Best Summer Romance Novels Featuring Gay Characters

Whether relaxing by the beach with a good book or just dreaming of the perfect vacation, there’s a lot of books that capture the magic of summer. Summer means driving with the windows down, splashing around in the surf, staying up late, and getting up to no good. The teens in YA novels have less responsibilities and more freedom when off from school and it feels like anything could happen.

Here’s the best summer romance books in YA gay fiction.

Caught Inside– Jamie Deacon

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple – a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

Writing Style: First person, one POV. Descriptive. 247 pages.
Topics and Tropes: sports, surfing, identity crisis, love triangle
For those who enjoy: introspective pieces, sweet love stories, developing relationships

What Readers Think:

Even if you’re not a fan of coming-of-age stories, athletes as main characters, or homosexual pairings, I urge you to give “Caught Inside” a try. The struggle to find love and acceptance is one we’ve all faced, regardless of gender, sexual preference, age, or ethnicity.

NfRtB, Amazon Review

Something Like Summer (Volume 1) – Jay Bell

Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change.

The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart.

Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.

Book 1 in the Something Like Series

Writing Style: Third person, one POV. Descriptive prose. 293 pages.
Topics and Tropes: opposites attract, life in the 90’s, love and life
For those who enjoy: humor, steamy scenes, stories that span the years, books with their own movies

What Readers Think:

Wow! I was immediately hooked! The story of Ben and Tim is very moving, full of strong and emotional moments. I felt (and still feel) that Tim and Ben are real people and have been lucky to have a glimpse of their live and love story. And I still cannot decide which one I prefer!

PIERREAmazon Review

The Vast Fields of Ordinary – Nick Burd

It’s Dade’s last summer at home, and things are pretty hopeless. He has a crappy job, a “boyfriend” who treats him like dirt, and his parents’ marriage is falling apart. So when he meets and falls in love with the mysterious Alex Kincaid, Dade feels like he’s finally experiencing true happiness.

But when a tragedy shatters the final days of summer, he realizes he must face his future and learn how to move forward from his past.

Writing Style: First person, one POV. Sharp, realistic. 332 pages.
Topics and Tropes: Small town setting, closeted jock, bad boy. Deals with issues like suicide, divorce, drugs, crime.
For those who enjoy: angst, coming of age stories, evocative writing.

What Readers Think:

It’s a “Catcher in the Rye” for the Millennial Generation. Burd can be effortlessly poetic when he wants, but he also knows when to just say less and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. More than anything, this is a dreamy meditation on growing up, coming of age, and falling in love. Burd is a helluva writer and this is a hellaciously good novel.

, Amazon Review

 That Feeling When: LGBT+ Summer Camp Romance – S.M. James

Dance Academy reject, Archie Corrigan, resents the stereotype guy ballet dancers are gay. Because he isn’t. At all. Forced to reassess his life goal at Camp Crystal Cove, it’s by sheer dumb luck he meets Landon Summers, who turns everything Archie was sure of into chaos.

Poor boy turned teen heartthrob, Landon Summers, is the name on everyone’s lips. With his unexpected leap to fame, his agent advises him to keep his bi status on the down low. Not a problem! Until Landon meets Archie.

Their unexpected friendship leads to an inevitable kiss, but their moment is caught in high definition and used as fuel for blackmail. If the truth gets out, Landon’s career could be over, and Archie will be forced to acknowledge the one thing he’s fought to deny.

But how do you go back to your average life once you’ve experienced That Feeling When … you’re finally happy?

 Publication Date: Sept 16. 343 pages.
Topics and Tropes: summer camp, stereotypes, fame, blackmail, bi main character
For those who enjoy: humor, banter, flirting and developing relationships, good supporting characters

What Readers Think:

This was such a cute story. It’s the kind of book that definitely gives you all the feels. At it’s heart, it’s about two young men who are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. The fact that it’s a love story is a complete bonus.

Shereads, Amazon Review

My Summer of Wes – Missy Welsh

Malcolm Small has lived a sheltered life with parents who don’t seem to care about him. Now, during the summer between high school graduation and going away to college, Mal wants to take control of his life and make some improvements…starting with making a new friend.

