Is the Love Affair Over?


Why M/M is Losing My Interest

As some of you might have noticed, I enjoy reading M/M books. That's right, Male/Male action. I found this genre after getting sucked into the world of Qhuay (Qhuinn and Blay), which transpired over several installments in the J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Many of my friends enjoy this genre as well, but I've started to feel like the love affair is over. The heady days of reading nothing but M/M have passed me by, and I'm feeling a bit disillusioned with the genre.

The end of a love affair.

You might ask why I feel this way, after all I've been through together with Ty and Zane and so many other exciting male couples. I'll explain my reasons for this sad turn of events after the jump.




Why was I attracted to reading M/M in the first place?

Basically I found it hot. The idea of two or more guys together was pretty big turn on for me once I started reading. A year ago I was reading M/M almost exclusively. I was hooked, and like an addict I needed my next fix quickly. Often the darker, the better. Don't judge me—it was just what grabbed my attention more. Throw in some cops, law enforcement, spies, or military and I was a goner.

What is the issue now?

Fast forward to 2013, and I've hit a snag. I'm not enjoying M/M as much. Part of the problem is it feels to me like they are becoming the modern-day version of Mills and Boons or Harlequin-style romance—formulaic and predictable. Two guys meet, they have drama, and by the end they get together. Sure, I enjoy this in a lot of the PNR/UF books I read, too. It's a romance, you say.

I know it's a romance, but the toothpicks I've had to use to finish some of these books are getting a bit old. Plus, do you know how much your eyelids hurt when you're using toothpicks all the time? I'm not naming names; there are some M/M books I do still enjoy, so I don't want to point any fingers at particular authors. We all enjoy different things, so perhaps I'm an island swimming upstream against the current of M/M reading tastes.



My biggest gripes...

Quality over quantity. Yes, the author might have amassed 20–30 books that are all the same, but are they any good? Often I've felt like I'm reading the same book over and over, where the only things that have changed are the protagonists' names. It's almost that feeling you get when you are on a treadmill and you can't find an off button. (Yes, I have been on a treadmill before.) The M/M books I've enjoyed are largely ones where the author has actually done some research and really thought about what s/he is writing. The clear attention to detail becomes evident as you read the book. So the author churns out only 1 or 2 books a year, but they are 1 or 2 quality books. They are books I haven't wanted to put down from start to finish.

Spelling mistakes. I'm sorry, but sloppy spelling is just unacceptable in this day and age. I don't know whether this is a comment on the industry at large now, or whether, in the age of texting, people don't care. The problem is I do care. I can handle a couple of mistakes. I really can. But come on, some works are littered with them. I make my fair share of spelling mistakes when my brain thinks faster than my fingers can type, but spellcheck is your friend. Use it!!! Or make sure you have an amazing Wench Beta who will double check for you.

I'm bored. Often it's as simple as that. I'm not engaged in the story. I've been known to flit directly to the sex scenes to see if they are any good. For me, in a romance, if you can't write a good sex scene, then don't bother writing a sex scene. I have put down a lot of M/M books without finishing them because of poorly written sex scenes. Good sex scenes were one of the features that attracted me to the genre in the first place. I want hot sex.


I can't keep my eyes open.

My thoughts on my current state of mind...

Am I jaded? Am I just ruined by the sheer number of books out there? Perhaps I am, but as I continue to search for quality books, I feel disappointed in this genre more often than not. Perhaps I wolfed down M/M too quickly and too unchecked? Should I have exercised some discretion when I started on this path? Am I just pickier? Maybe I am. Now I'm trying to weed out the gems from the prickles. There are a hell of a lot of prickles, I can assure you. I have the scars to prove it. I feel like it's too much effort anymore to find great M/M reads, and I move on to reading other things, other genres.

Then I have to question why are some of my favourite M/M reads either fan fiction and/or free? Are fan fiction writers more interesting? Are the writers of free reads simply trying to get attention and build an audience for later writings? Is it because fan fiction focuses on characters I want to know more about? I'm already familiar with the characters in fan fiction that is based on TV series I watch. Hence an association has already been formed, and I want to read stories about them. Sure we call the relationships in fan fiction "ships" and they aren't canon, but I'm interested in finding out more about them. Like anything, there is definitely very good and very bad fan fiction about TV characters, but some of the hottest M/M scenes I've ever read are in fan fiction. So it makes me wonder, is anyone really making much money writing M/M? I don't know the answer. I do hope my favourite authors are.

