Sunday, November 05, 2006

Alternative Romance?

I just finished readying the most interesting book. It's called "Phyllida and the Botherhood of the Philander" by Ann Herendeen and is described in the author's note as a bisexual historical romance. It's a Regency and follows all of the conventions of the genre, except the hero is bisexual.

Well, actually, at first he appears to prefer men exclusively but decides he must marry to produce an heir. He's completely upfront with his chosen bride, and she marries him with the full understanding that he will continue to take male lovers. Much to his surprise, he is also sexually attracted to his wife. In one pretty humorous scene he asks the advice of his hetrosexual brother in regards to making love to a woman 'cause his usual approach obviously isn't doing it for her. Anyway, during the course of the story, he falls in love with his wife and he also finds his true male love. And ends up living happily ever after with both of them.

Aside from some fairly graphic language in the sex scenes and the gay angle, it's a pretty standard Regency romance. There's an arrogant, gorgeous, aristocratic hero. A sweet unspoiled heroine. Routs. Balls. Misunderstandings. A little intrigue involving possible French spys and blackmail. And the sex (aside from the language) wasn't all that graphic; if if had been between a man and a woman, it would be considered no more than spicy.

I liked the fact that the gay characters aren't depicted as villians or degenerates, which is a refreshing change. I didn't like (and didn't believe) how easily Phyllida accepted the hero's lifestyle and sexual preferences; she barely batted an eye. Given the fact that "the love that dare not speak it's name" was a hanging offense during that era, I also thought everyone involved was far too open about what I would have thought would be a closely guarded secret. Still, it was interesting.

It's published by Author House ( but I bought it from Amazon based on a review on the Smart Bitches Who Love
Romance website.

Has anyone else read this book? What's your opinion? Are bisexual/gay romances the next hot trend?


Betina Krahn said...

Candace, it seems to me that I've heard something about this book. . . the "Philanderer" in the title rings a bell.

Interesting. I'm not sure what "Author House" is. . . will have to check it out. . . but it's not surprising that a bi-romance is receiving attention, now that gay/lesbian romances are becoming more common.

I doubt it will catch on as a "romance" trend. "Threesome" romances, even without the "bi" angle, appeal to a fairly small segment of the romance readership. Mostly because it's tough enough to make a lasting, emotionally believable and satisfying relationship between two people, without complicating it with a third personality, a third set of expectations and --let's face it-- the sharing involved.

Everybody's happy with the relationship? Guy with guy love, girl with happy hubby having babies? Hmmm. . . I'm not sure the human heart is wired that way. . . some desires to the contrary.

But then, maybe I'm my disbelief will only extend so far. . . maybe this fantasy is just "not for me." Is that because the "bi" angle doesn't working for me. don't think so. I wouldn't be happy with a man and his female mistress and wifey dear accepting "the other love" to breed on. . . no matter how often that happened in real-life nobility.

Then, there's the whole regency setting and the historicy angle. Hmmmm.

Threesomes. Just not my cup of tea.

;) Betina

Betina Krahn said...

It's early. Spelling is lousy this hour of the am.

historicity . . . et al.

And I've even thrown in an extra word or two for your reading pleasure! Lucky you!


Debra Dixon said...

Candace-- I love a good Regency. I hadn't heard about this book, but I'm going over to Amazon to toss it in my cart.

Is the author someone who commonly writes edgier books or is this someone who's done traditional books previously?

I have a librarian in town who asks me to keep him apprised of good gay romances. There is a subgroup of romance reading patrons who like positive gay characters in romance and gay romances.

Candace said...

I don't know about the author's previous work, if any. This is the first title of hers I've read.

Michele said...

I read about this title I think over on Michelle Bounfiglio's Romance Buy The Blog. Now that it's been mentioned again, I think I have to get it.
I don't mind the male on male action once in a while. :-) But once I thought to pick up a gay romance, written by a man, and ohhh, did that turn me off. There was nothing wrong with the writing, it was just...harsh. From a man's POV it didn't work for me.
I prefer reading about alternative relationships if they are written by women. Or at least, if it's male to male, I want it written by a woman. Because I fell a woman writer tends to concentrate more on the emotions than fitting part A with part B.
Now that makes me wonder about female to female stories written by women. Would those turn me off as a male-written man on man? Hmm...


