Tag Archives: m/m

Exóticos: The Badass Drag Queens of Lucha Libre – a Guest Post by Luchador Author Erin Finnegan

Today on the site, please welcome Erin Finnegan, author of Luchador, an m/m Contemporary NA about a guy named Gabriel who becomes enthralled with the lucha libre, which releases today. (Buy links at the end of the post! And you can read the blurb and add it to your TBR here.) To learn more about the lucha libre, read on!

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Scroll down to find purchase links for Luchador!

Grab a seat for the Sunday evening lucha libre matches at Arena México and you get a great show: Cheap and abundant Victoria beer flows; laser lights blaze; heavy metal blasts at ear-splitting levels; and bikini-clad ring girls ignite the testosterone-fueled weekly wrestling event.

It isn’t the first place people would look for an LGBTQ crowd in Mexico City—and they’d be wrong, especially if an exótico is on the fight card.

In the macho world of traditional lucha libre, exótico luchadores are flamboyant, gay, and out.

They have also become heroes of sorts in Mexico City’s LGBTQ community, to the extent that they have been credited with helping to advance Mexico’s equal rights movement. (While portions of the conservative country still fight marriage equality battles, the federal district of Mexico City approved marriage for all in 2010, five years before the US Supreme Court paved the way for nationwide marriage equality.)

The exóticos represent something not commonly found in professional sports, even “performance sports” such as lucha libre—an arena where gay athletes perform openly with their straight peers. As exótico luchadores like Cassandro and Pimpinela Escarlata gained fame on the lucha libre circuit, empresas found themselves with a new legion of dedicated, rainbow flag-waving fans.

Exóticos are the flamboyant and brutal drag queens of lucha libre, dressed in bedazzled leotards, skirts, and glittery makeup instead of luchador’s traditional tights and mask. They flirt with the refs, bump and grind to dancehall music, and are as likely to attack an opponent with a kiss as with a flying scizzors kick to the neck.

And this is where their story gets complicated, and why I was drawn to this world as the central conflict in my new book, Luchador. Because in lucha libre, gay is welcome to play—but it is often played for laughs.

It isn’t a simple matter of the costumes or makeup. Exóticos are the vamps of the ring, and they play to a crowd that is at once imploring them to attack their opponents or the referees with besos (kisses), while at the same time taunting them with homophobic slurs.

Máximo Sexy, one of the few exóticos who identifies as straight, has said that he decided to wrestle as a gay character for the money. His signature move is the kiss, meant to distract his competitor, and the skirted singlet he wears in the ring is often topped by a t-shirt that says, “KISS ME”. The moment he enters the arena, fans cheer, ¡Beso! ¡Beso! ¡Beso!”

Other exóticos like Cassandro—gay men who wrestle as campy characters—call their stage personas liberating and inspirational.

This is the issue for Luchador protagonist Gabriel Romero, a rising young star in Mexico City’s professional lucha circuit who is committed to being open about his sexuality both in and outside of the ring without trapping himself in a role that he does not identify with. Respectful of lucha’s traditions, he is also wary of the stereotypes it promotes.

The counterpoint to Gabriel is his mentor, Miguel, a successful exótico nearing the end of his career, who views his colorful ring character of La Rosa as a valuable outlet. He also believes that embracing lucha’s traditions have helped him get ahead as both a wrestler and a businessman.

Exóticos in lucha libre date back to the 1940s, when luchadores dressed as dandies handed flowers to female fans and preened as they entered the ring. Today, exóticos are far more sexualized—and athletic.

Do not mistake these luchadores for clowns. Their approach may be camp. Their secret weapon may be the beso planted on a supposedly unsuspecting opponent or referee. But they’re also skilled wrestlers who take down opponents with lucha libre’s signature acrobatic moves: flying scizzor kicks, spinning tornillos, and planchas.

