Book Club

This is an excerpt from the novel Like You a Latte, which features a gay young adult romance. This section shows our heroes getting to know each other while discussing literature.

“I have to read The Great Gatsby for a class,” Owen explained while gesturing to the slim paperback currently obscuring my notes. “What are your thoughts?”

Are you actually reading the book or cheating and looking up a summary on the internet? That was my first thought. He was clearly different than me and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it was the second one then this budding friendship could end right now with no regret on my part. There were some things that just couldn’t be tolerated.

Yet it felt rude to outright ask. Instead, I questioned, “You want to have an academic discussion with me?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t know if you’d really want to just hang out without being ‘productive’ or whatever.” I fought the urge to look at the notes the book covered again. “So I figured this would be the best of both worlds.” He grinned and leaned towards me. “You surprised me.”

Hmm, had I been too eager by just agreeing to chat with him? It wasn’t like me. I felt defensive and too obvious, like a silly, infatuated boy who fell for the first guy with a nice smile, but then again, he put thought into a conversational topic. He wanted to think of something that would make me keep chatting with him, so maybe we were even.

I couldn’t hold back the moment of truth any longer. “Are you actually completing the readings or are you just finding the relevant information online?”

He scoffed. “Seriously? I’m trying not to be offended here.” That was fair, just because he went to public school and seemed laidback didn’t mean he couldn’t also be serious about his studies. Maybe I judged him too much based on shallow observations.

“I’m sorry,” I started automatically. I would hate someone doubting my intellect.

“Did I look online, really?” He looked smug. “I watched the Leo DiCaprio movie.”

Oh dear. There were no words to adequately convey my horror. I felt frozen for a moment. Whatever expression was on my face made him crack up.

“I couldn’t help myself,” he clapped his hands, still chuckling at me. “That was totally worth it.” People glanced over at our table and he paid them no mind.

I didn’t care if we were causing a commotion either. I had to clarify that, “You’re actually doing the reading?” My relief beat out embarrassment or annoyance. That was the second joke he played at my expense, but it didn’t feel unfriendly. He apparently liked teasing me and I didn’t mind as much as I should.

“Not only am I doing the readings,” he said while leaning back in his chair, “I finished the book early.”

Pretty good, especially for a public-school kid. No that was unfair; not everyone could control where they went to school. Still, I felt giddy with relief. God, imagine trying to be friends or having a crush on someone who used Sparknotes. I couldn’t even picture it; it was too absurd.

I tried not to look too overjoyed, going for a simple, “Good for you.”

His arm nudged into mine good-naturedly. “I may not be the Hermione Granger type, but I’m not a complete slacker. I do my homework.”

Would Hermione Granger have a better GPA than me? No, I couldn’t start down that road, it was madness. “I can’t decide if it’s a compliment or not to be compared to Hermione,” I told him. She was the uptight book nerd stereotype on magical steroids.

“She’s the cleverest witch her age,” he responded immediately. “It’s totally a compliment.”

“Perhaps,” I said with a smile. “But I would look terrible with long, bushy hair.” And no way would I want the job of wrangling Harry and Ron.

He laughed. “You’re more fun than I thought you’d be.”

I wasn’t sure many people would agree with him, but the words ridiculously pleased me. I tried not to show it. “Why did you want to get to know me if you didn’t think I’d be any fun?”

He looked away for a second and coughed awkwardly. Oh, were we getting into dangerous territory? “I just meant,” he started after a moment, not quite meeting my eyes, “That I didn’t think you’d be so willing to talk to me. I thought it’d be a challenge to get you to just chill.”

I’d never been accused of being easy in any capacity. Yet I found myself lacking and I didn’t like it. “Well, I hate to disappoint—”

“No, you aren’t,” he assured me. “I’m glad you can relax and have some fun.”

Well, no one had ever accused of me of being able to relax and have fun either. It just showed my defenses were weakened by a busy schedule and a pretty face. It was my turn to cough awkwardly and try to get us back on track. “Okay, what did you think of the book?”

Just being with him was a distraction I needed to avoid, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Once I started looking at him, I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t even remember what the book was. I looked down at the table. Right, The Great Gatsby.

