Dec 14 2015 1:30pm

Male/Male Romance Authors Love NYC: The 26 Best New York-Set Movies and Romance Novels

Carey Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Holiday

Heroes and Heartbreakers is thrilled to welcome not one, but three authors to the site today. Writing is a collaborative effort and so we're so happy to have Santino Hassell (Sunset Park), Karen Stivali (Moment of Silence), and Damon Suede (Pent Up) here to collaborate on a guest post. All three authors have recently written New York-based male/male romances and are here today to talk about some of their favorite New York-set movies and books. Thanks, Santino, Karen, and Damon!

As writers who also identify as New Yorkers, there's no hiding that NYC is close to our hearts. From the glitzy to the gritty, there are endless ways to find love in the five boroughs, which is why we can't stop talking about the city as a setting for romance.

We asked readers to recommend their favorite books or movies set in the Big Apple, and threw in our favorites. If you need a last minute gift idea, or simply want to stock up for your own holiday binge watching, take a look at these recs!

Our Top 3 NYC Movies:

Damon Suede: How could you ever pick just one? Oy. I’m gonna go with Holiday, a classic screwball comedy starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant which is tart and bittersweet as only an adapted play could be. Fewer people know it than Philadelphia Story, but I think it’s a much better film. For all its lunacy and glamor the entire thing has a shivery sadness because of the way the original script foretold the Depression and crystallized what was great about screwball romances in one glittering cocktail.

Keeping the Faith

Karen Stivali: I have to choose Keeping The Faith. Friends to lovers, love triangle, family struggles, and a mind-blowingly accurate portrayal of my own experience where Jewish and Catholic families are involved, all set throughout the city as if the whole movie is a love letter to NY (which I’m guessing is exactly what director (and star) Edward Norton was going for with this film). I love it.

Santino Hassell: I'm going with Girlfight. It's the first movie I saw Michelle Rodriguez in, and I watch it every time it comes on. The film goes beyond the glamour of Manhattan, and shows people in a typical neighborhood who are trying their best to make it in this city. It's about a teenager from Brooklyn who helps raise her younger brother while dealing with their alcoholic father. To make money, she trains at a male-dominated gym and begins amateur boxing. She meets another fighter— a heartthrob named Adrian—and they eventually have to go head-to-head for a title fight. It's a great movie with an awesome ending.

Top 10 Reader Picks for NYC Movies:

  • When Harry Met Sally
  • An Affair to Remember
  • Serendipity
  • Hitch
  • After Hours
  • Brown Sugar
  • You've Got Mail
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's
  • Coming to America
  • Moonstruck

See Also: I Love New York: Top 10 New York-Based Romantic Comedies

Our Top 3 NYC Books:

Karen: The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen. The nearly perfect (and perfectly sexy) Rafe is from a big bustling Dominican family in Washington Heights.  The irrepressible Bella  has done everything she can to escape the stereotype of Upper East Side prep school girl. He's not looking for a hook-up and she's not looking for a hero, but when these two characters get together sparks fly for both them and the reader.

The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

Although important parts of the book take place in the small college town where Rafe and Bella meet, it's when they're in NYC together that both of their pasts show where they came from, what drives them, and what made them the people they are today. Remarkable strengths, and flaws they can no longer deny, are keeping them from what they truly want—-each other. Loyalty, friendship and swoonworthy moments will have you doing the merengue alongside Rafe and Bella as  you watch these two richly drawn characters fall in love.

Santino: Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzalez. It's a gay coming-of-age novel about a teenage boy growing up in one of the most hard scrabble neighborhoods in the South Bronx— Hunt's Point. The characters are so vivid they feel like real people, the fear Chulito has when he realizes he's was very recognizable to me. The descriptions of the environment were also spot on.

Joint Pick: The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz (start with The Siren) This intricately crafted saga spans decades in the lives of its impossibly sexy holy trinity of characters—Nora Sutherlin, Kingsley Edge and Søren Magnussen (a.k.a. Father Marcus Stearns)—and the way their lives and loves are inextricably intertwined. The secondary characters are depicted just as vividly and once you're swept under the spell of this story it's difficult to remember that this entire cast of characters is fictional because you'll feel as if you know them all. While these books take place in many settings throughout the series, NYC is a near-constant presence as the home of the kinky underground the lives of these characters revolve around. Heartbreaking, heartwarming, sensual, erotic, dangerous and filled with intelligent, irreverent wit, this series will keep you on the edge of your seat and the edge of an orgasm from the first book to the last.

Top 10 Reader Picks for NYC Books:


Learn more about Damon, Karen, and Santino's books:

Pent Up by Damon Suede

Pent Up by Damon Suede

Pent Up: mix business with pleasure and take cover. 

Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.

Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?

What’s a bulletcatcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.

Learn more about or order a copy of Pent Up by Damon Suede available now:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes

Buy at IndieBound



Moment of Silence by Karen Stivali

Moment of Silence by Karen Stivali

Growing up, Jason Stern led a charmed life complete with devoted sisters, a father who was one of Brooklyn’s most respected rabbis, and a mother who made the world's best babka. He headed to NYU ready for anything—except falling for the wrong guy, coming out, and getting disowned by his once-loving family. In spite of that, Jason managed to graduate with honors. He's got friends who treat him like family, and he's proudly running the largest LGBTQ teen shelter in Manhattan. Life is good, but he's still falling for the wrong men. 

When charming, sexy Quinn Fitzpatrick begins work at the shelter, Jason falls hard and fast. Quinn is tall, blond, funny—damn near perfect. Only if Quinn’s gay, even he doesn't seem to know it. If he does, he's not telling anyone. And he's about one ceremony away from becoming a Catholic priest.

Long hours of work turn to long nights of talking and laughter, and Jason dares to hope this time he's falling for the right guy. But Quinn's got a past to deal with and major decisions to make about his future. When Quinn leaves for a silent retreat, Jason knows the silence may change everything.

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Moment of Silence by Karen Stivali, available December 18, 2015:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes



Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Learn more about or order a copy of Sunset Park by Santino Hassell, available now:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes



Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She's also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about real life, only hotter.

Santino Hassell is a writer of queer romance heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.


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