If you’re looking for more male/male romance in your reading life—and you should be—then we’ve got a treat for you. Below, you’ll find some of the gay romance books that made us fall head over heels. Featuring firefighter friends-turned-lovers and vampires thirsty for more than blood, they run the gamut from sweet to steamy. Grab one on your way to the beach this summer!
The Men from the Boys
William J. Mann’s 1997 novel The Men from the Boys is not only a gay romance classic, but also unique in its focus on a man dealing with issues of age and sexuality. Things aren’t going well for its central hero, 33-year-old Jeff: He recently got dumped by his lover, Lloyd. Meanwhile, his first love, David, is dying of AIDS—and his own father eventually passes away too. Lonely and searching for a balm to his heartbreak, he beings having an affair with 22-year-old Eduardo—but will their romance last beyond their days in the sun? Fun, charming, and thoughtful, Mann’s novel “discusses the concepts of family, love, passion, and acceptance in ways few books have” (Library Journal).
Set in oppressive 1980s China, this tumultuous romance novel centers around Handong, a wealthy son of a Communist party official, and Lan Yu, a working-class architecture student. When the two boys meet, they immediately feel a connection that grows with every night they spend together. However, as their relationship blossoms, they are faced with obstacles completely out of their control. Handong is part of a regime that denounces his love, and he begins to question his loyalty. But if he dares go against the Communist party, he will face dire consequences that will destroy not only him, but Lan Yu as well.
Seventeen-year-old Joel Scherzenlieb spends a summer working at a Boys Scout camp in the United States after living in Switzerland for four years. At the camp, he meets another counselor, a nineteen-year-old named Corey Cobbett. Joel finds himself drawn to Corey. The two share a brief but exciting time together, only for it to be interrupted when Joel’s distant CIA father forces him to live with his family on a farm in Virginia. Joel’s life takes overwhelming turns when he can no longer go to college and his family starts to run out of money. But when he’s at his lowest, Corey re-enters his life, and Joel’s world gets a little brighter as their relationship starts to develop.
Leave Myself Behind
Yates’ Holden Caulfield-esque hero, Noah, isn’t ever afraid to tell like it is—except, of course, when it comes to revealing his sexuality. His life is turned upside down when his widowed and eccentric mother moves them to small-town New Hampshire, where they take up residence in a crumbling Victorian. As Noah’s mom investigates a mystery surrounding the home’s former owner, Noah turns his attention to his charming next door neighbor, J.D. Together, the boys will have to puzzle out mysteries of their own—including their blossoming romance, their dark pasts, and their places within the world. Peppered with grief, family issues, and secrets, Leave Myself Behind isn’t always an easy read, but through Noah’s teenage eyes, it’s often funny and adorably sweet.
Trouble and the Wallflower
After his agoraphobic mother passes away, Davy Cooper faces reality for the first time. His mother raised him in seclusion his entire life, and now he has to go out into the world on his own. When he’s out trying to make friends, Davy catches the eye of Gavin Walker, a sexy and confident bad boy who tries to flirt with Davy. But Gavin’s strong personality doesn’t vibe well with very introverted Davy. However, when Gavin defends Davy from a gross guy, Davy starts to open up a little bit. Still, Davy is paralyzed by fear as he thinks that he and Gavin are way too different to work out. There’s just no chance that a wallflower could find love with a social butterfly...right?
Ash Winters has made a solid name for himself as one of Britain’s prominent crime fiction writers. But now, the once full-of-life author is a shadow of his former self. Cynical, hopeless, and feeling stuck, Ash is unsure of the next step in his life. When he encounters aspiring model Darian Taylor at a party, the two share a connection. Ash notices that Darian is a bit naive and not the brightest, but his charisma and humor slowly start to bring Ash back to life. As the two spend more time together, Ash finds himself wanting to trust in love again, but his depression keeps getting in the way. He’s looking for a way out, and perhaps Darian can help him down the road to recovery.
