Apr 12 2013 1:30pm

The Boys are Back in Town: An Introduction to Male/Male Romance

Tigers and Devils by Sean KennedyThe reasons why so many enjoy male/male romance are diverse, and it's not possible for one person to presume to know or understand them all. The obvious reason is that, because we’re talking about love stories with happy endings, those who enjoy mainstream romance will enjoy m/m romance as well (although if this were universally true, female/female romance would be just as popular).

Some readers enjoy exploring the power and gender dynamics at play in a relationship between two men, and to some, m/m romance is simply another way to read about different people falling in love and join them in their journey. But regardless of the reasons why we read them, the truth is that these novels have become really popular and are a welcome addition to the genre.

So, where to start?

M/m romance is relatively new, at least when compared to the romance genre, yet the amount of authors and books can be overwhelming for someone trying to dip their toes in it for the first time. This is why today I’m going to list a series of recommendations that should appeal to different readers.

Contemporary is perhaps the most prolific category, so there are plenty of books and authors to choose from. Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy is, in my opinion, the best place to start. It’s almost, but not quite, an “opposites attract” story. The main character is witty, slightly exasperating and very charming. The secondary characters are equally important and complex, and the result is a book about friendship and family with a sweet and lovely romance at its core.

By Honor Betrayed by Alex BeecroftTo fans of Historicals, I recommend Alex Beecroft’s books. Her beautiful, evocative voice and unique settings make for a wonderful reading experience. By Honor Betrayed transports us to the 18th century where we get to experience the forbidden love between two members of the Royal Navy. It’s an intense novella filled with emotion, action and interesting twists.

Josh Lanyon is perhaps one of the most recognizable names in m/m romance. His books are always gritty and realistic. The love stories have happy endings, but the roads leading to them are never easy. Fans of mystery and romantic suspense shouldn’t think twice before delving right into his novels, which include the popular Adrien English Series. If a long series seems too daunting, the standalone, Come Unto These Yellow Sands, perfectly showcases what Mr. Lanyon has to offer.

Last but not least, Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale should appeal to fans of paranormal romance and steampunk. This book, comprised of two novellas each with different narrators and narrations, has an interesting mix of mystery, paranormal and horror. At its core, there’s an unusual and deeply satisfying romance between two characters that are as unique as the world they inhabit.

With the Band by L. A. WittM/m romance is often associated with Erotica. While compiling this list, I made a deliberate choice to (mostly) include books that have mild sexual content. Not every story contains graphic sex, and there are books to fit all tastes. That is not to say that there aren’t great books that prominently feature sex in ways that perfectly feed the plot, characters and conflict. Authors like JL Merrow, Marie Sexton, L. A. Witt, and K. A. Mitchell, write wonderful books filled with some of the sexiest scenes I’ve read. Needless to say, I highly recommend all of them.

Hopefully this list will pique your interest and will help you discover new authors and great love stories. And if you are already familiar these books, let us know in the comments which books you would recommend to new m/m readers.


Brie Clementine loves talking about books just as much as reading them. She reviews Romance Novels on Romance Around the Corner and you can also find her on Twitter.

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1. Miss_D
I would recommend Cameron Dane too. She writes great m/m novels.
Jasmine Ray
2. JassyBaby
Thanks for all the recs!
I love M/M and am always looking for new authors to read.
Brie Clementine
3. Brie.Clem
Miss_D: I'm working on a second post and Cameron Dane will make the list for sure. I also love her M/F Erotic Romances.

JassyBaby: You're welcome! I hope you enjoy ;-)
4. moiti
I would reccomend Abigail Roux, her Cut & Run series is great.
5. HJ
One of the good things about m/m is that many of them escape the anonymous "somewhere in America" setting that is too often used in contemporary m/f romances. Tigers and Devils, which you recommend, is very definitely set in Australia, as is the sequel Tigerland. L.A. Witt set Conduct Unbecoming on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where her husband was stationed. There are several very good British writers whose books are set in recognisable locations in England: Josephine Myles (Barging In on narrowboats on the canals near Bath), JL Merrow (Pressure Head in and around St Albans), Charlie Cochrane (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, starting with Lessons in Love in a fictional college in Cambridge in 1905), and Alex Beecroft (Shining in the Sun is a contemporary set in Cornwall). Last but not least Harper Fox has wonderful books set in such diverse locations as Edinburgh (Nine Lights over Edinburgh), Salisbury Plain (The Salisbury Key), the island of Arran (Scrap Metal), and even Rome (All Roads Lead to You).

I wouldn't agree that Josh Lanyon is "always gritty and realistic"; he writes a wide variety of mystery, adventure and romance only some of which I think could be described like that (the Dangerous Ground and I Spy series, for example). But his Holmes & Moriarity books, while they are mysteries, are more amusing than gritty, as is the Adrien English series. One thing all his books have in common is the sheer quality of the writing - they never disappoint.

I don't think the books I've mentioned could or should be described as erotica. Some contain more sex-scenes than others (of differing expliciteness) but all of them focus on the plot and the relationship between the protagonists, with any sex incidential to and essential in developing both.

In truth, as with any other romance, you'll find what you like by considering the different genres within m/m - mysteries, historicals, fantasy, adventure, sweet romance, etc..
Brie Clementine
6. Brie.Clem
Moiti: good rec!

HJ: The m/f romances set “somewhere in America” are often written by American authors, which explains the setting (although there are plenty of British and Australian m/f romance writers). Same reason why the British and Australian authors you mention use British and Australian settings. There are many m/m stories set in America, so I don’t think m/m really escapes the setting.

