8 Lesbian BDSM Novels to Curl Your Toes (and Maybe Melt Your Heart)

Hello and welcome to the fifth edition of Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian! I’ve been getting some awesome, interesting requests and you can keep them coming to stepaniukcasey [at] gmail [dot] com or send me a tweet. Here’s this month’s request:

Hi Casey!

I loved your “taming toxic lesbians” and “May/December romance” lists, and hope to read some of the books off those soon! In the meantime: do you have any recommendations for books “like 50 Shades of Grey, but with lesbians, and not terrible”? I guess you could expand that to “lesbian BDSM novels,” but if they involve power imbalances that exist outside the relationship (like Christian Gray being a wealthy CEO), that would be even better! Actual plot is good too, though I realize that’s asking a lot…

Arashi


Arashi, I love how you described the type of book you are looking for! It totally made my day. “50 Shades of Grey, but with lesbians, and not terrible” coming right up! This is a pretty tricky question, actually: finding all the things you were looking for in one book ended up being surprisingly difficult. Of course, the lesbrarian in me welcomes this as a challenge. I’ve limited the books on the list below to ones that match all of your criteria: they’re novels, in other words long fiction with real character development, not the short snapshots you get in erotica anthologies; they feature queer women (obvs) in a relationship featuring BDSM and sometimes power imbalances outside that relationship; and they have decent plot.

If you’re looking for more of these books in the future, I’d recommend searching with the terms “lesbian BDSM erotic romance.” Adding “erotic romance” seems to turn the focus to novels with character development, instead of erotica short stories. Unfortunately, searching “BDSM books” gets you a whole lot of erotica in short story form and not a lot else. Okay, let’s look at what I found for you!


The Collectors by Lesley Gowan

If you’ve ever had a long-standing fantasy, The Collectors will be great wish fulfillment. The main character Laura has maybe the world’s biggest lesbian BDSM erotica collection but she’s never actually played in real life, until she meets her friend Adele’s mistress Jeanne: a wealthy sophisticated art collector, heiress (definitely a power imbalance outside the relationship here) and experienced dominant. Practising BDSM is even more powerful than Laura anticipated, and her life is changed. But it turns out her more experienced but uneasy friend Adele isn’t interested in sharing her mistress and Adele’s  jealousy will be a difficult challenge for Jeanne and Laura. The Collectors is a rare erotic romance with head, heart, skillful story-telling and well-developed characters.


At Her Feet by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Rebekah Weatherspoon is an erotic romance writer you can count on for smart, sexy stories every time. Although you wouldn’t guess from the whitewashed cover, the two women featured in this novel are women of colour (Latina and Jamaican/Korean) and there’s fat-positive representation. Suzanne Kim is the submissive here who chances across an ad on kinklife.com from an attractive mistress she can’t resist, username Mami-P (Pilar IRL). Turns out they hit it off online and in person, and they develop a mutually satisfying relationship, specifically a relationship where they can indulge in mommy and little girl age play. Of course, there’s this obstacle: “someone from Suzanne’s professional life threatens to disrupt their perfectly balanced bliss!” This is the ultimate cute, funny, sweet BDSM romance.


Owning Regina: Diary of My Unexpected Passion for Another Woman by Lorelei Elstrom

Danielle, a reviewer at The Lesbrary, actually calls this book “a woman-loving-woman’s answer to E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey,” which hopefully means it should be everything you’re looking for. Written in diary format, this novel follows Meg, a woman in her mid-twenties who is discovering her first interest both in BDSM and in another woman. The woman she’s gone gay for is Regina and she’s in her late thirties, so there’s an age power imbalance there that you might be interested in. They meet at a yoga class and bond over a shared boot fetish (most lesbian “how-did-you-meet” story ever). Because of the diary format, you’re totally immersed in Meg’s perspective as she’s experiencing all these intense things for the first time. FYI, one reader says a couple scenes wouldn’t be responsible IRL, which might affect your decision to read this.


Savor Her by Zee Giovanni

Savor Her — pun intended, obviously — is a gorgeous combination of food and sex. The main character Drea sneaks into a cooking class run by Chef Cherise and, as you might guess, doesn’t get away with it. Luckily even though Drea doesn’t have the money to pay for the class, Cherise has some alternate ideas for how Drea can compensate her: some kinky sex, including bondage, spanking and knife play. Savor Her is unique in the BDSM book world for a few reasons: poetically, beautifully written (Giovanni is also a poet!) and featuring a lesbian relationship between two Black women. The only downside here is that Savor Her is on the short end, more a novella than a novel. If you like Giovanni’s writing, check out Sweet Juice, her publishing company!


