It was almost twenty years ago that I read my first romance. Before this I was mostly into sci-fi adventure, Stephen King, and other random dramas.
I was twenty-six and just coming out as I started dating my first boyfriend (who turned out to be my only boyfriend and, today, is my husband). He loaned me The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren, a favorite book of his. Here it was 1995 and I was reading a novel published nearly twenty years before, when being gay was a far different experience. The story was extraordinary. The romance was beautiful. The tragedy was crushing.
Looking at the aged paperback now (it’s from 1978), the dedication from Warren stands out. “Dedicated to all the athletes who have fought for human rights in sports, and to the young gay runner I met at a party who gave me the idea for this book.”
The sad thing is, even with nearly four decades since publication, Warren’s original dedication could still, all-to-easily, be written today since LGBT people in prosports are still few and far between (I’m writing this in early September, just a couple days after Michael Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams and only about a week since ESPN reported Michael Sam’s shower habits with the team). But, I digress. We’re talking romance, not sports.
I have to say, in terms of romance covers, the 20th Anniversary Edition of The Front Runner, which came out in ’96 (and is still the cover in circulation), is one of the most powerful covers I’ve ever seen. It sums up the power in the story, and makes it clear this is not going to be HEA.
Some of the other books my husband turned me on to early in our life together were the novels of Gordon Merrick, starting with the Peter & Charlie trilogy and then moving through his other works. The trilogy is another set of books that are so rich in romance, especially book one as Charlie pursues Peter. The trio also create a great journey as they cover so much of their lives as their love grows and changes (and it’s not always happiness to say the least). It’s great to see these books are slated to release for the first time in ebook at the end of September so that new people can discover them.
Romances with LGBT characters have evolved so much the years I’ve been reading. Characters can be out and proud before the story starts and the endings can be full out happy. There is a lot of first time love, especially in the young adult and new adult genre, but there’s also love for older people. There are lots of stories that can rip your heart out too as characters struggle to find the right love and deal with whatever baggage they have in their lives.
The range of characters is as diverse as the world itself, and even beyond with the supernatural/paranormal stories that are out there. A perfect example of this: I’m currently reading Katriena Knight’s Blood on the Ice (Amazon Link) about a hockey player who was turned into a vampire and is discovering a new facet to his sexuality which might lead him to a romance with the team captain. I’m about half done with the book and I’m enjoying it.
Meanwhile, as a writer, I continue to do my best to create compelling stories. Yes, all writers want to do that. But, if, by chance, one of my books is the first romance someone reads, I want them to come away as hooked on the genre as I was with my first.
For Queer Romance Month, I’m offering one random commenter on this post an ebook of either Hat Trick or Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound.
Jeff’s Queer Romance Recommendations
The Front Runner and the Peter & Charlie trilogy are among my all-time favorites. Here are three others that I love.
St. Nacho’s by Z.A. Maxfield: Zam created an amazing setting with St. Nacho’s and the romances that happen there are wonderful escapes. I fell in love with this first one, and have been back for every book in the series.
Names Can Never Hurt Me by Wade Kelly: Wade wrote a compelling romance using a main character that grows from shallow college grad into mature, awesome adult. There’s a great message here about the damage labels can do and the power that love has to heal.
The Scott & Scott books: Scott Pomfret and Scott Whitter did a wonderful series of books they branded as “Romentics,” such as Nick of Time. These were fun, breezy romances that I quite enjoy.
About Jeff Adams
Jeff Adams started writing fiction in middle school and hasn’t stopped since. Hat Trick was his debut novel and Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound published in July 2014. He’s currently working on the third novel in the series. Prior to this, he wrote several m/m romance shorts, and has more coming in the future. During summer 2014, Jeff and his husband, Will, left NYC to return to the rural peace of Northern California. Outside of fiction writing, he covers the Detroit Red Wings, and reviews fiction that features gay hockey players, for PuckBuddys.com
About Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound
The events from two years ago are still fresh in Simon Robert’s mind as he and Alex Miller begin their sophomore year at the University of Michigan. Nightmares are a routine occurrence as Simon relives the crimes his father and brother committed. Now, with his father ill and asking to see him, Simon must decide if he should see the man who tried to send him away to be fixed. And then there’s Zach. Simon’s conflicted about making peace with his older brother who tormented him as they grew up and caused him to be outed to his parents, friends and teammates.
Alex wants Simon to find closure, but Alex is furious at the thought of forgiving Zack. With no clear direction, Simon finds guidance from an unexpected, but very welcome, source.
At the same time, the University’s student body is faced with an anti-gay attacker among them. When he witnesses an attack first hand, memories threaten to overwhelm Simon. At the same time, he’s also emboldened to take action, which might turn him into a target.
Despite the distractions, Simon works towards his future as he begins working with teens at the local LGBT community center. He has the opportunity to use his story as a teaching tool to help others come out. While he’s never enjoyed telling his story, he looks for the courage to speak his truth to an audience.
Luckily, not everything is chaos. Simon and Alex mark their anniversary in epic fashion, continue to play hockey and hang out with good friends. But with many demands on them, can Simon and Alex set up the rebound necessary to create the scoring opportunity for their future?