It’s time for the second Book Unicorn post, and this one features books with a main character who’s in therapy–and when I say “therapy,” I mean psychotherapy.
If you find a book where the therapy sessions feature prominently in the plot, that’s great, especially if therapy is portrayed as something positive that the character is doing to take care of their mental health. But the book counts for this category even if we don’t see the character in a therapy session, as long as it’s stated at least once in the book that the main character is going to therapy.
What is the Book Unicorn?
A quick reminder: The Book Unicorn bingo card is an additional bingo card that you can tackle in addition to the regular bingo card or by itself. The goal is to read one book for each of the 12 squares of the Book Unicorn card. Each square represents a harder-to-find theme.
I’ll post book suggestions for one Book Unicorn category each month.
Download your Book Unicorn bingo card
If you haven’t done so already, download your Book Unicorn bingo card here. The PDF is clickable, so you can fill in the titles of the books you read on your computer, or you can print it out and fill it in by hand.
15 sapphic books about characters who are in therapy
Here are my 15 book recommendations for the “character is in therapy” category:
Broken, Not Shattered by Rita Potter
Even when it seems hopeless, there can always be a better tomorrow.
Jill Bishop has one goal in life – to survive. Jill is trapped in an abusive marriage, while raising two young girls. Her husband has isolated her from the world and filled her days with fear. The last thing on her mind is love, but she sure could use a friend.
Alex McCoy is enjoying a comfortable life, with great friends and a prosperous business. She has given up on love, after picking the wrong woman one too many times. Little does she know, a simple act of kindness might change her life forever.
When Alex lends a helping hand to Jill at the local grocery store, they are surprised by their immediate connection and an unlikely friendship develops. As their friendship deepens, so too do their fears.
In order to protect herself and the girls, Jill can’t let her husband know about her friendship with Alex, and Alex can’t discover what goes on behind closed doors. What would Alex do if she finds out the truth? At the same time, Alex must fight her attraction and be the friend she suspects Jill needs. Besides, Alex knows what every lesbian knows – don’t fall for a straight woman, especially one that’s married…but will her heart listen?
Burn It Down by K. Aten
Ash Hayes was failed by the system at the tender age of sixteen and suffered an addiction. As a result she lives her life weighed down by the guilt of her past. To atone for childhood misdeeds, Ash trained as a paramedic after high school and eventually became a firefighter with the Detroit fire department, along with her childhood best friend Derek. Friend, confidant, brother, he has been her light in an otherwise dark life. When tragedy strikes on the job, injury and forced leave from the department are the least of her concerns. Suffering from even more guilt and depression after the loss of her two closest friends Ash is set adrift in a sea of pain.
When Mia Thomas buys the house next door, Ash finds friendship in the most unlikely of places. It’s Mia’s nature to help and to heal. Many would say she has a knack for finding the broken ones and leading them into the light. But Ash’s secret still lives deep inside her. Before the firefighter can even think of a future, she has to amend her past. Like the phoenix of legend, Ash has to burn her fears to the ground before she can be reborn.
Change of Plans by KJ
Emily Fitzsimmons, award-winning architect, creates meticulous plans for every aspect of her life, which is understandable considering her difficult childhood. After all, prudence keeps her safe. Lately, though, too many of those comforting plans are disintegrating and Emily is forced to function spontaneously which has spiked her anxiety so much, she’s put her therapist on speed-dial.
Skye Reynolds, bike courier entrepreneur, knows all about exploding plans. That’s literally how she lost her job when her company blew up a 40,000-year-old world heritage site. But Skye is not someone who asks for help to reassemble her life blueprints, which is lucky as she nearly always lands on her feet whenever she happily ignores prudence to embark on any new adventure.
When Skye’s ad hoc dirt track intersects with Emily’s carefully paved freeway, their lives are thrown into disarray, with the added complication of their unexpected attraction. Prudence plays tricks on both of them when they choose to navigate their true paths and explore the direction of their relationship.
Sometimes a change of plans is all you need to see what lies ahead.
