Fingersmith by Sarah WatersRead about the other entries on the list.
“I had touched her before, to wash and dress her, but never like this,” narrates Sue, a lady’s maid. “So smooth she was! So warm! It was like I was calling the heat and shape of her out of the darkness – as if the darkness was turning solid and growing quick, under my hand.” What gives this passage such erotic power is how both Sue and Maud, her mistress, are blindsided by desire. At the start of the book, Sue has been lured to work as a lady’s maid by a swindler called Gentleman who aims to marry and ruin the heiress Maud, before dumping her in an asylum and making her fortune his own. Like you do. Sue will get a cut of the fortune if the plot is successful. In the above scene, Sue is ostensibly coaching naive Maud in what she must do on her wedding night after, as planned, marrying Gentleman. Instead, Sue forgets her role in the plot as she explores Maud’s body. She brings Maud to orgasm and then, against her scheming, falls sweetly for the woman she planned to help destroy:
“She began to shake. I supposed she was still afraid. Then I began to shake, too. I forgot to think of Gentleman, after that. I thought only of her. When her face grew wet with tears, I kissed them away.
“You pearl,” I said. So white she was! “You pearl, you pearl, you pearl.”
Well, it worked for me.
Fingersmith is among Kirsty Logan's ten best LGBT sex scenes in literature.