Wes, the boy across the street, quickly becomes both friend and a sort of mentor to Mal. With Wes’s patient guidance and example, Mal’s breaking free of his life-long shy shell and taking chances.

Mal is also feeling free enough to start listening to the tiny voice inside him that whispers his attraction to Wes. After years of denying it, could Mal be gay after all?

Self-acceptance comes easy for Mal with Wes by his side. What about telling Mal’s parents? What about being out at college? Mal’s about to undergo some very challenging times as he grows up fast and must decide what he’ll stand for and against.

Writing Style: First person, one POV, strong voice. 260 pages.
Topics and Tropes: coming out, friends to lovers, opposites attract, anxiety and panic attacks, new beginnings
For those who enjoy: coming of age stories, love stories with light angst, some steamy scenes, new adult stories

What Readers Think:

While some of the main events were predictable, the way the story was told was all of fun, sweet, moving, funny, occasionally teary. Missy has a clever turn of phrase which is delightful!

, Amazon Review

Things I’ll Never Say – M.J. O’shea

Sam’s best friend in the world is ditching him; moving out of state to go to college and leaving him behind. It hurts like hell but he doesn’t know how to tell Ryan that he needs him to stay without saying too much. Like maybe that he might want to be a lot more than just friends…

Ryan has to get out. He’s been in love with Sam for so many years he’s afraid if he doesn’t leave that he’ll spend his whole life alone in love with someone he can never have…but of course Ryan can’t tell his oldest and best friend that he’s in love with him. It would ruin the most important thing in his life.

Before it’s too late, they have to find the courage to tell each other the truth about how they feel…to finally say those things they’ve kept to themselves for far too long.

Writing Style: Third person, two POV. 69 pages.
Topics and Tropes: best friends to lovers, surfing, misunderstandings, unrequited love
For those who enjoy: short stories, angst with a happy ending, new adult

What Readers Think:

I loved this story! If your a sucker for a good romance then this is for you. It may be a little predictable, but our hearts tend to go in that direction in these stories anyway. They both love each other but they don’t dare tell each other for fear of losing their friendship. A great read that wont disappoint. 🙂

Tammy Roos, Amazon Review

Kicked Out of Surf Dudes for Jesus – Elizabeth M. Gooden

Can a boy-boy romance bloom among the disapprovers? Paul Wu, age 15, has been crushing on Trevor Harris, the good church boy, for two years. Now he suspects Trevor likes him back. Maybe it’s time for Paul to reveal his feelings, but how? He can’t just say, “Dude, I think about you all the time,” or can he?

Trevor, meanwhile, has been saying prayers to confess his sin of lust for Paul, but maybe it’s time to confess he is gay and give up trying to change the fact.

On a surf trip to Mexico sponsored by a church that condemns homosexuality, the pressure builds as the boys sit close to each other at the campfire.

Sequel Story: Epic Triumphs of Gay Ninja Surfers over Systemic Religious Oppression

Writing Style: First person, two POV. Strong voices.  209 pages.
Topics and Tropes: surfing, religion, young love, Asian main character, alcoholism,
For those who enjoy: found families, the innocence of first love, light hearted yet serious reads

What Readers Think:

 It really delves into the inner workings of a couple of kids wrestling with the dynamic tension of spirituality, religion, family, and other deep themes, but does so in the voice of its teen protagonists.  This book avoids the typical tropes of YA literature and gay romances by maintaining true heart and a sense of romantic innocence, while also being grounded in the reality so many teens face.

R Rhoads, Amazon Review

At the Lake – Geoff Laughton

Shane Martinelli and William Houghton come from very different backgrounds. They meet at a high-end summer camp in the Adirondacks, where Shane works as a lifeguard to earn some money and begin saving for college. William is one of the guests, and he doesn’t want to be there. As far as William knows, his father only dumped him at the camp so he could spend time with his latest mistress. When Shane figures out William can’t swim, he offers to teach him.

