Tag Archives: M/M romance

Learning to Feel by N.R.Walker

Short Version: Learning to Feel is a fairly  traditional contemporary romance that passed the time, but N.R. Walker’s plotting choices struck me as a bit much.

Long Version:

In a moment of common sense and self-preservation, sad-sack Nathan leaves his job as an ER doctor in Boston, to take a role in rural Maine. It’s a contract position that he hopes will get his life on track, help him work less, and includes free rent on a farmhouse. When Nathan arrives, he finds a painter finishing up the house and his world promptly turns to colour.

Trent is an itinerant artist working as a house painter to pay the bills. He and his loyal hound have been living at the farmhouse while he completes the effort for Nathan’s new digs. Trent is blonde, cute, and everything homophobic people fear. No, he’s not some raging stereotype, rather he is a gay man so magnetic that he has the Power of Conversion. Nathan has been hitherto not just straight, but essentially asexual. Trent’s arrival in his life is not just the gay-for-you trope, it’s I-am-born-anew-in-my-sexual-awakening! The world is transformed, my priorities have changed, I am a whole person now!

Other than the LGBTQ romance Trope of Conversion, Learning to Feel is a fairly standard story built around two nice people meeting and connecting as they do in so many kissing books. Their lives merge pretty seamlessly and Trent never seems to mind that Nathan basically takes over ownership of the dog. N.R. Walker is a decent writer who delivered a competent romance, although she has done much better work.

Question: Is the gay-for-you trope specific to romances about men falling in love that are written by and targeted to a readership made up of straight women?  Are there romance novels by and for gay men? What percentage of romance readership is male to begin with?

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. I have a list of LGBTQ romances, too.



Noah by Cara Dee

Another Kindle Unlimited book, another M/M romance, and one of two romances I have read recently in which there was a large age difference between the main characters.


From Amazon: In 48 hours, I lost everything. I came home to find my girlfriend of four years with another man. The next day a plane crash ripped my family away from me, shattering me in the process. In many ways, I died that day, too. The fun-loving man who’d lived in the fast lane and loved his career in the film industry was gone. Left was a forty-year-old shell that dwelled at the bottom of a bottle.

Only one person knew what I was going through. My sister’s stepson, who hadn’t been on the plane. Julian knew what it was like to lose everyone he loved, too. He’d stopped showing up at reunions when he was a teenager, so I didn’t know him very well. But I told him at the memorial service he could come out and visit me in LA whenever. One day he did, and I guessed it was as good a day as any to start picking up the pieces and see what was left of us.

Got that? Noah, a forty-year-old bisexual man, loses everything and is thrown into first a friendship and then struggles against and surrenders to a relationship with a much younger man, Julian, who is his nephew my marriage. Judging by other couples in the story, Cara Dee sometimes writes contemporary romances for people who are interested in major age differences and relationships that tread on, but do not technically cross, the taboo lines of appropriateness or legality.

Look, Julian is an adult. He’s 23 years old. Yes, he has known Noah for a long time, but the two aren’t blood related and have had a minimal relationship. They come together to rebuild their lives because they each need someone who understands what the other person is going through. Noah is appalled by his feelings at first, horrified. They know what they are doing might be seen as wrong by others, but their connection is too intense and they ultimately yield to it. I COULDN’T GET PAST IT, especially since some of their bedroom antics involved power dynamics in which Noah was the dominating participant. It was gross with a grossness that was gross and I only kept reading to see if Dee could find a way to make me okay with the taboo. She couldn’t and I should have stopped reading, just like I should stop wri




Guardian by Sierra Riley


Set in Queens, New York, the contemporary romance Guardian is the story of Alex and Titus, called Ty, although Titus is way cooler, if you ask me, which Sierra Riley did not. Opposites attracting, Alex is an attorney for a family law practice, Ty runs an auto repair shop and is raising his young niece, Phoebe. They meet when Alex’s car breaks down and Ty’s business is the closest to hand. They are brought together again when Ty is drawn into a custody battle for Phoebe. The case is resolved with minimum drama, but heretofore straight Ty finds himself inexplicably drawn to Alex.