Is it that I feel like every wo/man and his dog (I know I'm a Zane addict, as I'm using so many puns) is writing M/M? Is it that I was so disappointed by a few highly anticipated books this year that I'm just over it? There is almost the sense, at least to me, that these days you don't even need to be a very good writer to write a book and somehow get it published. All you need is clever marketing and/or money.

I need something to grab my attention.

If I read one more story where both protagonists' parents are dead, I might scream. Is it just me, or does this seem like a really common plot device? Woe is me, I'm all alone and just need the right man to fill that gap in my life. I'm over how common it is in stories. Are we meant to sympathise with characters more when they are alone and have no siblings to speak of? I'm always quite curious on this topic, as amongst my friends I can think of only one family with an only child. None of my adult friends are only children. It's hard for me to feel for these characters because I don't really understand the concept of not having a sibling. This is just my opinion in regards to how I relate to the characters I read about, based on no frame of reference for this situation.

Looking at some of my comments, you might think I'm all about the sex. Perhaps I am a little... However, one of my all-time favourite M/M stories has no sex whatsoever. It's happening, but it's off page. The book is easily in my top 5 in the genre, so I'm not hooked only by the sex in a book, but if I'm not engaged in the first 50 or so pages, you can forget it. I'm not going to keep reading. FYI...that does not mean there has to be sex in the first 50 pages either.

Wake me up when it's over.

Romance is like my default setting. Nothing to read? Read a quick romance. I can usually read one in one or two nights. My default setting used to be Regency romances. This changed to M/M romances, and now I'm at a loss. M/M doesn't feel like my default setting anymore and I'm a bit saddened. It feels like the love affair is over, and I don't know the ingredient needed to get back to where I was. We had some great times, M/M, and I'll keep up with my favourite authors and those recommended to me, but I'm disappointed it has come to this. M/M is a great genre, but I'm finding my interest waning...okay, collapsing...under the burden of boring writing. So my plan for the future is to keep up with my favourite authors I've discovered, but I'm going to rely on friend recommendations before I try any new author in this genre for the time being.

Perhaps at the end of the day, I'm just moving on to other obsessions.

Do you read M/M? Are you feeling the same thing, or is it just me? Have you found a way to weed out the bad from the good? Do you feel like there are too many bad books out there to weed through? Do you have a default setting when reading?

* All gifs from tumblr.com.


Comments

  1. Oh, NO. Oh no, oh no, oh no!

    Truthfully, I've been reading less fiction overall recently. By "recently," I mean the second half of my life-to-date versus the first half. I primarily read to learn, that's just how and who I am. But fiction? Fiction needs to be recommended to me. I own probably two books that I bought on my own, without someone else's reading the book (or series) before I picked it up.

    Fiction, as a whole, seems to be diminishing in quality. As though the bulk of authors seem to say "well, it's all been written, so I'm going to rename characters and combine two plots and call it my own." And it's BORING. This is why I almost always require a recommendation before I'll read anything. And even then, I often have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into new books.

    It is a rarity to find a genuinely unique novel, a series with a truly unusual world - either via the viewpoints of the characters, or the characteristics of the "special" characters. When there is nothing interesting, special, or unique about a book, I'm bored and out.

    Now, once that's done, the plot itself has to be interesting, or somehow novel (bad pun 101). Fifty Shades was one that had some novelty to it, and that was the primary reason I picked it up... and careened headlong into my next requirement. THE BOOK MUST BE WELL WRITTEN. I read all three Fifty books, figuring they HAD to get better. No such luck, and I hate that I have them.

    I suspect you've expanded your range enough that you're hitting the problem I have - it must be original, novel and well-written. If it's not, then I don't give a shit if it's the bestest book seventy people ever read, it's still not for me. As M/M is not as extensive a genre as M/F, it's much easier to hit that point. It seems you're not tired of the genre, just tired of some of the crap that gets published in it. Like searching for the diamonds in a coal mine, sometimes you just want to sit down and look at your fucking diamonds, and wash off all the coal. Bored of looking for the diamonds, it makes the entire genre of books lose their shine.

    Also, YES. I feel you on the need to connect with the characters. For me, M/M is a thing I read, much like anything else, because I'm a sucker for relationship every time. But, it has to be a good one, and well-developed, or it falls flat, and I can't read it anymore.

