So, gang, funny thing about Flashback Fridays… It only works when you remember what day of the week it is! >.<
Yes, it was one of those weeks, but in what I'll call the Better Late Than Never files, we're bringing you the Speculative Fiction Saturday edition of some of our favorite firsts in the M/M genre.
But first, congratulations goes to last week’s winner, Laura05, who selected Jane Seville’s Zero at the Bone as her prize. Congrats, Laura, and I hope you love the book as much as I do! <3
Now, one of the things I'd wanted to do when I conceived of this is to highlight some of the older books in the genre, but here's the wrench in that plan: we've got more than a few reviewers on the TNA team who are somewhat newer to the world of gay romance. Hence, some of these books don't necessarily fit into the Flashback Files, but the books that Jules and Carrie selected as their picks? I've read every last one of them, LOVE them beyond all reason, and want to feature them for you just in case you haven’t had the chance yet to experience them yourselves.
So, without further ado, here are our Flashback… Fridurday… features. :)
And don’t forget to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of one of our picks.
I have to say that I have a tendency to go for Contemporary in my M/M reading. But every once in a while, I’m convinced to try something else. I do like some Urban Fantasy, but for some reason I have never been a science fiction or high fantasy fan. Maybe it’s my super-logical mind that doesn’t like to be tested with something I just can’t believe, but I’ve never been able to get into those types of books. There has to be some really great storytelling and some amazing world building going on to convince me to give it a go and stick with it.
One amazing exception to this rule is a series I came across several years ago from Belinda McBride that starts with a book called An Uncommon Whore. For those of you who haven’t read it, it’s an amazing tale of Helios Dayspring, a missing king who has been kept as a sex slave called Pasha, for a number of years. But one fateful night, his client turns out to be much more than a visiting space pirate. The client turns out to be none other than Griffin Hawke, his former bodyguard and lover, who has been searching for him since he was kidnapped after a devastating battle. There are all kinds of twists and turns as Griffin and Helios try to recover memories and reunite the king with the last of his people on a distant planet.
The second book in the series is called When I Fall, and is written from Griffin’s POV. This book is actually a bit darker than the first, and Griffin and Helios are dealing with the changes in their world, their relationship and their families. Helios is still trying to recover all his memories, determine how best to lead and keep his people safe, while knowing there are still many enemies to confront – both internal and external. But Griffin and Helios make a formidable team, and when things get tough, they don’t turn away from each other.
The last (maybe? I personally hope not) book in the series is called Prince of Faith and was several years in the making, following the other two, and is not necessarily a direct sequel as the main characters are Markus Dayspring and Caius, who are secondary characters in the previous stories. While Helios and Griffin suffer through separation and struggle to regain their relationship and home, Markus and Caius take angst to a whole new level. This one is definitely the darkest of the three main books, but so worth it in my opinion. There is also another companion book that is written in the same universe called The Bacchi, which I haven’t read yet, but it’s making its way up my TBR pile.
I will also add that the stunning covers are done by PL Nunn, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a special limited edition of Volumes 1 and 2, which have additional PL Nun illustrations in them. If you have the opportunity, they are well worth it. I practically chased Belinda McBride around Atlanta and had all my friends on standby to make sure I got one of those coveted paperbacks at the book signing event.
I heartily recommend this series as a wonderful example of character driven story telling that will keep the reader riveted to the end.
Blurb: “As a general rule, you won’t find the love of your life while you’re on your knees under a table.” — Helios Dayspring
Pasha is a slave, whoring for travelers at the most dangerous bar on Warlan. He has no memory, no future of his own, yet deep inside Pasha knows that that he is meant for better things. The day that Pasha spots the dangerous pirate in the bar, he knows that he mustn’t let the stranger slip away, regardless of what he must do to attract his attention.
Captain Griffin Hawke spent the greater part of a decade searching for his lost king, only to find Helios Dayspring crouched between his knees, swathed in the robes and shackles of a whore. Though he is appalled by the downfall of his king, the hardened officer finds himself falling for the allure of the sensual creature who has taken his place. Returning Helios to his position on the throne is the only right thing to do, yet Griffin knows that in doing so, he risks losing his lover forever.
“A whore is a whore is a whore, unless he’s something else completely. I guess I must be an uncommon whore.” — Helios Dayspring
Oh, golly day—I remember thinking that there could be nothing more wonderful than gay werewolves when I read this paranormal story by T.A. Chase. In a nutshell, we had Jacob Tasker—a hunk of burning man-wolf and a rancher, initially despising the nerdy yet gorgeous Oliver Wingate. Oliver, of course, wants to help the wolf population by re-introducing the species into the wild—specifically into Jacob’s back yard. While this is all well and good to Jacob, he knows the slight young naturalist is going to meet stiff opposition from the other ranchers. Little does he know it would come to violence. When Oliver gets beaten and nearly left for dead, Jacob has to give up his loner ways to nurse the man back to health. When Oliver recovers, I was introduced to some amazing man on man/wolf action that nearly made me howl!
Wolf’s Survival was my very first paranormal, and it hooked me in completely. It also was the gateway for other stories about men shifting into other animals, not to mention vampires and other supernatural beings. While I think this genre can get a bit formulaic, I also know it provides some of the best romance stories—particularly in the enemies-to-lovers trope. I really enjoyed this story by T.A. Chase. and it prompted me to check out more of this author’s stories. I am so glad I did!
Blurb: Fellow ranchers consider Jacob Tasker a lone wolf, a man who goes his own way and who stands alone. They’ll never know just how close they are to the truth. His pack slaughtered by the ancestors of those very ranchers, Jacob’s learned to trust no one and accept his solitary life.
