Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Trope Down Memory Lane: Men for Sale

The hooker with the heart of gold: that character type has been a Hollywood staple for decades. As has the scheming, cold-blooded, or even murderous whore.

No wonder many of us find men in the sex trade . . . well . . . sexy. Exotic dancers. Porn stars. Escorts. Rent boys. Maybe it's the ambiguity built into the lifestyle that appeals to us. It can simultaneously be glamorous, tawdry, and dangerous. The men brashly put themselves out there, yet have (we suspect) an underlying emotional vulnerability. Sizzling physical appeal and sexual prowess are often coupled with intelligence, creativity, and/or sensitivity.

Frankly, I love these types of characters. I love exploring their complexity. The psychologically scarred Daren Boothe in Xylophone is a gender-fluid erotic dancer, and Faron Weaver, the Amish MC in A Hole in God's Pocket, has often depended on sugar daddies to get by. Below are two more of my men for sale.

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Mobry's Dick (now on sale at Loose Id!)

Late-19th-century illusionist Alain Mobry, a short, homely man with a clubfoot, is known primarily for his elaborate clockwork automata. But his private life is even more complex than his mechanisms. Mobry is a homosexual and a member of the Green Carnation Club, a secret gathering place for gay men of the theater. He’s also dabbled in “real” magick. There are hints of it in an illusion called the Fountain of Youth—in which a beautiful youth called Puck, never seen in public, emerges from a diorama and disappears back into it—and in a profane automaton Alain has devised specifically to entertain the Green Carnation’s members. He would like his creation to be for one man in particular, a fellow magician with whom he’s infatuated.  But he never gets the chance to offer his gift . . .

Over 100 years later, a peculiar item turns up at an outdoor flea market. It looks something like a blunt-nosed artillery shell to Cameron Waters, the young real estate broker who buys the piece out of curiosity. It looks like the legendary automaton known as Mobry’s Dick to Paul Patrillo, a graduate student who’s been researching the history of stage magic. It looks like a blessing as well as a curse when it brings the two men together.

While Cameron inches his way out of the closet and Paul struggles to free himself from a sugar daddy who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants, the unlikely pair grow closer as they tackle the mystery of Mobry’s Dick -- with startling and nearly tragic results.

* * *


It was just an amateur porn video, like thousands of others on the Internet. Like hundreds Jonathan Wright has seen and hundreds more he's ignored. He hadn't intended to watch it. In fact, he hadn't intended to go anywhere near his home office. He was simply on his way to the bathroom—the only sensible destination, aside from bed, in the middle of the night.

Jon's fuck-buddy for the evening doesn't think so. Much to Jon's annoyance, his trick is having some solo fun in front of the computer as he watches a lithe, blond young man doing naughty things with a bearish, older man. When Jon gives in to his curiosity and watches the same video the next day, he's seduced too…and feels like a pervert afterward. The youth in the video seems a little too young, despite the fact he also has his own escort service. Worse yet, Jon gets the nagging feeling he's seen "Justin Time," aka precious_boy, before.

One of Jon's former lovers, a college professor eleven years his senior, is the connecting link between that vague sense of recognition and the hot bottom whose screen name is precious_boy. When Jon takes the defining step of meeting Justin in a Chicago hotel room, his past, present, and possibly his future begin to converge in alarming and confusing ways. There’s no escaping the resulting dilemma: Jon must decide just how involved he wants to get with a sweet kid, all grown up now, whose life has turned sour, and with an ex-lover who seems to care more about his own needs than those of his lost son.

The resolution lies in trust that was established and faith that was betrayed seven years earlier. And it won't come easily.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thank you for the nominations!

I'm putting off my Tuesday Trope Down Memory Lane post (just for a little while) to extend my deepest gratitude to whichever reader(s) nominated XYLOPHONE for the Goodreads M/M Romance Members' Choice Awards in the following categories:

Thank you, dear readers!