Helen Brenna said...

I haven't read the book, but I think I need to get out more. At least READ more!

Candace said...

That's interesting what you said, Michele, about the man-on-man gay sex written by a man striking you as being harsh

That's one of of the hero's problems in this book. In his initial approach to his wife, he doesn't percieve the need for gentleness or foreplay. His attitude is let's get it on, let's go, let's get right to the good stuff 'cause that's how it is with the guys. Until he has his talk with his brother, he doesn't realize women need a slower build up and that the emotional part of sex is as important (or sometimes more important) to them than the physical part.

So, obviously, a woman does write it differently. Or, maybe, it's that for a gay/bi romance to appeal to a woman it must include emotions and not just sex.

Michele said...

I think you've got it right there, Candace. The one I read written by a man was all about the action, fast, hard and well, you know. I suppose it was written for a male reader, but the cover was like a romance novel with men in frock coats and looking all glowy and whatnot.

Emma Holly did a menage scene and that was nicely done as well. So yes, I think it very much depend on the sex of the writer when it comes to appealing to a reader.

Hmm, is that maybe why a lot of men don't enjoy romances? Do they need them a little less emotional, more instant gratification kind of sex?


Anonymous said...

I am currently writing a Lesbian romance....writing what I know. *grin*

Helen Brenna said...

Well, there ya go, misspride! Have you sold it? Do you see a new trend in gay romances?

Anonymous said...

Hi Helen,
Nope, still working on it, I have read gay fiction for years, through non-traditional publishers such as Bella Books, Naiad Press etc etc. Mainstream--it could possibly open up, but don't think I will hold my breath...*grin* I do think that people are more tolerant than in days gone by, so, perhaps there just might be a mainstream market.

Laura Vivanco said...

I do recall there's a gay couple who write romances and post at Romancing the Blog, Scott and Scott at Romentics. And one of the people who responded to Paperback Writer's challenge, Sandra Barret, writes lesbian romances, and she's sold a romance, though I didn't recognise the name of the publisher.

Scott and Scott seemed, judging by what they wrote about heroes, to be interested in the emotional side of the relationship as well as the physical, so maybe what they write would be different from the sort of books Michelle described. And there's E. M. Forster's Maurice, of course, but that was written a long time ago and isn't part of any trend at all. But it is romantic, about gay men and has a happy ending.

Helen Brenna said...

People being more tolerant makes sense. Mainstream is probably a lot to hope for, at this point. But mainstream brings with it a whole host of other issues.

Be careful what you wish for!

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, I think I may have been approaching this question from the wrong angle. The question is not how many gay/lesbian people there are to buy book or even how many "curiosity" purchases there might be. . . the question is. . . how many people have same sex fantasies and would like to read about them. Hmmmm.

Is it like the "forcible seduction" fantasy for a lot of women? They find the reality personally deplorable, but the "safe" fantasy still seems to have traction with many women. Perhaps it's the same with same sex pleasure-- people who would never be attracted to it in their real lives still love to fantasize about it. And how long have we know about and even joked about men's desire to see two women together sexually? On the sitcom "Friends" that seemed to be a staple in the store of funny bits.

Maybe there is a much wider readership than I realized. It might all depend on how it's presented. And from Candace's report, this was done tastefully and well (story-wise) in a Regency set historical.

Hmmm. And hey, anybody remember the girl-on-girl action in Jenny Crusie's "Fast Women"? Nobody seemed to blink at that one. Was that because it was "experimentation"?

More thinking required!

;) Betina

Anonymous said...

To me, there are more gay people out there than what is considered the standard 10%. And I do think there are a ton of "gay curious" readers who might not be willing to be curious in the physical, but may find what they want or need by reading about it. I have a group on yahoo called Sapphic Readers:

Just to name a few lesbian authors or writers of lesbian fiction:
Rita Mae Brown,Claire McNab,Fannie Flag,Sarah Waters,Krin Kallmaker,Anne Bannon, Patricia Highsmith.

I could go on and on...*grin*


Georgie Lee said...

I haven't read this book but it sounds interesting.