William enthusiastically responds, but when an unexpected storm blows in, William is caught in the water and Shane comes to his rescue. They barely reach shore before lightning strikes the dock—close enough to damage Shane’s hearing.
The following summer both boys return to the camp. Shane doesn’t let his use of hearing aids stand in his way. William is now a counselor-in-training. The attraction between them is undeniable, but how can they possibly make it work? Once camp is over, a week at William’s family home in the Hamptons will determine if the love that bloomed at the lake can survive in the real world.

Writing Style: Third person, one POV. Descriptive, thoughtful. 247 pages.
Topics and Tropes: summer camp, age difference, rich/poor dynamic, growing up, MC with a disability
For those who enjoy: slow build, emotional connections, character studies and character driven stories, a few pleasant surprises

What Readers Think:

If you like young adult romances that center around dealing with who you really are, if you want to know what it’s like for two young gay men to figure out their place in the world and what they want to do with their lives, and if you’re looking for a sweet read with a lot of tenderness and some very loving moments, then you will probably enjoy this novel

Serena Yates , Goodreads Review

 Just a Dumb Surfer Dude – Chase Connor

Cooper is a genius. At least that’s what everyone else keeps saying, even if he doesn’t like it. But that’s not his biggest problem. Being gay while attending Dextrus Academy, an all-boys prep school, and only having one other gay friend, life can be…difficult.

Cooper wants to stay true to himself, and being a hormonal gay teen makes that difficult at times. So far, he’s managed to navigate being a good son, a good student, a best friend, and not lose himself in the process.

But when Logan, a hot surfer dude, transfers to Dextrus Academy, is it possible that Cooper will lose himself for a chance at true happiness?

Writing Style: First person, one POV. lighthearted, 141 pages.
Topics and Tropes: opposites attract, coming of age, academics, literature
For those who enjoy: romantic comedies, friendship and familial story lines, shaking up the status quo

What Readers Think:

 This an entirely SFW teen romance very much in the vein of the recent film “Love, Simon”. A very promising author I will continue to follow.

DeeGee, Amazon Review

Fourteen Summers – Quinn Anderson

Identical twins Aiden and Max Kingsman have been a matched set their whole lives. When they were children, Aiden was happy to follow his extroverted brother’s lead, but now that they’re in college, being “my brother, Aiden” is starting to get old. He’s itching to discover who he is outside of his “twin” identity.

Oliver’s goals for the summer are simple: survive his invasive family, keep his divorced parents from killing each other, and stay in shape for rowing season. He’s thrilled when he runs into his old friends, the Kingsman twins, especially Aiden, the object of a childhood crush. Aiden is all grown-up, but some things have stayed the same: his messy curls, his stability, and how breathless he makes Oliver. Oliver’s crush comes back full force, and the feeling is mutual. Summer just got a whole lot hotter.

Fun-loving Max takes one thing seriously: his role as “big brother.” When Aiden drifts away, Max can’t understand how his own twin could choose a boy over him. Summer won’t last forever, and with friendship, family, and happily ever after on the line, they’ll have to navigate their changing relationships before it’s too late.

Writing Style: Third person, Three POV. New Adult. 226 pages.
Topics and Tropes: friends to lovers, second chance at love, childhood crushes, family drama, first times
For those who enjoy: strong romance and supporting relationships, sweet yet substantial stories, fleshed out characters

What Readers Think:

I love LGBT romance that includes family dynamic. It enriches the whole story and reading experience. It hits home. This story was so moving that I encourage people to experience and enjoy it. It is an excellent romance novel.

keanharv, Amazon Review

Wanting – Piper Vaughn

Jonah Beckett has been in love with his older brother’s best friend, George “Laurie” DeWitt, since he was thirteen-years-old. When his boyfriend, Dirk, breaks up with him for refusing to put out, Jonah uses his heartbreak over the situation as an excuse to ask Laurie to teach him all about sex before he starts college in the fall. Problem is, he made Dirk up, and Jonah has no idea what will happen when Laurie finally finds out the truth.

