Introducing Unapologetic GAY Romance Under New Pen Name

Unapologetic Gay Romance because Love Needs No Excuses

Our world generally sucks. Children die from poison-gas in Syria, drown in the ocean while trying to get away from slaughter, and are abused again and again (Hungary, anybody?) because they dare to want to survive. And that’s just in the so-called 3rd world countries.

In our oh-so-civilized nations, street kids get hooked on drugs, work as prostitutes, are abandoned by their parents, the state, most adults they ever come in touch with.

Looking at all the shit in the news every day, forgive me if I try to find a glimmer of hope amongst the suffering. And if people find and cling onto each other, for comfort, support, and yes, love, I want to cherish that. It’s a fricking miracle it happens at all!

So that’s why my motto is Unapologetic Romances Because Love Needs No Excuses

Let Me Take This a Little Further

Love is love. What that means is that as long as people love each other, I don’t give a toss whether they’re attracted to male, female, queer, trans, whatever.

After humming and hawing for months, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and launch my new website dedicated to m/m romance writing.

In order to avoid confusiong my readers—although I’d be more than happy to take anybody along on this journey—, I’ll publish my gay romance novels under the pen name EJ Smyth

If You Haven’t Read in the Gay Romance Genre Yet, Here’s Your Chance

The first time I read a gay romance novel, I was blown away. Apart from the hotness factor (and yes, if you don’t like steamy, this may not be the genre for you!), the writing was incredible. Fast-paced, awesome characterization, fascinating dynamics between the main characters.

If you’re interested, here’s a list of a couple of writers I’d highly recommend. One thing you’ll find is that gay romance books cost more than regular romance books. However, most of them are also in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s not all bad!

N.R. Walker

One of my favorite writers in the genre. She’s Australian and has written a series of books, set in the outback. It’s a fish-out-of-water romance, both from the Aussie farmer’s and American student’s point-of-view. Just adorable!

Red Dirt Heart

 

 

Cronin’s Key

N.R. Walker is a hugely prolific writer. I honestly can’t keep up with her publishing speed. If your thing is more Urban Fantasy Romance, check out Cronin’s Key. It has just been released as an audiobook with one of my favorite voice-actors Joel Froom. Well worth a listen!

 

And just to give you a flavor of what else she writes, here is a story about an overweight guy with massive self-esteem problems whose personal trainer helps him fall in love with himself. And with the trainer. You know what I mean 😀 Anyway, the story is ADORABLE!

The Weight of It All

 

Madeleine Urban

She wrote a series of thrillers that revived a genre that I’d given up on reading because it’d become so predictable.

It’s a classic enemy-to-friends-to-lovers story. The characters are stubborn assholes, two FBI agents that hate each others’ gut. So much sass, humor, drama, angst, cuteness—I couldn’t stop reading.

Cut & Run

I wrote a review for this book and the series which you can read here.

 

Josh Lanyon

An author who has defined the genre. Incredibly prolific albeit not always consistent. This series hits it out of the park, though.

Adrien English, an unassuming bookstore owner, is accused of murder and has to clear his name. His nemesis is a homophobic detective who’s convinced Adrien is guilty. Adrien suffers from an acquired heart condition, but is certainly no swooning maiden to be rescued. Far from it! Very funny, touching, reminiscent of classic British detective stories of the 1940s.

Fatal Shadows

Here is the review for the book as well!

JL Merrow

Staying with the British theme, JL Merrow’s books are set in the UK. Her dialogue is pure Brit, and her characters are guys I recognize from my time in London. The series I enjoyed most is unfortunately on hold until 2018, along with Camwolf about a reluctant werewolf in Cambridge.

 

 

There are other books like the Shamwell Tales (think Midsumer Murders) because JL Merrow is another prolific writer with a huge back catalogue.

Plumber’s Mate Series

 

 

Amy Lane

The last author I’d like to recommend writes Magical Realism. Her Candy Man series may not be hard-hitting social criticism but it’s cute, fluffy, humorous and exciting. Pure relaxation.

Candy Man

 

 

And if you want to read funny, here is Shiny! A story about a very, very clumsy guy who needs rescuing from himself. Hilarious!

Shiny!