I would really like to read a M/M romance in which neither of the men involved are questioning their sexuality.Ty comes to terms with his interest in Alex reasonably calmly, but I have read scores (and scores) of M/F genre novels and those folks are all written as simply straight and without the “I’M WHAT?!” element in their plotting. It’s often a major issue in LGBT romances and there are enough other tropes to provide story-lines. Either way, Guardian was a middling, sweetish romance, but I  didn’t really cotton on to either of the leads, so I don’t think I’m going to try any other Sierra Riley novels. I borrowed this one using Amazon Unlimited and I’m pleased I didn’t pay for it.

Review completed, there is one more element in the book I want to mention. Ty is a common hero type – a protector, heck, it’s right there in the title – and, as much as I enjoy a big lug, he’s also 6’5″ and got an only-he-if-lives-at-the-gym-and-drinks-17-protein-shakes-a-day physique and is heavily tattooed, none of which appeals to me. To be clear, it’s one tattoo that covers part of his chest, his arms to the wrists, his entire back, and most of his tushie. Seeing just the feather patterns on Ty’s arms, Alex finds them incredibly sexy. I found the feathers intriguing  until the image was described as a “vast bald eagle” starting at the center of his back. I could but giggle. Wings I could live with, in a over-the-top but endearing way; however,  once I started reading about its eyes, talons, and beak, humour was my only response.

Lastly, the cover art is truly awful. The hair colours are accurate, I’ll give them that.



LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author orAuthor Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

LGBTQIA Romances (Exclusively GB)

Most of these romances feature gay and bisexual men. I have read a lesbian romance, but, for me, it don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that schwing. Unless otherwise noted, everything on this list has a contemporary setting. Reviews are linked, recommended books are in bold.

  • Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark) Hallelujah, both gay the whole time!
  • Banner, Darryl Dog Tags (Brandon/Jesse)
  • Bettencourt, Rick Marketing Beef (Evan/Dillon)
  • Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year (Graham/Rikker) – New Adult, part of the fantastic Ivy Years series, I really liked it.
  • Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him (Wes/Jamie) – New Adult, it’s steamy AND heartfelt.
  • Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Us (Wes/Jamie) – Not-as-new adults, finding their way.
  • Calmes, Mary A Piece of Cake novella (Jory/Sam) – Light and fluffy, mid-series novella
  • Charles, KJ A Seditious Affair: A Society of Gentlemen Novel – (Silas/Dominic) Historical, strong political elements and period details.
  • Dee, Cara Noah  (Noah/Julien) – squicky dynamic
  • Ford, Rhys Sinner’s Gin (Kane/Miki) – Overshadowed by the background story and over-the-top main plot.
  • Frank, Ella Try (Logan/Tate) – Too much sex? Is that even possible?
  • Frank, Ella Trust (Logan/Tate) – It’s possible.
  • Frank, Ella Finley (Daniel/Brantley)
  • Frank, Ella Devils’s Kiss (Jordan/Derek)
  • Gale, Avon Power Play (Misha/Max) – Contemporary hockey romance, quite enjoyable
  • Grace, Aria More Than Friends (Ryan/Zach) – New Adult
  • Hart, Riley Collide (Cooper/Noah) – Decent, I meant to review it, but never bothered.
  • Jaymes, River Brad’s Bachelor Party (Brad/Cole) – Not good
  • Jaymes, River The Backup Boyfriend (Alec/Dylan) – Decent
  • Jaymes, River The Boyfriend Mandate (Memphis/Tyler) – Meh
  • Hawk,Jordan Widdershins (Percival/Griffin) – Paranormal, very entertaining
  • Kell, Amber Attracting Anthony (Silver/Anthony) – Paranormal, weird daddy/son tone
  • Kennedy, Sean Tigers and Devils (Simon/Declan) – Charming, a novel with romance more than a romance novel
  • Klein, K-Lee Lazy Sundays (Devon/Scott) – Very quick read
  • Merrow, J.L Muscling Through (Al/Larry) – Big and stupid (really stupid) meets small and smart
  • Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal (Edward/Free) – It has a small lesbian subplot and a unacknowledged but clear gay partnership in addition to the main M/F romance, but this book is SO GOOD I am including it anyway.
  • Milan, Courtney Her Every Wish (Crash/Daisy) – It’s a M/F historical romance, but the hero identifies as bisexual.
  • Milan, Courtney Hold Me (Jay/Maria) – Contemporary new adult romance in which the hero is bi and the heroine is transgender.
  • Northcote, Jay First Class Package novella (Jim/Patrick) – quick, light read
  • Riley, Sierra Guardian (Titus/Alex) – If you like big, tattooed men, this could be for you.
  • Stewart, Nicole Home for Three (Selwyn/Jack/Kess) – A gay man, a bisexual one, and a straight woman.
  • Walker, N.R. The Weight of It All (Henry/Reed) – Contemporary, enjoyable, sweet, funny
  • Walker, N.R. Learning to Feel (Nathan/Trent) – Contemporary, mostly pretty standard.
  • Walker, N.R. Sixty Five Hours (Cameron/Lucas) – Contemporary, pretty good.
  • Walker, N.R. Imago (Jack/Lawson)- Contemporary, very good
  • Walker, N. R. Imagines (Lawson/Jack) – follow up story only
  • Walker, N.R. Twelfth of Never (Mark/Will)- follow up story only
  • Walker, N.R. Red Dirt Heart (Charlie/Travis) – good, not great
  • York, Sara Pray the Gay Away (A Southern Thing Book 1) (Jack/Andrew)- high school, drama, sweet, the start of a series.