Face the Music by Aimée
England, 2011. Phyllida Reynart has come back from Afghanistan wounded and bitter, having lost both her army career and the love of her life. Through a friend, she gets an audition for the local orchestra, directed by Trishia Knight, a woman who has fought hard to get where she is. Both women are strong-willed, and serious about their work – both women struggle to keep their lives together and neither of them is looking for love. However, it is usually to be found in the most unexpected places
Finding Gracie’s Glory by Patty Schramm
Gracie Kato survived years of abuse at the hands of her wife. While her body has healed, her heart and soul remain damaged. Gracie seeks solace at her grandfather’s home in the Yukon Territory of Canada. There she’ll be able to work at his gold mine, named for her grandmother, Gracie’s Glory. It’s the perfect place for her to start over again. Liv Templeton’s heart was crushed years ago and she doesn’t see any chance of recovery. She’s never alone unless she wants to be, but never seeks any commitments. Instead she puts all her energy and time into running the family mining business. From the moment they meet, Gracie and Liv’s connection, physical and emotional, is obvious to them both. Is Liv ready for a serious relationship? Even if she is, will she be able to convince Gracie to trust again? To let her soul heal? Will Gracie open herself up to Liv? Or will she close her heart forever?
Finding Sarah by Aprille Canniff
When Sarah steps off the plane in Provincetown, she has only one goal-to leave the past behind her. As she begins her journey of rediscovering herself, she meets one of the town’s deputy under less-than-ideal circumstances but soon finds herself drawn to her in ways she knows she can’t allow.
Deputy Catrina Diaz loves her job, her family, and her friends, which is why she became a deputy to begin with, to keep her town and those she loves safe. When she crosses paths with Sarah, a newcomer to town, she finds herself wanting more than Sarah is wanting to give.
Sarah fights hard to find herself as the past keeps finding new ways to haunt her. As their relationship grows, will the secrets Sarah is hiding, secrets that Cat realizes everyone knows but her, finally pull them apart? Can Sarah trust Cat enough to overcome her past and the insecurities it has caused and take a chance on the one thing she thought she could never have again-love?
Liar: Memoir of a Haunting by E. F. Schraeder
Who doesn’t crave a little escape? Dreaming of small town life and rural charm, Alex and Rainey find a deal on an old rustic home they can’t resist. But soon after Rainey moves, her preoccupation with weird local history and the complications of living alone in the woods take a toll. Alex worries that the long nights and growing isolation are driving her stir crazy. When the Sugar House is damaged and Rainey goes missing, Alex doesn’t know where to turn. Was it a storm, vandals, or something worse? What happened at the Sugar House? The only thing worse than wondering is finding out.
Perspective by Monica McCallan
Campbell St. Clair never expected her first novel to catapult her to success. She should be excited that she’ll be consulting on the movie adaptation, but she’s struggling. Her ability to write her newest novel has been practically non-existent, she’s all but given up on having a social life, and with the recent loss of her father, she’s trying to understand what she wants for her future.
Sloane Murphy’s career has been careening forward for the last decade, so it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t like being an actress. The movie is a great opportunity for her, and in spite of her ambivalence, the show must go on. She’s done this enough times that she just needs to follow the script and hit her lines. But she wasn’t expecting to see Campbell St. Clair, at least that’s what she goes by now, on set, and her presence sends Sloane’s already precarious life into a tailspin when their paths collide again.
Neither are the same people they were when they’d met in college, but do either of them know who they are now? In a world of playing pretend, it’s hard to know what’s real, even if it’s right in front of them.
The Disappearance of Lindy James by Catherine Maiorisi
Lindy is hearing voices. And her new religious friends claim Quincy, her wife of six years, is Satan in disguise. They also say her marriage is a sin and warn she and their two daughters will burn in hell for eternity if she doesn’t leave Quincy.
Working a second job to earn enough to buy their dream house, Quincy is rarely around to notice Lindy’s behavior. By the time she does notice, Lindy’s new friends spirit her and the girls away to an isolated religious community in Arizona.
While Quincy searches frantically for her family, a female doctor at the community treats Lindy. As she slowly returns to herself Lindy begins to really see the community. She is horrified. Rather than saving herself and her daughters, she’s brought them to a kind of hell.
Then Lindy is given an ultimatum. Stay and marry a man in the community. Or leave. Without her daughters.
She panics. There must be another way.
