Welcome to Romancing the Naked Hero, where today, we’ll be talking about two-fers.
What could be better than one naked hero?
Why, two, of course.
And on that note: I’ve been reading a bit of m/m lately.
I’m sure you all know what m/m is, but in case you don’t… m/m is gay romance, or romance featuring male characters. Homosexual romance, although m/m sounds a lot nicer and not so clinical, if you ask me.
And what I ought to say is that I’ve been reading a lot of Josh Lanyon, because that’s how I roll. I pretty much have one favorite author in every sub-genre and I read that one author, but I don’t branch out a whole lot. Except for mystery, where I have a lot of favorites.
As it happens, Josh Lanyon is a mystery writer. Of gay mysteries. And gay suspense. With a little bit of gay fantasy thrown in for good measure. And as also happens, we’re friends. I don’t think my adoration for the books is influenced by my adoration for Josh, though. They’re damn good books, and I think I’d think so even if I didn’t know Josh from Adam.
And – confession time – although Josh and I go back a decade or more, to before the first Adrien English mystery was published, certainly a long time before any of my books saw the light of day, it’s taken me until now to read them.
Yes, I admit it, I was nervous. It’s always a bit worrisome when someone you know in a different context writes a book, because there’s always the chance that the book might be crap and then you won’t know what to say. Your friend will be upset if you tell him the truth, and you’ll be bothered if you don’t, because you have to continue to hide your feelings from your friend.
That wasn’t actually a big concern this time, though, because anyone who spends any time at all around Josh, knows that he can write. Blog posts, Facebook updates, messages on Yahoo loops – which is where we hooked up originally… You can tell the writers from the non-writers. Josh is a writer, and it shows, even in Facebook status updates. I didn’t doubt that the quality of the writing would be good. I doubted my own comfortability level with the subject matter.
Let’s just put it out there, shall we? Gay sex.
I’m about as heterosexual as they come. We have gay friends, of course, and used to have more than we do now. I spent my twenties inNew York City, trying to break into theatre, and when you’re around a bunch of wannabe and upcoming Broadway performers, chances are the incidence of gay guys is going to be higher than for the population at large. At the moment we live inNashville, and we’re your standard nuclear family with two kids, so most of our friends are also your standard nuclear family with kids. But we live inEast Nashville, which is one of the more diverse neighborhoods in the city, and that diversity extends to homosexuality. We have gay friends. And I do know what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom, thank you very much, even if I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the details. I just never wanted a front row seat, you know? And that’s pretty much what reading a book is, isn’t it? A front row seat to someone else’s life. Including their sex life.
So yeah, I was a bit worried about the gay sex scenes and how I’d feel reading them.
I was pleasantly surprised when the only sex scene in Fatal Shadows, the first Adrien English book, came late. And it wasn’t what I’d expected it to be. By that point, I was so invested in Adrien and wanting Adrien to be happy, that the fact that he had sex with someone I didn’t want him to have sex with – instead of the person I did – bothered me immensely.Reading about the sex was no big deal, but the emotional punch – it was with the wrong guy – was deeply disturbing.
By the time he got around to having sex with the right guy, the guy I wanted him to have sex with – toward the end of the second book – my only thought was, “Finally!”
I still don’t read the books because of the sex scenes – just like I don’t read straight romance because of the “good parts” – but they don’t bother me. To tell the truth, they’re some of my favorite parts of what are now some of my favorite books.
(Confession: I read all five Adrien English books in four days back in November. And turned around the next day and started over.)
Josh manages to do what any good romance author does: move the plot forward by focusing on the emotions rather than the mechanics. Yes, the sex is explicit. Yes, if I sat down and thought about it, it might feel just a big squicky. No, m/m sex is not a personal turn-on. I don’t go to bed and jump my husband after reading. But that’s OK. I read for the mysteries and the characters and the writing, same as I do with any other book I pick up. The sex is part of that, and as it turns out, a part that doesn’t bother me.
That fact makes me very happy, since if I hadn’t gotten over my apprehension, I would have missed out on what has since become one of my favorite mystery series – and favorite characters – in any genre. The plots are satisfying, the character development is stellar, and the writing is gorgeous.
In fact – and I can’t give anyone a bigger compliment than this – I think I might like to try writing an m/m mystery myself, one of these days.
So what about you? Do you read m/m? Do you write it? Why or why not?