Writing Style: Third person, one POV. 54 pages.
Topics and Tropes: friends to lovers, best friend’s brother, longtime crush, scheming
For those who enjoy: fun short stories, sweet and sexy romances, new adult

Book One in the Wanting Series

What Readers Think:

A truly heartwarming, sweet, romantic story. This would be the perfect read while sitting at the edge of the lake one afternoon during the summer. It’s one of those books that works in that setting and just leaves you with a feeling of peace and happiness.

Smitten with Reading, Amazon Review

Have you read any of these titles yet? Are there any more stories like these I should check out? Let me know!

For more summer romance books featuring queer love stories, you can also check out work by me, Finn Manning.

 

Loving Lakyn Review

Loving Lakyn

Plot: Lakyn doesn’t want to live anymore, but he grudgingly attempts to make things better after a suicide attempt. His life might be improving: he’s with family who loves him, he finds a therapist he can tolerate and then there’s a boy. Scott’s a lot more enthusiastic and optimistic, but he also has his share of problems. They might be able to get through life together if their combined demons don’t drag them down first.

My Thoughts: I’ve been around for… an amount of years I don’t entirely admit to, but it’s been at least 20. And somewhere in those years, I’ve had my fill of dramatic gay tragedies. I tend to like things happy and lighter when I want entertainment. Some angst is okay, as long as there’s also some comedy.

Loving Lakyn has a lot of heavy elements, but there was enough sweetness and jokes that the darker elements weren’t too much for me. It’s a little bleak but also hopeful, which is a vibe I actually really dig.

It was an interesting read that doesn’t sugar coat things but isn’t completely a downer either. I liked the mix of romance with personal growth story lines and there was plenty of both.

Best Part: The chapter titles were great, though Scott and Lakyn’s relationship was also a highlight. Scott seems happy and well adjusted and Lakyn seems dark and sarcastic, but they’re both drawn to each other anyway and make a compelling pair.

Outshine the Stars review

 Outshine the Stars – Nash Summers

Plot: Witty and self-absorbed Justin catches feelings and has to admit the world is bigger than himself.

My thoughts: I don’t know the right way to describe the writing in this short story. I think of it as ‘poetic as hell.’ It’s gorgeous and lyrical. The format wasn’t my favorite but I’m glad I stuck it out because it’s a good quick read with witty dialogue and a sweet love story.

Fave Part: I really enjoyed the prose, but the dialogue was good too. The conversations were a mix of how I actually talked in high school and how clever I wish I was in high school.

FREE BOOK

My novel What Love Means is available for free this week on Amazon.

Max is a thrill-seeker on the road but doesn’t take chances with his heart. He has a loving (and annoying) family, a part-time job, and his motorcycle. He doesn’t need anything or anyone else. Certainly not a blonde rich kid who’s never had to work for anything in his life.

Cal might not have a job, but he’s always busy. Getting into a good college takes work and it’s worth it even if he doesn’t have any time for himself. He doesn’t need a rugged dark-haired boy distracting him.

When Max and Cal’s siblings start competing in spelling bees, these opposites are thrown together. They have nothing in common. Except for their attraction to each other. As they grow closer while coaching their siblings, their attraction might lead to something more. But can their high school relationship survive real world challenges?

Spelling words and learning their dictionary definitions is easy. Real life is different.

Max and Cal know how to spell love, but they’re about to find out what it means.

The free promotion lasts from Sunday to Thursday and the book currently is at number 1 in several of its categories. Thanks to everyone who’s gotten a copy so far!

2018-05-27

 

Sam Dorsey and his Sixteen Candles

Sam Dorsey and his Sixteen Candles is right up my alley. It’s a definite rom-com where’s there’s a bunch of zany antics that could realistically happen in real life but probably wouldn’t, especially at the same time, but if you’re someone like me who can suspend disbelief and just read about the crazy week Sam turns 16, it’s a funny, enjoyable story.

Sam Dorsey And His Sixteen Candles (Sam Dorsey And Gay Popcorn) (Volume 1)

The Plot: Misfortune always befalls Sam Dorsey or his family on his birthday, so he’s dreading the consequences of putting off the celebration he doesn’t even want and having a whole birthday week. On the bright side, his crush Jake finally seems to know he exists. But his new friend Mitch doesn’t seem to like that.

