This week’s Sapphic Reading Challenge post features books in which the main character is a teacher or a professor.
I know some readers stay away from teacher romances because they assume these books always include a teacher/student romance, but that’s not the case with the books I picked for this category. In most of the books recommended, the romance is between the teacher and a colleague or someone who’s not involved with her professional life at all. If the romance is between the teacher or professor and one of her students, the author handled it in a way that avoids crossing ethical boundaries as much as possible.
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 a character who’s a teacher or a professor
I put together a list of 15 novels featuring a protagonist who’s a teacher or professor. I hope you find at least one you’ll enjoy.
Chemistry Lessons by Jae
Kylie and Regan have been best friends since kindergarten, supporting each other through thick and thin.
While everyone thinks they would be perfect for each other, they insist there’s no chemistry between them—and Regan should know since she’s a chemistry teacher.
To prove it, they agree to a little chemistry experiment: they’ll go on three dates with each other.
So what if their gazes start to linger and accidental touches no longer feel platonic? They chalk it up to the romantic atmosphere—until a friendly good night kiss turns passionate.
Can their friendship go back to the way it was before? Do they even want it to? Or will they risk losing what they have for a chance at love?
The Love Factor by Quinn Ivins
Molly Cook is almost thirty, with dismal career prospects, and has given up on saving the world. It might be the nineties, and everything’s shoulder pads, Doc Martens, and The X-Files, but people won’t budge on gay rights. Molly decides to give a PhD a whirl but finds herself more interested in campus politics…and her strict and sexy statistics professor.
Professor Carmen Vaughn is stuck in small-town Maryland with smarmy blowhards for colleagues and ungrateful students who can’t handle her high standards. She has no intention of coming out, least of all to Molly, a troublemaking grad student who can’t stop picking fights with the conservative faculty.
But when Molly discovers evidence implicating a homophobic colleague in a scandal, Carmen can’t ignore it—even if the subject hits too close to home. As the two women work together to make their case, they grow closer than Carmen ever imagined. But she absolutely refuses to get involved with a student.
The thing is, as the chemistry builds between them, Molly isn’t sure she wants to be a grad student anymore…if she ever did.
Blessed Twice by Lynn Galli
The problem with starting over in another state after losing your partner is that your new friends don’t understand why you can’t just get over it. They never saw how you were together, how much you loved her, how she was your life. They only see a number: three, as in, the number of years since she died. That’s all the evidence they need to begin pressuring you to get back out there again. It doesn’t matter that you’ve told them to back off. No, they feel it is their duty to butt into your life and ambush you with blind dates.
This wasn’t a predicament Briony Gatewood anticipated when she relocated for tenure at a prestigious university. Yet after a year with her new friends, they’ve ceased being merely concerned and moved on to obnoxious. As if being fixed up wasn’t bad enough, the dean at her college just volunteered her to teach a potentially career damaging class. Along for the experimental course is the socially challenged M Desiderius, a fellow professor who won’t ever win a faculty popularity contest. But as they start working together, Briony begins to understand M’s aloofness and is intrigued by the shy, brilliant, passionate woman. Enough so that she’s starting to believe her friends when they say it’s time to move on. And M, as complicated as her past has been and reticent as she seems now, may be the perfect person to help Briony finally heal and love again.
Everything We Never Wanted by Sienna Waters
In the space of five months, Alex Blakely has gone from party-girl traveler who never wanted to settle down, to house-owner and guardian to seven-year-old Libby. The responsibility terrifies her, she never wanted this.
In the course of a year, Kat Stein has gone from happily married second-grade teacher, to divorced, broke and hanging onto her job by a thread. The loss of her perfect life is devastating, she never wanted this.
And when travel-crazed hippy meets disciplined, strait-laced teacher, it’s hate at first sight. Alex and Kat couldn’t be more different, and neither is exactly living her best life. Until a rigged school election, a painful accident in the woods, and the re-appearance of Libby’s mysterious father mean that the two are reluctantly bound together…
Getting everything you ever wanted is hard enough. But getting everything you never wanted? That’s a whole lot trickier…
Leveled by Serena J. Bishop
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?
