This teahouse seems like a good place to share a few of my favorite books. These wonderful books inspired me when I was a girl by opening my eyes to diversity in sexuality. Some of them have become obscure with time and are collectibles or out of print. Others are classics. What they have in common is my love of the worlds they create for readers. I could list twenty, but here are a few I think readers today might find worth their while.
Moondust, Thomas Burnett Swann (1968) – Swann’s books were groundbreaking for their time. Sold as mass market paperbacks in most bookstores, they were rich with fading pre-human races, gorgeous prose, and subtle—but open—gay sexuality. This superb fantasy is set in Jericho shortly before its walls are doomed to fall. The story takes readers into the vividly imagined world of Honey Heart, where lithe human youths (of both sexes) are fitted with immense wings to do battle in the air for their inhuman masters. Gorgeous book that mingles Biblical themes with even more ancient myth.
How Are the Mighty Fallen, Thomas Burnett Swann (1974) – Only a few of Swann’s books were Biblical, but it so happens my two favorites of his come from that theme. In this reimagining of the story of David and Jonathan, Jonathan belongs to an ancient race of winged humans. I loved Moondust’s story more, but the story of David and Jonathan is so beautifully written as a gay love story, it created a scandal. The publisher, Donald Wollheim, had to do battle with his distributor to get the book into stores. This is the book that first struck a spark in me about what the phrase “passing the love of women” might really mean. I later submitted my first novel to Wollheim’s press, DAW, and they became my first publisher. Swann’s books were one reason for my choice, but the next book was the bigger one.
The Heritage of Hastur, Marion Zimmer Bradley (1975) – This science fiction novel is part of Bradley’s Darkover universe. It was notable for exploring homosexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality. In this book Bradley links unlocking sexuality with unlocking great power. Regis Hastur is an amazing character and there’s a scene between him and his paxman Danilo that’s both tender and incandescent. I came to this book after reading a few other Darkover novels and was blown away. I was young and the themes of ostracism (of various kinds) and sexual discovery spoke powerfully to me. I still love this book every time I re-read it, and I re-read it often.
Night’s Master and Death’s Master, Tanith Lee (1978) – There’s something dreamlike about Tanith Lee’s prose. It immerses the reader into a sensual and strange other world. These two books of interlaced stories are the first volumes of her Flat Earth series and they are simply stunning. Themes of gay sexuality, love and betrayal play out like myth as the Demon Prince Azhrarn raises a human male infant for a lover… just to start things rolling. Love, hate, life and death ensue. In these stories you will find doomed lovers, gender-shifting humans, and the baddest of all bad boys. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Now you can skip the part where I mention my own new release, or you can keep reading. Because Thick as Thieves is fantasy with tongue in cheek and an M/M twist. If you doubt me, read the short excerpt!
After Vorgell the barbarian fucks himself with a unicorn horn, he ends up in a cell with Maddog, a pretty young thief. It’s lust at first sight for Vorgell—but honestly, he can’t help it. Unicorn horn is a potent aphrodisiac, and now he can’t stop thinking about sex. Luckily, Madd is one male witch who knows how to put Vorgell’s new magical body to good use when he tricks Vorgell into a kiss that helps them escape.
Vorgell may desire sex in general—and Madd in particular—but Madd has no intention of being screwed by a man twice his size. He has problems of his own, including an enchanted collar that causes him to desire his most hated enemy. He wants that collar off as soon as possible, but that requires stealing a basilisk egg from the castle they just escaped.
Drawn together by lust and magic, the two men join forces and soon find themselves up to their necks in witches, wizards, and trouble. Vorgell and Madd might just be perfect for each other, but first they have to survive long enough to find out.
Madd frowned, his dark gaze traveling down Vorgell’s body and taking in his state of undress. “I guess we’ll have to find you some clothes.”
Vorgell liked that idea. “You could just hand me your cloak.”
“No!” Madd clutched the garment closed at the throat. “We’ll… find you something else.” He sighed. “You don’t get it, do you? We need to disappear. You consumed an entire unicorn horn, and—”
“And I’m horny all the time now. I know.” As if to confirm that point, Vorgell’s cock twitched and plumped at the sight of his companion. Even wrapped in shadows and with a water stain from the puddle on his ass, Madd was bewitching. Vorgell’s blood warmed just to look at him. “But I don’t see what that has to do with—”
“Are you really so gods-addled clueless? A mere sliver of unicorn horn makes a man horny for days. You consumed the entire horn! You filled your gargantuan body with so much fucking unicorn magic you’re now a walking, talking reservoir of enchantment! And you’re not a magician, are you? You’re like a toad sitting on gold coins! You can’t get rid of your pot of gold because you don’t know how to use it!”
Vorgell blinked at the little guy’s rage, struggling to see past the fact that Madd looked unbearably cute when he gestured and paced and sputtered. So cute Vorgell wanted to push him against the moldy wall and silence him with kisses while he pushed his cock against that delectable, lithe body. He fought to keep focus as his cock stiffened to full engorgement.
“I can do magic?”
Madd rolled his eyes. “No. You fucking are magic. Like a unicorn. Your blood, your bones, every living part of you, is filled with the shit.” He sighed. “Why the hell do you think I bit you in the tower, except to get at the magic? Or sucked your cock just now? Which, by the way,” he added, “I don’t plan on doing regularly.”
“But you’re good at it. And, well, I thought—” But then he realized he hadn’t been thinking for some days. It was time to start doing it. “So you are using me?”
Madd looked him in the eye. “Yes. And you’re fortunate in that. Because although I’m not a particularly good magician, I’m much more ethical than the baron or his like. Or any of the Wizards’ Guild. That lot would be bleeding you by now and amputating toes to suck on for a little extra spell power.”
Vorgell considered this. He distrusted magic users. He also knew a thing or two about unscrupulous men and could be one himself when the situation demanded. He hadn’t carried Madd away from their prison out of gratitude, but for purposes of ravishment. The latter still sounded like a good idea.
Tali Spencer fell in love with writing at an early age and never stopped. Thanks to a restless father, she grew up as a bit of a nomad and still loves to travel whenever she can. Her longest stint in one place was Milwaukee where she went to college and enjoyed a series of interesting careers including respiratory therapist, airport executive, and raising three surprisingly well-adjusted sons. She later married her true love and put down new roots in Philadelphia, where she lives in an ongoing Italian American family sitcom. At least she’s learned how make good pasta. When not writing, Tali reads everything from sweet goofy romances to Lebanese cookbooks, manages her fantasy football team—go Gekkos!—and takes long walks with her loving, if slightly neurotic, poodle.
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