M/F Romances Featuring Bi+ Women Whose Queer Identities and Communities are Front and Center

I recently received a lovely email with a request for Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Lesbrarian close to my bisexual heart:

Dear Casey,
I hope that you can help me with this question and that it fits in the parameters of your Autostraddle column. I have always been a big romance reader and came out as bisexual about a year ago. It has been fantastic to expand my reading to F/F romance, including ones about bisexual women. (I feel a bit angry with myself that I did not explore those books earlier, actually). As a counterpoint, I was wondering if you can recommend M/F romances that are about bisexual women. They are more difficult to find. I am looking for content more than simply a small throw-away line that the woman is bisexual. I would love to see bisexual women for whom their queer identities and queer communities are a big part of their life and a notable aspect of the book. My longterm partner is a man, and it would be wonderful to see literary examples of how some women maintain their queer ties while in relationships with men. (If Autostraddle readers have real life ideas of how to do this, I would also welcome them).
With sincere thanks,
Angela

Thank you so much to Angela for sending me this question so thoughtfully put! I love the idea of looking to romance novels for ideas of how to live an authentic queer life. I’m not surprised Angela is having a tough time find M/F romance featuring bi+ women — I’ve had the same difficulty myself! Thankfully, I think the pool is getting bigger all the time, particularly books that really dive deep into the intricacies of being a bi+ woman in a relationship (or developing relationship, as in a romance novel) with a man, and not just a “throw-away line” as Angela says . The following eight romance novels — mostly contemporary but also a couple historical — are all excellent and lesbrarian-approved!

Small Change by Roan Parrish


In this edgy, emotionally resonant romance, Ginger Holtzman is a queer tattoo artist who owns her own shop in Philadelphia. Her whole life she’s had to fight for who she is, making her a tough, independent (business)woman who has perfected a take-no-crap attitude. Christopher Lucen is a kind, happy-go-lucky redhead who’s just opened a sandwich shop in the neighbourhood. When they meet, Christopher is smitten; Ginger is … oblivious. What’s wonderful about this story is how it flips the usual gendered dynamic: Christopher is the nurturing one who takes care of Ginger and feeds her, while Ginger is aloof and suspicious of love. Ginger is very much embedded in her queer community: she’s deliberately crafted her tattoo shop as a queer feminist space and works with fellow queer tattoo artists. She also explicitly discusses her queer identity with Christopher. A personal note: this is one of my all-time favorite romances!

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

This hilarious and heartfelt story opens with the bisexual main character Dani doing a spell to ask the universe for a good fuck buddy. Besides being a practising witch in need of a friends with benefits situation, Dani is also Black, British, and an overworking academic. Enter Zafir, a South Asian ex-rugby player who reads romance novels. Knowing that Dani has a big crush on Janelle Monàe, Zaf attempts to ascertain if Dani also dates guys by mentioning Idris Elba, with the logic: “Everyone who’s into guys likes Idris Elba, right?” Hibbert, at the top of her formidable romance craft, skillfully tells a touching story with thoughtful representation not only of Dani’s bisexuality, but also anxiety, grief, trauma, academia’s toxic culture of overwork, and intimacy. As for queer community in the book: Dani’s BFF, Sorcha, is a lesbian (fingers crossed for a future book that gives Sorcha her own love story!), and Dani’s ex-sort-of-girlfriend is a supporting character too. In fact, part of Dani’s journey is repairing her relationship with that ex.

A Duke in Disguise by Cat Sebastian

In Regency-era London, Verity Plum is a radical bisexual bookseller and writer whose childhood friend Ash, an engraver, has come to board with her and her brother. Ash and Verity’s friendship and intellectual connection has long teetered on the edge of romantic love and lust. But they are loathe to do anything that might ruin their current relationship. When Ash — who has epilepsy and was brought up in foster care assuming he was illegitimate — discovers he’s the heir to a dukedom, he thinks it ruins any potential future with Verity. Cat Sebastian covers all sorts of fascinating historical details like seditious journalism, naughty book publishing, 19th century inheritance law, and women-run small presses. Verity’s ex-lover / friend Mrs Allenby (also bisexual!) is a prominent secondary character. Remaining friends with your ex-girlfriend is queer lady culture, right? Plus, in contrast to what you might expect for the times, Verity is very open about her sexual identity with both Ash and her brother.

Reverb by Anna Zabo


The third book in Anna Zabo’s queer romance series, Reverb features a cis pansexual woman, Mish, and a queer trans guy, David — but, happily, it eschews bi- or transphobia as plot points, instead honing in on other issues and vulnerabilities specific to Mish and David. Mish is the bass player in Twisted Wishes, an up-and-coming band gaining fame. Recently, though, fame has come with a terrible price: Mish is dealing with a stalker whose recent attack ended up with her in the hospital. Enter David, a bodyguard Mish’s bandmates insist she needs. She is, however, more than happy to indulge in hot kinky sex with him, even if she’s not keen on him as a bodyguard. But when the situation with Mish’s stalker turns even more serious, David is forced to make a choice between being Mish’s lover or her bodyguard. In addition to both protagonists being queer and talking together about their queer histories and labels, the rest of Mish’s band are queer too!

Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Two bisexual people falling in love anyone? Xeni Everly-Wilkins is grieving the recent loss of her beloved aunt Sable, dealing with the decades-long feud that existed between her aunts and mother, who used to be famous R&B singers. Xeni is shocked to find her aunt’s will is even more strange and begrudging than she thought: Xeni has inherited her aunt’s estate, but with the caveat that she must be married first. And apparently her aunt is playing match-maker from beyond the grave, as she’s set up Xeni with a suitable husband: Mason McInroy, a Scotsman who counted Sable as a good friend and mentor. Sable has put him in a similar pickle to Xeni before he is able to inherit the money Sable has left him, which he desperately needs to pay off a debt. But even if Xeni and Mason must say I do, that doesn’t mean they will fall in love, does it? Come for the silly romance trope reimagined, stay for the nuanced depictions of bisexual identity, relationships between bi+ people, pegging, fisting, and more!

Something Like Love by Christina C. Jones

If you thought Rebekah Weatherspoon’s romance about two bi people was great, how about Something like Love, in which the heroine and hero are both bi and Black? This is also a classic opposites-attract romance with some wonderful comedy. Astrid is a yoga teacher and graphic designer with some hippie tendencies. Eddie is a tattoo artist who usually dates people in the corporate world. Astrid is vivacious and genuine. Eddie is slick and perhaps a little too self-assured. After the two meet, Astrid has a feeling Eddie is crushing on her — or at least wants to sleep with her. Eddie, however, thinks nothing of the kind. But the more and more time Astrid and Eddie spend together, the more Eddie wonders if Astrid’s intuition was right. Are they the perfect match? Is what they’re already doing the basis for a relationship? If you’re looking for a queer book that superbly tackles bisexual stereotypes and looks at Black bisexual identity for women and men, this one’s for you!

Gilded Cage by K.J Charles

Set in a richly imagined late Victorian 1890s London, The Gilded Cage is part historical romance and part historical mystery. Our bisexual heroine, Susan, is a renowned detective tasked with defending a notorious jewel thief, Templeton — who also happens to be her childhood love — from a double murder charge. Can Susan help Templeton clear his name before he’s hanged? Can they solve the mystery of who the real murderer is? Susan is a delightful character who’s easy to love: smart, competent, sarcastic, secretly vulnerable, and a little mean if the situation warrants it. Susan as well as Templeton are surrounded by queer community and family: Susan was raised by a gay couple and their extended queer found family and both of Templeton’s business partners are queer (one is asexual, specifically, and has a partner who’s a trans woman). Basically everyone in this book is queer!

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

Okay, so including this book here is a bit of a tease, since it doesn’t come out until May. But it is available for pre-order now, and you can get the first book, Written in the Stars (an F/F romance about a lesbian and a bisexual woman) now and get a feel for the two characters who play minor roles in that book and are the protagonists in Hang the Moon. The bisexual lady here is Annie, whose lesbian BFF Darcy we got to know in the first book. Annie makes a surprise visit to Seattle to visit Darcy — except since she didn’t tell Darcy she was coming, it turns out her BFF is away on a romantic getaway with her girlfriend Elle. Enter Brendon, Darcy’s younger brother, who offers to hang out with Annie and show her around. When incurable romantic Brendon, who’s been crushing on Annie since he was a kid, finds out Annie has given up on love, he sets out to show her romance is still alive by taking her on outings inspired by his favorite rom-coms. Will they fall in love?? You can look forward to plenty of page time devoted to Annie’s connections with fellow queer women Darcy and Elle, in addition to the central romance.


I know we’ve got lots of bi+ readers here at AS, so please, as per Angela’s request, chime in in the comments with your ideas on how to maintain a queer identity and community as a bi+ woman dating a man! And I’m sure some more recommendations for romances featuring bi+ women would be gratefully received as well. If you a question for the lesbrarian, please feel free to send me an email at stepaniukcasey [at]gmail.com. Your request might be featured in a future post!


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Casey

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 76 articles for us.

25 Comments

  1. You might also check out the Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy by Jacqueline Carey (starting with Kushiel’s Dart). It is mentioned elsewhere on AS, which is how I found out about it. As an alternative-history/fantasy series, it doesn’t use modern terms for sexuality, but it does display a very matter-of-fact egalitarian mindset on sexuality and relationships — ‘love as thou wilt’ is the society’s mantra. The main female character eventually develops a primary relationship with a man, but she also has various sexual experiences with women along the way — no shame, no guilt. And these aren’t just throwaway scenes; they’re interwoven into the plot. It is also an extremely well written series.

