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PRIDE WEEK:  YA Recommendations by John

PRIDE WEEK: YA Recommendations by John

If you’re interested in any of the books I’m about to mention in this post, comment below about your favorite LGBTQ YA romance or why you’re interested in reading the book(s) I’ve mentioned.  This will enter you in a giveaway for these three books that will end 4AM EST on Friday.

As most people know, YA isn’t in the same genre as romance novels.  A lot of YA (Young-Adult) fiction deals with strong romances at the center or background of its plots, and it’s always a challenge to find YA novels that feature a strong, central romance that is LGBTQ.  Today, I’m going to highlight my three favorites that I consider more genre-oriented.  There are classics like Annie on My Mind and The Geography Club that feature romances as well – and they are worth a look as well – but they also feature a lot of angst over coming out.  The three YA LGBTQ romances I think everyone should read focus more on the relationships and encompass what I consider to be a great amount of LGBTQ pride because they don’t have a care about their sexuality.

Just in case this wasn’t established, this list is personal.  It’s by no means comprehensive or the definitive on good LGBTQ YA romance.  Without any further jabbering…

John’s Top Three LGBTQ YA romances:

Boy Meets Boy by David LevithanBoy Meets Boy by David Levithan

This book is probably my all-time romantic read for people who want to see a regular romance.  The plot is predictable and the romance is a basic boy-meets-(boy) story.  It is all done with a purpose, though, and that’s what makes it a win.  Levithan sets out to masterfully show readers that the formula can work no matter what sexuality the main couple represents.  It’s also been around for a while, but manages to have a pretty ethereal feel for a contemporary book.

The thing that readers will either find jarring or (in my case) spectacular is the fact that the world Levithan creates is a completely gay-friendly one.  The town the novel takes place in banned the Boy Scouts because it excludes gay people and created the Joy Scouts.  Can you imagine the star quarterback also being Prom Queen?  The transgendered star quarterback in Boy Meets Boy is.  LGBTQ teen romance is represented with a pure simplicity in this world, and it’s the perfect read for a reader – especially an LGBTQ teen – to escape in and realize that things can and will be good.  A great example of a book that has pride in its representation of LGBTQ YA romance.

ash malinda loAsh by Malinda Lo

A fairy-tale with Chinese influence.  A retelling of Cinderella.  A lesbian main pairing that’s garnered a lot of well deserved attention.  These are some of the things that have made Ash a new break-out book in the YA genre, and Malinda Lo does a lot of them with fluidity and grace.  Her world is surreal and the romance that blooms between her characters is sweet and gentle.

What makes this book a worthy choice for pride week is something similar to what makes Boy Meets Boy worthy.  Ash shows an alternate, fairy-tale world where the pairing between two women is not the main conflict of the romance.  The romance between Ash and the king’s Huntress is one conflicted by rank more than anything.  Their gender means nothing to the love that blooms between them, and it’s pictured effortlessly.  The book itself is also more genre-fiction than most LGBTQ YA novels, which means the book hardly puts up a fuss about what identities its characters believe themselves to be.

 The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick BurdThe Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

The most angst-ridden of my choices, The Vast Fields of Ordinary is a YA novel that is criminally under-appreciated in my opinion.  It, unlike the other two, does take place with a character coming out, but he accepts his sexuality itself with gusto.  It also focuses on the romance the most.  The writing blew me over with how emotional and connective it was.

What makes this worthy of the pride week?  The romance is a big deal in this book.  It’s the main conflict and it’s angst ridden and filled with a lot of characterization in the mix.  The main character is in a fuck-buddy relationship with a closeted athlete, but quickly falls for a guy who isn’t popular or normal by any means.  The relationship is sweet and tender, and it explores a lot of feelings and emotions that go with being an LGBTQ teen in a relationship.  It’s the most ‘literary’ in terms of genre type of the three choices, but it’s a powerful book.

These books all hold a special place in my heart because of how they treat LGBTQ YA romance.  It’s not an afterthought of coming out.  The romance is important and, whether the mainstay or the in background  of the plot, it is well-done.  These books show LGBTQ teens that they can get into a relationship and have it be like every other relationship.  From first-hand experience, that is a truly awesome quality for an LGBTQ YA book to possess for readers.

PRIDE WEEK: Introduction and BDSM Recommendations by Sarah

PRIDE WEEK: Introduction and BDSM Recommendations by Sarah

We’re celebrating Pride Week here at Dear Author! (I’d post a GIF with glittery rainbows here, but I like writing for DA and don’t want Jane to cut me. ;)

Each day this week, DA reviewers will be posting something to commemorate Pride. Today I (Sarah) am recommending three m/m BDSM romances I consider to be the best (of those I’ve read so far). Tomorrow, I’ll be posting an opinion piece about Book Awards and LBGT books. On Wednesday, John will be recommending his favorite three Young Adult novels with gay themes. On Thursday, Jill will post about f/f and lesbian romance. On Friday, Sunita will be recommending her favorite three contemporary m/m romances. On Saturday we’ll have a “Hidden Gems” post, where we ALL talk about the best LGBT themed novels outside the areas we recommended individually (historicals will figure prominently on Saturday!).

