An LJ friend recently asked me what m/m fiction I had on my bookshelf, so I created the list below the cut. More to come, if she'll let me post her recs here too.
I went trawling through Amazon for gay fiction, and ordered a bunch based on genre and reviews. Most of them are contemporary fiction. My own preference is for fantasy, and I like it slightly historical as well. So, not all of these were especially memorable to me, but they might be more so for you.
The first two on this list are from a number of years ago, and are definitely for a younger audience. They still have a place on my shelf though, even though I don’t pull them out all that often.
The Stone Prince, by Fiona Patton
“Crown Prince Demnor must struggle to master the power of the Flame, a magic weapon with a mind of its own, in order to do battle with the rebellious Heathlands and win his independence from his dominating mother.”
The author has created a very complicated world, but I consider that a plus. It’s (very!) angsty and written towards a younger audience, but good all the same.
The Fire’s Stone, Tanya Huff
“The jewel that protects the city of Ischia from the volcanic flow along its border disappears, and three young nobles with something to prove embark on a seeming ly hopeless recovery mission. Huff (Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light, LJ 11/15/89) arranges the ordinary elements of fantasy into an extraordinary tale of adventure and transformation.”
Flangst, overly emotional characters, but I still reread it once in a while. Written for a younger audience.
Stealing Some Time, by Mark Ian Kendrick
"It is 2479 AD. Technical Sergeant Kallen Deshara and his team have traveled from the 25th century to the 19th. Their mission: to eliminate powerful ion storms caused by the very device that opened the portal to the past. If they don’t succeed, their present may cease to exist! Once done, they’ll return home and the future will be as it should be.
“But Kallen didn’t plan on meeting Aaric Utzman, a young cartographer from post-colonial America. Nor did he plan to fall in love with him. He must find a way for them to stay together or Aaric will have been dead for over six hundred years after Kallen’s return. No matter what he decides, the past, the present, and the future will be irrevocably altered."
This one won the Stonewall Society Imagination Literary Award for 2004, but I didn’t really find it enthralling. It was good, but I don’t plan to read it again. The problem was that while I really liked Kallen, the protagonist, I could never find his love interest (Aaric) very interesting. He was too perfect for Kallen, and what’s interesting in a relationship without flaws?
The Catch Trap, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
“A magnificent, colorful novel of the circus world of the 1940s and 1950s, rich in detail, bursting with power and emotion.
“Mario Santelli, a member of the famous flying Santelli family, is a great trapeze artist. Tommy Zane is his protege.
“As naturally and gracefully as they soar through the air, the two flyers find themselves falling in love. Mario and Tommy share sweet stolen moments of passion, but the real intensity of their relationship comes from their total devotion to one another and to their art.
“As public figures in a conservative era, they cannot reveal their love. But they will never renounce it.
A tremendously moving tale, a rich family saga, a wise and compassionate portrait of a special love in a special world.”
This is an oldie, copyright 1979. It’s a bit political, but I love it. The characters start out very unbalanced, with one much more experienced than the other, and the growth of their relationship is both very realistic and very satisfying. Don’t be put off by the dorky cover :). The only problem I had with it is that I like my fiction a little more escapist, and the author does address the difficulties of being gay in a conservative era.
Changing Tides, by Michael Thomas Ford
“Ford (Full Circle; Last Summer) bridges the gap between gay romance and mainstream fiction in his latest. Ben Ransome, a 40-something marine biologist living modestly in Monterey, Calif., is anxious about his 16-year-old daughter's summer stay. It's been nine years since they've seen each other, and when Caddie arrives, she's a bit icy toward her wayward father. Ford explores vividly and honestly a teen girl's longing for love and a place in the world. He then furthers the theme of finding one's self when Ben meets Hudson, a Ph.D. candidate in town to investigate an unfinished Steinbeck manuscript. The men bond over stories of Steinbeck's Monterey and instantly become pals. As Caddie finds a man of her own and a heretofore straight Ben grapples with his feelings for Hudson, Ben also learns a few things about fatherhood. A deft sense of place and a handle on romance—both Ben's and Caddie's—that's neither sappy nor shallow will help set this one apart.”
I liked this one. Not a lot of angst, a fairly light story. Not enthralling, but not bad. I suspect that the reason I didn’t find this one especially interesting is because (as I mentioned above) my tastes don’t lean towards contemporary fiction. Not the book’s fault.