He considered the question a moment, then gave me a droll look. “Is it a totally cliché and uninteresting opinion to think the two dudes totally wanted each other?” The part of my brain that couldn’t help itself added that question to the growing list of reasons he batted for my team, next to the rainbow wristband and the way his eyes seemed to lock on mine.

I took a sip of my drink but couldn’t hide an amused look. “Are you pandering to your audience?”

“No, I think, I mean,” he stuttered adorably for a moment. Was there a blush on his face? It was hard to tell with the lighting in here. “I really think Nick wanted Jay Gatsby like Gatsby wanted Daisy, even if his feelings weren’t returned.”

I wasn’t completely sold that anyone from The Great Gatsby got down in the forbidden garden of homosexual delights, though Quinn agreed with him. She called it The Great Gaysby once. I told her to quit joking around. Literature was serious. Everything was serious when it came to me. Owen really thought I was fun? I stopped thinking about this.

“Do you want to tell a class full of students that?” I asked. I was out and from the conversation it sounded like he was too but that didn’t mean I’d want the trouble of trying to defend the inherent gayness of a literary classic to all my skeptical, straight peers.

“Oh,” he said as he considered my words. His face scrunched up adorably and his shoulders sagged. “I might be in trouble then.”

“Stick to the symbolism of the eyes on the billboard and the light at the end of the dock,” I advised. “You’ll be fine,” I advised. “And focus on the main themes of class divides and wealth if you need more to say.”

He nodded seriously. “And when do I talk about the Jay-Z songs they used in the movie?”

I felt my eye twitch. “You’re trying to torture me, aren’t you?”

He grinned unrepentantly. “I couldn’t help it.”

We sat there looking at each other and the moment started to feel intimate. He was cute, funny, clever, and I needed to stop listing his positive attributes. I cleared my throat. “I should get back to studying.”

“Come on” he argued. “We didn’t get to discuss Hogwarts houses.”

“I have work to do and so do you,” I reminded him. I had my fun for the night. Besides, I was clearly a Ravenclaw and he was such a Gryffindor. Back to studying. He eyed me and I met his gaze without flinching. I wasn’t going to budge. “Back to work,” I said firmly.

“So, you are a challenge after all,” he concluded evenly.

That totally wasn’t what I was trying to do. I wasn’t playing coy or hard to get. I’d had my break time and now it was time to get back to work. But instead of calmly explaining all this, I asked, “That a problem?”

His lips quirked up. “Nope.”

We both got back to our respective work. That was all, show’s over, nothing to see here.

Now would be the worst time to start something new. I didn’t have any spare moments. And yet, I wanted to anyway. I didn’t even have the free time required to start obsessing about whether this was the best time to get into a new relationship or not. I would have gladly spent more time worrying about this but.

I wanted to get to know him. Something told me he would be worth it.

You can get the rest now on Amazon or KU.

One Little Lie

onelittlelieCOVI’m trying out a new cover for One Little Lie. That is literally all I have to say about that, but then this isn’t a very exciting post is it? In honor of the new cover, or me not having anything to say, or you being pretty, in honor of something, here’s an excerpt from One Little Lie.

Sometimes instead of going and getting the book description and copying and pasting it, I challenge myself to come up with a new blurb instead. So, if you want the professional, polished summary go here. My improvised summary is this: two giant spazzes date each other and everyone mocks everyone else. Yay? Although really, one character is a giant spaz and the other character likes to think he’s cool, but he’s maybe an even bigger spaz.


Ryan

It was after lunch and Luke and I were discussing very serious matters.

“I think you’re just going to have to accept the reality of the situation,” Luke told me.

I frowned and leaned against his locker. “That really doesn’t sound like something I would do.”

Luke stood opposite me in a red shirt that hugged his shoulders perfectly. “Aren’t you all science-y?” he asked me. “That’s about facts and…” he trailed off.

“Go on,” I challenged. “Name one other thing.”

“Science,” he said decisively, like he wasn’t a big idiot.

I wasn’t fooled. “Science is about science? I’m dating a genius.”

His face brightened. “Oh, I am alright with that being my new nickname.”

Genius? “Like hell!”

He tutted at me. “You’re not being very accommodating and aren’t relationships about compromise?” Whatever, he wasn’t the relationship expert; I already called it.

“Lemon drop is mine,” I insisted.