All the authors you mention are amazing, and I totally second your recommendation.

My experience with Lanyon is that his books --and characters in particular-- always have an authentic and realistic feel to them, something that added to the themes and subjects he uses, give his books a gritty feel. But that’s just my personal take. At the end of the day, what counts is quality writing and storytelling, which, as you said, he has in spades.

I agree that most of the authors you mention don’t write erotica (maybe Josephine Myles is the only one who writes erotic romance). But I know that many readers unfamiliar with m/m do think that m/m equals erotica, although that’s probably part of a the bigger problem of thinking that two men having sex automatically labels the story as erotic, but that’s a can of worms for another day. So because the point of the post was to introduce new readers to the genre, I wanted to take the opportunity to feature novels that in a way escape the general misconception.

And yes, there’s a book and a sub-genre for every taste and it only takes to try a few and see how it goes, which is why every book I mentioned belongs to a different sub-genre.

Thanks, HJ, for the thoughtful comment!
7. HJ
Brie - thanks for your reply.

I was intending to simply reinforce your comments about m/m and erotica, not quarrel with what you'd said! It is unfortunate that some people think that m/m equals erotica, and I wanted to help you dispel that misunderstanding. But as you say, that's a whole big discussion for another day. Similarly, I agree with you that one cannot just lump all m/m together, when there is such a wide variety of genres.

My comment about anonymous "somewhere in America" wasn't aimed at American authors writing about their country, but at those (often not American) who set their stories in cloned American small towns as opposed to (say) Chicago or San Francisco or Great Bend or anywhere demonstrably real and realistic. It seems to me that this happens more often in contemporary m/f than in m/m, but maybe not.

I just didn't want anyone to be deterred from reading Josh Lanyon! I wouldn't choose to read something described as "gritty", because it can be used as a euphemism for unrelentingly grim and/or violent and yet I love his books. It's probably just that the word means different things to you and me, because obviously we're both fans of his.
8. WandaWolfe
I highly concur in the recommendations for Lanyon, especially the five books starring the snarky Adien English.

For those who like werewolves, there's a series -- With or Without -- by J. L. Langley which is very good, and unlike some series, it actually gets better with each book. Without Reservations, the first in the series, is about an Apache vet and a high-strung college teacher. Great mix of humor and serious.

If you like a story with someone overcoming great adversity, you'll like The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest and Admit One by
Jenna Hilary Sinclair. The first is about a rock star abused by his manager, and the second is about a closeted high school teacher with a horrific tragedy in his past.

K. A. Mitchell's Regularly Scheduled Life is about another teacher who is badly injured when a shooter invades his school.

For great paranormal romance, there's the Bay City Paranormal Investigators series by Ally Blue -- first book is Oleander House. Blue's many standalone books are great as well.

Z. A. Maxfield is a terrific writer. My favorites are her St. Nachos series as well as the standalones Family Unit, The Long Way Home, and The Pharaoh's Concubine. Family Unit is particularly interesting in that the leads are older men -- one is retired military and the other is a man raising his grandson. And yet it's as interesting a book as any with young hotties as the leads.

So many good books. Need to push them to others so the authors will write more more more. :)
9. fibrobabe
Neil Plakcy is another author who does a fantastic job with setting. Three Wrong Turns in the Desert is an adventure/romance set in Tunisia, and you can practically feel the sand and sweat as you read. I haven't started his Mahu series yet, but I've heard he does a similarly wonderful job with Hawaii.

Across the board, romance is more explicit than it was when I started reading it *mumble mumble* years ago, and m/m isn't immune to that trend. If you're looking for something with scorching sexual tension, but that doesn't jump right into the sack, I recommend Family Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton. The sense of place is good in this one, too. Family Man is this month's book club selection at SBTB.

If someone wants to check out Abi Roux (last week's DABWAHA winner), but doesn't want to jump into a big series like Cut & Run, I suggest The Gravedigger's Brawl. Opposites attract heroes (who aren't as opposite as they first appear) and a nicely creepy Halloween story.

For those who enjoy a surprise!baby, One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and MJ O'Shea is a sweet story about two guys finding each other and making a family.

A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland is a good romantic suspense with supernatural elements. Fair warning, they're solving the murder of a child.

If you like romcom, I recommend Anne Tenino. Frat Boy and Toppy is funnier, but it has some D/s elements, which may or may not be your thing. Too Stupid to Live is more vanilla (but not boring by any means), and features a hero who loves romance novels.

A few favorite authors who have been mentioned already are JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, and Marie Sexton (Cole forever!). I'm also a total Josh Lanyon fangirl. I had read two or three m/m romances over the years, but it was the Adrien English series that really hooked me on the genre. His The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks is really good, too. A little funny, a little gothic, and a lot of fun.
10. Nia2113
Kele Moon is very good at crating a story that involves m/m but does it in such a way that you dont notice really because you get so sucked into the story!
11. Tripoli
If you like shape-shifters, I would recommend Summer Devon's Tamign the Bander and Linda Gayle's A Shadow of Wings. Both have really unusual shifters (a bandersnatch and a cockatrice). Also, if you like m/m historicals, Summer Devon writes great ones with Bonnie Dee.
12. Shark with Lasers
Thanks for the Ginn Hale rec, sounds like my cuppa.
Jeri Hawkins
13. jaehawk
L.A. Gilbert -she writes well and her stories are charming. Harper Fox is an excellent writer, too. Her characters jump off the page. Both authors are from across the pond.
14. silence
I'll second Abigail Roux and J. L. Langley and add Kaje Harper and Mary Calmes
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