When RJ invited me to join in her Ten Year Anniversary celebration, my first thought was wait, how can it be ten years already? RJ and I each found our way to this community at roughly the same time, and I can count her debut novel, Oracle, amongst my own earliest M/M romance reads. I’m so honored to be here with all of you today.
I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that we are, in some ways, a pastiche of the books we consume; that we carry bits and pieces of wisdom forward with us, whether it be inconsequential or monumental, from everything we have read over the years. Yes, we may forget characters’ names or remember only certain specific points of a book, the further removed we are from the reading, but oftentimes we can recall—with a fixed and distinct clarity—how a story made us feel, how it shaped new perceptions, and there is no greater compliment I can give to any book than to carry its emotional essence and resonance with me in my memories.
Two of the questions I’ve been asked most often over the past decade are, “Do you remember your first M/M romance?” and “Why did you read it?” The answer to the first question is yes, I absolutely do remember—it was Jane Seville’s Zero at the Bone, and to this day the book holds a special place in my heart. The answer to the second isn’t quite as simple. What drew me to it, why I decided to give that book in particular a try, wasn’t that its protagonists were both men but that it was the first time I could recall ever seeing a novel, in any genre or subgenre, with two men presented on the cover as clear romantic leads. It was an absolute departure from what I was consuming at the time—a hodgepodge of Horror and Fantasy and non-fiction with some M/F romance mixed in—so it may have been simple curiosity that drew me to it. This book was something new, something different, and the blurb ultimately won me over. I’ve since gone on to read Zero at the Bone more than half a dozen times since 2010, it remains a sentimental favorite, and I give it full credit for leading me to read and review thousands more books featuring LGBTQ+ characters in the decade since.
Happy Anniversary, RJ, and may you continue to be inspired for many years to come!
Giveaway: I’m offering one lucky reader the opportunity to win a $10 (US) Amazon gift card, which RJ has generously offered to match. To enter for a chance to win, please share your first M/M romance read and tell us what made you decide to read it.