He inched just a bit closer and in a low voice said, “Yeah, he is.”

I smiled and looked away to deal with the sudden rush of affection I felt for him. I tried to glare sternly. He had to get his own pet name. His chest puffed up, like he was proud of himself while he grinned at me and I tried to decide my next move but then suddenly we weren’t alone.

The rest is available here!

Gay YA Kindle Unlimited Reads

Kindle Unlimited has about a million books, but finding the readable ones is sometimes a challenge. Was that a diplomatic way to put it? I was trying to find a diplomatic way to put it. I like KU! My books are on there. That totally wasn’t a hint that you should go check out my books, but you can if you want to.

Anyway, if you’re looking for some young adult novels featuring gay romances that are available on KU, here’s some I found that are worth a look. Are there any others you like? Let me know!

 Cupid Painted Blind

Summary: Few things are more exciting and, frankly, unnerving than your first day of high school. Except, maybe, coming out to your friends when they already kinda knew you were gay. Or finding out that the breathtakingly handsome guy you’ve just met is best buddies with your archnemesis who happens to be a homophobic bully. Or being teamed up for a school assignment with that decidedly unattractive, facially-deformed, freaky-looking weirdo who hasn’t got a friend in the world. Or all of the above.

My thoughts: Anything by Marcus Herzig is a safe bet. I’m currently reading (and LOVING) Never Do A Wrong Thing. I had trouble getting into Cupid Painted Blind, but the writing is good and I bet a lot of people would like it.

Nail Polish and Feathers (Deep Secrets and Hope Book 1)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Evan Granger has no problems with being gay. Despite his mother’s objections, he wears nail polish and makeup to school and pursues his goal of becoming a professional drag queen.

TV drag star Taffy Sweet gives encouragement and Evan’s cousin Holly tries to protect him, but school bullies abuse him so badly because of his sexuality and the girly way he dresses that he ends up at the hospital emergency room. After that, even his new crush, a closeted football jock named Moe Garcia, is unhappy about Evan’s choice to live his life openly gay. But even in girly clothes and nail polish, Evan is a force to be reckoned with, and he soon shows the bullies—and everyone else—that beating a drag queen up does not mean the queen is beaten down.

My thoughts: Slice of life story for a resilient young man who is determined to be himself. This is a series and the first two books are available on KU.

At the Lake

Summary: 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.

My thoughts: Chronicles a developing romance with some drama and surprises thrown in. There’s lots of good characterization and descriptive settings.

Pride & Puberty

Summary: Diego Ramírez is an eighteen-year-old gay with niche internet fame who is just trying to get through high school without being recognized. Everything is turned upside-down when his Filmmaking teacher throws him into a group project, and of course one of his partners is Mauricio Fernandez, the quarterback. His plan of successfully making it through high school without anyone taking notice of him was beginning to fall apart as his group managed to insert themselves into Diego’s life. Somehow, he’s not even mad about it.

My thoughts: For those looking for cute, fluffy romances without angst or drama.

Bisexual Blues

This is a scene from One Little Lie, a humorous romance featuring a bunch of queer high schoolers. The book is currently on sale!

Luke

Zach was at our lockers, thankfully by himself and not making out with anyone this time. I viewed him from the other end of the hall. Wait, I’m glad he’s alone because he’s been all over girls and he makes it hard to get my books. Not that I’m heading over there at the moment. But that’s why I said thankfully. Because of him and the girls.

Not for any other reasons but that he was annoying and got even more cocky after fooling around. Yep, him going after everyone was totally a hassle and I wasn’t thinking of any one specific instance where it wasn’t a girl he was kissing.

“You can’t avoid him forever.” Ryan stood beside me and looked amused.

I would have tried to act all casual and like I had no idea what he was talking about, but then I looked down at myself and realized I had scrunched myself against the wall as much as possible in the space before the lockers began and was half obscured by the tall structures, with just one eye and one side of my face peering intently at Zach.

Avoiding Zach forever? “I could test that hypothesis,” I said loftily.

“Okay, you speaking science to me is so hot,” he leaned close to me with a smile on his face and then playfully pushed me in Zach’s direction. “But really, go talk to him.”

I nodded. I probably should. I really don’t want to. I gave him a pitiful look. “Please don’t make me?”

