elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Best Gay Contemporary General Fiction

And the Rainbow Award goes to:

1) Wayne Hoffman - Sweet Like Sugar (Double )

An exceedingly very good novel which had me trapped in its pages from the start and all I wanted to do was follow it along. Strange, because nothing really happens, just an old Jew collapsing on the young gay’s couch and the young man seems to be trapped by the old man’s voice and actions. Very few novels hold me as this one did; an exquisite writing job. My hat goes off to the author, “Shalom, very well done, indeed!” –Mick

A great character driven novel; Sweet Like Sugar explores the idea that love, lust, and spiritual enlightenment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. My compliments to Mr. Hoffman, and his publisher; we need more books like this one. --Tim

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington; 1 Original edition (August 30, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 075826562X
ISBN-13: 978-0758265623
Amazon: Sweet Like Sugar

In Yiddish, there is a word for it: bashert - the person you are fated to meet. Twenty something Benji Steiner views the concept with scepticism. But the elderly rabbi who stumbles into Benji's office one day has no such doubts. Jacob Zuckerman's late wife, Sophie, was his bashert. And now that she's gone, Rabbi Zuckerman grapples with overwhelming grief and loneliness. Touched by the rabbi's plight, Benji becomes his helper - driving him home after work, sitting in his living room listening to stories. Their friendship baffles everyone, especially Benji's sharp-tongued, modestly observant mother. But Benji is rediscovering something he didn't know he'd lost. Yet the test of friendship, and of both men's faith, lies in the difficult truths they come to share. With each revelation, Benji learns what it means not just to be Jewish, but to be fully human - imperfect, striving, and searching for the pieces of ourselves that come only through another's acceptance.

2) Ken O'Neill - The Marrying Kind

A sweet and yet often emotionally charged story that is very topical (in the US), this novel really pulled me in. I couldn't read the book fast enough and when done almost wanted to start over again. –Kathy

I thought the New York setting was well used. You didn't really get a feel for the big city, so much as you got an insider's view of living there. I liked that. A comfortable book that you can pick up anywhere at any time and get right back into it. I liked the message it gave and there was a perspective there that was new to me. –Kirsten

Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602826706
ISBN-13: 978-1602826700
Amazon: The Marrying Kind

Wedding planner Adam More has an epiphany: He has devoted all his life’s energy to creating events that he and his partner Steven are forbidden by federal law for having for themselves. So Adam decides to make a change. Organizing a boycott of the wedding industry, Steven and Adam call on gay organists, hairdressers, cater-waiters, priests, and hairdressers everywhere to get out of the business and to stop going to weddings, too. In this screwball, romantic comedy both the movement they’ve begun and their relationship are put in jeopardy when Steven’s brother proposes to Adam’s sister and they must decide whether they’re attending or sending regrets.

3-tie) Lewis DeSimone - The Heart’s History

The shifting 3d person POV all focusing on each narrator's friendship/love for Edward works beautifully here, with the author providing sympathetic, detailed portraits of man and a subtle timeline of the impact of AIDS over the years. This is one of those books that makes it a joy to be a reader for the Awards, as I doubt I would have discovered it otherwise. –Melissa

Paperback: 308 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (May 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590213424
ISBN-13: 978-1590213421
Amazon: The Heart's History

This is Edward architect, friend, lover, mystery. Everyone has their own Edward a kaleidoscope of images struggling to define a man who has never let anyone get too close. But now, Edward is dying, and all of his loved ones are desperate to understand him, to connect fully with him, before it's too late. In this beautiful and haunting novel, Lewis DeSimone, author of the acclaimed Chemistry, explores the hidden depths of love, the struggle to maintain a balance between connection and individuality. Edward's illness is set against the backdrop of a sea change in gay culture, a time when AIDS is assumed to be simply a manageable condition, and when the drive for assimilation through marriage, or the military has begun to trump the distinct characteristics that were once a source of pride. Deftly shifting perspectives to paint a compelling portrait of a man and a community on the cusp of a critical transition, The Heart's History gives hope that, despite the impossibility of ever achieving true oneness with another person, it is the attempt itself that gives life its greatest joy.

Brandon Shire - Listening To Dust ()

This was a great story. It was very intense and also sad. I really wish it would have been longer. –Verena
Top marks for an amazing emotional story. I didn't stop crying throughout the whole story. This was a finely drawn tale excellently written, with flawed real characters that wrap at your heartstrings. –Sue

Paperback: 142 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1470181290
ISBN-13: 978-1470181291
Amazon: Listening To Dust

Murder touched Stephen Dobbins when he was a young boy and left him living in a void of aching loneliness. A chance meeting with a young American chased away the fear that he would always be alone and brought him the prospect of a new existence. Dustin Earl joined the military and escaped his small town Southern upbringing with the hope that he could give his mentally challenged brother a better life. But Dustin had never known real love, an honest hug, or a simple kiss. He considered his sexuality a weakness; a threat that had been used against those he cared about. For eight months their relationship blossomed until Dustin suddenly returned home. He cherished Stephen, but felt his responsibilities to his brother outweighed his own chance at happiness. Shattered, unable to function and unwilling to accept Dustin’s departure, Stephen flew three thousand miles to get Dustin back and rekindle what they had. But what he would learn when he got there… he could never have imagined.

