Lesbian Romance–What’s Hot and Selling?

There are more and more books being published in lesbian fiction. So, here at Ylva, we thought it was time to take a closer look at what’s hot and selling at the moment.

It will come as no surprise that in mainstream, m/m, and lesbian fiction—wherever you look—romance is THE most popular and best-selling genre all over the world. Readers love happy endings, and most of them want a happily ever after. Beyond that, some subgenres of lesbian romance are doing better than others, and some tropes are more sought-after than others. So, let’s have a look at the trends in lesbian romance:

Lesbian Contemporary Romance is the Winner

Contemporary romance is the largest subgenre and I bet you all knew that. But even here, within that subgenre of lesbian romance, some tropes and settings are more successful than others.

Is there a lesbian doctor in the house?

Ylva covers of medical romances

Lesbian medical romances fly off the shelves. There’s just something about lady doctors… Mix them with cops, and you have a ton of happy readers out there. What’s important in the medical romance subgenre is to get your research right. You can get away with describing not a lot of medical stuff. But whatever you describe and show has to be accurate.

And we have the books to prove this theory. Ylva bestsellers in this subgenre of lesbian romance are: Falling Hard by Jae, L.A. Metro by RJ Nolan, and Between the Lines by KD Williamson.

The kids are all right – especially for book sales

Ylva covers of novels about kids

Another trope that readers love are families, aka two women and at least one kid. Yes, some readers stay as far away as possible from those kind of lesbian books, but a lot of readers can’t get enough of them. Several years ago you had a hard time finding even one lesbian romance with that trope; nowadays you see it more and more often. What’s important is getting the kids right. There is nothing more annoying than a six-year-old acting—and talking—like a seventeen-year-old and vice versa.

Two Ylva bestsellers that prove having kids in lesbian fiction are winners are: All the little Moments by G Benson and Popcorn Love by KL Hughes.

Having a laugh with your lesbian romances

Ylva covers of romcoms

Last but not least, lesbian romcoms are so popular right now. It seems that the more real life (aka politics) sucks all the energy out of everyone, the more people are looking for a funny read. Be it fake marriage, enemies to lovers, or chick lit, all of those tropes are well loved by readers who want some escapism.

Ylva books that show reads love a laugh include Just my Luck by Andrea Bramhall, You’re Fired by Shaya Crabtree and Scissor Link by Georgette Kaplan.

No sex please, just the sweet, sweet kisses

Did you know that there is name for romances without sex? “Proper Romances” or “Sweet Romances” are also a huge market, and they prove there don’t have to be sex scenes in romances to make them successful. Some readers are actually happy about books without them.

I’ll see your mainstream genre, and raise you some lesbians

Fun fact: Every genre you can think has a romance subgenre equivalent. We’ll cover them in detail in a loose series of blog posts over the coming months, be they Lesbian Historical Romance, Lesbian Romantic Suspense, Lesbian Paranormal Romance, Lesbian Science Fiction Romance, Lesbian Fantasy Romance, Lesbian Time Travel Romance, Lesbian Multicultural Romance, and last but not least, Lesbian Erotic Romance.

To sum it up, the cool thing is that the variety of lesbian romance novels is endless. There are so many possibilities out there, and the greater the variety, the better.

What kind of books are your favorites in lesbian romance?

Astrid Ohletz is CEO of Ylva Publishing. Being able to publish books where subtext is maintext is a dream come true for Astrid. In her free time, she writes stories under the pseudonym Emma Weimann.

Share this Post!

About the Author : Astrid Ohletz


  1. Bitterblue September 26, 2017 at 22:26 - Reply

    Interesting to see what’s selling.

    Do you have any examples from the “No sex please” category? Other than Something in the Wine, which I’ve read. What about fake marriage (or dating)?

    • Astrid Ohletz September 27, 2017 at 08:59 - Reply

      I can’t think of any “no sex please” books in the romance category, other than Something in the Wine. There are some with “fade to black” scenes, though. The “no sex please” category is huge with hetero romances. I should have stated that more clearly.

      Regarding fake marriage or dating: Next week we’ll publish “Who’d Have Thought” by G Benson; it’s a fake marriage romcom. And Jae is writing one right now, to be published next year. Plus, there is another one coming in March 2018, which we’ll have to announce yet.

      I read a ton of fan fiction, covering fake dating and fake marriage. It is a trope that many love. Including myself.

