Wed
Apr 15 2015 3:00pm

Showered with Choices: Male/Male Best Bets for April 2015

Carry the Ocean by Heidi CullinanPart of what I love about romance novels are the many different reading desires they can satisfy. The April m/m possibilities offer something for most moods, whether you're looking for realistic explorations of genuine human concerns, or just for certain tropes that that make your insides go perk when you see them in a blurb.  

Living with Disability
Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.

Autistic characters are positively trendy in romance these days, but kudos to Cullinan for writing one without glamorizing or downplaying it as a disability, or making it pathetic. This New Adult romance is also unusual in featuring two disabled heroes, who both need to learn how how to balance their own needs with maintaining the relationship. It's a very good everyday kind of story, but never pedestrian.

Blue-Eyed Stranger by Alex Beecroft

Billy Wright has a problem: he’s only visible when he’s wearing a mask. That’s fine when he’s performing at country fairs with the rest of his morris dancing troupe. But when he takes the paint off, his life is lonely and empty, and he struggles with crippling depression.

Martin Deng stands out from the crowd. After all, there aren’t that many black Vikings on the living history circuit. But as the founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society, he’s lonely and harried. His boss doesn’t like his weekend activities, his warriors seem to expect him to run everything single-handedly, and it’s stressful enough being one minority without telling the hard men of his group he’s also gay.

When Billy’s and Martin’s societies are double-booked at a packed county show, they know at once they are kindred spirits, united by a deep feeling of connectedness to their history and culture. But they’re also both hiding in their different ways, and they need each other to be brave enough to take their masks off and still be seen.

Another excellent romance featuring a seriously depressed hero; for more info, see my First Look.

Conflicts with Family and Faith
A Way Home by Keira Andrews

Will returning to their Amish roots renew their faith in each other?

Isaac and David never thought they'd go back to the Amish world. But when Isaac’s younger brother is stricken with cancer, they don’t hesitate to return. Their relationship is on the rocks after insecurity and fear drove a wedge between them in San Francisco, and David is determined to make things right. Yet if they thought navigating “English” life was confusing, being back in Zebulon is even more complicated.

Their families are desperate to bring them back into the fold, and pressure from the community builds. Isaac and David yearn for a future together, but each day it becomes harder to hide the truth about who they really are. They're caught between two worlds, and if they’re not careful it could tear them further apart.

Can Isaac and David make their way back to each other—and find a place to call home?

After having to choose between family and love in A Forbidden Rumspringa, and then getting lost in the modern world in A Clean Break, David and Isaac are certainly due for a happy ending... but I'm sure they'll be plenty of pain along the way. Read this for tender young love and serious heartache.

 Nobody's Hero by J. Leigh BaileyNobody's Hero by J. Leigh Bailey

Bradley Greene’s family all but discarded him when his brother caught him fooling around with another boy. Now Bradley has seventeen dollars and a gas card, and he’s sleeping in his car. He’s an emotional mess and if he doesn’t land a job soon, he’s up the proverbial creek.

Danny Ortega can take care of himself…most of the time. When what started as a date turns into sexual assault in a dark parking lot, he’s grateful for Brad’s help—and an instant admirer of Brad’s military school-honed muscles. He certainly doesn’t expect to see him again, and definitely not as the newest hire at Ortega Construction.

As Brad and Danny’s quiet attraction turns into more, things start to go sour before they’ve even started. Danny grows frustrated that Brad won’t open up emotionally. And Brad is terrified of being responsible for someone else’s feelings. When Brad’s family makes one last attempt to turn him into an “acceptable” son, all bets are off—he and Danny will need to decide if they’re in this together…or apart.

This New Adult novel is described as a slow burn romance that isn't heavy on sex — there's a switch! It's the first in a series, but I think the next will focus on other characters.

Taking the Stand by Juliann Rich

There’s a time for justice. Then there’s a time for action. And Jonathan Cooper knows exactly what time it is.

It is time to lie. To his parents, who think he’s on a ski trip with Pete Mitchell when he’s really gone to Madison to search for one person willing to testify for his boyfriend, Ian McGuire, who is facing the charge of assault and battery. To Ian’s parents, who have erased him from their lives. Even to himself. Because admitting his feelings for Mason Kellerman isn’t an option.

It is also time to face the truth. That Jonathan may have lied for nothing. That he may be powerless to save Ian from a guilty verdict. That whether he likes it or not, it is time for taking the stand.

Be warned that this Young Adult novel is not a genre romance with a happy ending, but it sounded so interesting I wanted to include it anyway. It's the conclusion of a coming of age trilogy for a character who is both a devout Christian and gay. The author describes herself as a PFLAG mom brought up in an evangelical Christian family.

There You Stand by Christina LeeMotorcycle Club/Tattoo Artist
There You Stand by Christina Lee

Tattoo artist Cory Easton has worked long enough at Raw Ink to know, just by looking at a dude, what his body art reveals, what makes him tick, what even makes him scared. Until he meets the quiet and remote Jude York—so unreadable, so unreachable, and so unlike anyone else, he can’t help but arouse Cory’s curiosity.