Without Reservations, by J.L. Langley
“Sometimes love just catches you by the tail. Chayton Winston is a veterinarian. He is also a werewolf. Much to his Native American parent's chagrin, he has always dreamed of a fair-haired, Caucasian mate. However, he never imagined his mate would be male. As a heterosexual man, he's not quite sure what to do with a male mate, but more than willing to find out. Keaton Reynolds wakes up, in wolf form, and finds himself with a mate. He's instantly attracted, but not so thrilled to find out the man is straight. Having been in a relationship once before where his partner professed to be "Not gay" left a bad taste in his mouth. Keaton wants to make a break for it and pretend he never set eyes on Chay-but Chay is not ready to let him go. Together the two work to solidify their shaky relationship and battle the prejudices against homosexuals. Chay must deal with not only his mother's prejudices against gay men but also her hatred of white people. When a power struggle in Keaton's pack threatens Keaton's life, the two men learn to depend on one another and their relationship to get them through it. Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language, violence and hot man-love.”
It’s a fast read, but very fun. Enough angst to keep me interested, lol. Really, though, you could read it in a couple of hours.
Hero, by Perry Moore
“At the same time that he's coming to terms with his sexual orientation, basketball star Thom Creed is trying to figure out exactly what his untrained superpowers can do. In an attempt to break away from his seemingly non-understanding father (an ex-hero with something to hide) and homophobic community, Thom runs away, only to find himself in the middle of a multi-hero rescue operation. Using his ability to heal, he keeps an injured woman alive until the League superheroes arrive and impresses them enough to get an invitation to try out for a hero apprentice position. Thom is teamed with an old woman who can see into the future, a spiteful girl who unleashes her power through fire, a sickly boy who is able to inflict disease on anyone, and a demoted hero with insane speed. With superheroes dying in mysterious circumstances, Thom is forced to admit publicly that he is gay in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice, but finds himself cast out of the League. He organizes his ragtag team to figure out what is really going on and to fight society's prejudices as well as the criminal element of the town. The story tackles love, friendship, and the eternal struggle to come to terms with who we really are in a tactful, interesting, and well-developed manner. Although the beginning is a little slow, there are subtle hooks that will keep readers' interest, and once the action picks up, Hero becomes a real page-turner that is worth the wait.”
Really good. I like “coming of age” stories, and this one has a good amount of world- and character-building.
Through it Came Bright Colours, by Trebor Healey
“A bittersweet story of love, loss, and the search for honesty.
“Through It Came Bright Colors is the story of Neill Cullane, a closeted, conflicted 21-year-old who lives in two worlds, light years and a short drive of his beat-up VW bug apart. At home, he's the dutiful son of Frank and Grace, and devoted brother to Peter, whose battle with a cruel, disfiguring cancer pulls the Cullane family together, however reluctantly. But in the shadows of the San Francisco underworld, Neill finds release with his secret lover Vince Malone, a beautiful junkie/philosopher/thief whose burning desire for truth lights the path Neill always knew he'd travel. Through Vince, Neill learns about honesty and love and finds the courage to confront his family in the face of tragedy and loss.
“I told myself I wasn't ready yet; I told myself they weren't ready.
“As Neill watches his younger brother endure surgery after surgery, he is forced to confront his own physicality, and by extension, his long dormant sexuality. It is as if through his brother's mortal struggle, Neill awakens to his own body and to the erotic nature of life itself, finding the courage to act on his sexual feelings with the seductive and enigmatic Vince. The troubled young men's secret affair inspires Neill to speak truths that lay silently, safely, beneath the Cullane family's carefully maintained surface, gradually stripping away layers of the polished, idealized façade. And the chance to live openly, honestly, inspires Neill to reveal the biggest truth of all on a journey of self-discovery that travels through the Bay-area suburbs to the San Francisco Tenderloin district, and finally, to the High Sierra wilderness where he and Vince face the truth about love, loss, and family.
“Author Trebor Healey's rich, lyrical prose provides a unique and intimate look at one gay man's struggle to live openly and honestly, to love and to be loved, free from shame and guilt. Through It Came Bright Colors is a compelling saga of emotional, spiritual, and poetic depth.”
Somewhat depressing, but really good. Of all the stories on my list, this is the one that stayed in my head the longest. It’s contemporary fiction, but the author has built a rich & colourful enough world that I was still pulled in.
Hope you find something interesting in all that.