Sep 11 2012 12:30pm

Top Five Tortured M/M Characters

Fatal Shadows by Josh LanyonOh...the wonderful angst of a tortured hero.

Damaged, broody, morose heroes whose actions often offend us, while at the same time make us want to draw them to our bosoms (or manly hairy chests), in comfort are staples of the romance genre. We are willing to do almost anything to be with them because we know, deep in our hearts, that they are redeemable.

Regardless of whether they truly are or not.

Below are five tortured m/m heroes that will have you laughing, crying, and wanting to save:

1) Jake Riordan, from Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series, is a closet homosexual homicide detective who is involved with both Adrien English, a bookstore owner, and with a fellow female police officer. Jake’s double life is slowly tearing him apart, and beginning to affect all those who surround him. Jake loves Adrien, but is unable to accept the fact he is gay. His relationship with Adrien is fragmented by love, but also with disgust,because he is disgusted by his own feelings towards a man. Jake decides to marry his female cop when she gets pregnant, and justifies his decision to Adrien by claiming he wants a family. Adrien knows the internal battle that Jake faces and tries to gracefully let him go, yet, for all his excuses and lies, Jake cannot seem to leave Adrien alone.

“He never lied to me. I just didn't ask the questions I didn't want to know the answers to.”
― Josh Lanyon, Death of a Pirate King

Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux2) Zane Garrett, FBI special agent and damaged hero from Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series, is the epitome of tortured. When his wife dies, Zane falls down a destructive path filled with alcohol, drugs and suicidal behavior. Meeting Ty Grady, also an FBI agent, further confuses him because for the first time since his wife died, he begins to feel something for someone else. Desire and lust...for a man. This sends Zane into a tailspin as he deals with his feelings for Ty, his feelings of betrayal towards his dead wife, and the ramifications of what will happen if anyone finds out.

“I didn't care about anybody, even myself. And when I did….” Zane’s jaw clenched, and he kept his eyes focused on the window. Anything but on the man sitting across from him. “I let him walk away.”
― Abigail Roux, Cut & Run

Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley3) Miller Sutton, a tactile, by-the-book FBI agent in Brooke McKinley’s Shades of Gray, sees his life and work in black and white. There are no “shades of gray” for him. Meeting Danny Butler, drug runner turned federal witness, has him re-examining everything he has ever believed in. He has watched Danny for years, trying to find his way into bringing down the mob. Once he gets Danny into protective custody, he begins to question his life and values. Can he be the man he wants to be or will society and his own prejudices force him to remain the man he thinks he should be? He fights his feelings for Danny, because admitting to them would breach his defenses and send his life spinning out of control.

“Why,” he panted into Danny's neck, “why's it so goddamn good?” He was surprised at how full his voice sounded, so close to overflowing its steady banks.

Danny stroked his hair, his lips warm against Miller's cheek. “Because it's us, Miller,” he whispered. “Because it's us.”
― Brooke McKinley, Shades of Gray

Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels4) NY vice detective Evan Cerelli has a great job, a beautiful wife, and four fantastic kids...until the moment his life is ripped from him when his wife is killed. Suddenly he is adrift in a sea of grief and confusion. When he meets former detective Mike Height, what starts as a much-needed friendship becomes more as both of them begin to experience feelings for one another. Evan has a hard time dealing with this turn of events. His wife was his first date, his first sexual experience, his first love. He has never had sexual feelings for a man before. He also has to deal with how society; how his family, friends, and colleagues, will deal with this knowledge. Evan’s wants, desires and fears are a tangible presence, especially when he decides to turn from the relationship and Matt.

“Words just confused things—when they held each other like this, it made so much more sense.”
― Tere Michaels, Faith & Fidelity

Change of Heart by Mary Calmes5) Mary Calmes has a way with tortured m/m heroes. In Change of Heart, we are introduced to Jin Rayne. Not only is he gay, but he’s a werepanther with a special gift. A special gift that has caused him much pain and suffering. His trust in anyone—especially alphas—is null. He and his best friend Crane, flee their pack and send their days avoiding other werepanthers. When he meets Logan Church, every defense mechanism Jin possesses springs into action. Logan is the alpha of alphas and he scares Jin to death. He sees only his past in Logan's face. Jin knows this man is his soulmate, but Jin denies he wants love and a family, even to himself. Jin wants, no NEEDS, to be loved for who he is...not what he is.

“It was surprising to hear it from his lips, my plain, ordinary name spoken as it never had been before, with awe, lite it was sacred, like treasure. Like I was treasure.”
― Mary Calmes, Change of Heart

Which tortured m/m characters are your favorites?


Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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Monica Vidal
1. Monica Vidal
I soooo need to read "Fatal Shadows". I have it on my kindle but keep procrastinating the reading...

I loved your choices. Zane is really tortured but I feel like Ty is a little bit too. I guess that's the magic on the Cut and Run series: they are both damage goods. :)

And Miller...awww...I love Shades of Gray so much and you posted my ultimate favorite moment of the book. That scene is so gut wreching. All the feels!

Faith and Fidelity is also one of my favorite books. Matt and Evan are such a sweet couple...I mean, besides all the angst and all that jazz.