Oliver Wingate loves and respects wolves. As a conservationist, he believes they should be re-introduced into their once-natural habitat. Yet he meets resistance from all the ranchers who feel the wolves will prey on their herds.
When Oliver runs afoul of some of the locals, it’s up to Jacob to ensure the young idealistic man doesn’t lose his life in a battle for the wolf’s survival…and all the while trying to keep from falling in love…
Once Upon a Haunted Moor… Oooooooh, isn’t that delicious??? What a name! Of course, I had to buy the book never realizing the addiction the Tyack & Frayne Mysteries would unleash.
I love mysteries. Really, really good mysteries that are all about who done it or things that go bump in the night. I was new to the M/M genre when I first read this book, and I had no idea the quality of writing this genre could hold. Gideon Frayne is a policeman, his feet firmly planted in reality. Lee Tyack is a clairvoyant brought in to help with a missing young girl. Together they must find the answers and save an innocent—whether the dangers are real or imagined.
There are five books in the series so far, each is a stand-alone mystery (Note: but to get the full benefit of Gideon and Lee’s relationship, read the series in order), and all are excellent. Thank you, Harper Fox, for great mysteries and for sealing my love affair with the M/M genre.
Blurb: Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.
But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.
Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.
I was pretty excited when I found out the theme for this week’s Flashback Friday was Speculative Fiction. Up until very recently I was the girl who, at least as far as the M/M genre is concerned, had only read contemporary fiction. I’m not sure why, really, as my EXTREME love for Harry Potter and other mainstream spec fic should have proven to me that I’m comfortable stepping out of that ‘contemporary box’…But, for whatever reason, I was reticent to try anything ‘different’ in the queer fiction world. Until I finally read Widdershins. So, I’m here to shout out my love for Whyborne & Griffin, and tell you that this series is EVERYTHING.
Here were my initial reactions upon finishing books 2-4:
Re: Threshold – This was some of the craziest, most awesome shizzle I’ve ever read. The end. Seriously, though… Sooooo goooood. Whyborne and Griffin are amazing. But, Whyborne…GAHHHH. I. Love. Him. Bring me the next book!!
Re: Stormhaven – This series keeps getting better and better, and Whyborne keeps getting cooler and cooler.
Re: Necropolis – This book was everything. Smart. Sexy. Scary. Funny. It was gorgeous, brilliant, heart-racey goodness. I’m seriously at a loss for intelligent words. Love these guys so much.
Widdershins was published about three years ago, but I didn’t read it until about seven months ago, which allowed me to DEVOUR the entire series up until that point, in basically one weekend. So enchanted by Jordan L. Hawk’s genius, and the amazing world she had created, I could not put these books down. I’m confident that anyone who hasn’t read them will also completely fall in love. I cannot recommend enough that if you haven’t given this series a try yet, do it. I promise you’ll thank me, and become the crazy Jordan L. Hawk fangirl or boy that I am now!!
I think it’s safe to say that my life was altered that weekend. No longer are contemporaries enough for me. Now my library includes paranormal, fantasy, alternate universe, shifters, steampunk, and more!
Blurb: Some things should stay buried.
Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.
So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.
As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?
Author Ginn Hale is…everything. I’m a fan of many of the Speculative Fiction authors in this genre, but I freaking worship at the altar of Ginn Hale. And it all started with her 2007 release, Wicked Gentlemen. It’s the first M/M Spec Fic novel I ever read, and since then I’ve fallen in love with Lord of the White Hell, The Rifter Serial, Feral Machines, her novellas in the anthologies The Irregulars and Charmed and Dangerous. In short, Hale is nothing less than a brilliant wordsmith.
When I read Wicked Gentlemen–the first time in 2010–and all the subsequent times thereafter, the one thing that stood out in the novel (which is actually two novellas in a single volume) is Hale’s ability to create worlds that are so fantastical, so magical, and to build and layer her characters with so much depth that it’s impossible not to lose yourself in their lives. This author crafts scenes in such a way that I want to wallow in each and every word of them. Captain William Harper and Prodigal Belimai Sykes are evocative, provocative, and their scenes together are sensual without being overtly sexual in any way:
“I held the shot glass up and watched the way the liquid distorted the image of Captain Harper’s face. There was something fascinating about the way it flawed his features. It only took a tiny shift, just a curve of glass, to ruin him.” – Belimai Sykes
Little did Belimai know at that time it would take far more than that to ruin Captain Harper, but oh, the journey to discovering all the ways in which Harper would sacrifice and bring himself to near ruin for his drug addicted demon lover is utterly gorgeous, regardless of which angle one looks at it from.
And he was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him…
And they became the Prodigals, the least of these who were called from the depths of hell and now reside in Hells Below, a place where there is no dark and there is no light, keeping themselves to themselves to avoid the Inquisition and the prayer engines which torture and carve words of salvation into unholy flesh while dragging forth the confessions of the innocent who are guilty of little more than being who they were born to be. This story is flawless, gorgeous, and I want you to read it so you, too, will know its beauty.
Blurb: Belimai Sykes is many things: a Prodigal, the descendant of ancient demons, a creature of dark temptations and rare powers. He is also a man with a brutal past and a dangerous addiction.
And Belimai Sykes is the only man Captain William Harper can turn to when faced with a series of grisly murders.
But Mr. Sykes does not work for free and the price of Belimai’s company will cost Captain Harper far more than his reputation.
From the ornate mansions of noblemen, where vivisection and sorcery are hidden beneath a veneer of gold, to the steaming slums of Hells Below, Captain Harper must fight for justice and for his life.
His enemies are many and his only ally is a devil he knows too well. Such are the dangers of dealing with the wicked.
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