Heroes and Heartbreakers has covered the topic of male escorts in romance novels before, but since then, there have been more examples of male prostitutes/male escorts as the hero. (Be warned going into this post, male prostitutes tend to have ridiculous names.)
New Adult readers will fall in love with Linda Kage’s Price of a Kiss. The friends-turned-lovers story is full of twenty-some-odd angst and drama as well as Reese, the witty heroine. Reese is smart, sassy and sticks to her guns about her best friend and the story’s gigolo, Mason. Mason does sell his body for honorable reasons, but his profession is obviously a sore point between the two would be lovers.
Fans of NA sensation Abbi Glines are treated to a hero who sells himself for sex in Just for Now. Part of the popular Sea Breeze series, Preston is a bad boy who has it bad for his friend’s sister, Amanda. The selling-himself-for-sex thing is the main point of conflict between the two protagonists in addition to the whole dating the brother’s friend trope common in romance novels.
In New Adult stories with male escorts, there is usually justification for why the man got into the world’s oldest profession in the first place, i.e. paying medical bills for a sick sister, to support the family, etc. In erotica and adult romance categories, there is less of a need to portray the male escort as a self-sacrificing hero and more of a man who works hard for the money (pun intended).
Fans of erotica and those willing to shell out the cash should take a good look at Cara McKenna’s Curio series. McKenna is a master of unusual erotica and her virgin meets prostitute story is no exception. Readers will like Caroly, a quiet, unassuming heroine who lives in Paris and arranges to lose her virginity to a prostitute, Didier. What began as an Ellora’s Cave novella turned into a series complete with vignettes. As the series continues, Caroly and Didier struggle to create a normal relationship while battling Didier’s agoraphobia and again, the interesting nature of Didier’s profession. In addition, the vigenettes offer dual perspectives, switching between Caroly or Didier depending on the installment so readers get to see both sides of the proverbial coin.
Another erotic novel is Lauren Gallagher’s Damaged Goods, the story of a single mother, Jocelyn, and the prostitute she hires named Sabian. What starts as a dirty interlude quickly turns into a relationship. What’s interesting about Gallagher’s take on the male prostitute is that not only does she bring a child into the mix, but also Sabian is not expected to give up his profession. In one particularly amazing scene, Jocelyn sits down with her son’s biological father and discusses the repercussions of bring Sabian into her son’s life and the two exes have an actual conversation like adults.
Gallagher also writes male/male literature under the name L.A. Witt. Together with Aleksandr Vovinov the Market Garden universe contains a number of tales about men who sell sex and the men who buy their bodies while perhaps winning the hearts of each other. Full of tales about johns and rent boys as well as a hefty dose of BDSM, the Market Garden tales are super short, but fans of male/male stories will find the short stories surprisingly spicy.
Claire Kent’s novels Escorted and Breaking feature another virgin meets prostitute story. Unlike McKenna’s Curio, however, the book is more romance and less erotica. Escorted is the story of Lori meeting Anders, a male prostitute whom she hires to take her virginity. An extremely interesting aspect of this story is the level of protection Anders uses—not only does he use condoms, but he also uses a mouth guard to protect himself from disease.
Finally for comic fans, Viz Media’s shoujo manga, B.O.D.Y. by Ao Mimori, tells the story of Sakura, who has a crush on her high school classmate, Fuji. In Japan, the concept of host/hostess clubs are prevalent. Men or women as customers will pay to spend time with a host or a hostess. While the relationship is not sexual, the customer and the host/hostess interact in a social manner: talking, drinking, etc. Sakura later finds out Fuji works at a host club and other women pay to “date” him. While not a prostitute story, this falls under the “escort” portion of male escort. Once again, Fuji’s profession brings tension into the potential relationship between him and Sakura.
I don’t know if male prostitutes/escorts are the next big thing in romance, but the profession of prostitution definitely brings tension into any relationship and works as a focal plot point for these storylines. What makes or breaks an escort novel or novella for you? What would you like to see more or less of when authors deal with these types of heroes?
Sahara Hoshi reviews for Wicked Lil Pixie and is a lifelong reader of romance. Favorite genres include new adult, paranormal romance, contemporary romance and erotica.