Oh, and Anne Cain's cover for Merman was also nominated. So congratulations, again, to my favorite cover artist!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A Trope Down Memory Lane: Bridge Over Troubled Water

Guys can be vulnerable. Usually, the younger they are, the more vulnerable they can be. But even the most alpha of men can find themselves waist-deep in doodoo, whether it's of their own making or the result of someone else's machinations. At times like this, caring, determined support proves invaluable. It often comes in unexpected ways, from unexpected sources -- like unconventional heroes whose inner strength shines in times of crisis.

Below are three contemporaries, two with a paranormal elements, in which the patience, persistence, and courage of unassuming men become the salvation of those they love.

Bastards and Pretty Boys

A lakeside summer idyll, a budding romance . . . and jealousy gone horribly awry.

Charles Larkin is finally happy with his life.  For the most part.  He’s happy with his new summer getaway—a rustic cottage he just bought on a small Wisconsin lake.  He’s happy that his ex-wife, whom he divorced because he couldn’t play straight anymore, has become one of his best friends. He’s happy he can breathe again.

It’s only Kenneth, Charlie’s boyfriend of five months, who makes this new life less than completely satisfying.  Charlie feels they’ve never been quite right for each other, and Kenneth cements that conviction when he makes a disturbing confession.  Charlie knows their time together is quickly coming to an end.  Problem is, Kenneth doesn’t know it. And he tends to be rather possessive.

Planning to spend a quiet, relaxing two or three weeks at his cottage, Charlie is less than thrilled to notice that his nextdoor neighbor is one hell of a looker.  He doesn’t need that kind of distraction.

Only, Booker isn’t going anywhere, and he isn’t that easily ignored. And neither is his unexpected, none-too-savory baggage. And neither, for that matter, is Charlie's. But when two people care enough about each other, they figure out how to help carry such baggage . . . or cast it aside.

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What happens to a young man's self-image, and his sex life, when he wakes up one morning to see his good looks significantly altered for the worse?  Three twenty-something gay friends--an embalmer, a performance coach, and a literary agent--find out the answer when they hit on the wrong patron of a club one night.

Todd, Fallon, and Jake, aka the Hunt Club, think they're pretty damned hot. As a result, their standards for worthwhile hook-ups are appallingly superficial. The men aren't total jerks; they just need an adjustment in perspective. And they get it, in spades, from a mysterious stranger who's sick of seeing his beautiful partner pawed by dogs.

There’s no medical explanation for the hideous rash that erupts on the trio overnight. Doctors can’t even detect it, much less cure it. Still, the Hunt Club’s mirrors reflect ravaged faces, and the toned, handsome guys they normally pursue now shun them.

As the vulnerability that’s always lurked beneath their vanity begins to surface, Todd, Fallon, and Jake begin to see themselves and potential partners in a new light. Little did they know that in the eyes of three ordinary, overlooked men on the sidelines of their lives, it's always been the heart that’s mattered far more than the hot.

* * *

Carny's Magic

Carny Jessup here. Let me tell you a little about myself. The best part of my life began when my aunt’s homophobic squeeze smashed his fist into my face. This time, I didn't just take it. I already knew a wizard named Jackson Spey lived on my side of town, so I figured I’d turn things around by becoming his apprentice.

Problem was, Spey didn’t want an apprentice. He was going through a midlife crisis. All he wanted was to build beautiful furniture and live in peace with his beautiful husband, Adin. He still took me in, though. Guess he felt sorry for me. And he was really intrigued by the red paths I’d been seeing in the air.

Hey, I’m only 19, so how could I have foreseen the rest? That I’d fall for a breathtaking boy named Peter, who was at the center of some strange magic tied to Jackson’s past. And I’d have to deal with a sorcerer named Bezod, an evil pig who plagued all four of us and threatened to destroy our relationships.

Sometimes you just have to fight for what’s right. Like love. I might’ve been new to the boyfriend gig and Jackson might’ve been a reluctant wizard, but when the time came, we were ready to kick some supernatural ass.