Art of Magic by KJ
Cath Monroe loves her teaching job, her friends, her family, and her colleagues. They fill her life and her heart. She knows that it’s important to share love with actions and words, but that last one? About the words? That’s a problem. Because when it comes to saying ‘I love you’ to her forever person, Cath discovers that she doesn’t really know anything about love at all.
Then, Rica Diamandis strolls into her life. Rica is all stardust and sexy, and Cath is intrigued. The sudden availability of a romantic blank canvas takes Cath’s breath away. But when her father is taken to hospital with a life-threatening disease, Cath boxes up the romance with Rica, and packs it into the back of her heart. Fortunately, the Universe has other ideas and Cath begins to realise that embracing emotional chaos is actually the art that creates the magic.
Memoir in the Making by Adrian J. Smith
The first day of her junior year in college was supposed to go off without a hitch. But when Ainsley Jacobs sat in her memoir class with a professor she’d never had before, her life took an unexpected turn. She couldn’t get her well-dressed professor, Meredith Frenz, out of her head.
Meredith had lived a lonely yet comfortable life for the past fifteen years, and despite flings here and there, she had no desire to jump head first into a relationship, especially one with her student. Despite all her thwarted efforts, Meredith was determined to keep to herself and push Ainsley away.
Forbidden love is often the most attractive.
Beowulf for Cretins by Ann McMan
English professor and aspiring novelist, Grace Warner spends her days teaching four sections of “Beowulf for Cretins” to bored and disinterested students at one of New England’s “hidden ivy” colleges. Not long after she is dumped by her longtime girlfriend, Grace meets the engaging and mysterious Abbie on a cross-country flight. Sparks fly on and off the plane as the two strangers give in to one night of reckless passion with no strings attached, and no contact information exchanged.
Back home at St. Albans, the college rocks Grace’s world when it announces the appointment of a new president, the first woman in its 165-year history. Cue Abbie—and cue Grace’s collision course with a neurotic dog named Grendel, a fractious rival for tenure, and a woman called Ochre, in what very well might be Grace’s last real shot at happiness.
A Heart to Call Home by Jeannie Levig
Dakota Scott has spent her entire adult life trying to outrun her past, but even the privilege and reputation her family name affords her haven’t helped her forget. Her mother’s mental illness and the memory of the night that haunts her from so long ago won’t release her. When the one woman with the power to set her free shows up, Dakota is drawn to her, but she is a painful reminder of everything Dakota has been trying desperately to escape.
When Jessie Weldon returns to her hometown after thirty years of avoiding it, she knows she has demons to face and a conflicted past to resolve, but she has no idea love awaits her. Can she give her heart to Dakota with the tragic past that lies between them?
Connection by Kim Pritekel
Julie Wilson lives a charmed life as a beloved teacher and aunt in the small town of Woodland. Close to her brother and guardian of two adorable Yorkies, she loves her life, the only negative being ex-boyfriend, Ray who can’t seem to understand the phrase, “We’re done.” Believing that’s her only problem, Julie has no idea what hell awaits her during a normal summer afternoon.
Remmy Foster is the quirky, friendly drifter who has never found roots after a difficult childhood, as well as the difficulties her very special gift brings into her life. Though she may call it exploring, the truth is she’s running from ghosts that haunt her every step.
After a chance meeting with Julie while hitchhiking, Remmy will be thrown head first into darkness she could never have foreseen, regardless of her abilities. As the clock ticks, life and death is on her shoulders to make the right connection.
Dear Taylor by Eija Jimenez
Taylor Phillips was working as a barista in NYC the day the twin towers came crashing down. Seeing her city in shambles, coated in ash, and American lives lost, she enlisted to fight the War on Terror.
Daniella Melo, a Rhode Island American History teacher, challenges her class to write letters to soldiers fighting overseas. With one name left and a student short, Daniella takes it upon herself to write letters to Private Taylor Phillips stationed in Afghanistan.
