None-M/M romance readers reading M/M romance

This topic has been on my mind this week, about the experience of someone who isn’t “into” M/M romance reading a m/m romance book. Firstly I was thinking about it because my friend and fellow writer Teresa Morgan read and
reviewed Liar’s Waltz
even though she isn’t a M/M reader.

And then I also read an interesting blog entry by Cecelia Grant about her reading False Colors by Alex Beecroft, a historical M/M romance (and every bit as good as Cecelia says!) She confesses to preconceptions about the genre, but how glad she was to be proved wrong and to find a book with as much emotional depth and characterisation as any other good romance.

I’m intrigued by the experience of someone who isn’t into (whatever into means) M/M romance when reading it. Do they skim the sex scenes for example? Does the number of sex scenes make a difference? It would be hard to imagine someone who isn’t particularly interested in reading about two guys together reading a story where the plot is barely-there connective tissue to provide an excuse for lots of sex. But a story can have lots of sex, but also lots of plot, layered characterisation and plenty of emotional content Chris Owen’s Bareback for example. So could a none M/M reader get through that without skimming half the book and wondering if these guys ever have their pants on. Of course, some M/M readers themselves skim the sex scenes and some M/F readers do the same. Sex is sex, they think, show me the emotional stuff!

Is it a case of romance, is romance, is romance? Two people trying to figure out love will face many of the same problems as all other lovers, as well as some unique to their situation in that story. Or do the different dynamics between men and men and women and men create a more fundamental difference to the story? Fundamental enough that some of the standard romance tropes won’t ring true even if they work beautifully in M/F romance. M/M readers often complain about stories where the dynamic does appear to be that of a man and a woman, even though the characters are supposed to both be men. A writer might have literally gender-switched a heroine into a hero, or the male/female dynamic might he too tied up in their mind as the same dynamic for all romance. But whatever it is, readers know something is “off”.

I may try to get some sense of the experience by reading some F/F erotic romance (any recs there, people?) Anyway, it’s kept me intrigued all week and glad to see there are people who are prepared to read outside of their comfort zone, whatever the reason. And thanks for the review, Teresa. Now, ‘fess up, did you skim the sex scenes?

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9 thoughts on “None-M/M romance readers reading M/M romance

  1. From my albeit limited experience m/f, f/f and m/m erotic romance is much the same. All of them are different from (non-erotic) romance in being that much heavier on the sex, to the point where I skim the sex scenes looking for plot.

    1. Yes, when the sex gets “samey” I start skimming through it. That is when the scenes seem internchangeable and feel like they could have occurred anywhere in the story.

  2. Hard to make a coherent reply on this because I don’ think there’s any genre that I’m not into–or to be more precise I wouldn’t read a genre (say, celebrity cookbooks) that I’m not interested in. But I find myself skipping sex scenes in books that are more about the sex than the plot. “Bite” by someone (can’t remember who) was literally “hello” “sex” “good morning” “sex” “go into town come back ” sex and so on… I would have given my right arm for them to just sit down and have a CHAT.

  3. “And thanks for the review, Teresa. Now, ‘fess up, did you skim the sex scenes?”

    What do you think? 😉

    Yes, of course I read the sex. lol! In fact I’m generally not very good at skimming when reading a book because I do worry I’ll miss an important detail. (I will skim sometimes on the net though – but it does depend on what it is).

    For me, I think the reason I prefer a m/f romance is because maybe I can imagine myself as the heroine, and be in love with the hero… I actually found it hard to fall in love with your characters (although obviously I was attracted to them) because, well, what’s the point? They’re gay – they wouldn’t notice me! (Obviously if I had to choose it would Karl all the way… I like big, muscular, strong men 😀 Though I was going to ask you if Greg was loosely based on a favourite character of both of ours – at least his ‘build’).

    I was paid a lovely compliment the other day by a friend who is reading my (work-in-progress) novel, saying she’d fallen in love with my hero, Adam. I was chuffed to bits, hoping I’d made my hero attractive and desirable – though he probably still needs a lot of work. But I’ve done something right (hopefully).

    And you’re right though, sex is sex, if it’s done well, with the emotion, it’s great to read, (otherwise whatever genre it can fall flat on it’s face) but sometimes it’s the building to the sex which is really interesting – that pleases me more!

    With m/m romance, there is the attraction of conflict, like in Liar’s Waltz there is a prejudice, which still can ring true even today in the 21st century. And well, we all know a good romance, in whatever genre, needs conflict to make it interesting.

    Glad I gave you something to think about 😀

    1. It’s interesting what you say about wanting to identify with the heroine, since that’s not something I do when I’m reading romance, of whatever flavour. I’m watching the characters, and feeling for them, rooting for them (or not!) but not putting myself in their shoes. (Though when writing, different matter! :D)

      Greg could be said to be the same physical type as the person I think you’re talking about. 😉

      Great that your friend is falling for Adam. I wouldn’t say I fell for him, but he’s attractive generally – not just in looks I mean. He needs a few tweaks, but what man doesn’t? 😉

      The conflict thing might be one of the things that attracts me to write m/m romance and to set it someplace I can decide what the social conditions are. And why I like to read historical romance, especially for m/f. I think it’s harder to generate conflict for contemporary stories, especially m/f, without it getting contrived sometimes. There just aren’t as many barriers to two people getting together at least in Western countries as there used to be. But that’s a subject for another post maybe…

      1. Well, I know Adam still needs a lot of work (stuff you’ve pointed out etc) however, I consider you a more critical eye than the average reader, so I’m glad he’s worked on that level. Means I can only make him even better. Yay!

        Yes, you’re right about the conflict in m/f romance – something I have struggled with The Wedding Favour, worrying it wasn’t quite strong enough. However, after finishing reading Patricia Thayer’s The Tycoon’s Marriage Bid, it has given me some ideas with Adam – which would iron out some of his faults that you raised (I hope).

  4. oh and yes, I was surprised at how much sex there was… so maybe I don’t read that much erotica at all. lol! I think the strongest I’ve read is a Mills and Boon Blaze really. You’re such a bad influence on me!

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