About a queer romance

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.


I’ll skip the optional question this month to write instead about my taste in fiction. For those who visit my blog regularly, it would be no surprise that my two favorite genres to read are romance and speculative fiction. And a mix of the two. In recent years, both genres experienced an upsurge of a subgenre of queer romance. Lots of books published in both genres have queer protagonists and/or same sex love stories.

At first, whenever I tried such books – often at a recommendation from my online friends – I ended up disappointed. Until I read Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell and to my surprise liked it a lot. It is a science fiction M/M love story and a delightful book by all accounts. I thought: so I can enjoy an M/M romance after all, if it is handled correctly.

Then I read a fantasy trilogy by A.J. Demas (Sword Dance, Saffron Alley, and Strong Wine) about a pair of male lovers and again enjoyed those books immensely.

After some musing on the subject, I finally figured out what makes such books enjoyable (or not) for me. The main snag is the focus of the story. If the focus is on the characters’ adventures, whatever they are, and the protagonists just happen to be both male or both female and fall in love in the course of their fictional journey, in short if their queer status is accidental to the story, I like it. In such stories, the protagonists might be both males or both females or belong to the opposite sexes, and the plot wouldn’t change one bit.

But if the author makes her story specifically about a queer couple and their travails because they are queer, while everything else that should matter – families, countries, wars, villains, and so on – fall by the wayside, those stories don’t interest me.

What about you? What do you think about such stories?

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22 Responses to About a queer romance

  1. Well, that makes sense.

  2. I’m guessing a lot of people enjoy books where there is an adventure that spotlights a diverse character but the focus of the plot is on the adventure.

  3. I am with you. Mind you, I rarely like books where the author is too obviously pushing a personal barrow. It needs to be seamlessly integrated. Not easy I know.

  4. Agree. The story is the important part – but I really like romance to be kept at a bare minimum for me to enjoy the book.

  5. spunkonastick says:

    It’s all about the focus. Books that cram an agenda down the reader’s throat (one from any side) are no fun to read. The storyline has to be better than that.

  6. patgarcia says:

    I haven’t read a queer story yet.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  7. I can understand that and I’m kind of the same. I’m not too fussed about sexuality, gender, race, or any of that when reading. What grabs me is if there’s something fantasy or sci-fi about the story. Just take me from reality is all I ask.

  8. cleemckenzie says:

    Yep. Story and characters first. Agendas second or not at all.

  9. Loni Townsend says:

    I think all the books I’ve read along those lines have had some exploration of the feelings that go with self-realization or the effects different cultures have on the people. Not so much an agenda, but more of an acknowledgement of the struggles some of them face, and I’m okay with that.

  10. Erika Beebe says:

    I agree completely and part of it is how I stumble into my own journeys and what relates to my world 🙂

  11. Lee Lowery says:

    I want an interesting story with interesting characters. Books steeped in graphic sex of any persuasion, or political or social agenda are of no interest to me.

  12. Julia Quay says:

    It’s got to be about the story and characters to work. Read Susan Faludi’s book, In the Darkroom. A wonderful story about how the author’s father, at age seventy-something, returned to his native Hungary to become a transgender. Really fascinating.

  13. emaginette says:

    I’m not much into romance-only stories, however, I do like romantic elements. Sounds like these stories would work for me too. 🙂

  14. Widdershins says:

    Give me the story, although, if I had my ‘druthers’, I’d choose a good rollicking story with lesbians, over straight folks, or gay guys, but that’s just me. 😀 … the story has to come first though.

  15. yvettecarol says:

    I think the story is everything. As long as the structure is excellent and a worthwhile read, I don’t mind who is involved.

  16. Diane Burton says:

    Characters and adventure are what make a good read for me. I have to care about the characters and want to be swept into their adventure.

  17. J.S. Pailly says:

    Those books sound interesting. I’ll have to check them out. I much prefer seeing queer people normalized in stories rather than having stories that dwell on just how very queer their protagonists are. I say this as a queer person myself. A world where queer people exist and nobody makes a big deal about it sounds great to me.

  18. Thank you Olga for the book references. I agree with you, the minority element should not be paramount to the plot. Prefer anticipation personally to just romance.

  19. As a reader, if I learn something from a story, awesome. But it’s not my first priority in grabbing a book. I want to be entertained. And honestly, at this point in my life with all the chatter in the world, I don’t want to be preached at while I’m relaxing.

  20. debscarey says:

    Totally agree with you Olga. The story is the story, the characters are characters, regardless of their gender identification or preferences. James put it perfectly I feel.

  21. 3mpodcast says:

    I’m not big on romance at all, so it has to be a minor element in the story compared to the story itself. Having said that, I like a good romance subplot, whoever’s in it. I have struggled in the past with reading horror novels where the horror came second to relationship dynamics, and I didn’t enjoy it. (Shannon @thewarriormuse dot com–it defaults to my podcast site)

  22. Denise Covey says:

    It is all about the story which you have pointed out so well. But I daresay others would enjoy the romantic struggle between M/M or F/F more.

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