Last winter, I had a chance to watch Cassandro wrestle at Lucha Va Voom, a Los Angeles-based burlesque-meets-lucha show. Lucha Va Voom should not be mistaken for the lucha libre of Arena México or Arena Coliseo. It is abbreviated, and even more showey than the lucha of the Sunday afternoon shows broadcast across Mexico and the US.

Cassandro demonstrated the skills that have earned him championship belts: high kicks, spins, and a swan dive from a balcony that—it was later reported—resulted in a cracked rib.

Though their technical skills can be overshadowed by their characters and costumes, exóticos fight with the same strength and finesse as other top luchadores.

As Miguel tells Gabriel, exóticos’ costumes may be loud, but their actions in the ring speak louder than any Lycra or glitter.

“We give people hope. … We’re not just entertainment. We give people something to rally for, and against. Lucha’s been a part of politics and our social order, always has been,” he said. “Do you know how many men have come up to me after a match and thanked me? How many kids have said we’ve given them courage to come out? We may not be your picture of the perfect postmodern gay or whatever your generation calls it, but we paved the road for you with our glitter and makeup.”

***
Buy Luchador

Interlude * Amazon * B&N * iBooks * ARe * Kobo * Smashwords * Indiebound

* * *

1408250364231Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. A lifelong sports fan and occasional sports writer, she has had to dive out of the way of flying luchadores at matches in both the US and Mexico. Luchador was recently named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016. Erin’s debut novel, Sotto Voce, received a PW starred review and a Foreword Reviews Indiefab Silver Book of the Year Award.

Connect with author Erin Finnegan at Erin-Finnegan.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/ErinGoFinnegan and on Twitter at @eringofinnegan.

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Fave Five: Bi Guys in Contemporary Romance

Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

One Kiss With a Rock Star by Amber Lin and Shari Slade

What Remains by Garrett Leigh

A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde

Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Bonus: I try to avoid using a single author twice, but like, come on: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Double Bonus: The MC of The Girl Next Door by AJ Cousins isn’t bi, but his (female) love interest is very openly so, and let’s just say he’s down with straddling heteroflexible lines.

Rainbow heart

The Colorful Catalog of…Kris Ripper!

Hi there! I’m Ripper. Please allow me to apologize for writing way to many freakin’ books.

It’s sort of like showing up for a pot luck with a van full of food. On one hand…hi, y’all, I brought some food! On the other…um, er, I have no self control AND I HAVE MADE ALL THE FOOD.

I have no self control. I write a lot of books. And I also write a lot of short stories based on readers going, “I loved it when X happened, and it’d be so cool if Y happened after that…” Three hours later I’m bashfully presenting my Facebook group, the Irregulars, with another story.

(The Irregulars have never once complained about my habit of scrawling stories and dropping them at random, mind you. I think they like it. It’s like surprise cupcakes at odd moments: here, this one’s got raspberry icing. Enjoy!)

Just to start with broad strokes: nearly everything I write is queer, and almost all of it has some elements of kink. Because I’m…queer. And I may contain…elements of kink. Er.

Ahem.

Grab and Go!

29862883In case you only have a hot second, let me start by suggesting two places to start.

Do you like kink, emotional vulnerability, and a grumpy-pants narrator? Start with Gays of Our Lives (M/M), which is the first Queers of La Vista novel. Emerson’s ornery as hell, Obie sweetly refuses to put up with his crap, and the sex is smokin’. GoOL intentionally disrupts common tropes about disabled characters in romance as frequently as possible.

Do you like intimacy, deep power dynamics, and slow-growing romance? Start with Catalysts (M/M/M), which is the first Scientific Method Universe novel. Will is young and searching and hopeful, Hugh thinks the world holds no more surprises, and Truman is just a regular dude, who had no idea he was waiting for a mercurial lover with a good friend in tow.

Pot Luck!

Let me briefly introduce you to each series. This is basically the bite-sized pizza roll version of my books. And I’m…somewhat verbose. So this should be really hilarious.

