by Tara Stevens, Carina Press acquisitions team
I’ve always thought of myself as a one-man woman. Boy, was I wrong! Well, at least when it comes to my reading tastes. If you had asked me a year ago, I’d have said that the male/male niche just wasn’t my cup of coffee or type of thing. I certainly wouldn’t have had a clue what “vanilla gay sex” meant.
That all changed last September when I volunteered to read a manuscript called Muffled Drum for the Carina Press acquisitions team. I confess I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got was a compelling and engrossing historical romance that just happened to feature two heroes in the starring roles.
Two hot men in uniform, transporting you to a different time – what’s not to love?
Since then I’ve become a m/m go-to girl of sorts, and have read not only gay historical romance with Gothic and paranormal elements, but contemporary gay fiction with no trace of romance at all. It doesn’t matter if it’s a novella or a full-length novel, either – if it’s m/m, I snap it up!
Now that I know what all the fuss is about, I have to admit that my discovery makes me feel more adventurous as a reader. I’m not going to get all Freudian on you and try to explain why an increasing number of women are devouring stories about two men getting it on. I will tell you the thing I like best about m/m books: the characters are not automatically lumped into the traditional male/female roles dictated by gender. The heroes start off on more equal footing, and sometimes being gay isn’t even a major issue or big deal – just an accepted reality.
I’m lucky to live in a country where same-sex marriage has been legal for quite some time. We also just finished up another fabulous Pride Week here in Toronto. Homosexuality doesn’t equal shame or silence or stigma. For me, reading stories featuring two men is my little way of understanding and celebrating our diverse sexual and gender identities.
Of course, the smokin’-hot sex doesn’t hurt. Having said that, gay “stroke” books with just a bunch of sex scenes strung together are not for me. It can’t be all about the nookie or feel like porn with a superficial plot line. There has to be heart and heat. The story and voice of the manuscript are more important than the sex contained within it.
As a relatively new m/m disciple, I’m happy to see that the market for these books doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, if the number of submissions and recommended books we see on the acquisitions team are any indication.
My favourite m/m books are those with substance, believable conflict and strong character development. Balancing the romantic/emotional aspects of the relationship with the sexual tension makes for a more well-rounded story.
But enough about me – what intrigues you most about m/m books? Have you tried them yet?
Curious? Explore Harlequin’s “Curious Reader’s Guide to Erotic Romance”