As captivating and complex as his ink, Jude is a mystery—and Cory’s falling fast and hard under his spell. Against his better judgment to steer clear.

The rumors of Jude’s past overshadow him—whispers of prison and an unmentionable secret that’s kept him in the protective shadows of a local motorcycle club. As Cory probes deeper, he wonders how much he really wants to know. Especially since Jude has awakened something inside him that has been buried too long—and has him feeling completely alive for the first time in forever…

The motto of Queer Romance Month is “love is not a subgenre.” In that spirit, it's good to see m/m couples becoming included in mainstream romance series, especially those from big publishers. (Now, when will we start seeing f/f or genderqueer?) If you only read m/m, this was written to stand alone.

Mysterious House Party!
Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane

An invitation to stay at a friend of the Stewart family’s stately home can only mean one thing for Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith—a new case for the amateur sleuths! With two apparently unrelated suicides, a double chase is on.

But things never run smoothly for the Cambridge fellows. In an era when their love dare not speak its name, the chance of discovery (and disgrace) is ever present—how do you explain yourself when a servant discovers you doing the midnight run along the corridor?

The chase stops being a game for Orlando when the case brings back memories of his father’s suicide and the search for the identity of his grandfather. And the solution presents them with one of the most difficult moral decisions they’ve had to make...

A series originally intended to end with book seven is now up to book ten, and looking at the reviews and ratings, it's not hard to see why. The author writes that she wanted to see a “duo like Wimsey and Vane or Alleyn and Troy but gay, so I had to invent them myself.” Someone catch me!

Mysterious Artifacts!
Hoarfrost by Jordan L. Hawk

Sorcerer Percival Endicott Whyborne and his husband Griffin Flaherty have enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the calm is shattered by the arrival of a package from Griffin’s brother Jack, who has uncovered a strange artifact while digging for gold in Alaska. The discovery of a previously unknown civilization could revive the career of their friend Dr. Christine Putnam—or it might kill them all, if the hints of dark sorcery surrounding the find are true.

With Christine and her fiancé Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must journey to the farthest reaches of the arctic to stop an ancient evil from claiming the life of Griffin’s brother. But in the rough mining camp of Hoarfrost, secrets fly as thickly as the snow, and Whyborne isn’t the only sorcerer drawn by the rumors of magic. Amidst a wilderness of ice and stone, Griffin must either face his greatest fear—or lose everyone he loves.

This is sixth in the popular paranormal/alternate historical series, and all the books follow the same couple. If you enjoy K.J. Charle's “Magpie” series, this might be up your alley.

Healing Hunter's Heart by Charlie CochetShapeshifters
Healing Hunter's Heart by Charlie Cochet

Months after being forced to leave his lover and mate Ari Jannsen behind, Hunter Devin settles into his role as Enforcer for the newly formed Deagan Clan under the rule of his new Alpha and best friend Tristan “Trip” Hagan. Along with Hunter’s brother Boone, their nephews, sister, and mother, Hunter finally has the family he’s always wanted, but without his little rebel Ari, his heart is incomplete.

The Hagan Clan is unable to accept the Deagan Clan’s betrayal for walking away and taking the clan’s pups with them. War looms. As both clans plan their attack, a greater enemy plots against them. But Hunter is determined to get his Ari back. Bonds are put to the test and unexpected alliances are made as Hunter and his clan set out to protect their own and end the spreading heartache.

A series that started as a funny short seems to be going in a more serious direction now. The characters are dog shifters and very family/kid oriented.

Food/Cooking
Lost Along the Way by Marie Sexton

Three months after losing his parents in a car crash, Denver weatherman Daniel Whitaker returns to Laramie, Wyoming. It’s bad enough dealing with the death of his parents and his failing relationship of fifteen years, but when he finds his childhood home full of clutter, Daniel is at a loss. He enlists Landon, his parents’ sexy neighbor, to help him sort through the mess. Landon Kushner is a study in contradictions. He builds wind sculptures out of scrap metal and loves the outdoors, but he also rides a mint-green Vespa and has an affinity for knitting and fortune-telling. He's been friends with Daniel's parents for years, and he's more than willing to lend a hand.

Their plan is simple: clean the house so Daniel can sell it and get back to his life in Denver. But when a strange cookbook comes into Landon’s possession, Daniel begins to realize that the universe – and Granny B – may have other plans.

This is one in a series of five whimsical novellas that also includes contributions by Amy Lane, Mary Calmes, and other beloved m/m authors. They'll also all be published as an anthology called Tales of the Curious Cookbook.

Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert

From its famous coffee to the mouthwatering fare at its cafés, restaurants, and bakeries, Portland, Oregon, has a lot to whet the appetite, including the hard-working men who serve it all up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Vic Degrassi is a baker on the rise, and it’s all thanks to his rare ability to make—and keep—his New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight, giving up smoking, or graduating from culinary school, Vic goes after what he wants—and gets it. This year? He wants Robin Dawson, the sweet-hearted hottie who volunteers with him at the local homeless shelter. When he learns that Robin is suddenly single after being unceremoniously dumped, Vic is more than happy to offer a shoulder to cry on—or at least a fresh-baked pastry to bite into. But it’s been a long time since Vic’s gone on a date, and he’s nervous about risking his friendship with Robin. So when their flirtation turns into a steamy night together, Vic and Robin have to figure out if they’re friends with benefits or lovers in the making, and if Robin is ready for something more than just a rebound. There’s only one way to find out: turn up the heat…

I haven't read this author since she moved from m/f to m/m, but I've enjoyed her fresh, flirty writing in the past.

