This week’s Book Unicorn category features sapphic romances without a sex scene … or at least without an on-page sex scene.
There could be a fade-to-black love scene that doesn’t share any explicit details with readers, or maybe the couple are too busy or it’s not the right time for them to make love. You will also find a lot of young adult romances that don’t feature on-page sex.
15 sapphic romance novels without a sex scene
Below, you’ll find 15 sapphic romances that don’t include on-page sex.
Shaken to the Core by Jae
Kate Winthrop, the only child of a wealthy shipping magnate, has the course of her life charted for her by her parents. She’s expected to marry well and produce a successor to the Winthrop empire. But Kate has a very different path in mind. Her true passion lies with photography—and with women.
Alone in the city after losing her brother, Sicilian immigrant Giuliana Russo starts working for the Winthrops as a maid. Despite their different social status, Kate and Giuliana become friends, much to the dismay of Kate’s parents.
As the connection between the two women grows, a devastating earthquake hits San Francisco and ignites fires that sweep through the city for three days and nights.
Will the disaster shatter their tentative feelings for each other, or will they find the courage to save each other’s lives—and their hearts?
Join Kate and Giuliana on a journey of danger and discovery in the action-packed historical romance Shaken to the Core, set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
I Always Will by Jacqueline Ramsden
When Alexandria met Hailey on their first day of secondary school, the last thing she was expecting was to become best friends with the chatty girl beside her. But friendship blossomed into first love, until different universities threatened to tear them apart.
Seventeen years later, Alexandria’s brother is set to marry one of Hailey’s employees, and their whirlwind romance drags Hailey and Alexandria back into each other’s lives.
Suddenly, all of the reasons they had for parting don’t seem compelling, and they can’t deny the attraction between them. But, with a wedding to plan, family in the way, and years of pain between them, will Hailey and Alexandria be brave enough to risk the hearts they’ve spent years protecting, or will they miss each other again?
I Always Will is an 80k second-chance, friends-to-lovers romance, featuring a return to hometown and the owner of a mashed potato bar. Content warnings for off-page homophobia, abusive family dynamics, including comments about weight, divorce, and off-page drinking/drunk behaviour.
Maybe, Probably by Amanda Radley
Gina Henley doesn’t keep up with current events. She’s too busy partying with her friends and fending off her mother’s well-intentioned nagging about finding a man and settling down. When a mysterious illness causes her boss to close the office, Gina must work from home and life as she knows it changes forever.
Dr. Eleanor Osborne works at a busy London hospital and knows all too well the virus is causing panic. As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s too unsafe for her elderly neighbor to continue minding Eleanor’s daughter, Sophia. She needs a babysitter pronto, but who can she ask to take the risk?
Cut off from her social network, Gina finds the silence of her own company suffocating—who is she when no one is watching? Eleanor is sure she picked the worst time ever to become a single mother—how can she possibly raise a child in such an unpredictable world? Set against the backdrop of a viral pandemic, Gina and Eleanor are about to discover that loving another person is complicated when you’re desperately searching for yourself.
Invisible, as Music by Caren J. Werlinger
Henrietta Cochran has spent nearly forty years dealing with the effects of the polio she contracted in 1945. Her braces and crutches restrict her, define her, but they also give her independence. Almost. She hates that she has become increasingly reliant on a series of live-in companions to help her. For some reason, the companions never seem to want to stay very long. So Henrietta retreats further and further into her art, where her physical limitations don’t matter.
Into her life sails Meryn Fleming: out, outspoken, and fiercely political. She’s young, enthusiastically diving into her first job as a history professor at the local college. When she falls, almost literally, into Henrietta’s path, she seems like a godsend.
Little does Henrietta know that this young woman is about to upend her carefully structured existence. Ryn challenges everything, barging right through the walls Henrietta has built to keep others at a distance.
To Ryn, Henrietta is an enigma: prickly and easily insulted at the slightest suggestion that she can’t do things for herself; a brilliant artist capable of producing the most beautiful paintings; and sometimes, when Henrietta doesn’t realize she’s letting her guard down, a tender and sensitive woman.
With Meryn’s youthful optimism pitted against Henrietta’s jaded acceptance of the world as it is, life will never be the same for either of them.
Second Wind by Ceillie Simkiss
No matter how old you are, there’s always a chance for romance.