I also like Zero at the Bone, D is the epitome of tortured hero. A hired assassin who has feelings for the very person he needs to kill. What else?

Oh and I am reading Aleksandr Voivo's Special Forces and if Vadim and Dan aren't tortured heros, then I don't know who else is. This book is killing me softly with each page that I turn. Honestly, I don't think I've cried that much as reading SF.

Awesome post!!!
Lege Artis
2. LegeArtis
Oh, Tori... You touched me. Adrien English is my favorite m/m series. I fucking cried through those books. After Hell You Say I wanted to shake Jake up so hard,but I wanted so much for them to make it somehow. As Josh Lanyon summed Jake perfectly with line from song:
"A beautiful fucked up man."
On my list there is Silvio Spadaro from Aleksandr Voinov's Dark Soul. He is all kind of twisted...I love him.
Alex Spider from P.A.Brown's Geography of Murders series is another great example... Very hard to love.
Yeah, I love your posts...
Monica Vidal
3. WandaWolfe
Try Admit One by Jenna Hilary Sinclair. Tom Smith is a deeply closeted high school teacher with a crippled arm. He goes to another city once a month to have a one-night stand. Then one of his one-night stands comes to a parent-teacher meeting and Tom's life begins to unravel.

You will most certainly cry while reading this book. The tension builds and builds and when you find out why Tom is so deeply closeted, your heart will break for him.

Another good book is Zathyn Priest’s The Curtis Reincarnation, about a British rock star abused by his manager, and who finds help from the gay brother of one of his biggest fans.

Andrew Grey's Bottled Up is about a wine store owner who saves a teenager from rape and finds the situation is far worse than he thought. There are several other good books set in the same city, with different main characters but overlapping places and people.

Z. A. Maxfield's St. Nacho's series also fits the category, and to some extent, so do her The Long Way Home and The Pharaoh’s Concubine.

Ally Blue does the tortured hero well. The Bay City Paranormal series has several of them, especially Love, Like Ghosts which is about a telekinetic grad student tortured by a terrible event in his past. He finds it easier to communicate with a campus ghost than with his fellow students. A lot of Blue's standalones are great as well.

J. L. Langley's With Caution is about a firefighter coming to terms with being made a werewolf (which happens in the previous book Without Reservation), while trying to protect his younger brother from the father who had abused him when he was a teenager (not sexual abuse, but physical, leaving him with horrendous scars on his back). The man who changed him did so to save his life, and tries to help him with his brother.
Monica Vidal
4. Torifl
Monica Vidal-You will LOVE the Adrian English series. It breaks my hart everytime I re read. I have Special Forces just haven't started yet. I hear it's brutal.

LegeArtis-Oh, Jake. I strangled him so many times while I was reading. lol I wrote this before I read Dark Souls otherwise, Silvo would have def. been in here.

WandaWolfe-You ma'dam, are a book pimp. Your suggestins made my cc cry. lol I enjoyed Ally Blue's Bay City PNR series alot. Sam & Bo *le sigh*
Anne Marie Armbruster
5. annie1779
I fell in love with the Cut and Run series. It was my intro the m/m genre. I am so hooked. I just finished the Special Forces series and I was blown away. I have started to reread them. This series has everything from violence to love and more. I am always looking for a good series to sink my teeth in. Thanks for the suggestions.
Monica Vidal
6. LisaR
Zane (and Ty) are my favorite anything. :D

To be honest though, the Cut & Run series is the only one from this list that I've read so far. But several of the other books/series mentioned sound great and I'll hopefully get around to reading them eventually.

The only other m/m books I've read (so far) are Josh Lanyon's Dangerous Ground series and Caught Running by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban and I'm not sure the characters in those series would really qualify as tortured characters. I'm currently reading Hot Head by Damon Suede and at about 26% I'm feeling like Griff might just be a top tortured m/m character for me.
Monica Vidal
7. leiliaeli
I have to say that from all those listed here the only one that really made me cry , really made my heart clench in anguish for him, was Jake. Perhaps it was because I could identify myself better to him.
Perhaps it was because Josh has a way of writing that gives his charachter so much life that they almost become like real, live friends.
Whatever the case, Jake remains the one dearest to me among all those poor tortured heroes. Even among other Josh Lanyon carachters Jake and Adrien remain my undefeated favourites.
Candice Burnett
8. SleepyVamp
I agree with LisaR, I would put Damon Suede's Hot Head on this list. Griff is tortured by the new feelings he develops for his best friend Dante after they survive 9/11. Beautiful story about how shared trauma can change how you look at yourself and everyone around you.

G.A. Hauser's Wedding Planner is also good. Jordan hires Tyler to plan his wedding, but is inexplicably attracted to Tyler who is openly gay. Jordan must decide if he can live with the passionless marriage he had planned, or if he can risk coming out for Tyler.
Monica Vidal
9. ofirablack
Omg, I think you haven't read Special Forces (Soldiers, mercenaries and veterans) by Varsh and Marquesate.


I couldn't even finish the last book, for real. It was physically impossible to keep on reading that torture. One hint: Soldiers.

Oh boy do I reccomend it? Hell yeah.
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