“I won’t.” My boyfriend is a sucker for my puppy dog face. I didn’t even have to break out the dimples. Except then his face turned calculating. “I’ll go tell Lydia.”

She would definitely not fall for my puppy dog face, my dimples, or any of my faces.  “I really hate you sometimes,” I told Ryan seriously.

He only smiled at me and quipped, “Don’t be like that, Undecided Nickname.”

“Oh my god. Fine. I’m going.”

This wasn’t a  big deal or anything, but Ryan had totally gotten here early. There was nothing special about today at all, he was just here before homeroom because he knew I’d be freaking out about Zach and wanted to provide moral support or something less sappy sounding.

And that was pretty cool of him and I wasn’t at all getting sentimental over the little gesture and behaving like a giant girl whose boyfriend did something nice and so I got all dreamy and swoony and melty. Yeah, Ryan was great. No big deal, nothing to see here, move along.

What Love Means Excerpt

This is an excerpt from What Love Means, an MM romance. You can get it on sale now for 99 cents!

Cal

Maybe Max and I could spend time together in some unused corner of the library. I enjoyed that particular fantasy of mine a great deal, perhaps I could make it a reality.

Except Max texted me that he had to go run an errand. Damn. The brusque tone and to the point message made me frown at my phone for a moment. We were dating now. Was that any way to treat his boyfriend? It upset me until I realized that was just Max. We could be engaged and head over heels and he would still probably send a text like that. He was Mr. Too-Cool-To-Express-Emotions-Correctly-Like-A-Normal-Person, which meant we’d have to take my name because his surname was even longer than mine… That line of thought got off track.

I saw a familiar dark head bent over a nearby computer. Okay, it wasn’t the dark locks I noticed. He’d taken off his jacket, but I still recognized those shoulders. I really liked his shoulders.

He said he had an errand to run but was actually in this secluded section of the library. There were just a few computers here as most of them were at the front. Was he doing something embarrassing like looking at porn? That seemed stupid when he had access to a real, willing guy.

I wanted to catch him. I managed to get closer without alerting him to my presence, but when I saw what was on the screen, I spoke without meaning to. “That’s a college application.”

He didn’t jump. Damn, that would have been fun to see. Instead, his shoulders tightened and he wore a defensive scowl on his face when he slowly turned to look at me.

Nope, I couldn’t process this. “You’re actually applying to college?” I wondered. He crossed his arms and didn’t look at me. “No way, you couldn’t.” His annoyed eyes met mine then. “I mean, you’re capable. Theoretically. It’s just…” I paused. Surely there was a diplomatic way to say this? Nope, I just couldn’t see it. “You filled out an application, listed your activities and grades, and will wait to hear back from them?

Max sighed. “Isn’t that how it works?”

“With most people,” I nodded. “I just can’t imagine you earnestly filling out why you want to attend a school with a response other than ‘screw you’ or ‘none of your business.’”

“You don’t think they’ll appreciate that?”

My brain didn’t have words to adequately process my horror, so a series of high-pitched shrieking filled my head.

Max finally relaxed and laughed. “It’s a freaking joke, oh my god. Your face.”

I smoothed my shirt reflexively and tried to send him a prim look. “I know, I knew that.” My face wrinkled. “But even the thought of it—” I stopped, shuddering, and his lips quirked up in a tiny smile.

Get it here!

When Katie Met Cassidy

Libraries have changed a lot since I was a kid. Wow, that sentence immediately made me feel old. I guess most of it is the same actually. I mean, how much can libraries really change? It’s a place where you get books. And it used to be that place where I go could to play the Magic School Bus computer game, but I don’t care about that anymore.

I’ve been taking my nephew to tutoring at the library and there’s two big differences I’ve noticed. One, some libraries have 3D printers now. I’m sure there’s lots of academic, important reasons for a library to have one of those, but the only reason I know about it is because my nephew used it to make a fidget spinner. They’re everywhere now, but I went all over with him looking for one last year until he printed one himself.

But also, the content changes.

41nHt1QO1NL.jpgI’m from the Midwest. The area I was raised is probably less liberal than other big cities but more liberal than every small town in the Midwest. And I myself am super liberal. Would that be a lame superhero or a cool one? Super Liberal would give everyone healthcare and make it safe for trans people to use the bathrooms they want. So, not a terrible superhero all in all.