Honorable Mention:

5) Tom Mendicino, Frank Anthony Polito & Michael Salvatore - Remembering Christmas ()

How refreshing to read such a genuinely literary collection as Remembering Christmas. All three stories are character driven, witty, and really capture what the holidays are like for Gay people. My compliments to the authors and to Kensington Publishing as well for a quality collection. –Tim

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kensington; 1 Original edition (September 27, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758266855
ISBN-13: 978-0758266859
Amazon: Remembering Christmas

6) UKMAT - Lashings of Sauce

This was an outstanding anthology, with most every story capturing my interest, and some really blowing me away. The editing was excellent, the range of styles and plots varied. I'm not a big anthology fan, but this is a book I would recommend to others without hesitation. –Shira

Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (August 2, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161152380X
ISBN-13: 978-1611523805
Amazon: Lashings of Sauce

7) Brandon Shire - The Value of Rain ()

A powerfully moving read, it also comes with a note of caution for anybody who has ever felt like an outsider, who has ever been shunned or made to feel ashamed - this is a book that will make you think, feel, and sympathize, whether you want to or not. –Sally

This book is a series of twists and scenes, that are harsh in its realism but fulfilling because of that. It’s like a story written for the forgotten boys/girls and the cruelties they face with no one to care for them. It's a lot more than gay fiction, it's a great freaking read. –Darien

Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (November 30, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1467990248
ISBN-13: 978-1467990240
Amazon: The Value Of Rain

8) Josephine Myles - Handle with Care

This is a light, sweet contemporary m/m romance with likeable characters facing every day challenges, each with their own back-story, their baggage. The author takes baby-steps in building the relationship between the two, tossing errant tests the two must overcome. The author slowing reveals emotions driving the actions of both Ben & Ollie, through their first meeting, innocent flirting and their big misunderstanding, the catalyst for the angst in the novel, though simple at best. –Jon

Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (March 5, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619211149
ISBN-13: 978-1619211148
Amazon: Handle with Care

Perry Brass - King of Angels

The setting is Spectacular!! Well done! There were two wonderful books in this book: the story of Benjy's questioning his religion was one; the other was the murder of the boy he loved and finding out who did it. –Lynn

Perfect Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Belhue Press; First Edition edition (March 24, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1892149141
ISBN-13: 978-1892149145
Amazon: King of Angels, A Novel About the Genesis of Identity and Belief

10) Rob Kaufman - One Last Lie

This book in a word is awesome, an incredible psychological thriller that will have you perched on the edge of your seat in the explosive and thrilling final pages. Which is odd, since the reader knows a very important fact very early on that helps to drive the novel - and yet, I found myself shocked and stunned by the actual event. To say that I was affected is an understatement. –Jon

Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Rob Kaufman (May 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 098562311X
ISBN-13: 978-0985623111
Amazon: One Last Lie

Edmond Manning - King Perry ()

With two men as primary characters the focus of the novel was basically on them. Oh sure, there were the Hero stories but their relationship between them two was the thrust of the narrative. Smooth and easy going, wonderful control. –Mick

Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (February 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613723784
ISBN-13: 978-1613723784
Amazon: King Perry

Zahra Owens - Floods and Drought ()

I simply loved this book. I like characters with a „past” that they must overcome. I like obstacles. Seems I'm a classic romance reader ;) –Caroline

Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 9, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613724276
ISBN-13: 978-1613724279
Amazon: Floods and Drought

Jeffrey Ricker – Detours ()

Loved this book – read it straight through. The use of the ghost of his dead mother to help him understand himself and his relationship to his father, and the world around him was very effective. –Linda E.

I actually kind of enjoyed this book. It's not great gay literature but it read easy and fun and would make a terrific romance beach reading book. I would recommend this to folks. –Austin

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (November 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602825777
ISBN-13: 978-1602825772
Amazon: Detours

Robert Lennon - The Miles ()

A wonderful, satisfying reading especially as I’m not a reader of sporting/running books but still this one had me interested, glued to my seat every time I picked it up. In his events of a usual day as a runner and Robert Lennon’s portrayal of New York City in all kinds of weather had me wanting to run and experience it more for myself than I ever did before. I did not read this book with speed but a slow thoughtful progression, page by page, and was rewarded by experiencing a rich beautiful novel, the richness being subtle and coming upon you so slowly that you don’t even realize it until you’re deep in the novel. I especially liked the little insights into New York City, Madison Square Park, Central Park and the coldness of the city when you’re trying to run through its frigid streets. –Mick

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington (May 29, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758271735
ISBN-13: 978-0758271730
Amazon: The Miles

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Tags: author: brandon shire, author: ken o'neill, author: lewis desimone, author: wayne hoffman, rainbow awards 2012

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