While I huddle in A/C trying to stay cool and not think overmuch about the electric bill coming at the end of the month, I’ve been reading. A lot. Some good, some meh, some truly awful. But let’s focus on the positive today…
Here’s a compilation that might appeal to those whose tastes are eclectic and catholic (psst, that means you read everything, including the back of cereal boxes).
- Wayne Hoffman: an author new-to-me (thanks KU!). I fell into insta-love with An Older Man. Loved it so much I went back and found the first book, Hard. The unlikely protagonist is Moe Pearlman—gay, Jewish, liberal, intellectual, political, living in Manhattan and blessed/cursed with an oral fixation. Hard chronicles a year in Moe’s life at age 26 when he (and his friends and acquaintances) are faced with a rapidly changing world. Opportunities rise and fall, relationships form and disintegrate, and through it all Moe’s indomitable spirit is the nexus around which we can make sense of shifting events. An Older Man focuses on Moe at age 42 and a two week hiatus in Provincetown during Bear Week. Moe is still an unlikely sex object. Yes, he’s found his place and knows what he likes, but he is beset with self-doubt and the realities of growing older in a society fixated on youth. The writing is intelligent and insightful, laugh-out-loud funny in spots, poignant and heart-wrenching in others. I laughed, I cried, I nodded my head in sympathy with the characters’ dilemmas and cringed at some of their life choices. But mostly I gained a new perspective on what it’s like to be gay in a community with such startling diversity. I was both entertained and enlightened. That’s a rare combination these days. Wayne Hoffman pulled it off with panache and style.
- Em Petrova writes cowboy erotic romance that will curl your toes and warm your heart. Two of my favorite series are The Dalton Boys and The Boot Knocker Ranch series. The Dalton brothers need to find wives in order to lay claim to a piece of the family ranch. It’s not so easy in the middle of nowhere Texas, where the pickins are often slim and past history (and misbehaviors) often come back to bite them in the… ahem. Each story is unique, the brothers are quite different personality-wise and the gals they find are not your typical swooning maidens in distress. The Boot Knocker Ranch series is truly a hoot. Gals come to the ranch for some sexual therapy from cowboy hunks who specialize in keeping a lady satisfied. The heat is five flames, both on and off the job, where relationships between the cowboys can sizzle and spark, and sometimes therapy morphs into something permanent. The settings are authentic, the writing smexy and engaging, the characters complex (and not always likable, but they grow on you), and the action on the ranch and between the sheets will melt linoleum.
- Susan Mac Nicol writes M/M romance with a side of suspense, a few thrills and even a hint of the paranormal. Her latest series is The Men of London. From the tony kitchen of an upscale restaurant and the huge egos manning it, to a crime scene where a corporate investigator and a psychic join forces to make sense of it all, and a washed up model/porn star butts heads with a flamboyant twink with a heart of gold… the Men of London provides delectable slices of life in the city, along with the foibles, the angst and the challenges of building a relationship from the ground up. The characters are honest and charismatic, the romances believable and engaging, and the writing is charming, well-crafted and fast paced. You can’t help getting invested in each man’s story and you will definitely want more. Can be read as standalones.