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Guest Blog: Why Straight Women Love All Male Romance

In Author Spotlight, Guest Blogging, Renae Jones on August 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Why Straight Women Love Male/Male Romance

by Renae Jones

I’m writing about why some straight women love reading male/male romance. It’s been covered already here and there, but people still wonder. Women who don’t have that particular penchant wonder, the boyfriends of women who read male/male books wonder, and gay friends are the most baffled of all.

The answer isn’t easy; there are a lot of factors at play, like the thrill of the taboo, the fun of messing with gender roles, the hotness of a man moaning and begging for more, the prominence of beta heroes, and doubling the fascinating men per book. But I think I’ve nailed down the biggest reason, at least for me and my limited panel of friends. It’s about feminism, and sexism.

I’m going to skip the long women’s studies analysis of the two in favor of a cutesy analogy.  Every woman has a little demon and a little angel sitting on her shoulders. On one side they have their inner feminist, whispering things like “any job a man can do a woman can do too” and “if it’s love, he has to respect you”.  On the other side, we have the inner sexist, whispering things like “I get so emotional, that’s a girl thing” and “oh no, girls can’t propose to guys!”

We mostly think, by rote, that feminism is good and sexism is bad.  Maybe we’re not exactly activists or scholars–but when our girlfriend tells us that her and her husband agreed she would do all the “inside” cleaning and he’d do the “outside” stuff, we’ll stand up and say, “Oh no way! You live in an apartment.”

That said, most of us ignore our little feminist at least some of the time–especially when we’re just trying to watch a movie, damnit. Yes the movie would be loads better if there was at least one female character in it who wasn’t a horrible trite plastic-person, but it’d also be better with ninjas and unicorns. And that’s not going to suddenly happen, so we’ll just watch the damn thing. But we still feel a little guilty about it.

Most of us have to put up with blatant and subtle sexism, as well, at least some of the time. Even from our own minds–or especially from our own minds. But we at least try to recognize it happening, before someone uses “women are better at communicating” to offload their job answering customer service complaints on a women who works in accounting.

The thing is, when we read a romance novel, our angel and our devil are still sitting on our shoulders. We’re wading into sexism-filled waters, and it can get ugly.  Often, you’re not sure how ugly it’s going to get until you’re well into the book.

A large number of my DNFs come from books that pissed off my feminist or set off my sexist alarm.  Honestly, some of them were probably damn good books–well written, well-reviewed. But the last thing I need in my life is another example of someone I can’t respect getting the girl, or guy.

For example, I’m thinking of a book in Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Nerd series. The writing was good, the plot was keeping me interested, and I have a thing for nerds like you wouldn’t believe. It felt like a finisher. It felt like a book I’d probably rate at least “pretty good”.  But then came a scene supporting the secondary romance arc.  The hero was reflecting on his bitchy ex-wife, illustrating to the reader how the heroine was just so much better than his ex-wife was.  He recalled how his ex-wife, who didn’t drink coffee, was so bad at making his coffee in the morning (woe is him). But the new woman drinks coffee, and made some for him and it tasted GREAT. It must be true love.
Now wait just a flipping minute. If he’s the only one who drinks the coffee, why wasn’t he making his own coffee? And if he’s complaining about the coffee she’s getting up early to make him, why isn’t his wife dumping it in his lap? He doesn’t want a relationship, he wants a professional chef. The new woman could do so much better than this asshat. And I got mad at the book, and it got sold back to Half-Price Books without me ever finishing it.

I’ve also been known to ignore or pander to little sexisms while reading that I don’t let fly in everyday conversation. Romance plots are full of stereotypes used asshortcuts to pack the interesting plot and character development into relatively few words.  Take another example: “The all-star high school quarterback who grew up to be a police officer fell in love with the glasses-wearing, flute-playing girl who grew up to be a librarian with four cats.”  Did you SEE all the conclusions about their personalities and circumstances you just jumped to there? And didn’t it make for a better story?