    There are TONS of bad books out there. In all genres, really. Sadly, the only way I've found to weed out the bad books from the good ones is via recommendation. And even that's not foolproof (see Fifty Shades), but it's a start. It's a pain, but we do what we can, right? And that's how it came to be that I'm a much less adventurous reader than I once was - I used to read anything that would hold still long enough, novels, comics, fanfic, everything. But after far too many really bad experiences... Not any more. I can't do it. Too much disappointment, and now I stick with what is recommended to me by people who like things that are similar to what I like, and hope for the best. I've not been disappointed yet, so I figure it's a good start. ^_^

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    1. I loved your comment Care and you have summed it up perfectly. I've kind of just got tired of searching for the goods books and I guess I'm just late to the party in that I should just rely on what is recommended to me. It looks like you are already on that track yourself and I'm joining you. Of course I've had the odd recommendation that hasn't been to my taste, but that is more personal preference than the book necessary being bad.

      Agree that there are so many bad books out there. Is it worst now? I guess I don't know. For a long time I only read fantasy books and they were popular books in their own right, so maybe I didn't find I was reading anything I didn't like.

      Of course I still enjoy M/M. There is no denying that. I'll be looking to you Care for some recommendations.

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    2. Well, for ages I'd read anything that held still long enough. In some circumstances I still do. In doctor offices, for example. But, I've read enough bad books that I've given up tracking them on my own, and go strictly on recommendation. It means I don't try the new authors, but really, it saves me time, money, and emotional trauma, so I am okay with that.

      I don't really know how many more bad books are out there anymore, but I've found that the vast majority of "the general public adores this book" recommendations are for books that are GOD AWFUL.

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    3. Ditto Cara. I have often found just because a book is hyped up doesn't mean it's any good. At least for me.

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  2. The only M/M I have read is the Qhuinn and Blay romance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I have the Cut & Run series on my to be read list because of all the love I see for it here, but I have not read it yet. Since I am ready to dip my toe in the water, can you point me to the books that you liked? Which books were the ones that made you fall in love with this genre?

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    1. Hi Anon, of course. I really enjoyed the Cut and Run series. I think the first four books in the series are my favourites. Others I have enjoyed are Sean Kennedy - Tigers and Devils and Tigerland are excellent. Very funny and humorous. Tigers and Devils is probably my favourite in the whole genre. Tere Michaels Faith and Fidelity series is good too. Anything by Jordan Castillo Price / Isabelle Rowan / Josh Lanyon / Aleksandr Voinov I've enjoyed. I would definitely start with Cut and Run and see if you like the genre. It gives you a good basis to see if you like M/M.

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  3. *raises hand* Only child over here. :)

    I've noticed that in a lot of M/M book descriptions I read, there is often some form of tragedy that one of the characters is dealing with/working to overcome, and then along comes Mr. Right, just when they weren't looking for Mr. Right, who helps them to overcome said tragedy. Like an Angel of Let's Get Your Life Together. I don't think I've read any of those books, and probably because the description just makes me gag. Get your own life together yourself, dammit. And then find Mr. Right.

    It's all a bit too Hallmark Channel for me.

    That's probably why I steer away from the *ahem* traditional M/M and gravitate more towards the mystery, thriller, paranormal, and military subgenres. And fanfic.

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    1. I couldn't have said it better Veronica. Hallmark Channel is right. Hence boredom. I prefer very similar to you and do lean towards those with I guess "darker" themes. One of the reasons I enjoyed Soldiers so much.

      The contemporary books I have enjoyed are often where an author has only released one book or maybe two with the odd short story. Two of my fave contemporary books are by Australian authors and that may in part be due to a regional thing, in that I can identify more by being Australia's neighbour. The slang, way of speaking makes sense to me more??

      Raises total to two only children I know ;-).

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  4. I love this post,Angela, and I am with you, and I am feeling the same way. I'm not into romances, whether it's m/m or m/f, so if there isn't action in there, I probably will get bored. Unfortunately, I think there's just a shortage of the type of book I like (pnr/uf/action) in the m/m genre. That's why Channeling Morpheus is so special because it is that rare m/m pnr.

    I do think I've tired of m/m literature for the moment. To be quite honest, I don't WANT to be tired of it, but it is what it is. That's just the way I roll. I am all gung ho about something for awhile, then I'm on to something else. I think I'll be back though. Maybe a re-read of Fish & Chips will bring me back, who knows? Right now, I'm happily reading something else.

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    1. And technically, if you go by the Birth Order Book's philosophy, I am an only child too. There are more than 5 years between me and my 2nd sibling. So, that means I should exhibit "only child" character traits. :)

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    2. :-). RE the only child thing, it was mainly that it seems so prevalent in books (and TV for that matter). Now all the only childs are coming out ;-).

      You make me so glad I'm not the only one feeling this way. Agreed perhaps there is just a shortage of the types of books I enjoy too. Channelling Morpheus is a fantastic series and I think you hit a great point, that there aren't a lot of great PNR out there. If anyone knows some please recommend to us.

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