O.k., so you’re curious and want to try something new but you’re a little nervous, not sure if you can do it. Maybe it will be too much too fast, or worse maybe you will like it and suddenly you are not who you thought you were… gasp! No, we’re not talking about sexual orientation here, you just want to read an M/M erotic romance!
First of all you need to know that there are a whole slew of the most talented and amazing authors you have never heard of and many of them have been writing M/M for many years with very healthy backlists containing some of the best book series I have ever had the privilege to read (and obsess over), so needless to say there are literally thousands of gay romance books to choose from. So then where do you start if you’re just dipping your toe in and crossing over for the first time?
First of all, let me just say “welcome”, you are in some terrific company! The M/M readers are voracious consumers who stalk, er I mean, hang out at our fave author’s Twitter and Facebook feeds just waiting for the next tidbit of info on a new release or the next installment of our fave series and lucky us, the authors are super friendly and they love connecting their readers – literally, I have read tweets between authors and readers sharing recipes, discussing stupid pet tricks; they are terrific and real people indeed.
Next, I am going to give you a short list of a few books I was incredibly fortunate to stumble upon when I ventured into gay romance several years ago and I believe they are a great place to start; believable relationships, likable characters you can relate to and just the right amount of hotness to keep things real interesting while not scaring anyone off – but please know that this list is by no means set in stone or all-encompassing of what’s out there. If you want something edgier (BDSM or Taboo) then by all means go for it (and trust me darlin’, there’s some seriously edgy stuff to be had).
Number one on my list, and honestly where I think every M/M newbie should begin is with the book Promises by author Marie Sexton. Seriously, I can’t stress enough how perfect this book is for any level of M/M reader. Regardless of genre, Promises is a love story that is agonizingly built through the friendship of Jared and Matt – 2 very different men, at different junctions in life, but whom find a very rare compatibility that for the first 50% of the novel grows into something so touching your heart will ache to hold and console these men through their discovery – and, yes, you will also want to slap them upside the head when the most obvious is bypassed for the conventions of the norm. You will read almost half of this book before you get any kind of physical intimacy, but trust me when I say the sexual tension is palpable–I don’t think I have ever actually felt two characters fall in love and in lust with each other the way I did for Jared and Matt. Also, the other characters in the book are kept at just enough of a distance that they don’t overwhelm; the focus is kept on Matt and Jared, but the family/friends are the perfect compliment to their friendship/relationship and they move the plot along at a great pace.
The Wedding Planner by G. A. Hauser was truly a pleasant surprise–where I expected two men falling all over each other in heated passion from page, oh I don’t know, TWO maybe–you have to know Ms. Hauser’s writing, most of her books smolder from page one, and she should take that as a huge compliment!–what I got was a heartfelt story about an all-too-sensible stockbroker, Jordan, who begins to realize that maybe he and his perky fiance, Fawn, don’t have as much in common as he thought. But Jordan is 30, successful in his career, lives in a beautiful highrise condo and, well, matrimony is just what you do at this stage in your life…right? As Jordan struggles to justify all of Fawn’s shortcomings, it’s their wedding planner, Tyler, who nearly unbeknownst to Jordan, steps in to bring a realization to Jordan that compatibility, friendship and soul-mate-level desire aren’t always wrapped up in nice neat packages, sometimes fate steps in and you find your world turned upside-down.
In The Wedding Planner, you will get a good 40% or more into this book before any real intimacy starts to take shape, but man is there ever some sexual tension! Let’s just say, even with a pretty blonde like Fawn around, Jordan can’t seem to get his mind off of the super hot wedding planner. I really appreciated the build up in Jordan and Tyler’s friendship and I personally thought Fawn was well done–even though some women might cringe at her stereotypical shopping sprees, wine drinking and girlfriend gossip–I found her to be quite real (I’ve known women like Fawn) and she had just the right amount of screen time. And, a word of warning…this book will make you hungry! For food I should add. Holy cow, I was raiding the fridge after almost every chapter. If you’re even remotely a foodie, this book will have you reaching for blank recipe cards to jot down dishes–and that I really didn’t expect!
If you like mystery and suspense, you need to know about the author Josh Lanyon; he’s the go-to author in M/M romance for a good whodunit or just some hot, hunky detectives and agents. One of my all-time favorite book series, regardless of genre, is Josh’s Adrien English series and book number one, Fatal Shadows, is a perfect place to start. Adrien is one of the most well vetted and crafted characters I have ever read. Adrien is a 30-something bookstore owner, and mystery writer whose boyhood friend is murdered and Adrien is one of the suspects. Enter one tall, brooding and enticingly intimidating LAPD detective, Jake Riordan, and all kinds of witty sarcasm ensues. This is the quintessential love/hate prose, and it is incredibly well done! The mystery is interwoven in and out of the relationships that Adrien has with the many people in his life–Lisa, his mother, is hilarious in her ever-so proper English upbringing way; her doting on Adrien is not only believable, but comical as well. She is one of my favorite tertiary characters of all time. I also appreciated the fact that Adrien isn’t perfect, he suffers from a heart ailment that almost becomes another character in itself and you get to see a very real side of his personality that is brought out beautifully due to his condition. And let’s face it, who couldn’t relate to a character who lives with a chronic condition?
Josh keeps the other characters well into the background, but gives us just enough personality to get to know them, and for some it is due to their reintroduction in subsequent books in the series. You will get over 50% into the book before a bedroom scene, but the quips and back-and-forth barbs between Adrien and Jake make for some great tension–I mean you know these two want each other, but they really don’t like each other, but they are so intrigued they can’t help themselves…you get the picture. And, you should know, that bedroom scene, is NOT between Adrien and Jake which is by far the best part of this book; you go on this wild ride thinking the most expected things, and then it’s something else entirely, but the ending is so worth it!
O.k., so that should get you started. Three very different books, with vastly different characters. There is so many more, I love to talk about the books I read…and well, I just like to talk 😉 So we’ll touch on my favorite ‘series’ next!