As a reader who loves the New Adult genre and also loves a good dosage of M/M romance within it, I often find myself seeking out New Adult novels that feature M/M romances, or M/M romances that could also be labeled as New Adult. Being LGBTQ in one’s college and post-college years is something that affects many people. It’s a time where many people decide to come out, and a time when many people who are already out discover the complexities of their identity. It’s often also a better environment for LGBTQ people afraid to come out at home, though that isn’t by any means a universal truth. I want to share some New Adult M/M romances and authors that, I think, hit the nail on the head when it comes to showcasing an M/M romance with characters in that age group.
The Rear Entrance Series and The Professor's Rule
Heidi Belleau continually challenges traditional expectations in M/M romance and presents characters from diverse backgrounds and personality types. She also does everything with a clear sense of research; I never read her books feeling like they revel in caricatures or stereotyped ideas, and that says a lot about her skill in writing. Heidi Belleau’s Rear Entrance Video series, which includes the books Apple Polisher, Wallflower, and Straight Shooter, feature college students who room together in a house.
The books follow three different romances, each with vastly different character types. The crux of the series is that the main characters all get involved with reworking a sex store called Rear Entrance Video. Belleau has also co-authored a series of shorts with author Amelia C. Gormley that could be labeled as New Adult. They’re kinkier, and start with The Professor’s Rule, but they are just as well-written and really do the job if you’re looking for an erotic New Adult series that involves excellent sex and a professor/student fetish.
Love Lessons and Fever Pitch
Heidi Cullinan is yet another wonderful New Adult M/M author. She’s known for a lot of her adult M/M series, such as the Special Delivery series. Her books tend to be longer, meatier, and tackle a lot of important issues that range in terms of external and internal issues.
Cullinan has an excellent New Adult M/M series that starts with the book Love Lessons and continues with Fever Pitch. Love Lessons involves philosophy, and has two characters falling in love without NA's norm of constant amounts of angst, push-pull dynamics, and road blocks. It’s a long book that covers a lot, yet it all weaves together into a story that does more than you would expect. Fever Pitch involves the world of collegiate a cappella. This is a series that will more than satisfy New Adult readers; it’s not breezy, but it’s not about regular tropes that people associate with the younger levels of LGBTQ people, and it does a great job of invoking the college setting in its depiction of academic culture and excitement.
Now, Social Skills skews a bit younger than the latter two series. It’s also a single title book by author Sara Alva, a relatively unknown author compared to the two I’ve mentioned so far. Social Skills may take a bit longer to get sexy, but it is just as fabulous at depicting a college lifestyle and a New Adult M/M relationship. Of the books mentioned, it fits a lot more of the expected New Adult perimeters in terms of angst levels, though the writing isn’t bloated and the romance deals with some very legitimate romantic themes.
Social Skills particularly stands out to me because of the combination of the sweet, unabashedly romantic voice and the central romance showing the problems of dating someone in the closet—and how, even if the intentions are great, being closeted and dating someone who is out can negatively effect both people involved in the relationship. It does it in a way that really preserves the out character’s emotions and doesn’t treat said character like an emotional punching bag for the closeted character. Instead, Alva makes a point to make the romance have a realistic and difficult arc in order to keep one of the characters from being either used or mistreated in the gain of the happy ending. Definitely a New Adult novel that I’d recommend to readers looking for something with familiar elements that are executed skillfully.
If You Want More…
If these aren’t enough, there are upcoming books and series that I haven’t had the time to touch yet but have heard great things about, or books that, while not perfect for me, were still enjoyable. For a solid novella regarding some kinky sexual discovery in a college dorm, Lana McGregor’s His Roommate’s Pleasure is a fun ride, and doesn’t take long to read or enjoy. It’s lite-BDSM that fits into a lot of genre trends right now, but it’s a story about discovering it more than it is about analyzing it (or screwing it up).
Amelia C. Gormley is starting a new series called Saugatuck Summer. The first book, Saugatuck Summer, released in May from Riptide Publishing. Riptide, which is home to both of the Heidi Belleau series mentioned above, also has the Theta Alpha Gamma series by Anne Tenino. The first book is Frat Boy and Toppy, and it has gotten a lot of excellent praise. Nyrae Dawn, who has written primarily M/F New Adult and YA romance, has recently released a New Adult M/M novel called Rush that includes a football theme. Dawn gets consistently recommended for her romances, and is a great example of how New Adult authors can use their established M/F platforms to write New Adult stories with LGBTQ romances.
Hopefully these stories represent a growing trend. Not just more M/M in New Adult, but F/F and romances featuring non-binary characters as well. These books may be my recommended starting points, but I would love to hear about any that I may have missed so I can make my reading list even longer and support the authors and books that bring New Adult into the LGBTQ sphere.
John is a student, reviewer, and editor with a taste for social justice. He's queer/LGBTQ and has always loved a good romance novel. A current student at Ithaca College, he is majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications and trying to pick up a creative writing minor on the side. If you observe him in the wild, you may see him reading—or find him watching reruns of The Golden Girls while sipping his first/second/third cup of coffee for the day. You can find his reviews on his blog, Dreaming in Books, and listen to his random musings on Twitter @DreamingReviews.