Hello! Information time: Here are three things that make me uncomfortable. One. Sexual writing. Two. Ye olde-tymey British fancytalke. Third is gay dudes. (J/K, guys! J/K to the obv!) Third is actually TUNICS. Well, too bad for me! Because these three uncomfortables have combined their powers in Transgressions, a new novel belonging to a slightly mystifying genre known as M/M fiction: gay romance written by straight women, for straight women. Hhhyah! Maybe you didn't know! I also didn't! But now that we know, we are permanently impregnated with little brainbabies of knowledge, and there's no such thing as a brainbortion last time I checked, am I right!? WELL, AM I?
I do know that there are straight women out there who enjoy watching gay-male pornographies. I am also aware of slash fiction (dirty gay fanfic about, like, Harry Potter touching Voldemort's magic johnson), which is also mostly by/for straight women. So I don't really know why M/M seems so weird to me, while slash just seems kooky—I guess, first of all, I wouldn't put anything past nerd-women who go to conventions and rub magical wizard staffs on each others' lady areas. And second, there's something socially conservative about a traditional romance novel, how the men are always strapping and the ladies always swooning. I associate that with matronly aunts, not straight women liberated enough to admit a preference for gay erotica. The disconnect is jarring: Transgressions absolutely belongs to the traditional romance genre (on her blog, author Erastes calls it a "breeches-ripper," as opposed to a "bodice-ripper"); it just happens to be about gays and bucolic BDSM.
Transgressions takes place during the English Civil War of 1642, when Oliver Cromwell was all, "Parliament! Blah blah blah!" And King Charles was all, "Oh no, thoust di'int, Cromwell!" And then war happened. Out on a country-bumpkin bumpfarm, David is a beautiful, slender man-boy who dreams big dreams. Jonathan is a dark, burly blacksmith with puritanical ways. The two share a bed and get secret ye olde boners for a hundred pages or so, and they fall in sweet country love, which goes like this:
To have Jonathan wake him once more in the dead of the night for pure lust, to feel him wrap those vise-like arms around him and pull him physically off the mattress and into his lap, sliding into his fundament so sweetly, that just the look on Jonathan's face as he took possession of David, was sometimes enough to trigger his own seed to spatter between them.
Cute. Unfortunately for the spattering lovebirds, David is accused of rape and runs off to the army. They are then separated for many scores of fortnights (eh? How am I doing with the lingo?): David shacks up with a couple of fellow homo-soldiers ("Just let me do this for thee, and if you like it not, I shall stop"), while Jonathan stumbles into the sadistic employ of the "Witchfinder General" and gets busy finding witches (with a little sexual crucifixion on the side). Will they get back together in the end? I found myself kind of mildly wanting to know. And that's something, I guess.
Romance writing could almost be defined by its determination to forcibly unite the explicit and the elegant. Which, let me add, is awkward. If you're going to be smut, be smut. Go all the way. And if you're going to be historical fiction, PLEASE DON'T SAY "WEEPING COCK" ON EVERY OTHER PAGE. The big problems with dirty books are that there are only so many ways to write about sex and there are very few ways to write about sex in a sexy way. Here are some examples of how to write about sex in an unsexy way: "Michael's hand slipped to his weeping cock [SEE!?!?] and closed around it, fisting it slowly [Erastes, I think you are unclear on the definition of 'fisting']." "Tobias' hot and so familiar breath was on his cock and with a desperate groan David slipped into his lover's mouth, just as Tobias slid a slender finger into his entrance [note: This entrance is also an exit!]." "He was plunged forward into the same vision he had had when first he had fucked the Devil [gwuh?]; he again saw the Angel at the end of the path, a flaming sword in his hands and the sword was his own cock [WHAAAT THAAA FAAACK?], splendid and on fire with a righteous light."
I was talking about Transgressions to a gay friend of mine, and he commented, "Oh, it's like porn for fag hags!" But I BEG TO DIFFER, GAY FRIEND. Being more than a bit haggy myself, I am definitely not interested in the intimate details of any of my gay friends' firecocks, or "sudden hardnesses," or that time you wrapped "rein-callused fingers around the youth's pink and gold member," or what anyone does with anyone's "honeyed cleft." (On that note, if there exists any circumstance in which "honeyed cleft" can be a convincing substitute for "butthole," we will most certainly not find it 'neath the pantaloons of a 17th-century blacksmith. Just sayeth.)
But everyone has her thing, I guess! Everyone has her thing. And to be honest, I don't see anything wrong with a lady pursuing her thing, even if her thing is completely incomprehensible to a lady like me. Who am I? Who am I to judge another lady's thing?