Shine On

Women want more gay male romance novels

Heterosexual women are the largest consumers of man-on-man romance novels.(Thinkstock)As hot rain falls on the barn's weathered roof, our fair heroine is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Fabio and Lance tear at each other's drenched clothing, wet hair whipping bare shoulders as their bodies mash together …

This is the new romance for legions of heterosexual women across the country, reports the Globe and Mail, whose recent story suggests the largest consumers of gay male romance novels are happily married hetero women. It appears these women are shunning traditional romance steamfests about Katelyn and her forbidden love Buck, for real love stories about two men.

"For me, reading and writing man-on-man romance isn't just about the sexual fantasy," says Halifax-based romance author Cathryn Fox who writes for NAL Penguin Group. "I'm completely fascinated by male relationships and enjoy a good love story, with a well developed plot, whether it's between a man and woman or two men."

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Fox's writing partner and vice-president of the Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, Paula Altenburg, agrees. "I don't focus on the sexuality as much as I do on why the characters are meant to be together," she says. "I choose to write hetero, but in my opinion love is love, regardless. "

Is this a new trend? Is it here for keeps? What sparked this new genre of fiction?

According to a spokesperson from Running Press quoted in the Baltimore City Paper, it all started with Brokeback Mountain.

"The success of 2005's Brokeback Mountain demonstrated the lure of the subject for a female audience."

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And while Brokeback Mountain is also cited in the Globe and Mail story as a force driving the M/M romance trend, Fox has a differing opinion on the matter.

"I enjoy all men and love exploring relationships from the male point of view," she explains. "Males act and think differently from women, which, in my opinion, was the problem with Brokeback Mountain. That movie was written with characters taking on the M/F role. M/M is about about how two males interact, what they want and what they need from each other. "

Whatever the reason, there is no denying the genre's success. The Globe and Mail reports Amazon's Kindle has tripled its M/M romance e-book selection since January 2010 and traditional publishing houses like Harlequin are jumping on the M/M romance bandwagon, as well.

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