As I mentioned in my previous post I evolved from reading just non-fiction self-help guru’s and biographies (of people with way more interesting lives than my own) to reading the erotic romance novels of great authors such as Karen Marie Moning, Maya Banks and Sherrilyn Kenyon, to name only a few (there are many!) – but it was the book Tempted by Megan Hart that really turned things around for me.
Just to recap: Tempted is about the perfect and cozy married life of Anne and James, living on a lake, crazy about each other, etc. Then James gets a call from a long, lost college buddy, Alex, who accepts James’ invite to stay the summer before Alex leaves to travel overseas. What transpires is a subtle realization that things are not what they seem in Anne’s world – she both fears and is tantalized by James and Alex’s intimate friendship. It’s a great story, but to me the ending was deflating – I felt as though Alex’s decision in that final scene went against everything he was built up to be, but of course I don’t know Alex like the author does so my ‘perception’ of Alex from the book was just that, mine alone.
When I realized how much I loved the relationship between the two male friends in the book, I reached out to the Google-sphere and searched for another book that could give me the same ride – that’s when I found the discreet, yet gaining momentum world of gay erotic romance also known as M/M (Male/Male or Man/Man). So what did gay romance give me that straight can’t? Well, besides the obvious, it’s just about men! Here’s the thing, I love all erotic romance (if you want a truly grown-up book you need the erotic in there) and authors I have already mentioned, along with a slew of other incredible writers, can make the pages sizzle in your sweaty palm hands – but seriously, I just got real tired of the women in the books. I’d had enough of the whining, the insulting of their men, the gossipy girlfriend relationships and when I would read about a woman who could “hold her own against any man” I came to translate that to mean “kick his ass all over Texas if he calls me baby one more time” or something very similar. The women in some of the romance novels are made to be as tough, ass-kicking and smarter (almost always smarter) then the male protagonist. God forbid these men would be allowed to just be men and give some of these divas a middle-finger on his way out the door.
What I found most refreshing about reading the stories surrounding the relationships of gay men, was that they were actually allowed to be men. Just that. Men being men, with each other. You see, I love men. And I’m not talking about loving men as in my orientation, men aren’t just a preference, they are amazing creatures I can’t get enough of – testosterone and all. As a matter of fact, the more testosterone-laden the man is the better. The men I found in the M/M, gay romance genre weren’t like most of the men I was reading about in straight romances; I mean, sure they have the same equipment, they’re just allowed to use it more, and talk about it, and let it lead them around like lost puppies… and it’s o.k.! I find the men I read about now are more real than anything I have read ANYWHERE in the past – even non-fiction tends to water down men to shadows of their masculine selves. Sometimes, I feel like the self-help experts, the fitness guru’s and even some famous male authors of mega-million-books-sold fame, want to strip men down to something akin to a chic lit heroine’s bestest-of-the-best boyfriend who totally understands her love of Gucci.
I know this may not bother the, oh, millions of women or so who read straight romances on a regular basis, but I just got real tired of hearing about female body parts. My eyes would roll as soon as an intimate scene would start and the shirt comes off and ‘off we go’ with how many ways can we describe a woman’s nipples – pink buds, rose petals, blushing pearls, you get the idea – do you know what their called in M/M? Nipples. Every great now and then I get the very rare ‘hardened bud’ reference, but for the most part men have nipples and that’s it, they’re nipples. Maybe it’s because I’m a straight woman, and I just prefer to hear about male body parts, but I got to the point where there were times when het romances started to read like a gynecological visit. Kind of like straight porn, I mean I know there’s a man there, sort of, but you just get tired of female body parts in your face the whole time (of course, some men and women wouldn’t mind that, just sayin’).
For some odd reason a majority of writer’s don’t allow men to be the occasional jerk, or guys who don’t like to talk everything to death. I mean, c’mon, he can hold the car door open for his date and even insist on paying the check – that’s just being a gentleman, but he doesn’t have to put up with games or bullshit and if that’s what he’s getting then he should be able to walk out the door and not call or text. I think this is why I like James Bond so much, especially the grittier Daniel Craig version in Skyfall – he’s the quintessential gentleman, but don’t get in his way or play whiney-ass games, or you will see nothing but the back of his Tom Ford tux and the dust kicked up by one sexy as hell Aston Martin.
So here I am, an avid reader and supporter of all things M/M; and to the amazing authors of non-gay lit, I will leave with this: It’s o.k., let the boys be boys – we can take it. We’re grown-up adult women (and men) and we like REAL men – preferably together 😉