As always, recommendations are welcome.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

Us by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

A follow-up to the


new adult romance Him, Us follows up five months later with Ryan “Wes” Wesley and Jamie Canning. Living together in Toronto as Wes skates through a stellar NHL rookie season (doomed to failure and disappointment as the Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since the year I was born) and Jamie is establishing his career as a coach. They don’t get to spend enough time together and when they do, they are constrained by the need to mask their relationship. Wes just wants to get through his first season without becoming known as the first out gay man in professional hockey. The burden of Wes’s travel, hiding their relationship, and lack of time together is wearing on the couple.

Many adults try to figure out how to manage new careers and a serious relationship, but Wes and Jamie’s efforts are further complicated by the arrival of the world’s largest plot moppet in the form of Wes’s teammate, Blake. He moves in upstairs and takes to dropping by at inopportune times to interrupt sex and ratchet up “we can’t tell anyone I’m gay and you’re bisexual and we can’t even be ourselves in our own home” tension before proving he has a heart of gold when everything hits the fan.

The guys are still likable and sympathetic, if not especially well fleshed out characters, and their intimate scenes are still hot, but Us, while it does provide some realistic feeling situations, wasn’t really anything surprising. It’s an enjoyable, but not particularly memorable, trip down a familiar road with some nice guys doing the best they can. Honestly, the most notable thing about the story is the unbelievable suggestion that Toronto Maple Leafs ticket holders would give up their seats, even if only for one game:


Those tickets are worth their weight in gold!

Note: I have re-read this book a couple of times since posting my review and I feel that I didn’t give it enough credit. It’s a good one and I recommend it if that wasn’t clear. Read its predecessor first.

I highly recommend Sarina Bowen’s new adult romance The Ivy Years Series and suggest you buy the box set, including the classic novella Blonde Date, but skip The Fifteenth Minute entirely. She is an author to watch.

Elle Kennedy’s new adult romance Off Campus series consists of The Deal  (great, recommended), The Mistake (good),  The Score (no), and The Goal (fine).

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy

This is my first Australian romance, plus it’s about two men, neither of them are confused about their sexual preference, and it was written by a man. Huzzah!

From Amazon: The most important things in Simon Murray’s life are football, friends, and film—in that order. His friends despair of him ever meeting someone, but despite his loneliness, Simon is cautious about looking for more. Then his best friends drag him to a party, where he barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler—unaware that the athlete is present. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other’s lives forever… But as Simon and Declan fumble toward a relationship, keeping Declan’s homosexuality a secret from well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media becomes difficult. Nothing can stay hidden forever. Soon Declan will have to choose between the career he loves and the man he wants, and Simon has never been known to make things easy—for himself or for others.