That little sexism leeway only gets to go so far, though. We all have little sexisms that get our goat. “Girls don’t like computers,” and “Girls don’t play sports,” and “Girls aren’t smart with money,” and “Girls don’t like sex,” all drive someone or another into a rage. I’m constantly re-evaluating what I’m reading, weighing whether it’s stepping over the line from excusable to offensive.  And if they hit any of my trigger points (which, btw, include every one of those examples), that book becomes a DNF.

So with that angel and devil on our shoulder, feminism versus sexism, reading a romance novel can turn into a battlefield.  Insults and objections start flying up there around our ears. Even when we aren’t hanging on every accusation of sexism, trying to find something wrong with the book, it still creates a sort of low level hum of complaint that grates on our nerves. Not to mention the guilt later for enjoying something that, yes, was really not empowering at all.

Male/male romance cheats the whole damning cycle.

Let me illustrate:

Chris was awful at her taxes. She always had been, she always would be, and everyone knew it. The math was hard, the instructions were impossible to decipher, and remembering when they were due was a problem as well. When she was single, she’d had to beg friends for help, until they mocked her about it.  Jim thought it was cute, though. He took Chris in his arms, kissed her thoroughly, and whispered, “So that’s why you’re dating a CPA.”

My reaction goes, “Oh PLEASE. Taxes aren’t that flipping hard unless you’re doing something that makes it worth hiring someone to do them anyway. Chris sounds like a spoiled whiny snot. And Jim sounds totally patronizing.”

Now lets male/male it:

Chris was awful at his taxes. He always had been, he always would be, and everyone knew it. The math was hard, the instructions were impossible to decipher, and remembering when they were due was a problem as well. When he was single, he’d had to beg friends for help, until they mocked him about it. Jim thought it was cute,though.  He took Chris in his arms, kissed him thoroughly, and whispered, “So that’s why you’re dating a CPA.”

Now my reaction goes, “That’s so cute. He sounds like an airhead artist. And Jim can do his taxes. They’re perfect for each other!”

The male/male version was just less stressful for me. Of course unhealthy dominance, abusive behaviors, patronism, self-inflicted airheadism, and assumed entitlement are problems in relationships between two men. But when I’m reading a male/male romance, I don’t feel like one or the other might be waiting to jump out and clobber my enjoyment of the story at any moment.  My hackles don’t start to rise just because someone is bad at math, wondering when the ultimate misogynistic blow is going to come.

And, of course, probably the biggest reason this genre is winning converts left, right and center: male/male erotic romance has got some amazing wonderful talented writers out there right now. Seriously.

—–

Renae Jones is an avid reader of both straight and glbt romance, with healthy sides of urban fantasy and erotica. She’s also the author of Umbra in Exile, a free online erotic romance serial. In this fantasy world, the proper Umbrans get rid of their regal but debauched Imperial Princess and her scandalous little court of witches, homosexuals, mages, whores and warriors. They politely exile her to marry the young Princess of Velise–a place of forthright frontiersmen and ancient earth magics. Umbra in Exile is the long, twisty tale of these two women falling toward love. You can follow @renae_jones on twitter, read Umbra in Exile, or just jump straight to the free erotic stories.


Review: Taboo Wishes (vol 1) by Brynn Paulin

In Brynn Paulin, Erotica, review on August 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Taboo Wishes: Volume One

by Brynn Paulin 


What’s Your Fantasy?

Punished

Natalia Cooper lives life on the straight and narrow, never veering into naughty territory. But she wants to. Ethan Tavish can hardly believe his eyes when he enters The Dungeon to find his secretary, Natalia, bent over the spanking bench in a school girl uniform. He plans to give her what she wants…and a whole lot more.

Kidnap and Kink

Be Careful What You Wish For…
Jenna Marks has a secret fantasy, to be kidnapped, tied up and seduced. She never imagines her wish might come true, but Rob Colvin has had his eye on Jenna for months. When he overhears her secret, he knows he’s going to be the one to deliver her fantasy-one weekend of her submission to him, her mysterious and masterful lover.