      • Bitterblue September 27, 2017 at 16:17 - Reply

        Ah yes, hetero romances. Funny, I don’t want that at all in the few f/m romances I read.

        Thank you, I’ll keep an eye out for those upcoming fake dating stories.

  2. Cristina September 27, 2017 at 15:04 - Reply

    I read the sample for “Who’d Have Thought” by G Benson on Ylva’s site and, I just had to chime in to say, I think G Benson will strike gold with this book. The excellent character work witnessed in just the sample alone is reason enough to think the book will explore the Fake Dating/Fake Marriage trope in a refreshing and engaging way.

    Most specifically, I love, love, love that one of the main characters–nurse Hayden Pérez–has a wicked sense of humor (and a cat named Frank that is sure to steal scenes.) Hayden’s humor–which, thankfully, doesn’t feel forced or spastic or too narrow–makes her personality widely different from neurosurgeon Samantha Thomson’s personality while, and this is important, still portraying Hayden as someone who is competent at her job (her finances, not so much, lol). Samantha has those icy walls you desperately want Hayden to break down with all the power of an undead dragon’s bright blue flame. Hayden’s humor, written the way G Benson has done (so far just witnessed in the sample), gives much traction toward making readers root for Hayden: she’s an underdog with some hangups, including ones you can’t wait to see challenged by Samantha. You have an inkling that Hayden will learn some important things about herself while she engages more with Samantha, and vice versa, as the story progresses. I laughed several times while reading the sample. Even the side characters’s humor was boss.

    But, the thing that really made me feel I was dealing with a great writer: Samantha is introduced through the eyes (opinions, gossip, mutterings, lol) of several characters before we even meet her. So, the reader is afforded space to develop bias and anticipation about Samantha that the reader will want to confirm/overcome–it totally makes you want to meet Samantha asap! You’re dying to know if Samantha is anything like she’s described through the grapevine and, if not, the ways that she is not like the expectations set up through that grapevine. G Benson didn’t disappoint when I finally met Samantha. And, thank the writer gods, it’s not a melodramatic moment but instead one that gives you second-hand embarrassment for Hayden and clues you into one side of Samantha. Still, you immediately get the feeling Samantha is not just an Ice Queen for the sake of story–of the convenience the Ice Queen trope supplies one half of the love interest within the Fake Dating/Fake Marriage trope–you just know there’s a history there with Samantha and, for the life of me, G Benson made me very desperate to know what makes Samantha tick (besides being a brilliant doctor, although, yeah, that’s definitely a plus) and to discover why she–a woman with her skills and intellect–needs a marriage of convenience in the first place. Speaking of which, G Benson makes you desperately want to know why Samantha is game for a fake marriage by making Hayden probe for the answer several times while talking to Samantha, and, get this, by withholding the answer in a manner that doesn’t make you angry–but does make you just as frustrated as Hayden–and that escapes making you dismiss the information withholding as being too contrived. Also, Hayden takes jabs at the whole arrangement situation in her internal monologues too…because that’s totally what you’re doing at that exact moment as a reader…which helps you buy into a setup where you’re deliberately kept from information you’re dying to know.

    Just like Hayden, I can’t wait to see how Samantha deals with Frank the cat, let alone living with Hayden in the fake marriage, and find out why there’s the need for a fake marriage on Samantha’s part. And, I need to find out how Luce reacts to Hayden and Samantha’s “fake” relationship, like stat. Loved the texts Luce sends Hayden when Luce sees Hayden leave with Samantha. Also great: Luce’s non-binary diversity rep.

    Let me sum all that up by saying the sample for “Who’d Have Thought” truly won me over to needing the actual book.

    On the topic of the article… in terms of what’s hot… from a personal standpoint as simply a reader… you probably gleaned from above that I love romances laced with humor (doesn’t have to be a rom-com novel, but even a sprinkling of humor from characters or situations in any genre goes a long way) especially if the characters have occupations that, at first glance, don’t seem to meld with that type of personality–and also if they’re a little bit angsty or skeptical or cynical or grumpy but not to an off-putting degree (unless the author does some stellar character work to make uncomfortable characters three dimensional and capable of growth). I don’t need characters to be the masters of their domain or to be super rich; I just need them to have zest for something in their lives, such as a love for helping others, or have goals I can identify with besides just falling in love that make them active and engaging within their own stories.

