Oct 28 2015 5:00pm

Reading Rainbow: Male/Male Romance Best Bets for October 2015

Such a Dance by Kate McMurray

October means it's both the one-year anniversary of this round-up and the second annual Queer Romance Month. In honor of QRM, I kept my eyes open for m/m books which explore some of the other diverse aspects of human sexuality (bisexuality, asexuality, etc.) There's also some interesting historicals, a geeky paranormal, and the return of one of my very favorite stories.

Such a Dance by Kate McMurray

New York City, 1927.

Eddie Cotton is a talented song-and-dance man with a sassy sidekick, a crowd-pleasing act, and a promising future on Broadway. What he doesn’t have is someone to love. Being gay in an era of prohibition and police raids, Eddie doesn’t have many opportunities to meet men like himself—until he discovers a hot new jazz club for gentlemen of a certain bent...and sets eyes on the most seductive, and dangerous, man he’s ever seen.

Lane Carillo is a handsome young Sicilian who looks like Valentino—and works for the Mob. He’s never hidden his sexuality from his boss, which is why he was chosen to run a private night club for men. When Lane spots Eddie at the bar, it’s lust at first sight. Soon, the unlikely pair are falling hard and fast—in love. But when their whirlwind romance starts raising eyebrows all across town, Lane and Eddie have to decide if their relationship is doomed…or something special worth fighting for.

McMurray is most known for her Rainbow Award honored paranormal and contemporary romances, but her website shows considerable research into the Jazz Age, so fans of unusual historicals won't want to miss this.

Silver & Gold edited by Amanda Jean

From one-night stands to on-and-off love stories that span decades, the roads of love are diverse and have no map. One of the hardest relationships to navigate may be those with an age difference. Society isn't always sure what to make of May-December pairings, and the odds seem stacked against them. But the wisdom of age and the optimism of youth is a combination not to be underestimated…

This short story anthology focusing on GBLTQ couples with significant age differences is primarily m/m, but includes trans and genderqueer characters. Some classic romance themes include “teacher-student” (between a TA and a reentry student, to mix up the power differential a bit) and “stuck in a cabin together.”

Found At the Library (Found #1) by Christi Snow

Found At the Library (Found #1) by Christi Snow

His entire life, Tommy Garrett has dealt with self-doubts. He thought he’d conquered the majority of them until a chance meeting with an author brought his illiteracy to the forefront...again. Growing up with un-diagnosed dyslexia has left Tommy barely able to read, but books are his Nirvana. Now he spends his life creating art dedicated to the love of those “untouchable” items.

Robert McIntyre, Mac, is a best-selling, highly celebrated author. But his point of view has become a little bit too narrow...until Tommy opens his eyes. That chance meeting has changed everything about his world. He has no idea how to find the beautiful man he met, and offended, at the library book sale. But when he does, Tommy’s life is in crisis-mode. It’s the holidays and Mac can’t just standby when Tommy needs help, whether Tommy wants it or not.

Two artistic men. One shared passion for books.

Life is hard, and sometimes when conflict arises you have to write your own plot twist to pull yourself out of the fray.

To paraphrase The Kids in the Hall... my two passions, romance and books! Seriously, how could any reader resist that blurb? This is also an early holiday story, for those wanting to get into the spirit.

Rain Shadow (Bluewater Bay #10) by L.A. Witt

Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex—and too much time in each other’s company—inevitably builds emotional connection.

Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

The multi-author Bluewater Bay series seems set to go on forever. Bodyguard and counselor should strike some exciting sparks, but this one particularly caught my eye because the main characters are in their forties. It also includes popular recurring character Anna, a gymnast — and she will be getting her own f/f book, Stuck Landing, in December!

Between Loathing and Love by Andrew Grey

Theatrical agent Payton Gowan meets with former classmate—and prospective client—Beckett Huntington with every intention of brushing him off. Beckett not only made high school a living hell for Payton, but he was also responsible for dashing Payton’s dreams of becoming a Broadway star.

Aspiring actor Beckett Huntington arrives in New York City on a wing and a prayer, struggling to land his first gig. He knows scoring Payton Gowan as an agent would be a great way to get his foot in the door, but with their history, getting the chance is going to be a tough sell.

Against Payton’s better judgment, he agrees to give Beckett a chance, only to discover—to his amazement—that Beckett actually does have talent.

Payton signs Beckett but can’t trust him—until Payton’s best friend, Val, is attacked. When Beckett is there for him, Payton begins to see another side to his former bully. Amidst attempts by a jealous agent to sabotage Beckett’s career and tear apart their blossoming love, Payton and Beckett must learn to let go of the past if they have any chance at playing out a future together.

A bully/bull-ee story — my catnip! Both characters suffer with self-esteem issues, so Grey brings the angsty goodness, as usual. If you enjoy theatrical settings, also check out Unscripted by Nico Jaye, a new book in the “Heartsville” universe.

Dead Ringer by Heidi Belleau and Sam SchoolerDead Ringer by Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler

Brandon Ringer has a dead man’s face. His grandfather, silver-screen heartthrob James Ringer, died tragically at twenty-one, and Brandon looks exactly like him. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Brandon is unknown, unemployed, and up to his ears in bills after inheriting his grandparents’ Hollywood mansion. He refuses to sell it—it’s his last connection to his grandmother—so to raise the cash he needs, he joins a celebrity look-alike escort agency.

