Oh, hey. You know how I’ve been struggling with my goals, like, for most of the year to the point where I’m making super-undetailed lists like this just to keep me motivated because this is a list I can accomplish?
Yeah, I may have blown this month’s list clear out of the water. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve finished 17 books, of which a whopping 10 had asexual characters or were described as having asexual characters. More shockingly, around half of that number can be said to be traditionally published and most of those by Big Publisher imprints.
Yeah, the world can miss me with “But there is no asexual representation anywhere” because, clearly, even in tradpub there is plenty. The trouble is that people don’t know where to look and “I can’t find the rep” is a very different tenor to “The rep does not exist”. (But, hey, we all know my bugbear about people saying the representation doesn’t exist, right?)
Anyway! So that is a goal that I blew clear out of the water. But then I set out to write an essay on mainstream SFF fiction ace rep, so I wanted to read as many of the books as I could and… Yeah, this happened. As I’m writing this, I’ve just started on a reread of Jo Walton’s The King’s Peace, so perhaps the count for this month will actually be one book higher than that. Ooooooooh.
Editingwise… I admit that I lost track of my nonfiction writing, but I did finish up the revision of DemiPrincess1 and sent it off to betareaders and critique partners. I’ve also made a tiny start on DemiPrincess2 and I’m going to have so much fun with it. 😀 But, yeah, my editing encompasses something like the last quarter of DemiPrincess1, so way more than the 5,000 I was aiming for. GO ME!
Did someone say “Stories with happy asexual characters not in any way associated with death?”
Hi! Let’s make a list! It’ll be relatively short, but that’s partially because I’m taking a veeeeeery broad view on “associated with death”, which basically means “Does death play a big part in the ace’s life over the course of the story told herein? Yes? No, you don’t get to be on this list”. Like I said. It is veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery broad.
Due to my reading diet, the vast majority of these books are some flavour of speculative fiction and predominantly indie. There’s, like, one that’s straight-up contemporary romance and that’s it? (Like, there are more contemporary books I’ve read, but look I’m not listing you a suicidally depressed ace spec character who spends most of the book struggling with depression on a list about happy aces. IDC if he ends up happy at the end.)
City of Strife/City of Betrayal by Claudie Arseneault
CAL IS THE PUREST, LOVELIEST HAPPIEST CINNAMON ROLL IN THE WORLD. Seriously. Are you looking for happy (aro)aces not at all associated with death? YOU NEED CAL IN YOUR LIFE LIKE LAST YEAR, TRUST ME. He is the happiest, preciousest, liveliest, sweetest ace in fiction EVER.
As you’d expect from a character who’s literally written to counteract these particular ace tropes. Don’t believe me? Believe Claudie. She said so!
Also, he’s not the only aro or ace character in this trilogy (of which currently only the first 2 books have been published), so if you’re looking for a series that has more than one ace not associated with death (happiness may not occur until the end of book 3, though), you need to get on this series asap because it has them. In spades. (PUN TOTALLY NOT INTENDED BUT I’M KEEPING IT.)
These Isandor books also come with bonus “Everyone but the main antagonist is some flavour of queer”.
27 Hours by Tristina Wright
You can quibble about the death-associations with this one a little since everyone is trained to kill and Braeden does actually kill several people throughout the novel. Also happy may be a bit of a stretch by the end of it, seeing how action-packed and battle-focused it is. But, you know what? Braeden is pretty comfy with himself and being ace and… Look, I’ll honest. While I like Braeden as a character, I didn’t like the stereotype-upon-stereotype portrayal (for a variety of reasons; check back in December for my complete thoughts!), but I adore him even so. The only reason he’s not a happy death-unassociated ace is because pretty much no one in the book is either happy or death-unassociated, so it balances out for me. It may not for you and that’s totally fine.
The Goose Girl by Robin Gallica
(TW: Transphobia such as deadnaming)
Okay, so the ace-content in this one is… very subtle, and see above for additional warnings, but. Ava is absolutely 100% not dead or associated with death and she is, all in all, pretty darned happy with the way her life turns out.
