Luke is totally not afraid of horses.

Here’s some fiction about people riding horses. Literally, not in a euphemism way. Should I make that sound more exciting? Here’s some fiction about people riding horses!

Nailed it.

Again, not in a dirty way.

This is a scene I didn’t end up using from One Little Change. I took out anything other than vague references to the plot, so this isn’t spoilery and you also don’t need to know anything about the characters.

Enjoy! (Or don’t, you do you.)

Luke

This was the awkwardest experience ever. Happening right now. Around me. Under me. That sounded weird. I was on a horse. It was awkward.

Maybe it wasn’t that weird… it was just also really weird.

“Slow down,” I suggested to Lydia while tightening my arms around her waist.

“You are such a baby.” Swore she sped up while she said that.

“There’s a branch up ahead!” I warned.

“Stop backseat horse riding!”

We were at the camp where Alicia worked, picking up my little sister Lily. Camp was over for her group, but there were still counselors around and they’d soon be getting ready for the next batch of kids. No one seemed to care or question us when we went to the stables and checked out the horses, all the employees too excited for the downtime between cycles, so I followed Lily and Alicia’s leads.

Lily decided we were going to go riding, which I didn’t really know how to do, but she seemed comfortable getting the horses ready.

While Ryan and I patching things up was good for my heart and mind and soul and everything, maybe it was good for my body too. The Millers didn’t even have horses yet, and Ryan and I were in no way married, but my little sister Lily was acting like their imaginary horses were as good as hers.

Our family didn’t have a barn of our own, and the ranch I worked on had different livestock, so I’d never ridden. Maybe a few times at the fair when I was a kid and then horses seemed girly. Why? Yeah, girls liked horses. Sometimes to a scary degree. But the animals were giant and they had strength and what about them was girly, and even if it was, what about that was girly in a bad way?

I told the girls they could ride and I would just wait for them, maybe go back to my car. And now somehow I was behind Lydia on a horse.

The horse Lily rode had a chestnut coat, was obviously named Chestnut, and was fast, as she charged ahead and lost us pretty much immediately on the path.

Alicia’s tan horse, Blondie, they didn’t dig too hard for names, looked like it had the ability to catch up or at least get close to Lily’s horse even though it moved at a slower pace to accommodate me and my steed.

My horse was named Button and had a white coat with grey spots. No idea if its coat was always like that or that just happened when a horse was, like, 90 years old. If he tried to go as fast as Chestnut, he would probably die.

I liked Button. He was an old guy that was just doing his best.

While I probably wasn’t in any danger, I clung onto Lydia for dear life.

“Just be careful,” I told or reminded her.

“Stop telling me what to do.”

“I will if you be careful.”

“I’ve done this before.”

Yeah and so had Button, 900 times, and I think he’s had enough. It’s a big job carrying two people.

~

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You’ve already posted this quote before, I’ve told myself multiple times. Are you sure, I ask me next. Pretty sure, I reply. I should check just in case, I decide and then I agree with me. And then my dog tells me to pay attention to her or I see something outside or whatnot and I get distracted. Until today, when I finally see that, no, I have not yet posted this quote.

The quote is from Summer Romance, and it’s available on Amazon.

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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.

 

Summer Romance

While I’ve watched Death in Paradise at different points in the year, it’s particularly fitting in the summer. Not the death part, but the paradise part. It’s all sunny and there’s palm trees and a lot of it takes place on or near the water. I really don’t know why I started watching a British procedural detective show but it’s on Netflix and I like trying to figure out who did it, which is what I’m doing right now, so I’ll just get to what I wanted to say.

My new book is particularly fitting in the summer but hopefully it can be read anytime. I don’t know if I announced that I have a new book out. So here I am… announcing that I have a book out. It’s called Summer Romance and it’s about… yes, romance in the summer.

summeromancewithsubtitle.jpeg

Neil’s summer plans consist of wearing an ugly uniform and working at a local grocery store. It’s not glamorous, but it becomes interesting when Carter Ford starts working there too. The nerd and the popular boy never crossed paths before, but they’re equals at the store. Coworkers.

And maybe more?

With Carter around, Neil’s boring summer job might turn out to be perfect.

But it’s not permanent.

The summer will end. Will their relationship end with it?

This short story is a YA M/M love story featuring opposites who attract, secret relationships, and adorable boys with hidden loves of cats and cheesy pop music.

What Love Means Excerpt

quote7

I had to see Max again.

I only caught the barest glimpses of him at the next few spelling club meetings both our siblings attended. I had to straighten things out between us… was that a poor choice of words? Max was a giant loose end. I couldn’t afford another screw up.