My thoughts: The narrator in this story, Sam, has a good voice that adds a lot of character and humor. The tone stands out and lets you know what you’re reading, it’s not just another book that blends in with the rest.

I feel like I should say something about the references to the Sixteen Candles movie, but as I’ve never seen the movie, I can’t. As far as I know, some characters have similar  names, but it seems like it’s more the tone of the story that’s similar than actual details.

There’s a lot of guys in this story that seem to be at the very least bicurious. Just a whole lot of queer dudes, which is something you don’t see a lot anywhere, especially in YA. I think it’s great, especially as I tend to have multiple gay characters in my stories too.

Best Part: Many stories deal with the negative fallout of coming out and while that’s realistic, I don’t think disapproving parents are a universal experience anymore, so I enjoyed the approach this story took a lot.

I don’t know what classifies as full length or a short story and what this technically ranks as. Since the action takes place over a few days and it’s around 150 pages, it feels like a short story. It’s a cute, quick read. There’s other books in the series and they all seem to be available on Kindle Unlimited.

Best Bad Boy Books in Gay YA Fiction

With devil may care attitudes and rugged good looks, it’s easy to fall for the bad boys even when you shouldn’t. The bad boys in these stories shake up the status quo, cause trouble, and may break a few hearts, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find true love in the end.

Why are bad boys so irresistible?

I don’t know, but here’s ten books about rebels, punks, jerks with hearts of gold, and dangerous, brooding bad boys.

REASONS TO LOVE A NERD LIKE ME– BECKY JERAMS
Love Stories Book One

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Scotty Williams is the nerdiest 17-year-old at Havensdale College – and proud of it. However being a nerd can have its downsides, particularly when you’re constantly being targeted by the school bully Taylor Raven and his cronies.

As Scotty tries to navigate his final college years with the aid of his best friend Olive, he also finds himself on the radar of the mysterious and intimidating Vincent Hunter, toughest guy in the Sixth Form. Is Vincent really as bad as he seems? Will Scotty’s darkest secret ever be revealed? Can he ever just finish his last few college years in peace? But most importantly… will any guy ever find the reasons to love a nerd like him?

Writing Style: First Person, one perspective, fast paced, plot driven. 417 pages
Topics and Tropes: nerd/punk dynamic, high school drama, bullying
For those who enjoy: humor, great romantic relationship and friendships, heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories

What Readers Think:

I was slightly wary of this book, because the summary looks a bit predictable. However, I was mostly wrong! There were parts of this book that I could not stop reading. I also love LGBT representation in all forms, and I think Jerams does a good job of showing both sides of acceptance. The plot is definitely more complex than I expected, with twists and turns at every corner, and of course the romance is extremely sweet. Though sometimes the dialogue is a bit cheesy and unnatural, this novel definitely is enjoyable, entertaining, and meaningful.

Rebecca, Goodreads Review

THE RED SHEET – MIA KERICK

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One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.

Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.

Writing Style: First person, one POV, realistic yet whimsical, 190 pages
Topics and Tropes: jock/nerd dynamic, personal growth, bullying, amnesia

For Those Who Enjoy:  humor and unique storytelling

What Readers Think:

Kerick makes great use of chapter length, the majority of them being rather quick so that I got so invovled in the rhythm of the story that I had to keep reading to see what Bryan would do next… This story not only offers a lot of humor but some very relatable issues that speaks to teenagers… a definite recommendation for all people who have bullied others, experienced bullying, or who just want a good read.

Kwriter07, Amazon Review

LAST OF THE SUMMER TOMATOES – SHERRIE HENRY

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Kyle Jackowski, typical sullen emo teen, struggles to find a way to deal with his sexuality and finds himself in trouble with the law… again. But instead of being sent to a juvenile detention center like he expected, he is given a chance to commute his sentence by working on a farm for the summer.

Enter Sam, son of the farm owners, who shows Kyle what he feels is perfectly normal and that he doesn’t have to hide from his feelings. In turn, Sam’s parents show Kyle that his abusive stepfather and battered mother are not the norm. With their love and support, Kyle finds his place in the world—by Sam’s side.