A Courtship of Dragons by Becca Lusher
This is a romance story, so it is aaaaaaaaaaaall about demisexual Mastekh and allosexual Estenarven getting together and finding happiness. Again, the ace-content is very subtle in this one (which breaks my heart), but happy ace dragon! Oh. Yeah. He’s a dragon. They both are. The title is kind of a giveaway WHEN DO ACES GET TO BE ACTUAL DRAGONS, I ASK YOU?!
That said, you may very well want to read Blazing Dawn first because this is set during events in that time and presumes you know what’s going on and who everyone is.
Sea Foam and Silence by Lynn E. O’Connacht
That’s me! This is a verse novel retelling of The Little Mermaid that is an ace romance featuring one demiromantic ace and one aromantic ace. And also a homoromantic allosexual. I wrote it because… Well, basically I just wanted a happy, fluffy, gentle ace romance that was for me. So I wrote it! And I’m happy to hear readers like it for the same reasons too!
There is some death involved here, though. I mean, our little adventurous mermaid is a carnivorious sea creature that considers humans a good meal when the story begins. But also she wonders how sentient humans actually are, so she goes off to investigate and yeah. But that’s it. Otherwise she’s reeeeaaally bubbly and cheerful and her basic response to everything is, uh, think Tangled‘s Rapunzel when everything is neeeeew and awesome? Like she is that kind of happy, bubbly, sees-no-evil, cheerful, optimistic sweetness.
Bernhard, our prince, is aroace and also adorbs. He’s quiet and sweet and I would 100% give him all the hugs if he weren’t touch-averse. But he is, so don’t hug him, please. Just go sit in a nice artistic spot and let him sketch you instead.
Dreamhearth by M.C.A. Hogarth
CW: Vasiht’h’s asexuality is the cause of genetic engineering and Jahir’s sexuality is actually supersupersuperrepressed.
Technically, this is the third book in a quartet, but this is the first one that 100% does not feature Jahir or Vasiht’h being all that closely involved with death. They’re therapists. Mindline (the second book) features Jahir working in a hospital and dealing with death and Mindtouch has a strong subplot with terminally ill children, so I’ve opted to focus on this one.
I did tell you that I was taking a very broad definition of “associated with death”. That includes “books in which death plays a significant part in the narrative even if it is not directly linked to the ace characters”. I have masses and masses of fondness for the first two books because they were the first I read that features a QPR at its heart.
Dreamhearth is all about Jahir and Vasiht’h starting up their practice after graduation and building an adult life together. It is soft and sweet and gentle and it makes me very happy. There are books that focus on aces just having lives and being happy and finding ways to be part of communities. Also, Vasiht’h is sort of like Cal in that he is a super-friendly, people-loving ace character and he has ALL THE FAMILY TIES (which are a major, major factor in this book, btw) and. Just. Look. Healthy and happy family relationships for the ace characters. I want.
All Note Long by Annabeth Albert
CW: Homophobic slurs and anti-sex worker comments.
You know. In case you didn’t want to have only SFF aces. Have a contemporary romance demisexual, finding happiness and getting drawn more into society again. It is… not really my kind of book (notably: I really disliked how Michelin’s demisexuality was brought up once by Lucky and then never again by anyone), but happy ace spec character is happy and this book is 100% death-free.
Viral Airwaves by Claudie Arseneault
Henry is heteroromantic asexual! And he loves noodles and is basically like Bilbo Baggins except with a hot air balloon. The ace-content in this one is pretty light again and because it’s a story about regime-toppling and people making the world a better place through tackling corruption, the book as a whole is not free of death, but by and large not in relationship to Henry. Henry mostly just wants to live his life and eat noodles and he’s just there to help his friends.
Also Hot Air Balloon and dreams coming true.
Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari
This is a science fiction YA featuring not one but TWO ace spec leads! Also uses on page labels for one of them. I have high hopes that labels will follow for the other in book 2 because there are reasons why they don’t appear on page in this one. It is an EPIC science fiction adventure that involves time travel and creepy governments and learning to stand up for yourself and mysteries that have to be discovered.
Also no deaths at all. Well, some presumed deaths, but you’ll see what I mean when you read it. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun.