Scientific Method Universe: an exploration of love, kink, romance, and family over quite a few books. Ideal for folks who enjoy the psychological side of, well, everything, and anyone with an intimacy kink. (Pairings include M/M/M, NB/M, M/F.)

Queers of La Vista: all the queer community, a lot of romance, and a little bit of murder. Ideal for folks who enjoy getting to know a group of characters well and watching them fall in love. (Pairings include: M/M, F/F, transM/cisF, M/M/M. Also includes a trans teenager.)

25116938New Halliday: a small town, and a lot of kinky fellas falling for other fellas. Ideal for folks who love M/M romance, and anyone who’s into food. This series will make you crave grilled onions (if you’re into that sort of thing). (M/M. Also includes a parent with a trans kid.)

The Home Series: an alternate universe exploring themes of power dynamics and politics. Ideal for anyone who’s read a master/slave fic and gone, Ewwww. Also, all about chosen family and reclaiming personal narratives. (Pairings include M/M, transM/cisF, M/F/F.)

And for dessert…

Little Red and the Big Bad: a blisteringly hot look at a kinky one-off that builds and deepens until two guys find themselves in a damn serious relationship. Ideal for folks who need a book to take back to their bunk. *hint, hint* (M/M.)

Leftovers!

Now that we’ve feasted, I’ll wrap you up some leftovers to carry home. For something poly and playful, do feel free to enjoy my longish novella The Spinner, the Shepherd, and the Leading Man (M/M/M) from the New Halliday series, which you can download from my site. For something with a sharper edge, please take a peek at the short story “Seen” (NB/M).

And for a far more complete idea of my books, definitely check out this shiny list: http://krisripper.com/blog/all-the-books/

*****

ripperpicturemediumKris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

New Releases: October 24-31, 2016

Finishing out October, here’s what should be on your rainbow radar for the rest of the month!

Interborough by Santino Hassell (24th)

30364774The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

Buy it: Amazon * ARe * B&N * kobo * Riptide

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith (25th)

27414389A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

Buy it: Indiebound * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Chapters * The Book Depository

Boy Robot by Simon Curtis (25th)

28498236There once was a boy who was made, not created.

In a single night, Isaak’s life changed forever.

His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin.

An origin he doesn’t want to believe, but one he cannot deny.

Isaak is a Robot: a government-made synthetic human, produced as a weapon and now hunted, marked for termination.

He and the Robots can only find asylum with the Underground—a secret network of Robots and humans working together to ensure a coexistent future.

To be protected by the Underground, Isaak will have to make it there first. But with a deadly military force tasked to find him at any cost, his odds are less than favorable.

Now Isaak must decide whether to hold on to his humanity and face possible death…or to embrace his true nature in order to survive, at the risk of becoming the weapon he was made to be.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Hold Me by Courtney Milan (25th)

24348034Eighteen months ago, Maria Lopez felt an unexpected spark with Jay, a hot, tattooed, motorcycle-riding bad boy who checked off every item on her fantasy list. But “too good to be true” never ends well. So when he asked for her number, she walked away.

When she runs into him again, she discovers that Jay is a different kind of trouble than she’s imagined. He’s a demanding, driven genius, and once he’s set his sights on something, he does not give up. Now that their paths have crossed once more, he’s not going to let her get away until he knows exactly what’s on her fantasy list…and he figures out how to make her embrace it.

Buy it: amazon | amazon uk | iBooks | kobo | google 

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant (31st)

32146161After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.

Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.

Buy it: Nine Star Press * Amazon

Hotline by Quinn Anderson (31st)

30828044Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending

Buy it: Amazon

New Releases: October 18-20, 2016

*waves from where she’s offline for yet another Jewish holiday and wishes these authors a very happy book birthday week in absentia!* *yes, it’s a day early to be posting this, but that’s because we’ve got great guest posts for a couple of these books going up over the next two days!*

Tattoo Atlas, by Tim Floreen (18th)

28954166A year ago, Rem Braithwaite watched his classmate Franklin Kettle commit a horrific crime.