    In terms of categories: Contemporary is tops with me; I dig stories about chefs, doctors, nerds, gamers, artists, cops, nurses, midwives, teachers, performers, students, dentists, urban professionals, detectives, programmers, really the whole gamut. Authors get kudos if it’s an interesting occupation I know little-to-zilch about within a story that is well written. Just make the occupation woven into the story organically and have some weight to the plot or character growth, like story lines where two professionals are competing for the same job/client/story/etc whilst falling in love with each other. Authors get golden kudos if their novels explore an under-repped life/orientation or a situation I seldom come across in novels. I know, sometime soon, I will pick up Jae’s “Perfect Rhythm.” I have yet to come across a novel or tv show that has done ace rep true justice. One with writers that know there are different expressions of being ace and being ace within a relationship. That it’s a sexual orientation that absolutely deserves true rep in the media we consume, especially ace rep that is not all angst or brushed off to the sidelines. Absolutely no burying your ace characters.

    Coming in hot on the heels of Contemporary are my other favorites: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Science Fiction and Paranormal. If it’s one of the staple character types–vampires, werewolves/other shape shifters, ghosts, aliens, witches, investigators/detectives, bounty hunters–then the author should to do something different with the hefty, ultra-familiar lore surrounding those types of characters. I want to be awed by your world-building and your story, but I truly need to love your characters or find something interesting about them or their situations within the world you create. Be totally immersed. I’ll need the world-building to be fascinating and have something different from the norm, almost a character itself without weighing down the story or eclipsing the actual characters. I’m a reader who loves weighty and expansive Scifi like the “Dune” series (and who, full disclosure, wished the Bene Gesserit women in that series included lesbian or bi people, but that’s a post for another day). I’ll take special delight in books by authors who deliver the Scifi genre goods in stories populated with LGBTQIA and hetero characters that captivate.

    Along the reasoning of wanting the familiar-but-also new, I’m itching to check out Jae’s vampire series. I’ve watched numerous movies/shows and read numerous books about vampires that procure their supply of blood from blood banks/animals/synthetic blends to curb their urges to feed off humans, but, in my reading experience, I have yet to encounter one who goes to AA meetings to curb that urge, whilst living with the other methods/or not, and who encounters a love interest who is more-than-meets-the-eye at those meetings. I’m also interested in Ylva’s Superheroine collection. I’m a Marvel/DC fanatic (and also an amine superhero egghead). Most specifically the X-Men of Marvel’s universe. I would love to read novels that highlight LGBTQIA experiences and the issues that arise from being super powered and LGBTQIA. Like, if the movie Hancock actually starred lesbians and had a story that actually meant something.

    You need to be an good writer to get me to dive into a Historical Romance. It’s simply not my go-to category. I judge those with an extremely critical lens; the emotions must be on point, especially if I’m not eager for the time period. Immerse me in the time period through the characters and not just through the setting (the more unfamiliar the time period or setting, the more I must be floored by your characters–and right away). It’s so easy for historical romances to become melodramatic or stuck on setting and then bore the reader. I scour for authentic details and simultaneously do not wish to be mired down by those details, especially if you set a romance in any Russian historical time period (the Russian Studies major in me will cringe if things are amiss or cliche). If you hit up historical England or France, you gotta do something fresh because everyone and their mother has written ones set in those two countries. Ditto for anything bordering on the lesbian version of the Outlander premise. I’m sure the following statement will mean I’m officially morphing into a Jae fangirl because, from reading the sample on Ylva’s site, it looks like “Backwards to Oregon” will deliver on the lesbian historical/western frontier lit front. (I’m going to age myself here, but the basic story premise tickles that spot in my memory banks that recalls hours spent playing the game “Oregon Trail” on an actual Apple II computer. And, yes, that game could have benefited from having a women disguised as men.)

    It’s great to read novels coming from the “what’s hot now” LGBTQIA trends because it means authors are giving readers of LGBTQIA fiction the stories they crave, not to mention, the stories that are needed in the market overall to rep many different walks of life. But, for me, any novel that wants to attract my attention must have characters who engage me on a visceral, emotional level as well as ones whose lives and situations spark the intellect too. Nail the characters and their emotions, actions, dialogues, interactions, and motivations. Do that and you really won’t need to hit a “hot category” for me to come along for the ride. I will trust in the journey you’re taking me on if I can trust in your characters to deliver authentic, life and love affirming feels.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.