And the best part is that we’ll have giveaways for each of the Recommendations posts. We love these books so much we want to share them with you! So post a comment on the Recommendation for the genre you’re interested in and you’ll be entered to win!

Which means, if you’re interested in reading any of the three books I recommend here, post in the comments with your own favorite LGBT BDSM romance (or why you’re interested in reading one of these, if you don’t yet have a favorite), and you’ll be entered to win. Giveaway ends at 4AM EST on Wednesday.

Sarah’s three favorite m/m BDSM romances:

BDSM, of course, is the combined acronym that covers the OTHER alternate sexualities: Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission (D/s), and Sadism/Masochism (SM).

I’d recommend david stein’s Carried Away, Carol Queen’s Leather Daddy and the Femme, and John Preston’s Mr. Benson, but — honestly — I haven’t read them all the way through yet. They’re all romances in their own way, all well-written, and all written by people heavily involved in the BDSM community. And Mr. Benson and Carried Away can obviously be considered gay BDSM romance, written as they are by gay men.

But this is a post about MY favorite BDSM romances with gay characters. This list should not come as a surprise to anyone. I talk about these books all the time. So, without further do:

UNEVEN by Anah Crow
This is one of my favorite romances of all time, no matter the designation. This is the book that started me writing for DA. I read it, adored it, and wanted to share it with as many people as possible. This is the book that I’ve bought the most copies of. I own one of each format, even formats I’ve never used. AND the paperback.

Most BDSM romances are D/s romances, concerned with power exchange, domination and submission, mind games. If the characters use pain play, it’s definitely subsidiary to the D/s play. Uneven is an utterly hard core SM romance. It starts with one of the heroes backhanding the other and they use it as foreplay.

Rase is in his 40s and has hidden his masochism and his homosexuality from himself for most of his life. His first interaction with Gabriel jolts him out of sleepwalking through his life, but he struggles with it, “fondling the combination” to his gun safe in his mind, before he allows himself to approach Gabriel. The closet of homosexuality and masochism are equated here, and considering how true sadism and masochism are often denigrated even in BDSM romances, this equivalency is not without validity.

This is the perfect book. It plays with the romance genre conventions and It’s perfectly balanced, perfectly written, and a brilliant, positive portrayal of both masochism and sadism, which is much too rare. But warning: it’s very very violent.

SPECIAL DELIVERY by Heidi Cullinan

This is a special book. Sam and Mitch are so real, so human, so desperately trying to stumble their way into a relationship, and so SO turned on by dirty, rough, hard-core sex, and so freaked out about it, each from their own levels of experience. Special Delivery is a road romance, which I enjoy. More importantly, at its core, it’s a romance. It’s about two men figuring out their lives, their loves, their connection with each other.

And the sex is hot. Sam and Mitch are both into rough sex, but Sam is utterly submissive, and they both get off on humiliation play. There’s pain play, but more just rough hot dirty sex. And there’s a third partner as well, Mitch’s old fuck buddy. It all works beautifully.

HARD FALL by James Buchanan
I know James calls this book an “inspirational” and in a way it is. As I said in my review, the first-person perspective character is Deputy Joe Paterson, devout Mormon, Sheriff’s deputy in a small county in Utah, and a deeply closeted, although self-accepting gay man. This book is as much about him being outed and its effect on his deeply-held faith, as it is about his exploration with Kabe of the dominant, sadistic side of himself he never understood, or even knew was there.

I love this book because it’s about a Dominant realizing his own sexual proclivities, which overturns the typical BDSM romance in which All-Knowing Dom helps Clueless Sub figure out his Twue Desires. Joe is clueless; Kabe has experience and helps guide Joe through figuring things out.

I love all these books because the characters are so alive. Rase, Gabriel, Sam, Mitch, Joe, and Kabe are all utterly different from each other and I’d recognize any of them in any context, because they’re so real. None of these books are about Kinky Klubs of Kinkiness. They’re all about men finding each other in their everyday lives and connecting, not just emotionally, but sexually, in very specific ways. That’s what makes them so romantic and what keeps them on the top of my favorite romances, let alone favorite BDSM romances.

Bonus freebie: “Songs You Know By Heart” by Dr. Noh, Parts One & Two. Fucking brilliant.