The Second Mango by Shira Glassman
Okay, you know, like with 27 Hours, Rivka is a warrior trained to fight. She’s sort-of death adjacent in that sense, but I don’t think I recall ever seeing her kill on page. (I may be misremembering.) But Rivka is a kick-ass demisexual warrior lady who becomes besties with nerdy, lesbian queen Shulamit (whom, I admit, I love even more). This is the first book in a series, featuring both Rivka and Shulamit getting a happy ending and becoming chosen family and besties. Rivka is a major part in most all of the subsequent books, so technically you get four books for the listing of one! But this is the one where her demisexuality is most prominent and also it’s the first book in the series, so I figured I’d just list this one.
Cantor for Pearls by M.C.A. Hogarth
CW: One of the four genders uses “it” as its pronoun.
This is, technically, the sequel to Thief of Song and you may want to read that first, but you don’t have to have to. This stands on its own pretty well and is basically marketed as an asexual romance because Always Falling is asexual. It’s been way too long since I read this, but I adore Always Falling and stories wherein aces get to live happy lives with a community and/or family around them to support them and, okay, so Always Falling has some family troubles that need sorting, but in the end it is happy supportive families and communities and yeah. *happy sigh*
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
This one features an asexual secondary character. Natalie doesn’t get too much screen-time, so you may want to pass on it because she’s not in the novel all that often, but she’s an engineer (who is kick-ass at maths) and she’s brave and adventurous and look. She joins Isabella Trent (then still Isabella Camherst) in travelling to foreign lands to study dragons in a pseudo!Victorian period where her options would otherwise be marriage or, uh, marriage.
Did I mention that Natalie is studying flight mechanics so she can get humans to experience flight? ’cause she is. She’s resourceful and smart and I really really really really wish we’d seen a bit more of her than we did.
Also: No death associations of any kind for Natalie. I know you’re probably not expecting there to be given that that’s the whole point of this list, but I figured I would make it absolutely clear.
The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey
A novella! Featuring an asexual MC who is already in a happy relationship at the start of the story. Theo just wants to be an awesome architect/engineer and he gets caught up in plots that are threatening everything he cares about: the city he’s studying in, his family, the kingdom the city is in, the people… Yeah, no, okay, the people is probably a given.
But he is sweet and generous and not a fighter like his sister (who is allosexual) knows how to be and he does his best, but he doesn’t do aaaaaanything even vaguely associated with death from what I recall and he is just precious and if you want happy aces, he starts off happy at the beginning, then plot happens but he still has all that made him happy, and he continues to have them (and more!) at the end. HAPPY ACES HAVING GOOD, HAPPY LIVES ARE MY JAM.
The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones
Alt!historical fantasy with an f/f ace couple! This book is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall about the SUPERSUBTLE BLINK AND YOU MISS IT romance starring a demisexual lead. Also alchemy. And political intrigue. And being various flavours of queer in a historical queer-unfriendly setting.
If you’re looking for historical fiction featuring aces (and aces getting happy endings), give it a go. It’s low fantasy, so most of the time you know it’s not actual historical fiction largely because of the setting being clearly fictional and not Actual Europe.
And there you go! 14 asexual characters who get to live happy lives and are totally (or mostly) not-death-associated in any way and certainly not in any stereotypical way. Happy reading!
Due to a mix of being really busy and having some offline life family emergencies last week (things have been steadily improving, but it was still a massive scare), I’ve elected to largely sit out talking about (my) asexuality this Ace Awareness Week because I’m just… not in a state of mind to deal with amisics like I most likely would. 🙁
Instead, I’ve been working hard on drafting an essay that looks at asexual representation in mainstream SFF over the past week and I’ve been diligently focusing my reading on those books on that list that I haven’t yet read. Which means that, behind the scenes, I’m actually doing a fair amount of talking about asexuality! And then I recalled I had at least one review with ace rep go live this week and I was drafting several others and it struck me. I may not feel up to writing something entirely new for public consumption (I have thoughts about discussing the ace rep in DemiPrincess and Promises.), I can make a list of stuff I’ve done in the past. Especially since a lot of it’s discussing books with asexual characters in them and focusing on the kind of asexual representation found in them.