Anyway, right when you go into the library, there’s a shelf with new books and cool books that the librarians set up that people might be interested in. I was trying to put back the sports book my nephew just grabbed (because we’d been in earlier in the week and he’d gotten as many books and DVDs as he could carry, he didn’t need more) when I saw a pink cover and a pair of lips.

When Katie Met Cassidy, the title said. What are the chances Cassidy is also a girl, I thought to myself. Probably not very likely. They wouldn’t just have a super gay book out where anyone could see it. There’s children here. I checked anyway. It was a super gay book.

It was an awesome moment. That book wouldn’t have been there on the front shelf, probably wouldn’t have even been allowed in the library, when I was a kid. But it was now. Out in front where anyone could pick it up and look it. A book the librarian thought other people would like or needed to read. Progress and stuff. Awesome.

Here’s the summary of the book for those that are curious:

When it comes to Cassidy, Katie can’t think straight.

Katie Daniels, a twenty-eight-year-old Kentucky transplant with a strong set of traditional values, has just been dumped by her fiancé when she finds herself seated across a negotiating table from native New Yorker Cassidy Price, a sexy, self-assured woman wearing a man’s suit. At first neither of them knows what to make of the other, but soon their undeniable connection will bring into question everything each of them thought they knew about sex and love.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy about gender and sexuality, and the importance of figuring out who we are in order to go after what we truly want. It’s also a portrait of a high-drama subculture where barrooms may as well be bedrooms, and loyal friends fill in the spaces absent families leave behind. Katie’s glimpse into this wild yet fiercely tightknit community begins to alter not only how she sees the larger world, but also where exactly she fits in.

 

Book Review: Just A Dumb Surfer Dude

Quick summary: Cooper’s life is fine but uneventful. He’s smart, his classes are easy, he has people who care about him, but he mostly feels like he’s waiting for his life to start. Then a new kid comes to school and everything changes.

(I tried not to spoil things but there are probably mild spoilers and hints about what happens in my review.)

What I thought: Just a Dumb Surfer Dude: A Gay Coming-of-Age Tale is a quick, fun read that would work well for reading during the summer or at the beach but can be read anytime. The “surfer dude” is less important than one might think by the title, but those who like humor, sweet romances, and romantic comedies will enjoy this story.

I really liked the narrator’s voice and liked that there were multiple love interests, that’s not always something you see in LGBTQ teen fiction. It started out a little slow for me, but I got more interested as I kept going.

Depending on how perceptive you are, there may be a fun twist or two. I am usually much better at picking out this kind of thing, but I didn’t see it coming, so I really liked the surprising direction the story went in.

The Romance: Cooper is presented as an intelligent guy, but he has no experience with relationships or dating, so there’s a coming-of-age aspect where he explores getting close to guys romantically. It’s all new and intense and scary. While this story is on the shorter side, it still tells a complete story about finding love. It’s not heavy on the angst but has a few ups and downs and isn’t completely predictable.

If you’ve been reading a lot of stories about boy meets boy and then one or both boys freak out about liking another boy, this book offers variety. Cooper already knows he’s gay, so the story explores finding that special person more fully and what makes someone “the one” without any sexuality crises.

There’s also a sequel.

Plotty Details: Cooper’s life at his all-boys school is okay, but there isn’t much going on. He has one best friend he’s close with and his relationship with his father is important to him. Both he and his father don’t enjoy being single. He’s one of the only gay kids he knows and hasn’t had any romance yet and is sort of getting impatient waiting for it. While there’s no love interest in his life, his best friend is also gay. They aren’t out to everyone, but Cooper’s dad knows.

Cooper finally gets some excitement in his life when a new student comes to school. He’s even paired up with the hot guy in one of his classes. The problem? This new boy seems to like him even though his best friend really wants to go out with the new guy.

Best Part: Cooper has great relationships with his father and his best friend Alex. If you like your romances to have a little more depth, there is also plenty of father-son moments. Cooper and his dad don’t relate to each other perfectly but love each other and that comes through. The father is an English teacher and there’s a lot of little quips I enjoyed about different books. The dialogue was at its most witty when Cooper was with Alex or his father. Cooper’s a big smart alec who loves tormenting the people he loves.