After the death of her husband, 71-year-old homemaker Martha Appleby is taking her first long-distance trip alone. That loss has derailed many of her plans for her twilight years, and she hopes to come to peace with not knowing what will come next.
70-year-old service dog trainer Pamela Thornton is hoping to take advantage of a well-timed work trip to figure out what to do next. Crouton is the last service dog of the litter, and she’s not sure she wants to keep raising dogs by herself.
These two childhood sweethearts haven’t seen each other in fifty years when they each board the same airplane, only to find they’ve been booked for the same seat.
If they can get past the ghosts of their past and decide what path they want to chart for their futures, this chance meeting could give their long lost relationship its second wind.
Always a Love Song by Charley Clarke
When golden girl pop star Bridget Callahan’s broken engagement comes out, she heads back to her hometown for the first time in five years to write songs for her next album. And maybe while she’s there, she’ll finally be able to face the woman she left behind who she never let go.
Bar owner Alex Marlow has spent the past five years mending her broken heart by pretending she doesn’t have one. But Bridget’s return disrupts her ordered life and brings all those chaotic, buried feelings back to the surface. Can they forgive each other and themselves for mistakes made when they were younger?
In the Shadow of the Past (Shadow Series Book 1) by J.E. Leak
In the shadowy world of 1940s New York City, a sultry spy falls for the one woman she shouldn’t. When reporter Jenny Ryan’s father is murdered, her burning need for justice drives her to take on a ruthless tycoon. But her plan goes awry when she falls for the criminal’s alluring mistress, OSS agent Kathryn Hammond.
Kathryn is more than just a popular nightclub singer with a glamorous façade. She’s an undercover spy, trapped stateside in a dead-end assignment while the war rages on in Europe. Frustrated and resentful, her feelings get her into real trouble when Jenny steals her heart. As their forbidden desire blooms, they find themselves caught in a web of danger and intrigue.
Will their passion endanger their lives and unravel everything they’ve worked for, or will their love be the very thing that saves them?
The Summer We’ve Had by Katherine Blakeman
After a nightmare couple of years following the death of her celebrity singer mother, Cass Mulligan is moving down to the sun, sea and shingle of Cornwall for a fresh start. But she soon realises that she’s not the only one in need of some TLC…
Felicia Wilson’s life is one long series of spinning plates. She has Dissociative Identity Disorder, a system of five alternate personalities living in her body, and they all have different hopes, fears and desires.
When Cass is thrown together with Felicia, some beautiful friendships grow, and soon there is substantial mutual attraction between Cass and dominant alter Heather. But if things go wrong, they could go very wrong. Can they build a relationship AND keep everybody happy?
Calculated Risk by Katherine Rupley
Ex-US national rock climber Leslie McAllister finally has her life right where she wants it. When she’s asked to accept a new position in Boston, she must decide whether to stay in her comfort zone or take a leap and trust she’s anchored herself well enough to not fall.
Stuntwoman CJ Broadmore has big dreams and a big problem. She needs to learn to climb, and fast, if she wants to do stunt work on a new movie. Enter Leslie McAllister, who not only sparks an attraction, but who may be CJ’s ticket to success.
CJ and Leslie must calculate each step, weigh the risks, and work through their fears as they reach for the top—and toward each other.
Out on the Ice by Kelly Farmer
Caro Cassidy used to be a legend.
During her career, Caro was one of the best defense players in women’s hockey. These days, she keeps to herself. Her all-girls hockey camp is her life, and she hopes it’ll be her legacy. Sure, her new summer hire is charming and magnetic, but Caro keeps her work and personal life strictly separate.
Amy Schwarzbach lives life out loud.
Amy’s as bright and cheerful as her lavender hair, and she uses her high-profile position in women’s hockey to advocate for the things she believes in. Ten weeks in Chicago coaching a girls’ training camp is the perfect opportunity to mentor the next generation before she goes back to Boston.
Letting love in means putting yourself out there.
When the reticent head coach offers to help Amy get in shape for next season, her starstruck crush on Caro quickly blossoms into real chemistry. As summer comes to an end, neither of them can quite let go of this fling—but Amy can’t afford a distraction, and Caro can’t risk her relationship becoming public and jeopardizing the one thing that’s really hers.
First Comes Marriage by Shannon M. Harris
As CEO of MartinTech, Brynn Martin is at the top of her professional game. Her personal life is another matter, but she’s not in a hurry to break her single status. All that changes on a Tuesday morning when a bombshell is dropped.