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Once decade ago, Will’s lover, Chad, disappeared during a nighttime swim in the ocean. Since then, Will has filled his days and nights with meaningless affairs, haunted by uncertainty: Was Chad’s disappearance a cold rejection, or a terrible tragedy? But when he meets Sean, a gorgeous landscape architect, he finally feels true, genuine love again—though Sean has his own painful history and regrets. As both men wrangle with their pasts and the looming AIDs epidemic, Nightswimmer becomes an “intensely personal” story of love, loneliness, obsession, and identity (Publishers Weekly).
What’s sexier than a firefighter? Two firefighters—especially when they’re the stars of a friends-to-lovers story like this Damon Suede gem. New York firefighter Griff has always had feelings for his partner and best friend, Dante, even though he knows the man’s a total womanizer. But when Dante suggests launching a gay porn website to pay off his debts—and putting themselves in front of the camera—Griff wonders how long he can keep his secret. Dial 9-1-1, kids, because this one's a scorcher.
Cut & Run
Urban and Roux's Cut & Run is the buddy cop, enemies-to-lovers gay romance you need in your life. Special Agent Ty Gray has somehow been partnered with Zane Garret—a guy who's much more by-the-book—to solve a serial murder case in New York City. Their opposing personalities and investigative tactics may cause some issues, but the two must work as a team if they hope to catch the criminal and avoid getting killed themselves. Packed with action and sexual tension thick enough to cut with a knife, this romance is a thrilling and oh-so-sexy ride.
The Screwed Up Life of Charlie
Geeky Charlie doesn't have many friends, but he certainly has plenty of unfulfilled fantasies about his best friend. His luck turns when Rob Hunt, the cool new kid in school, takes a keen interest in him...Written in a series of journal entries, Drew Ferguson’s novel captures “coming-of-age’s dizzy heat” as Charlie navigates high school bullies, his parents’ rocky marriage, the stress of college applications—and the love that saves him from it all (Publishers Weekly). If you’re looking for a young adult male/male romance that will make you laugh (and occasionally cringe), hop on the Charlie train.
The Lord Won't Mind
A New York Times bestseller first published in 1970, The Lord Won’t Mind is the start of a captivating historical romance trilogy. Charlie has always done what was expected of him, eager to earn his grandmother’s approval and her money. That all changes when he meets Peter Martin, whose love inspires him to throw all expectations to the wind. But in 1930s America Charlie and Peter face many bumps on the path to their happily ever after—ones much larger than a doting grandmother’s disappointment. This groundbreaking Gordon Merrick novel is a great choice if you’re looking to lose yourself in an epic romance that spans multiple decades and delivers plenty of soap opera-worthy drama.
Stripped of his crown, Damen now serves an enemy prince who doesn’t know he’s a warrior and an heir to the throne. Though it wasn't exactly Damne's ideal arrangement, being Prince Laurent's pleasure slave isn't at all what he expected—and neither is the man himself. As he becomes more entangled in the dirty politics of the Vere court (and in his master’s arms), Damen will find it more and more difficult to conceal his true identity…The entire Captive Prince Trilogy has earned heaps of praise, including a review from USA Today that said it will keep readers “completely enthralled and on edge.” Clear your weekend.
Running with Lions
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda author Becky Albertalli called Running With Lions “funny, wise, and ridiculously romantic.” Out-and-proud goalie Sebastian gets the surprise of his life when his best friend-turned-enemy, Emir, shows up to train for their final high school soccer season. Wanting to let bygones be bygones, Sebastian extends an olive branch for the sake of their team's success—only to realize that winning Emir’s heart is the victory he wants most. Swoon!
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Lover at Last
The eleventh book in J.R. Ward’s bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover at Last centers around vampire warriors Qhuinn and Blay. Now that Qhuinn has settled down with a female, Blay has finally moved on after years of pining. But as the threat against the Brotherhood increases, so does Qhuinn and Blay’s desire for one another—and the probability that they’ll finally come together. If you’ve been following this popular paranormal series, you’ll love sinking your teeth into this vampire couple’s journey to a happy ending.
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Featured photo: Cover of Now Let's Talk About Music by Gordon Merrick