Over the next two years, the women exchange letters, sharing stories of their daily lives: Daniella trailing after her rambunctious daughter, Jackie, and dealing with overeager seniors planning prom while Taylor trudges through sand and dirt, driving her humvee in cold deserts. Their friendship continues to grow until it becomes something so much more than either woman expect.
Hooked on You by Jenn Matthews
Anna’s life’s in a bit of a rut. As a teacher with two great kids and a boyfriend, she seems to have it all. Except…she’s bored as hell. Perhaps a new hobby’s in order? Something…crafty? Divorced mother and veteran Ollie has been through the wars, emotionally and physically. To relax, she runs a quirky crochet class in her London craft shop. She can’t help but notice the attractive, feisty new student. A shame Anna’s straight as an arrow.
But somewhere between the chain stitches, doubles and trebles, Ollie and Anna form a powerful connection they never expected.
Winter Jacket by Eliza Lentzski
It all started with a broken classroom heater…
Graduate school prepares you for many things – the rigor of academic life, how to pull consecutive all-nighters, and living off a meager stipend without having to be roommates with cockroaches.
Elle Graft might have made it through six years of graduate school, but she’s not convinced she’ll survive her first position as an Assistant Professor.
Because for all she learned, graduate school never prepared her for dealing with a student crush.
The Secret Chord by Virginia Hale
When Kate York accepted a temporary position as the music teacher at her former Catholic boarding school, St. Joan of Arc, she expected to deal with rowdy adolescents, strict nuns, and memories of her intense friendship with her old roommate, Tilly Wattle. The last thing Kate expected, however, was for Tilly to show up as the substitute teacher.
The last time the two had seen each other, Tilly had her heart set on joining the sisterhood of nuns that had raised her as an orphan. Tilly longed for a simple life devoting herself to God while Kate longed for a simple life devoting herself to Tilly. Now, twelve years since she forced herself to say goodbye, Kate realizes that she never really got over her sweet, beautiful friend—or the secret kisses they shared as girls.
In her heart of hearts Kate believes that Tilly can match her passion with equal intensity. When Tilly steadfastly refuses to talk about their past, what choice does Kate have but to try to control her own longings and concentrate on renewing their friendship?
But what if Kate isn’t the only one desperate to hide her true feelings…
The Lucky Ones by KG MacGregor
Scarred by her mother’s betrayal, Brittany Iverson left home half a lifetime ago for the promise of California, with its vibrant, cosmopolitan lesbian community. She wouldn’t go back to Kentucky for a million dollars. But several million? That’s a different kettle of fish. All Britt has to do is help resurrect her father’s failing business so they can sell it to the highest bidder.
Thanks to a college softball scholarship, Ninah Faust escaped her upbringing as well, leaving eastern Kentucky’s impoverished coal country for the quaint small town of Leland. Now a high school history teacher, she enjoys a laid back lifestyle, a close-knit circle of lesbian friends, and the Longdogs, Leland’s minor league baseball team. Ninah knows better than to fall for newcomer Britt, whose plan is to get in, get rich, and get out. Britt knows better too, since the last thing she needs is a girlfriend in Kentucky. But fall they do—so which one will give up her perfect life for the other?
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Leave a comment and let us know which book you’ll be reading for the “character is a teacher or professor” category!
5 thoughts on “Character is a teacher or professor (Sapphic Reading Challenge #17)”
Thank you for such a varied list. I have already read the book I needed for the Challenge but will be reading these for pure pleasure. Your lists are great.
I’m glad you are enjoying the reading lists!
Lucked out with this one then, now i get to read both parts of Eija Jimenez story, had planned for dear taylor as 1 of my favorite reread, but now i get to choose dear danielle and notch up this one for the teachers column
Beowulf for Cretins is excellent. Made me lol many times. Great story. A a veteran teacher I am looking forward to reading this list and Chemistry Lessons. Love ya Jae!!
Thank you! Of course, I had a beta reader who’s a teacher read it to make sure there are no inaccuracies, so I hope you’ll enjoy Regan, my teacher character.