Review: The Women Who Love Gay Romance, edited by Ryan Field

If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to be a straight woman thrust into the intimate, emotional relationship of two gay men, this book might answer a few of your secret questions. It’s a collection of very different fictional stories that mesh together and create fantasies that in some cases could actually happen in real life.

When one gay man falls in love with his best girlfriend and her boyfriend, it becomes a heart-wrenching trilogy with three new adult stories by Bella Stanberry that cross social boundaries for which the characters will eventually pay a price. In Anna Black’s Fallen Angel, the straight female character finds out what it’s like to explore her most discreet fantasy. And in Baby Got Bach by Giselle Renarde the straight female character is invited to cross a line that leaves her terrified.

A Touch of Therapy by Morgan Honeyman delves into new age lessons about how to heal as the main character observes two gay men from a comfortable distance. Li Blaine’s Changing Curses is a more lyrical dream world which takes a mystical approach when the main character figures out a way to rid herself of a curse. The Facilitator by Tilly Hunter shows how a woman can find herself involved with her best gay friend and his boyfriend, with handcuffs and her grandmother’s wooden spoon. And in the sweet, tender tale of Lustful Wishes by R. Noir, the main character is a confused young man who has had both women and men in his life and he’s trying to figure out how to do the right thing.

All these stories combined with The Courage to Jump by Oleander Plume, where an m/m erotic romance author gets a chance to meet and explore her gay characters in real life, create a world of dreams that challenge one of the least mentioned topics today: The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance.

Overall rating.

A copy of this book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the introduction by Ryan Field to this book I was excited about the concept. He had a vision of stories
“....about women who not only love gay romance, but were willing to include strong female characters in gay romance as active participants in the actual romantic storylines.”
Of course to my mind this would make it M/M/F rather than M/M, but I was happy to give something different a go.

There's a problem I have sometimes with anthologies though and that’s the fact that each story is written by a different author, so the likelihood of not enjoying everything opens right up – and that is what happened with this book. Unfortunately the first story up was one I didn't enjoy. To me the characters weren't particularly likeable, there was far too much tell not show and I couldn't get an emotional connection to the story. Even more unfortunately this story carried on in the next two instalments – I nearly turned off the e reader and e mailed back to say BMBR couldn't review this book. But I didn't, I turned it off, did something else then went back to it.

I found it was a mixed bag, several of the stories I didn't enjoy, but there were some I did. The Facilitator by Tilly Hunter tells us of a woman who doesn't quite shut down her gay porn site properly (have to say this story reminded me of the Unicorn Mafia from the start). She dreams of watching her gay room-mate and his boyfriend make out before she reaches for her vibrator, but they always go out for their dates. Until the night when she’s out on a date and they stay in. Unfortunately – or actually very fortunately - she gets home early, and interrupts some light bondage between the two boys. Bondage inspired by the website she hadn't quite shut down. Things heat up and Vicky gets to join in – just with a little tying up and spanking. Turns out the men both prefer the sub role so she gets to dominate them a little then watch their enjoyment before going off to find her own toys. Kinky, but I liked it.

I also enjoyed Lustful Wishes by R. Noir, especially when I found out it was just an extract from a full length piece of fiction she hopes to one day have published. It felt like an extract, I had a connection to the characters but I definitely wanted more. Raven is the ex-prostitute and sex addict who is spending time in a monastic retreat when he falls for Jake, an eighteen year old who has lived at the monastery all his life. Jake feels the same way but Raven is determined to keep his vow of celibacy for the year, he doesn't want to expose his ‘dirty’ past to Jake.
I enjoyed this story once we got to the monastery, I didn't really need to know all the details of his life before then but I could totally see this as part of a longer work, a work where we get to know the characters and fall in love as they fall in love. Of course that means I liked it from the point that his ex-girlfriend wasn't in it anymore, which kinda defeats the point of the anthology. *Shrugs* I can only be honest about what I enjoyed and what I didn't.

So, as with any anthology, it’s a mixed bag. Unfortunately my prevailing feeling was that I didn't overly enjoy it, but that’s not to say you won’t. In some cases it was the writing I didn't enjoy, with some I felt totally unconnected to the characters and that’s a big no-no for me - I can forgive many things if I fall for the characters. In some books though I found a welcome gem of a story I could enjoy. As much as I liked Ryan Field’s vision and introduction, I can honestly say I don’t feel as excited about the stories as he did. But he did – so you might.

The College Years, Graduation & Sienna Rose by Bella Stanbury;
Unfortunately these stories just didn’t work for me. I didn’t particularly like the characters, I found them difficult to connect with, and though I appreciated the daring storyline it wasn’t enough. It felt like I was being told what was happening rather than shown and I had no emotional attachment to these stories.

Fallen Angel by Anna Black;
Could be considered PWP. Again I found the characters hard to connect with but she ups the steam factor so if you’re looking for the perfect male model to get down and dirty with a sculptor and his bestie then this may be for you.

Baby Got Bach By Giselle Renarde;
I enjoyed this one more as I felt a connection to the characters. Julia’s adoration of Jamieson was believable, as was the relationship between Jameison and Daniel. At times I felt it was more tell than show and I had to suspend disbelief for a moment when her idol and his boyfriend asks her what her fantasy is – and she sits there and tells them. I mean sit me in a room with Misha Collins and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to admit my deep dark sexual fantasies to him, however much booze I’d consumed, (though if anyone can arrange this we could try and see, in the name of science obviously). And well yeah, the fantasy was the fantasy and that was that.

A Touch of Therapy by Morgan Honeyman;

‘...My cock is as stiff as a spear,’ Josh laughed. ‘And it’s ready to impale my lover against the cold walls of the baths.’
Fair enough this line was spoken while in regression therapy but I’m not sure I can get past it. Okay, I did and I did quite enjoy this story, it gave me the warm and fuzzies – even if there were bits I had to overlook.

Changing Curses by Li Blaine;
A fantasy story in the mix. Again it didn’t thrill me but I also didn’t hate it. I liked the relationship between Grenn and Ilya, though I found it hard to believe at times. I liked the concept of the story – it was a pleasant read with an HEA, which I appreciated.

The Facilitator by Tilly Hunter;
Now this one I enjoyed. I liked the characters, I liked the writing style and I believed in the story. It felt real – a fantasy, but real. This was definitely my favourite story of the collection (and not just cos each member of the UM secretly wishes they have a gay flat mate they can tie up and beat with a spoon).

The Courage to Jump by Oleander Plume;
This one was just pure fantasy and that I could live with. A tale of two fictional characters exiting their author's laptop and having a sexy, steamy night with her. Well someone give me a Microsoft word document and show me how the magic works. I liked it, pure escapism, pure fantasy.

Lustful Wishes by R. Noir;
As I said before this was an extract of a longer piece the author hopes to have published one day. I enjoyed it, I felt the characters especially Raven and I was rooting for him. I particularly enjoyed it when we see him at the monastery and with Blake – I didn’t care so much for the earlier chapters telling me about his exes and indiscretions, this could be woven into the current story IMO. But I did enjoy it, I liked the developing relationship between Raven and Blake and even though it ended where it did I could see the potential for a great story about their relationship.

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