So here, I am! With a list! I hope you’ll find something useful to read among them. Or at least that you’ll find the way I discuss the representation and the way that changes of interest.
Writing: aka Behind-the-Scenes, bonus stories and excerpts (usually DemiPrincess1)!
Note: I’ve elected to include only those books I either picked up because of the asexual representation, which means most reviews are from late 2016 and this year, so don’t be surprised if you find that I’ve talked about a book with ace spec characters and it’s not in this list! It’s not meant to be exhaustive. Just cover the books where I’ve been talking about asexuality.
That… uh… was more than I was expecting and yet it feels like far too little. And also incomplete. But these are already a lot of links. So hopefully it is a useful overview/resource of what I’ve been saying over the years.
She had no idea what passion was,
Until she saw them...
Lady Alain needs a husband, and Quintin Wyntor will do just fine.
She plans to offer him a mutual agreement of respect and independence, something any bachelor in England would be happy for.
But she didn't know his mistress would be a mister.
When she sees them together something is stirred.
Desire is ignited.
But she still doesn't want to be touched.
Celeste knows that Quinn was meant for Calder, but she can't deny the way she feels.
When Calder leaves the country, Quinn is devastated.
He decides to explore his feelings for Celeste to ease his broken heart but in one unchecked moment of passion, mutual need spins out of control and marriage is the only way to protect her.
This book is the story of Celeste and has her happily for now.
It is also the beginning of Calder and Quinn's story which is continued in THE SPARE AND THE HEIR.
This book. This. Book. Okay, so The Trouble with Grace came onto my radar somewhere around mid-September as being a historical romance featuring an ace-spec (autochrissexual and/or gray ace, to be specific) character. This piqued… the attention of pretty much everyone I know because I can count the number of historical fiction books (never mind historical romance) with explicitly ace-coded protagonists on one hand. It’s basically this book and that’s it. But I see people asking about historical ace fiction reasonably frequently and… Yeah. So this was high on the wishlist. Then a friend read it and… hated it. To pieces.
And I was… unsure. So I picked up the sample and figured I would make up my own mind. If the sample hadn’t ended when it did, I don’t think I would have managed to read much further before tossing the book onto my DNF pile. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book on any level. Not based on what I read, anyway. The Trouble with Grace is, hands-down, the worst story I’ve (attempted to) read this year. But not so much because of the actual depiction of Celeste’s asexuality.
The whole city is searching for Hasryan—some for revenge and justice, others to save their friends. Yet no one knows where to find him except Lord Arathiel Brasten, who vanished 130 years ago only to magically return.
Lord Diel Dathirii’s struggle to free his city from the neighbouring imperialistic enclave is far from over. Enemies gather around him, and without allies in Isandor’s upper spheres, he must place his fate in Lower City residents. Little does he know, the city he’s trying to save might well save him in return.
City of Betrayal is the second book in Claudie Arseneault’s City of Spires trilogy. I don’t recommend reading it as a standalone book. The City of Spires books are basically one very long story chopped into three books and City of Betrayal will pick up pretty much where City of Strife left off. It’ll catch you up eventually, but not for a long time.
The end of the world was supposed to come with zombies attached, or maybe a flying meteor, but Dell finds that the reality is much less exciting—and infinitely lonelier.
In the wake of a virus that decimated the population, the place she calls home has turned into a ghost town. She hasn’t talked to anyone but her cat in weeks and finding an unopened bag of chips while looting the local grocery store is the only thrill she’s feeling.
There must be other survivors out there. But finding them means leaving behind her carefully organized stock of canned goods and burgeoning gnome collection.
Open Mic Night at the End of the World by Jessica Meyers is a post-apocalyptic novella that’s… unlike any post-apocalyptic fiction I’ve read. I think On the Edge of Gone comes closest in terms of feel and atmosphere and even then it’s actually nothing like that.
Disclaimer: I know the author from Twitter and was provided with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
CWs: mentions of death, mentions of suicidal ideation, brief scene of animal related violence: character interrupts fighting dogs and is bitten, runs away. Also descriptions of anxiety.
