I’ve been working on some “Top Ten” lists for a series I want to do, mostly so I can get some sense of order of all the things I’ve read…There is a LOT of volume in this genre. I feel like a veteran for having discovered it about four years ago, I’ve read A LOT of books. I’m sometimes amazed when I see the sheer amount I’ve read in the years since I discovered M/M romance. Just recently at GRL in Atlanta, I was surprised by the amount of readers that have just discovered M/M in the past year, and still *gasps* have not gotten around to reading some books that I consider “Classics”. I found myself wanting to regroup, and take some time to work through some of these amazing stories I’ve read, and share my absolute favorites
I’ve been thinking of doing Top Ten lists for awhile, and I figured I’d start with one of my absolute favorites tropes, the May-December couples. One of the beauties of writing about relationships between two men is that there is a lot more freedom, gender roles are not so restrictive and a “significant” age difference actually seems to really benefit some love stories. I have MANY MANY favorites in this category, so I HAD to come up with a cutoff (or I’d have 50 books on this list). I have only counted couples with a “12 year or more” age difference, and in terms of where they rate, I’ve listed them in the order I have read them from earlier reads to most recent, with a BONUS SELECTION at the very end….Of course to make this list complete I had to bring in the other parts of my “addictions”…So for my May-December Romance Favorites List I have also come up with some nice wine to add to the mix.
So here we go!
Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan: This book. I can’t even say how much I love it. It’s truly, TRULY one of my most favorite stories. Roe and Travis embody acceptance and finding home in the person who you love. The idea that the person you love can give you what you need with respect and tenderness…Just slays me EVERY TIME. This book has very intense erotica, and it will push those readers who are not very into BDSM, but it is a wonderful love story. I actually had a chat with Heidi during GRL about how this story came to be and it only made it more special.
Here is what she had to say:
“My inspiration for Nowhere Ranch was my friend Jan prepping to marry her partner of fifteen years but having to wade through caustic, painful naysaying from her family. Jan did receive hateful letters couched in Christ and “tough love,” and they broke her heart, turning what was meant to be a happy milestone into one fraught with sorrow. As Jan and her partner are also devoted foster parents who made their wedding a dual-ceremony, formally adopting their four children, it made me furious to hear them taken down by people who couldn’t see past the fact that Jan and Sarah were both women and some dusty old book said that wasn’t right.
Roe appeared in my head one day as I washed dishes, fuming about Jan’s situation–he started talking, and I wrote down what he said. I never dreamed the story about my friend Jan’s wedding would end up with such intense kink, but once it started I embraced it. I wanted them to be as “taboo” as they could be and yet so loving and wonderful only those with hearts of stone could say they would be bad parents, bad people. For me the story has always been about how dangerous it is to not see people for who they are, to let our fears and presuppositions get in the way of the real people beneath.”
This story is genuine and wonderful. I’ve read it many, many times. It is an absolutely a MUST READ for any serious M/M fan, and for those who have not read it in a while it holds up on the re-read AMAZINGLY.
Slow Bloom by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox:
This one is an early read, and still one of my favorites. Very heavy on the erotica (delightful cross-dressing kink…YUM) and a very humorous and DEEP romance. Jack is a journalist in his late forties and Ricky is his neighbor’s son home for the summer from college. Things get HOT and HEAVY and SMEXY very FAST with these men and things progress slowly but surely to a charming love story. Ricky and Jack are the embodiment for this saying…You want an older lover in your younger years to teach how to enjoy sex, and an younger lover in your older years to remind you why you love it
The Goldilocks Series by Am Riley (Book#1 Goldilocks and his Three Bears; Book#2 A Man, A Jersey and a Tight End):
First of all just from the titles and the covers you can infer you are in for a MAJOR ROMP!! Brian is a blonde spastic twink trying to make it in LA, one night he goes to a leather club and meets a HOT LEATHER DADDY named Paul, and when I say daddy, I mean D-A-D-D-Y…They go to Paul’s (Daddy) house and things are perfect,…But Paul has to go away, and Brian is lonely again…One day Brian is walking around town and meets a BIG MOMMA BEAR…Ok it’s a dudenamed Jim, but he is cuddly and a caretaker and well Brian needs to be taken care of…He discovers Jim and Paul are roommates…Then Jim leaves too, and while Brian is plantsitting for him he runs into the third roommate, a stocky bear who just loves TO PLAY…These books are HIGH on the kink, and it is a full on clusterfuck of men doing all kids of naughty things, but the relationships are great. There is a lot to this book reagarding the dynamics of D/s couples, their needs and how it is so important to find someone who can give you what you need, while loving you. I’ve read these a few times. It’s intense in the kink, and definitely not for everyone, but I love the men and how they traverse the complications of polyamourous relationships.