Wry and self-deprecating, Simon narrates the story and is a funny and engaging hero. Tigers and Devils is more of a (very enjoyable) love story than a romance novel. Let me see if I can explain what I mean by that. I make no promises.

  1. Simon and Declan fall hard and fast.
  2. Their relationship is largely long distance in the early days. Declan plays for a football (Australian, obviously) team in Tasmania and Simon works in Melbourne.
  3. The reader is told a lot of the early relationship, but the swoony part is largely passed over.
  4. The bulk of the story focuses on the issues they face as a couple as opposed to anything that slows them down from becoming a couple.

Tigers and Devils’ supporting characters were well fleshed out and Simon and Declan felt like real people. Sean Kennedy is a really good and diverting writer, but I could have done with a little more romance. I started it with a sample, then I bought the book, but felt no need to continue on to the following two novels. Tigers and Devils succeeded as a novel about two people falling in love, but I was looking for more of a classic genre romance.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

A Piece of Cake by Mary Calmes

This novella from the A Matter of Time series was a heightened reality ball of fluff that catches the two leads’ story in media res.

From Amazon: After years of domestic partnership, Jory Harcourt and Sam Kage are finally going to make it official in their home state of Illinois. It’s been a long and rocky road, and nothing—not disasters at work, not the weather, not a possible stalker, not even getting beat up and having to attend the ceremony looking like he just got mugged—will make Jory wait one more day to make an honest man of the love of his life.

A well-intentioned trouble magnet, Jory is kind of guy who things happened to. He and law enforcement official Sam have had a civil partnership and an out-of-state wedding, but now that marriage has become legal in their home state, they plan to marry again. They have two young children and are surrounded by a diverse group of friends and family. It’s a world in which billionaires and cops not only socialize, but also marry.

While Jory is busy being accident prone, Sam cleans up his messes and there is a subplot about something something stalked and/or killer on the loose which climaxes on their wedding day. I think if you were in the mood for some happy, pure escapism with a dose of adventure, this series might be for you. It wasn’t especially good, but it was kind of fun.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Sinner’s Gin by Rhys Ford

So, that’s a super cool title. I received this contemporary romance as a gift, not for an “honest review” as one so often hears, but because my friend is lovely and knew I was looking for a good LGBT romance.

The Sinner’s Gin of the title is a blues-rock band that experiences a horrible tragedy the same night they win a handful of Grammys. Glorying in their success, their limo is t-boned by a large truck and three of the four band members are killed. The lone survivor, lead singer Miki, is recuperating alone in his converted San Francisco warehouse. When a stray dog adopts Miki and annoys his woodworking and happens-to-be-a-cop neighbour, Kane Morgan (romance novel name +4 points) enters the singer’s life. Complicating matters are the eviscerated body in Miki’s vintage car and the escalating violence around him.

A romance with a heavy dose of noirish mystery, there is a lot going on in this book (death of everyone Miki loves, murders, abuse, stalkers) and I don’t feel able to properly assess it because the novel made me squeamish. I’ll let the Amazon blurb explain:

But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet… As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved – provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.

I was really uncomfortable with the child sexual abuse subplot. There wasn’t graphic detail of the abuse, but enough oblique information to make my skin crawl. I do not belong to the group of people who enjoy a sophisticated, or otherwise, approach to horrifying topics. I can’t get past it to enjoy any artistry that may be underneath. Miki’s experiences overshadowed the reading experience for me and left me thinking more about the legacy of such abuse and the scars of its victims than the plot of the book, especially during the love scenes when my brain would be dragged back to what it is implied Miki has suffered. It was an interesting conversation going on in my head as I thought about recovery, the horrors that children are subjected to, how they rebuild their lives searching for some kind of “normal”, if it would affect their sexual tastes, wondering if Kane was being too forceful given what Miki had gone through, my own misconceptions and preconceptions about people who have been through these things, and the excellent movie Short Term 12. You can see how that is more interference with the reading experience than I might have been looking for. Sinner’s Gin’s love story was sweet and took its time, but it wasn’t enough to make me forget the more distressing content or the overburdened the plot, and did not make me want to read more in the series.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

P.S. I also wondered about the realism of sleeping at a crime scene, but after being horrified by the general goings on in Sinner’s Gin that quibble is neither here nor there.

