A couple of weeks ago I did my first post on this topic for new M/M readers, linked here. The books that I recommended were:
My Fair Captain by J.L. Langley
A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan
Strongman by Denise Rossetti
A Red Tainted Silence by Carolyn Gray
The Mercenary’s Tale by Lynn Lorenz
The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson
Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon
Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville
This week I have a few more recommendations for you readers new to this sub genre, starting with –
Caught Running by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux:
Brandon and Jake met again 10 years after graduation and found out that they had one thing in common — they were attracted to each other. Here’s what I said about this very funny book in my review –
>>I have read many romances with terrific characters but Brandon and Jake are special. What I loved best was how they could be funny even during sex, when they had the best lines. Both the prose and dialogue were typical Urban and Roux, meaning – it was exceptional, and the reader could taste the emotion between the guys. Some of the lines were laugh out loud funny from “protein shakes” if you get my drift, to Jake telling Brandon “you should have thought ahead” and Brandon’s response “the wrong head was doing the thinking.
At one point Jake said to Brandon “You’re a bit of a bastard after you get laid,” and Brandon snorted “Insults won’t get you a repeat.” This banter continued throughout the book and is one of the reasons it was so enjoyable.<<
Obviously I love this book a lot but I should tell you that there is some head hopping in it. If this bothers you CR may not be your first choice but it would be a pity to miss such a wonderful book solely for this reason.
Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon reviewed by Aunt Lynn. This book is part of Josh’s Collected Novellas Volume 1 and is also available as a standalone story here. Lynn talked about her reactions to the book:
“Snowball in Hell is one of Josh’s best stories. Ever. And I waited, stupid me, because I wasn’t sure I was interested in reading a book set in WWII era Los Angeles. Like I said, stupid, stupid me. I have now read SIH four times since it was released as a standalone (as opposed to part of Partners In Crime 2: I’ll Be Dead for Christmas). It is also what will be book one of a series starring Matt and Nathan. Did I happen to mention how stupid I was?
Told in third-person POV from both protags, everything about this book is fabulous. From the engaging mystery to an atypical romance that is perfectly imperfect to sympathetic and likeable characters to the realistic atmosphere to the sparsely-written prose to the fast pace, this is a story that is not to be missed.”
Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy, was his first published book (except for a short story in an anthology). I still can’t believe it’s Sean’s first novel. Tigers and Devils is a perpetual fan favourite even though there is no explicit sex in the book, which just goes to show that there’s room for every type of story in M/M romances. T & D is set in Australia and the background is Australian Rules footy (football). Here’s the blurb:
Football, friends, and film are the most important parts of Simon Murray’s life, likely in that order. Despite being lonely, Simon is cautious about looking for more, and his best friends despair of him ever finding that special someone to share his life. Against his will, they drag him to a party, where Simon barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler — unaware that the athlete is present and listening.
This book was reviewed by Kris who I thought did a marvelous job, and not because she is herself from Oz. 🙂 Here’s part of what she said about T & D where she talks about who would like the book
“Tigers and Devils is a terrific read for those who like their sport romances (Wave), for those who like the famous/ordinary person dynamic (Jenre) and for those who love a HEA (Ozakie, Tam and, well, just about everyone because that’s why we read romance after all ). I’m looking forward to reading more work from this first-time novelist.”
This book is definitely a “keeper” that I have read many times and if you haven’t, you should. Tigers and Devils rocks.
Without Reservations by J.L. Langley is my next recommendation. I’m not sure if this was the first or second story by this author that I read but it made a lasting impression even though the characters initially fit the usual stereotype. Here’s part of the review
“There is no doubt that this author is a terrific and articulate writer who gets her characters to speak to her in a way that excites readers and fans, but when Keaton first appeared on the scene I was disappointed because physically his appearance fit every stereotype of an effeminate gay man – small in stature, blond, blue eyed and seemingly the sub in the relationship. Another minus for me was that Chay was a straight male who all of a sudden falls in love with another man, and even though I understood the werewolf mating drive I still wondered how the author would make a believer out of me.
But as the story progressed Keaton evolved into a different person. When in wolf form he was the stronger, more complex personality, physically, emotionally and mentally and this dichotomy made him a very powerful character. Chay on the other hand continued to be the relaxed, easygoing protag except in situations when he had to defend his mate. ….
The first time I read this book I loved it and I still do. Without Reservations is a terrific story and J.L. Langley made a believer out of me by pulling off a great character switch and a credible mystery. ”
M.L. Rhodes’ The Draegan Lords. What can I say about this book which includes the first two stories of this series (True of Heart and Lords of Kellesborne) without it sounding like hyperbole? The first time I read True of Heart it blew me away and then the sequel took me higher. Here’s part of the blurb:
The Draegan Lords is the epic story so far of the long battle between the draegans, a race of dragon shapeshifters and their mortal enemy Byram, High Sorcerer and diabolical ruler of Velensperia. 100 years ago Byram launched a deadly attack against the draegans and their leader at the time was killed. The race was almost destroyed except for a few of them who lived in hiding but after a century of repression the remaining draegans, under the leadership of Keiran Hareldson, have begun to fight back”
In my review for this book I said:
“There is a wealth of raw emotion in Lords of Kellesborne from the sex to Keiran’s fears that his people’s expectations will be impossible to meet and his own dread that he will be found wanting when tested in the upcoming fray.