The First Hello by Willa OkatiReincarnation!
The First Hello by Willa Okati

Shawn Tillerman thinks he’s losing his mind. Wary and damaged after a hard life filled with broken promises, he's been having dissociative episodes for the past few months. Flashes of different lives he didn’t live. Walking in the footsteps of men he knows he never was. In these waking dreams, he’s always with a lover, but he can't see the man’s face and doesn’t know his name. Though the episodes are becoming more frequent, he hasn’t told anyone what's happening to him. He’s too busy taking care of his twin sister and keeping her away from Oxy. If he can sell the house he’s inherited from a distant relative, he'll finally have enough money to put her in a good rehab center. He can turn their lives around.

Or not. Because Raleigh, the compelling stranger who wants to buy their house, swears that Shawn isn’t experiencing psychotic episodes, but is reliving memories. That he and Shawn have come together in life after life and time after time. That he is the man from Shawn's dreams, and has been searching everywhere for him. Even if Shawn remembers nothing, Raleigh remembers it all, and he isn’t going to give up now.

Shawn doesn’t believe Raleigh—but he’s beginning to wish he could. What if it is true, after all? What if saying goodbye to all he thought he was sure of is only the first part of hello?

I'm afraid I have no idea whether this is really about reincarnation, but that is one compelling blurb.

Rock Star and Witness Protection Program!
Snowcroft Safehouse by Christi Snow

A year ago Declan Jasper was entertaining sold-out arena crowds as the lead singer of Black Rainbows. But that came to an explosive end when the band got caught up in a criminal cover-up, one that ended with the entire band dead. At least that’s what everyone is supposed to think.

Now, Dex is hiding in plain sight, working as the school band director in a sleepy little mountain resort town while under the protection of a hard-nosed FBI agent. Instead of eyeliner and black leather, he now wears glasses and corduroy. Instead of having sexy coeds—both male and female—throw themselves into his bed, he’s dealing with teenage angst and grumpy parents.

At the top of his troubles list is Kelsey Walker, a junior high bundle of rare musical talent in the form of one confused, messed-up adolescent. Dex figures the problem comes from her broken home and wants to help. But when he meets her father, sexy bar-owner, Jack Walker, he realizes that instead of helping he’s probably just bringing more trouble and danger to their door.

Dex has to stay alive until the trial to bring his bandmates’ murderers to justice, but can he do that if it means sacrificing his own happily ever after?

The previous book in this romantic suspense series was about an amnesiac who no longer remembers to repress his homosexuality, so Snow clearly has some wacky trope mojo.

Cat Burgler!
Family Jewels by M.J. O'Shea

Corbin Ford, aka the Nightwatchman, named for the antique pocket watches he leaves behind at jobs, has been in the cat-burgling business for years. His father was. His grandfather was. His mother is still one of the most renowned thieves. Corbin likes his high-profile heists, priceless paintings from private collections, artifacts from museums, but his favorite? Jewels. Sparkly, beautiful jewels. If they’re famous, better yet.

Interpol agent Luke Eldridge has one goal and one goal only: to catch the Nightwatchman. Luke’s been after him for months, but getting the slip time and again is getting embarrassing. Luke has never even laid eyes on the bastard, but he’d happily strangle him. And then arrest him.

When Luke meets Corbin, the man of his dreams, he falls hard and fast… only to catch Corbin red-handed with his hand in a jewelry case at the scene of the highest-profile murder that’s rocked the international world in years.

The classic lawman vs. criminal conflict is almost always fun, and I've had a thing for cat burglers since reading Anne Stuart's fabulous Catspaw. Can this book rival Stuart? (Can anyone rival Stuart?)

What's your reading mood right now? Are any upcoming April books making you go perk?

 

 

Learn more about or order a copy of the books mentioned in this post:

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan  
Blue-Eyed Stranger by Alex Beecroft  
A Way Home by Keira Andrews  
Nobody's Hero by J. Leigh Bailey  
Taking the Stand by Juliann Rich  
There You Stand by Christina Lee  
Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane  
Hoarfrost by Jordan L. Hawk  
Healing Hunter's Heart by Charlie Cochet                 TBA
Lost Along the Way by Marie Sexton  
Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert  
The First Hello by Willa Okati  
Snowcroft Safehouse by Christi Snow  
Family Jewels by M.J. O'Shea                 TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Willaful has been diligently reading and reviewing romance for the past seven years, but for some reason just can't seem to catch up. She blogs at A Willful Woman and Karen Knows Best.

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1 comment
Kareni
1. Kareni
I'm midway through Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan; what an excellent book! Thanks for mentioning it.
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