Yuletide Greetings

When Zach Colvin’s brother promised to send a package full of holiday cheer, Zach never expected it to be a near-naked woman. But Kate Morgan has made a mistake. She’s meeting a man for hook up, but she’s stunned to find a another-a man with a determined grin, mesmerizing eyes and a naughty penchant for spanking.

Mr. Smith’s Whip

Librarian Olivia McKinnion’s life rarely changes, but when Colin Smith takes up residence to research his latest book, everything changes. She’s heard whispers of Mr. Smith’s whip and his dominant ways. And more than anything, she wants Colin to show her the darker side of sex, bent over his knee and begging for more.

Review: Fallen Angels by Ashlynn Monroe

In Ashlyn Monroe, Paranormal Romance, review on August 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Fallen Angels

by Ashlynn Monroe

In a history very different from our own, the Civil War rages on in Texas. Zeppelins fill the air, steam power vehicles battle horses for space on the roads and bodies lay strewn through the wreckage of the Sisters of the Merciful Truth Convent, innocent victims of a local turf war. Three sisters, raised in the convent, emerge from the horror to find their lives of family and devotion over, and their separate lives of crime about to begin.

In lawless times, where faith and love battle doubt and hate, Justice now sees the world from behind the barrel of a gun. She falls in with a handsome and mysterious miscreant as she attempts to carve a place in the ruined world and search for her lost sisters. But when her life of crime catches up to her, Justice will learn the meaning of true love, and family ties.

The first couple of paragraphs reminded me a bit of some other books I have read however it quickly changed. The descriptions of the scenes really bring the stage to life. You feel as if you are there and its all happening in front of you. The change between the first two chapters is so what jarring however it drives home the difference between the settings and works to make the story more alive rather that bumpy and disjointed. I liked the addition of the steam punk elements. A motorcycle with a coal boiler lined up next to horses at a hitching post. I really enjoyed the world this author has built. By the end I was finding myself wanting stories about the other characters. The only disappointment for me was that the story wasn’t long enough. I felt that this could have been a full length novel with all the different elements and characters.

Review: Lover Avenged By J.R. Ward

In JR Ward, Paranormal Romance, review on August 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Lover Avenged

By JR Ward

April 2009

[kkratings]

Rehvenge is used to living in the shadows and dealing with the roughest night walkers around-including the Black Dagger Brotherhood. As his secret identity as a sympath is threatened, he turns to the only light in his ever darkening world- a female vampire untouched by corruption, who’s the only thing standing between him and eternal damnation.

Normally a book would take me a day or too, if its really long. I am talking a super novel. But an average novel takes me less then a day.

This book took me from the day it was released until tonight, March 20, 2010 to read the entire thing. Yea that is like 6 months or so. I was rather disappointed the first time I tried to read it I was looking for something completely different. Last night I promised myself I as going to finish it if it killed me. And it almost did. I head hurts and my eye burn but damn it its done. And after going back through it and rereading some chapters and pretty much the begining again I have to say it was a whole lota book. We have plots and subplots, angles from everywhere and bad guy good guy reversal and the dead being brought to life. Old characters that we missed are making an appearance. And it just wasn’t about two people trying to find their love through horrible times, it was the onging saga of the Brotherhood, and now the Sympaths. The family is getting bigger.

The thing I find that I liked about this book, is that it felt like I was on a rollercoaster from hell. I was pissed off, hungry for more and tearing up at the same time. Yeah that is a lot to pack into a book.

Now I have to let you know I bought this book as a HC and I think for the price I paid for it I believe it justified the expense. There was love, anger, jealousy, betrayal, anguish and distrust. And it  was great.

I recommend this book in paperback, the hardback is huge and made it diffcult to sit and read. If you have an ereader that is better. Either way read it.

Hello world!

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.

Review: One Night in Boston by Allie Boniface

In Allie Boniface, Contemporary, review on August 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

ONE NIGHT IN BOSTON
by Allie Boniface
ISBN: 1-59998-536-5
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Can anything really change in 24 hours? Can everything?

