Since 2004, the Golden Crown Literary Society has been working to increase the visibility and quality of lesbian-themed literature. The GCLS Literary Awards, also known as The Goldies, are presented each year at the Annual GCLS Conference to recognize excellence in Lesbian-themed literature. You can view the complete list of winning books on the GCLS website.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.
And it’s that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope-the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman-through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.
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Judge Me When I’m Wrong by Cheryl A. Head
When a guilt-ridden client has an unexpected change of heart, the Mack team’s careful preparation for his grand jury testimony is blown to smithereens. Now, Charlie and Gil must pull out all the stops to defend him from his new enemies and the estrangement of his father. Meanwhile, Charlie reports for jury duty and unwittingly begins to unravel a disturbing plan to alter the outcome of a crime lord’s conspiracy trial. Before she knows it, Charlie’s dangerous meddling lands a bulls-eye squarely on the intersection of her personal and professional lives, putting all that she holds dear in jeopardy.
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Because I Said So by Karin Kallmaker
Kesa Sapiro had to grow up fast. With her parents gone and a little sister to protect, Kesa has spent over a decade of her life trying to keep a roof over their heads. She’s learned the hard way that love is a luxury and that the price is way too high. When her sister Josie announces she wants to marry a boy she’s known for less than a month, Kesa immediately forbids it.
Shannon Dealan is floored when her son-by-choice says he wants to get married to a girl he’s just met. Shannon has real reason to scrutinize any strangers who come into Paz’s life. She’s not about to let him do anything stupid-and that includes believing in love at first sight. She knows too well there’s no such thing.
Hoping to soften the objections of their jaded, overbearing elders, Josie and Paz arrange for them to meet and discuss the future like civilized adults . . . but absolutely nothing goes as planned.
The Song of the Sea by Jenn Alexander
The ocean has always been a place of freedom for Lisa Whelan, and after her newborn son passes away, she returns to her family home by the sea to seek freedom from her grief. She’s not expecting to meet anyone, and is caught off guard by the attraction she feels for Rachel, the part-owner of a local restaurant. That initial spark is dampened, however, when Lisa realizes that Rachel has a child. Rachel Murray has worked hard to build a life for herself and her son but raising Declan has not been without its challenges. Each day when Rachel picks him up from school, she says a silent prayer that he will be waiting for her in his classroom, and not in the principal’s office. Again. Her son’s behavior has grown increasingly disruptive, and Rachel is at a loss at how to help him.
Despite her grief, Lisa finds herself drawn to both Rachel and Declan. She thinks she can keep her emotions at bay- keep from drowning in grief and keep from falling in love-but she finds both to be a tidal wave, washing over her, sweeping her off her feet. Lisa never intended on falling in love with anyone, and she certainly cannot allow herself to fall for someone whose son is a constant reminder of the child she lost. Or can she?
The Roommate Arrangement by Jae
Comedian Stephanie Renshaw hopes to finally get her big break in LA. A chance encounter lands her the perfect apartment close to the comedy clubs, but it comes with a catch: she needs a roommate to afford the rent. Enter Rae Coleman, a former police officer working the door at one of the top comedy clubs. After getting injured in the line of duty and losing her job with the LAPD, Rae guards her wounded soul behind a tough exterior.
At first, the two clash horribly before a tentative friendship develops. Bit by bit, Steph manages to break through the walls Rae has built around her. But Steph has never been in a relationship, preferring casual flings, and Rae isn’t sure she’s ready to be happy again. Will they find the courage to open themselves up to love?
Everything Grows by Aimee Herman
Fifteen-year-old Eleanor Fromme just chopped off all of her hair. How else should she cope after hearing that her bully, James, just took his own life? When Eleanor’s English teacher suggests students write a letter to a person who would never receive it to get their feelings out, Eleanor chooses James.
With each letter she writes, Eleanor discovers more about herself, even while trying to make sense of his death. And, with the help of a unique cast of characters, Eleanor not only learns what it means to be inside a body that does not quite match what she feels on the inside, but also comes to terms with her own mother’s mental illness.
Galileo by Ann McMan
Two years have passed since the events in Dust. Evan Reed is still cranky, but she’s also dealing with the nagging effects of a gunshot wound. Her teenage daughter, Stevie is looking at prospective colleges, and Stevie’s father, Dan, has married a woman half his age. Evan’s childhood pal, Father Tim, is questioning is faith, and Evan’s relationship with publishing magnate, Julia Donne has all the earmarks of heading . . . somewhere.
Thorn by Anna Burke
On a cold day deep in the heart of winter, Rowan’s father returns from an ill-fated hunting trip bearing a single, white rose. The rose is followed by the Huntress, a figure out of legend. Tall, cruel, and achingly beautiful, she brings Rowan back with her to a mountain fastness populated solely by the creatures of the hunt. Rowan, who once scorned the villagers for their superstitions, now finds herself at the heart of a curse with roots as deep as the mountains, ruled by an old magic that is as insidious as the touch of the winter rose. Torn between her family loyalties, her guilty relief at escaping her betrothal to the charming but arrogant Avery Lockland, and her complicated feelings for the Huntress, Rowan must find a way to break the curse before it destroys everything she loves. There is only one problem-if she can find a way to lift the curse, she will have to return to the life she left behind. And the only thing more unbearable than endless winter is facing a lifetime of springs without the Huntress.