I had to get this sorted out with Max. I hoped we might be even. I embarrassed Max years ago when I defeated him and now he’d settled the score. It was all water under the bridge now. We could start over, right? And if that meant we could act like nothing happened and I wouldn’t have to worry about him telling anyone about our tryst… well, that was just a pleasant side effect.

My family may be well off, but we believed in practicality. Our motto was substance before style; style was still important as image was everything, but substance mattered too. No, our motto would probably be ‘Beat Everyone, Win Everything.’ We had a lot of mottos. The point was that I don’t drive a flashy sports car unlike some kids in my grade who were gifted with glitzy vehicles when they turned 16. I owned a modest, dependable Honda Civic. At least it was dark green. I had begged for any color, literally any color except the beige my parents wanted.

An excerpt from my story, What Love Means.

Get to Know Max

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I found some questions online about relationships. These are answered in the point of view of Max from my story What Love Means.

Have you ever been in love?
Ew. Why bother?

Have you ever had your heart broken?
I’m more of a heart breaker than the heart broken.

What does a successful relationship look like to you?
Finding a private spot to hook up, hooking up, and then both people go their separate ways.

What happened in your last relationship?
I’d have to have had a relationship to have a last relationship.

Are you friends with your former boyfriends or girlfriends?
I’d sound like a dick if I wondered what the point of that was, wouldn’t I? Well, it’s a good thing I don’t have any former boyfriends or girlfriends to be friends with.

What was your parents’ relationship like?
Oh fuck no.

 

If you could go on a date with a celebrity, who would it be and why?
Uh, Ryan Reynolds is pretty hot. Maybe Chris Pine… but my honest answer is absolutely Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s humorous, intelligent, and he removed a planet from the solar system; that’s pretty badass.

 

Deleted scene from What Love Means

This bit comes from the end of the story What Love Means, so it’s got some spoilers.

I ultimately decided to leave Cal’s situation with his parents more open ended, but this is the outline I had of how a conversation between Cal and his father might go.

___

My parents were used to getting their way. The only thing I could think of to get any financial support  would mean I needed to be willing to lose it all. I didn’t like this plan. But it was all I had. It wasn’t about Max. Or Princeton. It was about my family always calling the shots. I could barely picture a life without them or their money, but I needed at least some control in my life.

I had opening notes prepared for this discussion with my father but instead I asked, “Did you say you were proud of me for a moment and ease up because you realized it would be easier to get me to go the Princeton that way?” It could have been he was proud of me for standing up to him. It could have been his way of changing tactics.

Father didn’t do anything so juvenile as roll his eyes, but I had the feeling he wanted to. “I’m not the villain from a bedtime story. There’s no plotting against you. I thought you could use the encouragement. I didn’t know it would inspire…” he trailed off, lips curling down.

“I was seeing him before that.” Very helpful addition to his conversation I scolded internally.

“Is this really what you wanted to talk about?”

“No, I wanted to discuss our impasse.”

“There’s no impasse. If you want to go to school-“

“Mom likes our image a lot. Every Christmas card mentions that I’m at the top of our class and don’t pretend like you haven’t already boasted to your golfing buddies how your son’s going to your alma matter. Me not going to college, how would that look?”

He stared at me for several moments. Instead of trying to school my features, I let my frustration show and fidgeted. He always saw the minute movements anyway, so why pretend I was calm cool and collected? I’d rather show him that I was the opposite of all those things and still pushing forward anyway. Maybe he would slaughter me in the boardroom. No, definitely. But negotiations with family were different.

“It would be worse for you,” he said eventually. “Especially if you didn’t have any money.”

“I don’t care.” I raised my head defiantly.

“You haven’t worked a day in your life.”

I didn’t point out that I’d organized PTA bake sales and fundraising drives for water polo. That might not count in his view.  “I’m not backing down.”

“Your boyfriend is worth that much?”

“No. Having some say over my life is worth that much.”

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

“I’m willing to put Princeton on the table.”

“Oh, you’re willing to spend my money to—”

“Or maybe I won’t go to school. I’ll take a gap year, maybe several.”

“I was going to remind you the time for negotiating is over, but your opening gambit amuses me enough to let you continue.”

“I could manage without school. Maybe I’ll devote myself to my boyfriend and spend the whole time posting pics of me and him online. Maybe I’ll run an ad in the paper.”

“With what money?”

“Then I’ll go door to door.”

“What are you proposing?”

“A negotiation.”

“I have the power position.”

Cal shrugs. “We both have things we want from each other. And I’ve never been in a boardroom. I’m young and dumb enough to stick to my guns even if I shoot myself in the foot.”

“That’s why I’ve never taken you hunting.”

“Are  you ready to hear me out?”

“Let’s hear your opening offer.”