Nov 14 2012 3:00pm

Dark ’n’ Gritty Heroes Times Two: Putting the M/M in “Mmmm”

Bitter Harvest by Kim KnoxThe phrase “double feature” is usually applied to films. You know, like when drive-in theaters used to show two movies together like Them! and I Married a Monster from Outer Space (Well, um, I don’t actually know if those two movies were ever billed together, but I so would have been there!).

Ahem. Anyway, by coincidence I read two m/m science fiction romance novellas back to back. Upon finishing the second one I thought, “Hey, these two stories would make a great double feature!” By that I mean that they have characters, settings, and romances that pair nicely together for when you’re in the mood for edgy, intense stories.

More specifically, both stories feature heroes who are as grittylicious as they come.

Bitter Harvest by Kim Knox is a near future, post-apocalyptic tale in which a sexually transmitted nano-virus has nearly wiped out human civilization. Infected people form colonies that are hive-like in structure. The surviving humans of the year 2050 carve out a bleak existence in various compounds. Infected, rage-driven mutants continually stalk the compounds in search of more victims.

But one man, Nicholas Rider, is immune to the virus. At the start of the story, he becomes a prisoner at a compound called Tower Hamlets. His very existence is a puzzle and Lieutenant Robert Sutton’s job is to solve it. But Rider has a certain indefinable something that throws Sutton for a loop:

Rider lifted an eyebrow and the heat, the dark want in his gaze tightened Sutton with an unexpected need.

Rider growls. His muscles are corded. He possesses “increased strength” and “heightened reactions” as a result of his exposure to the nano-virus. Tough, strong, magnetic—this is a man defined by primal qualities and raw sexuality. He’s a perfect match for the story’s dark, dangerous setting.

Break and Enter by Rachel Haimowitz and Aleksandr VoinovThe second story is Aleksandr Voinov and Rachel Haimowitz’s Break and Enter, a cyberpunk m/m romance. Ex-Green Beret Victor “Cyke” Kellermann was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and he’s made it his mission to clear his name and expose the dirty corporate secrets of Sentinel Tech, his ex-employer.

Cyke, a hacker, wears an exoskeleton pair of gloves made of “carbon plating” and “steel bands” to do his work. Are you excited yet? I sure was! Basically, he’s rigged to the ears with tech. And the tech just about triples his tough, intrepid nature. Cyke is described as “lean” and “brutal.” In fact,

Even unconscious, something about this man screamed danger, and it seemed unwise to startle him.

Despite Cyke’s advanced abilities, his tech requires ongoing maintenance. That’s where hero Bear comes in. Bear is an emergency medical technician. In this futuristic time period, EMTs have to be knowledgeable about cybernetics in order to treat the injuries of enhanced people like Cyke.

Bear plays the role of nurturer so Cyke can concentrate on his mission. One of the reasons Cyke’s toughness stands out is because his body and mind take a massive beating every time he attempts to infiltrate Sentinel Tech. He pushes his body to its bloody limit, which is one of many elements that make Break and Enter such an intense, gritty read.

A m/m science fiction romance double feature you can enjoy from the comfort of your own living room! You can bring your own popcorn! But before I let you go, I’m curious to learn if you have ideas about other romance book pairings that would make good “double feature” readings.


Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express.

She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit

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Ella Drake
1. Ella Drake
This is a double feature that is so very attractive to me. I'm a fan of these authors so... I'm sold! Where's my popcorn?
Brie Clementine
2. Brie.Clem
You had me at cyberpunk. The one and only cyberpunk story I've read was awesome. I'm getting both books. Thanks for the recs!
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