There’s something so appealing about the “ice queen” – that emotionally distant, mysterious female character who keeps others at arm’s length. In many sapphic stories, the ice queen slowly thaws out as another woman chips away at her frosty exterior. This popular romance trope features an initially cold heroine who gradually warms up to love through the persistence and charm of another character.
The appeal is obvious – who doesn’t love a challenge? The ice queen is unattainable, her heart locked away where no one can touch it. Her love interest must carefully navigate the labyrinth of her defenses, finding cracks in the armor and proving their worth. It’s immensely satisfying to watch the ice queen’s resistance slowly melt away as she lets her lover in. We get to experience the transformative power of love along with these characters.
Beyond the tantalizing romantic tension, ice queens are also intriguing characters in their own right. What made this woman so guarded and untouchable? Her backstory and inner complexity are slowly revealed, adding more dimension. Underneath that icy surface is a passionate heart longing for connection.
I know the title says I’ll highlight 5 unforgettable sapphic books featuring compelling ice queen archetypes, but there are so many great ones…and one amazing author of sapphic ice queens. You’re going to get some bonuses! You’ll find space necromancers, demon concubines, cyborg mechanics, uptight executives, a cellist/assassin and more. Join me as I explore these frigid but irresistible heroines and the women who inspire them to thaw!
- Requiem for Immortals by Lee Winter – My personal favorite ice queen book of all time, and Lee Winter is my favorite author of books featuring sapphic ice queens. While debate rages (and rages and rages) online about which of her books is her best, you can’t go wrong with this award winning book featuring cellist and assassin Natalya/Requiem and her prey, Alison/the mouse. I’m a mystery/suspense writer and reader at heart. Romance comes second for me. This book absolutely has it all. The twists Lee Winter pulls off you’ll never see coming because you’ll miss clues, but oh how genius and satisfying the twists are. Lee Winter is the Queen of authors who pen books about sapphic ice queens. Pick up any one of her books. You won’t be disappointed.
- Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – Necromancers in space! The icy Ninth House cavalier Gideon has great banter with the aloof Reverend Daughter Harrowhark. This is a slow, slow burn romance in a book that’s been a TikTok star for at least a couple of years, probably longer, but I didn’t start paying any attention to TikTok until sometime in 2021 when my (now) teenager wouldn’t shut up about wanting a phone so he could watch it. Published in 2019, it still rocks all the bestseller charts.
- Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur – Uptight actuary Darcy meets free-spirited astrologer Elle. Opposites attract in this cute contemporary romance with a icy corporate woman. Also a multi-award winner including a Lambda Literary Award (Lammy). This particular book falls hard into the grumpy/sunshine trope. Too, if you love the ice queen character type (grumpy) pulled into a fake relationship trope, this is your book.
- The Headmistress by Milena McKay – A chance encounter, an unforgettable night. Do yourself a huge favor and DON’T read the description of this multi-award winning novel. It’s not a fantasy about dragons, trust me. I couldn’t understand why everyone raved about it until it started winning awards and I ‘made’ myself read it. I’m so sorry I waited so long. None of Milena’s books are to be missed, but this one should be first on your list.
Ice queens are not easy to write. All those rough edges… Can you imagine writing two of them facing off against each other? I did it along with my friends Barbara Winkes and Alysia D. Evans. We created an anthology of three full length novellas, each pairing two queens. You can read all about the making of Queen Vs. Queen here. The book is on sale all through October for only $.99 US/equivalent.
Enjoy your ice!