappers for years!!
The Mercies returns to a chillier setting as it is set in Vardø, Norway in 1617, where after a freak storm killed all the men, the women live alone, trying to survive. Three years after the storm, Absalom Cornet arrives on the island from Scotland, alongside his Norwegian wife, Ursa. Absalom sees the island, bereft of men, as being untouched by God and full of evil, and so seeks to rid Vardø of sin and witchcraft. This is a gorgeous, sapphic, feminist historical fiction novel based on real events that I’m really looking forward to reading after hearing so many glowing reviews, and I think the chilly, Northern setting is perfect to cosy up with a nice mug of hot chocolate!
I’m sure that you’re all very familiar with the next book as it is, quite literally, a classic! Carol follows sales assistant and aspiring photographer, Therese who, while working one day is approached by a beautiful older woman who is going through a divorce and custody battle – Carol Aird. Therese is stuck in a job she hates and in a relationship with a man she doesn’t love, and finds herself slowly being drawn into Carol’s world. This is a beautiful romance that is close to my heart, as it was one of the first sapphic books I ever read! The 1950s, wintery New York setting is perfect for this time of year and reading the book is a great excuse to rewatch the film!
The final historical fiction book in this list is another one I’m sure you’re all familiar with, as it is a staple of lesbian literature! Tipping the Velvet follows Nan King, who starts off the story as an Oyster Girl in Whitstable and falls in love with showgirl Kitty Butler, after seeing her perform onstage dressed as a man. When Kitty moves to London for work, Nan follows her, and also becomes part of Kitty’s act. But things in the big city aren’t always as great as they seem. I read this a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it! The Victorian London setting is so atmospheric and the book feels so much bigger than its 400-odd pages, in a good way! Although I only read this recently, I will be picking up another Sarah Waters book this Winter, for sure!
Now onto one of my favourite part of this post – the romance books! I’m going to start off with a couple less Christmassy ones that are still Wintery, for those of you who either don’t celebrate Christmas, or simply aren’t in the mood for that! Fearless follows newly out mum, Lana who hasn’t played the violin in years, and is now looking after her clarinet whiz daughter, Robin. When her daughter’s orchestra teacher encourages her to pick up the instrument once more, Lana rediscovers her love of music and also might be falling in love with the butch orchestra teacher herself! I really enjoyed Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman so I’m looking forward to this cute sapphic wintery novella and I’m sure it’s gonna be just as sweet and fluffy!
This next one is also slightly less Christmas focused than the others, but some of it does take place over Christmas. It’s also a November new release that’s out really soon so now is the perfect time to preorder it! Written in the Stars follows Darcy, a sceptic, whose brother sets her up on a blind date with Elle, a Twitter astrologer. Darcy, desperate for no more blind dates, lies to her brother and tells him that the date went really well. Darcy begs Elle to play along, but only until New Years Eve when they can call their fake relationship off, but in the meantime, they must help each other get through Christmas with overbearing family members. However, despite their fake relationship, real feelings begin to take hold! I’m soooo excited for this sapphic Pride and Prejudice retelling, especially since I’m really into astrology myself! This is one of my most anticipated books of the year and I can’t wait to read it!
Now for the Christmassy romance books! Starting off with a sweet, cheesy, very Hallmark-esque novella! Mangoes & Mistletoe follows Kiskeya, who left the Dominican Republic to come to Scotland, determined to win the Holiday Baking Challenge and prove to everyone back home that she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya gets paired up with Sully, who after years of being her family’s carer, wants to finally go back to her love of baking. The two get paired together and are both determined to win, but only if they can get past the hatred they have of each other! I’ve heard really great things about this novella and, even though I’m not the biggest fan of enemies to lovers, I’m so intrigued by it!