Now, apart from the nightmares, life has gone back to normal for Rem. Franklin was caught, convicted, and put away in juvenile detention for what he did. The ordeal seems to be over.

Until Rem’s mother selects Franklin as a test subject for an experimental brain procedure intended to “cure” him of his cruel and violent impulses. Suddenly Rem’s memories of that day start coming back to the surface. His nightmares become worse than ever. Plus he has serious doubts about whether his mother’s procedure will even work. Can evil really just be turned off?

Then, as part of Franklin’s follow-up testing, he and Rem are brought face to face, and Rem discovers…Franklin does seem different. Despite everything, Rem finds himself becoming friends with Franklin. Maybe even something more than friends.

But when another of their classmates turns up dead, Rem’s world turns upside-down yet again. Franklin insists that he’s innocent, that he’s cured, but Rem doesn’t know what to believe. Is someone else responsible for this new murder, or is Franklin fated to stay a monster forever? And can Rem find out the answer to this question before the killer, whoever it is, comes after him too?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Extrahumans, by Susan Jane Bigelow

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Being “The Sampler” isn’t easy. As the weakest member of the Extrahuman Union, Jill is overlooked by just about everyone. After all, no one cares about an Extrahuman who possesses every possible superpower, but can barely use any of them. Jill is a nobody, on the run and out of a job, with no home and barely any friends to her name.

To make ends meet, Jill turns back to one of her favorite jobs: stealing. When her latest job goes terribly wrong, Jill is left with a mysterious alien artifact–one that starts whispers to her, unlocks impossible powers, and shows her incredible things.

Now Jill is on a quest for answers that will take her from the high mountains of Valen to the depths of interstellar space; from a bizarre prison planet where old friends and enemies are held captive, to the roots of St. Val’s mysterious letters and decade-spanning plans. The fate of her friends, her world, a vanished alien species, and the entire Confederation will rest on Jill’s shoulders.

Extrahumans is a tale of superpowers and long-forgotten mysteries, and the fourth and final book in the critically acclaimed Extrahuman Union series

Buy it: Amazon US * Amazon UK * Smashwords

Here’s the Thing, by Emily O’Beirne (19th)

heres-the-thingIt’s only for a year. That’s what sixteen-year-old Zel keeps telling herself after moving to Sydney for her dad’s work. She’ll just wait it out until she gets back to New York and Prim, her epic crush/best friend, and the unfinished subway project. Even if Prim hasn’t spoken to her since that day on Coney Island.

But Zel soon finds life in Sydney won’t let her hide. There’s her art teacher, who keeps forcing her to dig deeper. There’s the band of sweet, strange misfits her cousin has forced her to join for a Drama project. And then there’s the curiosity that is the always-late Stella.

As she waits for Prim to explain her radio silence and she begins to forge new friendships, Zel feels strung between two worlds. Finally, she must figure out how to move on while leaving no one behind.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Hold, by Rachel Davidson Leigh (20th)

31211256Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. But when a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands.

Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.

 Buy it: Amazon * Interlude * B&N * iBooks * Kobo

New Releases: October 11, 2016

Normally I don’t do a New Releases post when there are this few books releasing that day, but hello, it’s NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY, so how can I possibly let the blog go dark?

My Boyfriend’s Back, by Elliot Cooper

31929255After losing both of his parents, Academy of Magecraft student Steven Durant doesn’t want to see anyone else lose a loved one before their time. Traditional resurrection methods, however, only create mindless, flesh-hungry zombies; they’re no cure for death. He’s certain his unique brand of necromancy—using alchemy and blood magic—is the only answer.

When his boyfriend, Dax Everhart, has a fatal accident, Steven sees no choice but to use his experimental Lazarus Elixir. Dax comes back wrong, but the more humans he consumes, the more human he becomes.