Try and Trust by Ella Frank

There is a book, Take, that falls between Try  and Trust  in Ella Frank’s erotic romance trilogy, but I read them out-of-order and didn’t bother to read it because, and I can’t believe I am saying this either, and, please note, doing so for the first time in scores of romance reviews, erotic and otherwise,

this book has too much sex.

In Try, Logan* is a successful lawyer who very much enjoys his life as a good-looking, financially comfortable man about town. When he visits one of his regular haunts looking for someone to take home, he spots a new bartender, Tate. Instantly attracted, Logan presses his suit for the heretofore straight gorgeousness providing him with gin-and-tonics. Curious and confused, Tate resists Logan for a little while, but the man’s persistence wins out and they move towards progressively more sexually and, eventually, emotionally intimate encounters.

In Trust, Logan and Tate are established partners and Logan wants to move forward with living together. Tate is unwilling because he doesn’t feel he has enough to offer the relationship. They have a lot of sex, something bad happens, and Tate decides he’s ready to move in with Logan.

About the aforementioned unexpressed sentiment re: too much sex. Let me be clear, it’s really good sex, hot even, but for much of the two books it feels like that is all there is. This is not the time to remind me of the definition of “erotica”, but time to reconsider that of “erotic romance”. As with every story in this genre, a balance has to be struck between the tropes, wish-fulfillment characters, and sincere emotion. For much of Try, Logan and Tate alternate between sturm and drang. There is a passionate encounter, some kind of misunderstanding, and an intense reconciliation. Sex represents emotional connection in erotic romance, but a little more relationship building would have gone a long way.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

*Logan is quickly gaining ground as one of the most popular names in romance and I can only assume it will accelerate as I read more contemporary stories. Logan must be the “modern” version of Simon.

First Class Package by Jay Northcote

Admission: I really like Christmas novellas. Not all of them, not all the time, but once in a while they make a nice break. After all, one of my top five romances of all time is a Christmas novella.

Jay Northcote can’t possibly have known of my penchant and, admittedly, I did not know this was a Christmas novella when I bought it, but it served its own Christmas in July purposes well enough. It’s not really a recommend or a keeper, but I am trying to broaden my character lead horizons and this M/M romance was highly rated and free. As Amazon ratings are notoriously unreliable, that last part was the relevant point. Speaking of points, Nrothcote gets three for the double entendre of his title: First Class Package.

Why does he have a shirt on? What kind of “romance novel” is this?

From notoriously unreliable Amazon: A geeky science writer has a crush on his postman—but will he ever make a move? Working from home suits introvert Jim until he gets a special delivery—an extremely cute, temporary postman called Patrick. Jim’s drawn to his wide smile and sexy legs, while Patrick can’t keep his eyes off Jim’s package. Their doorstep attraction seems mutual, so asking Patrick out on a date should be easy. There’s just one problem—Jim could fit all the pick-up lines he knows on the back of a postage stamp. As Christmas approaches, Jim knows the end of Patrick’s postal-delivery contract is looming. Taking a chance might be worth it if it keeps Patrick coming to his door.

Not particularly memorable, I can tell you that all of the stuffed animals Jim orders to keep Patrick visiting are cute and that the none of the packages involved disappoint, but I don’t think I need to read anymore Jay Northcote. The story wasn’t bad, it was kind of sweet really, but nothing special and I am looking for a new author’s catalogue to dive into. Gay, straight, contemporary, historical, POC, new adults, rich, poor, I don’t care as long as it’s not paranormal and the love story is sincere and well told. Recommendations are welcome!

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.