Writing Style: Third person, character driven, one POV. 246 pages
Topics and Tropes:  city boy and country boy, redemption, insecurities and acceptance,

For those who enjoy:  hopeful or serious stories, cute love stories

What Readers Think:

I LOVED Sam’s parents, omg they were the best. I had to keep taking off my glasses to wipe the tears away, Kyle was so starved for love and Sam’s parents had plenty of love to give. What can I say about Sam? Not surprising that he was a great guy, with the greatest parents he had no choice but to be the sweetest and the most patient guy with Kyle. I loved hearing about their farm life and omg I wanted to taste all the food that was talked about.

TRUST ME – JEFF ERNO

Shawn Graham and Bobby Wilder couldn’t be more different. Shawn is a devout Christian fundamentalist from northern Michigan; Bobby is a street-smart latchkey kid from southern Ohio. From an early age, they are both confused and troubled by their attraction to the same sex. Shawn believes that homosexuality is sinful, and a traumatic incident of childhood sexual abuse adds to his guilt and shame. Bobby has an image to maintain and flatly denies the possibility that his same-sex attractions even exist. He’s just too cool to be gay.

When they finally connect, their preconceptions are suddenly dwarfed by what they feel for each other. They become inseparable and fall deeply in love; however, love doesn’t make life easy. Plans are in motion that will surely devastate the young couple. Painful experiences of the past overshadow happy memories, and heartbreaking obstacles loom over the possibility of a future. If Shawn and Bobby want to stay together, they will have to fight with everything they have.

Writing Style: Third person, alternating POV. 366 pages
Topics and Tropes: 1980s setting, self identity struggles, balancing religion and sexuality (warning for rape/sexual abuse towards children)
For those who enjoy: tear-jerkers, steamy scenes

What Readers Think:

A story where emotions and personal relevance definitely overrode my reactions to the writing. Coming-of-age story tackles a lot in its pages and does a good job at presenting a balanced view showing ugliness as well as beauty – Bobby and his teenage “bad boy” ways, Shawn’s struggle with his identity in the face of his religious convictions…

Lil’ Grogan, Goodreads Review

GO YOUR OWN WAY– ZANE RILEY
Go Your Own Way #1

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Will Osborne couldn’t wait to put the roller coaster ride of his public education behind him. Having suffered bullying and harassment since grade school, he planned a senior year that would be simple and quiet before going away to college and starting fresh. But when a reform school transfer student struts into his first class, Will realizes that the thrill ride has only just begun.

Lennox McAvoy is an avalanche. He’s crude, flirtatious, and the most insufferable, beautiful person Will’s ever met. From his ankle monitor to his dull smile, Lennox appears irredeemable.
But when Will’s father falls seriously ill, Will discovers that there is more to Lennox than meets the eye.

Writing Style: Third person, alternating POV, simplistic. 326 pages
Topics and Tropes: Love/hate relationship, abuse, biracial character
For those who enjoy: angst, sexual tension, character driven stories

 

What Readers Think:

Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It takes the wrong side of the tracks trope and knocks it around. Lennox is a fascinating boy and it’s painful to watch him make bad choice after bad choice.. As he starts to open himself up to Will in the tiniest of little pieces, you start to hope for Lennox… The characters in this novel are vividly drawn. I find myself attached to all of them. This was a beautiful start to their journey.

Ritz Bitz, Amazon Review

SWEATERS & CIGARETTES – MIKA FOX

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Theo can’t stop looking at Max. With those black clothes and piercings, and that sarcastic charm that’s enough to intimidate pretty much anyone, he’s not exactly what you would call ordinary. Especially not when Theo is as ordinary as it gets, for a high schooler, along with all the insecurity and awkwardness that comes with it.
Basically, Max is everything Theo is not, but no matter how hard Theo tries, he can’t get him off his mind. He’s honestly crushing on him so hard, that it’s not even funny.
Theo has never spoken to Max, has even tried to hate him, but when their paths actually cross, their first conversation takes a surprising turn. And before long, they both find themselves falling harder and faster than they ever could have anticipated.