 

 

 

I hope you like my short list. I’d compiled it for a German friend of mine who had only just started reading in the genre and needed help. There’s a lot more books out there!

What do you think, have you read any of them? Would you recommend others?

And don’t forget to pop over to my new site to pick up a free, very sexy short story!

Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune

Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune

My rating: 5 out of 5

tell-me-its-realThe Story

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Paul Auster doesn’t. Paul doesn’t believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother’s homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.

Enter Vince Taylor.

Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.

But when Paul hits Vince with his car-in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it’d-only-be-manslaughter kind of way-he’s forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself-and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince’s family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he’s perfect the way he is.

My take on it

I LOVED THIS BOOK! The story is about Paul, a really smart (and smart-assed) guy who is far from perfect. He’s a little chubby and hugely self-conscious because of it. He’s clumsy, has verbal diarrhoea and can’t believe that there’s anybody out there for him. The story is told from 1st person POV and I’m really impressed how well the author used this difficult perspective. It allows a deep emotional insight into Paul’s psyche, his bitchy and often hilarious internal monologue.

His best friend is a drag queen with awesome attitude. In fact, all the characters are amazingly well drawn and relatable. My favourite is Johnny Depp, the homophobic parrot:

“When I went over to her house to meet him for the first time, the first thing Johny Depp did was squawk at me, “Pray the gay away!” while my grandma giggled from behind his cage.”

Paul is such a lovable weirdo. He has a dog named Wheels, a menstruating ghost in his house, and the stuff he comes out with is just incredible. When you read the book, try to imagine it as a movie and you’ll howl laughing at some of the scenes.

Paul meets the incredibly gorgeous Vince who isn’t the brightest but equally loveable. He refuses to believe that Vince might be into him, because, well, Vince is ripped and beautiful and Paul, isn’t.

I don’t want to give more away because the book is just that good.

The only criticism I have (and it’s not even a criticism per se, just my perception) is that the author went out of his way to lighten a very emotional situation towards the end involving the whole family. I would have preferred a bit more suffering but that’s just my inner sadist coming out.

Paul and Vince will stay with me, together with their whole cast of miscreants. I don’t know if T. J. Klune has written any follow-ons to their story but I’d love to read it! I know that there’s a book 2, covering Sandy and Darren so I’ll be off to read that one next! My life rocks for having discovered these books 🙂

What do you think? Did you enjoy it or were the characters too flaming for you? Let me know below!

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Sticks & Stones by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux



Sticks & Stones
 by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

SticksandStonesThe story

Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they’re ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone’s sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they’ve so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership.

Ty and Zane, along with Ty’s father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods… where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.

My take on it

Part 2 of the series about two rough and ready FBI agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett. This time the boys are exploring the Appalachian mountains with Ty’s father and brother. Zane is not a nature person. At all. More bickering and angst ensues, especially since Ty’s father has unresolved issues with his son. These eventually lead to a dangerous series of events that could very well end in tragedy.

I couldn’t decide on just a few quotes – this book is just THAT good 🙂

“Are you still pissy about the rubber band cannon?” Ty asked him in exasperation.
“Ugh.” Zane started unbuttoning the BDU blouse. “You’re lucky that guy from accounting didn’t know it was you when his toupee went flying. He might have rerouted your next paycheck to Greenpeace.”

“Zane’s lips quirked. Every bullet fired from a service weapon had to be accompanied with a written report for the Bureau. Ty had fired… quite a few bullets at the cab that had almost smeared them across the highway in New York City. Zane didn’t know what paperwork you had to fill out for throwing your gun at something. He’d never tried that before. Hell, he’d never even thought of it before.”

“It’s all fun and games ’til somebody throws a grenade,”
[…]
“Never bring stones to a grenade fight,” Ty advised sagely.”

“I won’t let you fall.” Then he winced apologetically. Very trite. He sighed. Trite but true.

“It probably hadn’t been the greatest idea, dragging him up here for his first hike. But Ty was sure he’d been enjoying himself before they were almost killed. Repeatedly.”

“What he was afraid of, he’d come to realize, was not dark spaces or falling from great heights or being buried alive. His greatest fears, in the end, were letting down those he loved and saying the words “I love you” without any hope of hearing them in return.”