The Holiday Detour is one that I was lucky enough to receive and ARC of and, although it wasn’t my favourite, I know that it’ll be right up someone else’s street! The book follows Dana who has just quit her job and is rushing home to see her grandmother for Christmas. Partway through her drive, however, her car breaks down and so she takes up nonbinary pig farmer Charlie’s offer of a lift, and things kick off from there! This book has nonbinary rep and Jewish rep and has the forced proximity and fake dating tropes, both of which I really love! This is slightly less on the Christmassy side but is still a really fun, seasonal book!
Wrapped Up in You is actually a sequel to Learning Curves, and although the latter is very Christmassy, if you liked that one, then the sequel is even more Christmassy! I won’t spoil the plot of the first one, since this is a sequel, but I will say that the rep in Learning Curves is really great – we have fat rep, pan rep, ace rep, adhd rep and Puerto Rican rep! It’s a really cute, slow burn friends to lovers novella and there are some really cute snowed in the library scenes that are really great, and I’m excited to pick up the sequel soon!
I’m super excited to read this next one, as I’ve read two novellas by this author this year already, and really enjoyed them! Her Christmas Carole follows two teens in 1995, Jo and Carole, who have fallen completely in love, but after circumstances change, the two end up in opposite parts of the country and slowly drift apart. However, they do see each other once a year, on Christmas day, but there is still some distance between them. Twenty-five years later and they’ve grown up, but can they rekindle the true love they once had? I love friends to lovers books and I can’t wait to pick this one up! It’s sounds like it’s going to be beautiful and emotional and I have my fingers crossed for a cute happy ending!
This next one also reminds me of Hallmark Christmas movies and it sounds like it’s full of family drama so I’m also so excited to read this one! The Christmas Ball follows Alice, who is dreading having to go to the Christmas party that, thankfully, only happens once every ten years. The party means that Alice has to act straight around her family and dance with men, but with her family paying her tuition fees, Alice can’t exactly say no. Unexpectedly, her rehearsal partner that she’ll be spending a month with, happens to be the same one from ten years ago – the first girl she ever fell for, and her feelings haven’t changed! I’m completely sold by the fact that it’s slow burn, secret relationship, friends-to-lovers with mutual pining and the only one bed trope – I literally could not ask for more in a book!
I know I’ve said it a lot about other books on this list, but this one is almost literally about Hallmark movies! The Holiday Treatment follows Holly, a story editor and writer for Wifetime Network, particularly their cheesy holiday movie series, Christmas in Evermore. She chose the job specifically because she wanted a gay, cheesy Christmas movie and, after being shot down several times, her dream looks slightly more realistic when Meredith enters her department. Holly and Meredith had a brief fling whilst on holiday, but due to company policy they decided to keep things strictly professional, vowing to pitch the network’s first sapphic Christmas movie! This synopsis immediately has me thinking of Kristen Stewart’s Christmas movie that’s coming up and it’s making me even more excited for December to be here! The Holiday Treatment is released on the 10th of November, so get preordering!!
Finally, I decided to include a collection of three short stories which would be great for someone new to the romance genre who just wants a little taster! This is also, coincidentally, one of my most anticipated books for the end of 2020, as it is released December 15th! All I Want for Christmas includes three short stories – the first follows Sasha, who’s been talking up her non-existent girlfriend for months, but when her parents invite said girlfriend over for Christmas, Sasha has to figure out how to work around her dilemma! The second story follows Hannah who owns a pop-up shop at her local Christmas market, and Toby, the police officer (ACAB but anyway…) who keeps finding herself being pushed into Hannah’s path. Finally, we follow Mira whose bar is a great spot for Christmas parties, but Mira herself hates the holiday. Courtney, who loves Christmas, books her work party at the bar, despite clashes with the owner over the planning, but after a freak storm snows them in will their feelings about each other change? I really enjoy Georgia Beers’ writing so I can’t wait to read her short story, and I’m super intrigued by the other two authors’ works too! This sounds like it has a little something for everyone and is great if you want a bit of variety but don’t want to be bogged down by reading several Christmassy books!
I hope this list showed you some books you may not have heard of and are excited to pick up! If you have any other recommendations for Wintery sapphic books that you love, I’d love to hear them! Stay safe!