Tuesday, December 20, 2011
When the Hero’s Love Interest is the Other Hero Or Writing M/M Erotic Romance
I wrote this article a few years back for the Passionate Ink July Newsletter
Erotic Chapter of RWA
When the Hero’s Love Interest is the Other Hero
Or Writing M/M Erotic Romance
By Laura Baumbach
I love to read a captivating romance novel where the characters are fully fleshed out, the story plot is interesting and the sexual tension is high. I’ve been known to skim a story to find the steamy love scenes, unabashedly looking for the moment when the two main characters consummate their primal desires and finally wind up naked and sweaty in each others arms. All that aching passion and need burning up the pages while each character explores and satisfies their new lover with tender caresses, fiery glances and breathtaking lovemaking makes me gasp and reach for a cold drink in between paragraphs.
I’m a member of a huge audience of erotic romance readers that likes the story even better if the two main characters wrinkling the sheets are both hot, sexy men. There are a large number of romance readers who enjoy m/m erotic romance and have for a very long time. And these numbers are growing.
M/m erotic romance has been around since the first fan fiction writer penned a Star Trek story that took the Kirk/Spock buddy relationship over the threshold and into the bedroom thirty plus years ago. While the audience has both sexes for readers, the majority of this audience is made up of women. Women looking for and yearning to read good quality, sharply written, satisfying m/m erotic romance. While I’m one of those many readers, I also write m/m erotic romance, or manlove as I prefer to call it.
Unfortunately, what is out there on the Net and in published books isn’t very satisfying. Amateur m/m stories like fan fiction are just that, and it shows in the lack of quality writing. Some are so poor the story is impossible to read, and some are written by people who obviously never actually have had sex before.
At the other end of the spectrum is professional gay fiction (not the same as m/m erotic romances), the majority of it written by men. While it gets all the mechanics right and may even weave an interesting plot line, the stories are written for men. Rarely romantic or tender, these novels may get the thrill of the sexual need across, but they usually leave a gaping hole in the romance department. Romance is the essential part in the story for satisfying most women readers.
That is were m/m erotic romance writers come in. The majority, but not by any means all, are women. As women, we know what women look for in a m/m story. We know they want romance, tenderness, overtly displayed emotions, and love expressed. We still want the men to be men, not sappy, feminized versions of our heroes, but we also want to see the character’s vulnerable side. Manlove gives us that vulnerability. It lets the hero show his flaws, lets him lean on his lover for support or comfort without having to save the day or the heroine. Men have weak moments in their lives, too, and it is touching and satisfying to see those feelings sensitively expressed in a loving fashion between two men. In my novel “A Bit of Rough”, the two main characters’ flaws are what actually attracts one man to the other. Bram Lord’s possessiveness is appealing to James Justin, just as James’ skittish shyness turns Bram on. While neither are weak men, these are not characteristics that would appeal to most strong heroines.
One of the reasons we read manlove is to immerse ourselves in the masculinity magnified times two. We love men, enjoy men, and know men's bodies. The thoughts of two hunky, adorable, manly men showing their love for each other in the most raw, passionate, primal way is HOT! The sweat, the strength, the power and energy given off by two ravenous men in bed is thrilling to readers of this genre. We want the same things readers of m/f romances want -- strong personalities that we can relate to, real life issues we know everyone faces, signs of commitment and lasting love, and hot steamy, make-me-pant sex.
Even through we know that intercourse in real-life m/m relationships may not occur as often as intercourse between m/f couples, for comfort and health reasons, we still want the sex in our stories. We need it. Penetration is a symbol to women. There is a reason it has been called 'going all the way' for decades. Orgasm is the ultimate sexual act, but penetration is the ultimate relationship act, the ultimate act of closeness and giving. It is the romantic icing on the sexual cake. I write it frequently in my m/m stories, realistic or not, because I know as a reader, I would want to find it there. It is breathtaking and meaningful on a different level than just achieving orgasm by any other means.
Manlove is the bridge between poorly written slash fan fiction and unromantic gay fiction. It has a place on every romance shelf and a paying audience hungry for more satisfying, quality work. And let's face it, love is love between two people, only the mechanics change, and then only slightly.
And seriously, who else has been pleasing men and their bodies since the beginning of time than women? We love men. One is good, two are better. Especially in my manlove romances.
More information on ‘A Bit of Rough’, published by MLR Press, can be found at http://www.laurabaumbach.com