Yeah, in case it wasn’t obvious – I love this book.  Meet Ty’s grandfather who kills water hoses with a sharpened spade. Ty’s brother and parents who love him in their own ways. Nature that is out to kill you in many inventive ways 🙂

And I’ve changed my mind: MEET THE REAL TY GRADY!

 

Ty Grady

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Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

Fatal Shadows Josh LanyonThe story

One sunny morning Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English opens his front door to murder. His old high school buddy (and employee) has been found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and very public argument with Adrien the previous evening.

Naturally the cops want to ask Adrien a few questions; they are none too impressed with his answers, and when a few hours later someone breaks into Adrien’s shop and ransacks it, the law is inclined to think Adrien is trying to divert suspicion from himself.

Adrien knows better. Adrien knows he is next on the killer’s list.

My take on it

Somebody pointed me towards Josh Lanyon and boy, am I glad they did! Given that Josh is listed under LBTG and Gay Thriller / Romance on Amazon, I probably wouldn’t have discovered these books by myself. I started reading Fatal Shadows without being aware that the protagonist and love interest are both male. Not that it made the slightest bit of difference – I finished the book within a day and a half, it was that awesome 🙂

The protagonist is Adrien English, mystery writer and owner of the Cloak and Dagger bookstore in LA. Adrien is a kick-ass, yet strangely vulnerable hero. An acquired heart condition makes it difficult for him to tolerate sudden physical or emotional stress. He doesn’t let it hold him back but occasionally, his physical condition impacts on the plot. I love the way the author has handled this. Rather than dump a physical handicap on the hero as a means of making him more interesting, the heart condition is an integral part of the plot.

Adrien becomes the suspect in the murder of one of his oldest friends and employees. Jake Riordan, one of the detectives investigating the case, is bisexual but so far in the closet, he’d do pretty much anything to not be exposed. There is an immediate attraction between the two men which grows stronger throughout the book. Both men are struggling against it for different reasons.

What made the book so amazing to me is the wealth of supporting characters, from Adrien’s overbearing mother to the members of a book writing group meeting at Cloak and Dagger. Add this to the cohesive plot, great characterisation, very cool dialogue and the at times lyrical descriptions, you have an exciting thriller with a great romance woven through, with a touch of 1940s noir storytelling.

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FanFiction vs. Source Material

Derek Hale

So this is what usually happens: I watch a show like TeenWolf, then totally fall in love with a character such as Derek Hale, werewolf supreme. Then things happen. The story becomes flat or doesn’t develop the way I want it to. Or maybe I just would like to find out more about the backstory of the character. Anyway, that is usually my trigger to visit FanFiction.

And now the character becomes 3-dimensional and so much more interesting than in the original TV version. In my world, Derek Hale is Alpha and gets together with Stiles Stilinski, Spark extraordinaire. The stories have everything: very often amazing writing, they’re sexy, witty, exciting and some are novel-sized with 100k words and more.

http://daunt.tumblr.com/image/49449468535

And if I have trouble imagining the characters, sites like DeviantArt help me visualize, because some of the fanart is mind-blowing.

I particularly like the idea of Stiles being a weak human who runs with wolves. His relationship with Derek is very fractious at the beginning. Derek has been hurt terribly in his life and he won’t let anybody close to him because of his traumatic experiences. Stiles is this annoying teenager that never shuts up. He’s also human and therefore prone to injuries and in danger of getting killed by out-of-control wolves.

http://twmen.tumblr.com/post/62897984043/aeroplaneblues-reminiscing-i-miss-teen

Over the years, the two of them gain understanding of each other. Derek learns to trust Stiles and Stiles grows up. Plus he gains magical powers. Which is really really cool 🙂

Stiles is an integral part of the pack and his humanity allows him to do things the wolves can’t, even though they’re are outwardly stronger and faster.

Are you telling me

And the best thing is how he learns to stand up to Derek. Stiles goes from an obnoxious teenager with only one friend to a self-confident member of the pack who has no problems setting his Alpha straight.


Sterek

In my head, Derek and Stiles are together and fighting side by side to keep Beacon Hill safe. As it should be. Oh yes, and nobody dies! Scott and Allison are together (with Isaac), Boyd and Erica are fine, Danny and Ethan are happy! So there 🙂