cover of Kele Moon's Starfish and Coffee, which has two hunky, hunky men with bare chests on the cover.
  • Sean Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils, published March 9, 2009 by Dreamspinner Press.
  • Sequel to Tigers and Devils: Sean Kennedy’s Tigerland, published October 15, 2012 by Dreamspinner Press.
  • Marie Sexton’s Promises, published January 7, 2012 by Dreamspinner Press.
  • Kele Moon’s Starfish and Coffee, published October 15, 2012 by Loose Id.

I have written almost nothing about male/male romance on this site. Mainly because I’m not sure what to think of this subgenre that is about men but written mainly by women and read mainly by women (this is not 100% true as Sean Kennedy’s books show). Here’s the take from a gay man who reads m/m romance and his thoughts about its production and consumption.

This post from USA Today tries to tease out why this is a popular subgenre among women:

Beth Walker, the publisher at Secret Cravings Publishing, says, “We’ve found that the vast majority of readers of the m/m books are women — 95%, according to our sales.” She adds, “Why this is such a phenomenon, we aren’t sure, but the women love to read these types of stories. They still want romance as part of the book, though, and expect a deep connection between the characters.”

Why do female readers enjoy this type of novel? Comments posted online in a forum for romance readers may be enlightening. One writes, “It’s about the love, about love having no limitations and barriers based on gender.”

Another reader says, “I think from a romantic perspective, the appeal is that if love between two men, which was taboo for so long, can happen successfully, the take-away message is that anything, any happy ending, no matter what the obstacles are, is possible.”

Because I make it a point to not beat around any bushes, I will also note that there is one thing you can get in m/m romance that you cannot get in most m/f romance novels and that’s anal sex scenes (and this isn’t necessarily true, as Sean Kennedy’s books also show — he implies rather than describes). Even I have lines and this is one of them so I’m not going to go into any detail here beyond mentioning that. But let’s not pretend that that is not at least part of this.

I also wonder if there is a way that women’s ability to empathize works here to their advantage. By which I mean that women are so famously empathetic in our culture and much more able to see through the eyes of a male character than men are able to see through the eyes of a female one. With m/m romances, then, all these ladies who are reading them can imagine themselves equally as each protagonist because neither protagonist is marked by their sex (and normally gender) as “female” — there are no obvious characters in whom a female reader is supposed to imagine themselves (much harder to argue this with m/f romances).

Who knows. In the end, as is always true with whatever literature you are talking about, it helps when the novels are just damn good, like the four I’m reviewing today.

I decided to write this post because I happened to read the four books listed above pretty close together and all of them — ALL OF THEM — are very well written, sweet love stories. All four of them will end up on My Favorite Romance Novels list. And I assumed that at least some people who read this site probably like m/m romance, too, and may be looking for recommendations. And I like to share! I’m compelled to share! So, I’m sharing! (that’s enough exclamation points, I think)

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