Maggie Doyle is about to lose her home, her business, and her last grip on sanity unless she comes up with fifteen thousand dollars to pay off the bank. Her only option? Forget the pain of one life-altering night, find the stepbrother she hasn’t spoken to in years and ask him for help.

Everything in Jack Major’s life is going according to plan. He’s rich, powerful, and about to marry Boston’s most successful attorney. There’s just one problem: he can’t seem to forget his first love, the one who left him in college after a whirlwind trip to Vegas with a secret she couldn’t trust him to keep.

When Maggie and Jack meet up at a high-profile charity ball, past collides with present and the sparks fly. But is it too late for a first love to ignite again? And if Maggie reveals the reason she left Jack all those years ago, will he be able to forgive her?

A single night in Boston takes Maggie and Jack from the glittering lights of the ballroom to the windswept city streets and back through the years to relive old memories. Will morning light bring new hope for their future together? Or are some secrets too deep to ever truly overcome?

This was a hard read, not a “can’t get through it” read but a “it was so sad and depressing in the beginning I didn’t think anything else could crap on her” read; I was so tearful on some pages. I didn’t think I could take to much more depressing stuff.

Other than the beginning mood, I really loved the characters. They were flawed, had baggage and they grew within the story; It added substance to the book and made it a nice well rounded story. The novel was overall, was good. It seemed to cut-off at the end though. I felt there could have been more added. I enjoyed it and will continue to follow this new to me author.

Promo: Perfection (Eternally Three bk 1) by Kris Cook

In Promo on August 19, 2011 at 8:05 pm

 

Perfection: Eternally Three

by Kris Cook

(M/F/M – Menage Paranormal Erotic Romance Novel)

Siren-Bookstrand Pub

While searching for her missing brother, Micki Langley visits a nightclub with a notorious reputation as ménage a trios central and comes face-to-face with two amazing men straight from her fantasies.

Ancient jinn Jared endures heavy guilt and wants nothing to do with the human. Tripling is necessary to keep immortals alive, but his hunger for Micki is far beyond normal.

Though warrior angel Bradley completes their threesome, he despises Jared for his tainted reputation. He vows that the jinn won’t hurt the gorgeous human and has no problem fighting him to prove it.

But when the threesome comes together, it’s more than an energy exchange; it’s an unshakable bond that generates astounding power. Their enemies seek to destroy their perfect triad, which could unsettle the balance of power between angels and demons. Will the threesome be able to stand strong together—in trust and love—to defeat the relentless evil?

Purchase

 

Excerpts
© Kris Cook – 2009


 

STORY EXERPT


She needed perspective and fast.

Difficult when Jared continued his arousing caresses. Her legs felt weak. She wasn’t sure she could stand on her own after his expert handling. Her natural cautions gave way to deeper passions, burning as Jared hypnotized her with his fingers, moving up her thighs—closer, closer, closer…

Pounding with desire, Micki turned back to the blue-eyed soldier. Utter Adonis—able to charm or kill as need be.
Even at their current distance, his stare revealed unabashed desire. And a mouth-watering body.

Focus! “Jared, do you know anyone who might help me find Eric or David?”

He pointed at the soldier. Fire erupted deep inside her when she saw the man march toward them.

Micki turned back to Jared, whose palm caressed her legs—and very nearly between them. “You know him?”

He nodded.

The music changed tempo, speeding to overdrive, just like her heartbeat. Two more steps and the blond god would be next to them. Things sped faster and faster.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

“I really need to find David now!” she said nearly shouting. “I can’t wait for him to return.”

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Jared slipped a finger between her thighs, almost touching her there. Micki held her breath and tensed, waiting for what she shouldn’t want.

“He’s gone for the night.” the sexy blond stud stated as he stepped right beside her where he could see clearly each and every one of Jared’s touches. “He’ll be back tomorrow.”

His eyes blazed and his face filled with lust. Excitement wrapped itself around her, squeezing more liquid from her channel.

“Oh.” She stared up at the new arrival “Do you know the number to his cell? Or his address?”

“I don’t think David owns a cell, and he stays lots of places. I’m Bradley,” the soldier added, watching Jared’s every move with hot eyes.