Percy Charles is chronically ill, isolated, and lonely. His only company is his meddlesome caregiver and his collection of James Ringer memorabilia. When he finds “Jim Ringer” on Hollywood Doubles’ website, he books an appointment, hoping to meet someone who shares his passion for his idol.

Brandon? Not that person.

But despite their differences, they connect, and Percy’s fanboy love for James shows Brandon a side of his grandfather he never knew. Soon they want time together off the clock, but Percy is losing his battle for independence, and Brandon feels trapped in James’s long shadow. Their struggle to love each other is the stuff of classic Hollywood. Too bad Brandon knows how those stories end.

This looks like the first collaboration for these two. Schooler enjoys trope-subversion and Belleau does fascinating characterizations so it should be a good one.

Myth Adventures (Mojo Mysteries #3) by Ally Blue

Something evil is going down in Atlanta...

Adrian Broussard and Greg Woodhall are attending OutlantaCon, Atlanta’s annual gay geek conference, and are looking forward to a weekend of cosplay and general nerdy fun. As they mingle with other conference goers, though, Adrian feels a strange, cold energy emanating from a man dressed as a satyr.
Encounters with storybook creatures roaming the streets only increase the chilly tendrils teasing Adrian’s sixth sense—strong enough to cause disturbing visions of Greg’s existence being erased.
When a girl at the conference goes missing, then turns up dead, clues literally drop in their laps as Adrian begins to fear the cold, alien energy is engulfing the whole city. And in danger of swallowing up his lover.
To Adrian’s horror, his worst nightmare is realized. Now both he and Greg must call on reserves of strength and resourcefulness they never knew they possessed to save Atlanta, and each other.

Warning: This book contains weird critters, Hell-Lanta, regular Atlanta, a creepy escalator, awesome cosplay geeks, temples that aren’t (but totally are), and liberal use of mojo mind powers.

If you want to get a geek's attention, that title callback to Robert Asprin is a good way to go. This is a continuing couple series, with two loving heroes who will be severely challenged by the paranormal mystery they encounter. (Be prepared: the author calls herself the Popess of Gay Angst.)

How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he's fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

I haven't read this popular author, but reviewers love the humor, and praise Gus's respect for Casey's sexual limits.

Redeeming Hope (Home for Hope #1) by Shell Taylor

Fifteen years ago Elijah Langley’s world came to an abrupt halt with the death of his high school boyfriend. He keeps his past—and his sexual orientation—hidden until he attends a fundraiser for The Center for HOPE, an LGBT youth center, where he meets Adam Lancaster, HOPE’s infuriatingly stubborn and sexy founder.

A survivor of a turbulent childhood, Adam understands better than most the challenges his youth face. He’s drawn to Elijah’s baby blues and devilish smile but refuses to compromise his values and climb back into the closet for anyone—not even the man showering time and money on HOPE. Months of constant flirting wear down Adam’s resolve until he surrenders to his desires, but Elijah can’t shake his demons.

When a youth from the center is brutally assaulted, Elijah must find a way to confront the fears and memories that are starting to ruin his life, so he can stand strong for those he loves.

There are lots of high-concept premises to bring together groups of gay characters (or bisexual, in Elijah's case) for series purposes, but an LGBT youth center is an unusually realistic and thoughtful one. Keep your hankies ready for a lot of tearjerking. For another book with a bisexual hero, check out More Than a Friend (More Than #2) by Nic Starr
The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh (Society of Gentlemen 0.5) by K.J. CharlesThe Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh (Society of Gentlemen 0.5) by K.J. Charles

Passion is on the cards for two reckless rogues as K. J. Charles ups the ante in her Society of Gentlemen series with a sizzling eBook short story.

The youngest son and the blackest sheep in his family, Lord Gabriel Ashleigh never imagined he could sink so low. Though he’s a notoriously bad gambler, he takes on the formidable but strangely alluring Francis Webster, only to lose everything: all his money, the lovely estate he inherited from his aunt, and any hope of future happiness. So it’s a shock when Webster summons him to a private game for a chance to win back his possessions. The stake? If he fails, Ash must surrender his body.

Francis has been waiting years for this moment. At Eton, Ash’s elder brother harassed him relentlessly. Now, consumed by lust and rage, Francis is only too happy to exploit Ash’s foolish indiscretions. But as Francis strips the magnificently built youth—first of his family assets, then his clothes—he begins to wonder whether he’s been plotting revenge . . . or exquisite seduction.

The beginning of Charles' Society of Gentleman series, this was previously published in the “Another Place in Time” anthology, but it's just too smashing to leave out of the roundup. The old skool type “staking your virtue” plot has never been this blistering.

What have you been reading for Queer Romance Month? Any recommendations?

Learn more about the books mentioned in this post:

Such a Dance by Kate McMurray  
Silver & Gold edited by Amanda Jean  
Found At the Library (Found #1) by Christi Snow  
Rain Shadow (Bluewater Bay #10) by L.A. Witt  
Between Loathing and Love by Andrew Grey  
Dead Ringer by Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler  
Myth Adventures (Mojo Mysteries #3) by Ally Blue  
How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune  
Redeeming Hope (Home for Hope #1) by Shell Taylor  
The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh (Society of Gentlemen 0.5) by K.J. Charles  















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
1. Kareni
Some intriguing selections here. Thanks for the list.
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