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What is the Male/Male Romance Genre?
I admit that I am pretty “traditional” about my romance preferences – hot guy, unappreciated girl just waiting to be appreciated, some steamy sex scenes, and HEA (happily ever after). The end. So, when I accidentally came across my first “male/male romance” book I was little “yuck” at the beginning…but since I was invested in the entire series of books (with each book being about a different family member), I figured “What the hell..just go with it.” The book not only features male/male romance, it also features some 3-way, and some s&m – all WAY WAY WAY outside of my usual preference…but you know what, it certainly provided some insight into a world that is far outside my own. I mean, it definitely isn’t my preference – kind of like I don’t love Regency romance since I don’t find them very fulfilling and I don’t love Alpha or bad boy romances since the guys are kind of assholes and I hate how they treat women, but every once in a while, you just read it because you do…and it’s kind of a fun change.
The male/male romance genre is intriguing, since it is mostly written by women for women…not by men for men. If you think about it, it makes sense – most romance novels are about escapism, and this is yet another journey that the reader is unlikely to ever experience for herself. So, for the past 5 years or so, the genre of male/male (m/m) romance has been growing in popularity. Although the characters mostly still conform to the traditional romance formula, both the hero and the heroine are, well, heroes.
What to Expect in the Male/Male Romance Genre
- Two unbelievably hot men…no mousy librarians here (well, sometimes, but not usually)
- Many of these novels feature men who are actually bi-sexual – so many of the novels have at least one (if not both) of the characters also hooking up with a woman
- Most are set in some kind of setting removed from the real world, every day existence – a camp, a trail ride, a vacation resort, some kind of crisis situation (war, accident, etc)
- A lot of focus on different physical characteristics in this genre…
Male/Male Romance Characteristics
- Level of Angst
On a scale of 1-10, the level of angst in this genre ranges dramatically – in the book I described above, both men are incredibly attracted to one another and both believe it to be wrong – so despite their desire to be one another it is forbidden to them (they actually need a woman to bring them together), so the level of angst in this kind of story is extremely high. However, in some novels, the couple is confident in who they are and what they want and just go for it (or at least one of them does), so the level of angst is significantly lower.
- Character Development
This genre tends to focus a lot of attention on developing the characters. The authors are writing about two strong characters (instead of the usual one), so it adds a different dimension to the characters. They are generally likable, and often misunderstood, and they just want to love and be loved like everyone else. There is a lot of time spent “normalizing” these characters for the female audience which is most likely to read these novels, and the traditional formula with which romance readers are all so familiar.
- Plot Strength
This genre is a little troubling since every couple has problems, but far more than with “traditional” male/female romance novels, this genre solves its problems with sex – lots of it. So, a lot of times the plots of these novels can be pretty weak as they often seem designed just to get us from one sex scene to another. Other comments about this genre have focused on how inappropriate erections are – no matter what the situation, the ever-present hard-on is always there, always in the way and always interrupting the development of any “real” conversation.
- Romantic Tension
For many of the novels in this genre, there is an intriguing amount of romantic tension – obviously, it isn’t “will he or won’t he;” we know he will. But the “how” is often really interesting!
- Level of Eros
There is a very high level of eros here –I think a lot of female readers are intrigued by the male penis and how/why it works the way it does, so the descriptions are always quite vivid as the reader encounters TWO of them!
- Prose Quality
The prose quality in this genre can go either way: In some cases it is really good and develops interesting and fun stories that are enjoyable to read (even if the characters are not interested in me – or my fictional representation -- at all), but some of them have ridiculous exchanges/interactions between the characters with very little dialogue and lots of grunting and sticking.
Related Romance Subgenres
Some related subgenres to this genre include Forbidden Romance, Erotic Romance, Lesbian Romance, Western Romance (an amazing number of cowboys star in this genre), Contemporary Romance, and sometimes even Bad Boy Romance.
Male/Male Romance isn't for you if
You like traditional male-female relationships. You like there to be a hero and a heroine. You like gentle, sweet sex scenes and relationships
Male/Male Romance is totally for you if
You are intrigued by something different. You like hot sex scenes (and a lot of them). You enjoy a lot of physical descriptions.
- 1 Rocky Mountain Freedom (2013)
By Vivian Arend. Is the novel I mentioned in the introduction to this genre. It is the sixth book in a series about the same family so I was already invested in the story when I started this one. Not my favorite book of the bunch, but certainly the dirtiest and kind of different!
- 2 Rough, Raw and Ready (2015)
By Loralei James. Is the story of a man who had a fling with another man years ago, but left that world behind him and settled into traditional married life with his beautiful wife…At least until the man from his past comes walking in again…and makes an instant connection with his wife.
- 3 First and First (2016)
By Santino Hassell. Tells the story of two men attempting to escape their repressive pasts and take a chance on one another for both present and future.
- 4 Selfie (2016)
By Amy Lane. Focuses on a popular actor who lost everything when his partner died, and runs the risk of losing it all again if his secret comes out. A move to another city to film a new series seems like exactly the right solution, until his new assistant sees right through him.
- 5 All in with the Duke (2013)
By Ava March. Is a twist on the “girlfriend for hire” plot as a Duke who swears never again to let a pretty face blind him to true intentions. A visit to brothel starts a “business arrangement” that quickly threatens to become something much more.
- 6 When Tony Met Adam (2015)
By Suzanne Brockman. Features a hot Navy SEAL who has kept his secret hidden for years for fear of losing his career. He meets an actor who has no issues with his sexuality, but he isn’t willing to sacrifice his heart for what seems destined to only be a one-night stand.
- 7 Stars and Stripes (2012)
By Abigail Roux. Is a novel about two special agents who are together, and who finally have a spare minute to actually BE together. Of course, an emergency interrupts, and threatens to upend their carefully created world.
- 8 A Kind of Romance (2016)
By Lane Hayes. Is a story about a ruthless Wall Street executive and his determination to seek revenge on the man who spurned him. His (hilarious) father meets another man he knows will be just perfect for his son, and so begins the new relationship, originally as a distraction, but perhaps destined to become something more.
- 9 Promises (2010)
By Marie Sexton. Tells the story of a small town with only 2 gay men – and one is old enough to be the other one’s father. Enter newly hired, hot, cop – who says he’s straight. Or is he…
- 10 Someday (2016)
By Sierra Riley. Is the story of an artist looking for his Prince Charming. It’s also the story of an ex-con – unjustly convicted – who just wants to live out his life in peace. A series of circumstances bring them together, as they both seek to find what happily ever after means…
Publicly Ranked Version of the List21 items >>
- Persuasion (Jane Austen)
- Emma (Jane Austen)
- Katherine (Anya Seton)
- Ravished (Amanda Quick)
- Saving Grace (Julie Garwood)