I find myself turning more and more toward M/M books. For example when I look at my purchases from the last month, about 8 out of the 10 books is M/M. It’s an addictive genre and I blame a few of my blogging friends for feeding the addiction ;) I won’t name them but you can check out my daily blogroll - maybe 5 of the 25 bloggers aren’t reading M/M (yet). The rest is recommending me, on a daily base, one good M/M romance after the other *sigh*. And then there’s the numerous amount of authors that write excellent M/M smut, to blame. Really, the majority of my favorite authors write M/M romance.
Not a big problem, if it were not so that I find myself more and more disliking M/F romances too. Or maybe dislike is a bit too strong, but at least enjoying it less! And I realize that it’s me, and not necessarily the books, that have changed.
Take for example the book I’ve finished yesterday: Magnus. It’s written by the lovely Jambrea Jo Jones who gave the book to me as a present, without expecting anything in return.
This is an enjoyable M/F romance in which we have a very hot alpha hero, a Marine with the name Joe ‘Magnus’ Rivers. Take a peek at the cover, that’s perfectly picturing him. His love interest is a NCIS woman, Emily, who’s undercover and investigating his team. She’s sassy, tough and well trained – not the typical soft type. I like a heroine like her who can get the alpha hero to his knees because she impresses him.
Wait, let me give you the backblurb first:
Marine Colonel Joe “Magnus” Rivers’ job is his reason for being. Protecting the United States of America from all threats is his sole purpose in life. That life is turned upside down when a woman is assigned to his team of elite Marines and his attraction to her threatens his career.
NCIS Special Agent Emily Patterson’s orders: infiltrate Colonel Rivers’ team and find the culprits behind a slate of kidnappings connected to a sex slave ring. Her mission parameters didn’t include an attraction for Colonel Rivers but nothing in Emily’s career could have prepared her for Magnus. Her job becomes more difficult as she gets to know the man behind the uniform and Emily finds herself wanting to prove herself to him, potentially exposing her identity before she clears Mag.
Mag and Emily struggle against their growing feelings for one another, both knowing the consequences of giving in to lust. Mag is Emily’s team leader and fraternizing is against the rules. Emily is investigating Mag and his team; getting involved with him could ruin her investigation and her career.
This is a romance with a lot of action which makes it a fast paced read. A lot more than what’s mentioned in the backblurb is going on (I won’t spoil). And there’s even another point of view, that of the bad guy, added to the story. I have to admit that those were not my favorite parts and were a bit farfetched at some point, but the whole investigation and action part rounds up nicely in the end. Ms. Jones kept me at the edge of my seat with that.
So far it doesn’t seem to make any difference if this is an M/F or an M/M romance, but that’s because I haven’t said anything about the interaction between hero and heroine yet. Magnus is a Marine colonel who’s used to hand out orders. He’s acting like the alpha hottie he is, which is fine. I could live with the fact that he’s cursing a lot, his favorite word being ‘f*ck’. It fits his character of a tough military guy in a way. I had a wee bit more trouble with his repeated ‘claim’ that Emily was his. I couldn’t help thinking that such a claim would not be easily made in a gay relationship, unless it’s D/s, but this wasn’t. And when ‘the bad guy’ character made the same claim, it didn’t make it any better… But okay.
Though what bothered me somehow was that Emily turned into a helpless heap at one point. Her training as a special agent and her fighting skills seemed to become non-existing and that surprised me a little bit. Again I couldn’t help thinking that this could be conveniently serving the theme (in some M/F romances) of the strong hero rescuing the damsel in distress, where the man is all manly and the woman is all weak so to speak.
The feminist in me growls when there’s only a hint of this theme present… Nothing more than a hint was present in Magnus though. When on top of that the heroine’s only wish is to have him inside her, while she’s badly hurt and falling apart, I have a hard time liking her. That doesn't mean that I didn't like Emily, I'm using her as an example to make my point about inequality between men and women.
I’m not saying that in M/M romances both heroes are always equals, but there it doesn’t seem to bother me as much when they are not. Probably because the traditional patterns of sex differences aren’t playing a role. And I don’t identify with one of the heroes as I do with the heroine in a M/F story.
I know that when Magnus would have had two heroes instead of a hero and heroine I would have liked it much more. I still enjoyed this story, but the niggles about the above M/F issues moderated my enjoyment a little. I’ve read another short story by Jambrea Jo Jones, The Runaway Man which is M/M and proved my point. Granted, sex scenes took place off page, and this was only a very short story showing a few fragments out of the life of two guys, but none of the above itches regarding inequality were presenting itself. I enjoyed this story a lot.
I’m convinced that other readers, especially those who like military, alpha heroes, will enjoy this story more than I did (3 out of 5 stars)! Don't get me wrong, I like it! The love scenes are really hot and the growing love between Mag and Emily is sweet! But M/F readers will probably really love it instead of only like it.
I’m wondering now if I should avoid reading M/F with alpha heroes completely from now on. Or am I the only reader of M/M romances who’s having this kind of troubles with issues like this?