Unreal has been known to plunge into a romance novel from time to time, and so we were gratified the other day when Running Press sent to us for our delectation an advance copy of Transgressions, a new novel by Erastes and the very first M/M romance ever.
What is an M/M romance, you ask? No, it's not a salacious tale of the scandalous carrying-on between Green and Brown inside those innocent-looking packets of candy-coated chocolate. Instead, it is a story of deep, unending True Love between two men — hence M/M.
Liberated from their standard romance-novel roles as dispensers of witty quips and fashion advice, these gay men are free to fuck with impunity. And fuck they do! (As a gay character in an M/W romance might say, it's all about them.)
One may wonder why anyone would bother publishing M/M romances when there's already such an ancient and noble tradition of gay porn. Oh, silly reader, gay porn is for gay men! M/M romances are for straight women, like Erastes herself, whose heart and loins were set aflutter by Brokeback Mountain. Or maybe just by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, but let's not quibble here.
Onward to the sex!
In Transgressions the two main parties are David, a beautiful farm boy, and Jonathan, a severe young man who has just been hired to be an apprentice in David's father's blacksmith shop. (Unreal declines to comment on the obvious biblical symbolism of their names.) Before you can say bam-chicka-wau-wau, David is fantasizing about licking drops of sweat off Jonathan's muscular chest, and then there's a bout of nude wrestling (perhaps a homage to D.H. Lawrence?), some loving descriptions of penises and lots and lots of white, hot cum.
There's a plot, which involves the English Civil War, Puritanism and witch-hunts. Don't know much about the English Civil War? Fret not — all you need to know is that, as in romances set during the American Civil War, David and Jonathan end up on opposite sides and are kept apart for hundreds of pages at a time, but the end finds them together again, fucking merrily away.
Transgressions is, of course, a steaming pile of crap, and not even arousing crap. And it brings back an old gay stereotype: that homosexual men hate women. Which is odd in a book that is meant to appeal to women. But instead of concentrating on the negative, which would take too much time, we'd like to commend Erastes on the things she has done well. (An erastes, by the way, was, in ancient Greece, a man who fucked boys, so hooray for historical-mindedness!)
First, she resurrects the long-dormant second-person familiar verb tense — thee, thou, thy, etc. — for Jonathan's dialogue. Jonathan is a Puritan, you see, and reserves his thees and thous only for his beloved David. Unreal sometimes regrets that this verb tense has gone out of fashion, at least in English.
And there's such a wide variety of sex scenes — pastoral, domestic, man and boy, boy and boy, furtive, leisurely, outdoor, indoor, S&M — even the most persnickety reader is bound to find one that's not totally offensive.
Whether it satisfies is an entirely different matter.