My head’s been spinning over the number of exceptional books that have graced my Kindle lately, all of them occupying the broader category of gay literary fiction rather than the narrow confines of the trope-laden and increasingly formulaic M/M romance genre (shot across the bow). Gay lit fic is a broader umbrella encompassing horror, romance, suspense, drama, milthrill, psychological noirish lit, and a host of other subgenres.
Mostly what it is… is damn fine writing. Sometimes character driven, sometimes plot heavy, most times a beautiful balance of sacred and profane, these selections I’m offering for your perusal and consideration are worthy of your time and attention if you love great storytelling, intelligent writing, engaging characters and plots that have you turning that virtual page until the wee hours of the morning.
Listed by author, but not in any particular order (I’m too lazy to alphabetize):
I’ve read all of his works, enjoyed them (especially the thematically engaging A Little Too Broken), but when I picked up Werewolves of Brooklyn and read a few pages, I realized I’d stepped into a whole new level of literary fiction. Yes, it’s dark urban fantasy but it’s not beholden to the tiresome romance tropes common to that genre. It is fresh, with a challenging mythology that builds on, rather than forsakes its roots. Impeccably researched, it blends past and present into a unified whole, the characters are flesh and blood men, and the insinuation of the paranormal into the contemporary simply elevates this level of storytelling to a new platinum standard . Read my full review HERE.
LETA BLAKE & INDRA VAUGHN
Not all collaborations work out well, so it’s with caution I embark on that particular venture when it comes to reading a co-authored novel. In Vespertine, issues of tone, narrative style, clarity of execution and myriad other details coalesced in a sturm und drang fashion that threw down a gauntlet and challenged me to dig deep and wait. My persistence was rewarded. Once the authors reached a certain synergy, I was completely, wholly, and without compromise invested in the characters and the spiritual and life-choice paths facing each of them singly and together. I love… nay, I adore… a book with imperfections that overrides my objections and takes me on a journey I never saw coming. It made me a believer. Technically a contemporary gay romance, it would fit even more comfortably in the gay literary genre. Read my review HERE.
JOSEPH LANCE TONLET
Grif’s Toy is erotica the way it’s meant to be written. It is at once intensely cerebral and insanely sensual. It is staggeringly imaginative, dark and willfully destructive. It will challenge your preconceptions of what constitutes masculine worth and reward your innate prurient nature. The yin and yang between Wes and Grif defines lifetimes of alienation and self-loathing, and the toggling back and forth from past-to-present and back again is a master class in use of the flashback in narrative structure. I could not put this book down. And I am desperately waiting for the sequel. Read my review HERE.
I’ve mentioned Bey’s works before, in particular Better the Devil You Know (over which I waxed euphoric and became an instant fangirl). Since then I’ve started his Baal’s Heart Series, completing book 1 Caged, and now I’m currently ensconced in book 2 Sacrificed. On deck is Fated. Much to my chagrin, given the gorgeous writing and very convincing historical details (pirates, ships, derring-do both above and below deck) I mistook this for a straight historical… because the dang writing is that convincing. Oops. It’s really fantasy/alt history. It’s also another case of erotica done right, transcending the confines of the genre and elevating it to a status of literary drama of the most compelling sort. Caged can be classified as character studies writ large, while Sacrifice is more plot-driven, heavier on suspense and action while still defining, then redefining, what makes each of the three main characters tick: Jon (the innocent ripe for corruption), Tom (the moral center and arbiter of emotional connection among the three men – and yes, I am available for a hearty debate on this topic), and Captain Baltsaros (an almost mythical creature of very dangerous, very specific appetites). Here I am, recommending this series wholeheartedly at just the halfway mark. Well, don’t that beat all, and dayyum, the reason is… it’s just that good.
The DOJO BOYS: DRAGON & CROW 2 VOL. SET is a stunning achievement, an epic adventure that melds contemporary MM romance with a Yaoi graphic novel style that quite simply blew me away. It is a gorgeous coalition of erotica with sensuality, with scenes that are so beautifully rendered they become a unique art form. The storytelling is stellar—a thrill ride that builds on a complex plot and exquisitely drawn characterizations. If you don’t know this author, now is the right time to get acquainted. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Read my review HERE.
Well, there you have it, Gentle Readers. Don’t forget, if you enjoy an author’s work, please let him/her know: leave a review, comment on the Face Book page, tell your friends.