This week’s Sapphic Reading Challenge post is all about characters who come out later in life. For the purpuse of this reading challenge, let’s define “later in life” as a character who’s in her 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.
Pick a book in which the protagonist comes out as LGBTQIA at 30+, either because it took them longer to figure out they aren’t straight or because they were struggling to come out to friends and family.
Read up on the rules of the Sapphic Reading Challenge
If you are only discovering the Sapphic Reading Challenge now, the good news is you can still join! It’s a year-long challenge, so it runs until December 31, 2021. Read up on the rules of the Sapphic Reading Challenge and download your PDF so you can keep track of the books you read this year.
15 sapphic books with an LGBT+ character who comes out later in life
I put together a list of 15 books with a protagonist who comes out as LGBT+ later in life. I hope you find at least one you’ll enjoy.
Wrong Number, Right Woman by Jae
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?
Worthy of Love by Quinn Ivins
Nadine Bayani was at the top of her game. The brilliant, ruthless lawyer was in line to be White House chief of staff—until she confessed to campaign finance crimes that cost her party the election.
Now Nadine’s out of prison, broke, hated by millions, and stuck doing a menial retail job in rural Virginia where she barely earns enough to survive.
Bella Clarke has worked at Overstock Oasis since she flunked college. She wants to go back to school, but secretly doubts she’s smart enough. At least she’s not as clueless as her boss, who just accidentally hired the woman responsible for a national scandal.
However, Nadine seems to be nothing like the crook portrayed in the media, and Bella is drawn to her troubled, standoffish co-worker. As they grow closer, Nadine introduces Bella to the delights of Filipino food and opens Bella’s eyes to her own possibilities.
Before long, about the only thing harder to make sense of than Nadine’s past is their powerful chemistry together. Is Bella really falling for a woman who caused so much harm? And even if she is, how can two such different people ever be a match?
Fearless by Shira Glassman
Lana Novak hasn’t played violin in over twenty years, her musical life these days confined to being a devoted band mom to her clarinet whiz daughter Robin.
She didn’t think she could get back into it after this long, but Melanie Feinberg, the outgoing, enthusiastic, and very cute butch orchestra director from Robin’s school, has other ideas.
Wild Things by Karin Kallmaker
Scholar and award-winning author Faith Fitzgerald has every reason to be happy: a wealthy, charming man who adores her and a family cheering her marriage prospects. But from the moment she meets Eric’s sister, Sydney Van Allen, she knows her safe, predictable feelings for him are a shadow of what could be.
Openly lesbian and running for Senator, Sydney can only succeed if she can live down her wild past. That means no liaisons, especially with the achingly alluring woman on her brother’s arm who looks at her with confusion–and desire.
Dare to Love by A.L. Brooks
Investment banker Ash Taylor left her cut-throat world to set up a cool, cutting-edge tattoo studio. Her love life’s been a lot bumpier, though. Ever since a heart-breaking affair with a straight colleague, she’s vowed to steer clear of women unsure of their sexuality.
Talent-agency executive Carmen Lyttleton is straight, career focused, and not prone to distraction from her occasional casual relationships. When her best friend gets a tattoo at Ash’s studio, Carmen finds herself unexpectedly impressed by Ash and her business.
When they accidentally meet again, Carmen is shocked by the sparks between them and the realization that she feels a lot more than just admiration for Ash’s work ethic. It can’t possibly mean what it seems…can it?
The pull between the women is powerful but so are their fears, old baggage, and stubbornness. Can they dare to love?
A Road Through Mountains by Miranda MacLeod
When Cecily Parker volunteers backstage at the Oakwood Theater, the only thing she wants is a few hours of relief from the doldrums of her upper class suburban existence. The last thing she expects is to be reunited with the only person she ever truly loved, a woman she left behind almost twenty years ago.
Rorie Mulloy has built a career as an award winning production designer in Hollywood, but her personal life is anything but a success. When she agrees to design the sets for a community theater production of A Streetcar Named Desire in Connecticut, she has no idea that the woman who broke her heart and ruined her for love will be assigned to her crew.
As the sparks are rekindled between them, these star-crossed lovers just might have a second chance at a life together. But only if they can overcome the ghosts of their past, and survive the evil suburban soccer moms and reality television divas determined to keep them from their happily ever after.
Undertow by Jazzy Mitchell
Maggie Ambrose is a fifty-six-year-old career politician who plans to run for president. To kick off her presidential bid and introduce herself to the masses, she’s writing a revealing memoir.
Her publisher insists she divulge more than her political pedigree to gain the nation’s attention, but Maggie’s not eager to confess the details of her challenging childhood, complex familial relationships, or her failed first marriage.
Will the nation embrace a female lesbian candidate after she opens the door to a painful past?
Love in Action by Frankie Duncan
When Hollywood comes to Scotland, for the filming of a new epic tale of highland romance, the boundaries between reality and fairytale become blurred. It takes a brave heart to keep believing and this romantic comedy challenges you to find out if you too would be brave enough to trust your own heart.
Kat is a force of nature; a free spirited woman who knows how to have fun and never wants to be tied down. Kat, loves life, women, gin and sex although not always in that order.
Jennifer Michaels is an oscar winning American actress, often described as “one of the best actresses of her generation.” At 53, she had led a full career but little is known about her personal life although that has never stopped the rumour factory.
