My First Romances by Jeff Adams

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 afront runnernd 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.

the lord wont mindSome 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.

Win Things!

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

About Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound

hat trickThe 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?

Grab a copy on Amazon USOr on Amazon UK

12 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Yes! It’s been wonderful watching the move away from death-and-oppression stories. Actually, it’s been particularly refreshing to me in queer books that wouldn’t be classed as romance (YA, regular “lit”, etc), because in romance people generally expect the happy ending, whereas in other genres a sad one can be an easy way to make the reader feel something–it’s a cheat code.

    One thing’s been interesting to me; I find that queer YA is vastly more likely to end up with happy endings, but separate ones, for characters who date in them. Straight YA usually ends with a happy couple, but queer YA very often ends with an amicable breakup. I don’t really have a theory about that; it’s just interesting.

    I think trans lit has some catching up to do compared to cis gay&bi stories, but overall, it’s been a really nice change.

    • I’m on an odd one in the genre. While I like happy endings, I’m also okay with a less-than-happy ending if it’s justified. I think it’s why I could be swept away by “Front Runner” or accept some of the turns in the Peter & Charlie books that are not part of today’s romance rules.

      You are right about YA that couples don’t always have to end up HEA…HFN and happy separately are more accepted. I think that’s particularly good in YA because for the young people that read it (and I say that acknowledging that YA has a lot of adult readers), it’s more realistic because life isn’t always a happy ending.

  • Jeff what a lovely reminiscence of The Front Runner. I read the book when it first came out and loved it. Still do and have a copy of it on my bookshelf right next to my computer. Talk about a writing talisman! I’m going to share this post on FB and will tag PNW. Bet she’d like to know her book is still beloved by so many readers. Hat Trick and Hat Trick 2 have received great reviews. wishing you the best, Paul

    • Thanks, Paul. Will and I got to hear PNW speak at the 2006 Outgames in Montreal as part of the cututural programming. It was one of the highlights of that trip, especially speaking with her for a few minutes and getting his copy autographed.

  • I’m such a fan of yours, Jeff, and your husband’s too. You’re just good people. :) And I love that he wa recommending (and still doing so) books for you to read. You two exemplify partnership and love and beautiful friendship and marriage! Thanks for always bringing him along, coming together to the conferences and events. Thanks for the post! (PS: NY misses you…)

  • Dear Jeff!
    For me “The Front Runner” was my very first book i’ve read about a gay couple. It was more than 30 years ago but i can still remember me sitting in my parent’s living room and crying, crying, crying! Since then most of the books i’ve bought are with gay couples. I was hooked forever! What i’m most impressed of is – let me say – the modern style of P.N. Warren. What i mean is the courage of her to write such a book in such times! Today it seems that there’s a huge community which is writing and reading and talking about all kinds of sexuality without -fortunately- no boundaries. But 30 years ago? It was another time…but i think P.N.Warren was kind of a pioneer for future generations. Harlan and Billy will always be in my mind! Never forgotten! Thank you for remembering it as well!

    • Anita, you’re right. “Front Runner” seems so regular by today’s standards. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have the book on the shelves in the 70s. Warren was definitely a pioneer!

  • Jeff, I enjoyed your thoughts on your first m/m books. I read The Front Runner a few years ago and it broke my heart. It was the first m/m book I read that did not have a traditional happy ending. I couldn’t bring myself to read the sequels, but I will never forget the impact this story had on me.

    • Lisa, thanks for stopping by. I hope one day you’ll read “Harlan’s Race” and “Billy’s Boy.” “Harlan’s Race,” like “Front Runner” can be a painful read, but it’s worth it to read the rest of Harlan’s story. “Billy’s Boy” is a perfect end to series, told from the perspective of Billy’s son who serves as the young narrator of the story.

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