‘Sweaters & Cigarettes’ is a story about first love, first times, and all the sweet thrills that go along with it.

(This book has some mature content)

Writing Style: Third person, one POV, character driven. 488 pages
Topics and Tropes: high school life, intense chemistry, banter
For those who enjoy: steamy scenes, fluff, strong characters

What Readers Think:

This book was refreshingly realistic in its depiction of two high school senior boys that find each other and fall in love. The characters and their situations seemed quite genuine and I found myself caring about them very early on in the book. There are some quite descriptive sex scenes in the book, but they are in good taste and also realistic to the story and how they are exploring their relationship.

Tony, Amazon Review

WES AND TOREN– J.M. COLAIL

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It’s not so easy being young, gay, and in love for the first time at the average high school. Senior Toren Grey cares more about his family and his grades than what brand of clothes he wears. He agrees with the majority consensus that he’s a nerd. So he’s quite surprised when resident bad boy Wesley Carroll speaks to him in the hall, stirring feelings that Toren has to hide.
Disconcerted by Wes’s free and easy ways, Toren can’t deny the attraction between them. As he relaxes and gets to know Wes better, he finds there’s more to the sexy rebel than his public image. Before long the young men are exploring new territory and falling in love, but life just isn’t that simple. After they graduate, obstacles block their relationship at every turn: Wes working versus Toren in college, the virulent disapproval of parents, and everyday trials faced by any struggling young couple. Wes and Toren have to believe in each other… and never doubt that their love can conquer all.

Writing Style: First person, one POV, relationship driven. 304 pages
Topics and Tropes: coming of age, nerd/bad boy dynamic, high school to college storyline
For those who enjoy: sweet love stories, steamy scenes, light angst

What Readers Think:

This is the ultimate comfort read for me. It’s just a sweet story. It’s long and it’s relaxed like someone taking a leisurely walk through a park on a spring day. There was a natural progression to Wes and Toren’s relationship. There was no insta-love and they don’t have sex two minutes after they meet.

Laddie, Goodreads Review

HEARTLESS – J. ROMAN
Keeping Secrets: Book One

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For gay teens in the South, Erwin High School is as good as it gets. The prevailing liberalism means being gay doesn’t have to be the focus of your life—which frees up seventeen-year-old Jason Strummer to take on the role of bully. Jason understands his beauty and power and has a reputation to match his attitude. No one but his best friend suspects the cruelty Jason hides behind is a ruse to keep his hellish private life out of the public eye.

Jason has only loved one boy in his life, and that crush on Tommy Johnson ended so badly that they’re no longer on speaking terms. When an ex-lover threatens Jason and Tommy steps in to help, the heartless playboy can’t help but fall a little bit back in love with him—but Jason will have to choose between keeping Tommy or his secrets.

Writing Style: First person, character driven, one POV. 246 pages
Topics and Tropes: second chance at love, personas and masks, enemies to lovers

For those who enjoy: an atypical main character, thoughtful portrayal of difficult subjects, rocky love stories

I felt like I actually was inside a teenage boy’s head… I really enjoyed the story. Even though Jason isn’t exactly an endearing character, I felt compassion for him and am looking forward to the next installment where I hope he’ll find happiness and soften up a bit.

Madison Parker, Goodreads Review

OUTSHINE THE STARS – NASH SUMMERS

51esvudlkkl-_sy346_Justin is hell on legs. He’s a self-proclaimed brat, a manipulator, and has a bit of a flare for the dramatic. While Justin might look like the picture of innocence, he leaves a path of terror wherever he goes.

His senior year starts off like all the others, him and his best friend sticking their noses up at everyone else while they bask in their own glory. But when a handsome new student catches Justin’s eye, he recruits the likes of a smart-mouthed kid named Connor to help him in his mission to capture the heart of the attractive newcomer. When Justin is finally forced to face himself and the truth behind his self¬-centered universe, it feels like the sky comes crashing down

 

Writing Style: Third person, one POV, prose, 44 pages
Topics and Tropes: friends to lovers, growing up, tragic backstories

For those who enjoy: funny dialogue, short stories, easy reads that also pack a punch

Lulls you into a sense of knowing the quirky characters then surprises you with unexpected depth. Great descriptions. Lovable folks.

Deborah Albee, Amazon Review

GUYLINER – J. LEIGH BAILEY

515tfc3kg5lSeventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.

As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.

 

Writing Style: Third person, character driven, two POVs. 273 pages
Topics and Tropes: opposites attract, sports, conformity, friendship to romance

For those who enjoy: bi characters, coming of age stories, sweet romances

Guyliner has it all — a great story, told well with three dimensional characters and settings. And the writing and pacing, the glue that keeps it moving, is fantastic.

Short version: A great read beginning to end. ENJOY!

JD Hood, Amazon Review

Which of these are your favorites? Are there any other books featuring bad boys I should check out? Let me know!

 

Vocab

F.N. Manning

book-3259352_960_720Do you own a dictionary? I’m not sure I do. The internet takes care of that for me. The only problem is that you can’t flip to a random page of an internet dictionary and start looking for challenging words. You need an idea of what you want to look up. Typing in “hard words” just gives you the definition for ‘hard’ or ‘words’.

This was my super serious predicament when writing What Love Meanswhere spelling bees serve as a backdrop for the action. Luckily, vocabulary.com was around to help me out. That might be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said and I have a few seasons of Star Trek on DVD.

Apparently, the site does more than help authors find challenging spelling bee words.  I think you’ll be happy to know that at least one queer book is popular/important enough to have a vocab list on the site.

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Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me Review

Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me: Love Stories Book 1by Becky Jerams

The Plot: Scotty is an out, self-described geek, or I suppose I should say nerd since it’s in the title. His life is comprised of schoolwork, a type-A, bossy best friend, and a bully who lives to terrorize him. Then the mysterious bad boy Vincent Hunter enters his orbit, and both are drawn to each other.

My thoughts: This reads like a quintessential YA rom-com. There’s a cast of zany characters, lots of opportunities for drama and misunderstandings and everything feels so important and immediate. There’s a lot of fun with classic types of characters like the jealous ex and the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me is an exciting, energetic read. I’m an American who doesn’t fully get the British school system but its still easy enough to follow. It almost felt like a soap opera, which I mean in a good way, there’s a lot of melodrama and high tension and it’s easy to just get absorbed and enjoy all the antics.

The best part: The two main characters are just so damn cute together. From nicknames to exchanging music to text message flirting, I loved reading their interactions and was really rooting for them. I had a smile on my face while reading, they were so adorable together. Scotty and Vincent’s love story starts slow as they get to know each other and is full of lots of sweet interactions that really make the story great.

Get To Know Cal

F.N. Manning

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I’ve chosen some questions from one of those ‘get to know me’ surveys for Cal from my book What Love Means to answer. They’re written from his point of view.

Get to know Cal Winthrop-Scott

What time do you wake up most mornings?
Around six for school. Earlier if I forgot to iron my clothes for the day. I mean, six, and never earlier because my family has a maid that does the ironing. I totally don’t even pay attention to ironing and have no preferred way for my slacks to be creased. What 17-year-old boy does? Definitely not me.

What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day?
What is this ‘relax’ you speak of? I don’t think I’ve heard of it before and I know many words since I used to compete in spelling bees. At the end of a stressful day (everyday), I…

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Gay YA Staples

What started as a popular book is now a popular movie with Love Simon. I didn’t rec Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda because it’s one of those books that come up on every rec list. If you’re looking for LGBT books for young adults, you’ve probably heard of this one already if not read it.

Just for good measure though, let’s look at some of the favorite books in teen and young adult gay fiction. If you want a gay book for teens where you can’t go wrong,  here’s what I think of as the holy trinity:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

 

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

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Some other popular titles in LGBT fiction for teens are:

The Great American Whatever
Noah’s Song (Port Haven) (Volume 1)
Openly Straight
True Letters from a Fictional Life
Carry On

These are on my must read list, what’s on yours?