Once upon a time, when you opened a romance novel you expected to find a hero and a heroine engaged in a romantic battle of the sexes of some sort. Whether a period piece, a comedy, a contemporary, or even a bodice ripper, they all contained two familiar elements—a man and a woman.
Times have changed.
With the greater awareness of gay rights, and the realization that same-sex couples not only exist, but they’re people, just like everyone else (I know, a shocker, right?), has come a surge in romances that revolve around this fact. That is true particularly of m/m romance novels, tales of two men who often follow the traditional pattern established by writers of romance years ago: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. Although in this case substitute boy for the girl and there you have it—the perfect scenario for love.
Surprisingly—or not so surprisingly, depending on one’s point of view—most of the readers of m/m romance novels are straight women. And so are most of the writers, although some authors straddle both genres. It makes perfect sense to me. As a straight woman, I can relate to two men being together in the same way that straight men can understand and fantasize about two women being together, and there I think lies the crux of the matter. I can fantasize being a part of that hot male sandwich, whereas two women? Not my cup of tea, I’ll leave that to those whose preference it is.
However, as a straight woman, and appreciating men as I do, I can also enjoy a good story about a man and a woman. I happen to be partial to Regencies, myself. Give me a good story with a hot Duke or Earl, and I’m in heaven.
So why do I hear so many straight women who love their gay men say they can’t stomach reading straight sex? Not only that, but any m/m author who dares to add “lady bits”, as these readers like to refer to them, to their stories is soundly trounced and excoriated and beaten to within an inch of their life.
Not figuratively, but literally, and scathingly.
At the same time, lest I be accused of being unnecessarily biased, there are those in the m/f camp who just as quickly turn up their collective noses at the idea of two men being together as if it were something unpleasant they were forced to smell—or witness.
From what I can see, as far as sales go, m/m is leading over m/f. I’m not sure why that is, but I suspect part of it has to do with the growing trend that I notice for m/m writers to put out novellas, rather than full-blown novels. Shorter stories cost less, and readers therefore tend to buy more, hence sales are up. Plus it’s more of a novelty, whereas m/f romance novels have been around for a long time. I’m not saying m/m is a passing fancy, by any means. It’s here to stay. My hope is that it becomes more accepted and more mainstream with time. And that, please God, someone exercise some better quality control over what gets published. But I don’t see that happening, not with the proliferation of small presses which cater to tales of the GLBQT persuasion, and the growing ease with which eBooks can be published.
But the bottom line is this—when it comes to love, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. Love is the driving force that keeps us going, and gives us hope. It’s what our dreams of made of, our desires. It should not matter to readers of m/m novels if women have a part, or if God forbid, show their “girly bits.” How offended would you be if a m/f writer refused to show two hot guys in love because there might be “man bits” involved? It works both ways. Read a story for its character, its plot, its craft, and its construction, but if you are only concerned with putting tab A into slot B (or any variation thereof), well, there are books specifically for you. They’re called erotica novels, not romance. Let the romance writers alone, and let them allow their characters to develop as they will.
It’s not a cookie-cutter world, folks; people are different, but one things remains the same—love is the glue that binds us all. It’s ridiculous to carry on this literary battle of the sexes, when love is our common goal.
Thank you for having me, Victoria. It’s been fun.
A Multi-author M/F anthology from the writers of Wednesday Briefs, who bring you prompt induced Flash fiction every Wednesday. Bigger Briefs is an anthology we began to showcase our slightly bigger briefs. Er, flash fiction. We invite you to take the journey with us!
Have you ever had the feeling you’re being watched? Sometimes, watching can be naughty. And nice. Seven erotic stories from of those who are spied upon, and those who do the spying. You might be surprised to learn who has their eye… on you…
Julie Lynn Hayes: Great Expectations:
Delilah frequents Great Expectations not because of their tea, because of one man—Sam Sun. He is her obsession, and she is his stalker. But an unexpected turn of events brings her into a closer juxtaposition with his private life than even she has ever dreamed of…
Delilah was roused from her reverie—by the object of her reverie. Her cheeks flushed hotly as every note of his vibrant voice reverberated through her body. Even though his words were proper and correct, the thoughts which they engendered within her certainly were not.
If he only knew…
She darted a quick peep at him, pushing strands of honey-colored hair out of the way, in order to do so. He stood solemnly beside her table, looking so very fine in a black swallowtail jacket, matching pants that only served to emphasize the strength of his legs, long dark hair caught up in a neat ponytail at the nape of his neck, and white kid gloves. She could only imagine how his naked fingers would feel touching her skin; how they would caress and cherish her flesh, as only a lover could; how they would touch her inside, pressing against her intimate places, lifting her to paradise…
She was doing it again, allowing herself to get caught up in fantasies of Sam Sun. Futile fantasies that would never find fruition, other than in her own feverish flights of fancy. When he discreetly coughed, she realized she’d not answered his question.
“Um, yes, Mr. S—I mean, Sam,” she auto-corrected herself, lest he admonish her, albeit gently. Servers were to be addressed by their first names, patrons by their last. “Everything’s wonderful.” As if to prove her point, she took a quick nibble of her sandwich. At that moment, she was hard put to remember what she’d ordered, nor did the bite reveal its identity, as she tasted nothing, too focused on the man beside her. It wasn’t for the food, she frequented Great Expectations, one of the posher tea rooms in the city. Nor was it for the vast selection of fine brewed teas, which had earned the accolade of tea connoisseurs from around the country.
No, it was Sam. All Sam.
She sighed, and reached for the delicate porcelain cup, sipping from it to show her approval. By the time she dared to look up again, he’d walked away, to another table. Her eyes locked on his retreating ass, admiring the way the muscles worked, wondering how they would feel beneath her questing hands, as she explored their taut contours, how he would taste as she burrowed her tongue between his cheeks.
Had the room just gotten suddenly warmer? She squirmed in her seat, trying not to signal her discomfiture, but this ache in her loins for Sam was only getting worse. She wanted him so badly she could scream. And yet he didn’t even know her first name.
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