Till Darkness Comes by Sandra de Helen
When Beth Vogelsang’s Uncle Jerry is tortured and murdered Beth’s estranged friend Regan is the first cop on the scene. Regan hopes for reconciliation, but they’ve led different lives. Beth has been abused, beaten, raped, and has experienced a devastating death in the family. She’s also fallen in love with her lesbian therapist. Will she reunite with her genderqueer friend? Or will their individual secrets keep them apart. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose, putting both their lives at risk.
Worth the Risk by Crystal Chard
When everything’s at stake, how close is too close?
Forensic Psychologist, Grace Weatherford, wants her old job back with the Covert Intelligence Squad, but on her own terms. Yet when CIS offer up a case with a mysterious female perp at the centre, she can’t say no. The catch? Grace’s speciality is undercover guidance – she now has to go all in.
Nadia Florescu is nobody’s fool. She’s survived worse than the grim CIS cells and suffered in ways Grace cannot imagine. So giving up the names that CIS demands is a game she can play and win – no matter the cost.
When their worlds collide, and Nadia’s shocking story begins to unravel, professional lines blur. But is Nadia really who she says she is? And how many boundaries will Grace cross for justice – and an uncompromising and beautiful suspect?
Disclaimer: This book contains scenes and topics that some readers may find upsetting.
Make the Yuletide Gay by Ivy L. James
Junior editor Grace Taylor is doubling as the temporary assistant to senior editor Nicola Valentine…and harboring a secret crush on her. Grace is devastated when a work conference forces her to miss her big family Christmas. However, she gets a gift she doesn’t expect when a snowstorm strands her and Nicola at a small B&B.
Nicola has no idea how to handle sharing a room with her gorgeous, vibrant assistant. As she learns to share her heart as well, her fear threatens the blossoming relationship. Can she let Grace in, or will Nicola’s past sabotage her chance at happiness?
Bookends by Brenda Murphy
Widowed university librarian, Amari Foster’s life is neatly cataloged. Work, home, and securing a future for her daughter are her focus. Hard-edged and handsome, she manages her private life with ruthless precision, cutting ties, and maintaining distance to protect her battered heart.
After a series of bad relationships, plumber Thalia Makris has given up her dream of long-term love. Desperate to have her own business, Thalia fills her days working overtime in her father’s business and nights with fantasy novels.
After a chance encounter leaves both women wanting more than a one-night stand, they find themselves on the precipice of love. Will they take the plunge?
Ask Me Again by EJ Noyes
What do you do when the source of all your problems is the one thing you don’t know how to fix?
With Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell nothing more than an unpleasant memory, US Army surgeon Sabine Fleischer is ready to move on with her life—if she can just figure out how to move past her PTSD. Fresh from her first deployment since surviving a vehicle attack in Afghanistan, Sabine is finding the things she’s tried so hard to push aside aren’t as easy to ignore as she’d hoped.
Sabine’s girlfriend and ex-commanding officer Rebecca Keane is happily settled into her new job running a trauma department in a civilian hospital. Life with Sabine is everything Rebecca ever wanted. But when Sabine’s PTSD reappears worse than before, she’s left struggling with her own guilt.
There’s no doubt that both Sabine and Rebecca want the same thing. But how do you help the most important person in your life when they don’t want to need your help?
Ask Me Again is the must-read sequel to the best-selling Ask, Tell.
Bringing Me Dreams by KG MacGregor (pre-order)
Reeling from her brother’s senseless death, Gianna Del Vecchio finds comfort in an online forum from a woman who suffered a similar loss. Theirs is a club no one wants to join—survivors of a loved one’s suicide. Photos posted to the forum of the woman’s cute therapy dog bring cheer when nothing else can, and Gianna is compelled to reach out to say thanks.
After two years, Keenan McEvoy is still fighting her way back from despair after losing her partner, Annabel. She’s surprised when she connects with Gianna, whose kindness and compassion ignite a spark she wasn’t sure she’d feel again.
Their fledgling romance is jeopardized by Jaz, Gianna’s ex-girlfriend and current best friend, who’ll stop at nothing to keep them apart—even threatening to repeat their worst nightmare. How do they conquer their own guilty demons and stop Jaz from laying more blame at their feet?
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