She should be shocked at Bradley’s rapt attention to her and Jared. Instead, heat spread thorough her body like warm chocolate.

If Jared had a Harley waiting for him, Bradley had a Hummer or a tank, and a bed with silk sheets. Alluring in a different way than Jared, Bradley seemed deliberate, rather than moody. Battle ready, rather than road-hardened.

She spotted the tattoo on Bradley’s upper arm. Three interlocked triangles?an exact twin of Jared’s. She reached out to touch the tat on the soldier’s upper arm, but then pulled back. Heat burned up and down her spine.

“Don’t stop, sweetheart. Feel free to touch me any way you want.”

She didn’t. The thought of touching him scared and intrigued her.

Maybe these two worked together?like a seduction tag team—persuading women, night after night, to share their bed.

Bradley glared at Jared. From the contentious look between them, Micki realized they weren’t a seduction duo. Not even friends. Enemies? She couldn’t tell, but the vibe between them ran hostile. Did they pursue her separately or together?

Either way, Jared’s palm inched up her thigh again, sending shivers of delight through her body. She loved his touch. Bradley still watched with a rapt gaze. Would they fight? They looked capable of anything.

Her gut broiled like an oven on high. Her recent dreams of them aroused her, but as thrilling as exploring fantasies with them would be, that wasn’t why she’d come.

“How do you two know each other?” she asked.

Neither answered.

Standing beside her, Bradley’s body heat loomed on her shoulder. Jared’s hot stare sent her silent commands that incited cravings. Her body began to demand satisfaction. Heat rose from her skin, centered between her legs, melting her.

Then Bradley cupped her cheek, fingertips caressing her neck, while Jared nearly touched her intimately. Tingles erupted. Warm wetness soaked her panties.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” Bradley asked.

“Micki.”

Jared’s free hand slipped under her shirt and brushed across her bare back. Sensations ripped through her entire body. Combustion.  She shivered.

Bradley looked at her, his stare hot with suggestion. She wanted him to drink all of her up with his hot mouth, but she needed to focus.

“Do you know Eric Langley?” Micki asked Bradley.

Bradley cut a quick glance to Jared before looking her way again. “Yes. But I’m not sure if he’s here, either.”

Bradley knew Eric! “Thank God! Where is he? Is he safe?”

Another pause. “I don’t know.”

Jared and Bradley’s hesitation troubled her. She suspected they knew more than they’d told her. Plus, strange as it was, as her worry for Eric grew, so did her desire for these two men. Did the nice folks in white coats need to whisk her away?

Unease skittered through her. “If you don’t know, I can’t just sit here. I need to be looking for him.”

She should get up, resume her search, but Bradley’s piercing blue eyes zeroed in on her mouth.

She swallowed hard. Bring on the straight jacket.

“You look like you need to be kissed,” he murmured.

Heat flared inside her, but she tensed. When she glanced back at her biker, he showed no sign of rage—not even slight annoyance. Instead, he seemed revved up by Bradley’s suggestion.

Micki sucked in a shocked breath.

She could name a thousand reasons not to take Bradley’s dangled bait, but the moment crashed over her reserve. She could exit the ride later, before the big drop. Now, she burned to taste Bradley’s lips, revel in Jared’s touch. Feel their need and let them feel hers.

It’s only a kiss, right?

If Eric watched from the shadows, though she doubted he did, kissing Bradley might bring him out of hiding, either in full big-brother mode or thrilled that his prank had worked. If not, her best hope would be to soften against Bradley and Jared a little to learn what they really knew about her brother.

Slowly, she leaned forward, offering Bradley her mouth.