The Night Off by Meghan O’Brien

Ah, the old lesbian sex worker falls for one of her clients shtick. Also, the tightly wound super careful person finally lets her guard down and falls in love thing. O’Brien takes these well-worn romance tropes and transforms them into what Tara on thelesbianreview.com describes as “an erotic romance that is super dirty but has big, big feelings.” Twenty-five-year-old Emily is the regimented one, devoting all her time to work and raising her younger sister after her parents’ death. Nat is the gorgeous, kind-hearted butch sex worker (ignore the two femmes on the cover) who delivers Emily’s much-deserved night of submissive abduction fantasy. But when the paid time is over, neither of them wants it to end and a night turns into a weekend. Can they make it work despite their huge differences in lifestyle? You can expect sex and lots of it here, including anal play, humiliation and spanking.


Scissor Link by Georgette Kaplan

Like Owning Regina, Scissor Link has an age gap between the two leading ladies, with the added bonus that they are also boss and employee. In fact, that power play is a big part of the relationship that develops. Wendy is an intern at Savin Aerospace, a dorky engineer who soon develops a massive, awkward crush on her boss Janet, despite the fact that Janet is recently divorced and most likely straight. Their kinky office romance starts when Janet discovers an email of Wendy’s detailing a sex dream about Janet; but can it be anything more? In addition to steamy sex, this character-driven story is also really funny, especially in the witty and sometimes sarcastic dialogue. It’s no wonder with the carefully crafted characters that there’s also palpable chemistry in this sexy, fun, kinky story on the lighter end of lesbian BDSM fiction.


Tell Me What You Like by Kate Allen

I’ll tell you straight up that Tell Me What You Like is a mystery, but don’t let that put you off if you don’t normally read mysteries. It’s also an accurate, heartfelt depiction of the ’90s lesbian kink community and a love story between a lesbian cop and a professional dominatrix. The cop Allison enters the leather dyke world kind of by accident, as one of the lesbian bars the community congregates at is on her patrol route. She becomes involved in the investigation of a murder that happens outside the bar and also with the dom Stacy Ross — whose business card reads: “Anastasia — Tell Me What You Like.” This is an excellent novel about a character first investigating BDSM, with Allison exploring her kink-curiosity and interest in Stacy despite having been influenced by anti-BDSM “feminist” thought. There’s also a dash of humor, and more books in the series if you like the first one!


Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton

It’s rare in fiction to see older women having sex, so the fact that Weekend features older women and nonbinary folks, including POC and someone with a chronic illness, having kinky queer sex is pretty special. Weekend features two queer couples: Logan and Ajax, and Joe and Eliot, both on weekend getaways in side-by-side cottages. It’s Ajax and Logan having the kinky sex — lesbian couple Joe and Eliot are celebrating the birth of a daughter — but Ajax is preoccupied with her heart condition and what she feels as the divides of race, class and age between them. Logan, however is planning to propose on this trip, which coincides with Ajax’s fiftieth birthday. Featuring dom/sub, spanking and anal play, Weekend is a kind of romance, but about people at the cusp of middle age, in the context of well-established relationships.

Bonus! Remember my column a few months ago about queer epic/high fantasy? I talked about Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey there, which definitely fits the bill here as well, with lots of hot kinky sex between Phèdre and Melisande. Also, if anyone’s looking for BDSM erotic short stories, you can’t do better than Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith; check out Carolyn’s interview with Sexsmith back when the book came out in 2012. And for more options than I’ve listed here, have a look at this Goodreads list of Lesbian and F/F BDSM Books!

Special thanks to Corey Alexander who shared a lot of their favorite BDSM books with me on Twitter!


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Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature. She writes regularly for Book Riot and Inside Vancouver about LGBTQ2IA+ and/or bookish topics as well as a monthly column about queer books at Autostraddle called Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Lesbrarian. Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of queer Canadian books, archives of Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. Find her on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Casey has written 18 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. Thank you AS and Casey, you made my day. Just missing one book from this list, so let’s make it ok and add Zee Giovanni to my list, like right now.

    You can find a short story from Meghan O’Brien, with the same characters, in the “Amore and More: Love Everafter” anthology (“The Fantasy Exchange”). And you always get a fair warning with her if you don’t like erotica: she very explicitly forbids her parents to read her books.

    PD: Lesley Gowan is a pen name for Anne Laughlin, no?

  2. Aaah this is wonderful. Looks like ill be reading the mystery one next !

    I read The Night Off recently actually. While the sex scenes are super hot, they’re mostly at the beginning of the book. Most of the second part is based on character development and there’s little interaction between the two protagonists. I admit I started skipping every other line at that point to find out when they were finally gonna have sex again 🙄

  3. I really like Rebekah Weatherspoon, although I haven’t read this one.

    I have The Story of L somewhere in my massive TBR pile – it’s a lesbian retelling of The Story of O – but I haven’t read it yet. Has anyone read it?

  4. This is awesome! I think this is the best book genre around. Another great author is Alyx Rancher, she just started releasing her first ebook in installments on amazon. It is mainly spanking, but still falls in that realm of BDSM and power exchange relationships.

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