When Jen arrives in Kat’s village she is handed an opportunity, to which she cannot say no. A simple “yes” sets in motion a series of events with an outcome, neither expected.
Breaking Character by Lee Winter
Life has become a farcical mess for icy British A-lister Elizabeth Thornton. America’s most-hated villain stars in a top-rated TV medical drama that she hates. Now, she’s been romantically linked to her perky, new co-star, Summer, due to the young woman’s clumsiness.
As a closeted actress, that’s the last thing Elizabeth needs. If she could just get her dream movie role, life would be so much better. The only problem is that the eccentric French film-maker offering it insists on meeting her “girlfriend”, Summer, first.
Summer Hayes is devastated when her co-star shuns her for accidentally sparking rumors they’re lovers. Now the so-called British Bitch has the audacity to ask Summer to pretend to be her girlfriend to get her a role? Elizabeth doesn’t even like Summer! Oh, how she’d love to tell her no.
And Summer definitely would if it wasn’t for the fact she’s maybe a tiny bit in love with the impossible woman.
The X Ingredient by Roslyn Sinclair
Laurie Holcombe is out of a job, out of luck, and out of time. When a prestigious law firm hires her as an assistant to one of its senior partners, it feels like she might finally get back on her feet. All she has to do is put up with the whims of her infuriatingly icy boss, Diana. How hard could that be?
Diana Parker is Atlanta’s top lawyer and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it. She’s driven, ruthless, demanding, and stuck in a failing marriage. Too bad she can’t run her personal life as well as she runs her ordered office.
When a young assistant shows up with bright blue eyes, a cute Southern accent, and a streak of pink hair, Diana’s sure she’s all wrong for the job. And yet something seems to be pulling her and Laurie Holcombe together, drawing them into a secret, thrilling dance that’s far too dangerous for a boss and employee.
Can they make rules for this powerful attraction, a way to keep each other at arm’s length? But how do you resist the irresistible?
Embracing the Dawn by Jeannie Levig
Jinx Tanner is an ex-con trying to piece together a life on the outside and heal her relationship with her half-sister who hasn’t spoken to her in over twenty-five years. Romantic love is nowhere on her radar. E. J. Bastien is a business executive with her life and heart under control. She has a successful career, a woman in her bed whenever she wants one, and a healthy relationship with her grown children—as long as they don’t find out she’s gay. She has no desire for romantic entanglements.
When these two women awaken after a one-night stand to find their lives inextricably entwined, love has its work cut out for it.
Etched in Shadows by KG MacGregor
For 39-year-old Johnelle Morrissey, the American Dream is a successful career in medical technology, a stately home in historic Charleston, South Carolina, and happy times with the people she loves most—her husband Dwight, their teenage son Ian and her oldest friend Alice Choate. That dream shatters on an airport runway when her plane goes down, leaving her with only clouded memories of her former life.
Devastated by the tragedy, Alice teams with the family to help Johnelle recover. For hours on end Alice shares memories of the moments that formed their friendship over the years, but she holds back one secret—that she’s been in love with Johnelle for as long as she can remember.
Johnelle struggles to reassemble her past—college life, her wedding day and the joys of raising her son. Once her physical injuries heal, her family expects life to go back to the way it was. But the love she must have once felt for Dwight remains deeply shadowed, eclipsed by yearning for a new life…with Alice.
Never Too Late by Julie Blair
What happens when a single night of unexpected passion with a stranger leaves you wanting more?
Twenty years later, Dr. Jamie Hammond thinks she’s put that night far behind her. She’s a successful chiropractor and is about to celebrate a ten-year anniversary with her partner. But instead of reaping the benefits of responsibility and hard work, she finds herself fighting to save her business and relationship as doubt, betrayal, and disappointment tear at the fabric of her life.
Carla Grant is looking for a new challenge after settling her daughter at college. She never imagines that applying for an office manager position will change her life.
As Jamie and Carla work to save Jamie’s business, they will have to examine everything they thought they knew about love, responsibility, and family. Can two women dare to believe that it’s never too late for happily ever after?
Close to Home by Rachel Spangler
When a CPA is forced to hire help for tax season, she resents the presence of her brash, young intern.
The intern only wants to complete the internship so she can chase her dream job in D.C.
Will the CPA’s past and the intern’s future add up to something greater than the sum of their escalating attraction?
Bliss by Fiona Zedde
Bliss Sinclair’s life of dull routine and unhappiness makes her imagination the only place she can find fulfillment. Until she meets Regina, a provocative writer who pulls her out of her head and into a sensuously real world alive with flavors and sensations beyond any she’d ever imagined. This real world is exciting and rich with irresistible pleasures, but Sinclair quickly learns these pleasures are not what they seem.
She discovers that lust can simply be another illusion, and passion without love can poison just as easily as it redeems. To cleanse herself of Regina’s poison, she escapes to Jamaica, the place where she was born, in hopes that the sun and ocean breezes will heal both old and new wounds. But among the brilliant flowers and crystal waters of the island, Sinclair finds ghosts from her past as well as strangers who challenge her very understanding of life and love.
From hidden grottos bubbling with desire to dangerous streets where violence is just a breath away, Sinclair must fight for the love she deserves, fight for herself, and for the life of satisfaction that was meant to be hers all along.
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