Review: The Mage by Jean Johnson

In Fantasy, Jean Johnson, review on August 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm

The Mage– Jean Johnson Book Eight in the Sons of Destiny

I was looking forward to this book because Morganen has been such an integral part in all the other books.  He came across as a character that was kind, charming and always looked out for his brothers and those around him while keeping his own talents a mystery.  Unfortunately it didn’t live up to what I was expecting.  Even though I have read the other seven books in this series, I was confused with the first chapter of this book.  I sat there as I was reading going “huh?”   Even after it switched back to “present day”, I felt like I was being jolted around.  There were parts I loved, like when Morganen goes to retrieve Hope and ends up in a mage fight.  I really loved that whole chapter.  To me it was Morganen finally coming into his own.  However the ramifications of the fight were basically ignored and only seen as asides thereafter.  There were parts I really disliked.  Like when Hope steps across the veil she blurts out her big secret without any prompting and the others all dealt with it as if it is no more than a pesky fly. Overall the book came across as disjointed.  The author was trying to tie up loose ends and it seemed to me that she rushed it through.  It was hard to get into and follow the story and I was disappointed.  This book unfortunately moved the series from my keeper shelf.

Review: Queen of Song and Souls by C.L. Wilson

In C.L. Wilson, Fantasy on August 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Queen of Song and Souls: Fourth Book in the Tarien Soul Series

By C L Wilson

ISBN-13: 978-0843960600

Leisure Books

[rating=4]

After reading an excerpt in the back of one of Christine Feehan’s books, I rushed out and bought the first two books : Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows, then left them sitting in the “To Be Read” pile as I was afraid that the books would let me down.  Boy, I could kick myself for waiting so long.  From then on, I got wrapped up in these books.  I have read them numerous times and when you consider I write reviews and don’t often have time to re-read books. For me to find the time to re-read these books should be a testament to how good they really are. 

Ms Wilson’s world building is reminiscent of one of my all time favourite authors Anne McCaffrey and it was no surprise to find that Ms Wilson names Ms McCaffrey as a favourite author of hers.  The attention to detail, of what to me, appears to be a complex and complicated world is nothing short of inspiring.  I have read bad reviews about this book where people have complained that there is no HEA in it; however this book is a fantasy. I didn’t know that a HEA is a must have for a fantasy book.  It’s a sweeping love story people, get over it.  I personally would rather have a suggestive read (which this book and the others in the series are in spades) than perhaps the loss of world building and detail that rushing to a HEA might bring about. 

As an avid fan, I already knew that this book wasn’t the completion and that there is another book to come.  It gives more of Ellie and Rain’s back stories, and makes both of them well rounded characters.  It also highlights just how far Rain has come from when he scorched the world.  There is a mellowing of Rain even whilst he struggles with what he knows is to come. The tension is rising now and after reading this book, my mind was racing for days. I couldn’t pick up another because my mind was just too caught up in the possibilities about what can be in book five.

All in all, I loved learning more about the Elves and I can’t wait to see what Ms Wilson throws into the mix next.  I’ll come right out and admit it, I cried when reading a certain part of this book.  Who am I kidding? I cried more than once and I’m not ashamed.  There are not many books that bring me to tears but this shows just how deeply connected I am to the characters and the story.  I loved this book and all the other books Ms Wilson has written. Bring on Book 5, Tarien Soul. Mei’felani. Bei’santi. Nehtah, bas desrali!

 

Review: Fever Dreams by Cate Masters

In Cate Masters, Paranormal Romance, review on August 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Fever Dreams

by Cate Masters

Contemporary novel

in ebook from Eternal Press

and print from Amazon (May 7, 2010)

When Diana Taylor changes jobs, she doesn’t expect it to change her life.  Meeting Cal opens up a new world of passion. Her love overwhelms her, blurs the line
between reality and dreams. But is it love or obsession?

Fever Dreams is an extremely long tale of a woman trapped in a cycle of office romances. I found myself wanting to scream at her ‘Stop dipping in the co-worker pool!’ The many attempts at profound poetry left me yawning. I know good pros don’t need to always rhyme like Dr. Seuss but

one

word

a

line

poetry was frustrating and completely unnecessary. The book was hard enough to finish without adding length by nearly empty lines.

The symbolism of dreams in this story were tedious to say the least. I think you’d need to be in a hallucinatory state to want to read this particular work by Cate Masters. Just my humble opinion.