This one is a stretch for those that like it nice and simple…But it is FUN, HOT and so so different, why not try it?
It’s Not Shakespeare by Amy Lane:
If any of you have read any of my reviews for Ms. Lane you know that Amy Lane is MY LADY. Her books are a soothing balm to my soul, and everything she writes I love…This one though, THIS BOOK, it’s very close to my heart…I myself am in an interracial relationship. I am Latina, my husband is white, and my cousin Rafael and his partner could be James and Rafi. Seriously I love this book, because it captures the beauty of, as Amy puts it, finding deep good love where two people meet halfway. So, given that these men are totally close to my reckless romantic little heart I asked (begged!) Miss Lane if she could ask Rafi and James what it was like to be with each other.
Here’s what they said! :O)
TB: Rafi what is it like to have an older lover?
Rafi: Jimmy ain’t that old–but you know, that old man can toss a mean salad, you feel me?
TB: So Jimmy? or Umm Do you prefer James, what do you find you enjoy the most about having a younger lover?
James *blushing*: Uhm, playfulness. He likes to play, and it makes me happy. You need to remember how to play or you get old.
Rafi *blushing now too*: Aw, man– and the fact that he says nice shit like that.
So *ahem* now that we’ve heard from the guys themselves…I asked Amy what the perfect romantic evening meal would be for her guys…This blog has food and wine in it after all…
Her answer: Rafi and James? Something surprising that would fascinate Rafi and delight James. Something like a boat ride in the bay and dinner with a view of the ocean, or sipping wine on a balcony after watching bull races– as long as Marlowe was there too.
Like I said this book was a pleasure for me because it got the dynamics of interracial couples so well, so I wanted to know from Amy who inspired these characters…
TB: Amy what was your inspiration for Rafi/James and their story?
AL: Rafael came from my students, and from the students I saw growing up to be productive, happy people, even if it wasn’t the way academia thought they should be growing up to be productive, happy people. James came from the middle-aged divorcees I kept running into–they were trying so hard not to be bitter, trying so hard to find something to believe.
So Rafi and James, amazing and two of my all time favorites. Completely and totally worth a read.
Bad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell:
Oh sweet heavenly porn gods…Eli and Quinn. Just ummmm….I love this book!
First of all the erotica is EXQUISITE, like delicious. This book is one of those classic premises, younger affeiminate guy with older assertive (Ex-Navy) man…The thing is Eli he has NO SCRIPT, he breaks all the rules, and Quinn is just kind of in awe of this amazing thing that is just plowing through his life. The erotica in this book is second to none, even for K.A, who can BRING IT with the sexy. I’ve read this book over and over, and every time I fall in love with these two. It is a MUST read for any M/M Romance fan. Cannot recommend it enough.
WINE BREAK: The Younger, The Better
I promised some wine selections. For my first pick I have a wine that is always better when it’s younger…White wines usually are, this one is a 2012 Spanish Verdejo
from the Protos Wineries. It is just delicious, not too fruity, not too tart. Pretty much the perfect glass of white wine. For about $13 bucks a bottle it’s also great value.
Out in The Field by Kate McMurray:
This is my book. Mine.
Like the one I wanted from the moment I read my first romance novel. Rationally I know Kate didn’t actually write it for ME, since she didn’t acutally know me when she wrote it. But she might as well have! This book is perfect. Just how I wanted a story like this to go. First of all, baseball. Second, New York City. Third, a Dominican player! My wishlist…This book for any baseball fan is a delight, and the way these men loved the game and how they loved each other…BIG LOVE. This one is a gem. Again with the 1,200 re-reads. Still I fall in love with them every time.
