There are moments when the impossible becomes the inevitable, and the rest is just a matter of time. – David Levithan
As an author, you’ve got to know you’ve really latched onto something in a genre when your readership builds shelves of their favorite books based upon a theme that can’t be found anywhere else but in LGBT romance. Anyone who’s been reading M/M fiction for any length of time is bound to have run across the Gay For You storyline at some point or another, feeling a special love for the rich potential of its conflict because it speaks to the part of us that believes love and attraction and chemistry and sex between consenting adults is such a complex set of constructs that the sheer enormity of it defies the attempted reason of science and the misguided rationality of religion, or even the ability for mere mortals to break it down into tidy little labels of this-is-who-we’re-supposed-to-be.
To put a finer point on the subject, years ago I read a quote from JR Ward in which she was attempting to explain to curious readers of her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the relationship between her characters Butch and Vishous (And I’m just going to continue right on here under the assumption that you all know who Butch and V are). Ward had finally got to a place in her series where she’d been asked ad nauseum if Butch is bisexual because, for some reason or another, readers felt they needed that understanding and a label for the bond that exists between those two characters. This was her very simple yet utterly thorough reply: Butch is not bisexual. Butch is V-sexual. And there you have it: concise and as a true a statement as I’ve ever read to encompass the idea that emotional and physical bonds have less to do with gender and genitalia than it has to do with finding a common heart and soul that speaks to something more than simple pronouns or sexual labels.
Which is a very longwinded and roundabout way of leading to the review portion of this particular ramble, and the three erotic GFY novellas More Than Friends, His Undoing, and Winter Chill by Aria Grace.
Each of these stories introduce a pair of college aged men who begin their relationship as friends but soon come to realize that there’s something much more than just a simple friendship between them. The subject of awakening sexual awareness and the fluidity of attraction is addressed in each book; in the case of Ryan and Zach in More Than Friends and Mike and Brett in His Undoing, one half of the featured couples is openly, or at least admittedly gay, while in Winter Chill, Indie and Daniel are both straight boys who must deal with the realization that they may not necessarily fit the gay label, but they are most definitely drawn to each other nonetheless, in a way that defies the need for, and pushes the boundaries of, a simple definition.
Each story deals with a burgeoning awareness and eventual acceptance of an attraction that means finding one special person who dredges up an entirely new set of beliefs and emotions. All three of these books are simple love stories, and yet are more; they are Love-Is-Love stories that are sometimes sweet, sometimes complicated, and sometimes deal with uncomfortable subjects, from a beating (and a possible rape) in His Undoing to the inappropriate sexual misconduct of Daniel’s stepmother in Winter Chill.
Reading the books in order of publication, there’s a definite progression of improvement in plot and character development from one story to the next, but Aria Grace’s affection for her characters and their romances is never a question; in all three cases, I was interested to see how the relationships would unfold. From enjoying More Than Friends to liking His Undoing to really liking Winter Chill, I can honestly say that if you’re a fan of the Gay For You trope, these stories remained true to the theme, though I’ll sneak in that Indie and Daniel in Winter Chill were my hands-down favorite.
You can buy the books here: