I had a difficult time deciding which books to place on this list.  Since there is no accepted model for a gay romance, most of the books are structured quite differently.  While I’m clear in my mind about what I believe a romance should be, I don’t feel I should try to force that model on other writers.  So what I’ve done is include the books that have come closest to meeting my requirements and have given me the most pleasure as a reader.  The selections represent a wide range of literary quality as well as a wide range of reading levels.  I’ve included books written for teenagers facing the trauma of coming out as well as books for the mature gay man.
     I do not want my comments to be taken as literary criticism.  They are merely intended to convey what I liked about the book and some of the things I didn’t like as well.  Only romances with a happy ending made this list.
     I made an arbitrary decision to limit this list to twenty books.  I hope you will help me discover books to add to that total.

     Beck, Timothy James  It Had to Be You  (2001) I really liked this book.  There was too much stuff about drag queens and other side issues, but it’s a nice romance and I loved the characters.

     Benbow, Dave  Daytime Drama  (2003) I really enjoyed this book.  There was a nice romance between Clay and Travis that had its ups and downs before working out in the end.  There’s also the straight romance between Dru and Park in addition to subplots about the murder on the set and the strange ritual Jake makes Travis go through which nearly ruins his relationship with Clay.   Lambda Nominee

     Chester, Craig  Adam & Steve (2005) This is a cute romance between Adam, a depressed Jewish boy, and Steve, a repressed southern boy.  Their first meeting ends in disaster, and they separate and forget each other.  When they meet again fifteen years later, Adam is a recovering alcoholic and drug abuser, and Steve has turned away from his past as a cokehead gogo to become a doctor.  All goes well until Steve remembers their past meeting.

     Coles, Larry   Freshman Pledge: The Magic of Love (2007) This is a pure romance with an interesting dabbling in witchcraft.  I love the fraternity-athlete thing.  I guess I’m like everybody who likes the handsome football star with the guy who’s smart and funny.  The elements of wiccan ways (witchcraft?) added a fun bit until it got too involved for a novice like me.

     Donaghe, Ronald L. Common Sons (1989) Joel is sixteen and unaware of his sexuality until Tom kisses him when he’s drunk.  Tom fights his homosexuality while Joel welcomes the discovery.  Tom’s father and a particularly persistent boy strive to keep Tom away from Joel, but there’s more than that to be overcome before we can have a happy ending.
     _____ The Early Journals of Will Barnett (2004) Made up of three separate stories, Uncle Sam, Lance, and All Over Him, the journals start when Will is fourteen, and his uncle comes back from the war.  Will soon meets Lance, a battered boy who has run away from home.  The journals continue through the problems of their senior year in high school, and a year of separation when Lance goes to study art in San Francisco and Will goes to Texas where he lives with his uncle.

     Grimsley, Jim Dream Boy (1995) A beautifully written book about two high school boys living in the North Carolina countryside who meet and fall in love.
     _____ Comfort and Joy (1999) Ford McKinney, a doctor from an old Savannah family, has difficulty accepting that he’s gay and then telling his family which is pressuring him to marry and have children.  His lover comes from a poor family and is HIV positive because of a blood transfusion for his hemophilia.  As in Dream Boy, this is a beautifully written book.

     Kendrick, Mark  Desert Sons (2002), Into This World We’re Thrown (2002) These two books make up one story.  Scott Faraday meets Ryan St. Charles when Ryan is sent to live with his uncle.  Scott knows he’s gay but isn’t active.  Ryan as been active for a year but fights admitting he’s gay.  Ryan has a lot of hangups because of a bad relationship with an older man and has trouble committing to Scott.

     Kluger, Steve Almost Like Being In Love (2004) I’m not sure I should put this book on my primary list, but I loved it so much I couldn’t resist.  It’s not a typical love story, and it’s not told in a typical manner – mostly notes, memos, letters, etc. – but it’s delightful and has a happy ending.  Lambda Romance Winner

     Merrick, Gordon The Lord Won’t Mind (1970) This was a very steamy romance, but Charlie and Peter are a wonderful couple, clearly destined to remain in love with each other.  I wasn’t always thrilled with Charlie, who has a cruel streak, but it is a classic love story.

     Pearson, M.J  Discreet Young Gentleman (2006) I particularly enjoyed this book because the two guys were together all the time.  They had sex only once, but it was fun to see them grow to like each other, their struggle with that, and their struggle against the problems that kept them apart.

     Pomfret, Scott & Scott Whittier  Spare Parts (2004)  Trent wants to be a professional photographer, but he’s out of money and decides to prostitute himself just once.  Dan, a successful mechanic, picks him up and they hit it off.  They have baggage from the past that keeps both of them from being completely honest with each other until they face losing each other.
     _____ Surf ‘N’ Turf (2006) The concept of two gay gangs of Meanies and Queenies dominating an island resort was funny.  I also liked the way the gangs kept Blakely and Robert apart.  The only part I didn’t like was one believing something incriminating about the other without talking to the guy to see what he had to say . Lambda Nominee

     Roeder, Mark A.   A Better Place (2001)   Brendan, the studly football star, falls in love with Casper, a small, shy boy.  Their secret gets out and Brendan’s parents put him in an institution to “cure” him.  Friends help him break out, and he and Casper run away.  The threat of discovery and retribution hangs over them until the end.

     Sanchez, Alex Rainbow Boys (2001), Rainbow High (2003) Both books are part of the story of Jason, a basketball star who’s trying to come out as gay, Kyle who’s been in love with Jason but hasn’t told anyone he’s gay, and Nelson who’s out, flaming, and hoping to end his days as a virgin.  Most of the story centers around the problems caused by Jason’s coming out and his growing relationship with Kyle.

     Virga, Vincent Gaywyck (1980) This was an unusual book to have been published by Avon in 1980.  While it’s an excellent story with an intriguing and tangled mystery, it’s an unabashed gay romance with an almost entirely gay cast of characters, some of whom aren’t nice.  Young Robert falls in love with his employer, Donough Gaylord.  While he’s certain Gaylord returns his affection, Gaylord keeps his distance.  There are quite a few surprises and plot twists before the couple achieves their happy ending.    
     _____Vadriel Vail  (2001) The setting is New York around the turn of the century.  Fabulously wealthy Armand de Guise (descendant of the French de Guise family) intends to marry Placidia, an activist daughter of a wealthy Newport family, but both of them fall in love with strikingly handsome and naive Vadriel Vail.  Vadriel marries Placidia.  Since he can’t have Vadriel for himself, Armand sets out to become the couple’s best friend.  Ultimately Vadriel falls in love with Armand, and both men try to hold back what they can’t control.  Lambda Nominee



  1. “Faith & Fidelity” by Tere Michaels had me in tears. It’s tender, beautiful and believable.

    “Out of the Pocket” by Bill Konigsberg is an affecting coming out story of a high school football quarterback. It rises above the rest because simple caring, warmth and gentleness lift the quarterback and the college reporter who he comes to love into a place of self-acceptance and rightness.

  2. Hi!
    Just wanted you to know that I’ve read most of the books you mentioned here. By Timothy James Beck–It Had to Be You, He’s the One, I’m Your Man, When You Don’t See Me, and Someone Like You;by Dave Benbow–Daytime Drama, Male Model, and Summer Cruising;by Alex Sanchez–Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road;Mark Kendrick–Desert Sons and Into This World We’re Thrown;all of Ronald L Donaghe’s books in tne Common Sons series and in the Will Barnett series;the majority of Mark A. Roeder’s books. A couple of authors not listed here that I enjoyed–3 by Anrew Barriger entitled Finding Faith, Finding Peace, and Finding Hope and Nick Poff’s The Handyman’s Dream, The Handyman’s Reality and The Handyman’s Promise. Also, Robert Taylor’s All We Have Is Now and Whose Eye Is on Which Sparrow

  3. Thanks for the extra titles. I have to depend on others because they are so hard to find. I’ll put them on my order list right away.

  4. I confess to loving a good story about an athlete. I have two more books that I’ll publish sometime in the next year, and both are about athletes. Something about those wonderfully developed bodies. Maybe there’s a little Greek in me.

  5. Check out “Warm Rush” Very romantic

  6. Thanks. Who is the author?

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