Familial Love

I’m now reading Just a Dumb Surfer Dude: A Gay Coming-of-Age Tale by Chase Connor. Supportive families are a must in YA LGBTQ fiction, but sassy families are great too. Here’s a quote:

“Why are you having trouble with the fellows? I mean, I don’t understand wooing other men, so I can’t help much, but…”
“For crying out loud, dad.”
“I’m just saying, you must be doing something wrong. ” He shrugged. “I lost my virginity at 15.”
“Yeah,” I scoffed. “To mom. And then you guys dated the rest of the way through high school, college, and then got married.
“One sexual partner doesn’t make you a stud, dad.”
“At least I’m not a virgin. Nerd.”

Riding With Brighton Review


It’s hard to imagine anyone could find fault with Riding with Brighton. It’s a great character piece and a lovely romance too.

Summary: Jay Hall sees his life from a fresh perspective and finds himself wanting. He wants to change everything and knows just the person to help him: Brighton Bello-Adler, who is just about the coolest person in the world. They spend a few days together and go on an adventure of self-discovery and romance.

About Jay: Jay is unhappy with his life because he’s unhappy with himself. He’s good looking, popular, and an athlete, but he’s not impressed by his friends or any of his accomplishments. Because he’s been living with a part of himself he was too scared to acknowledge. But things are changing.

Jay’s been getting to know someone in one of his classes, Brighton. He likes talking to Brighton but feels really inadequate compared to him. Brighton is a shameless flirt with everyone, charming, an artist, and openly gay. He’s seems very confident and sure of who he is. And Jay wants to be like that. So he thinks.

It becomes pretty clear that it’s not hero worship Jay feels but a crush. It’s really sweet watching Jay gushing about Brighton in the safe context of a role model. He thinks he wants to be like Brighton, but he really wants to be worthy of catching Brighton’s attention.

wordswag_1538691634709.png
It was a sharp right turn, backward a good mile and a half, around corners, down hills, through a forest, and across the universe from where I really wanted to go.

About Brighton: In addition to Jay, there’s Brighton. Brighton is kind of a perfect angel who does no wrong but he’s still a strong character with his own voice. Jay’s the star of the show while Brighton is a supporting player, but again remember that this happens over the course of a few days and Jay has enough drama going on that it would have been too much to add more conflicts for Brighton.

What’s really great about Brighton is that he’s just a normal guy. He’s not boring but his life is going pretty well. And while that might not be great from a story perspective, it’s refreshing and a much needed portrayal of a gay teen in today’s culture. There’s no angst or depression. He has loving friends and a supportive family and being gay is just one part of him. He’s a good counterpoint to Jay and a realistic ,sometimes seldom seen, type of gay teenager.

The romance department is the only area lacking in Brighton’s life. He wants to be a normal kids who goes and dates and takes someone to prom. But there’s not a lot of dating options in his town. And he’s very attracted to Jay. He’s torn between the strong pull he feels for him and keeping his distance while Jay figures stuff out. He doesn’t want to get his heart broken but he can’t help the more attracted he becomes the more Jay shows of himself of Brighton.

What makes it unique: This is an interesting story because all the action takes place in the space of a weekend. It’s like a crash course in Jay’s psyche and emotional development as he dives head first into issues he’s never been able to confront before. The book provides a really in-depth character analysis and there’s lots of upheaval and revelations as Jay fits the coming out process into the span of a few days.

The Romance: The action is both the story of Jay finally being honest with himself and those around him and getting to know Brighton better. They can’t really help falling for each other the more time they spend together. They develop a real connection and a very supportive partnership.

There’s a lot of fun and flirty banter and swoon worthy moments. The book has the feel of a whirlwind romance, something intense and all consuming. But it’s not an artificial, insta-love kinda thing because the main characters get to know each other very deeply in a short amount of time and there’s both big romantic moments and more tender elements where the characters discovering each other and falling hard.

Favorite Part: The prose. The prose is just, really, really good.

My thoughts: Haven Francis wrote a beautiful book that should probably be read more than once in order to fully take in and appreciate everything. It’s life affirming and lovely but also doesn’t solve everything.

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.