At sixteen, Micah Legon fled her abusive family and home world of Vubloxia. Now, at twenty-nine, she’s content and settled in her life, running a cleanup business with her siblings. Then one morning, she gets a phone call that changes everything.
A chance encounter six years ago in Las Vegas at a “Meet an Alien” convention comes back to haunt both women. While Micah remembers the day with fondness, Brynn remembers nothing. After meeting again, both women come to an agreement. However, nothing is ever that simple.
Micah makes it her mission to break through Brynn’s tough exterior. Brynn makes it her mission to keep Micah at arm’s length. Nothing will stop either woman from getting what she wants. The trouble is convincing the other that her plan is the right one.
A Talent Within by Suzanne Lenoir
Evelyne, born into nobility, and Annika, a peasant girl with a deadly secret, struggle to change their destinies in Valmora, a medieval world controlled by religion, magic, and men.
If only she’d been born a boy, Evelyne could fight with her brothers and fulfill her dreams of glory. Instead, her father has arranged her marriage. Annika knows she’s different. She has gifts the Valmorans call talents, and she’s waited too long to turn herself over to the Temple for training. If she tells anyone now, she will burn as a heretic.
Their blossoming love changes everything.
Both are forced to confront who they are when saving an innocent life exposes Annika’s talent and she’s held prisoner by the unforgiving Temple Paladin. Saving Annika will cost Evelyne all she’s ever known, but her sacrifice may lead them on a path to love and a destiny that will change Valmora forever.
The Proposal by T.B. Markinson
Marley Royce has just two goals for her seventy-two-hour stay in London: land a career-making business deal and finally meet the woman of her dreams face to face.
Fate has something else in mind.
The mega conglomerate Marley works for wants to acquire the venerable but struggling Braithwaite Books. The centuries-old shop is owned by Cleo Braithwaite, a woman with a fierce and frightening reputation. Cleo turns out to be nothing like the rumors but refuses to sit still long enough to be dazzled by the meticulous spreadsheets and slides Marley has prepared to seal the deal. Instead of making her proposal, Marley soon finds herself on an impromptu walking tour of London with the charming Cleo.
Even though Marley has a dinner date that night with the woman she’s been chatting with online and was convinced was her soulmate, she can’t ignore the feelings her bewitching guide stirs up inside as they explore the historic city on foot. What’s more, the longer she’s with Cleo, the more Marley begins to question the business deal she’s been sent to make.
Should Marley stick with the plan, or is a single life-changing day with Cleo worth blowing up the future Marley was so certain she wanted?
Promises in Pompeii by Violet Morley
Spanning twenty years, this story explores life, love, and loss in Ancient Rome.
Helvia doesn’t want for anything, but being wealthy can come at a cost. Navigating through her papa’s disinterest and trying to dodge her bully of a brother, Helvia is already learning how lonely life can be—until Octavia comes bursting on the scene, ready to help provide support, laughter, and companionship that Helvia desperately needs.
Octavia’s family doesn’t have wealth, but they certainly aren’t short on love. She is taught early to stick up for what is right and work hard for those she cares about.
As Helvia and Octavia grow, so does their friendship. Moving from childhood to adulthood while navigating the expectations of women in Ancient Rome, their connection navigates unexpected bumps and turns. Life has a way of shaking up even the most solid foundations.
With promises of their future shattered and secrets held tight to the chest, Helvia and Octavia have to ask themselves how their connection can equal a happy ending.
Invisible by Anna Larner
Violet Unwin is convinced she is invisible. Overlooked by her adoptive family, her only solace is her uncle’s costume shop. By day, she’s an assistant no one remembers, but after hours, in the wonder of her imagination, she becomes explorer, warrior, queen. Devastated by news of the shop’s imminent closure, Violet finds comfort in an unlikely companion, the ghostly figure of her namesake, the suffragette Vi Unwin.
Medical school dropout Phoebe Frink’s life is in disarray. She has no idea who she is anymore, what to do about it, or how to tell her parents. Taken under the wing of the infamous drag king Mr. Duke, owner of the struggling Banana Bar, fate steps in when Phoebe seeks Violet’s help with costumes for the bar’s fundraising Christmas Ball.
Phoebe is captivated by beautiful, shy Violet, and for the first time in her life, Violet experiences what it is to be truly seen. But for love to be possible, Violet and Phoebe must take a risk on a future they’ve never dared to imagine.
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