#TBRChallenge: Something Different

This one was a challenge. I have read just about every kind of book at least once. I read non-romance all the time. Different setting?* Um, I have that covered. So I settled on the “something different” part of the challenge. I wracked my brain trying to think of something I hadn’t read. Other than a Chilton Manual, I could only think of one thing I hadn’t read yet: M/M or F/F romance. (I’m sure there’s something else out there I haven’t read, but, really, it’s gotta be a tiny list. Go ahead and try me, if you’d like)

I hadn’t intentionally avoided gay romance, but I think it’s good to look at the societal biases that affect all of those things that you do. . . .unintentionally. Scanning different genres made it clear that, whether intentional or not, I had avoided the gay romance subgenre.

I looked at several different books–some of which I’ve also added to my TBR pile of destiny–but, in the end, I settled on Damon Suede’s Hothead because I had heard so much about it. The last time I’d heard that much buzz about a book, it was Tiffany Reisz’s The Siren, another challenging book that was well worth the read. So, without further ado, my thoughts on Hothead:

This read was a difficult one for me, but not for the reasons you’re probably thinking. Oh mah gosh was this story angsty. Y’all. I wanted to take Griff, that giant of a firefighter, and pull into a hug–I’d have to stand on a chair–and tell him that it would all be okay if he would just tell Dante how he felt. The guy spent at least seventy-five percent of the book beating himself up and pining for a forbidden love, and it was positively heartbreaking. I say I wanted to tell him that it would all be okay, but his inner turmoil is 100% believable, and the fact of the matter is. . . . I don’t know what it would be like to be a man who’s in love with another man in a world that can be hostile at best or downright dangerous at worst. I don’t know what it’s like to have a second family so dear to me and to fear their rejection. I don’t know what it’s like to fear being beaten up or even killed just for being me. This is the reason why we read “different” things: to exercise our empathy muscles.

Now, lest you think Hothead is some kind of treatise on accepting gay marriage, no. It’s a romance. It’s a sexy, emotionally rough and tumble romance and an entertaining story to boot. I kinda feel like Paul Reiser talking about why heterosexual men like to watch lesbian scenes: “Because it’s naked and fun and I agree with both of them.” Seriously, the love story between Griff and Dante? It doesn’t get much better than that.

The sex scenes? Honestly, the sex sometimes veered a little too erotic for my tastes, but that’s cool and to be expected with a book that includes a porn site. I’ve read Reisz. I will read scenes that go farther than my tastes if I like the characters and the story, and I definitely liked the characters and the story of Hothead enough to push my own boundaries. I mean, I had no idea there were that many euphemisms for guy masturbation, but there you go. You learn something new every day.

So, there you go. Hothead is sweet. . . . and very, very spicy. Think Zach and Miri Make a Porno with two dudes kinda, sorta, not really. I already have Tere Michael’s Groomzilla  in my stack. Anyone have a good F/F that I need to try? I hear tell Fiona Zedde has some tales to tell. Any other gaps in my reading habits? I can’t promise I’ll read them in a hurry because I tend to read what strikes my fancy when my fancy is struck, but I’m a liberal arts major and firmly believe in a broad base of study, so lay it on me.

*I’m also reading Jeannie Lin’s The Dragon and the Pearl because I haven’t read that many books set in China. I had read–and was pretty traumatized by–Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls, though, so I decided to read Hothead for this post. I’m totally digging The Dragon and the Pearl. Lin has a lovely prose and is taking me to a different world, and I’m so glad I finally picked up her book, too.

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7 thoughts on “#TBRChallenge: Something Different

  1. I’m glad your step into m/m worked so well for you! I haven’t read much f/f but I always recommend _Fingersmith_, an absolutely gorgeous lesbian gothic romance.

  2. I like your thought of stretching our empathy muscles. How true. Have you tried adventure memoirs yet? That’s a new category I’ve been exploring and really enjoying.

    1. Any in particular that you would recommend? I’m not as big on man survives nature because usually I’m like “Why did you climb that mountain/go out in choppy waters/go camping with coyotes, etc?”

      1. LOL! Then you might not like my suggestion, but I thought Braving It by James Campbell was unique because he took his 15yo daughter on three adventures to the Alaskan arctic.

  3. “Empathy muscles” – this is very true and I never thought about it that way. The best books are the ones that make me deeply feel…something. Anything. Love, hate, happiness, sadness. I’m in it for the emotion.

    Also I obviously need to add Hothead to the TBR because your review has me really intrigued. I’m still a neophyte in LGBTQ fiction, but I’m trying to expand my horizons. The problem is that everything gets dumped in the Giant TBR Pile of Doom where it all languishes for far too long.

    1. I know of this TBR Pile of Doom of which you speak. I called mine the TBR Pile of Destiny, but I meant Doom. I do recommend this one, although I’d be interested to see how others react. Suede has a STRONG voice and that usually means people love you or hate you. One thing about this book that came out almost exactly as I expected though: love is love is love, and this is most certainly a love story.

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