Leigh's Backlist Picks
Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha)

Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha)

Empire Of Sand is a captivating fantasy novel with its Mughal-inspired world-building. Viewed as an outsider because of her Amrithi mother, Mehr chafes against her stepmother's restrictions and the expectation to marry. And yet, marry she must for Mehr has come to the attention of the Emperor's mystics and The Maha has declared she must marry Amun. Neither she nor Amun can decline and thus their relationship begins on rocky ground. But just because they have to obey doesn't mean they obey mindlessly. There is such rich symbolism and imagery throughout, largely due to the Amrithi's powerful rites where they dance. As Mehr learns more of the rites and the stories behind them, she recovers a piece of herself and her history and becomes a force to reckon with in the process. The way Mehr and Amun's relationship evolves is worth a closer look, as is the way they band together to face down The Maha. More info →
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Idlewild

Idlewild

This is a lovely heartachingly good contemporary romance. Asher has one last chance to revive the Detroit gastro pub he started with his late husband. Tyler is among the new staff that Asher hires, hoping to save money for med school. The Detroit restaurant scene, as well as Asher and Tyler's differing experiences living there, offers an insightful glimpse into the problems the city faces and urban centers at large. The character growth was phenomenal, especially as Asher considers starting a relationship with Tyler and what this means for his grief over his husband's death. Identity, gentrification, loss...there’s so much that lends itself for discussion. More info →
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Wild Beauty

Wild Beauty

The Nomeolvides women haven't been able to leave La Pradera in more than a century. The estate gardens enchant but they also hide a tragic legacy. If the women fall in love, their lovers disappear. But then one day, a boy appears, upending everything they know. Lush, evocative magical realism—I was stunned by the beauty of this story and its core messages about love, colonialism, complicity, and restitution. Anna-Marie McLemore writes such gorgeous prose. I adored the characters and, as a white cishet woman, really appreciated the ownvoices Latinx and queer representation. More info →
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Fingersmith

Fingersmith

Yes, this is a big book for a book club but trust me. I inhaled the last 400 pages of this Dickensian literary fiction mystery. I had to know what would happen next! The relationship between gentry and servant can be fraught and even more so when one is running a con on the other. Maud and Susan are complex characters that beg a reaction, particularly when they did things with which I did not agree. And yet I understood why they reacted the way they did. Their relationship is so tenuous in places and runs the full gamut of emotions and I had no idea how it might end for them, particularly because literary fiction is not known for giving queer characters a Happily Ever After. There are some truly striking twists and turns and I don’t want to say anything more than that Waters had my full attention. Secrets and perceptions and hidden agendas. You are definitely going to want to talk about this once you're done. More info →
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