  2. In October 2021, “The Throwback List” by Lily Anderson is coming out and one of the main characters is biracial and bisexual! It’s also super fat positive and the whole plot is about creating a supportive found family when you’re in your 20s and have no idea what you’re doing. Strong recommend!!

  3. Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand is a snarling murder mystery about photography, starring a bi woman. It has two sequels as well. They’re pretty grim, but she is actively bisexual, so if you like aging punk ladies and photography theory it might work for you.

  4. I can’t recommend *American Sweethearts*, the final book in Adriana Herrera’s American Dreamers series, enough. M/F romance with both characters bi/pan/queer, at the end of a series that is mostly a queer-dominated afrolatinx world. I love what she writes so much and i love how thoroughly grounded in queerness all of it is.

    Also i ADORE *Take a Hint, Dani Brown* so that makes me excited to read the rest of this list!

  5. Hi Angela – there’s lots of us :) Next time AS hosts a weekend Discord server, pop on and say hi, you’ll make lots of friends and probably wind up on three or four spinoff servers that keep going after the official one shuts down. Fair warning, you may encounter horrible puns…

  6. This list! I’ve read 5 out of 8 and I loved them all.

    I’ve been on the fence about Reverb – I didn’t love the first two books in the series and I don’t usually like bodyguard romances, but your blurb makes me think I might like this after all.

    My only recommendation is to not do what I did and read Xeni and Take a Hint Dani Brown the same week. They are distinctly different books but the set up is similar enough that I started getting them a little mixed up in my head. Both Dani and Xeni are bi women who cast a spell for the perfect fuck buddy / romantic partner (respectively) and are really not expecting who shows up.

  7. Hi Angela! I’m also a bi woman in a long term relationship with a man (20 ish years). I was out before we married but I came out again a few years ago after I realized that I’d accidentally been bi-erased.

    I feel like I’m still figuring this out, but I definitely feel more connected to my queer identity now than I did 5 years ago.

    A few things that have worked for me.

    1 – Joining bi+ groups – both local and online (although everything is online now). Meetup and Facebook were both helpful for this.

    2 – Getting involved in LGBTQ+ groups (that are not specifically bi+) that interest me. This includes trying several queer book groups, volunteering at a queer youth program, volunteering at my local LGBTQ community center, joining a couple queer professional groups (Lesbians who tech and Out in Tech) and doing a service day through Out in Tech.

    I was initially nervous about “coming out” in queer spaces as a queer woman married to a man but so far I haven’t encountered any skepticism or hostility. And I’ve been surprised that some people seem kind of impressed that I’m choosing to be part of LGBTQ+ community.

    3 – Being out on social media. I’m not a big social media user but posting about my experiences coming out on Facebook has really helped me find queer community within my existing social network – some expected and some completely unexpected.

    4 – the goal of all of the above is/was to make queer friends. That’s been a little slower to happen than I was hoping for. But I make friends slowly and I’ve met a few bi women through my various groups that I can see becoming friends with eventually. And I’ve reconnected with queer friends that I came out with and lost touch with. And at least two of my cousins are queer, which also helps.

  8. Oh wow, I was literally just thinking today about Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy and how well she writes a M/F romance with a queer protagonist, BUT from what I remember the main character doesn’t id as bisexual at any point in the book. She id’s as lesbian and then falls in love with a boy, and I don’t think she ever puts a label on her sexuality after that. The romance is really sweet and thoughtful though, and I would definitely recommend it even if it doesn’t exactly fit the description in the question!

  9. This isn’t really romance but I have to toss it in – I named my cat “Kiva Lagos” after the bi protagonist in John Scalzi’s amazing science fiction “The Collapsing Empire” (from The Interdependency trilogy). Seriously, Kiva is one of the best characters I’ve ever read.

    Any other scifi recommendations?

    • EMBASSYTOWN, by China Miéville. The MC is a queer woman, and she’s only with men during the events of the novel but her queerness works as a parallel to lots of other thematic elements. Moving between and across different communities, including in some in between spaces not everyone can go, etc. Plus it’s just one of my favorite books, period. It’s about linguistics and colonialism and empathy and personhood and is still somehow an up-all-night page-turner.

    • The Slipstream Con by Michelle Moore and S. Reesa Herberth

      Fluffy, tropey mmf space opera heist. Kind of like a bi, poly Thomas Crowne Affair, with nano-bots. The heroine is bi and poly – her partners in the book are male but her female ex shows up also.

  10. Thank you as always for another awesome roundup! So many of these books went (not)straight onto my library wish list. I’m especially excited for Hang the Moon–I really enjoyed Written in the Stars, and the sneak peeks I’ve read of this sequel are very promising.

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