Blurred Lines Series - Set 1 Book 1
Lost in a world of sappy romance since the age of nineteen, bestselling romance author, Miranda Howarth’s career has been crushed by a market flooded with erotica for women. She is forced to stray from not only her innocent genre but from her comfort zone while writing what she never imagined she would – erotic gay romances.
Miranda’s new love interest, criminal lawyer, Spencer Hayes, is hotter than anything she writes for women. Spencer can fulfill Miranda’s wildest dreams, blanketed with the romance she covets, and he has the ideal circle of friends to provide Miranda what she requires professionally.
Introduced to Corbin Macintyre and Mark Castille, a sexy, successful, and monogamous gay couple, Miranda navigates a world she knows nothing about to salvage her writing career.
Mark and Corbin are stable, honest, and in love; everything Miranda adores. Corbin is a romantic at heart, and the couple is exactly what Miranda needs to make her romance sappy and her erotica pop. But Miranda’s saviours are the snag in Spencer’s strategy. His long-time friends hold every one of his secrets - the ones that paint a darker fairy tale than Miranda’s idealistic mind is ready for - secrets that will spear Corbin and Mark squarely in the heart when they are forced to choose sides as Miranda’s fairy tale unravels on the steps of their protected Victorian home.
First in a series of three blended erotic romances, Invited into Your Closet is a classy, full-length work of steamy m/m and m/f set in Toronto, Ontario and the Niagara Peninsula.
Publisher: Independently Published
Pairings: MF, MM
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay, Straight
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 3 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Fated Mates / Soul Mates, True Love, Coming Out / Closeted
Word Count: 95000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
I am not sure how to review this book, the first in the Blurred Lines series. It is, first and foremost, a romance. Miranda Howarth and Spencer Hayes meet at a speed-dating event (which feels almost quaint in these days of internet dating where profiles are more BS than truth). They are captivated with each other – surprised the person across from them needs an event like this to find someone. Miranda is a successful erotic romance author and Spencer is a high-powered criminal attorney.
Miranda is frustrated because her literary agent has rejected her most recent submission, saying she is looking for “early nineteenth-century psychological thriller, sci-fi with an erotic twist, male/male erotica and paranormal (remember it has to be dark).”
Since those are all popular markets these days, is this book fiction or something resembling a personal story? I stuck with fiction, but I did wonder from time to time.
Spencer comes to Miranda’s rescue. His best friend Corbin Macintyre is an architect in a long-term relationship with Mark Castille, a pediatric surgeon. Spencer is sure they would be willing to talk to Miranda about their lives. He calls Corbin, and the novel moves into the parallel story.
The book is written from two first-person points of view – Miranda’s and Corbin’s. It is also present tense, which is hard to do successfully and can be odd to readers accustomed to past tense. Peyton does a good job, though, and I adapted pretty quickly.
So we have Miranda as she researches the ‘gay lifestyle’ by meeting men in Toronto as well as balancing her burgeoning relationship with Spencer, her aging dog Pepper, and her spiraling writing career. And then we have Corbin who is torn between doing this favour for Spencer and protecting his relationship with Mark who has reservations about inviting an unknown curious woman into their lives.
There are a number of potential conflicts here with many more as the story progresses.
The crossover of readers between male/female (m/f) and male/male (m/m) books is an interesting market segment authors deal with. I know from first-hand knowledge that the m/m market is growing. There is often a debate between people involved in the industry as to who is the primary audience and who writes these books? The truth is anyone with an ability to research, a creative keen intellect, and the ability to write a compelling story can try to write an m/m novel. Succeeding? As with any literary market, it is luck as much as talent.
And, for the record, as with m/f, there are lots of amazing stories out there and some that should really never have left the closet of the author’s mind.
There are only snippets of Miranda’s writing, but it is very much in the m/f realm.
So, again, is this a crossover book? Do you classify it as LGBTQ because of the gay couple or is it strictly a romance because of the hetero couple? And why is this such a big deal?
Because a true crossover is a challenge. Many readers want one or the other, but not both in one book. For me, it doesn’t matter because I read and enjoy both. Did I cringe sometimes at the descriptions of sex? Yes. But that is a very personal preference thing (women’s pelvic floors pounding with need and gushing moisture as well as men’s groins exploding aren’t my thing). The writing is good, though, and every author uses different terms and euphemisms for sex and body parts. There is also a lot of exploration of stereotypes, for men and women, gay and straight, white and diverse. There are times when the book walks a fine line (are black men’s penises bigger…?), but it is authentic because not all straight women know about gay men, their sex lives, HIV, sex parties, and monogamous relationships. Every gay man is as different as every straight woman – with foibles, quirks, and lovable qualities.
Miranda has an interesting thought about the differences, “when I write for straight women, there are a few standard ‘romance must-haves’ and ‘never-dos’. And from what I’ve read, gay romances don’t necessarily have the same things. When I write women’s romance, the man is always the all-powerful, not that the woman has to be weak in any way; it’s just that the man has to be stronger, both physically and emotionally. That doesn’t mean he can’t have moments of weakness or a past that haunts him, he just has to be…a man, for lack of a better term.”
For a book trying to straddle the line, I think it succeeds. To me, this is a bit of a literary experiment and while it could have gone horribly wrong, it goes uniquely right.
Back to the story. Miranda is concerned about the speed of her fairy tale relationship with Spencer. Spencer, Corbin, and Mark have a history that goes far deeper than could be imagined, and the four of them are on a collision course with disaster. I held my breath through the book, knowing there are two more books and wondering if this book was going to end with a happily-ever-after or a cliffhanger (HEA, btw).
I love that the book is set in Toronto and the Niagara Peninsula. I could picture Corbin and Mark’s Victorian home in Cabbagetown and it made me a little nostalgic.
I am planning to read the next two books in the series as there are some clear conflicts coming, and I suspect, some I won’t see coming.
A blended m/m & m/f romance that blurs the lines of love and sex, just as it is in real-life, with deeper plots, scorching sex, and realistic characters.