Friends and lovers have always come easily to Estenarven kin Boulderforce, until Mastekh. For the first time in over three hundred years, Estenarven has found a dragon that matters. Now all he has to do is convince him.
Mastekh kin Rainstorm doesn’t expect much from life; he mostly wants to be left alone. Until Estenarven leaves a gift on his pillow. For the first time someone is paying attention to Mastekh, but can this shy, downtrodden dragon ever learn to trust another – and himself – enough to give in to life, joy... and maybe even love?
Warning! This M/M romantic side-adventure contains a watery dragon with no confidence and a stone-stubborn Boulderforce with confidence enough for two. May also contain an interfering Starshine, a slightly perplexed Blazeborn and kissing. Enjoy!
A Courtship of Dragons was, once upon a time, intended to be a short romance novelette set between Becca Lusher’s Blazing Dawn and Storm Rising. It follows the courtship of Khennik’s two aides: Estenarven and Mastekh.
Standard Frienship Bias disclaimer applies: Becca is a very good friend and I may be biased.
I turned thirty this year and I have yet to have my first kiss, much less a relationship with someone. I have yet to find someone that I connect with enough to be that open. I hear terms like gray-sexual and demi-sexual thrown around and figure I’ll just be alone. No one wants to take the time to get to know me; they just want to hop right in bed.
A black and white photograph just showing two men, who look very similar, their mouths almost joined as they come in for a kiss.
This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group's "Love is an Open Road" event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.
Not Even Close by Lisa Oliver was brought to my attention… ages ago as being an m/m romance with a demisexual protagonist. Obviously that had my interest immediately. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend it to anyone.
TW: amisia, homomisia, slutshaming, implications that abuse is part of a health relationship, sexual coercion
Life on Mars isn't all it's cracked up to be when you're Isaak Contreras. Ever since his dad disappeared two years ago, Isaak's been struggling to keep up in school, and he never seems to be able to live up to his mom's high expectations. But everything changes when he finds an ancient coin among his missing father's possessions. The coin makes him a target of both the Martian colonial government and a crazed scientist with a vendetta—and it leads him to a girl from another time named Nadin, who believes that Isaak might just hold the key to saving both their worlds. That is, if they can survive long enough to use it...
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to reading Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari. Fourth World has been on my radar for, gosh, I don’t know how long as featuring not one but TWO asexual spectrum protagonists in a YA scifi novel, and one of them is demisexual.
Yeah, I don’t know how it took me ages to pick it up either. But pick it up I did and now I am here to natter about it! Let’s get to it! After some content warnings.
From today (October 9th) to October 13th Changeling’s Time is available on Amazon for free. So if you’ve been wanting to try out more of my short works for free, now’s your chance!
Next week October 16th to October 20th, To Sleep for a Season will get its free promo week too. So if you like Changeling’s Time, hold tight and you’ll be able to get both these short stories for free!
Come meet my little alien critters that are kind of like a cross between a bat, a dinosaur and a sugar-glider as they deal with family and grief, faith and xenophobia, and also natural catastrophes!
I’m superproud of these stories. I think they’re some of my best works, so I hope that if you decide to download and read them, you’ll also consider leaving a short review for them. That would mean so, so much. <3
Please note! I’m experimenting with KDP Select again, so for the foreseeable future, these short stories will be Amazon-exclusive.
Because I realise I haven’t announced it here yet: I’ve finished the first polishing round of DemiPrincess and have sent the story off to betas for commentary. Yes, I have finally finished that darned book that took me almost a year longer than I’d expected. (I’m still upset about that.)
This means that I’m very close to being able to start on book 2. It is actually within my reach to try and work on the thing in November! :O Okay, I probably won’t because I want to focus on a novelette idea, but I’M GETTING CLOSER THIS IS SO EXCITING. OMG!
Little Lion Lynnet’s now has a proper SSL certificate. Whoo! I’m also slowly closing up the comments on older posts. I find it quite hard to keep track of comments in multiple locations, so I’m slowly shifting the website over to be more informational than interactive. You can still leave comments on my Patreon, of course! That’s the main place to find me. I hope this won’t inconvenience anyone, but thank you so much for understanding. <3
And that’s it! That’s all the updates I’ve got for you today!