Acrobat by Mary Calmes:
Nate and Dreo…What can one possibly say? Mary Calmes writes the Alpha-Male like NO ONE in this genre, she makes these men that are so passtionate, and so protective of the ones they love. She calls to that primal thing in all of us, for some, it’s the need to be protected, for others is the need to care and keep our loved ones safe. The age difference between Nate and Dreo is 17 years, yet they are equals, they are without a doubt one of my all-time favorites.
I love the story of how these characters came to life for Mary, and how Anne Cain came up with the cover, which in my opinion is a true work of art…Here is what Mary has to say about how
Acrobat came to be:
“I was inspired to write Acrobat after seeing Steve Walker’s painting Parallel Dreams http://stevewalkerartist.com/galleryparalleldreams.html
it is so beautiful and I got to thinking, what is the story of these two men? After I thought about it, I realized that the man you could see most in the painting was not the one with the story, but actually the one who was obscured. And the cover that Anne Cain ended up creating kept that idea intact. Anne’s words in the dedication of Acrobat, for Steve Walker, are truly beautiful. I would urge everyone to take a moment and look at all of his stunning work. http://stevewalkerartist.com/menupage.html“
So there is the backstory on Acrobat, I also encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to go and see Andrew Walker’s work it’s beautiful.
Sidecar by Amy Lane:
Two Amy Lane books? Umm yeah!!! This is what you can call the classic epic love stories, spans through years, decades. Two men who love each other deeply, but need to get to a place where there love has enough roots to never falter. So again Amy was kind enough to get me some boy time to ask some questions and here is what they said:
TB: Josiah, what do you find you enjoy the most about having a younger lover?
Josiah *uncomfortably*: It’s not the age so much as the vocation. The kid can work a computer like no one’s business.
TB: How about you Casey, what is it like to have an older lover?
Casey: Having an older lover? Mostly, the best thing about having an older lover is that he’s Joe. If he was Joe my age, he’d still be Joe. If he was Joe younger than me, he’d still be Joe.
Josiah *kissing Casey’s knuckles*: Jesus, kid. You want honest?
TB: *NODS HEAD EFFUSIVELY*
Josiah: Okay. The having someone by your side. That’s all you can ever ask.
There you have it…Love these guys and that beautiful cover…Get choked up just thinking about this love story.
In His Secret Life by Mel Bossa:
Mel Bossa is the author of two of my most favorite books from ALL the books I’ve read in this genre. This book right here is one of them. It’s a long affair and these guys go thorugh a lot in order to finally end up together. It is an unusual story and gutwrenching at times, but man what a love story. Allan Waterhouse and Davinder Lamontagne…The house of water and the mountain. Even their names came together like poetry.
Loved them completely and suffered with them the whole way through. This is not a warm and fuzzy book, and I almost would not catergorize it as a romance, but it is EXCELLENT writing, and for those up for a book more in the “Fiction” than the “Romance” genre this one is a winner.
The Legend of The Apache Kid by Sarah Black:
I call Sarah Black the “Warrior Poetess” of M/M romance, she is seriously one of the most courageous writers I’ve ever read. She just writes stuff that MATTERS, every time and she does it with gentleness that is brilliant. Her men can be protectors, and they can be fragile wounded souls, but the common denominator is a strong spirit. Her men have an overwhelming capacity to love. Johny Bravo (and hello what a name!) is a man who needs to be mended a bit, and Raine is a man that has been waiting for the love of his life to come. It is such a beautiful love story. Every character is magnificent, including Salome, Johny’s horse, whose name I let Sarah borrow. :O) This book is a treasure.
WINE BREAK: Aged Well
I love 90+ Cellars their taste for value cannot be beat! For my second wine choice I picked one which like many of the characeters in my book picks only gets better with time. California Cabernet Sauvignons are fabuliscious. This 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley California
is everything a Cab should be, deep flavor, chocolatey…YUM…and the price is amazing…About $17.99, but this really is about a $25.00 bottle of wine. If you see it GET IT. It’s nice too sip slowly. You can’t improvise experience people.
This is all for me my peeps!! Hope you enjoy the list, and find stuff you haven’t tried before. I am working on my Top Ten Sweehearts and Top Ten Cowboys for the next few weeks, so check in soon!
Cheers and happy reading!