With the help of his best friends, his ghostly aunt, and her living doll homunculus, Steven fights to regain normalcy and repair his shattered relationship with Dax. But with Dax openly embracing his monstrous nature, Steven shoulders the guilt of assisting in a murder spree that could lead the mundane and magical police right to their door.

Buy it: Nine Star Press

Beast, by Brie Spangler

25167846Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Books with Trans MCs for Five Bucks or Less

Continuing on with the theme of helping you find solid LGBTQIAP+ lit on a budget, check out these ten books with trans MCs that are under five bucks:

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Endless Forever by E.M. Lindsey ($0.99)

Eitan’s Chord by Shira Glassman ($0.99)

Portside by Elyan Smith ($0.99)

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans ($1.99)

A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman ($2.99)

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde ($2.99)

Roller Girl by Vanessa North ($3.99)

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant ($3.99)*

Bumbling into Body Hair: Tales of an Accident-Prone Transsexual by Everett Maroon ($4.00)

Documenting Light by E.E. Ottoman ($4.99)

The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper ($4.99)*

Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox ($4.99)*

The Unintentional Time Traveler by Everett Maroon ($5.00)

Bonus (Trans LI): The City War by Sam Starbuck ($2.99)

Bonus (LGBT and Two-Spirit Anthology): Love Beyond, Body, Space, and Time ed. by Hope Nicholson ($5.00)

*Priced for preorder; links are to publisher’s site

New Releases: September 20, 2016

As you can proooobably tell, I know LGBTQIAP+ YA better than anything else, so I’m still catching up to the rest, but I do know today’s got some cool-sounding releases in other categories, so check out this variety of new releases out today!

Overexposed by Megan Erickson

28490317Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he’d planned to do with his sister.

His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs…

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

The Yelp: A Heartbreak in Reviews by Chase Compton

28695559
When Chase Compton met the love of his life at a dirty dive bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he had no idea how far from comfort the relationship would take him. Their story played out at every chic restaurant, café, and bar in downtown New York City. Ravenous hunger, it seemed, was their mutual attraction to one another—until suddenly the appetite was spoiled, and Chase was left to pick up the pieces of a romance gone wrong.

Left high, dry, and starving for affection (and cheeseburgers), Chase turned to an unlikely audience in a moment of desperation: Yelp.com. Detailed in the Yelp reviews is the story of how to survive a broken heart. Every meal and cocktail shared is a reminder of times spent with the ever elusive “Him.” In recounting the bites devoured and the drunken fits of passion that propelled the relationship, the author chronicles his whirlwind relationship with the man of his dreams, revisiting the key places where the couple ate, drank, and fell in and out of love in the West Village and beyond.

The Yelp is a memoir of personal transformation and self-realization, or more simply—a memoir of food and love, played out on a map of modern Manhattan’s culinary scene. The book includes the original twenty-eight Yelp reviews, with interwoven narrative chapters that provide context, insight, and delight to Chase’s story.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

28371999Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

And, coming tomorrow:

Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver

26020617Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.

Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.

With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just her country, but their entire world.

Buy it: Torquere * B&N

The Colorful Catalog of…Matthew J. Metzger!

Hello and welcome to The Colorful Catalog, a brand-new feature on LGBTQ Reads that focuses on authors who’ve got at least five published LGBTQIAP+ books (including novellas) and gives you an overview of everything they’ve got, as provided by the authors themselves! Hopefully you can find at least one book that screams “I NEED THAT!” from any given catalog, and from there, if you love it, ta da! Instant access to info on where to go next.

I’m psyched to kick this off with the fantastic Matthew J. Metzger, whose Spy Stuff will hopefully have arrived at my door by the time this posts, and whose newest release, What It Looks Like, just released on Saturday! But I’ll let him tell you more about that, and everything else!

*****

Hi, I’m new here.

Only I’m not.

Sort of.