The setting for The Draegan Lords is the wonderful, mystical world of Velensperia and M.L. Rhodes has opened her imagination full throttle to give the reader a veritable feast of all the elements expected in a fantasy including magick, sorcery, love, adventure and amazing secondary characters. When the action in the story shifts from love scenes to battle, the author uses her remarkable visionary skills to create scenes of violence, chaos and destruction.
Once again M.L. Rhodes has given her readers a wonderfully crafted story about characters that are unique and alien yet believable and real at the same time.”
The Draegan Lords is definitely one of the best paranormal series around, and outside of the incredible world building Gaige and Keiran grabbed my heart and never let go.
Paul’s Dream by Rowan McBride is another paranormal book I can’t forget. The story is about Paul, a lawyer who is all business and doesn’t relate to other people on an emotional level, while Kian is an incubus who has been imprisoned for three years by a cruel master. Paul’s Dream is a complicated story and Paul’s personality does a 180 throughout the book as he realizes that he can’t live without Kian.
The end is emotionally charged and this is my concluding paragraph of the review:
“Paul’s Dream is an extraordinarily complex story with two completely different protagonists. Paul starts out as a cold fish while Kian is warm and loving, and the story takes Paul on a journey of his evolution into a warm and caring human being, as he realizes that without Kian everything is cold. The author does a great job of wrapping up this book and the end is emotionally charged as Paul and Kian reveal their true selves and the lengths they will go to for each other.”
I have re-read this book many times and while it may not be to everyone’s taste because the story is so unusual, I love the way that the author dealt with the intriguing plot and these complex characters.
Untamed Heart by Ally Blue. I love Ally’s writing and I think that Untamed Heart is one of her best books ever. Of course I haven’t read everything she has written, and two that are on top of my TBR pile are Forgotten Song and Easy, but Untamed Heart really moved me. Here’s the blurb:
Leon Fisher is an assassin and this was the one kill that his employers hadn’t ordered; this was his revenge against the murderer who had brutally butchered his lover, Ted. However, killing the man responsible for Ted’s violent death does not ease his pain and anger, instead it leaves him empty and sends him on a downward spiral into alcoholism and depression. His employer gives him an ultimatum: go to their mountain retreat in Alaska or be terminated. He has no choice but to agree.
One day Leon decides to explore and he is attacked by a bear and almost dies before being rescued by a strange young man, Grim, who is unlike anyone in his experience. Grim is painfully submissive, shy to an astonishing degree, and it was obvious that he had suffered some sort of trauma in the past, but he wasn’t talking. He is rail thin, fragile and it seems as if a strong wind could blow him over. On the other hand, he is extraordinarily strong physically, having lived out in Tongass National Forest in the Alaskan woods for years, fending for himself.
My concluding paragraph of the review went like this:
“Ms Blue can be depended on to give her readers complex characters in her books but this time I think she outdid herself. I was so emotionally moved by Leon and Grim that they broke my heart. Using the savage and stark terrain of Alaska as the setting for this book is a stroke of genius and gives the story a richness and depth that made it even more impactful. I could feel the cold, crisp air and the natural habitat all around and when Leon and Grim have to kill animals for food it couldn’t get more real.”
You should give yourself a treat and get this book.
Adrien English Mysteries MaryM and I reviewed this series over two years ago. Included in the review were Fatal Shadows, A Dangerous Thing and The Hell You Say, the three books that were were available. We didn’t review the individual books but the series as a whole up to that point. Here are a few comments we made about the series:
Wave “This is a mystery/suspense series and the focus of the stories is Adrien English, a gay bookseller, writer and amateur sleuth who has a knack for getting himself into dangerous situations from which he has to be rescued, most of the time by his on-again off-again boyfriend Detective Jake Riordan. Adrien is a beta type personality which just begs for a tall, handsome, strong, hunky alpha male who makes his bad heart race. His dream man is Jake who hits all the right notes and rings his bell and he personifies everything for which Adrien has been looking.”
MaryM “Adrien is also clever and stubborn, ideal qualities for the amateur sleuth. Because while the overall story arch has a strong romantic flavour, the book’s main emphasis is mystery. And Mr Lanyon makes a nice job of building them up. The plots are varied, detailed and well-set, with no obvious holes that would jerk you out of the story. In all three cases I didn’t find the culprit before Adrien did. Obviously, Miss Marple I am not, but I still give kudos to Josh for making it so the solution was never an obvious one. The intensity level is rather high and keeps rising as the stories unfold, but Adrien’s ability to see the ridiculous and humour in even the most dire situations confers a lightness to the tone. ”
These three books were first published in 2000, 2002 and 2006 by Gay Men’s Press and they were updated, repackaged and published by Loose Id in 2007 when romance readers found them. Since then the series has built up quite a following.
This is the best mystery/romance series, bar none, that I have read. If you’re still hesitating I would urge you to immerse yourself in The Adrien English Mysteries which is well worth the time and money, and best of all the books are available in both print and ebook formats. The newer books are reviewed on the site – Death of a Pirate King and The Dark Tide.
Till next time.