29 September 2014

The Male ‘Mistress’ in Romance Books

Hello everyone,

On Saturday one of my favourite romance blogs, or is more of a site? I’m not sure but it’s amazing and if you haven’t heard of Heroes and Heartbreakers before a) where have you been? b) You should definitely go check them out asap! Anyway back to my original point, earlier this week Heroes and Heartbreakers published a post on Mistresses and Courtesans as part of their Trope of the Month series. Its true the figure of the mistress or courtesan has been a prevalent trope in the romance novel, particularly historical romances. In fact some of my favourite novels of all time feature heroine who have been ether a mistress, or a courtesan, or a prostitute at some point in the novel. As pointed out by the Heroes and Heartbreakers team, when money and love mix everything gets more complicated.

However, their article and the comments people left got me thinking. Why do the only books being mentioned feature the women as the mistresses or courtesans?* Why should this trope be limited to the heroes being the only one who are paying for sex and/or companionship? Now I’ll admit novels featuring male courtesans, prostitutes, escorts, gigolos, rent boys (or whatever you want to call them) aren’t as prolific. They are out there, however, I personally really enjoy reading this trope with the typical roles reversed. In fact I enjoy it so much I have a whole shelve on Goodreads dedicated to this trope; so I decided to share some of my favourites with you! Also a slight warning given the nature of this trope all these books have a high level of sexual content.

Historical romances:

Master of Sin by Maggie Robinson

Part of the fantastic Courtesan series by Maggie Robinson this is the fourth instalment, and yes it can be read as a stand-alone, that follows the story of Andrew Rossiter and Gemma Peartree. Andrew Rossiter is fleeing from his life as a prostitute, were he did basically anyone and anything if the price was right. Fleeing from murderers he takes himself and is son to a remote Scottish island. It’s here he meets Gemma Peartree a woman with secrets of her own. Robinson’s writing is simply fantastic and I loved how she didn’t just brush over Andrew’s past ‘job’, this was perhaps the first book I read featuring a male prostitute and its been on my keeper shelves ever since.

To Seduce an Earl by Lori Brighton

The first in the Seduction series To Seduce an Earl is set in a male brothel run by a woman. Therefore in contrast to the Robinson’s book the hero Alex Weston is a practicing prostitute and in fact the heroine Grace is one of his ‘clients’. I love both the hero and heroine and devoured this book in a single night. This book not only shows Alex and Grace falling in love, but also how they cope with Alex’s job. Seriously I can’t recommend it enough, I laughed, I cried and I thought the character development was superb, the plot was well paced and the writing was brilliant.

Paranormal romances:

The Countess’s Pleasure by Emma Holly (Part of the Hot Spell Anthology)

This is a historical paranormal romance set in the Victorian period that features an erotic dancer, who also happens to be a demon. Although short at roughly 80 pages Holly creates a rich and colourful world that provides a perfect backdrop to Yama’s and Georgiana’s relationship. In a world were demons and humans co-exist Yama is forced to perform erotic dances for wealthy human women. Georgiana, our virginal yet widowed heroine attends one of these performances and gives him an offer he can’t refuse. I just wished this story had been longer as I really loved by the characters, the world building and the plot and could have easily read another 300 pages about them. Just a slight note I’m not sure if you can buy this story individually, but the whole anthology is really good and only £4.00 on amazon.

Contemporary romances:

Finding Home by Lauren Baker and Bonnie Dee

Even if you don’t read any of the other books on this list you should read this one. It is easily the best book I’ve read this year. The writing is flawless, but it was the plot and characters that kept me gripped. Mouth is the hero, a barely legal hustler who services male clients on the streets. Our heroine in contrast is Megan who at first is merely trying to advance her writing career by doing an expose on the life of children who live and work on the streets. This is a dark and gritty that doesn’t shy away from the ugly things in life. It is a book that shows although the road to love isn’t always easy, it is definitely worth it. This, however, isn’t a book for the faint-hearted as it does touch upon a lot of serious and potentially distressing issues including prostitution, drug-use, sex with minors and an older women with a younger (legal) male.

Escorted by Claire Kent

Probably the most well known-book on this list Escorted features a virgin heroine and an established male escort. Although it is highly sexual, although it doesn’t present perfect sex, what makes this book special is the relationship Lori and Ander. I love reading about they went a sterile and completely unromantic relationship to a passionate love affair. Of course in the mist of all this is the fact that Ander's is a working escort and Lori isn’t his only client. What I and many other readers have stressed and love about this book is it’s realism. This doesn’t present love, sex or escorting as a fairy-tale but instead realistically shows two people falling in love. The hero and heroine are both brilliant, basically if you haven’t read this book already you really need too. It is amazing.

These are some of my favourites books featuring this trope, what are yours? Do you like reading books about male prostitutes? If not why not? I loved to know!

Of course this list isn’t exhaustive and there are loads of others I've read that I also loved including but not limited to:

The Pleasure Master by Nina Bangs a historical paranormal Scottish romance
The Fifth Flavour by Shelby Read a contemporary romance
Damaged Goods by Lauren Gallagher a contemporary romance
Curio by Cara McKenna a Paris based contemporary romance
His Client by Ava March a MM historical romance
More Than Make-Believe a MM contemporary about two porn stars

Let’s call that the honorary mention list. Anyway that’s enough writing from me so as usual happy reading and see you next time!

*A person called Cleo in the comments mentioned Pricks and Pragmatism by JL Merrow, an MM contemporary featuring a rent boy.