I signed my first publishing contract in 2012. Since then, there’s been over ten novels, a smattering of short stories, and three publishing houses. I write contemporary queer romance, both adult and young adult, and the pile of incomplete manuscripts and unwritten ideas is taller than me.

(Admittedly, I’m five foot three, so that’s not actually that tall, but still.)

Every one of these books is different. Wildly different. And I didn’t quite realise that until I found myself with a new boyfriend (don’t ask) who wanted to know where he ought to start with the backlist.

“Uh,” I said. “Well. I suppose that depends what you’re in the mood for.”

It really does.

Genre wise, I’m a one-trick pony. Adult or young adult, contemporary romance, queer. That’s it. Those are my areas. But within that? Within that, I’ve nearly got a book for every emotion.

28365577He decided he wanted something that had a bit of a ‘fuck you!’ attitude to jerks. The Italian Word for Kisses, I told him. Two boys dealing with a homophobic new kid at school, and in a real working class Sheffield fashion: punch him in the face until he gets the idea and leaves you alone.

But then, if you want a more threatening bad guy, and something to keep your chest locked up tight until the very end, then Thicker Than Bone will have you wanting to murder Tony yourself, just to bail the heroes out. Tony has swastikas tattooed on his hands…and his younger brother’s boyfriend is an Iraqi. Tension is an understatement.

And then there’s the emotional stuff. Most of my work doesn’t have bad guys. Private was deliberately written without one. Shane’s terrified to come out to his military family, but it’s not actually anybody’s fault. It’s just the culture he’s been raised with, and it’s assumptions and jumping to conclusions on both sides that fuel the issue.

What It Looks Like follows a similar pattern, but in reverse. Instead of everyone doing everything right and it still not quite working, What It Looks Like is an entire cast handling a situation wrong. Nobody in this book is what they seem, and so it makes perfect sense for Eli’s parents to disapprove of his new relationship with Rob. Especially as Eli’s parents are police officers, and Rob is a fresh-out-of-prison drug dealer with a history of violence. Are they going about it the wrong way? Yes. But so are both Eli and Rob themselves. Everyone’s to blame here, as opposed to no one. (Helena summed it up better than I can.)

The height of the emotional novels are the Vivaldi in the Dark books. Darren suffers from serious depression throughout the seven years covered by the trilogy, and even I struggle to re-read the second book. This is an exploration of life with a heckuva nasty illness, and it’s painful. Although one of my earlier projects, this one still haunts me.

29775399Spy Stuff crosses the bridge between heavy emotion, and light-hearted fun. Most of the book is the simple first-relationship wobbles that everybody goes through…with an added layer of complexity, as one of the boys involved is transgender, unbeknownst to his new boyfriend. (This was actually where my boyfriend found me, as we’re both trans ourselves. He also hasn’t stopped flailing about this book yet.)

Then there’s the other side of that angst-humour bridge. The Suicidal Peanut. Oh, this book. It’s my guilty pleasure. One of my favourites, even though it’s nothing more than an experiment in writing voice, and an adorkable hero. It’s not complicated. It’s not packed with feels. It’s not a must-be-told story. It’s just a dorky kid with a big crush. It’s a laugh. Mindless, even. But God, I love it.

But what every one of them has in common is some link back to me. Some part of them is part of me. From the streets Tav and Luca roam in The Italian Word for Kisses having been my own streets for five years, to Eli’s bitter regard of his family’s inability to accept his gender identity in What It Looks Like, all of these books come back to me in one way or another.

But in far more ways than a simple queer author = queer books formula.

*****

Matthew J. Metzger is an asexual, transgender author of queer contemporary romance. Dragged up in the wet and windy British Isles, he combines a punishing writing schedule with a gruelling day job and, as a result, has no discernible life beyond the gym, his overweight cat, and his first-name-terms relationship with the local pizza delivery guy. He can be hunted down mainly on Facebook and Twitter, or at his website.